Though it may feel like we've got a long way to go before we truly hit spring, it'll be here before you know it. You know what that means. For those of us that are lucky enough to still have spring breaks, you best be planning accordingly.
Any type of vacation planning can be stressful, and spring break is no exception. In case you're in need of any last-minute suggestions on where to go this spring break, you've come to the right place.
Road trips are always a good option for those travelling with a few people and don't have a lot of cash to burn. But where to go, where to go? Randal S. Olson has you covered. The Michigan State University computer science graduate research assistant computed the "optimal road trip across the U.S.," which hits all 48 contiguous states and only makes stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks or National Monuments.
Discovery News' Tracy Staedter came up with 50 destinations across the U.S. for a road trip that would meet this criteria. The road trip starts at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and hits the White House in Washington, D.C., the Gateway Arch in Missouri and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota before ending the trip at the Hoover Dam in Nevada.
You can read about how Olson mapped out this road trip to end all road trips over on his website, but basically he used the Google Maps API and a short Python script to calculate the distance and the time it takes to drive all 2,500 routes between the 50 landmarks. He then used an algorithm to find the best route.
In the end, Olson found that it would take a person 224 hours, or 9.33 days, to complete this 13,699-mile journey with no traffic. Since that's an entirely unrealistic possibility, Olson writes that the road trip will probably take two to three months to complete. You also don't have to follow the destinations in the order in which they're listed on Olson's website because the road trip is "designed so that you can start anywhere on the route as long as you follow it from then on," according to Olson's blog post about the project.
Once you finish this trip, you can also visit the highest-rated city on TripAdvisor in each of the contiguous states or plan your own road trip using Olson's Python script. Spring break comes but once a year, so you better make it count.
Photo: Ryan Cadby | Flickr