There’s something for everyone in Washington County, Maryland, whether it’s your first trip or you keep returning to your favorite scenic nature trails over and over again. With summer just around the corner, now is the time to start planning your next great road trip. Located about three hours from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, or 90 minutes from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, this particular part of the state is full of historic Civil War battlefields and scenic byways showcasing the area’s natural beauty. If you’re up for a memorable drive full of history, hiking trails, charming small towns, historic inns, wineries, breweries, and plenty of Americana, add these three scenic byways to your next Western Maryland road trip itinerary.
The Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway
While the entire Historic National Road reaches across six states from Baltimore, Maryland, to East St. Louis, Illinois, a large portion of Maryland’s stretch of it passes through Washington County, following Maryland Route 144 and US Route 40 Scenic (also called US Route 40 Alternate), which runs parallel to US Route 40 from Frederick to Hagerstown. As you drive on the scenic byway, built between 1811 and 1834 and dotted with historic sites, charming small towns, and stunning natural scenery, it’s not hard to imagine early American settlers and traders traveling along the same route in their horse-drawn carriages.
Popular stops within Washington County include Washington Monument State Park, where you can hike a small section of the legendary Appalachian Trail and view the first stone monument ever created in honor of George Washington, and South Mountain State Park, which is located nearby and part of a popular migratory trail. Visit the National Road Museum in Boonsboro to learn more about US Route 40, the first federally funded highway in the U.S., and snap photos of the town’s charming 19th-century buildings. Nora Roberts fans can also make a pilgrimage to her beloved Turn the Page Bookstore and Café, where she still does the occasional book signing, or stay at the Inn BoonsBoro, a literary-themed bed and breakfast opened by the esteemed bestselling author and her husband in 2009. Head to Big Cork Vineyards for a glass of locally made wine or enjoy a meal at Old South Mountain Inn, known for its dining since 1732.
Spend some time in Hagerstown, often referred to as the “Hub City” due to its location at the crossroads of several major trading routes — by land and water — and eventually, because of its many modern-day railway and highway connections. If you’re craving a little culture on your road trip, visit the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts or catch a show at The Maryland Theatre, where the Maryland Symphony Orchestra is based. Stroll along the Hagerstown Cultural Trail, which connects the theatre district with the fine arts museum in City Park. Just a 10-minute drive from downtown Hagerstown, Antietam Brewery is worth a stop for its creative craft brews, tasting room, behind-the-scenes tours, and outdoor patio, while Blue Mountain Wine Crafters in nearby Funktown offers a dog-friendly stop for lovers of all things vino.
Next, head west to Ford Frederick State Park in Big Pool, home to a unique stone fort that dates back to 1756 and once protected Maryland during the French and Indian War — it’s also home to several hiking trails where you can spot white-tailed deer, birds, turtles, and other wetland wildlife. Nearby, seafood lovers can tuck into crab cakes, crab legs, oyster po’boys, and other surf and turf delights like prime rib and smoked beef brisket sandwiches at Jimmy Joy’s Log Cabin Inn — just make sure you save room for homemade coconut cake or Queen City Creamery frozen custard for dessert.
Other places worth checking out along the scenic byway include the Town Hill Overlook in Little Orleans and, just beyond Washington County’s boundaries, Rocky Gap State Park in Flintstone, the Great Allegheny Passage (which starts in Cumberland, Maryland and ends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and charming small towns like Cumberland, Frostburg, and Grantsville, gateway to Casselman River Bridge State Park.
If you’re short on time, consider breaking up your Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway road trip by interest or section, as its Eastern and Western portions extend well beyond Washington County and cover all sorts of historic sites, quaint country towns, and other intriguing attractions.
The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Scenic Byway
Travel along the C&O Canal Scenic Byway from Cumberland to Hagerstown and points beyond via several Maryland routes (65, 63, 68, 56, 51, and 144, as well as I-70 and US 40), following the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historic Park, an extensive 184.5-mile waterway connecting Washington, D.C. with Cumberland, Maryland. The C&O Canal Towpath runs alongside it, acting as a major destination for runners, cyclists, and anyone in need of a long walk by the Potomac River. If you prefer a paved path, the adjacent Western Maryland Rail Trail, which runs 28 miles between Big Pool and Little Orleans, makes a great option for those longing to stretch their legs.
While Williamsport is a major center of activity along the C&O Canal Scenic Byway, with opportunities to check out the inner workings of the lock during a 1900s-era boat ride or by spending the night in a traditional lockhouse, there are a few other spots worth visiting along the canal as well.
In Hancock, grab a bite or pick up some locally made souvenirs at The Blue Goose Market, home to a popular bakery, then stop by the visitor center to learn more about the town’s history beside the busy canal system.
Get some fresh air by taking a hike in the Sideling Hill Wildlife Management Area, home to some of the area’s oldest geology, as well as songbirds, white-tailed deer, black bears, grouse, and wild turkeys. If time allows, hike up to Paw Paw Tunnel, which takes you up from the campground through a pitch-black tunnel (don’t forget to bring a flashlight!) so you can view waterfalls on the other side. If you’ve managed to work up an appetite after all that, head to Buddy Lou’s Antiques and Eats for delicious Southern-style treats like fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese, and crabcake sandwiches.
Another popular canal town, Sharpsburg, is known for its proximity to Antietam National Battlefield and for being part of its own scenic byway.
The Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway
Think of the Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway as the ultimate open-air Civil War museum, taking visitors from White’s Ferry along several Maryland Routes — 107 and 109 to Hyattstown, 355 to Frederick, US Route 40 Alternate to Middletown, 17 to Gathland State Park, 67 to Knoxville, 340 to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and US Route 40 Alternate — through Middletown and Boonsboro to Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg.
Popular stops include historic White’s Ferry, C&O Canal National Historical Park (which we just talked about), and Little Bennett Regional Park in Hyattstown. Next, you’ll hit Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick, where the fighting raged on and essentially saved Washington, D.C. from a Confederate invasion, Gathland State Park, home to a large stone monument created to honor Civil War correspondents, and South Mountain State Battlefield, which helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Union.
The scenic byway ends at its most well-known stop, Antietam National Battlefield, where on September 17, 1862, roughly 23,000 soldiers were killed in what is now known as the bloodiest single-day battle in American history — check the website, as there will be special events held over the weekend of September 17, 2022, to mark the 160th anniversary. All year long, you can learn about the battle and those who fought and died there at the visitor center, hear about Civil War medicine at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, and reflect on the lives that were lost at Antietam National Cemetery. Raise a glass to history and those who came before at Antietam Creek Vineyards, also located in Sharpsburg, offering several locally made vintage white, red, and rosé wines and views of the nearby battlefield.
Love Golf? Here are the 10 Best Cities for Golf
There are many ways to enjoy the game of golf. Sprawling country club courses. Popular urban courses. Curses at vacation resorts with various themes. Courses on the shore and courses in the desert, old courses and new. You can play yourself or watch the tour professionals take their swings. Golf is a game for young and old, for the wealthy golf tourist and the local course hackers. And courses are found in every corner of the nation and in nearly every city, seasonal and year-round. But of all of these, which are the best cities for golf in the nation? For every city that offers golfers a first tee and a 19th hole, apartmentguide.com counted every public course and cross-referenced each with Golf Digest's list of the top 100 public courses in the U.S. (2017-2018 ). These 10 spots are the best for golf. 10. Bend, OR What goes better together than golf and beer? Not much. The central Oregon town of Bend has plenty of both. The city of nearly 100,000 features just 13 public courses, fewer than many other cities on this list. But three of those are ranked among Golf Digest's 70 best public courses.9. Pinehurst, NC Pinehurst is a small village in North Carolina between Charlotte and Fayetteville. The population is just 13,000. But this unassuming town in a relatively mundane forested inland region is home to one of the nation's most renowned golf resort complexes.8. Hilton Head Island, SCGolf Green with Lake-Hilton Head, SC - Credit: IStock - William Reagan Just north of Savannah, GA, is the swampy South Carolina island of Hilton Head. The Low Country destination features a dozen miles of Atlantic beach and an abundance of natural wetlands, preserves and inlets filled with wildlife. The island is home to many species of alligators, sea turtles, dolphins and manatees.7. Monterey, CA Tucked into the gentle cove at the south end of Monterey Bay, at the tip of the Monterey Peninsula, is beautiful Monterey, CA. Protected from the ocean by Point Pinos, ocean breezes and lagoon tides create pristine beaches, agreeable surf and placid weather.6. Palm Desert, CA The city of Palm Desert, CA, is rather accurately named. It's a gateway between the San Jacintos' sunny green forest and the Joshua Tree desert. Its position at the heart of Coachella Valley along I-10 makes its weather perfect for outdoor recreation. Particularly golf.5. Myrtle Beach, SCMyrtle Beach golf course in South Carolina - Credit: IStock - andykazie Beautiful Myrtle Beach, SC, is a sandy, oceanside resort city attractive to beachgoers, outdoor enthusiasts, spring breakers, club hoppers and retirees alike. The jewel of the Grand Strand attracts 20 million visitors yearly to its nearly 2,000 restaurants, 425 hotels, dozen theaters and top-ranked boardwalk. Little wonder it is continuously one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country.4. Kohler, WI When you think of golf paradises, Sheboygan, WI, isn't usually the spot that comes to mind. Even less likely, take a short four-mile jog to the west and you wind up in the village of Kohler. Kohler is a small company town — home to the well-known plumbing corporation — with a population of just 2,100. And this company town has just two public golf complexes, with two courses each.3. Scottsdale, AZ The most public golf courses of any city in the west belong to the desert city of Scottsdale, AZ. The fifth-largest city in the state features 133 public golf courses. Some are traditional green fairway courses lined with sod or non-native grass, and some feature acres of tricky dirt and sand as rough. Many feature unique designs built into the Sonoran Desert and McDowell Mountains landscape.2. Naples, FL If it's a variety you're looking for, look no further than Naples, FL. The name of the game in this gulf coast city is volume. For a population of just 20,000, the city offers 155 courses, the most for any city overall. It's no wonder that Naples bills itself as the “Golf Capital of the World."1. Bandon, ORBandon Dunes Golf Resort - Credit: IStock - Matt De Sautel Looking for the No. 1 golf destination in the country? The hole-in-one city for golf is the Oregon coastal town of Bandon. The isolated town lies about a half-hour south of Coos Bay and 90 miles north of the California border along the 101. To read the full results click here.
Discover USA: Bloomington, Indiana
Join Budget Travel as we continue our new series Discover USA. Discover USA explores states, counties, cities, and everything in between. Each week we will explore a new US destination to help you find things to do, itinerary ideas, and plan where to go next. This week, we invite you to Discover what Bloomington, Indiana has to offer. Bloomington a well-known college town, home to the prestigious Indiana University, and a mecca for great restaurants. However, this charming Midwestern city has a whole lot more to offer. Culinary Bloomington is a mecca for global cuisine. Turkish, Tibetan, Venezuelan, Burmese, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, French, Japanese—if you can find it on a globe, you can find it in Bloomington. Bloomington boasts 350+ restaurants where diners can find everything from gourmet hotdogs in an underground dive bar filled with pinball machines and traditional mo-mo’s at the Midwest’s best Tibetan restaurant to ethically sourced coffee shops and all-vegan bakeries. Family-owned & operated by a Tibetan refugee and former monk, Anyetsang’s Little Tibet is one of 4th Street’s most popular restaurants — the Dalai Lama himself once dined there during a visit to Bloomington. Prayer flags adorn the restaurant’s patio and interior, along with many photos, artwork, and other mementos celebrating Tibetan culture. Irish Lion - Courtesy visitbloomington.com Originally designed as an inn and pub in 1882, The Irish Lion is one of the oldest buildings in Bloomington — several architectural features, including the double doors and surrounding woodwork at the entrance, are original to the building. Its 1800s-style mahogany bar, ornate copper ceiling, and welcoming tavern ambiance offer what feels like an authentic Irish pub experience right here in B-Town. Upland Brewing Company is an accumulation of all the best things about Bloomington: progressive ideas, community, imagination, innovation, and bold flavors, all of which are evident in their beer, food, and brewery atmosphere. One of B-Town’s O.G. brewpubs, Upland is now a nationally-revered beer brand and beloved food destination at its many locations across the state. Here are some more of Bloomington's most iconic restaurants. Arts and Culture Musical Arts Center - Courtesy visitbloomington Bloomington's culture is comprised of a wonderfully eclectic mix of Midwestern values, international influences, intellectual pursuits, and spiritual exploration. Those elements are represented across the city and campus at places like the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, Lilly Library, Monroe County History Center, 4th Street, and more. Perhaps because of the unique, blended culture, or in conjunction with it, Bloomington has also developed into an artistic haven. There's a high concentration of artists and an even higher concentration of people who appreciate & support the arts. That’s why you’ll find live music nearly every night of the year, public art painting the streets in vibrant colors, world-class theater & dance performances at some of the nation's leading venues, and galleries filled with work by local & national artists. Explore the country's only Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center with self-guided walking tours, meditation classes, stay in an on-sight Yurt (no TVs, electronics). Then enjoy the only restaurant in the U.S. dedicated to Tibetan food in the U.S. (Founded by Dalai Lama's brother in 1970s, Dali Lama has private apartment there). Courtesy visitbloomington.com Little 500, a big event. Indiana University's Little 500 is the largest collegiate bike race in the United States, widely known as "The World's Greatest College Weekend" — more than 25,000 people travel to Bloomington each year to watch the race and participate in the week's festivities. In the past, Lance Armstrong, former Bachelor & IU alum Ben Higgins, and former President Barack Obama have attended the race. The Little 500 has even gotten recognition on the silver screen: Breaking Away (1979) is an Academy Award-winning film about the race. It's a truly iconic event. This year’s event takes place April 22 & 23. Cream & Crimson – spend a day at the famous Indiana University, one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country full of experiences that are open (and many free) to guests such as the Lilly Library which holds millions of cultural & literary artifacts that document some of humanity's highest achievements including a New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible, the First Folio of Shakespeare's works, over 30,000 comics donated by Batman producer, Michael Uslan, the first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales, George Washington's letter accepting the presidency of the United States, typescripts from many of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, four of John Ford's Oscars, Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the Bill of Rights, 94 of Sylvia Plath's poems, and so much more. Reach more about Bloomington’s Arts & Culture scene here. Explore the Outdoors Nature preserves, lakes, trails, caves, and more. While there's an abundance of adventure to be had in the city, Bloomington's nature offerings provide a different sort of wanderlust fulfillment that's just as worthy of your attention. Courtesy visitbloomington.com Become a water bug for the day at Monroe Lake — Indiana’s largest land-bound body of water and offers camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, boating and beaching. Rent a pontoon and laze under the sun, paddle around the perimeter of the lake in a kayak, or dip your toes in at the beach. Cast your fishing line from the shores of Griffy Lake, or see what you can catch as you float along in a canoe. Lace up your hiking boots and venture the rolling hills & abundance of trails at Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood State Forest. If mountain biking is more your speed, head out to Wapehani Mountain Bike Park to tear up some dirt on two wheels. For a more challenging & thrilling ride, try some of the rugged trails at the Hoosier National Forest. Take the family to any of our fantastic outdoor parks for a day full of fun. Bryan Park is a favorite during the summer months due to its outdoor pool & waterslides, and the fully-accessible playground at Lower Cascades Park is a must for every child. Regardless of the outdoor adventure you choose, Bloomington's natural beauty is sure to impress and leave you coming back for more. Just 30 minutes from downtown Bloomington and the Indiana University campus resides Indiana's only national forest. Comprised of over 200,000 acres, tens-of-thousands of which are found in Monroe County, and Indiana’s only wilderness area, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, the Hoosier National Forest offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of life, as well as a slew of nature activities to enjoy during any season. CARD WIDGET HERE
Seattle named the most fun place to visit in America in a new study!
Fun-loving Americans can forget New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles after experts revealed the most fun city in America to visit is Seattle. To help Americans find the cities with the greatest number, and variety, of fun yet cost-effective activities, Cycling Frog, compiled a list of the top 60 populated most U.S. cities in 2022. They then cross-referenced these cities with quality of life, cost of living, and weather metrics to reveal a top 20 leaderboard. From there, researchers at Cycling Frog analyzed these top 20 cities and compared a variety of lifestyle factors. Specifically, they researched the scale and quality of local attractions, the number of events to attend in each city, the average cost of an overnight stay, and the number of bars and pubs to choose from. What makes a city fun can be subjective and personal, but they do have a few things in common: affordable, a vibrant culture, great places to relax and drink, spectacular sights, and a variety of attractions. These metrics were then ranked relative to their population and size to reveal a top 20 leaderboard highlighting fun and affordable cities to visit this year. The study conducted in April 2022 reveals Seattle, WA, as the most fun place to live or visit in America when it comes to quality of life, reasonable cost of living, pleasant weather, highly rated local attractions, and more. Washington DC Washington DC was ranked in second place, whilst San Francisco came in third position. Cycling Frog’s expert findings also show a shift in trends with typical list-toppers such as New York and Los Angeles, ranking outside the top ten and some way down the list. Their research proves and highlights that there are some amazingly fun cities to visit outside of the usual tourist ‘hot spots’, such as Columbus, Charlotte, and Austin which all feature in the top ten. New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago all perform strongly on the total number of four and five-star attractions on Tripadvisor, however, when we look at other cities and compare the number of attractions relative to their size, they don’t perform as well as smaller and arguably more fun cities. When looking at the number of events a city has to choose from, Philadelphia boasts 152 events over a weekend which actually rivals New York, which edges ahead with 153, for the most organized events on a given weekend. Philadelphia These events offer something for everyone, and there is a choice of sightseeing tours, museums, cultural events, club nights, drag events, and more. According to the research, New York again leads on the total number of pubs and bars, but taking population and size into account, Chicago actually has the most bars and pubs per population. The cost of living and quality of life in New York means the big apple doesn't feature in the top ten. But overall, looking at and taking into account all the factors studied, Seattle performed strongly in all areas. Known as the Emerald City, Seattle is a flourishing metropolis set against the stunning backdrop of the Olympic Mountains. Within the city, there is an abundance of things to do - according to our research, there are 870 four- and five-star rated attractions to visit (that’s a lot!). So, no matter what you’re into, you’ll never be bored! Seattle is also home to more than 100 annual festivals, and one of our favorites is Hempfest - a two-day event that takes place in August 2022. For the full ranking of the most fun American cities to visit please visit: https://cyclingfrog.com/blogs/news/fun-us-cities-to-visit
From stagecoach to motorcoach, a history of RVs in the USA
While not only has purchasing an RV greatly increased rentals and sharing has soared. But how did these rolling homes on wheels get their start? To answer that, you'll have to travel back to the wild west, and the rugged landscape of Wyoming. Duck into the Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming and you'll see so many chuck wagons, sleek phaetons, and sturdy stagecoaches you'll think you stumbled onto a Clint Eastwood film set. The museum, part of the broader Frontier Days rodeo complex, is home to the largest collection of of pre-automobile vehicles West of the Mississippi. It's also, somewhat unintentionally, a prologue to the sprawling RV/MH Hall of Fame in Ekhart, Indiana – the midwest manufacturing town that's turned out most of the motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers, and recreational vehicles you'll see on highways not only in the US, but around the world. That's because long before Winnebago was a household name, and even before companies like Ford made the automobile king of the road, the buggies, coaches, and wagons you'll see on exhibit in Cheyenne or the Plains Museum in Laramie were the original RVs that helped Americans get outside not for work, but for the sheer fun of it. Now a century later, RVs are having something of a renaissance. Not only have sales gone up in recent years, RV users are increasingly diverse. And as many in the industry predicted the COVID-19 pandemic created a major boom for motorhomes as many adopt RVing as a way to travel while practicing social distancing. But how did these rolling homes on wheels get their start? To answer that, you'll have to travel back to the wild west, and the rugged landscape of Wyoming. One of the original touring coaches used to guide visitors around Yellowstone National Park before the advent of the automobile © Meghan O'Dea The history of the first RVs One of the jewels of the Old West Museum is an original Yellowstone stagecoach in the signature bright yellow hue that's still standard for the park's current fleet of buses and snow coaches. The Tally-Ho Touring Coaches, as they were known, were manufactured by Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire especially for the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company. The century-old paint job is flaking off the museum's example, but it's still easy to get a sense of what it would be like to tour the United States' original national park behind a team of horses after making the long journey from cities back east via the Northern Pacific Railroad. Long before major thoroughfares like the Lincoln Highway or Route 66 linked states from coast to coast and made road trips to national parks possible, visitors arrived in train cars and stayed in grand hotels built by the railroad companies themselves, often with an architectural style that blended western rustic with Old World alpine motifs – a genre that came to be known as "parksitecture." Back then, a multi-day tour through the park cost about $50 a passenger (over a $1,000 today if you account for inflation), and took you from the North Pacific Railroad's station in Cinnabar, Montana, to the hotel at Mammoth Hot Springs, which you can still visit today. Little boy sitting on bumper of early RV circa 1915. © Vintage Images / Alamy Stock Photo Soon the well-to-do tourists who went to the trouble and expense of trips out west wanted their own recreational vehicles in which to tour national parks, or the countryside closer to their homes and summer retreats. Carriage companies began to add extra features like fold-out beds, sinks and "potted toilets" to the landaus they were already manufacturing – landaus being a kind of precursor to the modern convertible, with a broad passenger seat and a fold-down top. In 1910, Pierce-Arrow debuted its new Touring Landau at the Madison Square Garden auto show. It was a swift, sporty carriage equipped with many of the comforts of home, perfect for the leisure class's recent yen for escaping the polluted, crowded city in favor of outdoor adventures. The Pierce-Arrow was not only the first RV as we know them today, it was also the ancestor of today's Type B motorhomes – part car or truck, part home on wheels. A car pulls an early caravan with tent construction in the Kaibab National Forest on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon circa 1929 © Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy Stock Photo RVs in the age of the automobile It didn't take long for other carriage makers to roll out their own versions of the Pierce-Arrow – or for the burgeoning auto industry to get in on the small but exciting RV trend. Some of the innovative wealthy converted Packard trucks into the first ever Class C motorhomes (the mid-size RV models built on truck chassis, often with a bed in a pop-out over the cab) and in 1910, a Michigan company called Auto Kamp started rolling out the first pop-up campers much like the ones you know today, with space for sleeping, cooking, and dining. What set the Auto Kamp apart was that it was designed not to be pulled by horses like the Touring Landau, but by the brand new Model T's that rolled off Ford's Detroit factory lines just two years before. The age of the automobile had arrived, giving a broader swath of Americans access not only to Yellowstone, but the six other national parks that had been established in the decades following the United States' first national park, including Sequoia, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, Crater Lake, Wind Cave, and Mesa Verde. An exhibit at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart Indiana shows a number of RV styles from decades past © Vespasian / Alamy Stock Photo Just three years after Pierce-Arrow introduced the first RV and five years after the Model T debuted, an instructor at Cal State invented his own model of travel trailer to tow behind his own "Tin Lizzy," as the Model T had affectionately become known. It was called the Earl after its inventor, who hired a local carriage company to build out his design, which is still on display at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, as automobile ownership continued to increase and slews of new national parks were designated from Grand Canyon to the Everglades to Great Smoky Mountains, new types of RVs debuted, too. It was an era of "Tin Can Tourists" as one RV enthusiasts club called itself, a reference to the gleaming silver campers of the era – a style that lives on in the perennially popular Airstream, which debuted in the early 1930s. No longer were visitors to national parks limited to the railroad's massive lodges. Now they could camp throughout Yellowstone and its descendants – and at a variety of other outdoor destinations, too, including the first proper RV parks that cropped up across the country, along with filling stations and motels along brand-new "auto-trails" like the Dixie Highway, Egyptian Trail, Evergreen National Highway, and New Santa Fe Trail. Desi Arnaz and Lucile Ball appear in the film "Long, Long Trailer" © United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo How RVs became part of American culture Though the Great Depression slowed the sale of RVs along with everything else in America, the Civilian Conservation Corps was hard at work on numerous projects in national and state parks around the country, constructing campgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities still in use today. By the time World War II was over, the economy was roaring again and Americans were eager to explore. The age of nuclear family road trips and summer vacations had arrived, and so had a new generation of RVs that were bigger and more luxurious than ever, packed with new technology and ready to run on plenty of cheap gasoline. Sprawling Class A models (the largest size of RVs, which often resemble tour busses) rolled onto dealers' lots, along with the first RVs known as "motor homes." RVs had started to make their way into pop culture through films like 1943's What's Buzzin' Cousin? and 1953's Long Long Trailer. A decade later, a VW microbus appeared on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, just a year after Donna Reed took her fictional TV family on western vacation in a Dodge Travco RV. Also in 1962, an aging John Steinbeck hit the road in a camper named for Don Quixote's horse, in search of the American essence and whatever the country was becoming, perhaps unaware that his journey itself, and the means by which he traveled, typified the very questions he was trying to answer. Steinbeck's experience, recorded in the great travelogue Travels with Charlie, later inspired CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt to start filming America's back highways for a segment called On the Road, a project that ultimately lasted twenty years and six motorhomes. By the end of the 1960s there was no denying that RVs were firmly cemented in both mainstream family life and counterculture, as American as apple pie. A family packs up for a summer vacation in their travel trailer sometime in the 1960s © ClassicStock / Alamy Stock Photo Motorhomes from the midcentury to today Many of the carriage manufacturers who started the RV travel trend had been put out of business by big auto decades earlier, but a new generation of RV-builders were about to become household names. Small buses and conversion vans like the VW Type 2, Westfalia Vanagon, and conversions of Dodge and Ram commercial vehicles came to the fore in the 1950s and 60s and have stayed popular to this day. Meanwhile, Winnebago released its first model in 1966, and thanks to its iconic design and affordability, the brand quickly became genericized, the company's name synonymous with RVs in general. Competitor Jayco was founded two years later, and in 1972, a small family-run building supply company in Red Bay, Alabama, purchased an ailing RV manufacturer and turned it into Tiffin Motorhomes. That was the same year the RV/MV Hall of Fame Heritage Foundation was started in Elkhart, which later developed the Hall of Fame. Barbie got her first RV in 1970, the same year the Partridge Family hit the road in a brightly painted Chevy school bus to make their first gig at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. It was just a few years before the oil crisis put a dent in the RV industry juggernaut, slowing sales. But by the 1980s, America was still in love with RVs, giving them pride of place in popular films like Space Balls, The Blues Brothers and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, proving that travel – even in far-flung galaxies – was still very much synonymous with the all-American motorhome. RVs are gaining popularity with Latinx and African American outdoor enthusiasts in recent years © Wendy Ashton / Getty Images In recent years, new demographics have been getting in on RVs. As the outdoor industry diversifies, so have rentals and purchase of the recreational vehicles people use to access their favorite destinations. The popularity of the vanlife movement and a proliferation of RV influencers on YouTube and social media have contributed to RV's shedding their retirees-only image, as new generations of "schoolies" and "dirtbags" adopt vintage school busses and new models like the Dodge Ram ProMaster and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans as permanent rolling homes. Meanwhile, Volkswagen is putting the finishing touches on an all-electric version of its classic surfer van, ushering in a new, more sustainable era of RVing. Many of those now-classic brands like Coachmen and Fleetwood that became synonymous with motorhomes over fifty years ago are putting out new models with a host of features modern travelers demand, like USB chargers and faux-marble countertops. And there's been a crop of glampgrounds mushrooming around the world where guests can savor the style of vintage Airstreams and Shastas, from Hotel Caravana in the Hudson Valley to The Vintages Trailer Resort in Oregon wine country. The first century of RVing has been a long, strange trip. Fortunately, if you're still curious to learn more about how your contemporary adventure rig evolved, you can gas up your current model and head to the Old West Museum, Plains Museum, the RV/MH Hall of Fame, John Sisemore Traveland RV Museum, Steven Katkowsky Vintage Trailer Museum and beyond to see the original recreational vehicles for yourself, not to mention those gleaming space-age Tin Cans, canned hams, Winnies, toy-haulers, and everything in between. You might just run into a national park or two on the way, and see some of the places that inspired your favorite motorhomes all those years ago. Content Presented by RVShare, the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace with more than 100,000 RVs to rent nationwide. RVshare brings RV renters and RV owners together by providing the safest and most secure platform for booking an RV rental. Find the Perfect RV Rental at RVshare