AP Photo/Matt York

Road trip season is upon us.

In years past, exorbitant gas prices threw a bit of a damper on the romance of the Great American Road Trip.

This year, with the cost of fuel on a downward slide, $50 in the tank will get you pretty far. Using the average price of gas and the assumption that a car gets 24 miles to the gallon, the cost-information website HowMuch.net mapped just how far you could drive from the center of a city before sputtering to a crawl somewhere in the middle of a highway.

In the maps, concentric rings indicating the destinations attainable at $10, $20, $30, $40, and $50 worth of gas surround 35 major cities across the U.S. It’s remarkable both how far-flung the visualizations are, and how different they look depending on the city of origin.

HowMuch.net

Cities in the middle of the country, HowMuch.net points out, reap the benefits of an uninterrupted radius. A $50 drive out from Denver could land you in Zion National Park or El Paso, Texas; from Chicago, you could reach Niagara Falls or Memphis.

HowMuch.net

Sometimes, as in the case of Atlanta, you might save yourself both money and disappointment by setting out a on a shorter trip. HowMuch.net points out that leaving with $50 in your tank from Atlanta:

…seems like an exercise in frustration. Not only does your car give up the ghost before reaching Miami, it also falls just short of Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan, and Cleveland, on the shores of Lake Erie…But on the other hand, spending no more than $30 puts you on lots of gorgeous seafront, from the gulf shores of Alabama to the Atlantic coastline of South Carolina. With the next $10, you’re rolling into the Big Easy, New Orleans.

Given that 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties, the range of road-trip possibilities will not always fall in the satisfying circle that emanates from midwestern cities like Columbus or Kansas City. Take Miami, for example. Florida’s panhandle shape limits driving options to the west, east, and south; the only way to go is up. A $50 tank will take you as far as Savannah or Tallahassee, but what Florida lacks in choice it more than makes up for in beaches. Around its perimeter, there’s really no bad place to end up, and it will cost you less to get there.

HowMuch.net

A $50 car ride bridges trips that people would not hesitate to fly—between New York City and Detroit, for instance. The small issue of time might tip travelers in favor of aviation, but if the goal is to relax and luxuriate in some unsung parts of the American landscape, driving might just be the cheapest and most interesting way to get out of the city for a bit.

HowMuch.net

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of yellow vest protesters in Paris, France.
    Equity

    To Understand American Political Anger, Look to ‘Peripheral France’

    French geographer Christophe Guilluy has a controversial diagnosis of working-class resentment in the age of Trump, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests.

  2. Design

    How 'Maintainers,' Not 'Innovators,' Make the World Turn

    We need more stories about the labor that sustains society, a group of scholars say.

  3. A rendering of a co-living building in San Jose.
    Life

    The Largest Co-Living Building in the World Is Coming to San Jose

    The startup Starcity plans to build an 800-unit, 18-story “dorm for adults” to help affordably house Silicon Valley’s booming workforce.

  4. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks At Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  5. A map of apartment searches in the U.S.
    Maps

    Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

    A new report that tracks apartment searches between U.S. cities reveals the moving aspirations of a certain set of renters.

×