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Road trips: Where to go and what to know

Sure, road trips are not for everyone. If you’re into interminable airport security lines, road trips are not for you. If you enjoy being treated like cattle, go ahead and board that stuffy airplane.

But if you appreciate brassy threads of sunlight the color of French horns streaming across an Idaho highway, a Western road trip might be just for you. Read more »

We have eight ideas for road trips: In California: Gold Country, Mineral King Road, Eastern Sierra and Montaña de Oro. West adventures: Denver, Montana ghost towns, three trips in one: Nevada, Utah and Arizona and to the north: British Columbia.

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Have an incredible road trip story or a useful tip? Share your memories and suggestions with us in the comments or by tweeting at us with the hashtag #LATRoadTrips.

Next stop: The mystical western coast of Canada's Vancouver Island

 (Margo Pfeiff)
(Margo Pfeiff)

Victoria to Port Renfrew, Canada

The route : A circular route in  British Columbia from Victoria  to Port Renfrew. Take Highway 14 from Victoria to Port Renfrew. From there, follow the signs to Lake Cowichan on the Pacific Marine Road. Once you arrive at Lake Cowichan, follow Highway 18 to the Trans-Canada 1 back to Victoria.

Miles : 180, round trip.

Best time : Summer for beaches, fishing and hiking; winter for spectacular storm-watching and surfing.

Why : A rare opportunity to drive a circle route, completed in  2009, on southern Vancouver Island’s western coast. Travel through mystical, moss-draped and supersized temperate rainforest with some of tallest and oldest trees in the country. The circuit is not well known yet so the dramatic surf-or-stroll beaches of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park , which also features a 30-mile coastal wilderness hiking trail, and the villages on the way are still uncrowded and genuinely funky. An opportunity to view winter’s dramatic Pacific storms and pounding waves, best watched from in front of a fireplace in a renovated retro ’50s cabin at Point-no-Point Resort , is a (relatively) easy drive from Victoria.

Highlights : Near Victoria in Sooke , the potholes of Sooke Potholes Provincial Park are idyllic swimming holes at the base of waterfalls. Nearby, iconic Sooke Harbour House is a luxury B&B and restaurant where the concept of hyper-local West Coast cuisine was launched in 1979 by Sinclair Philip, Canada’s Alice Waters. Avatar Grove, on a dirt road outside Port Renfrew, is a pocket of old-growth rainforest with monster cedars and Douglas fir discovered in 2010. They include “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree,” a 12-foot-circumference red cedar deformed with burls. Need help finding them? Check out Big Tree Tours . Along the route, sample the Kickass Currant Mead at Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery . Drop in for  lunch at the aptly named Shirley Delicious , a casual gourmet A-frame diner, or pick up smoked salmon, Dungeness crab and fresh oysters at roadside shacks and make a picnic on Sombrio Beach .

Memorable stay : Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages , rustic luxury at Port Renfrew.

Memorable meal : Try Soule Creek Lodge overlooking Port Renfrew. The wild salmon glazed with maple syrup and citrus served in a First Nations-decorated dining room with a view is worth the drive.

Tourist trap : Stroll over the 144-foot high Kinsol Trestle bridge near Shawnigan Lake and check out the town of Duncan ’s 80 totem poles and legendary weekend farmer’s market.

Plan to spend : One day if you keep moving; two days if you want to be as mellow as the locals and the landscape.

-- Margo Pfeiff

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