Some people want to visit New York City. Some of us are satisfied with visiting the area around Paducah, Kentucky.
Why? Because there’s an America that exists outside the big cities.
Locally, there are roads people can take if they ever want to get off the four-lane and enjoy the two-lane, double-yellow line roads. It’s travel measured by the sights and people you experience, not by the number of miles you put behind you. It’s a way to learn about your home region at minimal expense.
Here in no particular order are seven of my favorite one-day road trips:
West Virginia 10, Huntington to Chapmanville. This is not a good road for passengers who tend to get carsick. If you’re interested in finding ghost businesses, this is the road. Every few miles you’ll find an old building that once was a grocery store, a garage, a tavern or some other place where people did business and traded gossip. Think of it as a rural version of urban archaeology. Go ahead on to Princeton if you have time.
Ohio 7, Athalia to Marietta. This is farm country with several good straight stretches. As with any road in Ohio, obey speed limits. People on that side of the river take them seriously.
U.S. 52, Portsmouth, Ohio, to New Richmond, Ohio. There are faster ways to get from Huntington to Cincinnati, but none are as scenic. You can take a side trip on the ferry over to Augusta, Kentucky, if you like.
Ohio 93, Ironton to Oak Hill and on to Jackson. There’s no one thing to recommend this road except it’s something different to consider if you need to go to Columbus and you’re not in a hurry.
Old U.S. 35, Mason County, West Virginia. This road goes through some really nice farm country. When the last segment of four-lane opens, you’ll be able to drive it without worrying about a Freightliner grille filling your rearview mirror.
West Virginia 62, Point Pleasant to Eleanor. The other side of the Kanawha River has some interesting sights, too, but the road is narrower and curvy in spots.
U.S. 60 east of Charleston. This road can be like a box of chocolates. You never know if you’re going to be in an interesting old town or staring at the back of a coal truck for several miles.
There are other roads near here that I haven’t driven in a couple of decades, so I can’t vouch for them. U.S. 60 from Ashland to Morehead is one. Ohio 104 from Chillicothe to Columbus is another. U.S. 50 from Chillicothe to Cincinnati was formerly on my list of roads to take when time wasn’t a factor.
Ohio 7 from Newport to Hannibal has some attractiveness to it, too, and you can take a side trip on the ferry at Sistersville, West Virginia, but it’s a long drive to get there.
Those are mine. If you have others in mind that the rest of us can enjoy, please share.