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Windows down, sun shining, something loud and cheesy on the soundsystem (AC/DC or White Snake will do) and a tank full of petrol. You’ve seen the movies, you know how it works – it’s summer, which means it’s road trip time.

One of the most famous highways for driving adventures is of course the classic Route 66, aka The Mother Road. It shoots through eight states, which you’ll know if you’re a fan of the eponymous 1943 song, Get Your Kicks..., which lists them all in the lyrics and has been covered by everyone from Nat King Cole to the Rolling Stones.

Route 66 was one of the first in the US highway system, stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles. While it no longer exists as a single route, you can still drive through most of the trail along other interstate highways. And naturally, you remain able to jump out of your car for a thumbs-up snapshot by the iconic white emblem painted on the tarmac.  

As for where to stop along the way, there’s all the scenery, history and straight-up Americana you could ask for. Start with the 3300ft-long Navy Pier in Chicago on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, then after a long drive through Missouri and Kansas, stop at Oklahoma for some Wild West action. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has racked up around 10 million visitors since opening in the Fifties, and is a showcase of western and American Indian culture that includes a 14,000 square foot turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. 

Soon you’ll be screeching into Amarillo (cue raucous rendition of Tony Christie’s Is This The Way...) where you’ll want to stay at The Big Texan Steak Ranch for a crack at the the 72oz steak challenge – polish it off within the hour and it comes free.  

Finally, stop at Calico Ghost Town in the Mojave Desert, California, where you can find out about the cutthroat  silver panning days of the past.

 2. Nakasendo Highway,  Japan

This road between Kyoto and Tokyo opens up a rich cross section of Japanese culture. Dating from the 8th century, it was first built for feudal lords travelling between provinces.

Nowadays, you can fuel up on blueberry cheesecake Kit Kats and other wacky snacks at the Dangou Zaka service area, before driving through traditional mountain villages and stopping at a ryokan (traditional inn) for dinner and local teas.


Top 5 ultimate road trips: From the legendary Route 66 to the Grimm Brothers' favourite Black Forest
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