Baja California, Mexico
Because it's one of the continent's wildest drives. Because the vast majority of the peninsula is still safe, despite a bad rap due to violence around Tijuana. Because there are whale sanctuaries on one side, 80 surf breaks on the other, and old mission towns across the middle. Baja's 1,000-mile Route 1 is the ultimate ten-day buddy trip, and not just for the tacos and cerveza. There are expat-friendly surf towns (Todos Santos), Joshua Treelike desert villages (Cataviña), and kick-back beach oases like Mulegé, where you'll dive the reefs, sea-kayak, and catch your own ceviche. Fly into San Diego with a light beach-camping setup and get a shuttle or bus to the border. (A $25 tourist card is required; inquire at the airport.) In Tijuana, you can rent a Jeep from Alamo (alamotijuana.com) for about $575 per week; to drop the car in Cabo, you'll pay a $600 surcharge, but renting on the U.S. side costs more, and most companies don't allow you to drive all the way down. Buy Mexican liability insurance ahead of time from your insurer or credit-card company, be mindful of the 100-mile stretches without gas stations, and be thankful when you pitch your tent on one of the endless, crowd-free white beaches.