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The Top 5 Student-Tested Road Trips to Take with Your BFFs This Summer

Written by Hilary Hoogsteen

Exams are over. There’s money in your bank account (well, maybe). For the first time since Christmas break, you have a spare second to think about something other than school. If you can get away from the internship you landed this summer for more than a few days, these road trips are sure to make a few good stories to share with the future grandkids (and spice up your Instagram feed).

Grab your besties and pack your parents’ minivan—it’s road trip time!

Toronto, ON to Chicago, IL (8 hrs, 10 mins)

Okay, GTA-dwellers, this one’s for you! Toronto to Chicago is perfect for a long weekend. It’s a city jam-packed with fun things to do, and even if you can’t make it for the infamous Lollapalooza, Chicago will not disappoint. Staying downtown will cost you, but it’s the best way to experience the city. The Magnificent Mile makes for the perfect self-guided walking tour and doesn’t lack in shopping, food, and stellar views. Finishing off a day of walking at Cloud Gate (The Bean) is the perfect way to acquaint yourself with Chicago and feel like you didn’t miss a thing. Save the second day for gorging yourself with deep-dish pizza and checking out the Chicago Art Institute, where you’ll find almost all the art you studied in Art History 101 and a whole lot more!

Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA & Portland, OR (3 hrs, 5 mins; 5 hrs, 45 mins)

Most Vancouverites have taken the jaunt down to Seattle for some cheap groceries and the original Starbucks, but this summer, make it stop number one on the tour to Portland. Spend the day in Seattle sipping lattes and touring Pike Place, making for a laid-back start to your road trip to Portland. In a land flowing with craft beer and legendary hipster beards, it’s hard to go wrong in Portland. Take your time heading downtown and spend the day touring the incredible waterfalls that lead up to the city. Once you’re there, Powell’s City of Books is not to be missed—and a city of books it is! This place is Narnia for book lovers, with room after room chock-full of hardcovers and paperbacks.

Thunder Bay, ON to Duluth, MN (3 hrs, 38 mins)

No, we haven’t forgotten about those of you north of The Wall! Whether you’re a Lakehead University student or just in Thunder Bay going tree planting for the summer, Duluth makes for a great weekend away. The drive around Lake Superior is breathtaking, and at just over three hours away, Thunder Bay to Duluth makes for an easy weekend getaway. Duluth is a wintertime hotspot for those who like to ski on spirit mountain, but it’s also well-equipped in the summer with activities like mountain biking and ziplining. You know a town understands quality when legends like Bob Dylan were born there! Take a gander down Bob Dylan Way and end it with a refreshing pint at Fitger’s Brewery Complex, a renovated historic brewery where you can enjoy a Bob Dylan exhibit while you sip a glass of Bavarian Dunkel.

Toronto, ON to Ann Arbor, MI (4 hrs, 25 mins)

You’ll fall in love with the little university town of Ann Arbor the moment you drive into it. Complete with the old-school Michigan Theatre and no shortage of markets and shops, the day can easily slip away as you walk through the town. If markets and souvenir shopping doesn’t get your adrenaline going, bring your mountain bike or rent one from the Campus Student Bike Shop and hit the trails around town. Another way to get outside is to rent a canoe or kayak and head down the Huron River with your besties. If you’re looking for a great place to stay, check out airbnb for a range of affordable accommodation options that will undoubtedly enrich your trip.

Edmonton, AB to Jasper, AB (3 hrs, 49 mins)

If you lost your passport or border guards just make you nervous, Edmonton to Jasper will be a trip right up your alley. Jasper often gets over-shadowed by Banff when it comes to tourist attractions, but this Alberta town has a ton to offer for a weekend away. Like Duluth, Jasper is not to be missed in the winter (especially if shredding Marmot Basin is your style). That being said, it won’t disappoint you in the summer, either. Nestled in the mountains off of Highway 16, this mini-vacation is perfect for a weekend of R&R and fresh mountain air. Fill up on fudge before heading down Highway 93 to Icefields Parkway for some glacier-gawking. If you’re looking to save some dough on accommodations, pack the bear spray and marshmallows and pitch your tent in the National Park, where camping fees will cost a lot less than a hotel. Between white water rafting, horseback riding, the skytram, and more breathtaking views than you can Instagram, you won’t have a hard time filling up a weekend in Jasper.

Now that the itinerary is set, book the next long weekend off work and get an oil change—it’s time to hit the road!

No Ride? Win it!

Don’t have a ride? No worries, win a brand new car + $2,000 in gas and a $5,500 maintenance budget to keep you on the road for a long time. Open to Ontario students only.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.