The Only 4-Day Colorado Road Trip Itinerary You’ll Ever Need

If you only have 4 days in Colorado, you’ll see quite a bit with this locally-curated Colorado road trip itinerary.

Believe me, there are so many different stops to make on a Colorado road trip, that it’s hard to boil it down to just 4 days. Like me, you could spend a lifetime here and still not see everything.

This 4 day Colorado road trip itinerary delivers you a taste of the different areas of Colorado without feeling too rushed. You’ll be in a new place each day so you can really get a flavor for the epic beauty the Centennial State has to offer.

There is a lot of ground to cover with just 4 days in Colorado so be prepared to drive and spot amazing scenery along the way.

I’ve lived in Colorado for over 13 years and I road trip in this state constantly – in the summer, I’m on the road every 4 days. Once a weekend warrior, I turned my passion for road-tripping Colorado into a full-time gig as a writer for the outdoor industry.

As a seasoned pro and local, it’s my mission to empower you to make the most of your 4 days in Colorado like a local, not a tourist.

I know all of the best Colorado road trip spots and you won’t find better advice about traveling in Colorado anywhere else on the web.

So here’s how to see the most of Colorado in just 4 days.

Table of Contents

How to Use this Colorado Road Trip Itinerary Guide

This 4-day Colorado road trip itinerary brings you a taste of the highlights. Are there other amazingly beautiful place in Colorado to explore?

Sure, but this 4-day itinerary is designed to give you a taste of the unique landscapes of Colorado and maximize your time exploring this amazing state. This itinerary includes:

  • How to make the most of 4 days in Colorado
  • 2 of the best national parks in Colorado
  • Incredibly Instagrammable views
  • Delicious eats
  • Colorado hot springs
  • 2 of the most scenic drives in Colorado
  • Quick tips to make the most of your Colorado road trip
  • Ideas for additional amazing Colorado road trip stops if you have more time

When is the Best Time to Go on a Colorado Road Trip?

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado typically have snow from October through June. Although it’s a pretty time to visit, it’s also a dangerous time to hike due to avalanche hazards and many of the scenic drives close down for the season. Therefore, the best time to go on a Colorado road trip is from July through early September.

4 day road trip
Lone Eagle Peak. Known as the most beautiful mountain in Colorado is right near Grand Lake (day 2).

Colorado Road Trip Map

Although this route has ample driving, you’ll see plenty of amazing scenery along the way. This diverse itinerary spans many exceptional landscapes on your 4-day itinerary in Colorado.

4 day road trip
Get the interactive map!

Day One: Denver to Estes Park

Since you’ve only got 4 days to explore Colorado, pick up your vehicle and drive straight to Estes Park – one of the most beautiful Colorado mountain towns. Make sure to drink plenty of water and take things slow to get properly acclimated to the altitude.

Keep in mind the Denver International Airport (DIA) is pretty far from…well…anything. If you’re arriving late, consider spending the night in Denver, and prepare for an early morning to make the most of Estes Park, Colorado.

Things to do: Catch a sunset at Sprauge Lake or the Many Parks Curve Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park, spot wildlife in Estes Park, take a short hike at Lumpy Ridge, relax and grab a drink at the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for The Shining – some say this place is haunted if you’re looking for spooky vibes).

Drive time: 1 hr 40 mins

Where to Stay: Camp at a campground near Estes Park, find dispersed camping along Highway 34, stay in Estes Park (generally quite pricey during the high season), or stay in nearby Lyons, Colorado (cheaper, great AirBnBs).

Where to eat: Smokin’ Daves BBQ and Brew (mid-range brewhouse), Scratch Deli and Bakery (breakfast, lunch, coffee), Burgers and Gyros on Moraine (cheap lunch or dinner), Notchtop Bakery and Cafe (excellent breakfast or brunch).

Day Two: One Day in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rise and shine before the sun to make the most of your time on this 4 day Colorado itinerary.

As one of the most beautiful national parks in the US, Rocky Mountain National Park gets crowded year-round, but if you’re willing to get up before dawn, you can savor a few moments of solitude in the park.

Today you’ll go for a hike at one of the many amazing hiking trails in Rocky Mountain National Park, then continue onwards along Trail Ridge Road – one of the most scenic drives near Denver – to the west end of the park.

Local Tip: Trail Ridge Road is not maintained in the winter. Always be sure to check that the road is open before heading out. You can still hike, but you’ll have to drive around the west end of the park to get to Glenwood Springs if the road is closed.

Things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park: Sunrise at either Bear Lake (no walking) or continue onwards to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake (3.2 miles RT). Hikers looking for a challenge should check out Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge – a classic Colorado lake hike, or the Loch Lake Trail.

Drive time: Approximately 3 hr 30 min to Glenwood Springs with stops.

Where to eat: Pack snacks and grab a late lunch at Grand Lake. Check out Cy’s Deli or Sagebrush BBQ and Grill.

Local Tip: Got extra time? You’ll find plenty to do with 3 days in and around Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Glenwood Springs Overnight with Hot Springs

After a day in Rocky Mountain National Park, head to Glenwood Springs and relax with a soak in the Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

If you’ve got some spare time and energy, snag a permit to hike to Hanging Lake (book at least 4 months in advance), one of Colorado’s most beautiful hikes.

Things to do: Hike to Hanging Lake (near Glenwood Springs, advanced permit and paid parking or bus ride required), soak in the Glenwood Springs hot springs or ride the scenic Gondola to the top of the Canyon.

Where to eat: Sweet Coloradough (delicious donuts), Native Son Restaurant and Bar (tapas and great drinks), Slope & Hatch (delicious street tacos).

Where to Stay: The Hotel Glenwood Springs (pricey but convenient), two rest areas just east of town (free camping, budget option. Bathrooms are clean and it is very safe), Hanging Lake Inn (budget hotel).

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Day 3: Black Canyon of the Gunnison

In the morning, make the 2.5-hour drive to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Touted as the “Grand Canyon of the Rockies” this beautiful canyon plunges 2,722-feet down and is only 40 feet across at its narrowest section. It’s a must-see stop on any Colorado road trip.

Drive Time: 2.5 hours to the more developed south rim, or 2 hours to the more remote north rim.

Things to do: Snap photos along the 12 scenic overlooks on the Rim Drive (Chasm and Sunset view are spectacular), hike to the bottom of the canyon (difficult, 5 hours, obtain a permit on arrival), go fishing, go to a ranger program and learn about the area (the night program is amazing), go for a scenic boat ride or white water raft, rock climb in the canyon (intermediate level), check out the historic town of Cimarron and see what life was like in 1882.

Where to eat: Crash Burger (casual, tasty burger joint), Colorado Boy Pizzeria, Guru’s Nepalese Restaurant (tasty Nepali food), Mimo’s (breakfast burritos, a Colorado breakfast staple).

Where to Stay: Reserve a camp spot at the East Portal Campground or stay in nearby Montrose. Stay at the Canyon Creek Bed and Breakfast (highly rated, but pricier), The Country Lodge (mid-range), or one of the many standard hotel chains.

Local Tip: With extra time on your Colorado road trip you can explore nearby Crested Butte (a charming mountain town famous for mountian biking) or the jaw-dropping San Juan Mountains.

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Day 4: Explore Breweries in Denver

It’s time to head back to Denver today. If you’re short on time, make your way directly to DIA (keep in mind traffic is poor in the city around rush hour, and it’s an average of 45 minutes to the airport from Denver) or stop by one of Denver’s most amazing local breweries for a delicious beer and some food.

Drive Time: 4 hrs and 45 minutes to downtown Denver. 5 hours and 20 minutes to Denver International Airport

Things to do: There’s a wide array of things to do in Denver, but if you’re short on time check out Red Rocks Amphitheater in nearby Morrison (you’ll pass it on the way to the city), grab a drink at a local brewery, visit the Denver Botanical Gardens, or wander around the RiNo District or Union Station area.

Where to eat: Lowdown Brewery (tasty pizza and beer), The Great Divide Brewery (a Colorado classic), The Post Brewing Co (the best fried chicken and soul food).

Local Tip: If you’re coming home on a Sunday and you’re traveling along I-70 the traffic is extremely bad from 11 am until 5 pm every weekend. Be sure to plan accordingly!

4 day road trip

Colorado Road Trip Quick Tips

Visiting Colorado in just 4 days is a tall order. There’s a lot to see and do. For the best trip, travel like a Colorado local. When you’re planning a Colorado road trip, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind to make your experience better. Here are a few handy local tips:

Mountian traffic is a real problem year-round. Build in extra time when you’re traveling on Interstate 70 (coming back from the Gunnison).

Colorado locals drive quickly and pass on the left. Please don’t drive in the left lane unless you’re looking to pass.

Fire bans are common in Colorado. If you plan on camping in Colorado, check the latest fire ban regulations for where you’re traveling.

Colorado is a naturally beautiful place, be sure to do your part and practice Leave No Trace. Pack out your trash (this includes fruit peels, wrappers, used toilet paper while hiking, and dog poop).

The airport is rather far from Denver (40 minutes at least), book in some extra time for travel.

The weather is often unpredictable and wild in Colorado, especially in the summer be prepared with a proper Colorado road trip packing list.

Weed is legal and can be found virtually everywhere in Colorado, but it still illegal to smoke in public and smoke and drive. Respect weed laws.

4 day road trip

Spend One Week in Colorado

If you can swing it, it’s worth it to spend a few more days visiting Colorado. The ideal amount of time for a road trip in Colorado would be one week.

This way, you can get into the mountains even further. Explore a few of the most unbelievable places in the Rockies that just isn’t feasible with only 4 days.

Although this itinerary covers some amazing places, if you’ve got extra time, check out these awesome Colorado getaway destinations.

Additional Stops for 4 Days in Colorado

Create your own amazing 4 day Colorado road trip itinerary by swapping or adding these fantastic spots.

Ouray in the San Juan Mountains

Known as the “Alps of America.” This place is an excellent addition to your Colorado road trip. Head here to explore some beautiful alpine lake hikes such as the famous Ice Lake. Or enjoy incredible camping, go ATVing and check out the town of Telluride. There are plenty of things to do in Ouray and around, especially if you’re into challenging hikes and off-road driving.

The Million Dollar Highway Scenic Byway in the San Juan Mountains. Easily one of Colorado’s most scenic drives. Extend your trip or swap the San Juans for Black Canyon of the Gunnison. (Note that drives times will increase drastically).

Crested Butte

Famous for its world-class skiing, charming mountain town, and mountain biking spending the day here after Gunnison would be a great way to add a day to your trip.

Carbondale and Aspen

Peep the famous Maroon Bells or embark on the Four Passes Loop – one of the most beautiful backpacking routes in Colorado. Accessible from Glenwood Springs and can be swapped for the Black Canyon on a 4 day Colorado road trip.

4 day road trip

Buena Vista, Leadville, and Salida

A famous weekend getaway from Denver, these towns are the gateway to the Sawatch Range. Home to some of Colorado’s easiest 14er hikes – mountains that rise over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Other activities include rafting, mountain biking, fishing, and camping. Great place to stop after coming back from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

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Grand Junction, Fruita, and Colorado National Monument

Stop here during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall, summers are sweltering) for epic desert scenery. You might just think your in Moab! 1 hour and 30 minutes from Glenwood Springs.

Breckenridge, Frisco, and Dillon

There are plenty of things to do in Breckenridge from stand up paddle boarding to amazingly scenic hikes in Breckenridge. Another great stopover coming back to Denver via I-70 if you have an extra day.

Boulder

An easy, 40-minute day trip from Denver where you can embark on one of the Boulder hiking trails to see the famous Flatirons up close. Or browse the shops at Pearl Street.

Colorado Springs

Made famous by the stunning Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, and the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs is another awesome stop. Done either for a night or as a day trip from Denver, there’s lots to see.

If you’re looking to splurge, consider staying at the famous Broadmoor Resort. Ideally add Coloraod Springs to your itinerary on the return from Leadville to skip I-70 traffic.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Experience the largest sand dunes in the Americas at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seeing the monumental dunes with the Sangre de Cristo peaks towering in the background is quite a site. As the only dog-friendly national park in Colorado, it’s fun for fido too!

Add this leg to the trip after the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Other Colorado Trip Ideas

Planning a big trip to colorado? Here are some local resources to help you plan:

  • Best Free Camping Near Denver
  • 29 of the Best Day Hikes Near Denver
  • The Most Amazing Fall Hikes in Colorado

Enjoy your Colorado road trip with this iconic 4-day itinerary. Travel like a local with this insider’s itinerary.

4 day road trip
4 day road trip

— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Your 4-Day Idaho Road Trip Itinerary from the website visitidaho.org for the keyword 4 day road trip.

Silvia Lawrence worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip. 

You’ll find a huge range of sights and activities in Idaho, and if you want to cover a lot of ground in a short time there’s no better way to explore Idaho than with a road trip! While you could easily spend weeks discovering the wonders of the state, here is a four-day road trip itinerary that will show you a great deal in a short amount of time – with plenty of opportunities to relax thrown in.

Idaho is the perfect road trip destination. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

My friend Anna and I took this road trip in the middle of May and it was a beautiful time to visit the state. Spring had sprung, but the summer season hadn’t quite started up yet so Idaho felt very quiet and peaceful. Of course, if you’re looking for more action, in the summertime you’ll find Idaho particularly lively with visitors and special summer events.

Regardless of when you come, I’d be shocked if you didn’t fall in love with the state like I did.

Day 1: Soda Springs, Chesterfield, Lava Hot Springs, & McCammon

If you want to start off your time in Idaho with a bang, head to Geyser Park in Soda Springs to watch its famous geyser erupt. It shoots 100 feet into the sky at the top of each hour, so try to plan accordingly, otherwise, you might end up waiting around for a little bit.

The Soda Springs geyser erupts every hour. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Soda Springs itself has a lot of history, as it was a stop on a shortcut Oregon Trail route.

If you want even more history, head up to historic Chesterfield. Chesterfield was settled in 1860 but then abandoned by the 1930s, so today it’s a ghost town. But it isn’t a spooky feeling ghost town by any means. In fact, family members of those who originally settled Chesterfield were so determined to preserve the town even after it was abandoned that it’s now one of the best preserved historic ghost towns in the U.S. with twenty of the original homes still standing.

Explore historic Chesterfield. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

After Chesterfield, take the scenic drive over to the town of Lava Hot Springs.

The world famous hot pools in this quaint town are a great place to relax, and many even believe the minerals in the water are healing. Plus the views are beautiful!

Soak away the day. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Stay here for dinner, and then if you really want a treat, spend the night at the Harkness Hotel in nearby McCammon.

Spend the night at the Harkness Hotel. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

The Harkness Hotel is a family-run boutique hotel housed in the old McCammon State Bank building, originally built in 1906. You’ll find lots of historic touches in this beautifully renovated luxury hotel, making it the perfect compliment to your day reliving some of Idaho’s history.

Day 2: Twin Falls & Miracle Hot Springs

On this day we’re bringing things back to modern day Idaho with a trip in the Snake River Canyon! Now, how you want to explore the canyon is totally up to you.

Paddle the Snake River. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Twin Falls is about two and a half hours from McCammon. Once here you’ll find a plethora of adventure activities available from AWOL Adventure Sports, including zip-lining, SUPing, and kayaking through Snake River Canyon. The scenery is beautiful, and it’s the perfect way to get out and enjoy Idaho’s natural beauty.

Personally, I opted for kayaking and with the river so calm it served as the perfect introduction for a beginner kayaker like myself.

At the end of the day, I recommend driving to Buhl to relax at Miracle Hot Springs. You’ll find both public and private hot spring pools, and you can also spend the night here. I went for the private hot spring soak and it was pure bliss after a busy day outside exploring.

Spend some time in a private pool. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Day 3: Shoshone Falls, Box Canyon & Ketchum

Before you leave the Twin Falls area, be sure to check out Shoshone Falls, which is known as the “Niagara of the West.”

Shoshone Falls is worth a stop. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Then carry on to Box Canyon, which is just one of the units that make up Thousand Springs State Park. You can hike down to see the waterfalls here, or just walk about ten minutes from the trailhead parking lot to see the edge of this impressive canyon, with its bright turquoise waters.

Visit the turquoise waters of Box Canyon. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Then it’s on to Ketchum! It’s just about a two-hour drive through mountains to arrive at this destination.

Ketchum is a well-known winter destination, but it’s also beautiful in the summertime, offering lots of hikes and gorgeous viewpoints.

There are many hikes from Ketchum, many of which you’ll find here, but personally, I would recommend the Proctor Mountain loop. It’s only about three miles but really delivers some incredible views over Ketchum.

Explore the trails on Proctor Mountain. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Suggested accommodation: the Limelight Hotel Ketchum offers beautiful, modern rooms in the heart of downtown Ketchum with a delicious breakfast buffet in the mornings.

Rest your head at the Limelight Hotel. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

Day 4: Ketchum & Stanley

On your last day you can either hang out in Ketchum, or if you want to explore more of the surrounding mountains, take the scenic drive to Stanley.

Stanley lies at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains, so you’ll find a multitude of hiking options here (you can check out this guide for some inspiration).

Last but not least, part of the magic of Idaho is experiencing the hot springs! Locals are very protective of these, so you’ll need to ask someone for specific directions, but you’ll find lots of hot springs both around Ketchum and along the Salmon River on your way to Stanley. A few to ask around about include Frenchman’s Bend, Boat Box, and Elkhorn Hot Springs.

Hidden hot springs abound. Photo Credit: Silvia Lawrence.

In the evening return to Ketchum to relax at your hotel. If you’re looking for dinner options, I can highly recommend Warfield Distillery & Brewery, which has delicious food and locally made beers and spirits. In the summer you can take advantage of the rooftop deck with great views of Ketchum.

And that’s it! Unless of course, you fall so in love with Idaho that you can’t leave, in which case you’ll find plenty more to explore.

Feature image credited to Silvia Lawrence.

Silvia Lawrence has been blogging since 2013 at HeartMyBackpack.com about her travels through over 80 countries. She has a soft spot for mountains, anywhere she can practice her Russian, and venturing off the tourist trail.



— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Best 4 Day Road Trip From Los Angeles from the website usatales.com for the keyword 4 day road trip.



Taking road trips from Los Angeles is one of the best things about the city. That means you can explore the city for about two days, then head out on the road for the adventure of a lifetime! Here are the most scenic places to visit on your four-day road trip from Los Angeles.

California offers National Parks, beaches, deserts, cities, and charming towns within a few hours’ drive. Whether you’re looking for a beach escape, wine tastings in a vineyard, an adrenaline rush in a mountain area, or a little respite from the chaos, California has endless options.

You can take a road trip around California in various ways, but a terrific option is to rent an R.V. or campervan in Los Angeles. There are plenty of R.V. parks and campsites all over the state. Alternatively, stay in a unique or luxurious resort or hotel instead of camping.

The following is a suggested itinerary for a four-day road trip from Los Angeles. Afterward, you will explore more attractions to add to the trip or extend it to discover more.

Los Angeles to San Francisco

Have one of the best road trips with a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway for a four-day road trip from Los Angeles. The Pacific Coast Highway runs along the entire length of the west coast Of the United States, and you can take a road trip from Seattle to San Diego.

From Los Angeles to San Francisco, the Pacific Coast Highway has so many beautiful places that you can spend 4 days road trip from Los Angeles and still have more to discover and enjoy.

So, let’s start the 4 day road trip and make the most of it!

Day 1: Santa Monica to Santa Barbara

Distance: 120km (75 miles) along the 101. You might want to allow a bit more time for winding your way around the coast. But the entire drive will be on inland roads.

Drive Time: 2.5 to 3 hours

Start your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles with a drive along Highway 1 from Downtown LA to reach the ocean from the sandy beaches of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. The road starts at sea level from where you can see a half-kilometer wide sandy beach. Put Malibu into your GPS to get to the coastal highway in L.A. Squeeze in some time to surf along the shores of Malibu. If not possible now, make time later to come back here for a weekend getaway.

4 day road trip
Photo by Jackie Chou on Unsplash

Your first stop on your 4 day road from Los Angeles is the charming city of Santa Barbara. It is one of the prettiest cities in the United States, with Spanish adobe-style buildings reflecting the town’s roots.

The weather is excellent all year round due to the tall Santa Ynez mountains surrounding the city, keeping the hot desert air while the Channel Islands quell the gushing ocean breeze.

Things to do in Santa Barbara

In the charming city of Santa Barbara, visit the Old Mission, which stands majestically overlooking the town.

Take a drive up to the Santa Ynez Valley, the wine country, which is covered in hundreds of vineyards with over 200 wineries where you can spend a whole day in tasting rooms with wines from more than 50 types of grapes, most of which are chardonnays and pinot noirs.

At the Santa Ynez Valley, you can enjoy a memorable horseback ride. If you go early in the morning, you can take a hot air balloon to get a bird’s eye view of the area.

You can also hike up to the waterfalls at Nojoqui falls or explore the caves at Gaviota Wind Tunnel. If you want to take a whole day, go the more extended look and check out the nine-mile trails of Figueroa Mountain.

4 day road trip
Photo by Anthony Fomin on Unsplash

Then stop by the cute town of Solvang to visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the author of many children’s books like The Ugly duckling, The Little Mermaid, and more.

If you are looking for an adventure on your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles, visit the Channel Islands, National Park. It is all about the outdoor experience on land and Sea. You can take day-trip adventures or an overnight camping trip to enjoy. You can go kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving, or go hiking at East Anacapa for sweeping ocean views and a lighthouse sighting.

On top of that, you can take a catamaran cruise in the Santa Barbara harbor for a whale-watching excursion into the beautiful waters of the Santa Barbara Channel in search of 27 different species of whales and dolphins.

Day 2: Santa Barbara to Big Sur

Distance: 215 miles or 345 km

Drive time: An average of 4.5 hours

You have a long drive on the second day of your 4 day road trip, but don’t miss Hearst Castle in San Simeon, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Before it became a 130+ room’ castle,’ it was a humble bungalow built on a family ranch. It took over 28 years to complete the structure, and it has lots of stories to tell.

From Hearst Castle, head onto Morro Bay to get back to the coast and head up through Big Sur and Pfeiffer State Park, which offers incredible views.

Visiting the Big Sur coast provides one unforgettable view after another, with Pfeiffer Beach and the Bixby Bridge providing picturesque views. In addition to the stunning ocean views and lush natural beauty, expect to spot various wildlife, including elephant seals and Calfornia Condors.

Day 3: Big Sur to Monterey

Distance: 70 miles or 112 km

Drive Time: Approximately 2.5 hours

Thrown off the stunning views of Big Sur, make your way up to Carmel by the Sea for the glorious, tranquil beach in Carmel Valley with bright blue waters and soft white sands. The riptides here can be pretty ferocious, so save the swim for the experienced on your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

A scuba entry point is available at Carmel River State Beach, where the Scenic Bluff Path runs from surf spot Carmel Beach to bird-rich Carmel River State Beach. The historic Carmel Mission features museums, a library, and its village center’s picturesque cottages and galleries.

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In the charming old town of Monterey, make your first stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a host of thousands of marine animals and plants. During whale season, which runs from April 1 – December 14, the three-hour Whale Watch cruise provides the chance to learn about local marine life with experienced marine biologists on board.

Press on further to arrive at Santa Cruz in time to catch a beautiful sunset. Boutique shops, art galleries, spas, and cafes line the streets of this pedestrian-friendly town. Over a century ago, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was built as a bathhouse, and now it offers both classic rides and whizzy sideshows to keep the kids occupied for days.

Santa Cruz offers several exciting attractions once you step off the beach, too, such as the quirky Mystery Spot – with a gravitational anomaly in the redwoods and the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. This is beautiful and makes a perfect stop in your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

Day 4: San Francisco

Distance: 75 miles or 120km

Drive Time: Approximately 2 hours

Almost there! The last stop in our 4 day road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Take the ‘Slowcoast’ route, stretching State Route 1 between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. Surrounded by mountains and ocean right in the middle of the Northern California coastline, this route offers wonderful things to see, eat and experience.

Half Moon Bay is known to produce some of the world’s best surfers from its vast waves. Take some time to stretch your legs and walk along the beach to enjoy the ocean. A visit to Half Moon Bay State Beach is a must, along with exploring the shops, art galleries, restaurants, and accommodation options that are located in the historic downtown area.

Just a little bit more, and you’ve reached the last stop of your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Despite being only 7 miles wide, San Francisco has an abundance of activities that are sure to please nature lovers, foodies, and curious travelers of all ages.

Things to do in San Francisco

On the last day of your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles, you must see the Golden Gate Bridge. The Alcatraz Island, a former federal prison closed in 1961, is also a must-see.

The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be one of the most photographed things on Earth, so get your camera ready! There is a pedestrian walkway if you can walk the 1.7-mile stretch, and bikes are also allowed on the western side.

4 day road trip
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

A notorious former prison, Alcatraz, sits on an island bearing the same name. The stories of Alcatraz are legendary, and a visit will be fascinating. There are recorded cell-house tours available to learn about its history.

Ride a cable car and see sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. Within walking distance are the San Francisco Dungeon and Madame Tussauds, the Museum of 3D Illusions, the Cartoon Art Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum, the historic Boudin Bakery, and various nearby food establishments.

As an alternative to the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf, grab a bite at the Ferry Building Marketplace or go for a walk through Castro to discover a more authentic side of San Francisco.

There’s plenty to love about San Francisco for active types and nature lovers. Whether you’re climbing Twin Peaks or walking through Golden Gate Park, there is so much to do! Taking a guided tour may help you schedule your trip.

That’s an example 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Read on to find out more about places you can visit on a road trip from Los Angeles.

Here are a few places you can take your car out for a weekend road trip. You can take it slow by visiting one site at a time or clubbing a few places together for weekend getaways or a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

Palm Springs

Distance: Approximately 105miles or 169km

Drive time: 2.5 hours

A few hours away from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is great for a weekend getaway or an extended 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Palm Springs, a city in the Sonoran Desert in California, is known for its luxury hotels, spas, golf courses, public art, hot springs, and fine dining. Additionally, Palm Springs possesses many vintage boutiques as well as fine restaurants.

4 day road trip
Photo by Cesar Cid on Unsplash

While in Palm Springs, check out the International Banana Museum, which was named the world’s largest collection of banana memorabilia for its Guinness World Record. Take a trip to one of the ghost towns near here to experience a taste of the California Gold Rush. If you are an outdoor enthusiast visit the nearby Joshua Tree National Park.

Being a short distance away and having many things to do, Palm Springs is the most ideal 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

Joshua Tree National Park

Distance: 130 miles or 205 km

Driving Time: 2 hours

It is the most magical place in California and is the closest national park just 2 hours south of Los Angeles. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the park on a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles, whether you choose to drive over the park’s main roads or go on long hikes.

There’s something quite exotic about the national park, with its gnarled and ancient Joshua Trees and its sprawling boulder fields, which make for impressive views during a leisurely drive. A camping trip here can include stargazing and hearing the howl of wild coyotes.

A favorite hike in Joshua Tree National Park, Skull Rock Nature Loop’s 1.7-mile trail offers spectacular views of eroded rock formations that have formed the shape of a skull. It can get really hot during the day, so start your hike early in the morning or later in the day. Pack plenty of water and wear layers, it can get quite cool after sunset. So, plan well for a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

Big Bear Lake

Distance: 97 miles or 157km

Driving Time: 2 hours from Los Angeles

A drive to the Big Bear Lake is another great addition to a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. It is located in the San Bernardino Mountains with over 100 miles of trails and 22 miles of shoreline. It is probably the closest pine forest to Los Angeles.

In summers, you can go hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, or swimming, and in the winters, you can ski or go snowboarding on the Bear mountain. There are many shops to rent gear for all seasonal activities.

Beaches in Orange County

Distance: approximately 36 miles or 58km

Driving Time: 40 minutes

The best 4 day road trip from Los Angeles is to one or two of the nearby sandy beaches in Orange County.

Perfect for families with kids, Huntington Beach is great for surfing, swimming, fishing, long walks along the shoreline, and volleyball. Be sure to check out the Huntington Beach Pier, fire-rings for bonfires, and baseball courts located near the beach.

There are many art galleries, beaches, and coves along Laguna Beach. It also offers an extensive trail system along the water, ideal for hiking, running, biking, and other outdoor activities.

Laguna Beach is also home to surfing, summer art festivals, and a great overall atmosphere. Check out Heisler Park for tidepools and sculptures and Victoria Beach for white sand and the Pirate Tower.

Yosemite National Park

Distance: 280 miles or 450km

Driving time: 6 hours

The impressive geological features, including high mountains, majestic waterfalls, rounded domes, alpine lakes, and more, are just a few reasons to take a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park.

4 day road trip
Photo by Alejandro Gonzalez on Unsplash

Visit Tunnel View, which shows Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Falls all at once! Or go up to Glacier Point, over 3,000 feet above ground to view one-third of the Yosemite valley.

If you feel more adventurous, visit the less-visited parts of Yosemite National Park. Drive up to Tioga Pass to find astounding dramatic features. However, the Tioga pass is inaccessible during winters, so be sure to catch it in the sunny months.

San Diego

Distance: 124 miles or 200 km

Driving Time: 3 hours (4-6 hours, if taking multiple pit stops)

The Mediterranean climate all year-round, 70 miles of coastal beaches, and more make this charming town worth a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Just head south for an extended weekend road trip from Los Angeles.

Explore the tide pools and sea caves at La Jolla Cove. Take a stroll at Pacific Beach. Take in views of the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

San Diego has many ways for visitors to enjoy themselves on the 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Take the kids to Belmont Park, an iconic beachfront waterpark, or explore downtown San Diego and grab a cup of coffee at a local shop. You can also spend time in a tasting room of the 150 wineries in the city.

Also check out Fun Things to do in San Diego.

Sequoia National Park

Distance: 260 miles or 420km

Driving time: 4.5 hours approximately

Sequoia National Park is enjoyable all year-round and makes a good 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. So head to the Land of Giants to explore the natural wonders of the tallest trees in the world.

It is famous for the massive groves of Sequoias, and the varying environment of deep canyons, rolling hills, marble caves, and majestic mountains. It has many adventures to experience including, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, climbing, and more. Be sure to pay your visit to the General Sherman Tree, the largest Sequoia in the world, and hike up to the Moro Rock for spectacular views.

Check out Kings Canyon National Park, adjacent to Sequoia National Park, to make it more exciting on your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

Las Vegas

Distance: 270 miles or 435km

Drive Time: 4-5 hours

Visit the entertainment capital of the world for endless entertainment. The sin city is best for a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Away from the strip and the casinos, spend a day exploring museums and other best attractions of Las Vegas. The Mob Museum, the Red Rock Canyon National Conversation Area, the Hoover Dam, and the Fountains of Bellagio are a few places to visit.

Tons of excellent restaurants highlight the city’s rich and diverse culinary landscape. Vegas is fabulous for a 4 day trip from Los Angeles with family, friends, or even a solo trip.

Lake Tahoe

Distance: 465 miles or 748 km

Driving time: 7 hours

Wind your way on this extended trip by stopping along with smaller towns of Lone Pine, Big Pine, and Bishop for short strolls and delicious food. This is a long-distance and is worth a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

You can find hot springs to soak tight muscles after the long drive. You can also go climbing or bouldering for some rock scrambling. You can go for a hike or a ski day on the Mammoth mountain. You can take a spin to Yosemite National Park from here if you want.

Death Valley National Park

Distance: 215 miles or 346km

Driving time: 3.5 hours

The Death Valley is a phenomenal 4 day road trip destination from Los Angeles. But it is the hottest and driest place in the country, so winter is the best time to go.

There’s something to do at Death Valley for everyone, including hiking, off-roading, and taking a scenic drive. Explore canyons, giant dunes, and mountains. You may also spot wildlife, including bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, and desert tortoise.

It can be challenging to see all the highlights of Death Valley, but a few shouldn’t be missed. Don’t miss Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level, and Dante’s View, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the valley below. Experience the unique sand and rock of the Golden Canyon, followed by a sunset trip to Zabriskie Point.

Salton Sea

Distance: 165 miles or 266 km

Driving Time: 2.5 hours

Drive south to the 1950s popular vacation spot with resorts covering the eastern shore for your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles. Increased salinity and agriculture pollution has left the town forgotten as a luxury retreat.

Explore abandoned structures along the shoreline and eat at the few establishments still open in the area. Be sure to visit the rainbow-hued Salvation Mountain adorned with the words ‘God is Love.’

Catalina Island

Distance: 48 miles or 77km

Drive time: approximately 1 hour

It would be best if you took a ferry as you cannot drive to or on the island. It is a part of the Channel Islands and is only 22 miles long by 8 miles wide. It is home to stunning beaches and offers several land and sea activities to enjoy over a 4 day road trip from Los Angles.

4 day road trip
Photo by Elias Shankaji on Unsplash

The natural beauty of this island is a breath of fresh air away from the traffic of Los Angeles. Take a day hike on the Trans Catalina Trail, zipline over the forest, or go fishing and kayaking. There are two ‘cities’ on the island, where day trip adventures are operated – Two Harbors and Avalon.

Grand Canyon

Distance: 486 miles or 782km

Drive Time: 8 hours from Los Angeles with no stops along the way

This trip makes a good 4 day road trip from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon with incredible landscapes and notable towns along the way. By leaving L.A. via I-10, you will come across Mojave National Preserve, Coachella Valley National Park, Bearizona Wildlife Park, and eventually reach Kaibab National Forest and the Grand Canyon Village. You can also trip to the Joshua Tree National Park and the Salton Sea from here. You can stop at any of these destinations to make the journey even more exciting.

The Grand Canyon National Park is the crowning attraction of this road trip. The massive expanse of gorges, ridges, and rock formations will have you impressed. Apart from hiking, rafting in the Colorado River or a Helicopter tour is also a great way to explore. You can visit the Yavapai point in the village to get a great view of the canyon and an off-road excursion to explore the desert landscape.

Los Angeles is full of things to do and see, but you can explore more of the country with a set of wheels and a sense of adventure. You can find new places, activities, and landscapes throughout a 4 day road trip from Los Angeles.

Read more  How to Plan a Perfect Olympic National Park Itinerary

Whether you want to visit the desert, incredible beaches, giant trees, or mountains, pack up your car and go for a ride. So, start planning your 4 day road trip from Los Angeles  today!

Suggested reading: Amazing Things to Do in San Jose

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— Update: 31-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 7 Best Midwest Road Trips in the US from the website www.travelandleisure.com for the keyword 4 day road trip.

Flyover country it is not. The Midwest offers a variety of landscapes, ripe for exploration with a classic road trip. From rolling vineyards to lush river valleys, high limestone bluffs to some pretty great lakes, this region of the United States is often overlooked. It’s time to change that, so cue up a playlist, pack your favorite snacks, and hit the road on one of these top Midwest road trips, which are sure to highlight the best of America’s pulsing, vibrant heartland.

Wisconsin's Great River Road

Courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

Start: Prescott, WI
End: Kieler, WI
Length:
234 miles

The picturesque city of Prescott, situated where the St. Croix River meets the Mississippi River, makes for a great jumping-off point for this road trip. Start at the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center and drive south along Wisconsin’s 250-mile stretch of the National Scenic Byway, which hugs the Mississippi’s curves and bluffs. In addition to pretty views, this area of Wisconsin offers unexpected culinary delights in tiny river towns. Bay City’s Chef Shack is worth a stop for its lovely back patio and two James Beard Award-nominated chefs at the helm.

Pepin, Wisconsin, located on the widest natural part of the river — the aptly named Lake Pepin — also deserves some attention. There, check out the Harbor View Cafe, which has been impressing visitors since 1980. Meanwhile, fans of the “Little House on the Prairie” books can visit the birthplace of writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, a roughly 10-minute journey inland from Lake Pepin. Continue along the beautiful highway past La Crosse, Wisconsin, then, consider cutting inward to Viroqua, Wisconsin, via State Highway 14. The rolling hills and pastureland of Vernon County are home to the highest concentration of organic farms in the state. Visit the Driftless Cafe, home to another James Beard Award nominee, for the best farm-to-table fare in the region.

Wine lovers should consider hitting some stops on the Great River Road Wine Trail, especially Danzinger Vineyards on the bluff in Alma. Those who prefer a hoppy beverage can stop at the Potosi Brewery near the end of this road trip. The Great River Road stretches beyond Wisconsin, but Kieler is the last stop before it crosses the border and continues on to Iowa’s pretty river city of Dubuque.

With a total driving time just under five hours, this trip could be done in a day, but most of the attractions are right at the start. A nice way to break it up into a two-day trip is with an overnight stay near the vineyards.

Indiana's Natural Wonders and Small Towns

Layne Kennedy/Getty Images

Start: Indiana Dunes National Park, IN
End: Bloomington, IN
Length:
288 miles

Begin at the 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Park in northwestern Indiana. Situated on Lake Michigan’s beautiful southern shore, this area is perfect for birding, beach time, and other activities in nature. From there, drive to the small lake town of Winona Lake to browse the little shops along the waterfront. For an upscale bite, stop into Cerulean, and for more laidback fare, consider the BoatHouse Restaurant. Spend the night two and a half hours south at The Alexander in downtown Indianapolis, both the capital and largest city in the state.

Explore the city using the Canal Walk, visit the acclaimed Indianapolis Children’s Museum, scope out some street art, and enjoy a meal at St. Elmo Steak House. For an extra dose of exercise in the city, check out the Monon Rail Trail, a former rail line that stretches from Indy to the northern suburbs. After your time in the capital city, head south to Bloomington, home to Indiana University. This college town offers both a picturesque campus and a walkable downtown area. Continue on to Brown County State Park, the largest in Indiana, which is open for picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, and more.

You'll be on the road for at least five hours on this trip. Considering that you will want a day or two for exploring all Indianapolis has to offer, the trip should be broken up into two legs at least.

Nebraska's Sandhill Journey

Getty Images

Start: Grand Island, NE
End: Bayard, NE
Length:
335 miles

Begin your journey in Grand Island, an area that truly shines in the spring with the world’s largest sandhill crane migration. From there, follow State Highway 2 to Broken Bow, where you can access information on the route at the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Visitor Center. Thirsty travelers can imbibe at Kinkaider Brewing Company, which offers a taproom and restaurant in the gateway to the Sandhills.

After indulging responsibly (nominate a designated driver in advance), continue on Highway 2 until you reach the town of Anselmo, where you’ll take a slight detour to Victoria Springs State Recreation Area, an oasis known for its healing mineral waters. Here, road-trippers can enjoy activities like paddleboarding, fishing, and picnicking at one of Nebraska’s oldest state recreation areas. In the summer season, the park’s log cabins make for a fun overnight option and can be reserved up to a year in advance. Pro tip: If you opt for an overnight, be sure to check out the stars without the usual light pollution interference.

End at perhaps the quirkiest attraction on this list, Carhenge, a replica of England’s Stonehenge crafted with old cars. Bonus: For those who want a taste of the Oregon Trail, consider a journey to the Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Bayard, less than an hour beyond Alliance.

You'll be on the road for about six hours with this itinerary, with the longest leg being between Anselmo and Alliance. If you take your time at the Sandhills or Victoria Springs, you can break this trip up over two, three, or four days.

Route 66's First Leg

Jonathan Rehg/Getty Images

Start: Chicago, IL
End: St. Louis, MO
Length:
315 miles

Route 66, which runs from Chicago, Illinois, to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, is a classic, and you can explore a portion of it in the Midwest. Start in the Windy City, after enjoying some of its famous deep-dish pizza. Additionally, you may want to stop for a photo op at the corner of Michigan and Adams, where the historic “Begin Route 66” sign stands. Then, head to nearby Wilmington to see one of the famed Muffler Men statues, the Gemini Giant, near the charming Launching Pad restaurant. From Wilmington, it’s a roughly two-hour drive to the Illinois capitol of Springfield, where history buffs will want to check out the numerous Abraham Lincoln sites. Highlights include the Lincoln Home, his Presidential Library and Museum, and the Lincoln Tomb.

Next, journey onward to St. Louis. Travelers can stretch their legs at the famous Chain of Rocks Bridge, which has since been turned into part of the Route 66 Bikeway. The bridge is even on the National Register of Historic Places. End your intro to Route 66 in luxe fashion with an overnight stay at the surprisingly affordable Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, a short walk from Gateway Arch National Park. The property boasts a tasty eatery with a James Beard Award-winning chef as well as a full spa. Plus, it’s close to another must-visit St. Louis attraction for kids: the interactive City Museum.

Getting from Chicago to St. Louis takes approximately five hours. History buffs may want to spend the night in Springfield to make the most of the Lincoln-related attractions, but an afternoon may be sufficient to pay your respects to the late American president.

Minnesota's North Shore

Getty Images

Start: Duluth, MN
End: Grand Portage, MN
Length:
112 miles

This drive follows the scenic State Highway 61 along Lake Superior’s stunning, rocky shores. Part of the Arrowhead Region in northeast Minnesota, this drive belongs on any U.S. road trip bucket list. Begin in Duluth, Minnesota, which is famous for its breweries and native Bob Dylan, who was born in the city and raised in nearby Hibbing. Walk along Bob Dylan Way for a glimpse of the folk music legend and his childhood home. Consider sipping some artisan spirits at Vikre Distillery, which offers views of the famed Aerial Lift Bridge. To pay homage to the region’s Scandinavian roots, sample Vikre’s aquavit, also known as “Norwegian Everclear.”

For an overnight stay, consider checking vacation rental options in pretty Two Harbors; this town is an excellent base for exploring Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota’s most visited state park, and Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most photographed spots in the state. Road-trippers should also plan to fill up on pizza at longtime favorite Sven and Ole’s in Grand Marais.

The whole drive will only take you about two hours if you go straight through, so you could do it as a busy day trip from Duluth, or take your time to enjoy the lake over the course of two or three days. From roughly May to October, intrepid explorers can consider an extension to Michigan’s remote and gorgeous Isle Royale National Park. Daily ferry transport is available from Grand Portage, Minnesota, the scenic end point of this North Shore excursion. The ferry takes about two hours, and if you want to spend the night you can find a room or go camping in Rock Harbor or Windigo.

South Dakota's Monuments and Scenery

Getty Images

Start: Sioux Falls, SD
End: Mount Rushmore, SD
Length:
513 miles

Begin in the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls, with a walk around pretty Falls Park. Then, drive to nearby Mitchell, just over an hour away, to visit the quirky and fun attraction that is The World’s Only Corn Palace. You can stop for the views as you pass by Badlands National Park, or continue on through Rapid City — where you can visit the state’s oldest-operating brewery, Firehouse Brewing Company, for a cold beverage — to the ever-enchanting kitsch of historic Deadwood. Even though it’s super-touristy, everyone should visit at least once.

Additionally, visitors can see some gorgeous waterfalls, hiking paths, and rock ridges in Spearfish Canyon, which is actually more ancient than the better-known Grand Canyon. Also, try the well-awarded brews at Spearfish Brewing Company. For those who want an additional taste of the winding road, consider some time on the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. From there, go south to the Crazy Horse Memorial in the town of Crazy Horse, which is the biggest mountain carving on Earth and has been under construction for decades.

If the carved faces of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota’s most-visited attraction, are your goal, be sure to take your time when driving on a part of the lovely Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway. Outdoorsy types may also enjoy a visit to Custer State Park, the largest in the state.

With over nine hours of driving time to complete this trip from Sioux Falls, you will need a few days on the road. Rapid City and Deadwood are good options for overnight stays — especially if your trips are Rushmore-oriented — unless you prefer to do some camping in the parks.

Michigan's Peninsula

Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Start: Sault Sainte Marie, MI
End: Leland, MI
Length:
222 miles

Begin in the small town of Sault Ste. Marie, perched between Lake Superior and Lake Huron and adjacent to its Canadian sister city of the same name. Be sure to sample the beer at Soo Brewing Company, shortened to Soo Brew by locals. Also check out the “lynchpin of the Great Lakes,” the Soo Locks, except from January through March, when they are closed for repairs. Nature lovers may consider a detour, heading westward first to Michigan’s second-largest state park, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, which boasts over 50,000 acres of pristine wilderness, including one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. It will addd about 75 miles to the trip, however.

For an overnight option to break up the drive, stay at the historic Grand Hotel on carless Mackinac Island (Note: Like many of the Island’s businesses, the hotel is only open during the island’s high season between May and October). Be sure to build in time to try some of this destination’s famous fudge, too. The charming island can be accessed via ferry from Mackinaw City (Lower Peninsula) or St. Ignace (Upper Peninsula). After experiencing some of the delights of the Upper Peninsula, cross the one of the world’s longest suspension bridges, the Mackinac Bridge, to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, which everyone calls “the mitten” for its shape. Once you cross the bridge, consider a nighttime visit to nearby Headlands International Dark Sky Park, where it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the northern lights if you get very lucky with your timing. If not, you’ll still enjoy a brilliant display of stars there.

From the preserve, it’s just a two-hour winding lakefront drive to Traverse City, known as Michigan’s foodie capital, where you should stop and eat at the French-inspired Brasserie Amie. If you have a sweet tooth, cap off your meal with a stop at the wildly popular Grand Traverse Pie Company. End your trip on the gorgeous Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan’s answer to Wisconsin’s storied Door County. Check out Leland’s Fishtown, take the ferry to the Manitou Islands (part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore), and imbibe at the wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail.

Not including times spent on ferries, the total driving time for this trip is just under five hours, but with so much to see plan to have lots of time saved for dilly-dallying. Three to five nights are ideal so you can really enjoy this itinerary that touches three out of the five Great Lakes.

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi