The Summer Road Less Traveled: Books to inspire creative vacations

This is the time of year when my family starts to plan our summer vacations. I say vacations because we never take an extended tour of any place, but focus our exploits on long weekends that usually involve a road trip. Road trips remind me of my childhood in the station wagon with the fold-up jump seats at the rear and repetitive choruses of "Are we there yet?” The best memories of all the road trips I have taken are rarely the destinations but almost always the fun and quirky things that we experienced along the way. As you plan your summer vacations I have some fun and quirky road trip recommendations for you.

Sarah Vowell, contributor to NPR, gives us a glimpse into the ultimate American political road trip in her book Assassination Vacation. Vowell takes us on a tour of America as she explores the lives of the three presidents and their assassins. Assassination Vacation is equal parts textbook, guidebook and memoir that takes the readers on an informative and hilarious tour of some of the darkest moments in our nation’s history.

Summer is not complete without a pilgrimage to a roller coaster or two. America’s Top Roller Coasters & Amusement Parks takes you on a search for the ultimate scream machine. This book walks you through the best roller coasters of all types, and even the most ideal roller rcoasters for those who are afraid of them. There are suggestions for amusement parks all over the United States, and I know there will be one close to where you are traveling. Check it out and get ready for the ultimate scream of your summer.

Gross America is one of my favorite road trip guides of all time! Sure, you could use your vacation days to take the family to the beach again or you could use this state by state guide to see some really gross and amazing things. Headed to Texas? Why not stop in Plano and visit the Cockroach Hall of Fame and Museum, home to an extensive collection of cockroach dioramas. A roach windsurfing on a tiny Caribbean beach and a miniature Statue of Liberty? Yes, I want to see that!

Last but not least is a road trip guide near and dear to my heart. Colorado Curiosities breaks down the state by region and leads you to some of the most interesting and fun outings you will encounter in Colorado. Lions and tigers and scrap metal, oh my! Perhaps the only zoo in the world without a monthly vet bill is the Sweetsville Zoo in Timnath. The zookeeper is a retired dairy farmer who has spent the last 20 years building humorous and whimsical creatures from reclaimed scrap metal.

It may be tempting to just go ahead and book your usual vacation at the beach, but this year just say no and road trip down the summer road less traveled.


When I was a kid our quirky tradition was to stop at the Stuckey's truck stops we saw along the way. Searching through shelves of cheap tourist knick-knacks seems to be what I remember most!