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Discover the Magic of Winter on America’s Byways

Winter brings a unique charm to scenic drives that beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. While the lush greens of summer have faded, they are replaced by a muted palate or a serene blanket of snow that covers the landscape in a tranquil hush. From snow-covered mountains to charming towns adorned with holiday lights, winter unveils a world of delights along scenic routes. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best activities to enjoy along scenic byways during the winter months. So, bundle up, hit the road, and discover the magic of winter along these picturesque road trips.

Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway (AL)


The Alabama Gulf Coast boasts comfortable temperatures and many exciting events during winter, making it the ultimate destination for those looking for unique experiences this season.

A trip to Mobile will lead adventurers to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, a 65-acre estate featuring a historic manor home and beautiful gardens. While the gardens are open year-round, winter is one of the best times to visit. From November 24 through January 3, Bellingrath hosts its award-winning Magic Christmas in Lights show. Visitors can admire a spectacular light display and incredible flora as they make their way through the garden, and the Bellingrath Home is decorated in its finest Christmas splendor and boasts incredible poinsettias. Perfect for all ages, a tour of this magnificent estate will get you in the mood for the holidays.

If you’re looking to start 2024 off with a bang, head down to Alabama Beaches and run into the Gulf of Mexico with thousands of other people on New Year’s Day. The iconic Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar hosts its Polar Bear Dip on the morning of January 1. Participants from far and wide visit the area to partake in this New Year tradition on the beach. All ages are invited to join in, and costumes are encouraged! Even if you’re not participating, this event is fun and exciting to watch.

Once the holidays wrap up on the Alabama Gulf Coast, it’s time to put up the stockings and Christmas tree and bring out the beads and MoonPies. You’ll discover dozens of family-friendly Mardi Gras celebrations in coastal Alabama in January and February. As the birthplace of Mardi Gras, Mobile is the ideal spot to begin your Mardi Gras journey. Learn about the rich history of Mardi Gras at the Mobile Carnival Museum, then catch a parade while enjoying a king cake from a local bakery. Head down the coast to discover more Mardi Gras fun along the Eastern Shore and Alabama Beaches. For a unique experience, visit Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s restaurant in Gulf Shores on February 13 for the annual Mardi Gras Boat Parade and Anniversary Party, which includes free birthday cake, live music, and a costume contest. No matter what you choose to do, there are plenty of opportunities to let the good times roll on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

Calling all seafood lovers! The 32nd Annual Orange Beach Seafood Festival and Car Show is set for Saturday, February 24, at The Wharf. This festival features a full day of local arts and crafts booths, live music, children’s activities, and lots of fantastic food. Choose from fresh Gulf shrimp, seafood gumbo, crab cakes, oysters, and more delicious eats. But be sure to save room for the crawfish-eating contest at noon! If you’re still hungry or want to grab a drink, The Wharf is home to several remarkable restaurants. Stop by the stores at The Wharf and check out the local boutiques, specialty shops, and outfitters for more great shopping. As you’re walking around, you’ll also want to admire the incredible cars that line Main Street; antiques, classic cars, and hot rods will be on display. You don’t want to miss out on all the fun happening at this festival.

Points of Interest

Gulf State Park

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Historic Fort Morgan

Orange Beach History Museum

Gulf Shores Museum

Mobile Bay Ferry

Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

Bellingrath Gardens and Home

Baldwin County Heritage Museum

City of Foley Depot Museum and Model Train Exhibit

Fort Gaines Historic Site

Alabama Aquarium & Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Audubon Bird Sanctuary

Graham Creek Nature Preserve

Boom or Bust National Scenic Byway (LA)


Are you looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Slow down with the family by taking a drive down the Boom or Bust Byway through Northwest Louisiana this November and December.

Discover the Boom or Bust Byway, named because things grow here in Northwest, Louisiana. The booming gaming industry, the crops that develop, and the resilient oil and natural gas economy, to name a few. The Boom or Bust Byway is the ultimate journey through the scenic, back road countryside for international visitors, families, retirees, and young explorers who are looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. Travelers can expect to see beautiful, well-kept churches reflecting the Protestant faith of most 19th century settlers. Instead of shrimp gumbo or crawfish étouffée, here visitors can feast on local favorites such as fried chicken, catfish, or chicken fried steak with green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, and cornbread.

During the colder months on this self-driving tour, visit all the antique shops, local diners, boutiques, and historical markers that are gussied up with the magical cheer of the 2023 Holiday season!

Holiday events along the byway:

In Shreveport-Bossier at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, the Rockets over the Red Fireworks Festival will be happening on Saturday, November 25! Spend the first Saturday after Thanksgiving at this free, family-friendly event that is a holiday favorite for all ages. Attendees can enjoy live music, face painters, performers, Santa, shopping and more. The evening will culminate with a fantastic fireworks show. After the show, you can catch a movie or grab dinner at one of Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets’ great restaurants!

Don’t miss the Country Christmas Festival in Vivian, Louisiana from Monday, November 27 – Sunday, December 3. The festival includes a “Miss Country” Christmas pageant, a Holidaze treasure hunt, a chance to experience The Polar Express at the Railroad Museum, a Holiday parade, visits with Santa, a town Christmas lighting, and so much more!

The Christmas on Caddo Fireworks Festival is at Earl G. Williamson Park on Saturday, December 2. Holiday spirits will ignite at this spectacular Christmas Festival, a heartwarming tradition that has been spreading joy and giving for an incredible 28 years! Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to feast on a wide variety of fair-style foods and browse a plethora of arts and crafts vendors, while listening to live entertainment. Children can visit with Santa and receive a free gift until it’s time for the beautiful fireworks show that will light up the sky above historic Caddo Lake!

Coming up Saturday, December 2, is the 23rd Annual Christmas on the Square Festival and Parade in Benton, Louisiana. This Christmas celebration happens rain or shine every year! Local vendors have all kinds of Christmas goodies, historical buildings will be open for tours, there will be live entertainment and plenty of activities for the kiddos! All activities are free to the public.

In Sarepta, Louisiana, come one, come all, to celebrate the best time of the year at the 15th Annual “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” event at the Sarepta Park and Community Building on December 2, starting at 10 AM. There will be a 5k and fun run, treasure hunt, live entertainment all day, local food and craft vendors, Santa and Mrs. Claus, bounce houses, pony rides, and so much more! The fireworks show will kick off at dark!

Explore Downtown Homer, Louisiana, on Main Street this Holiday season at the Homer Christmas Festival and Parade on Saturday, December 2, at 11 AM! Following the parade, there will be games, music, vendors, food trucks, and many more family-friendly activities.

Nestled in Blanchard, Louisiana, is Morell Dairy Farms. Located at 4743 Highway 169, it happens to be the only dairy farm in Bossier, Caddo, and De Soto parishes. If you’re from Northwest Louisiana, you’ve probably heard of Thrifty Liquor and Cuban Liquor’s eggnog daiquiris! Both companies use the Morell family’s eggnog for their daiquiris all through the Holiday season. If eggnog isn’t your thing, their fresh milk is available for purchase on site – this would make for some delicious hot cocoa! The Morell Dairy Farm is open for tours by appointment, and you might even see some calves!

Shopping locally is one of the many important things that keeps our Louisiana Byways alive. Visit one of the local antique stores such as Big Mama’s Antiques and Restorations in Hosston, Louisiana. They specialize in African American historic artifacts and have been featured on the Antiques Road Show and in the Antique Trader Magazine. Store hours are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or daily by appointment. Also, in Plain Dealing, Louisiana, is the Hickory House Antiques and Collectibles, they have all kinds of unique finds and Holiday decorations.

Consider spending your holiday season taking the long way home… through the historically beautiful towns filled with local charm and Holiday cheer along the Boom or Bust Byway!

Points of Interest

Country Christmas Festival in Vivian, from Monday, November 27 – Sunday, December 3.

Rockets Over the Red Fireworks Festival in Shreveport-Bossier at the Louisiana Boardwalk Outlets, Saturday, November 25

Christmas on Caddo Fireworks Festival in Earl G. Williamson Park on Saturday, December

23rd Annual Christmas on the Square Festival and Parade in Benton, Saturday, December 2.

“Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” in Sarepta, December 2, starting at 10:00 am

Homer Christmas Festival and Parade in Homer, Saturday, December 2, at 11:00 am

Morell Dairy Farms in Blanchard

Big Mama’s Antiques and Restorations in Hosston

Hickory House Antiques and Collectibles in Plain Dealing

California Historic Route 66 Needles to Barstow National Scenic Byway (CA)


The gateway town to California Route 66 is Needles, where the average WINTER high temperature is 73 degrees. Among the many historical sites is the restored El Garces Harvey House, the “Queen Jewel” of the Fred Harvey chain. Brightly painted murals, old gas stations, motels and the Needles Regional History Museum greet the traveler. Visit the Bureau of Land Management Needles Field Office for information and maps for outdoor adventures.

Heading north, visit Camp Ibis, with vestiges of the Desert Training Center established in 1942 to prepare US troops to enter World War II.

Nearby is the town of Goffs with its beautifully restored 1914 schoolhouse and outdoor museum.

The next 150+ miles of Route 66 are virtually undeveloped desert. Check for road conditions at the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Works because portions of the road are closed due to bridge damage from heavy rains.

Midway along the route is the town of Amboy, with much to see including the iconic “Roy’s Café with its neon sign, gas station, small motel cottages. Winter is the perfect time to hike nearby Amboy Crater, a National Natural Landmark.

Route 66 continues as the National Trails Highway to the popular Ludlow Café. Newberry

Springs is the next town, home of the famous Bagdad Café, popularized in the movie of the same name with a cult-like following among international visitors.

The town of Daggett once prospered because of its proximity to the Calico Mines. Several historic buildings remain.

The western gateway town for the byway is Barstow. The town has always been an important transportation hub dating back to Native American trade routes and the Santa Fe Trail.

Barstow highlights its history through a series of murals along Main Street/Route 66. The restored Fred Harvey Casa del Desierto houses the popular Route 66 Mother Road Museum and the Western America Railroad Museum. The Mojave River Valley Museum is nearby.

Points of interest

Old Trails Bridge at the Colorado River

Bureau of Land Management Needles Field Office

Needles Regional Museum & El Garces Harvey House

Wagon Wheel Restaurant

Goffs Cultural Center & 1914 Schoolhouse Museum

Desert Training Center

Road Runner’s Retreat

Amboy Crater National Historic Landmark

Ludlow Café

Bagdad Café

Daggett Historical Society

Casa del Desierto Harvey House  

Route 66 Mother Road Museum

Western America Railroad Museum   

NASA Goldstone Visitor Center  

Desert Discovery Center

Bureau of Land Management Barstow Field Office

Covered Bridges Scenic Byway (IA)


Winter along the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway in Madison County, Iowa, may not seem an optimal time to visit but we think it offers several compelling reasons to do so.

First, the iconic, world-famous covered bridges of Madison County, with their bright red paint, truly pop out when viewed and photographed with newly fallen snow. So be sure to tour the county’s six remaining covered bridges this winter!

There are also several county parks with hiking trails though old growth timber that are perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, including City Park and Middle River Park in Winterset. The Makoke Birding Trail, which represents some of the region’s best birding opportunities, all within a 30–40-minute drive of Des Moines, runs through the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway corridor. Wildlife viewers can spy hundreds of bird species at Jensen Marsh and Pammel Park. More information can be found at

If you’re looking for indoor activities in the wintertime, there are two unique museums along the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway that are open year-round, the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum and the Iowa Quilt Museum. (You might be tempted to crawl under the quilts displayed on a bed in the Mezzanine!) Or sample a flight of wine or beer at one of the local wineries or breweries along the byway. The Drift, a taproom in Winterset, offers a special event on select Sundays throughout the winter – Puzzles & Pints! Bring your team of up to four to complete a brand-new puzzle (each team receives the same). The first team to complete the 300-piece puzzle wins a round of pints on The Drift.

Of course, the holidays are especially quaint in the small rural towns along the byway. (Winterset has often been referred to as a “Hallmark movie” setting!) Visitors can shop at over twenty-five retail boutiques where the friendly customer service is unparalleled. Add to it twinkling lights and holiday music and the spirit is sure to take hold of you!

Winterset Festival of Lights – Friday, November 24, 2023

Join us in Winterset’s courthouse retail district for a holiday experience like none other! At 5:00 pm, the whole family will enjoy food, live entertainment, live and lighted window displays, free horse-drawn carriage rides, and visits with Santa, all around the courthouse square. A lighted parade gets underway at 7:15 pm, followed by an 8:00 pm showing of Elf at the Iowa Theater (free with non-perishable food item).

Winter Solstice Market – Friday, December 8 – Saturday, December 9, 2023

Join us for a two-day indoor shopping experience featuring 25 curated arts, crafts, and food vendors in the newly restored Winterset Livery building on the Winterset Courthouse Square, 116 S. 1st Ave. Savor the sights, sounds and scents of the holiday season while shopping for handcrafted items for everyone on your list.

Points of Interest

Covered Bridges of Madison County

City Park

Madison County Conservation

John Wayne Birthplace & Museum

Iowa Quilt Museum

The Drift

Covered Bridges Winery

Madison County Winery

Big Rack Brew Haus

Winterset Courthouse Square Retail District

Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway (NE)


The Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway stretches across the entire country and there is so much to see along the way, but one of the hidden gems along this journey is North Platte, Nebraska. North Platte is home to the world’s largest railyard and is mentioned in history books for it’s incredible WWII Canteen that served over six million service men and women. However, some of our favorite things that can be found here right along the byway route are the historical downtown Canteen District, Grain Bin Antique Town, and Feather River Vineyard.

The Canteen District in North Platte is a place where history meets modern, and fun mixes with practical. This downtown area has recently been revitalized and is now a hub for different types of dining and diverse cuisine, boutique shopping, all things entertainment, and more. The area was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2020 and is named after The North Platte Canteen which served over 6 million service men and women passing through during World War II. These old buildings have charm that modern architects can’t replicate, and they have been brought back to life with up-to-date touches that make them appealing to those looking for something fresh and unique as well. All of this blanketed under a fresh winter’s snow makes it feel like you’ve stepped into a Hallmark movie.

Grain Bin Antique Town is clustered on a hilltop in the scenic canyons south of North Platte and consists of twenty historic grain bins and a massive barn that are connected by a boardwalk to form a huge and eclectic collection of antiques and more. The individual bins contain unique collections from old signage and advertisements to farm implements and even cow skulls. There are dishes, dolls, book ends, old gas pumps…the list could go on forever. With a constantly changing inventory, there are new treasures both large and small to be discovered on each visit. The scenery of the hills makes it gorgeous throughout all  seasons, but there is just something special about seeing it in the winter. At Grain Bin Antique Town, the shopping is unique, the scenic valleys and hills around that surround us are unique, and the entire experience is unique. Guests love walking on our boardwalk from bin to bin, opening each one with gleeful anticipation as they ask themselves what their next discovery could possibly be.

Feather River Vineyard has a quiet atmosphere, great wine, and beautiful scenery. Located in the hills of the Southern Platte Valley, Feather River has been offering a variety of wines that reflect the character and history of the area’s geologic heritage since 2007. River and windblown sediment have created the mineral-rich soil of the region that nurtures vines that produce grapes of a distinctive quality. Feather River is one of Nebraska’s largest vineyards and planted their first vines in 2001. The 37-acre vineyard includes a bevy of grape varieties including Edelwiess, Seyval, Reisling, LaCrosse, St Pipen, Marechal Foch, Frontanec, St. Croix, and Marguette. The winter chill might stop you from enjoying the patio and the outdoor tasting gazebo, but from inside their cozy indoor tasting room, you will still love taking in the scenery of the hills, valley, and grape vines covered in sparkling white snow.

The North Platte, Nebraska stretch of the Lincoln Highway Scenic and Historic Byway has something unique and beautiful to offer during every season, and when you see it in the winter, it’s a beautiful sight you are sure not to forget.

Points of Interest

The Downtown Historical Canteen District

Feather River Vineyard

Grain Bin Antique Town


Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway (CO)


The San Luis Valley is a landscape speckled in a diverse cultural richness, that dates back over 11,000 years. As you crest one of the four major road passages into the San Luis Valley, your eyes lay sight on the majestic open skies, it is as if you traveled back in time. The 8,000 square mile alpine desert valley is tucked away where the southwestern culture of New Mexico tangles together with the western frontier culture of south-central Colorado. Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway will take you through the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area; an experience that will immerse you in vast, untouched natural beauty and inspiriting narratives of native tribes, explorers, frontiersmen, buffalo soldiers, ranchers, miners, and railroad boomers. Where today you can sand board down the tallest dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, have room to breathe, lay under a blanket of infinite stars in one of the nation’s darkest places, and drift through the history between quaint towns of generations past in the back of beyond. This is where Colorado began and where the old west spirit of honesty, adventure, and small-town hospitality is still very much alive.

As one of Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways, Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway (The Ancient Roads) is a premier example of why collections of roads are deemed significant enough to be recognized as a byway.

Along its 129 mile, three-county route, interpretive markers tell the story of the land, the people, and the history that intersects in this place. The scenic drive will take you through the heart of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area.

This 129-mile state scenic byway links the four Cornerstone Communities of Alamosa, Fort Garland, San Luis, and Antonito, as well as the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the San Luis Lakes State Park, the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, Zapata Falls, the Medano-Zapata Ranch, the Rio Grande National Forest, the Conejos River, Culebra Creek, and the Rio Grande. Smaller communities along this route include: Mosca, Blanca, San Acacio, Manassa, Romeo, Conejos, Paisaje, Mogote, Las Mesitas, and Fox Creek. There are 22 wayside exhibits along the way that provide interpretation of specific topics and sites.

Interpretive topics include the Rio Grande River, the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, Conejos Canyon, Adams State University, Spanish Entradas, the Aquifers & Closed Basin, the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, dune formation, Blanca Wetlands, Zapata Falls, Paleo-Indians, Tewa Indians, Blanca Peak, Penitentes, the Alpine Desert, Fort Massachusetts, Fort Garland, Buffalo Soldiers, San Luis the Oldest Town in Colorado, La Vega, Acequias, Stations of the Cross, Lt. Zebulon Pike, Pike’s Stockade, King’s Turquoise Mine, the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, Jack Dempsey Museum, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Points of Interest

Visit Alamosa

Great Sand Dunes

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area

Fort Garland Museum

Minnesota Great River Road (MN)


The Minnesota Great River Road sparkles in winter, offering 565 miles, 13 National Great River Road Interpretive Centers, 43 communities, abundant parks and trails, and unique experiences both outdoor and indoor!

Minnesota’s 13 Great River Road Interpretive Centers are always must-see attractions – check their websites for winter hours and online offerings. Several of the centers provide unique winter opportunities. The Jacob Brower Visitor Center at Itasca State Park is open year-round (near stunning views of the source of the Mighty Mississippi), trails are open year-round at the Forest History Center in the beautiful Northwoods, and the National Eagle Center offers field trips during the winter months to view these majestic creatures in their natural environment.

Festivals and events celebrate all things winter in communities large and small. Classics include the Saint Paul Winter Carnival with many free family activities including parades, snow sculptures and the legend of King Boreas of Winter and his eventual overthrow by Vulcanus Rex, signaling that spring will again be on the way… and the Grumpy Old Men Festival in Wabasha inspired by that famous film and the winter Minnesota activities that go with it – ice fishing, bonfires, and “Living Your Best Plaid Life.” A fish house parade?!? You betcha. Find it in Aitkin on the day after Thanksgiving.

Communities from upstream to downstream offer a variety of options – a few starting points include the northern community of Grand Rapids and Winona in the southeast with the Frozen River Film Festival and Ice Climbing on a Mississippi River bluff. Looking for indoor options? Nine Minnesota Great River Road communities have shared their best arts destinations – many are open year-round and are the perfect starting points to explore these Mississippi River towns.

Minnesota State Parks & Trails in Winter is a great guide to fun things to do, including what, where and how! Snowshoeing – check. Hiking – check. Winter picnics and wildlife viewing? Check. And Check. Try winter camping at Itasca State Park or Lake Bemidji State Park, and winter fat biking at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area or Fort Snelling State Park.

And don’t miss a visit to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, the Mississippi River’s very own National Park. Start at the Visitor Center located within the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Chippewa National Forest offers a wide range of recreational facilities. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, hiking – adventure for all seasons.

These are just a few examples from along the Minnesota Great River Road! We welcome you and look forward to your winter visit. Plan Your Trip today!

Points of Interest

Minnesota State Parks and Trails Winter Activities

Grumpy Old Men Festival February 23 – 24, 2024

Saint Paul Winter Carnival January 25 – February 3, 2024

Aitkin Fish House Parade November 24, 2023

MN Great River Road Interpretive Centers

MN Great River Road Plan Your Trip Interactive Map

Natchez Trace Parkway  (ALMSTN)


The Natchez Trace Parkway is a historic and scenic route that meanders through the heart of the Southeastern United States. While it’s a popular destination during the warmer months, exploring the Natchez Trace Parkway in the winter offers a unique and peaceful experience. This 444-mile corridor, stretching from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, is steeped in history, natural beauty, and vibrant communities. In this article, we’ll delve into how to make the most of your winter journey along the Natchez Trace Parkway and explore the charming communities along the way.

Winter along the Natchez Trace Parkway brings a different kind of beauty. The deciduous trees, which burst with vibrant colors in the fall, now stand as elegant skeletons, allowing you to see deeper into the forest and appreciate the scenic vistas.

Hiking and Biking: The cool, crisp air of winter is perfect for outdoor activities. Strap on your hiking boots or hop on your bicycle and explore the numerous trails and scenic byways that crisscross the Parkway. Be sure to check trail conditions and be prepared for variable weather.

Wildlife Encounters

Winter is an excellent time for wildlife enthusiasts. With fewer leaves on the trees and reduced underbrush, spotting animals becomes easier. Keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and various bird species that inhabit the area. Birdwatchers will be delighted by the opportunity to see winter migrants and resident species.

Historic Sites and Interpretive Centers

The Natchez Trace Parkway is rich in history, and many historic sites and interpretive centers are open year-round. Plan your visit to stops like the Mount Locust Inn and Plantation, where you can step back in time and learn about life on the Trace in the 1800s. The Parkway Visitor Center in Tupelo, Mississippi, offers engaging exhibits and helpful information to enhance your journey.

Cozy Campgrounds and Lodges

Camping in the winter may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who enjoy it, the Parkway offers some unique opportunities. Campgrounds like Jeff Busby and Meriwether Lewis are open year-round and provide a serene escape. Imagine sitting by a campfire, wrapped in blankets, as you gaze at the starry winter sky.

If you prefer more comfort, the Parkway boasts charming lodges such as a bed & breakfast in French Camp, Mississippi, and numerous hotel partners in the 18 communities just off the Trace.

While the Natchez Trace Parkway itself is a remarkable destination, the communities along the way add depth and character to your journey. Let’s explore some of these charming towns and their winter offerings.

  • Natchez, Mississippi
  • Starting your journey in Natchez, Mississippi, provides a warm introduction to the Trace. This historic town, perched high above the Mississippi River, is known for its architecture and Southern hospitality. While in Natchez, explore the beautifully decorated mansions, take a carriage ride through the historic district, and indulge in delicious Southern cuisine. During the winter season, Natchez’s mild climate ensures comfortable exploration.
  • Port Gibson, Mississippi
  • As you make your way along the Trace, stop by Port Gibson, often referred to as the “Jewel of the Trace.” The town’s well-preserved historic district, with its grand mansions and churches, transports you to the 19th century. Be sure to visit the Windsor Ruins, the remains of a grand plantation home that burned during the Civil War.
  • Clinton, Mississippi
  • Nestled along the Natchez Trace Parkway, Clinton offers travelers a warm and welcoming stop and features Olde Towne Clinton. This picturesque town is known for its friendly residents, historic sites, and a serene atmosphere that beckons visitors to linger a while.
  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Jackson, Mississippi, is a vibrant city located in the heart of the Magnolia State and serves as a dynamic stopover along the Natchez Trace Parkway. This capital city is a melting pot of culture, history, and art, offering travelers a diverse array of experiences.
  • Ridgeland, Mississippi
  • Ridgeland, just outside of Jackson, is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. The city is nestled against the picturesque Barnett Reservoir, making it a hub for water-based activities like boating and fishing. In winter, the crisp air adds a refreshing element to these outdoor pursuits, and the Bill Waller Craft Center provides an indoor attraction.
  • Tupelo, Mississippi
  • Tupelo, best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, offers a vibrant music scene and a rich cultural heritage. Visit the Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum to learn about the life of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Winter in Tupelo means fewer crowds and the chance to explore the city’s attractions at a leisurely pace.
  • Tishomingo, Mississippi
  • Tishomingo offers a serene and nature-rich experience and is a hidden gem for those seeking outdoor adventure and a glimpse into Mississippi’s natural beauty. Tishomingo State Park provides hiking trails, picnicking areas, and a pristine lake perfect for fishing and kayaking. The park’s rugged terrain features massive boulders and unique rock formations.
  • The Shoals, Alabama
  • The Shoals region of Alabama is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends a rich musical heritage, historic sites, and natural beauty. This unique area has something for every traveler, from music enthusiasts to history buffs and outdoor adventurers.
  • Franklin, Tennessee
  • As you near the northern terminus of the Parkway, don’t miss Franklin, Tennessee. This charming town is famous for its historic downtown, filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and excellent dining options. During winter, the town is beautifully decorated for the holidays, creating a cozy and festive atmosphere.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful winter getaway, the Natchez Trace Parkway has something to offer everyone during this special season.

Points of Interest:

Mile Marker 10.3 – Emerald Mound

Mile Marker 15.5 – Mount Locust

Mile Marker 41.5 – The Sunken Trace

Mile Marker 122 – Cypress Swamp

A self-guided trail through a water tupelo/ bald Cypress Swamp. A lucky visitor may see an alligator on this half-mile trail with boardwalks.

Mile Marker 193.1 – Jeff Busby

Mile Marker 261.8 – Chickasaw Village

Site Exhibits portray daily life and early history at the Chickasaw Village that once stood here.

Mile Marker 266 – Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center

The Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center has an orientation film and interpretive displays, as well as an Eastern National Bookstore.

Mile Marker 286.7 – Pharr Mounds

A truly awesome sight—and must-see site. A 90-acre complex of eight different burial mounds, built between 1,800 and 2,000 years ago during the Middle Woodland period, with four of the eight mounds excavated in 1966 by the National Park Service.

Mile Marker 304.5 – Tishomingo State Park

Mile Marker 327.3 – Colbert Ferry

Mile Marker 330.2 – Rock Spring

Rock Spring offers a short half-mile loop that takes you past Colbert Creek and away from the traffic of the Parkway.

Mile Marker 385.9 – Meriwether Lewis Monument

The famous explorer led a dramatic life and died a mysterious death. Lewis was buried near Grinder’s Stand and in 1848, a memorial was erected in his honor. Visit his gravesite and do some exploring of your own around campsites and self-guided walking trails.

Mile Marker 391.9 – Fall Hollow Trail

If you are interested in waterfalls, you will want to take a short walk on the Fall Hollow Trail. A five-minute walk will take you to a viewing platform to see a small, sparkling waterfall. Those interested in continuing will be rewarded with numerous cascades.

Mile Marker 404.7 – Jackson Falls

A gorgeous view, and the hike to get there is a beauty, too: down and back up a 900-foot descent.

Mile Marker 407.7 – Gordon House

Built in 1818, the Gordon House is one of only two surviving historic buildings on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Mile Marker 423.9 – Tennessee Valley Divide

When Tennessee joined the Union in 1796, this watershed was the boundary between the United States and the Chickasaw Nation.

Mile Marker 438 – Birdsong Hollow

This is not the first double arch bridge. However, it is the first segmentally constructed double arch bridge.  It won the Presidential Award for Design Excellence in 1995.

Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway (MN)


Get to know Paul Bunyan and his namesake National Scenic Byway. Spend a day or two exploring the lore along the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway!

This 54-mile route, is brimming with year-round recreational opportunities. Located entirely on county roads in northern Crow Wing County and poking into the southeast side of Cass County, it’s much more than just a beautiful drive. 14 interpretive panel kiosks dot the byway route offering a little truth and a little lore about the history of the area, as seen through the wink and wit of Paul Bunyan.

Resorts, restaurants, golf courses, shopping, local events, and four-season fun abound in and around the Byway communities of Breezy Point, Crosslake, Jenkins, Pine River, Manhattan Beach and Pequot Lakes. The route passes through eight townships as well. Keep your eyes sharp for the seven sets of Paul Bunyan’s giant footprints. Here’s a hint: look in Barclay Township, Ideal Township, Breezy Point, Pequot Lakes, Pine River, Jenkins and Crosslake. Can you find them all?

Walk, stroll, hike, or run on the route’s wide paved shoulders, in the many walking trails, and through the parks along the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway. Enjoy scenic trails for nature walks and photography. Those footprints of Paul Bunyan’s can be elusive seen from a distance in several of the Byway parks. The Veterans Walking Trail on County Road 16 features nearly 1.5 miles of forested trail boasting a Wetlands Walk, an island trail and resting bench, a footbridge over a navigable creek, trailhead kiosk and easy parking.

Several public accesses and three public beaches provide easy room to park and head out on the water. Ask for a Tour Map and Tour Guide Brochure from any local Chamber of Commerce offices or contact us.

During the winter, the Byway community welcomes silent sporters like – bird watchers, hikers, skiers and even those out for a peaceful walk. And since ‘ole Babe has a soft spot in his heart for the tingles of exhilaration he gets when he thunders along the lakes on his BIG blue ‘Babesled’… well, we welcome snowmobilers too. Keep an ear out for his bellerin’ through the channels. Watch for Paul Bunyan himself at upcoming community events, festivals, and parades. Visit the Paul Bunyan Exhibit Room at Crosslake’s Corps of Engineers Campground. While you’re there, grab a copy of the popular Birds of the Byway brochure and find the best locations along the route for viewing everything from ospreys to hawks.

Winter Recreation on Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway

Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway (ME)


The Rangeley Lakes Region is a Winter Paradise! Especially for those who enjoy playing in the snow! Horse-drawn carriage rides are offered in Rangeley Village. Free skates and the opportunity to skate on a local pond await you every day!

Ride Rangeley with the Rangeley Lakes Snowmobile Club, which maintains hundreds of miles of perfectly groomed trails. Our region’s conservation lands have ensured that your favorite ride will be there for your grandchildren. Our neighbors are also generous by allowing trail access across their private lands. Join us in January for Snodeo; an entire weekend all about snowmobiling.

Saddleback Maine is our local alpine skiing heaven and offers the region’s finest piste and off-piste skiing. Get on the snow, take a tune-up lesson, and make some memories! It’s a family vibe. When you’re here, you’re family.

Rangeley Lakes Trails Center is nestled below Saddleback Mountain and along the shore of Saddleback Lake. RLTC offers 35 miles of recreational trails for Nordic skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing. Have a dog? Bring them along for the adventure!

Points of Interest

Ski Saddleback! Endless terrain for all ages and abilities.

Snowshoeing under the Milky Way! Take advantage of these long nights. Strap on a pair on snowshoes and take a walk on one of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust’s conservation lands.

Set a Trap! Try your hand at ice fishing. Use the link to check local regulations for waterbodies.

Ice Skate on Haley Pond! Take advantage of free ice skates at Haley Pond Park. The – Ride Rangeley! Trailer your sled or rent one when you get here. The Rangeley Lakes Region has hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails – many of which are conserved.

Cross-Country Ski! Visit the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center for miles and miles of terrain. Learn more at

Moose Sightseeing! Spy a moose along the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway from dusk to dark on Route 17 to Coos Canyon or traveling Route 16 to the New Hampshire border.

Charting Your Winter Escape: Alternative Routes to Sunny Florida via America’s Byways

For snowbirds, the allure of spending the winter months in sunny Florida is undeniable. With its balmy temperatures, pristine beaches, and a wealth of attractions, it’s no wonder the Sunshine State has become a beloved winter haven for those seeking respite from the cold and snow. However, while the traditional routes to Florida may be well-trodden, savvy snowbirds are increasingly exploring alternate routes to reach their winter retreats.

The America’s Byways collection of scenic routes offers travelers options that may help avoid the notorious traffic snarls that can plague the traditional paths. Alternative routes can also lead travelers through lesser-known regions and hidden gems that might be missed on the interstate highways. Snowbirds can use this opportunity to explore charming small towns, historic sites, and picturesque landscapes along the way.

From the Midwest

If you’re traveling from the Midwest, consider adding one of these scenic drives as an alternate route or side trip.

  1. Country Music Highway (Kentucky)

The Country Music Highway in Kentucky is an enticing side trip for several compelling reasons. First, it offers travelers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich musical heritage of the region. Known as the “Birthplace of Stars,” this highway has been home to numerous country music legends, including Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, and Ricky Skaggs. Travelers can visit hometown museums, landmarks, and venues dedicated to these iconic artists, gaining insight into their lives and careers. The journey along the Country Music Highway becomes a musical pilgrimage, where the melodies and stories of these legends come to life, making it a must-visit destination for country music enthusiasts.

Second, the Country Music Highway winds through the picturesque landscapes of eastern Kentucky, offering a scenic backdrop to the musical journey. The rolling hills, lush forests, and charming small towns along the route create a quintessentially Appalachian atmosphere. Whether it’s the vibrant colors of fall foliage or the tranquil beauty of the countryside, the highway provides a visually captivating experience. Travelers can also explore outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing, in the nearby state parks and forests, making it an ideal side trip for nature enthusiasts as well. The Country Music Highway is a harmonious blend of musical history and natural beauty, making it a memorable and enriching journey for all who traverse its winding path.

  1. Crowley’s Ridge (Arkansas)

A drive along the Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway in Arkansas promises an enjoyable side trip. The byway meanders through a unique geological formation known as Crowley’s Ridge, which rises prominently from the flat Mississippi Alluvial Plain. This ridge offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and creates a dynamic backdrop for the journey. Travelers can appreciate the striking contrast between the rolling hills of Crowley’s Ridge and the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta, making the scenic drive captivating and engaging. Along the way, there are numerous overlooks and scenic pull-offs where you can pause to soak in the picturesque landscapes and capture memorable photographs.

Secondly, the Crowley’s Ridge region is rich in history and offers opportunities to explore charming small towns and historical sites. The byway passes through communities that have preserved their heritage and provide a glimpse into the history of the area. The town of Jonesboro boasts museums, historic homes, and cultural attractions that allow travelers to step back in time and learn about the region’s past. Additionally, the byway offers access to Crowley’s Ridge State Park, where visitors can hike along scenic trails, enjoy picnicking, and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the ridge. Overall, a drive along the Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway combines stunning landscapes with cultural exploration, making it a fun and enriching side trip for those seeking a diverse and memorable road trip experience in Arkansas.

  1. Great River Road (ArkansasIllinoisIowaKentuckyLouisianaMinnesotaMississippiMissouriTennesseeWisconsin)

Embarking on side trips along the Great River Road while driving from the Midwest is a rewarding experience that adds depth and diversity to the journey. The Great River Road, which follows the course of the mighty Mississippi River, spans over 2,000 miles and passes through ten states. Along the way, it offers countless opportunities to explore charming riverfront towns, historic sites, and natural wonders. These side trips allow travelers to delve deeper into the heart of America, uncovering hidden gems that might otherwise be missed.

One of the key rewards of taking side trips along the Great River Road is the chance to discover unique culture and history. From the vibrant jazz scene in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the scenic bluffs and picturesque river towns in Wisconsin, each region has its own distinct charm and character. Travelers can visit Civil War battlefields, explore historic plantations, indulge in regional cuisine, and experience the warm hospitality of the people along the route. Whether it’s attending a Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis, Missouri, or admiring the architectural beauty of Nauvoo, Illinois, these side trips offer a rich tapestry of experiences that celebrate America’s diverse heritage and traditions.

  1. Talladega Scenic Drive (Alabama)

A drive along the Talladega Scenic Byway in Alabama promises to deliver a fun and rewarding experience as an alternative route or side trip. Firstly, the byway traverses the stunning Talladega National Forest, which covers nearly 400,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Travelers can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature as they wind their way through lush forests, pass by serene lakes, and enjoy breathtaking vistas. The route is particularly popular during the fall when the foliage transforms into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for the journey. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for opportunities to hike, fish, or simply take in the natural splendor, the Talladega Scenic Byway offers it all.

The byway also leads travelers through charming small towns and communities, providing opportunities to explore Alabama’s rich cultural heritage. From historic districts to local festivals and events, there’s a lot to discover along the way. The byway also connects with the Cheaha State Park, home to Alabama’s highest peak, Mount Cheaha. Visitors can take a detour to explore the park’s hiking trails, visit the observation tower for sweeping views, and learn about the native flora and fauna. Whether you’re looking for scenic beauty, outdoor adventures, or cultural exploration, the Talladega Scenic Byway offers a delightful alternate route that showcases the diverse treasures of Alabama.

I-95 Coastal Excursions

Here are few scenic drives for travelers heading south on I-95 and looking to linger along the coast.

  1. Ashley River Road (South Carolina)

The Ashley River Road National Scenic Byway in South Carolina is a captivating journey through time, offering travelers a unique opportunity to explore the state’s rich history, lush landscapes, and architectural treasures. This scenic byway winds along the Ashley River, which is lined with majestic oak trees draped in Spanish moss and historic plantations that harken back to the antebellum era. As you drive along this picturesque route, you’ll encounter a series of plantations, such as Middleton Place and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, each with its own distinct charm and stories of the past. These sites provide visitors with a window into the grandeur and complexities of the Old South, showcasing beautifully landscaped gardens and fascinating exhibits that tell the tales of those who lived and worked on these plantations.

Beyond the plantations, the Ashley River Road Byway also offers opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The region is teeming with wildlife, and birdwatchers and nature lovers will delight in spotting herons, egrets, and other native species in the area’s wetlands and swamps. The scenic drive also leads to several recreational areas, like the Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, where visitors can enjoy hiking trails, picnicking, and learning about the founding of the original Charles Towne colony. Overall, a drive along the Ashley River Road National Scenic Byway is a captivating and educational journey that showcases the beauty of South Carolina’s Lowcountry and its deep ties to American history.

  1. Edisto Island National Scenic Byway (South Carolina)

The Edisto Island National Scenic Byway in South Carolina offers a rewarding and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. As you embark on this scenic journey, you’ll be immersed in the natural beauty and cultural charm of the Lowcountry. The byway winds through pristine salt marshes, ancient oak avenues draped with Spanish moss, and tranquil waterways, providing travelers with a serene and picturesque backdrop for their adventure. This tranquil setting is perfect for those seeking a peaceful road trip experience and a chance to connect with nature.

One of the key rewards of traveling along the Edisto Island Byway is the opportunity to explore the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. Edisto Island is steeped in the Gullah Geechee culture, and you’ll encounter historic plantations, quaint churches, and unique cultural sites along the way. The byway also leads to Edisto Beach State Park, where you can enjoy miles of unspoiled coastline, birdwatching, and water-based activities like kayaking and paddleboarding. Whether you’re interested in history, wildlife, or simply savoring the laid-back atmosphere of the Lowcountry, the Edisto Island National Scenic Byway offers a rewarding experience that showcases the charm and character of this coastal gem in South Carolina.

  1. Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway (Georgia)

A drive along the Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway in Georgia is a truly rewarding experience that offers a deep dive into the history, culture, and natural beauty of the state. This byway traces the course of the Altamaha River, one of the largest and most ecologically significant rivers in Georgia. As you journey along its winding path, you’ll encounter picturesque landscapes, charming small towns, and a wealth of recreational and historical opportunities. The byway’s winding roads and serene river views make it a delightful route for those seeking a slower-paced, scenic drive.

One of the key rewards of exploring the Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich cultural and historical heritage of the region. Along the way, you can visit historic sites like Fort King George, a colonial-era fort that offers insights into Georgia’s early history. The byway also passes through towns like Darien, where you can explore well-preserved historic districts and savor fresh seafood at local restaurants. Additionally, the byway provides access to numerous outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and birdwatching, thanks to the proximity of the Altamaha River and surrounding wetlands. Overall, a drive along the Altamaha Historic Scenic Byway offers a multifaceted journey that celebrates Georgia’s natural beauty and diverse cultural tapestry.


While the classic route to Florida may remain a popular choice for snowbirds, exploring alternative routes offers a range of advantages. From avoiding traffic bottlenecks and discovering hidden gems to enjoying unique attractions and bypassing inclement weather, these alternative journeys can transform the winter migration into a memorable adventure. So, whether you’re a seasoned snowbird or a first-time traveler, consider charting a different course to Florida this winter on one of America’s Byways, and you may find that the journey is just as rewarding as the destination.

Visit to learn more about scenic drives across the U.S.