The adventure, people you meet, things to see and do.

There’s just something about hopping in your car and deciding to hit the open road for a cross country trip from, say, Detroit to Los Angeles. And though it might sound a lot like a commercial (considering I own one), the idea of doing it in a vehicle like a Jeep Wrangler just ads a special touch to the adventure.

Can you think of a better way to take in the sights of the American West than driving through the mountains in a Wrangler with the top off?

But whatever the automobile, a cross-country road trip is not only the ultimate escape, but also one of the best ways to experience the beauty of America. My roughly 2300-mile journey started in Detroit with planned stops in Des Moines, Iowa; Denver, Colo.; Grand Junction, Colo; and then Las Vegas before making the final stretch to LA.

While traveling through Nebraska, I stumbled on the Pioneer Village Museum located in Minden after asking an attendant at a gas station about some of the attractions in the area.

The museum, the largest private collection of Americana anywhere, features a complex comprised of 28 buildings on 20 acres housing over 50,000 items of historical value, restored and arranged in groups and in the chronological order of their development.

There are 12 historic buildings around the circular “green.” There’s a Frontier Fort, a Pony Express Station, an Iron Horse, and a home made of sod. There’s a general store and a toy store, chock full of all the goods from yesteryear. Also, an original art collection including 25 Currier and Ives prints, 23 Jackson paintings, and the largest single collection of Rogers statues.

The museum also features a priceless steam carousel, 17 historic flying machines and 100 antique tractors. One of the biggest attractions is the world’s oldest Buick, a 1902 Cadillac and a 1903 Ford, both designed by Henry Ford, plus 350 other antique cars.

I only spent a couple of hours at the museum, but any history buff could easily spend a weekend there taking in all of the memorabilia.

In Denver, at the urging of one of my Facebook friends following me on the trip, I had the opportunity to taste what are likely the best pancakes I’ve ever had (pineapple upside down) at Snooze, one of the Denver’s most popular breakfast joints. Nice hotel too (Hotel Monaco Denver) with a great staff and really friendly people, which you’ll find to be the norm in Denver.

In fact, one of the most spectacular parts of my road trip was deciding to drive from Denver up to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park at the suggestion of a few people I met in Denver. What a breathtaking drive and view of America from landmarks like Bear Lake to Roaming Elk.

In fact, the West offers a lot of breathtaking views, which I had a chance to experience during most of my road trip once I crossed into Colorado.

Then, of course, there’s Las Vegas, which I had a chance to experience during SEMA. And finally LA where you’re bound to find something you like whether it’s great food, hot nightlife, cool beaches or the chance of running into a celebrity in Hollywood.

Sure, a plane will get you there quicker, but a road trip affords you the opportunity to explore so much more along the journey.

Marcus Amick is a national automotive lifestyle writer and product analyst.

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