U.S. Route 12 runs east–west across the northern United States, from from Detroit, MI to Aberdeen, WA. Nearly 2,500 miles in length, this cross-country route has been mostly surpassed by road trippers in favor of the I-90 and I-94 highways. But just because it's less popular doesn't mean it's less worth driving! Head off the beaten path to the best attractions along Route 12.
Finally, you've made it to Aberdeen, WA, the "Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula." This town is best known as the birthplace of Kurt Cobain, frontman of Nirvana. In fact, some Nirvana lyrics reference parts of the town.
C St Sw, Tumwater, WA, US
There are also lots of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest, including Snoqualmie Falls and Palouse Falls. What makes Tumwater Falls so impressive is that these falls were once the site of a hydroelectric power plant that helped power the Olympia street car, and later, were the site of a brewing company. Now it's a park where you can enjoy the lovely view of the waterfall!
1530 Post Aly, Seattle, WA, US
Take Route 12 into Seattle, which is loaded with incredible restaurants and things to do. You'll find quite a few of those awesome eats at Pike Place Market. However, the chowder at Pikes Place Chowder is completely addictive, and you won't get a better taste of the city's fresh seafood. Plus, nothing goes better with a cool, grey Seattle afternoon than a warm bowl of chowder.
If you're in need of a hotel in Seattle, check out the Warwick Hotel, the Ace Hotel or the Edgewater.
6922 Preston Fall City Rd SE, Issaquah, WA, US
The temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest are notoriously stunning, so why not book a stay right in the middle of one, at Treehouse Point in Issaquah, WA? A night in one of their treehouses is literally a childhood fairytale come true, and they're so beautifully done that you won't mind walking down a trail to use the bath house.
137 W North Bend Way, North Bend, WA, US
"This must be where pies go when they die." If you've ever seen David Lynch's cult classic TV show "Twin Peaks," you'll recognize this little joint as the Double R Diner, a favorite of Agent Dale Cooper. It's got some memorabilia from the show... so stop by for some cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee.
Lake Shore Dr, Soap Lake, WA, US
The mineral-rich waters of Soap Lake make the water in this natural oddity feel soapy and slick, and create a white foam along the shores. The high mineral content of the water makes it super buoyant, and some think that it has healing properties, like that of a hot spring. Also, since the alkalinity of this lake is similar to that of lakes on Jupiter, scientists are studying it to test the probability of life on other planets.
901 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA, US
Hotel Ruby in Spokane, WA is a funky boutique hotel with artsy vibes and swanky accommodations, plus little perks like free bike rentals, free wifi, and laundry facilities, and the location is right downtown: perfect!
916 W 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA, US
Whether you want a burger or steak, or you're in the mood for gluten-free ravioli or calf's liver with white cheddar grits, Wild Sage American Bistro in Spokane, WA is your place. The menu is totally drool-worthy... don't skip out on dessert and cocktails, too.
There are some great hotels in Spokane as well. The Davenport Hotel, Hotel Ruby and the Spokane Club Inn are some nice options!
523 E Sherman Ave, Coeur d'Alene, ID, US
Locally-sourced gourmet pub grub and loads of beers are two great reasons to grab a bite at Crafted Taphouse and Kitchen in Coeur d'Alene. But you'll definitely want to stay for the turtle races. The prize for betting correctly on the race? $1 beers!
Consider staying the night here, because there are tons of hotels in Coeur d'Alene. The Roosevelt Inn, the Greenbrier Inn, and the Coeur d'Alene Resort are all worth checking out.
605 Cedar St, Wallace, ID, US
Once you reach Idaho, visit the adorable town of Wallace (used in the film "Dantes Peak"). Here you'll find the strange Oasis Bordello Museum, which is dedicated to the last cathouse in Wallace. It was open until 1988, when a raid forced the prostitutes to abandon the building, leaving it mostly intact. It was later purchased and preserved, so it looks as it did in the 1980s. The mannequins and 80s-tastic decor are pretty kitschy and the whole thing is fascinating, if not a touch bizarre.
3255 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT, US
After Helena, it's on to Drummond, MT, home to Garnet Ghost Town. This former boom town was founded during a gold rush, and remains one of the state's best preserved ghost towns. There are several cabins and other buildings to explore (imagine this: at its peak, the little town had 13 saloons!) An excellent job has been done of preserving the town without turning it into a kitschy tourist attraction. Don't forget your camera!
Welcome to Montana's capital! Tour the statehouse, check out the Holter Art Museum, and drink up the booming craft beer scene in this scenic city! Nice hotels in Helena include the Best Western Premier Great Northern, Jorgenson's Inn and Suites and the Sleep Senator Inn and Guesthouse.
719 N Wallace Ave, Bozeman, MT, US
When you're ready to call it a night, head to Lehrkind Mansion Bed and Breakfast. This charming Victorian home makes the perfect place for a little bed and breakfast. All the rooms have private bathrooms and period antiques, and some have decks and clawfoot tubs.
451 E Main St, Bozeman, MT, US
Over in Bozeman, hit up The Garage Soup Shack and Mesquite Grill, a quirky little joint serves up some really awesome soups, salads, sandwiches, plus BBQ and burgers. Sit outside on the patio and enjoy the sun if the weather is nice, or take in the funky decor with a table inside.
Old US Hwy 10, Greycliff, MT, US
It's basically scientifically proven that prairie dogs are the cutest, and even though you can find "towns" of these incredibly social critters in some parks across the state, Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park is home to a notably huge colony. Stop off to watch the little guys hustle and bustle about and learn all about them.
2601 Minnesota Ave, Billings, MT, US
Relax with a glass of wine and some charcuterie at The Fieldhouse Cafe in Billings. Or stop by for a fresh, locally-sourced dinner or a boozy brunch. There aren't many places in Montana where you can get a kale salad with quinoa dressing, but this is one of them.
3001 Highway 312, Worden, MT, US
Over in Worden, Montana, you can climb to the top of Pompeys Pillar National Monument and take in the outstanding views, but the natural feature probably best known for the Native American pictographs and the signatures from pioneers passing by. You can even find some famous names here- like that of William Clark, from the famed Lewis and Clark expedition.
315 2nd Avenue, Medora, ND, US
While you're in Medora, explore North Dakota's rugged badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It's not hard to see why Teddy Roosevelt fell in love with this part of the country and the Wild West lifestyle in general. It really is beautiful, and there's something so exhilarating about the untamed landscape.
300 Pacific Ave, Medora, ND, US
Grab a bite to eat at Boots Bar and Grill. This is the best place to chat with the locals over an elk burger and a local craft brew.
PO Box 224, Medora, ND, US
Since you're in North Dakota, why not stay in a gorgeously restored historic log cabin? The Diamond Bar Bed and Breakfast in Medora has every modern convenience, but they'll still make you a home-cooked, ranch-style breakfast, and offer "guitar-pickin and story-tellin' upon request".
Route 12 may not be the most popular cross-country road trip, but it's full of offbeat roadside stops, fascinating pieces of American history, beautiful natural wonders, and delicious road food, from BBQ joints to craft beer pubs.