I-75 is a perfect sample of America. It starts right at the Canadian border in Sault Ste. Marie, then winding down to Detroit, and into the heart of the Midwest down through Pure Michigan, and Ohio. From there, it makes its way through Kentucky and Tennessee, stopping near and in cities like Lexington, Knoxville, and Chattanooga, before entering Georgia. I-75 is a main route to Atlanta, and from Atlanta, it continues into Florida. As you cruise the route past Tampa, take some time to enjoy the brief East-West stretch through the Everglades that's known as Alligator Alley before ending just north of Miami. Whether you're looking for the fastest route from the Midwest to Florida, or you happen to be enjoying the ride between some of America's coolest cities, I-75 is loaded with plenty to see and do along the way.
Start off your trip by fueling up at the West Pier Drive-In. This old-school eatery serves up mouthwatering burgers, sides like fries, onion rings, mushrooms, and cheese sticks fresh out of the fryer, and rich milkshakes, all at an insanely cheap price point. It's nothing fancy, but it's just right.
2811 Mackinac Trail, St. Ignace, MI, US
Castle Rock is a scenic viewpoint near St. Ignace that makes a great pitstop. The 195-foot-tall lookout spot has been a tourist destination since 1929. Peer into the binoculars to check out the views of Mackinac Island (which, if you have time, is an amazing destination worth visiting), Lake Huron, downtown St. Ignace, and I-75 itself. Pose for photos of Paul Bunyon while you're here, and remember to pick up an "I climbed Castle Rock" sticker before you leave.
3612 State Park Dr., Grayling, MI, US
Hartwick Pines State Park protects mystical stands of old-growth pine forest. It's just off the highway, but it feels like a place from a fairytale. The park's Old Growth Trail features the Hartwick Pines Logging Museum and the Michigan Forest Visitor Center, which give great insight into the White Pine Logging Era in Michigan (1840-1910), the diversity of the habitat today, and the future of these lush forests.
1680 Martin St, Bay City, MI, US
Since you're hugging the banks of the Saginaw River, stop by the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum. The crown jewel of their collection of artifacts is the USS Edson, built in 1958. It's only of only two surviving Forest Sherman-class destroyers. She was built in Maine, and her home port was Long Beach, CA. Most of her service occurred during the Vietnam War, earning recognition for exceptionally meritorious service in 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin, and was commended for her role in the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Saigon. She was decommissioned in 1988 and was moved to Bay City in 2012.
5161 Branch Road, Flint, MI, US
Flint is a town just north of Detroit that boasts a history just as rich as the Motor City's. Stop by Flint's manmade Stepping Stone Falls, a dam on the Flint River that forms Mott Lake. There's a path along the river with plenty of look out points, and, as a bonus, the falls are lit up with colorful lights once the sun goes down.
Comeback City. The Motor City. Motown. The D. Yep, we're talking about Detroit. I can't fit all of the cool stuff here into one paragraph, but I'm going to try and cover the basics. You've got Hitsville U.S.A. (aka the Motown Museum, the beating heart of soul), Belle Isle with its stunning vintage aquarium, museums dedicated to science and history and art, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, the funky Heidelberg Project that turns a neighborhood into art, the illustrious Henry Ford Museum, Milliken State Park and Harbor, insane architecture, awesome restaurants, killer nightlife, and so much more. You'll want to spend at least a day here. At least.
From there, cruise to the town of Toledo. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised by the destination. It's small, but it's not lacking in world-class attractions. Their zoo is particularly great, but the art museum is noteworthy as well. Special to Toledo are spots like the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library, the National Museum of the Great Lakes, and Fort Meigs, which played an important role in the War of 1812. And you can't leave without getting your Hungarian grub on at Tony Packo's. Try the Hungarian hot dog, stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikash and some apple strudel.
13920 County Home Road, Bowling Green, OH, US
As you forge further south into Ohio, you'll encounter more roadside fun, like Snook's Dream Cars. Part living museum (complete with a recreated 1940s era Texaco gas station, a 1930s general store and a racetrack from the 1960s) along with the showroom stocked full of vintage automobiles and memorabilia. You'll find everything from coupes to roadsters from makers ranging from Packard and Pontiac to Alfa Romeo and Lotus. You'll literally get lost in the history at this hidden gem of a stop.
419 West Pike St., Jackson Center, OH, US
Speaking of auto history, you can't drive past the Airstream Factory in Jackson Center without stopping by. They offer tours so you can get a firsthand look at where these iconic silver bullets get their rivets. You can even snap a photo of a special rarity; the only golden Airstream, made by founder Wally Byam for his wife Stella.
7 West Monroe St., New Bremen, OH, US
If cars and Airstreams don't do it for you, then maybe the Bicycle Museum of America is more your (single) speed. You'll see hundreds of different kinds of bikes from across time and space. Whether it's a handcrafted solid wood bike inspired by Gaudi or a crazy-looking penny farthing (how did people stay up on those things??) or a Schwinn straight out of your childhood, their three floors of exhibits will definitely impress.
Oh, while we're on the subject of bikes, your next stop is Dayton, Ohio: the hometown of two bike makers-turned-flight pioneers, the Wright brothers. You can visit the Victorian building that once housed their storefront. Or go further into the aviation history here at the National Museum of the United States Airforce. The Carillon Historical Park and SunWatch Indian Village are great places to take in some history, and there are lots of Metroparks where you can soak up some nature and great scenery.
7379 Squire Ct, Wetherington, OH, US
On your way from Dayton to Cincinnati, you'll pass by EnterTRAINment Junction, which has a little something for everyone. Kids will love the play area and hands-on exhibits and adults will be blown away by their model train displays, which are loaded with tiny details. They claim to boast the world's largest train display, and while I can't confirm that, the 80,000 square feet and 2+ miles of mini track are impressive.
Welcome to the Queen City! There are countless reasons to stay and explore Cincy. Chief among them, the brewery scene (book a tour on a Brew Bus) and Over-the-Rhine, one of the country's largest, most intact urban historic districts. Cool bars and restaurants and shops are moving into the stunning historic buildings, making it worth an afternoon of exploration. Beyond that, there are plenty of cool spots like the American Sign Museum and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to check out. And, of course, get some Cincinnati chili and form an educated opinion on the local delicacy.
1 Ark Encounter Drive, Williamstown, KY, US
Love it or hate it, you have to admit that you're curious about this buzzy New Earth Creationist attraction. If you're willing to pony up the $40 admission fee (for adults, kids are $28) you could easily spend a few hours learning about the Biblical tale of Noah and how he survived a massive flood on his ark, and why Creationists believe that this, and the rest of the Bible, are fact. There are actually lots of things to do here; there's a zoo and a zip line along with the exhibits inside the ark itself.
4089 Iron Works Pkwy., Lexington, KY, US
Kentucky is best known for two things: horse-racing and bourbon. I-75 passes near some distilleries, but if you don't have the time to spend fully exploring the Bourbon Trail, you can get some classic Kentucky vibes at the Kentucky Horse Park. A ticket gets you access to two super thorough museums (including the Smithsonian's International Museum of the Horse) and admission to their horse shows throughout the day, some of which feature retired show and racehorses. You can go for a horseback ride, tour the barns, and visit various halls of fame. Or, just stop in to enjoy the atmosphere and check out the statues of Man O' War and other famous horses and jockeys.
2590 Richmond Rd, Mount Vernon, KY, US
Delve into Kentucky's unexpectedly rich musical history at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame & Museum. Find artifacts dating back to the 18th century, interactive displays, films, a cute gift shop, and lots and lots of memorabilia. If you're lucky, you might even catch a live performance!
99 Colonel Sanders St, Corbin, KY, US
Welcome to the coolest KFC in the world! The Harland Sanders Museum and Cafe has plopped a modern-day Kentucky Fried Chicken into the original Cafe where Colonel Sanders himself invented his blend of 11 herbs and spices that made his chicken so finger-lickin' good. Enjoy the KFC memorabilia and the views of the old-school cafe (including, weirdly enough, a sample motel room complete with bed to advertise Colonel Sanders next-door motel) as you enjoy your biscuits and chicken.
7351 Hwy 90, Corbin, KY, US
Kentucky is a state of great beauty as well. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is the perfect example. The lodge here is one of the loveliest places to spend the night off I-75, with its authentic rustic atmosphere. If you're just stopping by, then head to Cumberland Falls, known as the Niagara of the South. It's a stunning 125 feet wide, and is famous for the moonbows you can spot dancing off the mist during a full moon. The phenomena is rare, and if you can time your visit here during a full moon, take advantage!
Make your first stop in Tennessee the city of Knoxville. Get the lay of the land by heading to the top of the golden, disco-ball-like Sunsphere, a remnant of the last successful World's Fair in 1982. Explore the Farragut Folklife Museum, poke around Market Square, have a blast on Gay Street and check out the rest of the World's Fair Park during your time here. And if you only eat one meal in Knoxville, make it at Tupelo Honey. Pimento cheese nachos... need I say more?
140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN, US
Did you know that Tennessee is home to the world's second-largest non-subglacial underground lake? It's called The Lost Sea, and you can take a boat tour of it! Craighead Caverns, where the Lost Sea is located, has served as a Civil War saltpeter mine, a mushroom farm, a cockfighting arena, a moonshine distillery and a nightclub called The Cavern Tavern throughout history, but the Sea wasn't discovered until 1905. As your boat glides across the 800 square feet of water, ponder the unexplored maze of caverns likely hidden deep below the surface.
I-75 is a major highway, so there's no bad time to drive it. Of course, things can get snowy during the winter, but that's more of a concern in places south of Ohio, where towns have less experience and fewer resources to deal with wintery conditions. Otherwise, enjoy the drive from Miami to Canada, whichever direction you choose!