Car-Themed Road Trips

Road trips are practically a rite of passage for college students. Instead of traveling to the same tired hot spots, why not mix things up and venture to some famous/odd car-themed destinations? Not only are there options all over the country, some are even educational (but still fun).

Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas

Built in 1974 by Stanley Marsh III, Cadillac Ranch is an iconic roadside destination in America. Ten Cadillacs from the auto industry's golden age are covered in layers of graffiti and offer endless photo opportunities. Graffiti is encouraged, so don't forget your spray paint.

Carhenge — Alliance, Neb.

Comprised of 38 Detroit-bred vehicles, Carhenge was created in 1987 at a family reunion and eventually turned into the pride of the town. Over the years, Carhenge inspired artists to convert the surrounding area into something of a car-themed art park. There's even a gift shop — Carhenge shot glasses for everyone!

Bumper Chicken — Brundidge, Ala.

Here's an interesting spot off U.S. Highway 231: Car bumpers that have been molded into a large, gleaming chicken. The sculpture was created by a New York artist and is accompanied by more metal art along the highway.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum — Indianapolis

Declared a national historic landmark in 1987, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is 30,000 square feet and showcases 75 vehicles. Highlights include the Marmon Wasp that won the first Indy 500 in 1911, plus more than 30 other Indy 500-winning cars. The museum sits next to the speedway, so take advantage of all it has to offer by taking your trip during the races.

International Spy Museum — Washington, D.C.

Who wouldn't want to play around with a smokescreen, tire-slashers and an ejecting seat, all built into a spotless Aston Martin? That's right, the International Spy Museum is the resting place of one of the coolest cars in movie history: James Bond's Aston Martin DB5. While you can't actually get in the car, you can watch a Q-worthy demonstration of its many special features. And that's not all this museum has to offer. Created with the help of former members of the international espionage community, it's one of the hottest museums in the capital.

Primm Valley Casino Resort — Primm, Nev.

The next time you take a trip to Las Vegas, make sure to check out Bonnie and Clyde's car just 40 minutes south of the city. If you've never seen the film "Bonnie and Clyde," please do so immediately. Even if you already have, you'll still be impressed by the number of bullet holes that decorate the Ford V-8 in which the real Bonnie and Clyde ended their robbing spree in 1934 on a secluded road in Louisiana. The Primm Valley Casino Resort also features Clyde's death shirt and other Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia. Viewing is free to the public in the resort's museum/lobby.

California Route 66 Museum — Victorville, Calif.

If you're looking to take your car across the country, there are few better roads than the classic Route 66. Though no longer officially marked as such, the route features everything from the breathtakingly beautiful to the awe-inspiringly strange. But you'll need a guide. The California Route 66 Museum not only helps you plan your journey, it also offers exhibits on the history of the road and the cars that have traveled it. Collectors and history buffs will also love its quirky road-sign exhibits and cluttered rooms of memorabilia.

The Henry Ford — Dearborn, Mich.

Old Fords? Check. JFK's limo? Check. Rosa Parks' bus? Check. Abraham Lincoln's theater seat? Well, it's not an automobile, but it's there. The Henry Ford exhibits important pieces of American history alongside comprehensive histories of cars, planes and even the great American hot dog. An important stop on any car-lover's list, the Henry Ford is also next-door to the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Shankweiler's: America's Oldest Drive-In Theater — Orefield, Pa.

Though drive-in theaters are a rarity these days, they were once as popular as poodle skirts. Shankweiler's Drive-In remembers those days well — it was already 20 years old by the time that era rolled around. Opened in 1934, it was the second drive-in movie theater in the U.S., and after 75 seasons it's still around to play you the blockbusters of today. Drive in, settle down and watch a double feature on the 72-foot screen.

© 4/29/13