One of the biggest decisions car owners face each and every year is planning just where to go during the peak of rodding season. Those folks who are lucky enough to live on the West Coast can drive the skins off their rides year-round, whereas many of us on the East Coast have only a few glory months to revel in.

Whatever coast you hail from, though, there's usually a lot of planning spent each season figuring out which substantial shows to take in. Many of these events have become larger than life, creating a virtual fantasy world for rodders that allows them to not only see some of the coolest rides in the country, but to also check out the latest technology available from top manufacturers, along with the chance to catch up with old friends, have a few laughs, and take in a multitude of entertainment.

On the East Coast, the Syracuse Nationals, hosted for its eighth season at the New York State Fairgrounds, has proven to be one of the events rodders wait for all year. The expansive, tree-lined venue offers great cruising lanes bordered by plenty of vintage buildings across a massive 360 acres. While planning your visit to the Syracuse area, you'd be cheating yourself if you didn't allow for a few extra days to take in some of the amazing stops along the way. A few of the neat places to visit include the scenic Finger Lakes region along the Keyuka; the Cayuga wine trails; the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which is jam-packed with classic memorabilia; or the Museum of Automotive History, boasting one of the world's largest collections of artifacts of automobile culture.

This year, car owners hit the pavement at the break of dawn for three days, arriving at the fairgrounds to be welcomed by an event schedule that was not for the faint of heart. With weather cooperating throughout the weekend, you could comfortably walk through the venue and take in many of the 200-plus vendors displaying their wares while checking out some of the informative and well-presented tech seminars offered by Hot Rod Air, American Autowire, and Bob Turner. STREET RODDER's Road Tour, led by Jerry Dixey, was on hand along with all the hard-driving rodders who made the picturesque trek to Syracuse eager to talk with other car owners about their experiences along the way. Saturday morning featured the 2nd annual Classic Car Auction presented by Tristate, which brought in plenty of excitement as bidders vied for vintage steel, while across the fairgrounds countless pinstripers from all over the country laid down some of their finest lines for charity auctions that took place all weekend long. Dennis Gage from Speed TV's "My Classic Car" talked with many enthusiasts about his countless experiences as plenty of live entertainment filled the speakers thanks to Dunes and the Del-Tunes and other hard-working performers, all surrounded by the scents of some of the tastiest food vendors ever assembled in one venue.

If this all sounds like fun, just wait till night creeps in, 'cuz you're only halfway there! Within the facility there is a giant grandstand area that plays host to a tire-burning competition to get each evening started, followed by an old-school auto thrill show and a demolition derby capped off by scorching-hot flame-throwing demonstrations and vibrant fireworks displays. Well known for their endless giveaway program, the promoters teamed up this year with New Age Motorsports to build a simply wicked turnkey "American Graffiti"-inspired coupe to be given away to one lucky car owner in attendance on Saturday. Once the fanfare was over, the lucky person taking away the keys was Nancy Ostrander of Niskayuna, New York. By the time the event came to a close, more than 6,800 cars had cruised the grounds, and an estimated 75,000 visitors had stopped in to dig the massive amounts of horsepower on display. As in years past, thanks to the overwhelming cooperation of the Central New York Car Club Association-the show's hosts-and area service clubs, donations from the proceeds of the event amounted to $60,000, bringing the eight-year donation total to $230,000.

Any way you slice it or dice it, this event needs to be on everyone's must-experience list for 2008. You can check it all out at www.rightcoastcars.com.