Who knew that one day Waldo would actually prove useful! Waldo? You say … Yes – Waldo – the star who got his start in a series of children’s books in England … that quirky little guy with his distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses – that’s the one! Well, in reality it’s not Waldo himself that’s going to guide you on the perfect American road-trip, but rather one Randal S. Olson from the University of Pennsylvania who researches artificial intelligence and algorithms … the guy who came up with the optimal search strategy to find Waldo.
Of course we know that computers and the internet are darn-good resources when it comes to planning a trip, but this goes far beyond GoogleMaps folks. When Olson was approached by Tracy Staedter of Discovery with the project, the following were the basic parameters of what they felt would make the perfect, all-American road trip.
Rules: 1) The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S.
2) The trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments.
3) The trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S. With those objectives in mind, Staedter compiled a list of 50 major U.S. landmarks – one in each state and including D.C., (excluding Alaska/Hawaii) and two in California.
Tracy wrote about that process on Discovery News here.
The full list of landmarks in order:
Grand Canyon, AZ Bryce
Canyon National Park, UT
Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Pikes Peak, CO C
arlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
The Alamo, TX
The Platt Historic District, OK
Toltec Mounds, AR
Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN
Vicksburg National Military Park, MS
French Quarter, New Orleans, LA
USS Alabama, AL
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL
Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA
Fort Sumter National Monument, SC
Lost World Caverns, WV
Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC
Mount Vernon, VA
White House, Washington, DC
Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD
New Castle Historic District, Delaware
Cape May Historic District, NJ
Liberty Bell, PA
Statue of Liberty, NY
The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT
The Breakers, RI
USS Constitution, MA
Acadia National Park, ME
Mount Washington Hotel, NH
Shelburne Farms, VT
Fox Theater, Detroit, MI
Spring Grove Cemetery, OH
Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
West Baden Springs Hotel, IN
Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL
Gateway Arch, MO
Parker Carousel Museum, KS
Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA
Fort Snelling, MN
Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE
Mount Rushmore, SD
Fort Union Trading Post, ND
Glacier National Park, MT
Hanford Site, WA
Columbia River Highway, OR San Francisco Cable Cars, CA
San Andreas Fault, CA
Hoover Dam, NV
If you’re interested in the science that went into the perfect road-trip, you can read Randal Olson’s article HERE – he talks about needing to gather 2,500 sets of directions – which is only the tip of the iceberg! In the end, the optimal American road-trip was created.
No matter where you are in the USA you can start in any state, and as long as you follow the path you’ll be driving the best route. The bonus is that there are many more top tourist attractions nearby the 50 points that were plotted – so you could be on vacation for a very, very long time. In order to complete the trip and make only these 50 stops it would take 9.33 days driving to be exact (if you had the road to yourself), but realistically this would be a 2 to 3 month journey.
If you’d prefer a driving trip of Europe, Olson makes that easy for us too – check it out HERE – this journey is based on the article by Business Insider “50 Places In Europe You Need To Visit In Your Lifetime.”
The European road-trip covers 16,287 miles (26,211 km) and 14 days of driving, so expect to dedicate at least 3 months if you’re going to take on this journey.
If nothing else here at TravelBloggers.ca we’re helping you plan what you’re going to do with your retirement – and it’s going to be awesome! Safe travels everyone!
Copyright © 2015 Iain & Gail Shankland / TravelBloggers.ca (at) Gmail.com Be sure to sign up for our blog via email so you don’t miss future articles! And give us a like on Facebook or follow us on Twitter… @TravelBloggerz // Facebook.com/Travelbloggers.ca
About TravelBloggers.ca Iain Shankland & Gail Shankland started blogging in order to inspire and motivate people to travel the world from their perspective – specializing in having the most fun while using the least amount of money, travelling on the cheap without sacrificing comfort.
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