World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (2024)

By Klarna

Discover Route 2, the Great Northern Road.

Klarna is partnering with Samantha Brown, Emmy-Award-winning TV host, to help you travel smarter and make the most of your trips this summer.

Summer 2024 is shaping up to be another busy travel season, but consumer preferences are changing. Traveler enthusiasm has cooled since the initial post-pandemic rush, as people are looking for more flexibility and spontaneity—and the travel industry is about to see that shift. Klarna conducted a survey focused on consumer travel habits and trends, uncovering insights into what travelers are looking to do and spendon this summer. According to the findings, 97% of people will travel this summer— the majority of these travelers will be Baby Boomers and Gen X—but the cost-of-living crisis is affecting summer travel plans, with consumers being more sensitive when choosing where to spend their money. As such, consumers are planning to travel to locations closer to home, with 71% of people planning to vacation in their home country, 22% planning to take a shorter trip this year, 32% will be looking for cheaper accommodations, and 25% will look for more affordable transportation options.

Considering our findings, current travel trends, and her travel expertise, Samantha curated a summer travel itinerary featuring the best on- and off-the-beaten-path spots to eat, experience, and stay on Route 2: the unexplored North, which is the perfect answer for all travelers' current woes.

Want to take the journey yourself? Use our flexible pay in 4 option to book your trip through our travel partners Airbnb, Expedia,,, and more. And if you need a little help on the packing list, check outSamantha's must-have travel essentials.

The itinerary

You could start East in Maine and head West, or start West in Washington and head East. I’m starting west as the state of Washington really kicks off what's going to be an automotive odyssey driving through stunning landscapes from dense forests, mountain peaks to an expanse of high desert. Washington is one heck of a way to start!

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (1)


326 miles

Seattle is most likely the city you will be flying into to begin your journey. Here are a few of my favorite spots to enjoy that will make a great bon voyage.

  • The Waterfront Park: Walk along Elliot Bay with views of Puget Sound and the snow-capped (even in summer) Olympic Mountains. Start at Pikes Place Market and just keep walking—you’ll encounter busy public piers, quiet lawns, playgrounds, and outdoor sculpture parks.
  • Ivar’s Acres of Clams: This is the last you’ll see of seafood from the source until you hit Maine so make the most of it. Ivars has been a Seattle institution since 1939. Their Waterfront location and wild caught seafood makes for a perfect celebratory meal.
  • The Nutcracker Museum: This charming quick stop has 9,000 nutcrackers, or 20 more than your mom. Some go back centuries.
  • Spokane: The place to be is Riverfront Park no matter what your age or ability is. It has a Carousel, a SkyRide over the Spokane river and waterfall, a 40,000 sq feet playground with a three story slide tower and splash pad, as well as the Providence Playscape, an all-inclusive playground that supports physical, social and sensory needs.
  • Montvale Hotel: Spokane’s oldest and most historic hotel. Centrally located in the arts and entertainment district, and walking distance to the Riverfront. The unique second floor lobby has a cozy old world feel with leather clubby chairs. Go over your itinerary and map with a glass of wine and call it a night.

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (2)


80 miles

While this leg of Route 2 is only 80 miles across Idaho’s panhandle, the views on the drive pack a punch as you pass Lake Pend Oreille—a crystal blue lake surrounded by lush green forest.

  • Talus Rock Retreat: Upscale lodge sits on 30 wooded acres with 6 rooms/suites all decorated with a unique and rustic style. (Too small?)
  • Pend Oreilles Shores Resort: The hotel sits on the banks of Lake Pend Oreille and offers suites with lake views and fireplaces. You'll enjoy a casual, rustic feel surrounded by woods.
  • Floating Restaurant: A great place on Lake Pend Oreille to sit outside on a floating dock and have a delicious dinner and some amazing co*cktails.
  • Lake Pend Oreille: The largest lake in the US, and the deepest too. What a twofer!
  • Blue Lizard Native American Art Gallery: Features art and jewelry from the Southwest Navajo, Zuni and Hopi tribes. They also have a diverse selection of Native American art, jewelry, and artifacts from tribes throughout the US.

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (3)


650 miles

The longest expanse of Route 2 will have you thinking "We can’t still be in Montana!" The landscape changes several times throughout the 650 mile drive—from waterfalls and lakes, to valleys and snow-capped mountains.

  • Dumont’s Creekside Bed & Breakfast: This beautiful B&B is located on five acres along the Kootenai River.
  • Desoto Grill: An atmosphere as unique as the food—hot rods and barbecue!
  • Kootenai Falls and Swinging Bridge: One of the largest untamed waterfalls in the northwest. The swinging bridge was first built in 1937 to provide better access for fire fighters, but it was destroyed by floods and rebuilt in the 1950s. In 1993, it was reconstructed on existing cables and supports.
  • Pekin Noodle Parlor: Open since 1911, this is the oldest continuously-operating Chinese restaurant in the US.

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North Dakota

358 miles

The drive through North Dakota is flat and rural but be on the lookout for miles and miles of wildflowers planted along the roadside throughout the state.

  • Staybridge Suites Minot: Casual extended-stay hotel. Centrally located right off Rt 2 in Minot.
  • The Ironhorse Kitchen + Bar: Located in downtown Minot, this gastropub is known for putting a gourmet spin on burgers and co*cktails. Be sure to try out their boozy shakes!
  • Devils Lake: The largest natural body of water in North Dakota, also known as the “Perch Capital of the World”.
  • Bison Plant Trail: Along Rt 2 in North Dakota, you'll notice a great deal of wildflowers planted along the roadside. Bison Plant Trail is an easy walking trail and a great way to explore the area and see some beautiful views and native plants.

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (5)


264 miles

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and you’ll drive by quite a few of them on this 264 mile stretch of Route 2.

  • South Pier Inn: Family-owned boutique water front hotel at the foot of the famous Aerial Life Bridge, an iconic landmark along Rt 2.
  • Grandma’s Saloon & Grill: In 1869, "Grandma" Rosa Brochi, an Italian immigrant, opened her first boarding house for sailors in Duluth. She soon became known for her warm hospitality and amazing home cooked food. In 1976, her grandson Mickey carried on her tradition of serving delicious, homemade Italian food and opened Grandma’s Saloon & Grill.
  • Chippewa National Forest: A unique national forest as more than half of it is water. More than 400,000 acres of the Chippewa National Forest are lakes and wetlands—it contains two of Minnesota’s five largest lakes. It’s also home to the largest breeding population of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states.
  • Lakewalk East Beach: This beach walk begins at Leif Erickson Park. There is a newly remodeled walk and plenty of scenic vistas of Lake Superior. You can also look for agate along the shore and rocks.

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300 miles

This drive through the Upper Peninsula, or "The Up" as it's known, will have you going back in time as you see jaw dropping rock formations and beautifully preserved islands immersed in history.

  • Route 13 Detour: Most roadtrippers follow Route 13 to enjoy phenomenal views of Lake Superior. The 100 miles adds around 60 minutes to your trip but well worth it and you are truly in "the up".
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Considered Wisconsin’s crown jewels, this 21-island archipelago formed over 700 million years ago can be enjoyed on land or take a 2.5 hour cruise excursion to get up close to the incredible rock formations and lighthouses.
  • Dreamland Supper Club: Off of Route 2 in South Range WI. Wisconsin is known for its Supper Clubs—restaurants with a more clubby welcoming vibe. They usually have a big neon sign, serve steaks and seafood at reasonable prices, and every meal comes with fresh baked bread what’s known as a relish tray. Starting your meal with a Brandy Old Fashion is pure Wisconsin.

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306 miles

You’ve been riding along Lake Superior, now it's time to take Lake Michigan for a spin, and just maybe give your car a brief break while you enjoy one of North America’s most loved islands.

  • Moonfinfries: Exactly the kind of restaurant you want during a long journey, it's one of the most inviting restaurants on Route 2 in Michigan. The hamburgers are a favorite as well as the fish. The meat comes from a local farm and the fish is fresh from the lake—as in Lake Michigan.
  • Mackinac Bridge: The western hemisphere's largest suspension bridge soaring 550 feet above the water. Crossing over this bridge is a Great Northern moment, take it in.
  • Museum Of Ojibwa Culture: Located in a 182 year old building, you get an understanding of life in the area over 300 years ago with a confluence of cultures from the Ojibwa, Huron, Odawa Native Americans as well French trappers and traders.
  • Mackinac Island: It’s been 25 years and not a year goes by that I don’t wish I could go back to Mackinac Island. Known for its Victorian architecture, charming town, homemade fudge, miles of walking trails and not one. single. car. For over 125 years everything and everyone gets around by its population of 600 horses and a fleet of carriages. You’ll leave your car at Mackinac City. It's okay, it needs the break.
  • The Grand Hotel: You’ve come this far, might as well stay the night. Grand Hotel opened in 1887 and is beloved for its charm and old-world hospitality. There’s nightly dancing to a live orchestra, and sitting on a rocking chair on its epic porch overlooking the Straits of Mackinac.

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150 miles

Vermont is a natural beauty, and it offers a well needed slice of Americana as you drive past picture-perfect towns, covered bridges and trees—so, so many trees. You’ll make a note to come back in the fall.

  • The Old Stagecoach Inn: Originally built in 1826 for Dan Carpenter—Waterbury’s first lawyer—this 3 story building soon became an inn and tavern. It has served as one since then and was renovated in 1985.
  • Woodbelly Pizza: Supporting Vermont’s farm economy, Woodbelly gets all its ingredients fresh from local farmers. The creation of their dough and pizza are traditional but their menu is unique and ever-changing.
  • The Vermont State House: This gold-domed capitol is one of the oldest and best preserved state houses in the US. It's also home to the state’s most important works of art and beautiful gardens.
  • Bragg Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop: The Bragg family has been producing Pure Vermont Maple Syrup for 8 generations. They’re known for their syrup, but also their maple candy, maple creams, maple sugar, and maple taffy.

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (9)

New Hampshire

35 miles

I grew up in New Hampshire, welcome to my home state! This is the shortest stretch of Route 2, but this beautiful, brief drive has you passing through small towns and historic homes, and:

  • Santa’s Village: A Christmas-themed amusem*nt park of 24 rides and attractions all with Christmas or winter themed names. You can ride the Yule Log Flume and get a burger at Burgermeisters. My parents never took me there as child and I’m still upset.
  • Muddy Paw Dog Sledding: Why not let a team of dogs take the reins for a while. Family owned. Even when there’s no snow, being pulled by a team of dogs gives a unexpected thrill.
  • The Omni Mount Washington Resort: A 25-minute detour of Route 2 is where you'll find one of the grandest hotels ever built in the United States: the Mount Washington Resort. Built in 1902, it's a historic icon of the White Mountains. A highlight is afternoon tea on the verandah that spans close to 1,000 feet with breathtaking views of Mt. Washington.
  • Mt. Washington: We, New Hampshirites, don’t like to brag, but at 6,288 feet, we do have the tallest mountain in the Northeast, where the summit is cheerfully dubbed as having the world’s worst weather—and you can drive there! The 162-year-old road up the mountain is paved and does takes a strong set of nerves and, may I add, brakes. Especially for the descent. You’ve earned the famous bumper sticker seen across New England: "This CAR climbed Mt. Washington".

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (10)


180 miles

Maine isn’t just a state. It’s a state of mind, influenced by the lush and verdant landscapes that change from forests to mountains to sea—and sometimes all three all at once.

  • Bog Corner: Has the name of a town on a map ever made you want to go there? Well, Bog Corner doesn't disappoint, especially with its unique nature walk.
  • The Orono Bog Boardwalk: A 4,800-foot, wheelchair accessible, wooden walkway located in a natural wetland that passes through a mixed wooded fen and then loops around a northern peat bog.
  • The Travelin Lobster: Part of my family has been going to Bar Harbor, ME for 45 years. They tell me this is the best place to get your lobster fix, and I believe them.
  • Harborside Hotel and Spa: Located right on the Harbor, the hotel feels more like an impeccably appointed New England seacoast home you hope to inherit from a wealthy aunt one day. A luxury hotel with a spa—if you've done the entire Great Northern Road trip, you deserve a 2-hour massage.
  • Grand Finale: A part of Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain is the highest summit on the Northeastern seaboard, and you can drive to the top! This means, no matter your ability, you can take in a deep breath of that salty Maine air and enjoy epic vistas of Pine tree covered islands and one epic coast. Sit on one of the many benches and take more than a moment to really feel the end of your unbelievable odyssey.

Ready to hit the road? Book your trip through our travel partners Airbnb, Expedia,, using our flexible pay in 4 option. And if you still need a little help on the packing list, check outSamantha's must-have travel essentials.

World Traveler Samantha Brown's Great American Road Trip (2024)
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