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23 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

Whether you’re looking for sweeping views of the pacific ocean or a multiday adventure through national parks, these road trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the united states..

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A highway leading toward mountains

Glacier National Park is one of many scenic places you can visit on an American road trip.

Photo by Zack Frank / Shutterstock

In a country as large as the United States, there’s no shortage of destinations and detours to explore by car . Whether your idea of the perfect American road trip entails an epic, cross-country journey or a shorter jaunt through a few of its most iconic national parks , your options are as large and varied as the country itself.

Even if you don’t have the time to drive cross-country, there are plenty of road trip routes (ranging from three days to a week or longer): classic California itineraries , New England routes that shine especially well in the fall, scenic East Coast adventures, and a variety of Midwest journeys for folks farther from the coasts.

No matter your mode of transportation—be it van, RV, motorcycle, or four-door sedan—these are 21 of the best road trips in the nation to consider.

Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

Plan your next Route 66 trip around thirst-quenching stops.

Photo by Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock

There are many ways to do a cross-country road trip in the USA, but these two itineraries will take you through some truly iconic American places.

1. Chicago to Los Angeles: A Whiskey Road Trip on Route 66

It doesn’t get more American than a 2,000-mile drive along the entirety of Route 66. There are endless ways to take this legendary trip (including an EV version —but to take your cross-country road trip to the next level, we recommend exploring another American pastime: whiskey.

Starting in Chicago and ending in L.A., you’ll stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, like Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 630 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. In between tastings, make time for detours to natural attractions, like the Grand Canyon, and quirky roadside curiosities, like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Just remember to drink responsibly—this is a road trip after all.

Plan your trip

The full itinerary: Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

People biking on a busy street

No cars are allowed on Mackinac Island, so you need to park before taking the ferry to this spot.

Photo from Shutterstock

2. Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington: The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2

Covering both the U.S. and Canada, a cross-country trip along U.S. 2 is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the vast diversity and expansiveness of North America. This drive runs the entire top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders like Acadia National Park in Maine, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, and Mackinac Island in Michigan. The route also passes through Canada, taking road-trippers through Ontario into Quebec—this route may focus on nature, but you won’t want to miss a stop in Montreal or Ottawa.

You’ll also get to explore Montana and Glacier National Park ( reservations may be required ) before passing the Columbia Plateau and ending in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, Seattle. Don’t miss spending time in the Olympic Peninsula (home to Olympic National Park) for a peek at one of the most scenic places on the West Coast.

3. Dana Point to San Francisco: Driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) are what road trip dreams are made of, and exactly what makes this California road trip so popular. However, with so many stops along the 655-mile stretch, we pulled together a list of the ones well worth pulling over to view. Don’t miss the perfect surfing waves in Santa Cruz, seasonal cuisine in Malibu, an afternoon a the boardwalk in Santa Monica, or a night in Big Sur as you drive between Dana Point (just south of Los Angeles) and San Francisco.

  • The full itinerary: The Best Stops for a Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway
  • The AFAR Guide to San Francisco

Wooden pier with shops on top juts out into the ocean

The seaside town of Monterey was the setting for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row .

Photo by Denise Lett/Shutterstock

4. Big Sur to Mono County: A Literary Road Trip Through Northern California

Yes, this itinerary requires you actually put down your book to drive, but seeing some of the pivotal places that shaped American authors will be so worth it. Follow in the footsteps of writers like Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan on this road trip that takes you through literary landmarks in Northern California, such as Caffe Trieste, a meeting place for Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other bohemian writers and thinkers. This 12-stop itinerary is perfect if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area because you’ll be able to stay make these trips in one or two days.

The full itinerary: The California Road Trip All Book Lovers Should Take

Wide shot of a red canyon with a river running through it

Arizona may take its nickname from the Grand Canyon, but the state has far more natural wonders than just that one.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

5. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: An Iconic Arizona Road Trip

This 240-mile Arizona road trip takes travelers along some of the state’s most iconic highlights, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon. A great itinerary for first-time visitors and returning travelers alike, it offers plenty of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and biking—as well as tasty food along the way. Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State.

  • The full itinerary: The Classic 5-Day Arizona Road Trip
  • Grand Canyon guide: The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon
  • Where to eat in Phoenix: A Chef’s Guide to the Best Restaurants
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Arizona ; The Best Airbnbs in Sedona

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah's Arches National Park

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah’s Arches National Park

Photo by tusharkoley / Shutterstock

6. Zion to Grand Canyon: A National Parks Road Trip in the Southwest

If you’re looking to visit as many national parks as possible in one road trip, this southwestern itinerary is for you. This journey through Utah and Arizona lets you hike Angel’s Landing in Zion, feel tiny under Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, explore Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon, and, of course, raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon remain on the rim, but take at least four days to venture within the canyon and take advantage of the trails and river rafting.

  • The full itinerary: The Ideal Road Trip Through U.S. National Parks
  • Utah’s 8 Best National Parks and Monuments
  • 10 Best National Parks and Monuments in Arizona
  • The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon

Couple sitting in front of a curving road

Stop and admire the winding roads of the San Juan Skyway.

Photo by Anh Luu/Shutterstock

7. San Juan Scenic Skyway Road Trip: An Adventure Through Southwestern Colorado

This Colorado trip takes you along the 232-mile loop of the San Juan Scenic Skyway, where you will see plenty of alpine forests, mining towns, and craggy peaks. And for anyone looking to enjoy refreshments after a long day of driving, this route features many opportunities to stop at some of the best breweries in Colorado , such as Ska Brewing Co. in Durango.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Southwestern Colorado Road Trip
  • Five Classic Colorado Road Trips To Take This Year

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

Courtesy of the Surf Hotel

8. Denver to Montrose: A 420-Mile Road Trip Through Colorado

Want to explore even more of the Centennial State? Head out on this weeklong road trip where you can fish for salmon in Colorado’s largest reservoir, visit numerous small towns, like Paonia and Crawford, with thriving art scenes along the Colorado Creative Corridor , and explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the nation.

  • The full itinerary: Art Stars, High-Altitude Wines, and a Remote National Park: The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Colorado
  • The AFAR Guide to Denver

Woman walking by a mural of a river and bridge

Portland may be Oregon’s largest city, but with a population of some 652,000 (or 2.5 million in the larger metropolitan area), it isn’t intimidatingly large.

Photo courtesy of Travel Portland

9. Portland to Astoria: An Oregon Coast Road Trip for Outdoor Lovers

If you love the outdoors, then this six-day road trip along the coast of Oregon is for you. After driving to Coos Bay from Portland, travelers will meander along Oregon’s dramatic, rocky coastline, discovering some quintessentially Pacific Northwest vistas along the way: evergreen forests, seaside dunes, and marine ecosystems. Between stops, there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs hiking, kayaking, or strolling around the region’s small towns—like the historic old town in Florence.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon road trip without a stop (or three) at a craft brewery, such as Fort George Brewery in Astoria, or cozy coffee shop, like Bread & Roses in Yachats.

  • The full itinerary: An Outdoor Lover’s Road Trip on the Oregon Coast
  • The AFAR Guide to Portland

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock

10. Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville, Tennessee: Follow the Path of the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Starting in New York’s Finger Lakes region and ending at the State Capitol Building in Nashville, this road trip traces the route of the national women’s suffrage movement. Highlights include stops at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House ; Union Square in New York City, which was the site of the first suffrage march; and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

  • The full itinerary: Celebrate Women’s Suffrage on an Epic, Self-Guided Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Washington, D.C.

A long shot of a mountain-backed city, framed by flowers and trees

Asheville is one must-stop on a North Carolina road trip.

Courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com

11. Charlottesville to Asheville: A Scenic Road Trip Through Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Beginning in the soft hilly meadows of the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park down into the Blue Ridge Mountains, then into the Great Smoky Mountains, this five-day road trip is best done at a slower pace, which is perfect for admiring the dramatic outlooks and green plateaus. This eclectic itinerary features stops at an art museum, a dairy farm, and plenty of hiking trails.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • Where to stay: 12 Dreamy Blue Ridge Mountain Cabins You Can Rent on Airbnb and Vrbo
  • 8 U.S. National Park Road Trips to Take in Your Lifetime

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

12. Albuquerque to Las Cruces: Discover New Mexico on This Three-Day Road Trip

This route steers you away from New Mexican tourist hot spots like Taos and Santa Fe and instead takes you on a three-day adventure with places that teach you about Pueblo history. You’ll stop at Indian Pueblo Kitchen (formerly known as Pueblo Harvest), a restaurant inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that features Indigenous cuisine ; pick up peppers at Three Brothers in Hatch; and slide down the dunes in White Sands National Park.

  • The full itinerary: This New Mexico Road Trip Is the Perfect Introduction to the Land of Enchantment

Green tree near brown house during daytime

Historic Fort Martin Scott is one of the places travelers can visit to learn about Fredericksburg’s history.

Photo by Mark König/Unsplash

13. A Five-Day Scenic Road Trip Through Texas Hill Country

This Texas road trip starts and ends in San Antonio with stops in small towns like Bandera, Boerne, and consider a stop in Fredericksburg, which is one of AFAR’s best places to go in 2024 ). Over five days, you’ll find opportunities to stroll in a Japanese tea garden in San Antonio, relax along the Sabinal and Frio Rivers by inner tube, and eat as many tacos as you want. Seriously: You could eat tacos for every meal on this road trip and not get tired of them.

  • The full itinerary: Tree Houses, Tubing, and Tacos: The Ultimate Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Photo by warnsweet / Shutterstock

14. A Weeklong Road Trip Through Alaska’s Most Majestic Sights

This weeklong drive in Alaska starts and ends in Anchorage. You travel along four scenic byways; explore Wrangell–St. Elias wilderness, the largest U.S. national park; catch sight of Denali, the tallest peak in North America; and enjoy the surprisingly stellar food scene of McCarthy, a one-road town with only a couple dozen residents.

  • The full itinerary: Glaciers, Mountain Peaks, and Organic Farms: The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
  • Which Alaska National Parks Should You Visit?

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

More than geothermal pools, Kirkham Hot Springs features a piping-hot waterfall.

Courtesy of Idaho Tourism

15. Boise to Sun Valley: Explore Idaho’s Scenic Byways

Even a short road trip can be packed with adventure, good food, and scenery, which is exactly what this trip from Boise to Sun Valley along Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway offers. Although the drive only takes six hours, we recommend taking a few days to explore all the stops and detours along the way. One can’t-miss spot is the Kirkham Hot Springs , where you can stand under a waterfall that will splash you with 135-degree mineral water year-round.

  • The full itinerary: The Little-Known Idaho Road Trip You Need to Drive
  • Things to do: The Best Outdoorsy Things to Do in Idaho

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Grand Portage State Park is the only state park jointly managed by a state and a Native American band.

Photo by Shutterstock/QZ

16. Duluth to Grand Portage State Park: A Scenic Minnesota Sampler

Although there are many appealing road trips throughout the Midwest, this 143-mile, three-hour circuit, which starts and ends in Duluth, Minnesota, is worth keeping in mind. Meandering north on MN-61 with this itinerary, you will enjoy prime views of Lake Superior and towns like Grand Marais, as well as Grand Portage State Park, home to waterfalls, hiking trails, and opportunities to learn about the Ojibwe community who occupy the land today. Once back in Duluth, enjoy a beer at Canal Park Brewing Company before checking into the waterfront Canal Park Lodge nearby.

  • The AFAR Guide to Minnesota

Overhead view of curvy Kancamagus Highway through fall forest

Wind your way through colorful foliage in New Hampshire.

Photo by Shutterstock

17. Kancamagus Highway: A Quintessential New England Drive

Yes, you can take a road trip in New England at any time of the year , but this region shows off its best colors in the fall, when locals and tourists alike head out into the country to view the changing colors of the trees. Join other admirers of fall foliage on this popular, 34.5-mile road trip along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway, colloquially known as the “Kanc,” for picturesque ponds, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

  • Plan Your Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

Red boat beside a wooden dock in a cove

Ogunquit is home to the small, postcard-perfect harbor of Perkins Cove.

Photo courtesy of QualityHD / Shutterstock

18. Maine’s “Lobster Trail”: Travel Route 1 Along the Coast

Traveling Route 1, affectionately known as “the lobster trail,” along Maine’s jagged coastline is an exercise in indulgence. Sample lobster dishes in all forms—buttered, steamed, on a roll, or even in a decadent mac-and-cheese.

The trip starts in the quaint small town of Ogunquit , with its rare (for the area) 3.5 miles of white-sand beach. Make your first lobster of the journey count, steamed with a side of drawn butter at Barnacle Billy’s in picturesque Perkins Cove harbor. Stop at Big Daddy’s for a cone on your way to the shipbuilding center—and summer home of George H. W. Bush—Kennebunkport. Stay at the recently redesigned 150-year-old classic White Barn Inn , and consider a sailing trip for an afternoon. With lobsters cooked in ocean water, the legendary lobster roll at the Clam Shack is a must.

  • 8 Scenic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Year

Interior of Leah & Louise restaurant in Charlotte

Throughout North Carolina’s Piedmont region, innovative restaurants, shops, and restaurants like Leah & Louise in Charlotte, above, are creating a buzz.

Photo by Peter Taylor Photography

19. Raleigh to Charlotte: A 4-Day Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

North Carolina’s Piedmont region extends from the coastal plain to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and includes farmland and rolling wooded hills, especially on the 1-40 stretch near Hillsborough. Starting in Raleigh, drive the short distances to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte to see how these cities are innovating through art, food, and a celebration of the past. Take your time—four days should do—to experience downtown arts districts, James Beard Award–winning restaurants, and civil rights museums that speak truths. Plan your trip

  • A Road Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Scenic South Walton is part of the Emerald Coast of Florida.

20. Scenic Highway 30A: A Sunday Drive Through South Walton, Florida

Florida is full of places to cruise with the top down, but it’s hard to beat a Sunday (or any day) drive along Scenic Highway 30A through northwest Florida, home to a postcard-perfect stretch of seaside towns known as South Walton.

The roughly 28-mile route through South Walton County kisses the coast for nearly all its length, taking you through gorgeous residential Gulf-front communities like Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, and Blue Mountain Beach . Roll down the windows and let the emerald-hued views in.

Pull over to explore, too—maybe to admire the New Urbanism architecture in Alys Beach or to swim in the clear waters at Grayton Beach State Park . (The beach here has been lauded among the best in the world.)

  • The full itinerary: The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Two stand-up paddleboarders on the water at sunset

Stand-up paddleboarding is just one way to enjoy a Florida Keys sunset.

Shutterstock

21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway

For a sunny road trip itinerary in Florida, skip Miami and head farther south. Beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West, the Florida Keys Scenic Highway is often overlooked for more well-known routes up north, but it is well worth going out of your way to experience.

As the name suggests, this route is very scenic, so plan to spend at least a few days exploring it and numerous stops along the way. Some highlights include driving across the impressive Overseas Highway, stopping to admire art in the town of Islamorada, and enjoying the historic sites, food, and (of course) beaches in the city of Key West.

  • The full itinerary: How to Road Trip in the Lesser-Known Florida Keys

A brick building with an oversized guitar hanging off the side and a sign that says "Sun Studio"

Sun Studio in Memphis was the site of the famous Million Dollar recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Photo by f11photo on Shutterstock

22. Memphis to Bristol, Tennessee: A Music-Driven Adventure

If you have about a week to spare and a deep appreciation for music, take a road trip from one side of Tennessee to the other, starting in Memphis and ending in Bristol. The eastbound trip spans genres, including rock ( Graceland ), blues ( Beale Street) and, of course, country (did you really go to Tennessee if you didn’t go to Dollywood ?). Nashville serves as the halfway point on your journey—so consider penciling in an extra 48 hours to fully explore the state capital’s greatest hits.

  • The full itinerary: 5 Great American Road Trips For Music Fans

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

The stunning coastline near Cueva del Indio has been the backdrop of star-studded films.

Photo by Alexsf.gr/Shutterstock

23. Arecibo to Condado, Puerto Rico: A Lesser-Known Side of a Well-Loved Island

In the minds of many, trips to Puerto Rico bring images of stunning beaches , delicious foods , and maybe a bioluminescent bay or two . But there’s plenty of history to be found here, too, as Puerto Rico was home to an Indigenous population known as the Taino, a heritage many Puerto Ricans embrace. That history can be explored via a road trip. Starting in the northern town of Arecibo, travel south to Ponce, then back north to Condado—along the way you’ll encounter petroglyphs, Indigenous sites, and breathtaking natural spots.

  • The full itinerary: A Puerto Rico Road Trip That Puts Indigenous Culture First

Additional road trip planning resources Picking the route for your road trip is only one part of your planning. From what snacks to pack to which podcasts to listen to, these additional resources will help you prepare for your next adventure:

  • Best road trip snacks
  • Road trip planning apps
  • Podcasts and audiobooks to download
  • What to pack for a road trip

This article originally appeared online in August 2020. It was most recently updated on April 4, 2024, to include current information. Additional reporting by Jessie Beck, Erika Owen, Ray Rogers, Terry Ward, and Sheryl Nance-Nash.

The Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge spans Dallas’ Trinity River.

Inspired Routes

29 Amazing Road Trips USA: Scenic (& Underrated) Routes You’ll Love

Posted on Published: March 1, 2023  - Last updated: January 17, 2024

The US is filled with amazing sights, hikes and adventures from coast to coast. The absolute best way to experience everything it has to offer is by taking an amazing road trip! Here’s an epic list of the best road trips USA to find your next adventure.

road trips USA view of road cutting through massive mountainside on cloudy day

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my  disclosures .

One of the best perks about US road trips is you can take your time, admire the views, stop at fun road-side attractions and design the route exactly how you like! Whether you have a long weekend, a week, or even longer, these road trips across the US are full of a variety of cities, wide open spaces and some underrated spots you’re going to love.

From coast to coast and even a few bonus routes, this guide will help you get started in planning the greatest American roadtrip that’s just perfect for you!

Must-see video: road trips USA

Best road trips in USA map

Whether you’re hoping to explore close to home or take a bucket list cross-country road trip, this USA road trips list has something for everyone! Check out the map below to find which one works best for you.

By the way, I haven’t been everywhere (yet), so I’ve asked some of my fellow travel writers to help with this list of the best American road trips.

Essentials to pack on the greatest road trips in America

USA road trip routes view of scenic highway with rolling hills surrounding road

Before we dive into the list of USA road trip routes, make sure you’ve packed the right gear to help make your road trip go smoothly. Here are some top recommendations…

  • Food and water. Regardless of how long of an adventure you choose, you’ll want some food or at the very least some snacks to keep that energy up! Here are 101 road trip food ideas . Don’t forget to bring reusable water bottles to fill up at hotels, restaurants and national parks so you can avoid buying single-use plastic bottles.
  • Collapsible cooler. Store your food and drinks in a handy cooler, then fold it down when it’s empty for storage or to easily pack it up.
  • Layers for weather. Depending on which epic US road trip you choose and the time of year you take it, be prepared for anything! From a light jacket or medium coat for hiking, an umbrella , sun hat or even the perfect merino wool layers for any season, you’ll want to be prepared.

Pacific coast highwaybridge view of bridge with arch under and ocean with waves along rugged coastline

  • Good hiking gear. If you’re stepping foot in a national park on this list, or any other outdoor space with trails, you’ll want the right hiking gear. That means hiking shoes , socks, trekking poles and hiking backpack . As someone who’s hiked with and without the proper gear, I can say with confidence hiking is a lot easier and more comfortable with the right gear.
  • Emergency preparedness items like satellite communicator and first aid kit . Whether you’re in your vehicle or are renting a car , be prepared for anything. This satellite communicator allows for 2-way communication anywhere it can see the sky – regardless of if you have cell phone service or not. Call for help on a hiking trail or road out in the middle of nowhere.
  • GoPro. This awesome camera is perfect for recording epic road trips! Hang this GoPro out the window or sunroof while another person is driving, go underwater with it or use it to capture amazing landscapes. Maybe not an ‘essential,’ but certainly fun if it’s in your budget! 🙂

By the way, if you need to rent a car for these epic road trips, try using Discover Cars . It’s a search engine for the major car carriers that finds the lowest price, and it’s free to use. I typically save 10-30% on car rentals with Discover Cars .

Best road trips USA

YAY! You’re ready to start planning your bucket list road trip! You’re going to love this amazing list of the best road trips in America!

1. Utah national parks road trip (one of the absolute best road trips in America)

range rocky hoodoos on sunny day

Distance: 878 miles Recommended time: 6-10 days Best time of year: spring, summer or fall

For out-of-this world landscapes, you’ll love an Utah national parks road trip through the Mighty 5! From crazy rock spires known as hoodoos in Bryce Canyon to the vast, wide open spaces in Canyonlands National Park, there’s so much to see and do on this road trip!

For the most efficient use of your time, fly into Salt Lake City and start your adventure in Moab. Home to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, you’ll want to spend at least 2 days exploring this area – more if you have time!

Spend one day in Arches by hiking to Delicate Arch – the most famous rock arch in the world! See Landscape Arch and The Windows areas of the park, too. With the popularity of this park over the last 5 years, you’ll need a timed entry reservation , so be sure to plan in advance!

Discover the best hikes in Canyonlands National Park. From the short, 0.5 mile trail to Mesa Arch, to the breathtaking Grand View Point trail. Don’t forget to stop at the scenic overlooks – Green River and Grand View Point.

From there, head west to Capitol Reef National Park. Visit the Fruita orchards and do the Hickman Bridge Trail hike. Allow at least an hour for the scenic drive as well. It’s easy enough to see the park highlights in day, or take more time to explore more hiking trails.

Next is Bryce Canyon National Park. Home to the funky hoodoo rock formations, these views are incredible any time of year. Be sure to check out the views at Inspiration Point, and if you’re up for a hike, do the Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop combination. So cool!

Lastly, head to Zion. One of the most visited national parks in the country, and for good reason! This massive canyon is so incredible from almost anywhere in the park. Popular hikes like The Narrows and Angels Landing (permit required) and Canyon Overlook Trail don’t disappoint !

The final part of this trip is just heading to Las Vegas to fly back home. This trip can be done year round, but some of the roads and hikes in the national parks will be closed during the winter months due to snow and ice, so it’s recommended during spring, summer and fall.

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

2. Ozark Mountains

best time to road trip usa

Distance: 200 miles Recommended tim e: 2-3 days Best time of year: April-June or September-November

One of the best road trips in USA is a trip through the Ozark mountains in northern Arkansas. There is so much to see and do on this road trip and it’s perfect for a 2-3 day weekend.

This exciting road trip will start in Little Rock and end in Eureka Springs. The total mileage of this trip is 200 miles and driving straight through takes 3 hours and 25 minutes.

One of the best stops along the way is at the Natural Bridge just outside of Clinton . It spans 100 ft and was actually used as a bridge in the past. The next best stop on this road trip is at the Buffalo National River. You can go on an awesome  Buffalo River float trip , and stay in one of the adorable VRBO cabins the area has to offer.

After spending a day floating down the river, head to excursion train , one of Arkansas’ best towns. You can spend days checking out this charming town. Make sure that you check out the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway while you’re there! You can go on an excursion train, a lunch train, and a dinner train and see some of the gorgeous scenery in the area.

One of the best places to stay in Eureka Springs is at this incredible unique Hobbit Cave Hotel where you can actually stay in a cave for the night. The best time of the year to do this road trip is either in the spring or fall when the weather isn’t too hot and the Buffalo River is great for floating. 

Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage

3. Beartooth Highway (one of the greatest road trips in America)

road trips USA view of mountains with green valleys and white snowy tops on cloudy day along beartooth highway

Distance: 68.7 miles Recommended time: 1+ day Best time of year: June-September

Charles Kuralt called the Beartooth Highway “the most beautiful drive in America.” This scenic USA road trip route begins in Red Lodge, Montana, and ends in Cooke City and the northeastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. At 68.7 miles, it’s a short drive, but you’ll want to allow several hours to take advantage of as many scenic views as possible.

While  Beartooth Highway  is a route where the drive is the destination, there are some must-stop places. A stop at Beartooth’s scenic overlook will give you a glimpse of the peak for which the mountain range and the highway is named after. During this US road trip, you should also stop at Rock Creek Vista Point where you’ll be met with majestic views at 9,190 feet . Don’t be surprised to see marmot and scampering chipmunks while you admire the views.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, Top of the World Resort has vacation rentals. They also have camping for tents and RVs, and you can rent UTVs and Snowmobiles. Skiers will love Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area.

Because Beartooth Highway is the highest elevation road in the Northern Rockies, it’s closed most months of the year . It typically opens in late May or early June and closes around October. Summer squalls have been known to happen, so it’s always best to find out ahead of time if the road is open.

Recommended by Theresa of The Local Tourist

Looking for adventure a little further north? This guide will help you plan an amazing Canadian road trip !

4. Florida Springs

road trips USA view of teal and green colored river with trees alongside

Distance: 165 miles Recommended time: 3-5 days Best time of year: November-February

Without a doubt, a Florida Springs road trip is one of the best US road trips of them all. In fact, Florida is actually home to more freshwater springs than any other state in the nation . So, make the most of this fact and enjoy a fantastic road trip to some of the best natural springs in Florida . 

Now, if you’re starting near Tampa then this road trip will take between three and five days to complete. After all, many of these spots are secluded in the wilderness and require that you have an RV or do a bit of camping. 

So, while this USA road trip really only covers a distance of 165 miles, each spot is truly awesome and could easily keep you busy for a day.

Once in Tampa go a bit north to see the Weeki Wachee Springs. Sure, this natural spring is amazing but the real highlight of your visit will be the mermaid show. In fact, it is held in an underwater theater and is one of the coolest things you will ever see. 

Continue to Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River Natural Wildlife Refuge. Rent a kayak and enjoying all that Manatee Springs has to offer. 

Just know that while this is a great place to see Manatees, there are typically only found in the water here during the winter months. Plan your visit for this time of year so that you can get up close and personal with these gentle giants. 

Whatever you do though, don’t forget to visit Ginnie Springs. There are some great camping spots here. It’s an epic place to relax, take in the scenery, and do a bit of tubing. 

Finally, head to Ichetucknee Springs and end your road trip here. Check out the famous blue hole which is a great place to go cave diving, snorkeling, tubing, hiking, swimming, and more. There’s also tons of cool fish in the water so be on the look out for them as they swim by.

Recommended by Victoria of Florida Trippers

5. Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada (out of this world USA Road Trip!)

road trips USA view of large metal alien at metal building with woman on a road trip through Nevada

Distance: 98 miles Recommended time: 1 day Best time of year: October-April

If you’re looking for a quirky USA road trip you won’t soon forget, consider  driving Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway !

This road trip spans 98 miles on State Route 375 between the towns of Crystal Springs and Warm Springs. Along the way, you are treated to arid desert landscapes, mostly desolate roads, and plenty of alien-themed attractions. 

There are lots of unique stops along this route. You have ET Fresh Jerky where you can buy alien-themed snacks. There’s the iconic Extraterrestrial Highway sign plastered in stickers left behind by pilgrims who’ve made the trek from far and wide. And don’t pass up the Alien Research Center where you can buy souvenirs and hear some UFO lore.

As you continue driving along the ET Highway you’ll see the Black Mailbox, where believers come to leave mail and other trinkets for otherworldly creatures. And lastly, there’s the Little A’le’inn, which is a motel, bar and restaurant which is hard to miss thanks to the UFO-towing pick-up truck out front!

This is a road trip that can be easily done in one day . However, you can tack it onto a bigger Nevada itinerary.

Also, while the Extraterrestrial Highway can be driven any time of year, it’s probably best to avoid the summer months when the desert temperatures are a scorcher. This road trip would be much more enjoyable if done in spring or autumn.

As far as accommodations go, you can stay in Las Vegas which is only 1 hour 37 minutes from the starting point of Crystal Springs. 

As a final tip, fuel up before you begin driving the ET Highway; this area is fairly remote with very little traffic, so you wouldn’t want to get stranded!

Recommended by Audrey of That Backpacker

6. Washington DC to Boston

view of Boston skyline and statue during fall on greatest road trips in america

Distance: 440 miles Recommended time: 2+ days Best time of year: September – October

A road trip from Washington DC to Boston is the perfect way to take in the changing colors of fall. The journey will take at least 2 days and cover a total of 440 miles with stops in New York, Philadelphia and Providence.

Starting out from Washington DC, you’ll have a chance to explore the nation’s capital. It’s home to famous monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, The White House and the Smithsonian Museum .

If you’re taking a longer route towards New York City, you can even stop off at Gettysburg National Military Park along the way.

Once in New York, there’s plenty to keep travelers entertained! From iconic landmarks like Central Park, Times Square and Rockefeller Center to exciting attractions like Broadway shows, shopping boutiques and gourmet restaurants.

From there it’s just a short drive up to Philadelphia. Visit historic sites such as Independence Hall or experience some of its world class cultural institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art or Liberty Bell Center. You may also want to make sure that your itinerary includes stops at local favorites like Reading Terminal Market and South Street for an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich! 

Continuing northward towards Providence, you’ll be surrounded by stunning natural scenery as you pass through Connecticut and Rhode Island. On this leg of your journey, you should make time for some outdoor activities. Think whale watching on Narragansett Bay, biking along Newport’s Cliff Walk or hiking in Lincoln Woods State Park.

Finally reaching Boston will be worth all 7 hours and 30 minutes of total drive time it takes to get there! Take some time to explore picturesque spots such as Harvard Yard or Fenway Park before enjoying a classic lobster roll dinner at one of the city’s seafood restaurant s. Don’t forget about all the shopping opportunities in downtown either – including everything from vintage bookstores to designer apparel stores.

If you’re looking for family-friendly adventures even further north, consider expanding your trip into Ontario, Canada. Silent Lake Provincial Park is outside of Bancroft, Ontario and offers excellent recreation, including some of the best campgrounds in Ontario .

Recommended by Victoria of Guide your Travel

7. Seward to Denali, Alaska (one of the best US road trips for wildlife)

yellow kayak on blue water with mountains and glaciers in distance on the best USA road trip

Distance: 767 miles (from Anchorage airport) Recommended time: 7 days Best time of year: June-September

For adventurers looking to add to their road trips USA bucket lists, a 7 day Alaska road trip itinerary from Seward to Denali should be at the top of your list. 

Fly into Anchorage and rent a car before making the 2.5 hour drive on the Seward Highway to the start of your trip in Seward. Stop at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to break up the drive and stretch your legs while you check out the bears, moose, reindeer and more that they care for in their sanctuary.

Seward is a perfect base for a visit to Kenai Fjords National Park. Spend 2 days here doing an iceberg kayaking excursion at Bear Glacier lagoon . Or take a whale watching cruise where you’ll see tons of aquatic wildlife in addition to a glacier calving. The Exit Glacier hike is another interesting thing to do.

Then it’s time for a 2 hour drive north to the popular Alyeska Resort . They have plenty of summer activities including terrific hikes and stunning views from the top of the Gondola ride. Stay overnight.

Next stop is Talkeetna – the small town made famous for being the inspiration for TV show Northern Exposure. It’s also the starting point for climbers planning a Denali summit.

You can get a bird’s eye view by taking a flightseeing tour of Denali with a glacier landing before spending your last 2 days at Denali National Park exploring wildlife and nature. 

The total distance from Seward to Denali is 397 miles . Doing the trip in a loop from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is 767 miles. Not too bad for 7 days of non-stop fun!

The best time for this road trip is summertime but if you can brave cold autumn weather you’ll also have the chance to be rewarded with spectacular Northern Lights! Make sure to plan your trip well in advance to get the best rates.

Even though it’s not in the continental US, it’s still one of the very best road trips in America!

Recommended by Jenifer of The Evolista

8. Newfound Gap Road, Smoky Mountains USA road trip

view of the smoky mountains green treetops and rolling hills on sunny day

Distance: 30 miles Recommended time: 1 day Best time of year: September-Early November

Smoky Mountains is one of the most visited national parks of the USA! It covers South Carolina and Tennessee in the southeastern region of the US. Many  scenic drives on the Smoky mountains road trip  are worth doing, but the most famous is Newfound Gap Road (US-441). 

This American roadtrip starts from Sugarlands Visitor Center and ends at the Mountain Farm Museum in North Carolina. It connects Cherokee and Gatlinburg and is an approximately 30 Mile one-way trip.

Many scenic stopovers are on Newfound gap road in Smoky Mountain National Park and can be done in one day trip. Chimney Tops, Campbell Overlook, Newfound Gap, Rockefeller Memorial, Morton’s Gap Overlook, Oconaluftee Valley Overlook, and Mingus Mill are the most famous stopovers. 

The whole road trip is scenic, passing through a forest of Smoky Mountains with a view of foggy, misty peaks overlooking valleys and tunnels. The best time to make this road trip is during fall. You can see a fantastic riot of fall colors throughout this drive. 

Book your stay in the mountainous town of Gatlinburg for this road trip in the Smoky mountains. There are many cozy cabins with amazing views to choose from.

It’s important to note that the whole area is foggy and misty throughout the year, so it’s worth it to check the fog conditions before driving as sometimes it can be very foggy, and driving becomes very difficult. 

This is one of the best USA road trip routes, and can be done in conjunction with a larger trip to the Smokies.

Recommended by Yukti of Travel with me 24 x 7 Blog

More of the best road trips USA

With so many good options all over the country, how do you ever choose? Let’s keep exploring more options before you choose your perfect adventure…

9. Route 66 (one of the classic US road trips!)

chicago skyline at night with water boats and skyscrapers start of route 66

Distance: 2,448 miles Recommended time: 7+ days Best time of year: September-Early November

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, is one of the most iconic road trip routes in the USA. Starting in Chicago, IL, and ending in Santa Monica, CA, the route goes through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. 

Covering a total of 2,448 miles, the route offers tons to see and do . Set aside a week to do justice to the trip, more if you can afford it!

Take in the many sights along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, from Lincoln Park to Soldier Field, before heading out. Admire the State Capitol in Springfield and visit the Cahokia Mounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site before crossing the Mississippi River.

In Missouri, admire Gateway Arch in St. Louis . Then snap a photo of Red’s Giant Hamburg, the world’s first known drive-through! Stay at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in downtown St. Louis. 

In Texas, possibly the most famous attraction along the route is Cadillac Ranch, in Amarillo, but Shamrock makes for a nice stop as well.

In New Mexico, the route passes through the major cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, both of which offer tons to do. Adventure-loving travelers should try hot air ballooning in Albuquerque!

Spend a night in Tucumcari, where you will find some iconic Route 66 motels such as the Blue Swallow Motel. 

In Arizona, the stretch between Kingman and Seligman is considered historic. Also be sure to check out the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook. In Seligman, stay at the Supai Motel , a vintage Route 66 motel. 

Route 66 in California  passes through the Mojave Desert and a string of small ghost towns and roadside attractions. Elmer’s Bottle Ranch is one of the more popular stops. 

Pasadena is home to several Route 66 sights, and also to The Huntington, a complex of beautiful Southern California gardens.

Although not where the original road ended, today you will find the End of the Trail sign on the Santa Monica Pier. Pose for a photo under the sign to celebrate the completion of your road trip!

Recommended by Dhara of Roadtripping California

10. Coastal Carolinas road trip

view of grassland with trees and lighthouse on sunny day best road trips USA

Distance: 600 miles Recommended time: 7 days Best time of year: June-October

If you’re a foodie, history buff, or family, you’re going to love a  Coastal Carolinas Road Trip . This approximately 600-mile route (one way) takes you from the Deep South starting in Charleston, SC, up the entire Carolinas’ coast, and ends in the small naval city of Norfolk, VA.

Budget about a week of travel to immerse yourself in this land of pirates, beaches, and the North Carolina marshes you might know from  Where the Crawdads Sing .

Plan to spend at least one full day in Charleston’s historic downtown. As you make your way north, consider a night or two in either Myrtle Beach, SC or checking out the Wilmington beaches in North Carolina.

Don’t miss a stop in New Bern to visit the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. Devote at least 2 days to exploring the beaches and lighthouses of the Outer Banks . Be sure to check out the hidden gem – Pea Island , particularly the wildlife refuge!

The Wrights Brother National Monument is another Outer Banks must-see. Also, if you’re not eating your weight in seafood on this road trip, you’re not doing it right! 

You can do this road trip any time of year, but you’ll find the most crowds over school vacations, especially summer vacation and spring break. Autumn is an ideal time to do a Coastal Carolinas road trip. Just keep in mind that many Outer Banks businesses – especially restaurants – operate seasonally, so plan accordingly.

It’s most convenient to do this road trip with a multi-city plane ticket and one-way car rental . Fly into Charleston, drive north in your rental car, and fly out of Norfolk.

For a cheaper, but more time-consuming option, fly in and out of either Charleston or Norfolk. If you opt for a round-trip plane ticket, you’ll need to make a 7-hour drive on Interstate 95 at either the start or end of your adventure.

Recommended by Ada of Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

11. LA to Joshua Tree National Park – (a desert oasis road trip in the USA)

smooth tan rocks sand and Joshua Tree blue sky

Distance: 130 miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: April-May or September-November

One of the best USA road trip routes is driving from LA to Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a relaxing way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and in only a few hours, you’ll be in a desert oasis. While it’s only 130 miles one way, traffic can take up more of your time than you want. That’s why I recommend taking 3 days to go from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree and back so you can fully enjoy all the different sites there.

On the first day, start off by checking out the Cabazon Dinosaurs. They’re giant roadside dinosaurs you’ve probably seen on Instagram, and there’s even a museum to learn more about them. From there, continue until you get to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve for gorgeous views and hiking trails.

Finally, crash in Twentynine Palms for the night – they have affordable lodging and fun places to see, like the Twentynine Palms Historical Society and Adobe Museum.

On the second day, head out to explore  Joshua Tree National Park ! You could spend days exploring! If you’re short on time, Jumbo Rocks is a great spot to watch rock climbers in action, and Barker Dam offers a chance to find water in the desert and see some historic ruins. Lost Horse Mine is an abandoned gold mine you can explore, and the Cholla Cactus Garden is a great place to catch the sunrise.

For your last day, check out the Palm Springs area. Downtown has many options for amazing food, drinks, museums, and shopping. Who knows, you might even bump into a celeb!

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a fun ride with epic views of the desert landscape and access to Mount San Jacinto State Park’s hiking trails. Grab dinner up there and catch the last tram of the night for a memorable end one of the greatest road trips in America.

Recommended by Marissa of Postcards to Seattle

12. Talimena Scenic National Byway (a completely underrated route on this road trips USA list)

best road trips in America view of orange foliage and hillside with open landscape view on sunny day

Distance: 54 miles Recommended time: 1-3 days Best time of year: October-November

The  Talimena Scenic National Byway  is a 54-mile scenic route that winds its way through the Ouachita Mountains in southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas. It’s one of the best US road trips in the south!

Stretching between Talihina, Oklahoma, and Mena, Arkansas, the route’s name is a portmanteau of these two terminal cities. You can drive the route one way or as an out-and-back, depending on the remainder of your trip itinerary . For example, those on a cross-country road trip will typically do the route one-way. But those enjoying a vacation in nearby Broken Bow or Hochatown will do the route as an extension of their trip and usually drive both ways.

While you can accomplish the trip in one day, it’s best to spend a weekend of 2 to 3 days exploring. This way you can spend time in Talihina and Mena as well as explore the state parks and hiking trails along the route.

Talimena State Park in Oklahoma and Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas both offer camping sites and hiking trails . The US Forest Service maintains them.

Whether you choose to camp along the way or stay in one of the towns on either end of the route, you need to make your bookings in advance. This is a more rural part of the country. There are many times of the year when there won’t be any rooms available at the last minute.

The best time of year is to take the trip in the last week of October or the first 2 weeks of November when the fall foliage is peaking. However, the viewpoints and vistas along this national scenic byway are beautiful any time of year.

Recommended by Stephanie of History Fangirl

13. Pacific Coast Highway (a favorite on this list of road trips USA)

Big Sur view of rugged coastline with wild flowers beach blue water

Distance: 615 miles Recommended time: 2 – 7 days Best time of year: anytime

Undoubtedly, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the greatest road trips in America. Incredible coastal views greet you from a mix of big cities and untouched land. This San Francisco to San Diego road trip is one you absolutely must do in your lifetime!

While you could *technically* do this road trip in 2 days, you’ll see and experience a lot more of this incredible drive if you give yourself more time. Fly into San Francisco and rent a car and head south towards San Diego!

While there are so many amazing stops along the way, you absolutely must stay for a moment in Carmel-by-the-Sea. A charming beach town with beautiful architecture, this is one of the last stops to eat and fuel up before heading deep into Big Sur.

Along the way, there are so many cool and amazing things to do in Big Sur . Highlights include the Bixby Creek Bridge, McWay Falls and Sand Dollar Beach.

As you head further south in California, you’ll get to quaint beach towns than large Southern California cities. Go surfing or hiking near San Luis Obispo. Wine tastings in Lompoc, hang out on the beach in Malibu and visit the Santa Monica Pier.

The end this epic American roadtrip in a city that’s easy to love – San Diego. Visit the birthplace of California in Old Town San Diego and indulge in one of the many Mexican restaurants there. Check out the nightlife in the Gaslamp district or watch the sunset on the sparkling Coronado Beach.

This road trip can be done at any point in the year. The weather along Big Sur can be a bit moody with marine fog in the late spring/ early summer and wildfire season during early fall. Just pack layers for comfort and bring your camera for amazing landscapes!

14. Athens to Macon, Georgia

music museum with record and photos on walls

Distance: 93 miles Recommended time: 3-4 days Best time of year: anytime

Even though about 93 miles (less than two hours) separate Athens and Macon, Ga., the destinations share something in common besides just being college towns : both have played (and continue to play) a role in shaping American music culture. 

A three- or four-day getaway is suitable throughout the year, even in the winter, since the weather in Georgia tends to be mild-ish. Still, it is weather and can change ~ always have an umbrella available and except for summer, dress in layers.

It can be crowded in Athens during University of Georgia home football games in the fall. The best thing to do is to check the calendars and watch the weather reports. Accommodations in both places include vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, chain hotels and boutique hotels. Something suitable for all needs and budgets.

Begin this American roadtrip in Macon. It’s a little over an hour from Atlanta (for those who may be flying into Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson Airport) and a straight drive down I-75 South. 

Macon’s music history ranges from soul with Otis Redding, funk with Little Richard, Southern Rock with Allman Brothers and much more. Download Macon’s Macon Music Trail app for stories and locations of attractions like the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House and The Little Richard House .

For true fans, a guided walking tour with Rock Candy Tours provides a detailed look at Macon’s music heritage. Finally, grab lunch at H&H Soul Food for the fried chicken and the connection to the Allman Brothers and end the evening at a music venue.

The drive from Macon to Athens is on highways. If you’re on good on time, take a break in Madison (about 35 minutes from Athens) to enjoy its quaint historic downtown.

Athens was at the forefront of the indie and rock alternative rock movement, introducing America and the world to R.E.M and B-52s, among others. A self-guided Athens Music History Tour highlights the many sites that played a role during these times . And don’t miss the Athens Music Walk of Fame, a two-square-block area downtown showcasing the people and places of the city’s rich music scene. 

Live music venues are plentiful in Athens, and festivals like Athfest, a three-day music event. This will surely be one of the best road trips in America for music-lovers!

Recommended by Apryl from   Southern Hospitality Magazine  

15. Road to Hana, Maui (a quintessential route on your road trips USA list)

road trips USA new of black sand beach green foliage and blue water in Road to Hana Maui

Distance: 52 miles Recommended time: 1- 2 days Best time of year: any time of year

The  Road to Hana  is a scenic 52-mile highway on Maui’s northern coast. A bucket list road trip, it provides one of the most iconic experiences in Hawaii, and for a good reason. It’s truly one of the greatest road trips in America!

On the narrow road, you will encounter 620 curves and 59 bridges, with many sections only accommodating one vehicle.

Whether staying in Maui or visiting for the day by cruise ship, pick up a car rental at the Kahului Airport to begin your journey . Expect to spend at least 2-1/2 hours making the drive or longer if you intend to go beyond Hana to Haleakala National Park.

You can make the trip any time of year (thanks to Hawaii’s great weather). You’ll need to purchase a visitor’s pass to visit the national park.

What makes this drive so spectacular is the plethora of scenery you can observe along the way. Imagine roadside cascading waterfalls, rainbow eucalyptus trees, a lava tube, and colored beaches begging for exploration.

For one of the best opportunities to view Hawaiian sea turtles, stop at Ho’okipa Beach, where they often bask in the sun . Keanae Landing, another can’t-miss stop, allows you to taste Aunt Sandy’s Banana Bread, rated highly worldwide.

If you want to spend more than a day exploring the Hana area, the Hana-Maui Resort, a Destination by Hyatt Residence , offers a luxury stay with a restaurant and spa.

USA road trip tip : If you aren’t visiting Maui by cruise ship, plan to drive the Road to Hana when there are no ships in port. Then you’ll share the highway with fewer tourists.

Recommended by Karen of Forever Karen

16. Blue Ridge Parkway (vibrant fall colors American roadtrip)

greatest road trips in America view of road with fall foliage orange yellow green trees

Distance: 469 miles Recommended time: 3+ days Best time of year: October

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most iconic scenic drives in America. It passes through Virginia and North Carolina where the endpoints are two national parks – Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

It spans 469 miles so it’s recommended to spend 3 days driving Blue Ridge Parkway so you have plenty of time to stop at overlooks, go hiking to waterfalls and explore local museums along the way.

If driving from north to south, on day one, be sure to stop at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center to learn about mountain pioneers. Then head to Yankee Horse Ridge for an easy to get to multi-tiered waterfall, Kanawha Canal Lock to learn about this historic innovation, and Mabry Mill, one of the most beautiful and iconic stops along the parkway.

Stay at the Grassy Creek Cabooses your first night for a unique experience sleeping in a converted train car.

On your second day, visit Puckett Cabin, where a mountain midwife helped deliver over 1000 babies! Visit the Blue Ridge Music Center where you can catch bluegrass concerts, and Linn Cove Viaduct, arguably the most iconic curve of the parkway that’s a photography hotspot.

You’ll end day two in Asheville where there are a number of places to stay, especially downtown!

On the final day of this US road trip, explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park where the highlights include Laurel Falls , Cades Cove, and Clingman’s Dome.

If hoping to catch the most spectacular views, try to visit during autumn when the fall foliage is out in full swing – it’s one of the best fall drives in the country!

Important Note: When traveling on Blue Ridge Parkway, be sure to check the official notices by the National Park Service as some parts of the road may be closed due to construction or weather damage.

Recommended by Alanna of Periodic Adventures

17. Oregon Coast (one of the absolute greatest road trips in America)

Oregon coast road trip view of large rocks off coast on dreary day

Distance: 730 miles Recommended time: 2-7 days Best time of year: June-August

If you’re looking for one of the most dramatic road trips in the United States, consider driving along the Oregon Coast. This awesome American roadtrip offers rugged beaches, jaw dropping seascapes, and dozens of charming towns to explore. 

Start the drive in Portland and head an hour and a half west to Cannon Beach, one of the most adorable towns along the coastline and known for its iconic sea stack, Haystack Rock. Here, you can peruse its quaint downtown, explore the beach’s tidepools, and hit any of the incredible hikes near Cannon Beach . For example, head to Ecola State Park for the Crescent Beach trail, where you’ll hike to a secluded beach.

Continue further south to the town of Newport. Here, you stop by the town’s docks to see dozens and dozens of sea lions. They happily bark the day away and stop at Seal Rock State Park, known for its wildlife sighting opportunities and unique sea stacks.

Finally, head further south to the southern section of the Oregon coast, Brookings. This is home to the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor, with some of the most stunning views in the state.

There’s a variety of things to do in the park, from stopping at scenic overlooks to exploring its hidden beaches. Once you’re done taking in the breathtaking sights, head back to Portland, completing a 730 mile loop around the western portion of the state. 

While you could drive the coastline in a day or two, the small towns along the way are best savored slowly. If you can build in about a week to mosey your way down the coastline, that would be best.

If you can swing it, visiting in the summertime is the best . The temperature is warm, the skies are clear, and you’ll have the best chance of spotting wildlife, like gray whales and puffins.

Although, the Oregon Coast is also dreamy December – February when there’s far less people too. The Oregon Coast is also one of the best winter road trips , too!

Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

18. Savannah to Charleston

sunset view along Savannah pink sky during USA road trip routes

Distance: 107 miles Recommended time: 4 – 7 days Best time of year: April – June, September – November

If you’re interested in a coastal getaway and are a fan of majestic old oaks, Southern-style dining, and incredible architecture, then a road trip from Savannah to Charleston might be just the ticket! A week is an ideal amount of time to get a taste of these two pretty cities and the stunningly beautiful  South Carolina Lowcountry  that lies between them.

Begin your journey in Savannah, where you might feel as if you’ve stepped back in time a couple hundred years! The Historic District is filled with architecture from the mid-1800s . Cobblestone streets line the waterfront, and each square is shaded by old oaks covered in Spanish moss.

Stay in a historic property like  The Marshall House  or  Hamilton-Turner Inn .

While in Savannah, be sure to take a stroll down Jones Street, view the interior of the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, and dine at one of the city’s award-winning restaurants. (Common Thread, The Grey, and Brochu’s Family Tradition are three excellent options!)  

Savannah and Charleston are 107 miles apart, and the drive between them takes about 2 hours. HWY 17 to I-95 back to HWY 17 is the fastest route, but Okatie HWY is the most scenic way to go. Don’t miss a brief stop in Yemassee to see the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.

Beaufort is an ideal halfway stopping point along the route. It’s such a small city that you only need to stay one night to get a good overview (try the Cuthbert House Inn). Be sure to take a sunset stroll along the waterfront park and go on   a walking tour to see the beautiful historic homes in The Old Point area.

As you head into Charleston, the Angel Oak is a must-see on the outskirts of the city. It’s approximately 400 years old, with twisted branches that are a sight to behold!

Stay at  The Spectator Hotel , which is within easy walking distance to restaurants, shops, and landmarks. Charleston is known for award-winning restaurants like Husk, so a Charleston food tour  is always a good idea!

Spring is the best time of year to take this road trip, with fall running a close second. 

Recommended by Erin of Savannah First Timer’s Guide

Best road trips in USA – continued

Can you believe this list?! With some of the best American road trips yet to come, one of my favorites is up next!

19. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park

view in Glacier National Park with mountain peaks and lush greenery on sunny day

Distance: 50 miles Recommended time: 1 -3 days Best time of year: July – September

If you’re looking for one of the very best USA road trip routes, this is it! The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is one of the most breathtaking experiences you’ll have.

In just 50 short miles, this road trip really packs a punch! The Going-to-the-Sun Road can obviously be done in one day, but taking 3 (or more) days to explore is ideal.

Located in northern Montana and at over 6600 feet in elevation, the Going-to-the-Sun road experiences heavy snowfall and isn’t cleared of snow until July. And because it typically starts snowing again by October, the season to do this incredible road trip is short.

Note: due to the high volume of visitors, a vehicle reservation is required for the Going-to-the-Sun Road (and most of the rest of the park as well).

These can be a pain to get, with strict deadlines and they go super fast. However, you can enter the park before 6am or after 3pm without a reservation and drive the road and explore all that it has to offer.

It truly is a stunning drive! Along the way, you’ll pass Lake McDonald, which hold’s nature’s skittles – brightly colored rocks that line the shores of the lake.

If you’re up for hiking, you’ll love Avalanche Lake Trail , Hidden Lake Trail, and Virginia Falls, one of the best waterfalls in Glacier National Park.

Pro tip: vehicle passes don’t ensure you’ll find a parking spot. Arrive at the park early and have a plan B if parking is full. Use this Glacier National Park itinerary to set up your plan for this incredible park!

20. Phoenix to Page Arizona (one of the BEST southwest US road trips)

best American road trips view of large red rocks at sunset with hikers on ledge

Distance: 600 miles Recommended time: 7+ days Best time of year: March – May, September – November

The Phoenix to Page Arizona road trip itinerary  is one of the best road trips in America that offers a blend of natural beauty and urban charm. The journey starts and ends in Phoenix, covering approximately 600 miles in total, making it a perfect loop trip for travelers who want to explore the best of Arizona .

To fully appreciate the journey, it is recommended to take at least 7 days to complete the route.

Phoenix is the starting point of this road trip, and it is a city worth exploring. Visitors can experience fun hikes, mouthwatering restaurants, interesting museums, and beautiful shopping areas. The neighboring city of Scottsdale is also worth a visit. Known for its luxurious spas, resorts, and golf courses, there’s so many things to do in Scottsdale .

After exploring Phoenix, head to Sedona, famous for its red rock formations and stunning natural beaut y. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, exploring their vortexes, or visiting wineries.

Next up is Flagstaff, which is famous for its beautiful mountain scenery and historic downtown. Here, visitors can explore the famous Route 66 and visit the Lowell Observatory, which was where Pluto was discovered .

From Flagstaff, the journey continues to Page, which is home to the famous Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

After Page, you’ll head to the majestic Grand Canyon, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon offers stunning views, and visitors can explore the park on foot or helicopter tour .

The best time to take this road trip is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild and comfortable . During the summer, the temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees, making outdoor activities challenging.

It’s also important to note that some parts of the road trip itinerary may be closed during the winter due to snowfall.

Recommended by Destiny of Guided by Destiny

21. New England during the fall (one of the best road trips in USA)

road trips USA stop along waterfalls over rocks with fall foliage in distance

Distance: 830 miles Recommended time: 5+ days Best time of year: October

For a true bucket list experience, you have to do a road trip in New England during the fall. It’s truly one of the best road trips in America! Enjoy the stunning array of colorful foliage and classic, charming small towns in the region. 

If you’re flying in, plan to start and end at Boston Logan International Airport with a rental car . Otherwise, adapt this loop to your own starting point.

This road trip is a loop spanning about 830 miles. You can certainly add more destinations if you have more time! You can do this trip in 5 days but a week or more would be ideal to add even more stops into the mix.

Start in Boston and head just north of the city to the iconic fall town of Salem, Mass. Whether you’re into Hocus Pocus or history, visitors love Salem for its Halloween vibes and fun fall events. Just be sure to book accommodations early during this very busy season!

From Salem, head north to Bar Harbor, Maine. En route, stop in Portland for a foodie adventure. This is the longest drive at just over 200 miles, but there is ample opportunity to stop along the way for coastal views and foliage photo ops.

You could spend a week in Bar Harbor alone, but from there, your road trip will backtrack a bit before cutting west into New Hampshire. Spend the night in Conway so you can start your drive through the White Mountains early the next morning . This is a truly idyllic destination in the fall! 

From Conway, take a 15-minute detour up to Bartlett for a quick, easy morning hike to the very pretty Diana’s Baths. Then you’ll drive across NH along the incredibly scenic Kancamagus Highway; plan to stop several times for photo ops! After crossing the state, you’ll basically follow the border between NH and VT before cutting across Vermont to the pretty town of Manchester.

From Manchester, you can skirt Green Mountain National Forest and head southeast back toward Boston. If you do have more time, add more stops for a more robust 1-week New England fall road trip to maximize your adventure.

Recommended by Amanda of Hey! East Coast USA

22. Texas Hill Country (an underrated American roadtrip)

best road trips in USA view of blue river with trees and green meadow in Texas Hill Country

Distance: 300 miles Recommended time: 2 – 7 days Best time of year: March – April

A road trip through Texas Hill Country is one of the best road trips in the US due to the amazing things to do and sights to see along the way. This drive starts in Austin, ends in San Antonio, and has dozens of charming small towns along the way.

At just under 300 miles long, this road trip can be completed in one day. However, travelers can easily fill 7 days with all there is to experience.

There is plenty to explore year round. Beware of the Texas heat in summer months and plan plenty of swimming hole stops. Spring is the best time of year for this road trip. Hill country comes alive with  Texas bluebonnets  and other wildflowers making for a gorgeous scenic drive.

Starting in Austin, consider checking out the Capitol building, live music in the Red River District, and the beautiful metropolitan park, Zilker Park. If you happen to be doing this road trip during October, be sure to check out the best haunted houses in Austin , too.

Then, head out west toward the sweet towns of Burnet and Marble Falls. Explore Longhorn Caverns, discover Devil’s Watering Hole at Inks Lake, and pick up a slice of pie at the Bluebonnet Café.

Fredericksburg is the next highlight on your road trip and also a great spot for staying overnight.

The numerous wineries, beautiful German heritage woven throughout the town, and the beauty of a hike at Enchanted Rock can keep you busy for several days. In spring, head to Jenschke Orchards to pick strawberries or for fresh peaches in the summer. An overnight stay at the Behr House is sure to please!  

As you start heading south, check out the historic post office in Luckenbach, lavender fields in Blanco, cowboy boots tour and Blue Hole in Wimberley, and the Comal River in New Braunfels . Don’t miss brisket from Salt Lick in Driftwood.

End your road trip in historic San Antonio by visiting Riverwalk and the Alamo. Dinner at The Pearl Historic District and pastries from Mia Tienda will end your Hill Country road trip with delicious local fare.

Such a fun adventure, and one of the best USA road trip routes!

Recommended by Sierra from Very Truly Texas

23. Southern Colorado

sand dunes with footprints and mountains in distance blue sky

Distance: 800 miles Recommended time: 7 – 14 days Best time of year: June – September

Colorado has some of the most beautiful places in the country, and nothing makes that more clear than a road trip around southern Colorado . While most people visit to explore the Rockies, there is so much more to Colorado than just the Rockies. This road trip will show you why southern Colorado is really where you want to be.

Assuming you start and end in Colorado Springs, the road trip will cover about 800 miles through some of the most scenic places in the country. If you’re flying into Denver International Airport, add about 180 miles total.

Start your trip off with a scenic drive through Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs before ascending up to Pikes Peak. It’s the second highest paved road in the United States, just outside of the city.

From the peak head straight across Highway 50 to southwest Colorado, stopping by Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. While far less known than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Black Canyon is impressive in its own right with its sheer 2700 foot drop to the river below.

From Black Canyon, head south through the San Juan Mountains, stopping by Silverton to do one of the best hikes in Colorado, the Ice Lake Hike . When your legs are sufficiently exhausted, continue to Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde protects the most impressive and well-preserved ancient Puebloan cliff cities in the US.

You’ll then head across southern Colorado on highway 160, a simply stunning drive with breathtaking scenery around every turn. Be sure to stop in for a craft beer in Durango before making your way to Great Sand Dunes National Park. There, you’ll find the tallest and most impressive sand dunes in North America. Do some dune hiking before heading back to Colorado Springs.

The best time of year to complete this road trip is summertime between June and September. It’s possible to visit all the places on the route year-round (except the Ice Lake hike). Summer will have the most pleasant weather and best hiking opportunities. 

This is certainly one of the best road trips in America, and one full of unexpected adventures.

Recommended by Chris of Around The World With Me

24. Florida Keys from Miami to Key West (another favorite on this list of road trips USA)

beach and palm trees blue sky white clouds along florida keys road trip

Distance: 165 miles Recommended time: 1- 3 days Best time of year: December – June

One of the very best road trips in America is driving the Florida Keys on Highway 1. From big party cities on either end to tropical vibes along the way, this is one fun road trip you’ll want to drive!

The Miami to Key West road trip can technically be done in a day, but it’s best done over 3 days, at minimum. That would give you one day in Miami, one day in Key West and one day to explore the islands between.

Although if you have a week or more, that’s even better! Just after leaving Miami, make a stop in Everglades National Park . From birdwatching to the short Anhinga Trail hike, you’ll love seeing nature in this park.

Another stop along the way is Key Largo. From a glass-bottom boat tour to snorkeling , this island offers a lot of water activities. Robbie’s in Islamorada is a popular spot to stop and feed the tarpons   – so fun!

The famous 7-mile bridge is an engineering feat as you drive down Highway 1. Finally making it to Key West, you’ll find shops, restaurants and historic hotels greet you with open arms. It’s quite the busy little island, welcoming passengers from cruise ships by the day and a live party scene at night.

Stay in the Kimpton Winslow’s Bungalows in the historic district, or on Smather’s Beach at Margaritaville Beach House Key West . You can fly back out of Key West, although it may just be more affordable to drive back to Miami.

This fun route from Miami to Key West down Highway 1 is truly one of the greatest road trips in America, and holds a deserving spot on this list!

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels

25. Oahu Circle Island Tour (a tropical USA road trip route)

Oahu hawaii view of teal water and coastline on sunny day

Distance: 60 miles Recommended time: 1-3 days Best time of year: year-round!

Dive into the depths of Hawaiian culture and explore the sights, sounds, scents, and flavors of Oahu on a classic circle island tour. It’s absolutely one of the best road trips in USA, even though it’s on an island thousands of miles offshore. 🙂

This route is an ideal way to get a better sense of all Oahu offers. From world-famous beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant cities to small towns with uniquely local flair.

Start and end the trip in Honolulu, driving 60 miles around the island’s perimeter. You can spend from 6 hours to 2-3 days on this route, based on where you want to stop and how much time you want to spend there.

No trip around Oahu is complete without a stop at the iconic Waikiki Beach. You can take in the crystal-clear waters and picturesque sunset views.

Other highlights include…

  • Byodo-In Temple, located on the Windward Coast
  • Chinaman’s Hat, a small islet off the shore of Kualoa Ranch
  • Banzai Pipeline, a world-famous surfing spot on the North Shore
  • Dole Plantation for its famous pineapple fields and ice cream
  • Laie Point or Makapu’u Point Lookout for some of the most beautiful views in all of Hawaii

Be sure to also marvel at Waimanalo Waterfall, tucked away in the Ko’olau Mountains, and the breathtaking Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve.

Embarking on this journey during the summertime is ideal due to the longer days, yet it can still be a memorable experience year-round . Just keep in mind that you may encounter crowds at beaches on weekends and holidays and when the waves are high.

If you’re looking for a guided tour, there are many tours you can book to do the circle island tour of Oahu. If you’d rather have an adventure of your own, renting a car is the perfect option! With apps like Shaka and Gypsy to assist with planning and managing your itinerary, you can guarantee yourself an extraordinary experience.

Recommended by Melodie of Travel Must Do’s

26. Badlands to the Black Hills (an unexpected one on this list of best road trips in USA)

view of tan sandy rock spires with hiking trail on sunny day

Distance: 60 miles Recommended time: 1 – 3 days Best time of year: May – September

In western South Dakota, visitors find a land of great contrasts and great beauty. The Black Hills got their name because the dense, dark pine trees make the hills appear almost black. The landscape is so starkly bare in Badlands National Park that it appears almost otherworldly.

Luckily for visitors, you can visit both within just a few hours–although you could easily spend weeks exploring all the beauty and fun in western South Dakota. This is one of the best, unexpected US road trips!

For the ultimate western South Dakota road trip, visitors can start at Badlands National Park in Interior, South Dakota.

Inside the park, visitors drive the 31-mile Badlands Scenic Loop Road to the Ben Reifel Visitors Center . There are so many things to do in Badlands National Park like hike the park’s beautiful trails and stop at scenic overlooks for spectacular views of the park’s colorful rock formations. Be sure to watch for bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs!

After exiting to Wall, South Dakota many visitors stop at Wall Drug for free ice water (and snacks and souvenirs.)

Then, it’s a short jaunt on interstate 90 to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. This free aerospace museum on Ellsworth AFB is home to more than 30 aircraft and tons of other artifacts and exhibits.

A few minutes further and you’re in Rapid City and can check out all the town has to offer. Check out Storybook Island, Dinosaur park, Presidential statues downtown, and fossils at the Museum of Geology on the Campus of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. 

Then, it’s less than a half hour from downtown Rapid City to the Black Hills. Take the Peter Norbeck Scenic Highway to see attractions like Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park.

The beauty of the rock formations in the Black Hills, the trees, the wildlife, and the view are absolutely breathtaking.

Recommend by Lindsay of Siouxland Families

27. Washington DC to Asheville

mountains near Asheville at dusk with purple sky best road trips in America

Distance: 471 miles Recommended time: 5 days Best time of year: March – May, September – October

A road trip from Washington, DC to Asheville, North Carolina can be driven in just eight hours but you’ll miss a lot of historic southern towns. Plan on a long five-day vacation and make frequent stops.

Your first stop on this American road trip is Front Royal via Route 66. This charming town offers the best apple donuts to pack for your all-day hiking in Shenandoah National Park . Rent an Airbnb or book a campsite inside the national park.

Wake up bright and early the next day to enjoy a big flapjack breakfast then head out on 1-81 South via I-66 W. Select a detour to Luray Caverns or antique shopping in Strasburg.

Plan to reach the 215-foot-tall Natural Bridge by noon . Carved out by Cedar Creek, the limestone bridge offers vistas of the forests and rolling meadows. Explore seven miles of hiking trails and the beautiful Lace Falls, a 30-foot waterfall cascade.

Then, spend time touring the Monacan Indian Village or participate in seasonal living history programs. Book your second night at Wyndham’s Natural Bridge Hotel surrounded by Blue Ridge Mountains.

On your next morning head into the hills of east Tennessee to explore Johnson City. Choose between hiking at Buffalo Mountain Park or boating at Winged Deer Park.

In the afternoon, explore Sycamore Shoals Historic Park, which is a former Cherokee site. Alternatively, visit Gray Fossil Site and Museum to see mastodon fossils. Schedule the hour drive to  Asheville  before nightfall where you can pplurge and book a room at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn .

On your last morning, book a morning walking tour to learn about the city’s Art Deco architecture. Then head to the Arts District to explore working artists’ studios. Leave time for a two-hour drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to admire the stunning scenery at road stops . Extend your USA road trip (if time permits) to tour the Biltmore Estate.

Recommended by Terri of Female Solo Trek

28. Southwest USA (one of the BEST road trips USA)

US road trips view of road with rocky cliffs in distance

Distance: 950 miles Recommended time: 6 days Best time of year: March – May, September – November

Going from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is only the beginning of an epic southwest USA road trip. It starts and ends in the City of Lights – Las Vegas. To complete the itinerary in a moderate way, you will need 6 days (not counting the days in Las Vegas ). The distance of the whole itinerary is around 950 miles. Along the way, you will get your ‘kicks on Route 66’, visit 3 US States, and the most Instagram-worthy national parks. From Grand Canyon to Page with Horseshoe Bend you’ll surely be in awe of America’s natural wonders.

In Page you will also visit the famous Antelope Canyon, but before that, make a stop at the the famous spot where Forrest Gump stopped running, Monument Valley.

The best place to stay in the Monument Valley in Goulding’s Lodge , where you get stunning sunset and sunrise views of Table Mountains and Monolites.

On your way back to visit Zion National park, and add Bryce Canyon as an optional stop. The last stop before returning to Vegas should be Valley of Fire, a popular wedding photoshoot location with amazing hikes. The great part about this road trip is that it can also be done in reverse. You can do this road trip at any time of the year, but winter would be the least favorable.

The best time would be spring or autumn, when temperatures are moderate and there is no snow on the roads. Summer, also a great time to follow this southwest itinerary, can be crowded and extremely hot.

Whichever time of year you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Just be careful if driving at night as the roads are full of wildlife that will be extremely hard to spot. This may just be one of the very best US road trips you will take! Recommended by Anja of Anja On Adventure

29. Milwaukee to Minneapolis

American roadtrip through upper midwest river and bridge with city skyline in distance

Distance: 336 miles Recommended time: 5-8 days Best time of year: June-October

If you’re looking for a great northern Midwest road trip, plan a road trip from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. You’ll be able to see some of the best of the upper Midwest, including important US cities and charming small towns.

Start with two days in Milwaukee. Explore the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum, eat a fabulous lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market, and spend time strolling through the historic Third Ward.

Leaving Milwaukee, you can spend a few days enjoying Wisconsin’s smaller but still important cities and towns. Three stops worthy of spending a night or two include Madison, Wisconsin Dells, and Eau Claire. If you make your road trip during the fall, look to see if there are any football or basketball games happening in Madison during your trip. This is truly one of the greatest college towns in America!

Continue on to Minneapolis. Devote 3 days to enjoying the best of the Twin Cities. There are tons of  great free things to do in Minneapolis  and St. Paul. See the Stone Arch Bridge from the Guthrie Theater, wander through the Minneapolis Institute of Art and tour the Cathedral of St. Paul. 

Other can’t-miss sites along this USA road trip include the Mall of America, the Museum of Russian Art, and Fort Snelling State Park.

Road trips USA

view of curvy road with mountains in background blue sky lots of greenery

There you have it! 29 of the very best US road trips you’ll find . From driving through vibrant fall colors, to marveling at the sparkling blue water in Hawaii, to hopping in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, the adventures are truly endless.

Let’s recap this amazing list one more time (in a slightly quicker fashion…)

Best US road trips

  • Utah national parks
  • Ozark Mountains
  • Beartooth Highway
  • Florida Springs
  • Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada
  • Washington DC to Boston
  • Seward to Denali, Alaska
  • Newfound Gap Road, Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Coastal Carolinas
  • LA to Joshua Tree National Park
  • Talimena Scenic National Byway
  • Pacific Coast Highway
  • Athens to Macon, Georgia
  • Road To Hana, Maui
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Oregon Coast
  • Savannah to Charleston
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park
  • Phoenix to Page, Arizona
  • New England
  • Texas Hill Country
  • Southern Colorado
  • Florida Keys from Miami to Key West
  • Oahu Circle Island Tour
  • Badlands to the Black Hills, South Dakota
  • Washington DC to Asheville
  • Southwest USA
  • Milwaukee to Minneapolis

Related posts to read next: 30 Gorgeous West Coast Road Trip Routes You Gotta See to Believe 26 Absolute Best (and Underrated) Fall Drives in the US You’ve Gotta See to Believe 17 Exciting Winter Road Trips USA: Scenic and Unexpected Routes You’ll Love 12 Epic Scenic Drives Colorado (Map + Tips + Photos)

Find this guide helpful? Save it for later or share it on social media!

29 stunning road trip ideas in the USA with photos of mountain road sunset over hillside and road through desert scene

Saturday 4th of March 2023

We love road trips! I definitely need to take the Utah road trip and I would also love to drive Beartooth! We did a little bit of the ET Highway last spring and it was fun! Great post. Lots of exciting options!

Friday 10th of March 2023

Yess Yvonne! Sounds like you've got some good options coming up. So much to discover via a USA road trip ❤️

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23 Best Road Trips in the U.S.

From Hawaii to the Florida Keys, these are 23 of the best road trips in the U.S.

Sarah Rose is a journalist and the author of two best-selling novels. She was a news columnist at The Wall Street Journal and her features have appeared in Outside , The Washington Post , Travel + Leisure , Bon Appétit , and more.

Loki1100/Getty Images

From the dramatic California coast to the history-lined thoroughfares of New England, the U.S. is brimming with scenic drives, some more stunning than others. Take the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway for example, meandering past limestone caverns, clear mountain springs, and Appalachian majesty, offering different panoramic vistas depending on the season.

Sometimes it's not just the nature but also the human-made sights that make the trip. As you cruise along Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, the view to the west includes such iconic feats of American architecture as the Willis Tower, better known as the Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the world. And on U.S. 1 from Key Largo to Key West, travelers pass over coral reefs on the Seven-Mile Bridge to arrive at marinas where they can hand-feed tarpon and drink margaritas at beach bars blaring Jimmy Buffet hits.

Those road trips and more around the U.S., ahead.

Hana Highway, Maui

The T-shirts all say: "I survived the road to Hana." It can take more than two and a half hours to travel the 52 miles from Kahului to Hana, as you snake past steep sea cliffs lush with blooming mango trees, ideally stopping to buy banana bread from roadside stalls and take in the Jurassic vistas at every turn. In tiny Hana, a town on eastern Maui, a cinder cone shields a red-sand beach where nudists and endangered monk seals bake idly in the sun. Just beyond where the Road to Hana terminates, about 30 minutes further, are the must-visit Pools of Oheo, a gently cascading, seven-tiered gulch in Haleakala National Park .

Blue Ridge Parkway, the Carolinas and Virginia

Andre Jenny/Alamy

The nearly 469 miles of blacktop twisting through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks was built for travelers seeking Appalachian overlooks. It's a panoramic drive for all seasons, with undulating slopes of color in autumn, a bounty of forest canopy in summer, and ski resorts in winter. In the mines of the mineral-rich Appalachian Mountains, visitors can even pan for emeralds, amethyst, rubies, topaz, and gold. The parkway is a paradise for nature lovers, with hundreds of bird species and more types of trees than the whole continent of Europe.

Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

The rock stars of American architecture line up like soldiers facing Lake Michigan along this urban drive. Chicago's buildings are decidedly showstopping, from the blocky staircase of the Willis Tower — formerly the Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the world — to the Belle Époque elegance of Burnham and Root's Rookery, to the stark post-Bauhaus boxes of Mies van der Rohe. It could easily be called the greatest road for architecture-spotting on earth. Lake Shore Drive is just 15 miles long, but you'll want to break up the brief journey with a stop at Millennium Park to visit the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture (otherwise known as "The Bean").

17-Mile Drive, California

The so-called 17-Mile Drive loops around California's stunning Monterey Peninsula. Stretching from the towns of Pacific Grove to Carmel , the road (privately owned by Pebble Beach) skirts the Pacific coast and runs through the parts of the Del Monte Forest belonging to an exclusive golf community. In addition to surf-beaten cliffs, colonies of harbor seals, and lookout points galore, the route offers spectacular sunset views that make it worth the $11.25 entry fee to drive it. Not too far off the 17-Mile Drive, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has sunlit kelp-forest tanks, a petting pool, and a million-gallon tank with giant sharks and sea turtles.

U.S. 1, Florida Keys

M. Timothy O'Keefe/Alamy

Leaving the mainland for Florida's Keys, travelers enter a paradise of beach bars, water sports, and Parrotheads (Jimmy Buffett fans). From Key Largo to Key West, the Overseas Highway strings the islands together like beads, running past lighthouses, underwater coral reef parks, and across the Seven-Mile Bridge, among the longest bridges in the world. On the docks at Islamorada, travelers can hand-feed bait fish to tarpon more than six feet long. Further down, on Big Pine Key, you can spot some of the island chain's most well-known residents at the National Key Deer Refuge .

Route 12, Utah

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

The red rock majesty of Utah is on triumphant display on State Route 12 winding between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks. The 124-mile strip has funky small towns and very few entry and exit points, so it takes some commitment to witness the steep sandstone canyons and bluffs of purple sage, and to tackle the narrow cliff-hanging ridgeline road called The Hogback around the halfway point. Stop in at Escalante's artsy log-and-sandstone Kiva Koffeehouse , open Wednesdays to Sundays April through October, to get your caffeine fix with a stunning view of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument .

Bluebonnet Trail, Texas

Bluebonnets are spiky blue wildflowers found in the U.S. Southwest. They're especially abundant in Texas (where they're the official state flower) from March to May. Start this road trip in Austin, home of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center , named for the first lady who made national beautification a priority. Stop by to admire the native flower, then embark on an eastward journey via U.S. Route 290. In addition to seeing them on the side of the road, you'll also get to admire them in full force in Brenham, the halfway point to Houston. Visit Brenham's official tourism website for up-to-date information on where to find the best bluebonnet patches (behind a Burger King, for example), then make your way to Houston to see them blooming at Buffalo Bayou and Hermann parks.

North Shore Drive, Minnesota

Minnesota's Lake Superior shoreline is a thing of glacial beauty. In Duluth, a walking path along the lake's edge shows off the city highlights, including a rose garden and an aerial bridge. Nearby, you can get a look at ocean tankers anchored in the last inland port of the St. Lawrence Seaway as they wait to load iron or grain from America's heartland before sending it out to the world. From Duluth, drive toward Two Harbors, only about 30 minutes away, and admire the lake's shining waters stretching out to the right, birch and northwood maples climbing high on the left. At your destination, you'll find the Split Rock Lighthouse , now a museum, overlooking Lake Superior's rugged coast.

Trail Ridge Road, Colorado

Welcome to the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. Trail Ridge Road begins at the Beaver Meadows Entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and climbs as high as 12,183 feet. Crossing over the Continental Divide (following a similar route Native Americans once took) visitors might see elk, deer, and bighorn sheep above the tree line in the dramatic tundra. After about two to three hours of driving, you'll hit Grand Lake, Colorado's largest natural body of water, which is also home to a historic town and year-round lake sports. Note, however, that Trail Ridge Road is not a year-round route and can only be driven in good conditions, typically from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

Though the White Mountains are a year-round sportsperson's paradise, the autumnal fireworks are the undisputed highlights of New Hampshire's 34.5-mile Kancamagus Highway. Serious leaf-peepers visit in October to see the maples, alder, and birch blazing in full technicolor glory. In the spring, expect yellow violets and wood anemone.

This route starts in Lincoln and ends in Conway (or vice versa) and takes about two to three hours to drive. However, you'll want to factor in plenty of time to pull over and explore the White Mountains on foot. One highlight is the half-mile hike to Sabbaday Falls, a three-tiered waterfall easily accessed from the road.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

One of America's most inspiring public works projects runs along the spine of the Rockies past Glacier National Park's snow-covered peaks, sub-alpine meadows, and lakes across the Continental Divide. The 50-mile stretch takes about two hours to drive. Snowdrifts threaten to top 100 feet in winter, so Going-to-the-Sun Road is fully open only when conditions allow (typically in the summer months). To learn more about the geology of glaciers, local Native American customs, or the park's ecosystem, supplement your road trip with a class at the Glacier Institute .

Highway 101, Oregon

Unlike the rest of the West Coast, Oregon's portion of the Pacific shoreline is entirely owned by the state and, therefore, open to the public. The 400-or-so miles of beaches off Highway 101 provide road trippers with perfectly preserved and unobstructed natural vistas. Between Port Orford and Brookings, about an hour's drive, fierce sea cliffs stand in contrast to the pastoral farmland and roaming cattle of Oregon's small towns . Pull over when you spot the roadside Tyrannosaurus rex at the Prehistoric Gardens, where 23 life-size dinosaur replicas are staged against the rainforest landscape.

Olympic Peninsula Loop, Washington

Both the scenic route and the peninsula's only major route, Highway 101 loops around one of the largest wilderness areas in the continental U.S. From the base of the peninsula, drive counterclockwise to climb into the Hoh Rain Forest, dominated by ancient Sitka spruce and western hemlock. You can spy the San Juan Islands from the top of Hurricane Ridge, 18 miles off the loop from Port Angeles. At low tide, the pools on Olympic beaches are rife with starfish, sand dollars, and crabs. Take a break in the spooky logging town of Forks, a must for Twilight fans, but travel onward to Lake Quinault Lodge if you're looking for a place to stay. The whole loop takes about six hours without stops.

Route 6, Massachusetts

The easternmost portion of Route 6 — which actually runs all the way to Bishop, California — links together Cape Cod's network of sand dunes, beaches, marshes, tidal ponds, and quaint fishing towns. You can follow it to Provincetown's music festivals and art galleries, to the bay side for family-friendly beaches, or oceanside for panoramas of the Cape Cod National Seashore . Our advice? Book a whale-watching boat tour between May and October to catch a glimpse of a big-winged New Englander (aka a humpback whale).

Anchorage to Valdez, Alaska

The trip from Anchorage to Valdez, which connects Glenn and Richardson highways, runs past prehistoric glaciers and into mountain ranges with so many peaks a lot of them haven't even been named. Along the 300-mile route in Palmer, gaze at domesticated musk oxen, the Ice Age wonders of the Alaskan landscape prized for their wool. Further along, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline pops in and out of view. The final approach to Valdez includes a 30-mile drop from Thompson Pass (2,678 feet of elevation) to sea level through the waterfalls of Keystone Canyon, opening into Prince William Sound.

Lemhi Pass, Montana and Idaho

Meriwether Lewis came to the Rocky Mountain backbone of North America, the Continental Divide, at Lemhi Pass (7,323-foot elevation) in 1805. Instead of the fabled Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean, Lewis looked west over the mountains and saw more mountains. Determined visitors with a four-wheel drive can take in the historic view on single-lane Forest Service roads from either Beaverhead Rock State Park in Montana or the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho.

For the full experience, go in July to see men dressed in buckskin traveling on dugout canoes at the annual Lewis and Clark Festival in Great Falls, Montana, about three hours from Beaverhead Rock State Park.

Silverado Trail, California

Here's a road trip where the food rivals the scenery. Flanked by dozens of vineyards and wineries, the Silverado Trail on the eastern edge of Napa Valley gives the California road tripper endless vino options and perhaps some of tastiest meals on the American culinary scene. Non-drivers must try the Estate Collection tasting flight at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars , where a 1973 cabernet made headlines for beating French wines in a blind taste test. And for foodies, the three-Michelin star French Laundry restaurant in Yountville is a highlight.

Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island

This 10-mile coastal route packs in historic mansions and spectacular views over the water. The Gilded-Age "cottages" of Ocean Drive — which confusingly follows Ocean Avenue , not Drive — compete with maritime scenery for jaw-dropping splendor, including opulent homes built for titans of fin de siècle industry, the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Morgans. War buffs will definitely want to visit historic Fort Adams, which remained an active United States Army post from the early 19th century up until World War II.

Park Loop Road, Maine

The loop through Acadia National Park can be completed in an hour — when summer tourists aren't clogging the 27-mile, two-lane artery. But whatever the season, you'll want to give yourself time to appreciate the high ridgelines, sheer rock precipices, and rugged coast of the North Atlantic along the way. An oceanside cavern dubbed Thunder Hole explodes with a plume of foamy surf as waves beat the shore. If you've got time to spare, spend some time on a lobster fishing boat, then take your catch home for supper.

Highway 143, Tennessee

Set out along Tennessee's 12.5-mile Highway 143 in the Roan Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains to witness uninterrupted slopes cloaked in heather — and purple rhododendron blossoms come early summer. The highlands portion of the Appalachian Trail is famous for its "balds" (summits covered in thick grasses rather than trees). Stop to admire them on foot with a walk at Carvers Gap, just across the North Carolina border.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, Michigan

Only 7.4 miles long, this short-and-sweet drive along Lake Michigan's eastern shore shows off the majesty of the giant Sleeping Bear Dunes , dense forest canopies, and a freshwater lake so wide you won't be able to see the opposite shore. The trip would take you less than 30 minutes were it not for the lookout points over the lake and dunes to distract you. Before closing the loop, you'll cross a covered bridge reconstructed from one Pierce Stocking himself built in the '60s. To extend the trip slightly, head five minutes up South Dune Highway to catch the view of Glen Lake from the top of the " Dune Climb ," a sand mound estimated to be about 450 feet tall.

The High Road to Taos, New Mexico

The 77-mile route between Santa Fe and Taos delivers one photo op after another: ancient pueblos, deserts, forests, wildflower meadows, and artists' colonies in 17th-century adobe towns. The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway passes by Chimayo, a haven for art and history, and provides canyon views over Truchas Peak at 13,102 feet. Whichever direction you choose to drive it, the High Road is bookended by two towns bursting with color and personality. If you're in town during a sweltering summer, don't miss attending a concert at the Santa Fe Opera .

Highway 2, Nebraska

Sandhills (grass-covered sand dunes) make up nearly one-fourth of Nebraska, undulating in slow, hypnotic curves as far as the eye can see. Drive any stretch of Highway 2, stretching 52 miles from the South Dakota border to Grand Island, for expansive views of the Great Plains and pastureland. The sand dunes are smack in the middle of the Central Flyway Migration Corridor ; look out for cranes at the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center just off Highway 2 in Wood River.

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10 of the best road trips in the USA

Bailey Freeman

Jan 5, 2024 • 6 min read

best time to road trip usa

Take to the open road and discover a different side to the USA © monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images

While a plane may get you there faster, road-tripping across the US is one of the most iconically American things you can do.

Get up close and personal with the country’s most striking landscapes – dense eastern forests, windswept plains, red rock canyons, dramatic Pacific coastlines – and make pit stops at some of its most famous cities all in one go.

Crisscrossed with an extensive network of pretty well-maintained highway systems, the US is remarkably easy to traverse by car . Some distances may be long, but gas, food and accommodations are largely easy to come by (except in some of the most rural locales), and a set of wheels gives you the freedom to do extra side quests along the way.

Here’s a list of our favorite routes across America’s wide open spaces, along with some tips on how to make the most of your journey.

1. Pacific Coast Highway

Best road trip for Pacific views San Diego–Seattle; 1600 miles; 8–12 days

The Pacific Coast Highway delivers one of the US’ most iconic road trip experiences, linking together the West Coast’s most notable metropolises, quirky California beach towns, ancient redwood forests, and the dramatic capes and pools of the Pacific Northwest . The route includes Hwy 1, Hwy 101 and I-5, starting in San Diego ; it winds up the coast through LA , Big Sur , San Francisco and Redwood National & State Parks , eventually terminating in Seattle .

Planning tip: Always check for road closures, particularly in the Big Sur area, where rockslides are common along the sea cliffs.

2. Blue Ridge Parkway

Best Appalachian road trip Cherokee, NC–Waynesboro, VA; 469 miles; 2–5 days

This spectacular route takes you through the heart of the US’ oldest mountain range, delivering view after view of rolling green mountains chock full of enchanting hiking trails, thundering waterfalls, ancient rock formations and prolific wildlife. The Parkway – part of the NPS system – begins adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and passes through the spectacular Pisgah National Forest, a number of state parks and recreation areas, and Roanoke, VA, before ending at the southern entrance of Shenandoah National Park .

Detour: In addition to state and national parks , many one-off hikes originate along the parkway. Consult trail maps to avoid missing some of Appalachia’s top routes.

Roadside attraction along historic Route 66 in Kingman Arizona

3. Route 66

Best road trip for American kitsch Chicago–Los Angeles; 2250 miles; 1–2 weeks

Nicknamed the Mother Road, Route 66 has permanently ingrained itself in the international psyche as the original US road trip. Starting in Chicago , it crosses eight different states and connects travelers to national parks, weird-but-wonderful roadside attractions and tons of vintage Americana.

Planning tip:  The route can be driven in pieces or all at once, but we suggest allotting plenty of time to explore – distances are long, and the activities are numerous.

4. Natchez Trace

Best road trip for Southern history Pasquo, TN–Natchez, MS; 444 miles; 2–3 days

The path for the Natchez Trace was originally carved not by humans, but by buffalo that wandered the region from middle Tennessee to Natchez, MS. Indigenous hunters and traders soon followed, and later the route became a full-fledged thoroughfare for European colonists, soldiers and dignitaries. Today, a trip down the Trace yields gorgeous scenery, historic towns and the experience of traveling one of the most storied roads in the country.

5. Florida Highway 1

Best road trip for Gulf Coast culture Amelia Island–Key West; 475 miles; 6 days

Florida’s Hwy 1 runs the length of the state’s Atlantic Coast before banking east at Miami  and ending in stunning Key West . This sublime multi-day journey takes you through tons of Florida ’s most iconic stops: historic St Augustine , windswept Canaveral National Seashore , Nascar-fueled Daytona, laid-back Fort Lauderdale and the glam and glitter of Miami and South Beach.

Planning tip: Hurricane season lasts from June through October – with the most active months being August and September – and has the potential to significantly affect Florida. If you’re visiting during this window, keep your eyes on the forecast.

Cowboys herd American buffalo across an auburn plain

6. Badlands – Black Hills Loop

Best road trip to experience the Great Plains Badlands National Park–Badlands National Park; 330 miles; 2 days

If you want to get a taste of how expansive the Great Plains really are, head to South Dakota for this fascinating road trip through a state of huge ecological and cultural importance. Start your trip at the mind-bendingly beautiful Badlands National Park before looping over to the Black Hills, home to the Crazy Horse Memorial , Mt Rushmore and Wind Cave National Park . Along the way, take in views of thriving buffalo herds, fascinating rock formations and plenty of rolling hills.

7. San Juan Skyway

Best road trip for Rocky Mountain peaks Durango–Durango; 236 miles; 1–3 days

The San Juan Skyway delivers some of the Rockies ’ biggest views in high definition. This route – which includes the renowned Million Dollar Highway – leapfrogs across central Colorado’s mountainous core connecting Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride and Mesa Verde National Park , known for the cliff dwellings left behind by the Ancestral Puebloans.

Whether you’re a history buff, ski bum, landscape photographer or simply someone who enjoys a thrilling drive, San Juan Skyway has something for you.

Planning tip: A fact that can be deduced by its name, the San Juan Skyway runs through high-altitude terrain, and that makes road conditions somewhat unpredictable, particularly during shoulder season. Always check for closures or local warnings before heading out.

8. Richardson Highway

Best road trip for Alaska outdoors Fairbanks–Valdez; 364 miles; 2–4 days

No road trip list would be complete without a journey through the country’s largest, northernmost state. The Richardson Highway, Alaska’s oldest highway, connects Fairbanks with Valdez, winding past dramatic mountain peaks and glaciers and giving travelers a front seat to some of the country’s most jaw-dropping natural attractions. Be sure to make pit stops for hiking, fishing and whitewater rafting.

An older couple take a break from hiking to enjoy the view at Utah outlook overlooking a canyon. They are sitting on the cliff's edge and soaking in the scenery. The mountains and canyon are in front of them.

9. Scenic Byway 12

Best road trip through red rock country Bryce Canyon National Park–Capitol Reef National Park; 122 miles; 1 day

Southern Utah feels like an entirely different planet, and this backroads route takes you through the best scenery this geologically diverse state has to offer. Start your journey in the town of Panguitch – right outside of Bryce Canyon – and follow the road through red rock canyons, historic towns and pine forests until you finish your journey in Torrey, gateway to Capitol Reef National Park , one of the west’s best-kept secrets.

Detour: From Torrey, it’s an easy 2.5-hour drive to Moab , Canyonlands and Arches , making these routes the best way to see Utah’s Big 5 . And the road itself takes you through some amazing lunar-like scenery that contrasts sharply with the red rocks – wild.

10. Coastal New England

Best road trip for Atlantic maritime vibes New York City–Portland, ME; 430 miles; 3–5 days

Prep yourself for seafood chowder, picturesque oceanside towns and all the lobster you can handle – this coastal New England trip will definitely help you find your sea legs. Start in New York City and make your way north along the coast, stopping to enjoy the lovely beaches in Rhode Island , Massachusetts’  wealth of historical heavy hitters and New Hampshire’ s lighthouses before arriving in culinary-minded Portland, ME .

This article was first published May 22, 2019 and updated Jan 5, 2024.

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Blue Ridge Parkway

The best road trips in the U.S. for epic drives

Hit the open road on America's best road trips, from scenic coastal drives to rugged mountain journeys and winding desert loops

Photograph: Shutterstock

Anna Rahmanan

What epitomizes peak Americana? Apple pie, baseball, hamburgers...and road trips. The Great American Road Trip is iconic for a reason. Across the land of the free, open roads beckon, calling you to explore America's countryside, coastlines, forests and mountain ranges. 

On the Western Seaboard, the Pacific Coast Highway will take you along the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. On the East Coast, Route 6 will charm you as you pass through picturesque New England beach towns. In between, journeys both long and short will also help you explore the heart of the country.

Whether you're looking for a day trip or a week-long, cross-country adventure, our list of the best road trips in the USA has you covered. So grab your snacks, ready your favorite playlist and roll the windows down. It's time to hit the open road. 

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Best U.S. road trips

1.  route 66 | ca to il.

Route 66 | CA to IL

It would be blasphemous not to include Route 66 at the top of any road trip roundup. The iconic Mother Road is one of the U.S. Highway System’s original routes, starting in downtown Chicago and winding its way across the country to the Santa Monica pier. Covering eight states and approximately 2,500 miles, the historic highway is punctuated with pops of kitsch and classic Americana from a bygone era. 

Can’t-miss pit stop: Join a guided tour of the 400-million-year-old Meramec Caverns in Missouri. Jesse James famously used them as a hideout, and the Jesse James Wax Museum is just minutes away.

Trip length:  2,448 miles 

2.  Highway 1 to Big Sur | CA

Highway 1 to Big Sur | CA

This show-stealing drive may have shot to fame after its cameo in the Big Little Lies opening credits montage, but it’s been a beloved route for in-the-know motorists for years. This California coastal classic is chock-full of stomach drops and treacherous turns, but it’s all worth it for the world-class panoramas along the way. Be prepared: Some stretches can last 40 miles without a single bathroom break or gas station.

Can’t-miss pit stop: Sure, you’ve seen it in a million car commercials, but did you even drive along Highway 1 if you don’t have a picture of Bixby Bridge to prove it? Big Sur ’s answer to the Golden Gate in San Francisco , this impressive open-spandrel arch bridge soars 260-foot above cliffs and a steep canyon.

Trip length: 150 miles from San Francisco to Big Sur

3.  Route 101 | CA to WA

Route 101 | CA to WA

Like many classic road trip routes across the U.S., this one comprises sections of road that form a continuous experience. By following Route 101 —which becomes California State Route 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, which then briefly returns to Route 101 once again—you can, to all intents and purposes, drive from the American/Canadian border, just north of Seattle... all the way down the entire West Coast of the U.S. all the way to the American/Mexican border, just south of San Diego. And that, my friends, is the mother of all road trips. 

Can’t-miss pit stop:  This road trip arguably incorporates some of the best views the country offers. From the amazing coastline of Astoria to the Redwood Forest National Park, plus Napa, and Sonoma...the list goes on.

Trip length:  1,500 miles from Los Angeles to Olympia, WA

4.  Blue Ridge Parkway | VA to NC

Blue Ridge Parkway | VA to NC

In the mood for a leisurely,  legendary drive? If so, head for the Blue Ridge Parkway, where the speed limit sits at a comfortable 45mph and commercial vehicles are strictly prohibited. Snaking through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, the 469-mile route connects the Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains national parks. For prime leaf-peeping, visit in autumn when foliage explodes in a brilliant display of crimson, auburn and golden leaves.  

Can’t-miss pit stop: Spend some time at Mount Pisgah in North Carolina, famous for its extensive network of hiking trails and the storied Pisgah Inn , which dates back to 1919.

Trip length:  470 miles

5.  Overseas Highway | FL

Overseas Highway | FL

For a tropical escape, blast some Jimmy Buffett and hit the Overseas Highway. The route follows US-1, connecting the Florida Keys during a 113-mile, sun-drenched drive. Originally constructed in 1928 and rebuilt in the 1980s, the continuous road connects Key Largo down to laid-back Key West . Cruise over Seven Mile Bridge (one of the longest in the world) while soaking in towering lighthouses, colorful coral reef parks and strips of white-sand beaches. Can’t-miss pit stop:  At Islamorada, which encompasses six of the Florida Keys, visitors can swim with dolphins at the Theater of the Sea  and explore  ruins from the 1800s in  Indian Key Historic State Park .

Trip length: 113 miles

6.  Going-to-the-Sun Road | MT

Going-to-the-Sun Road | MT

Originally constructed to promote tourism and encourage people to visit America’s national parks, this remarkable road has achieved its purpose since its completion in 1932. The 50-mile artery carves through Montana’s Glacier National Park, shooting through the Rockies up and over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Be sure to watch out for blind curves and dramatic drop-offs, and avoid this one in the winter months, when snowbanks can reach 80ft in depth.

Can’t-miss pit stop: In the summertime, plan to pause at Logan Pass. Soaring to an elevation of 6,646 feet, it has expansive overlooks, grazing mountain goats, and blankets of rainbow-hued wildflower meadows.

Trip length: 50 miles

7.  Santa Fe to Taos Loop | NM

Santa Fe to Taos Loop | NM

Pack a pair of cowboy boots and set course for the Santa Fe Loop, woven between the valleys of the Rio Grande and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico. This all-American road trip adventure looks straight out of a classic Western movie, tumbleweeds and all. Rambling desertscapes and the pueblo communities of Ojo Caliente make this drive a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Can’t-miss pit stop:  Take a breather in the town of Taos , located in northern New Mexico’s high desert. Known for its historic adobe architecture, the spot has numerous museums (like the Taos Art Museum ) and racecourse rafting along the Rio Grande and the Wild Rivers Recreation Area.

Trip length:  70 miles

8.  Lincoln Highway | NY to CA

Lincoln Highway | NY to CA

The little-known Lincoln Highway was the first road for automobiles across the whole of the U.S. It was conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher and formally opened a year later. It runs coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally traveling through 13 states. However, in 1928, a realignment relocated the highway through the northern tip of West Virginia, thus bringing the total to 14 states, 128 counties and more than 700 cities, towns and villages, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California. Since then, the Highway has been gradually replaced with numbered designations after establishing the Numbered Highway System, with most of the route becoming U.S. Route 30 from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. But, like other classic cross-country road trips, with just a little research, you can easily navigate along the entire length of the original route.

Can’t-miss pit stop: The Lincoln Highway passes very close to Cheyanne Mountain, the home of North American Aerospace Defense Command, otherwise known as NORAD . While public tours are unavailable, this location has appeared in several movies and TV shows, including War Games and  Stargate SG1 .

Trip length:  3,389 miles

9.  Route 12 | Utah

Route 12 | Utah

Take in the splendor of the red rocks along Utah's Scenic Byway 12, which connects near Panguitch in the west to Torrey on the northeast side of the state. Climb through the Dixie National Forest , drive through red rock arches, stop at scenic overlooks, and enjoy views of the Henry Mountains and  Capitol Reef National Park as you go. Popular Utah destination  Bryce Canyon  is also close by.  

Can’t-miss pit stop: Witness the natural "stairs" at  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument . Pro tip: the views from  Escalante's   Kiva Koffeehouse  are not to miss. 

Trip length:  122 miles

10.  Texas Hill Country | TX

Texas Hill Country | TX

The best way to witness the Lone Star State’s boundless beauty is by car. Hill Country, sandwiched between San Antonio and Austin , is known for its undulating hills and postcard-worthy bluebonnet blooms. The spellbinding expanse is dotted with charming farmland roads, award-winning wineries and orchards that churn out bushels of mouth-watering apples, peaches and pomegranates every year. For meat lovers, Hill Country is also bursting at the seams with mom-and-pop barbecue joints.  

Can’t-miss pit stop: Enchanted Rock State Natural Area has long attracted history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts. Located just outside of Fredericksburg, the climbable pink granite mountain shows signs of human settlement that date back more than 10,000 years.

Trip length:  73 miles from Austin to San Antonio

11.  Hana Highway | HI

Hana Highway | HI

Hawaii is best known for its lush landscapes and aquatic adventures, but America’s 50th state is also home to one of the top road trips in the U.S. This drive through paradise links Kahului to Hana during 60 miles of jaw-dropping turns. Most can complete the journey in about three hours, but midday bumper-to-bumper traffic can seriously inflate travel time. Along the way, look out for swaying mango trees, dramatic sea cliffs and colonies of monk seals soaking in the sun.  

Can’t-miss pit stop: Exit at mile marker 32 to explore Waiʻānapanapa State Park , where undulating emerald jungles meet the rugged, black basalt lava coastlines.

Trip length: 64 miles

12.  Route 6 | RI to MA

Route 6 | RI to MA

Route 6 spans the entirety of the country, but the segment we most recommend starts in Providence, Rhode Island, and extends to Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the very end of the tip of Massachusetts. Along the way, take in the charming New England towns and beaches, stopping as you please along the way. 

Can’t-miss pit stop:  Pull over in Cape Cod to stroll the beach and the town's charming downtown before continuing your journey. 

13.  Anchorage to Valdez | AK

Anchorage to Valdez | AK

Witness firsthand the stunning sites of Alaska on this short but sweet drive. The 300-mile route connects the Glenn and Richardson highways, allowing you to cruise past gleaming glaciers and mountain ranges that boast so many sky-high peaks, many of them yet to be named. The seven-hour trek can easily be drawn out to appreciate the natural wonders of the Last Frontier, including the colorful Spirit Houses of Eklutna Village and the Matanuska Glacier Scenic Turnout.

Can’t-miss pit stop: The easy hike along Thunderbird Falls Trail is a popular excursion that leads to an impressive 200-foot waterfall. More intrepid explorers should consider ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier, about 100 miles northeast of Anchorage.

Trip length: 300 miles

14.  Great River Road | MN to MS

Great River Road | MN to MS

One of the longest scenic byways in America, the Great River Road traverses roughly 3,000 miles along the mighty Mississippi River. Stretching from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the breathtaking drive intersects 10 states and takes about 10 days to complete. The well-marked route is easily identifiable, thanks to its iconic green pilot’s wheel road signs. It’s also celebrated for its diverse array of natural, cultural, historical and recreational sites along the way. Can’t-miss pit stop: If the Great River Road was a meal, then New Orleans would be its dessert course. The last stop on the epic route, the Big Easy, has incredible culinary, jazz and cultural scenes. 

Trip length: 3,000 miles

15.  Olympic Peninsula Loop | WA

Olympic Peninsula Loop | WA

The Olympic Peninsula Loop is another West Coast wonder, encircling Washington’s Olympic National Park. Swerving, dipping and diving, this 330-mile drive stands out because of the striking diversity of its terrain. Boulder-speckled Pacific coastlines, verdant temperate rainforests and the snow-capped Cascade Range can all be witnessed during a single-day trip. Be sure to sample local oysters and fresh clams, another regional specialty. Can’t-miss pit stop: Swing by Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, tucked away in Port Angeles, for a restorative soak in the natural mineral springs. No swimsuit? No worries: The springs welcome bathers in the buff.

Trip length:  330 miles

16.  Park Loop Road | ME

Park Loop Road | ME

Park Loop Road is the primary route for driving through and exploring   Acadia National Park . Without stopping, the drive takes about an hour without traffic. But you're definitely going to want to stop to take in the beauty of one of the most visited national parks in the US. The park features beautiful landscapes and some of the most diverse wildlife on the Eastern Seaboard. Every season brings beauty, but the fall foliage is particularly spectacular.

17.  Beartooth Highway | MT to WY

Beartooth Highway | MT to WY

This 68-mile route is a National Scenic Byways All-American Road and brings drivers from southwest Montana through northwest Wyoming right into Yellowstone National Park. First opened in 1937, this eclectic drive has been called one of the most beautiful America has to offer. Highlights along the route include incredible alpine plateaus, forested valleys, sparkling glacial lakes and unforgettable wildlife. Open exclusively in the summer, the route also climbs Beartooth Pass, a scenic stretch between Cooke City and Red Lodge, Montana.

Can’t-miss pit stop: Check out Beartooth Corridor, where visitors can hike through the highlands and spot moose, elk, black bears, wolves and more.

Trip length: 68 miles

18.  Volcanic Legacy Byway | CA to OR

Volcanic Legacy Byway | CA to OR

For truly unusual and spectacular views, pack up the car and head for the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, connecting California’s Lassen National Park with Crater Lake in Oregon. The north-to-south route covers about 500 miles, tracing along geological formations created by volcanic activity of the Cascade Mountain Range. The drive ventures through the majestic Shasta Valley and offers unobstructed vistas of Mount Shasta, the second-tallest volcano in the country.  

Can’t-miss pit stop: There are countless things to see and do during a visit, but don’t miss Petroglyph Point , one of the country’s largest and most accessible panels of Native American rock art.

Trip length: 500 miles

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Home » North America » USA » Best Road Trip

20 Best USA Road Trips • Famous Driving Destinations in 2024

Many will say that going on an epic road trip is the best and really the only way to experience America. This is the land of the open road, the roadside attraction, the roadside diner. If all roads lead to Rome, they must eventually make a detour in the United States, I say.

There is a lot that goes into planning a road trip in the USA. What to pack, what kind of car to rent, and, most importantly, where to go. There are a million routes out there and they all have their own merits and, in some cases, oddities.

I’ve assembled a list of some of the best and most classic road trips in the country. From East Coast to West Coast and Sea to Shining Sea, the finest stretches of good ol American-made asphalt are all found in this article. Through the desert, over the mountains, into the past, doesn’t matter; we’ve got them all covered right here.

So which Great American road trip will you take?

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20 Greatest Road Trips in the USA

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Let’s get down to brass tacks and start talking about the top American road trips there are! Here are twenty for you to choose from!

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1. California Route 1 – Pacific Coast Highway

The road trip in the usa to take before you die.

  • States : California
  • Start: San Diego
  • End : Mendocino
  • Total Distance: 656 miles
  • Best Part: Camping in Big Sur

mcway falls viewpoint in day big sur california coast

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What’s a trip to California without visiting the coast or the beach? The beach is one of the most important aspects of California livin’, after all. It is talked about during just about every other conversation in the state. Who could blame the natives for loving their coastline so much when you have superlative stops like Malibu, San Luis Obispo, and Point Reyes all there?

For the ultimate road trip in California , consider driving the entire stretch of the Pacific Route 1. This epic route, which should take at least a week (two for maximum enjoyment), seriously pulls out all the stops. Gorgeous coastline, bustling metropolises – like San Francisco and Los Angeles – and more than enough In n’ Out Burger joints all combine to make the perfect road trip itinerary. This is some of the best California has to offer.

Since you’ll be starting in San Diego, why not book a nice place to stay and soak up the city before departing?

2. Route 66

The classic road trip across america.

  • States: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California
  • Start: Chicago, Illinois
  • End : Santa Monica, California
  • Total Distance:  2448 miles
  • Best Part: The Americana

route 66 sign with rusted cars - the quintessential american road trip

Route 66 is probably the first thing that springs to people’s minds when they think “Great American road trip.” Over the years, Route 66 has been practically immortalized – by Hollywood films, musicians, novels, etc – so much so that it is practically synonymous with the very idea of going on a road trip around the USA.

Since it passes through eight different states and four different regions, Route 66 offers a somewhat abridged version of American culture. You’ll get to see roadside attractions, antique gas stations, and eccentric diners; all staples of American weirdness.

One of the best parts of Route 66? Watching the landscape shift from the Great Plains and Mississippi wetlands to the deserts and mountains of the West Coast’s roadside landscapes . Entering Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona is a particularly surreal experience, as there is nowhere else quite like the American Southwest. If you have time, be sure to stop by Monument Valley for an iconic American backdrop.

best time to road trip usa

The USA is  blisteringly beautiful. It’s also blisteringly expensive! Visiting two national parks in day can run you $70+ in entry fees.

Orrrr… you kick those entry fees to the curb, buy an annual ‘America the Beautiful Pass’ for $79.99,  and get unlimited access to ALL 2000+ federally managed sites in the States totally FREE!

You do the math. 😉

3. Skyline Drive

The most scenic mountain road trip on the east coast.

  • States : Virginia
  • Start: Front Royal
  • End : Rockfish Gap
  • Total Distance: 105 miles
  • Best Part: Parking the car and going for a quick hike

road driving through the blue ridge mountains, virgina

It’s a favorite day trip for those visiting Washington DC for a simple reason: the Skyline Drive is one of the most accessible mountain drives in the USA. In just over an hour, one could easily escape from the politics and actions of the nation’s capital and be in the heart of Appalachian Country. For those who like long-winding mountain roads, this will be one of the best road trips in the USA.

The Skyline Drive traverses the entirety of Shenandoah National Park. This means that, besides offering breathtaking views, the route also affords access to many local trails. The epic and grueling AT (Appalachian Trail) runs parallel to Skyline Drive. Those who’ve dreamed of hiking (a section of) the thru-hike can do so at many points of the road.

For those looking for a more docile couple of days in Shenandoah, there are lots of campsites and little towns around worth visiting. Winchester has a rich Civil War history while sleepy Staunton is generally considered the prettiest town in the region.

Stay in Washington DC a few days before heading out and be sure to check out all the spectacular museums.

4. Going-to-the-Sun Road

The best way to see one of the best american national parks.

  • States: Montana
  • Start: West Glacier
  • End : Saint Mary
  • Total Distance: 50 miles
  • Best Part: Seeing Saint Mary Lake for the first time

Shot on the Canon EOS 5d

Glacier is one of the best national parks in the USA . It’s the kind of place that, once you’ve visited, makes you want to pack up your bags and move to Montana. I’ve dreamt of doing this before and I’m sure a lot of people share this dream with me.

The main road that traverses Glacier is called the Going-to-the-Sun Road and it is, without question, one of the most beautiful roads in the US. Firstly, it passes right next to the stunning Saint Mary Lake, which is one of the highlights of the park. It also provides quick access to some very good trails in the park, like Hidden Lake Lookout. This 3-mile round-trip hike starts at Logan’s Pass and offers views of the uniquely-shaped Bearhat Mountain.

It should be noted that the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens late in the season and closes early due to heavy snow. The road is closed for 7-8 months and crazy busy the rest of the year. There are quite a few hair point turns as well so remember to keep your cool out there when driving.

5. Olympic Peninsula Loop

Rainforests, glaciers, and beaches (oh my).

  • States: Washington
  • Start : Port Angeles
  • End : Port Angeles
  • Total Distance: 330 miles
  • Best Part: Feeling the carpet in the Hoh Rainforest

Hurricane Ridge - amazing northwestern USA road trip

Very few places to see in the USA are as geographically unique as the Olympic Peninsula. Here, you’ll find a huge diversity of landscapes, from glaciers to rainforest to rugged coastline. This is a paradise for outdoorsy types or, at least, those who can’t quite decide what kind of outdoor adventure they want to go on during their road trip in the USA.

There are too many cool spots on the Olympic Peninsula to talk about. Hurricane Ridge offers the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and also offers solid skiing in the winter. Rialto Beach is famous for its sea stacks that resemble those found commonly in Iceland. The Enchanted Valley is a very remote portion that requires an overnight hike but rewards visitors with, supposedly, 10,000 falls.

The best part about the Olympic Peninsula is exploring the Hoh Rainforest. Thanks to constant rain, the woods of the peninsula are overgrown, towering, and constantly lush. Go for walk here and you’ll see more shades of green then you previously thought possible.

If you’re passing through, then take a couple of nights booking a stay in Seattle before visiting the Olympic Peninsula!

6. Kancamagus Highway

For fall foliage fanatics.

  • States: New Hampshire
  • Start : North Woodstock
  • End : Conway
  • Total Distance: 56 miles
  • Best Part: Being there in autumn

fall foliage drive in new england on a road trip

New Englanders are very proud people and there are certain things that you don’t talk shit about with them. Dunkin’ Donuts, lobster rolls, Tom Brady; even a whisper of ill will about any of these things is a sure way to piss of a local. Just as important to the New Englander identity as any of these though is it’s most noticeable natural phenomenon: the fall foliage.

From late-September to middle-October, the Patriots become slightly less talked about (until they eventually go to the Super Bowl) in lieu of the changing colors of the trees. New Englanders go crazy for the reds, oranges, and golds of the season; some plan whole weekend excursions in search of the best colors. Admittedly, it is pretty damn cool when you travel outside after staying in Boston and are hit by all those hues.

One of the most famous fall foliage road trips in New England is the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. When the time is right (early-October), a cold fire hits the hills and they explode with color. The 56-mile stretch of the Kanc is never-ending foliage and shifting colors; it’s like driving through the barrel of a kaleidoscope. Just be warned: you and everyone else will be there – it gets busy in October!

7. San Juan Skyway

Colorful colorado at it’s best.

  • States: Colorado
  • Start : Durango
  • End : Durango
  • Total Distance: 233 miles
  • Best Part: Dallas Divide Viewpoint

dallas divide in colorado - famous drives in the usa

The San Juan Skyway is the best road trip in Colorado ! Nestled in the far southwestern corner of the state, this route offers some of the finest Rocky Mountain views you could hope for. The road twists and turns through the valleys of the San Juan Mountains, arguably the prettiest part of the Colorado Rockies, and visits many historical towns and viewpoints along the way.

This itinerary begins and ends in the former mining town of Durango. There’s not much to do here besides ride the old gauge railroad, which is admittedly pretty damn cool if you like old-school trains.

As you head north from Durango to Silverton, the scenery really starts to unfold. To the east, the rugged Weminuche goads avid climbers and hikers. To get the best views of the Weminuche and the nearby Grenadiers, be sure to stop at Molas Pass for a break.

Beyond Silverton is the remote resort town of Ouray and the Sneffels Wilderness. The Dallas Divide, which overlooks the Sneffels, is very popular with photographers, especially in autumn when the leaves change color.

After the Dallas Divide, it’s straight onto one of the most famous mountain towns in Colorado: Telluride. If you’re staying in Telluride during the summer, be sure to check for local festivals. During this time, there’s one almost every weekend.

Just got off the plane at Denver and need somewhere to crash? Check out our comprehensive accommodation guide for Denver and find something you like!

8. The Cascade Loop

The best of the “american alps”.

  • States : Washington
  • Start: Everett
  • End : Everett
  • Total Distance: 440 miles
  • Best Part: The North Cascades to the San Juan Islands

washington pass cascade loop - amazing places to visit in the usa

This is THE ULTIMATE Pacific Northwest road trip! Seriously, there are few itineraries that offer such a huge array of activities. Alpine hiking, whale watching, breweries; these are just a few of an adventurer’s favorite things!

The Cascade Loop begins in Everett, which is just north of Seattle. Everett is a pretty little town although you will not want to miss out on visiting Seattle. From Everett, you’ll head east over Stevens Pass before turning north along the Columbia Basin until looping back west across the Washington Pass and the astounding North Cascades. You should end your road trip through Washington by spending a few days relaxing in the idyllic San Juan Islands.

If the previous paragraph felt like an oversimplification, I’m sorry; but the Cascade Loop is too grand to fit in this section. To learn more about the route, be sure to visit the official Cascade Loop website for heaps of more information!

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9. Florida A1A – Overseas Highway

340 miles, almost all beaches.

  • States : Florida
  • Start: Amelia Island
  • End : Florida Keys
  • Total Distance : 340 miles
  • Best Part: Driving across the Caribbean Sea

florida coast road trip usa

Knock it all you like for its douchey spring break parties and invasive retirees, but Florida still has some of the best beaches in all of the USA. As you may have gleaned from the subtitle of this particular USA road trip, almost all of them are accessible via a single highway.

The Florida A1A runs the entire length of the Atlantic Floridian Coast AND even further into the Caribbean Sea. The portion that connects the mainland to the Florida Keys (The Florida Key Scenic Byway) is considered an engineering marvel and this is one of the highlights of the trip. Gliding across the Caribbean and into the likes of Ernest Hemingway’s home on Key West is just too good.

But there is more to this Florida road trip than just the Keys. Fort Lauderdale is shedding its MTV beach party reputation (for a more laid back vibe). Cocoa Beach and Vero Beach still surf central. Plus, there’s always hedonistic and culturally rich Miami to demand your attention (probably too much).

Use our Miami travel guide to learn more about the city!

10. Lassen Scenic Byway

A “lasser-known” road trip in california.

  • States : California, Oregon
  • Start : Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  • End : Chemult, Oregon
  • Total Distance: 500 miles
  • Best Part: Ending at Crater Lake aka Heaven on Earth

lassen volcanic national park on a caliornia road trip

The Lassen Scenic Byway is one of the most unknown and underrated road trips in America. The route can’t be faulted either – it’s located in the relative unknown of Northern California, which, unfortunately, only enters the news when there’s a forest fire or a rebellious splinter-nation about to spring up. Yet, Northern California and Lassen are just as beautiful as anywhere else in the state.

The Lassen Scenic Byway, which takes its name from the National Park where it starts, gives a grand overview of the region. Dormant volcanoes, bubbling springs, and waterfalls are just a few of the sights you’ll see along the way. Mt Shasta, which marks the beginning of the Cascade Range, is the most prominent landmark in the area. The Park boasts some of California’s best camping spots ; enjoy the breathtaking views at Heart Lake, or kayak around Manzanita’s calm waters.

The Lassen Scenic Byway also extends across the state border into Oregon. This means you can visit one of my all-time favorite places in the USA: Crater Lake. It is an enormous body of water, perfectly serene and close to fathomless. Every time I see it, Crater Lake reminds of Thoreau and what he said about lakes in general: “(they are) the Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

11. The Oregon Coast – USA Route 101

For those who like to wear sandals and sweaters (at the same time).

  • States : Oregon
  • Start: Brookings
  • End : Astoria
  • Total Distance: 363 miles
  • Best Part: Southern Oregon Coast

oregon coast sunset at indian beach oregon coast road trip roaming ralph photography

Having spent much of my life in Portland, I’ve been on more than a few road trips in Oregon and there’s a special place in my heart for the Oregon Coast.

When I needed to get away from the city and work, I would run away to the coast. When my girlfriend and I wanted a romantic dinner, we’d skip the restaurants and instead buy fresh oysters from the local fishermen in Netarts. To me, the coast was my playground, my church, and my home away from home.

I’m not the only person who loves the Oregon Coast though – lots of people go on vacation here to get away from the madness of their lives (including everyone’s favorite Midwestern melodist, Sufjan Stevens). Apparently, the charm of old coastal towns and the particular moodiness of a cool, cloudy day is not lost on the others.

Mine romanticizing aside, the Oregon Coast is just a beautiful place to visit. The Southern portion, around Bandon, Langlois, and Samuel H. Boardman, is particularly notable as the scenery around here – rocky towers, jagged promontories, and enormous cliffs – are quintessential.

Given how sheer flippin’ magnificent the Oregon Coast is, make sure you know what areas to stay in as you drive through!

12. The High Road to Taos

The magical highway to everyone’s favorite hippy town.

  • State: New Mexico
  • Start : Sante Fe
  • Best Part: The old Spanish architecture

high road to taos and the San Francisco de Asís Mission Church in Chimayó

New Mexico is like the weird aunt that always drives up to the family gatherings in her converted VW bus and talks about gemstones all night long. Not that this is a bad thing: we all love them for doing this and hope they never change. After all, these conversations are far more interesting than the ones we have with that one overly conservative uncle (I’m alluding to you, North Dakota).

New Mexico loves art, culture, and the surrounding nature that, in turn, inspires art and culture. People from all over the country, whether native or tourist, are inspired by landscapes and old Indian pueblos of the state (even the esteemed George R.R. Martin has drawn inspiration from this landscape).

One of the best ways to experience the magic of New Mexico is via the High Road to Tao scenic byway. Starting from the city of Santa Fe and ending in Taos, this road trip not only connects two of the most artistic cities in the state, but it also features a lot of interesting stuff in between.

Chimayó makes for a very interesting stop thanks to its namesake church, which promises to heal the sick. The San Francisco de Asís Mission Church is one of the most iconic buildings in the American Southwest and could easily serve as a prop for Tarantino or Sergio Leone western.

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13. Texas Hill Country

The “green” part of texas.

  • States: Texas
  • Start : Austin
  • End : Austin
  • Total Distance: Depends
  • Best Part : The natural pools

hamilton pool - highlight of austin, texas

Texas isn’t just desert and oil fields; there is plenty of greenery around if you know where to look. In fact, there are heaps of waterfalls and grottos to be found! Texas Hill Country is full of hidden wonders that most would’ve never thought could be found arid ol’ Texas. If you’re looking for some top-notch hiking in the States and want to try some of the tastiest BBQ in the state, then consider going on a trip here.

Texas Hill Country roughly refers to the elevated areas west of Austin. Many roads that go through this area; to visit a decent chunk of it will require you to take many different routes.

Generally speaking, the best parts of Texas Hill Country are around Highway 290. Locally beloved waterholes like Hamilton Pool, Pedernales Falls, and Jacobs Well are all within about 30 minutes detour.

There are many BBQ joints and spirit distilleries spread throughout Hill Country as well. If you want some of the most legendary BBQ in Texas, be sure to drop by Cooper’s Old Time Pit in Llano.

Austin is a bit of an underrated gem, so check out our insider travel guide and make sure you experience it fully.

14. Beartooth Highway

One of the most beautiful highways in america.

  • States: Wyoming, Montana
  • Start : Red Lodge, Montana
  • End : Wyoming/Montana border via US 212
  • Total Distance: 69 miles
  • Best Part : Arriving at Beartooth Pass

motorcycle on the beartooth highway montana wyoming

For being one of the prettiest roads in America, it’s amazing how few people have probably heard about the Beartooth. When talking about what to do in Wyoming, most people talk about staying in Yellowstone or the Tetons more than anything. (Rightfully so! Those places are spectacular in their own right!)

Yet, just 2 hours away from the center of Yellowstone lies this stunner of a road trip, so stunning some say that it could easily compete with the aforementioned national park. Not to be taken lightly, this road starts at 5000 ft and climbs to a maximum height of nearly 11,000 ft. By the time you reach Beartooth Pass, you’ll be driving through high-alpine plateau; barren, humbling, and, most of all, awe-inspiring.

The drive is the show-stealer here but there’s still lots to do outside of the car on the Beartooth Highway. Lakes for fishing, trails for hiking, and kitschy shops for souvenirs all abound. Though the drive itself only takes 2-3 hours, one could easily spend several days here. Don’t just look at this as a way to connect Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks; think of this route as a park to be explored onto itself.

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Things go wrong on the road ALL THE TIME. Be prepared for what life throws at you.

Buy an AMK Travel Medical Kit before you head out on your next adventure – don’t be daft!

15. The Hana Highway

A must-do on your hawaiian vacation.

  • State: Hawaii
  • Start : Kahului
  • End : Haiku-Pauwela
  • Total Distance: 64 miles
  • Best Part: Playing “Spot the Waterfall”

hana highway, hawaii - most beautiful roads in america

Some people find the word “highway” in Hana Highway to be a gross exaggeration. “This isn’t a highway!” they might say; “this is a crooked alley in the middle of the jungle!” Fair enough fictional angry tourist I say.

The Hana Highway is not a typical highway: it’s narrow, winding, and sometimes scary to drive on. What would normally take an hour to drive will take more like two or three. The road is so small that parking on the side of the road is very difficult; sometimes it even turns into a single lane of traffic.

But the Hana Highway is worth the extra effort, of course. Waterfalls are everywhere along this road trip; during heavy rain, falls may spring up out of nowhere (be careful in this case actually). That quintessential Hawaiin lushness will be omnipresent as you coast through different areas of Maui , and you’ll even the opportunity to visit the beach! Pullover at Waianapanapa State Park just before Hana to see one of the better beaches on the island.

If you end up doing this Hawaiin road trip, just be sure to leave Kahului with a full tank of gas and snacks. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of food and gas stations along the way.

To be honest, Hawaii is yummy, expensive, and worthy of a proper adventure. Check out our budget travel guide for Hawaii and extend your trip a bit longer !

16. Charleston to Savannah

Southern comfort at its finest.

  • States: South Carolina, Georgia
  • Start : Charleston, NC
  • End : Savannah, GA
  • Total Distance : 108 miles
  • Best Part : Comparing the two cities

City Market, Savannah - Southern USA road trip

It’s a well-known fact that there’s a long-standing rivalry between the cities of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Both are competing against each other for the title of “most charming cities in the South” and the competition is fierce. Thanks to their close proximity, one could easily visit one on a weekend road trip!

Charleston is the smaller city; not so hectic and pretty down-to-Earth by many standards. It’s mostly known for its old plantations and Southern hospitality. A lot of people – especially the locals – like to say that Charleston is much more laidback than Savannah and consequently much more hospitable. You can find plenty of great Airbnbs in Charleston too, so it’s definitely a place to stop over for a bit longer.

Savannah, on the other hand, is the larger of the two cities. It was formerly and economic center of the region and, as such, expanded quite fast. The original Southern architecture is very well preserved, the best examples being the cobblestone streets themselves, the old-school neighborhoods of Savannah , and the nearby plantations. Fun fact: public drinking is also legal in Savannah, which does lead to the occasional, spontaneous block party 🙂

17. The Best of the American Southwest

Take a trip through one of the most beautiful parts of the usa.

  • States : Nevada, Utah, Arizona
  • Start: Las Vegas
  • End : Las Vegas
  • Total Distance: 1200 miles
  • Best Part: Doing acid somewhere you love

havasupai grand canyon day trip driving from las vegas, nevada

This isn’t an established route; there is no single road that you’ll stay on over the course of this trip. What this is a collection of highways that together form without question one of the most phenomenal road trips around the USA.

The American Southwest is one of the most beautiful regions in the world; a dreamscape filled with surreal arches, bottomless canyons, and rocks painted by the passage of time. Hiking through the arid landscapes of Arizona or Utah is more fantasy than reality sometimes and, to me at least, a more appropriate place for Gods to inhabit than humans.

My mind reels when I think about how many wonders there are on this Southwestern road trip. The Grand Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, Antelope Canyon, Havasupai; all of these could be considered amongst the most beautiful places in the world. Yet, I haven’t even talked about the national parks of Utah either! Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, my god – it’s all too much to think about at once.

Love it or hate it, you’ll be visiting Las Vegas for this road trip, so you may as well make the most of it!

18. Route 61 – The Blues Highway

Visit some of the most significant musical sites in america.

  • States: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa , Wisconsin, Minnesota
  • Start : New Orleans
  • End : Wyoming (Minnesota)
  • Total Distance: 1,400 miles
  • Best Part: Finding out where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil

blues hall in memphis starting the great american musical road trip

A good American road trip doesn’t ALWAYS have to be about pleasant scenery or heritage sites. Sometimes, all a good road trip takes is an appreciation for our musical forefathers and a really good playlist to go with it.

Route 61 is called the Blues Highway because it has been a part of so many American musicians’ lives. Bastions of classic American music, like Memphis, Des Moines , St. Louis, and the classic southern destination New Orleans are all connected by this road.

That means the greatest blues singers, rockers, country wailers, and more have all, at one point in their lives, driven on this road. It goes without saying that a lot of shit has probably happened here then.

Route 61 is full of interesting and sometimes strange attractions. The BB King Museum, Heartbreak Hotel, and some of the most hallowed music venues and concert halls in the country are all along this route.

The coolest place to visit on this USA road trip? The infamous “crossroads” where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil for fame (at the intersection of Highway 1 and 8).

For a shorter version, road trippers can instead drive from New Orleans to Memphis and experience many of the same attractions.

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19. Seward Highway

A wild road trip in the usa’s most wild state.

  • States: Alaska
  • Start : Anchorage
  • End : Seward
  • Total Distance: 125 miles
  • Best Part: The Kenai Fjords

alaskan road trip seward highway and ice road

Choosing between this and the George Parks Highway is a tough call. The option of seeing the monstrous Denali is possible with the latter, and that alone should be enough to entice people. But overall, the Seward Highway is probably the best road trip in Alaska .

Why is the Seward Highway great? Well, it’s not too long, not too far away from civilization, and it offers a little bit of everything. The drive itself is remarkable as you’ll be afforded views of both the Chugach Mountains and the rugged Alaskan coastline at the same time, plus a bear or two (or more) as well.

For those very adventurous folk, the Kenai Peninsula offers more than just road thrills. Kayaking in the fjords among the glaciers is available as is hiking in the Kenai Mountains. Just remember: if you do decide to go off into the wilderness, don’t forget to exhibit the usual bear safety.

Now things are getting wild! You’ll be starting with a stay in Anchorage so make sure you book an awesome place in an awesome spot… it’s cold up there!

20. Park Loop (Acadia National Park)

Rugged new england coastline.

  • States: Maine
  • Start : Hulls Cove Visitor Center
  • End : Hulls Cove Visitor Center
  • Total Distance: 27 miles
  • Best Part : Sunset beers at Cadillac Mountain

acadia national park maine beach

Maine is one of the most popular road trip destinations on the East Coast during the summer. People travel here over the weekend from as far as New York City or Philadelphia in search of some far more positive vibes. The Maine coastline, long beloved for its lighthouses and sandy beaches, for one reason or another, has long been therapeutic to these city slickers.

When it comes to coastal routes, few can compare to the Park Loop at Acadia National Park. Towering conifers, fine beaches, and that rough coastline that defines New England are all featured here; all are accessible from your car. There are several hikes around that will take you to some pretty solid viewpoints as well. The sunset at Cadillac Mountain is particularly good with friends and brews.

Because everyone wants to travel to Maine these days, it can get pretty crowded during the summer. Traffic will be bad and accommodation will either be limited or expensive. Autumn, though only slightly less busy, is a nice time to visit because of foliage. Spring is a great time though you should definitely have a coat with you. Visiting in winter should only be for the mad or photographically-inclined.

BONUS: The Ultimate USA Road Trip (According to Science)

For niiieerrrdddsss (kidding).

  • States : All 48 lower states
  • Start: New York
  • End : New York
  • Total Distance: 13,700 miles
  • Best Part: The end.

new york city skyline from brooklyn

Does anyone remember when that viral image of the GREATEST ROAD TRIP ACROSS AMERICA EVER was making rounds on the web? How many people made plans to do the damn thing?

Admittedly, this road trip was more notable for its use of data, specifically using a genetic algorithm, which already sounds super cool. In lamens, this genetic algorithm allowed the whizzes behind this to see the greatest amount of American destinations with as little backtracking as possible.

So are you ready to tackle this bad boy? Are you really in the mood for the most epic USA road trip imaginable? Then put in that vacation time and pack the car up as much as you can. Don’t skimp on the Red Bull either – there are going to be a lot of long drives here folks.

With all of those competing companies and exorbitant deposits, renting a car in the USA can seem scary. Frankly, I don’t blame people if they ever felt intimidated in this country while trying to rent a car – there’s a real learning curve.

But booking a rental car can be much more manageable if you know a few things beforehand. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You need a credit card to rent a car in America – They rental company will use it to take a deposit for the car.
  • You have to be 18 – Even then, you’ll get charged more if you’re under 28. Younger drivers are seen as liabilities.
  • Don’t book rental insurance with the rental company – Use a third party because they’re cheaper and have better protection. Rentalcover is a great choice.
  • Do your research – Use search engines, like Rentalcars.com , to find the best prices. Sedans are usually the cheapest options. SUVs will cost much more.
  • Gas prices are different in every state – Use ViaMichelin  to chart gas prices in each state. As a rule of thumb, gas is cheaper the closer you get to Texas and the South.
  • Some credit cards offer rental insurance – Be sure to check if your credit card company will cover you in the case of an accident. If they do cover you, you’ll save heaps of money. You’ll need to book the car with THAT card to qualify, of course.
  • Almost all American cars have automatic transmissions – I honestly think it might actually cost more to rent a manual…
  • Check to see if there is a cleaning fee – If you made a small mess, most companies won’t charge you anything. Some shady ones will charge you a fortune for a gum wrapper though.

What to Pack for a Road Trip in the USA

First off: your road trip packing list is going to vary wildly depending on how long the itinerary is. If you’re just going for a weekend, then your list is going to be much trimmer and less demanding. But some road trips can last weeks or even months. If you’re like my friends, Kevin and Liz, you’ll eventually end up living out of your car at which point it may be time to consider investing in the vanlife .

When packing for a shorter road trip, go minimal . Take the essentials, like a roadside safety kit and some form of navigation for example, and then add more as needed. If you’re camping, take the appropriate gear. If you have a toddler, take a doona car seat stroller (it’s a seriously cool piece of engineering). If you want to save money, take lots of snacks and pre-made meals to avoid stopping at diners. Easy peasy.

lounging in the alvord desert with an umbrella eastern oregon road trip

On the other hand, if you’re planning a truly epic American road trip route, the likes of which would make Jack Kerouac or Alexander Supertramp jealous, then you’ll need much, much more stuff. I cannot cover everything in this single section of the article but I can suggest that you check out our road trip packing checklist for more ideas and suggestions.

Aside from knowing what to pack on your road trip in the USA, you’ll also need to know how to pack . If you have a lot of stuff, you will need to be conscious of how you organize everything, especially if you have a smaller, passenger-style vehicle. Get a system in place – use packing cubes and plastic bins to keep everything separated; bungee cables will be your best friends.

For more information on how to pack a car, check out this informative article at USA Today .

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Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

What to do in Case of Trouble while Road Tripping in the USA

It should go without saying that you need to be prepared for your road trip in the USA. I would like to make a friendly reminder here to do so. Prepare thyself before embarking on your asphalt odysseys by having the following, at a minimum: a roadside emergency kit and some form travel insurance for the USA . 

A lot can go wrong on a road trip: tires can pop, accidents can happen, engines can stutter and stop. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere because someone forgot to do something essential like change the oil could ruin your trip real fast.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

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SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

A roadside assistance kit will contain everything that you could need to fix small problems on the road. They can’t fix everything (you’ll need a mechanic for that) but at least you’ll be able to recharge a dead battery and arrest a bumper on the fly.

If the shit really hits the fan and your vehicle is really in trouble, that’s when the insurance comes in handy. If there’s a fatal problem with the car, trust me, it will be expensive, and having insurance means that you’ll have a bit of financial help.

road eastern sierra nevada california road trip

Now you could invest in two types of insurance: regular travel insurance or special rental car insurance.

Some travel insurance providers provide basic vehicular coverage and will cover you in certain circumstances. World Nomads insurance is a good example. Granted, there is at times some fine print regarding who qualifies. For example, drivers from some US states cannot qualify for vehicular assistance with World Nomads. Always be sure to double-check.

If you want total protection, go with an independent rental insurance company like Rental Cover. Most offer excellent coverage at very reasonable rates, more so than the rental car company will give you.

best time to road trip usa

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Beartooth highway tops out at just shy of 11,000 feet…. not 8000.

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The Best Road Trips in the USA For Your Bucket List

Want to road trip the US? If you are looking for road trip inspiration and ideas for your next great American road trip, I have put together a list of the best road trips in the USA as suggested by my fellow travel bloggers. (And make sure to check out my essential road trip packing list (with free printable pdf) and road trip music playlist to make sure you have all your road trip essentials before you go!)

Best Road Trips in the USA

The Best Road Trips in the United States

Historic Route 66

Route 66 might be the best road trip in the US

Route 66 is a historic road that traverses 8 states across USA and one of the most famous road trips in the world. It was one of the country’s first transcontinental highways that originated during the Great Depression. During these tough economic times, hundreds of families moved to California following what is now the historic Route 66. This road tells the quintessential story of freedom and the American Dream. Highlights of this route include Cadillac Ranch in Texas, an art installation that has become a must stop and Santa Fe, with its Spanish-influenced old town and adobe architecture. It is also worth taking a bit of a detour to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona. – Contributed by Teresa from Brogan Abroad

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Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)

santa cruz pacific road trip stops

A  Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) road trip is one of best road trips you can take in the USA and is a good way to explore the California coast. While the CA State Route 1 starts in Leggett, California in the North, some people skip the northern portion and start the trip in San Francisco .  CA State Highway 1 ends in Dana Point which is in Orange County but you can extend your trip to San Diego or end the trip in LA .

If time is short, the leg between Monterey to Cambria is one of the most beautiful portions. Click here to read about must see Pacific Road Trip stops .

West Coast Roadtrip

West Coast USA Road Trip

A trip up the West Coast is not to be missed. Starting in San Diego, and heading north to Seattle will take you to some awesome places. San Diego to Los Angeles is filled with beautiful beaches and great surf. Head north towards San Francisco, and spend some time in the Bay before heading to the Redwoods. In Oregon, you can typically find some exciting sea life just off the shore. There’s lots of forests and great lookout spots all the way up into Washington just before the end of the coast in Seattle. Notable stops along the way include the Hollywood Sign, Big Sur cliffs, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Space Needle, along with several beautiful spots along the coast.Be sure to get out of the car and explore! Don’t forget to hit the Northeastern most point of the 48.  – Contributed by Sara from Our Kind of Crazy .

Oregon Loop

oregon loop one of the best us road trips

Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the US. With a rugged coastline, epic waterfalls, and stunning mountains, it makes for one of the best road trips in the country! Start in Portland and work your way (via coastline if you have enough time) to Klamath Falls to Running Y Ranch, which features horseback riding, a spa, incredible views and an 18-hole Arnold Palmer gold course. Work your way from Klamath Falls to Crater Lake National Park, America’s deepest lake (be sure to fill up your tank there isn’t gas around for miles)! Oregon may be well known for it’s waterfalls and mountains, but Bend is a stark contrast from the rest of Oregon with it’s desert landscape. Be sure to get up for sunrise at Smith Rock State Park and stick around to climb at of the country’s best climbing destinations, or a take in the views with a hike.

From Bend, head to Mt Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Whether you plan to ski it, hike it, or just drive to it, Mt Hood’s size will take your breath away. Visit must-see spots Rowena Crest and Multnomah Falls before heading to Portland.

Portland is a city where they love to keep things weird. You’ll find all kinds of obscurities throughout the city. A great time to visit is summer for their brew-fest , as the city has some of the best micro-breweries in the US.

Read more about this great Oregon road trip here .  – Contributed by Valerie Joy Wilson of Trusted Travel Girl

Utah National Park Road Trip

Utah Best Road Trip in the US

Utah is the land of national parks.  The state has 5 national parks all within a half-day drive of each other.  From Salt Lake City, head to Moab and spend two days exploring the unique stone pillars of Canyonlands National Park along with world’s largest concentration of arches in Arches National Park.  From there head over to Capitol Reef National Park and take a scenic drive and enjoy some pie.  Bryce Canyon National Park is next.  Hiking in this park takes you in and around the hoodoos. This is one of the best parks for sunrises.  The last stop is Zion.  Zion National Park is the place to push your fears and take an epic hike up to Angels Landing. – Contributed by Jennifer Melroy from National Park Obsessed

Grand Canyon Road Trip

Grand Canyon is a stop on the Great American road trips

Is there anything more American than a Grand Canyon road trip? This stunning natural wonder is located a few hours from the closest major airports, making for the perfect road trip destination.  Staring in Phoenix, take an afternoon to drive four hours north to Grand Canyon Village, watching saguaro cacti tower over you as you speed off into the sunset. The next morning, wake up to catch the sunrise over Yaki Point and take the day to hike around the South Kaibab trail, which will take you deep down into the colorful striated walls of the canyon.  The next morning, head on over to Paige, Arizona, about a two hours drive north, where you can spend the afternoon kayaking on Lake Powell or exploring Antelope Canyon, famous for its striped, narrow walls. In the evening, there’s no better place in the world to watch the sunset than Paige’s Horseshoe Bend, an incised meander of the Colorado River, where the sinking sun casts a violet glow on the towering canyon walls. The following day, head three hours due south to Sedona, renowned for its breathtaking red rocks, incomparable hiking trails, and distinctive New Age vibe. Take your time breathing in the views of Sedona’s landscape, while conquering world-class hikes like Devil’s Bridge or Cathedral Rock. Finally, it’s time to make your way back to Phoenix, as you say goodbye to those saguaros and the stunning beauty of the American Southwest .  – Contributed by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

Washington State National Parks Road Trip

Washington State National Parks best road trips usa

This route lets travelers experience 3 different national parks in Washington in 1 week. What makes this special is the raw nature and the quality food. The entire country’s national parks are beautiful, but Washington’s are one of a kind. Washington has this beautiful combination of jagged mountains, temperate rainforest, and lush coastline not to mention the fact that the state produces some of the most delicious fruits, veggies, and artisan foods you’ll ever taste. Don’t miss famous Pikes Place in Seattle and it’s quaint islands like Bainbridge, accessed via ferry. Hike though alpine meadows in Mount Rainer National Park or through mossy trees in the Hoh Rainforest. A stop at the Fairhaven farmers market is a must especially if you love good food. Explore the Bavarian town of Leavenworth and get views of the San Juan Islands at Deception Pass State Park.  Read more about taking a Washington State National Park road trip here . – Contributed by Robyn from Nomads With A Purpose

The Road to Hana

Road to Hana Maui road trip

When you think of Hawaii you may not think of a road trip but when traveling on the island of Maui driving the road to Hana is a MUST!

The only way to get to the Eastern part of the island is by traversing the Hana Highway. The road to Hana is made up of 52 miles of one lane bridges, hairpin turns and twisty curves. This road trip will take up an entire day so make sure you pack lots of snacks and fill up for gas before hand.

The winding road takes you past jaw dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls and exotic flora. Some highlights of this drive include Ho’okipa, Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Honomanu Bay, Wailua Falls, Haleakala National Park and the awe inspiring Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Don’t forget to wear your bathing suit and pack a towel because pulling off the side of the road to take a dip in the ocean or swim under a waterfall is the name of the game. Buckle up, enjoy the ride and prepare for a trip of a lifetime. – Contributed by Jess from  I’m Jess Traveling

Read: The Perfect Maui Itinerary: How to Spend 5 Days in Maui (As Written By a Local)

South Dakota Road Trip

Michell Corn Palace Roadtrips USA

Tip: Drive along the Badlands Loop Road to see the beautiful eroded landscape and hike the Presidential Trail to see the sculptures from up close at Mount Rushmore. In Custer State Park, drive along the Wildlife Loop Road at dawn to see the park’s bison herd, burros, deer, mountain goats, and other animals.

The road trip from Sioux Falls to Rapid City along the I-90 takes just 5 hours without stops but there are so many things to see and do along this route that even 4 to 5 days will fly by. The highlights of this road trip are Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Another must is driving through the granite tunnels, pigtail bridges, and needles formations of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, which is among America’s 10 Most Scenic Byways. Other amazing attractions along this route include the Corn Palace at Mitchell, the Wall Drug Store, Custer State Park, and Crazy Horse Memorial. – Contributedd Ketki from the Dotted Globe

Portland, Oregon to Yellowstone National Park

smoky montana skies

Getting to Yellowstone National Park from Portland, Oregon is easy enough and taking the I90 brings you through some stunning scenery. From the Colombia River Gorge to the vast farming plains of Washington State, past the beautiful Coeur d’Alene lake and on through the edges of the likes of Lolo National Forest, it’s a great road trip to take. The scenery is constantly changing, with plenty of small towns and bigger cities to stop along the way. One of the towns worth noting along the way is Missoula, particularly if you are traveling with kids. There are plenty of things to do around the town to keep kids entertained and there are a host of hotels and family-friendly restaurants for food. If you are looking to break up the journey into more manageable chucks, a stop in Missoula is worth considering. Another place to consider stopping for an overnight stay is Richland in Washington state, where the TownePlace Suites by the Marriott will ensure you have a comfortable night’s sleep.  Read more about this road trip here . – Contributed by Cath from Passports and Adventures

Best of Idaho Road Trip

Idaho United States road trips

With untouched wilderness, secret hot springs, cute towns, snowcapped mountains and deserts, taking a week-long road trip in Idaho will prove this state is one of the most underrated destinations in the United States. The best part of exploring Idaho is you can enjoy the natural beauty without the crowds you’ll find in neighboring states.Start in the charming lakeside town of McCall and make your way to Idaho’s hip and up-and-coming capital city. Explore Boise by bicycle and sample all the craft brews you can find. Twin Falls is the start of the Snake River Canyon, the majestic Shoshone Waterfalls and a popular place to watch BASE jumpers leap from the town’s famous bridge. Heading north, you’ll pass through the cute town of Ketchum where Ernest Hemingway is buried. It’s also home to Sun Valley, a ski resort where the first chair lift was invented. Continue your road trip through the jaw-dropping Sawtooth Wilderness, a hiker’s paradise. Explore the adorably tiny town of Stanley (and be sure to stop at the famous bakery!). End your road trip with a drive up Highway 93 toward the Western-style town of Salmon, and spend the night camping beneath the stars at Goldbug Hot Springs. – Contributed by Katie Diederichs from Two Wandering Soles

Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe Road Trip

California Road Trip

Las Vegas offers fabulous experiences not related to gambling or partying, including world-class culinary experiences and luxurious spas and shopping. The route from Las Vegas to South Lake Tahoe is lined with stunning scenery, from the desert vistas of Death Valley National Park to the beautiful lakes and mountains of the Eastern Sierra. You can hike, enjoy boating or canoeing on the lakes, or visit some scenic wonders such as the tufas of Mono Lake or Bodie, the ghost town. The whole route provides awesome photo opportunities, especially in the fall. At the end of the route, you will enjoy Lake Tahoe, the huge alpine lake with crystal clear waters. This is a must-do road trip for anyone that loves nature and natural beauty. – Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway is often called the most beautiful drive in America

When compared to epic road trips like Route 66 or the Pacific Coast Highway, Beartooth Highway is a hop, skip, and a jump. However, don’t let its short mileage fool you. This scenic drive packs a lot into its 68 miles. The late Charles Kuralt called it “the most beautiful drive in America,” and one trip through its mountainous terrain will verify that claim. It’s a gorgeous trek surrounded by three National Forests and next to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, with enough switchbacks to make your head spin. There are a few pullouts that allow you to get a stationary look at the landscape, and the Rock Creek Vista Point Rest Area and Interpretive Trail provides a panoramic view.

Lodging is available in Red Lodge and Cooke City, and there are several campgrounds in the National Forest. The biggest nearby attraction is Yellowstone National Park. Beartooth Highway will take you right to the northeast entrance. – Contributed by Theresa from The Local Tourist

The Great River Road

winterville_mounds_the_great_river_road

For lovers of USA road trips, The Great River Road (GRR) makes an epic journey following the course of the mighty Mississippi River from bottom to top or vice versa.  The GRR is a series of roads and highways marked with green pilot wheel logo signs, showing off 10 states from Minnesota to Louisiana and all the river towns and cities in between.  New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Vicksburg, Memphis, St Louis and Hannibal, the boyhood home of Mark Twain.  The route is strewn with iconic attractions and activities like the Budweiser Brewery tour (St Louis) and a range of visitor centres focusing on Slavery, Civil War battlefields, ancient Indian Burial Mounds and of course the Blues Music Trail.

The marching Peabody Ducks at Memphis’s Peabody Hotel is a particularly quirky attraction. Every day at 11 am the trained ducks are given the red carpet treatment and brought down from their rooftop enclosure to paddle in the lobby fountain.  They return at 5pm and draw crowds of onlookers to watch the spectacle. – Contributed by Sharon from What The Saints Did Next

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway most popular road trip in the US

The world-famous Blue Ridge Parkway travels 469 miles along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains through Virginia and North Carolina. In 2017, the Parkway attracted more than 16 million visitors, and it’s widely known as America’s favorite drive.

The entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway is devoid of commercial ventures. There are no billboards, gas stations, or strip malls to compete for attention, just endless vistas, cool historical sites, eight public campgrounds, and more than 350 miles of hiking trails.

Highlights of a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip include touring several 19th-century farms and buildings, exploring the engineering marvel that is the Linn Cove Viaduct, walking the mile-high swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain, and hiking to Linville Falls, North Carolina’s most photographed waterfall.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina is located directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is worth more than a passing glance. Stay at the Hillwinds Inn , which is right downtown, and be sure to explore Moses H. Cone Memorial Park and North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction, The Blowing Rock.

On average, there is a Blue Ridge Parkway campground every 50 miles. Each campground is strategically located to take advantage of the Parkway’s most interesting sites, and at $20 per night, it also makes for a budget vacation. – Contributed by Tara from Backroad Ramblers

Route 61 – following the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans

Clarksdale. Mississippi a stop on one of the best USA road trips

Get a bit of rock ‘n’ roll and a whole lotta soul on this trip through the deep south from  Memphis to New Orleans . Beginning in the home of Elvis, get to know in Graceland and the legend of Elvis along with the origins of rock and roll at Sun Studios. At the same time, head down Beale St for a boot full of Blues.

Further south, following the mighty Mississippi, the first stop is Clarksdale, home to Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blue Club. Visit the battle of Vicksburg to reflect on the civil war before continuing south to Louisiana’s Baton Rouge. A short side trip will have you face to face with gators in Lafayette or continue to the lively French Quarter in New Orleans.

Stay at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale for live music and stay in roughly restored sharecropper shacks. As the sign says out front, the ‘Ritz we aint!’- Contributed by Warren Dobe of Sling Adventures

Deep South Road Trip

best american road trips

For a different trip take a  deep south road trip  through Alabama . Start in Gulf Shores Alabama with its great food and beautiful beaches.

Head north to the capital Montgomery for some great civil rights history sites like the new Legacy Museum, the lynching memorial, and the Rosa Parks museum. Take a side trip to Tuskegee to visit the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. Learn about the black men who defied the prejudice that they could not learn to be fighter pilots.

End in Huntsville Alabama where America’s rocket program and race to space was created. Tour the museum there with one of the only remaining Saturn V rockets or sign up for Space Camp. While you are in town also visit the largest private art space in the country at the converted cotton mill Lowe Mill.

And because this is an Alabama road trip take some side trips off the interstate for some good home cooking and some odd Alabama exclusives like a haunted chicken house in Heflin, Alabama. – Contributed by Chris Christensen of Amateur Traveler

Exploring the Small Towns of Central Texas

Texas Southern USA roadtrip

This road trip will broaden your mind of what Texas is all about.  It’s also a dream for foodies.  There’s the gourmet Blue Bell ice cream in Brehham, the best-in-the-world barbecue at Salt Lick, plus wonderful wines of the Texas Hill Country.  We discovered the beautiful painted churches that were constructed by German and Czech immigrants that look like they were just lifted out of Europe and plopped down in the fields of Texas.  There are natural springs for swimming and even a visit to LBJ’s ranch, known as the Texas White House.  Read more about this Texas Road Trip here . – Contributed by Lance and Laura Longwell of Travel Addicts

US Gulf Coast Road Trip

Gulf Coast road trip roadtrips in the us

The southern US Gulf Coast from Louisiana east to central and south Florida has some of the most scenic landscapes in the country, not to mention great history, local culture, and a whole lot of fresh seafood! It’s also a laid-back part of the country and outside the norm of traffic and congestion, especially during the hot summer months, which makes it a great destination for a  Gulf Coast road trip .

Starting in Lafayette, Louisiana, you’ll quickly know you’re in for a treat road tripping in this part of the country. Lafayette has vibrant Cajun culture, born from the Acadiana who emigrated from French Canada centuries ago. Today, the French influence is felt in the music and dance, and peppered in just about every kind of local food. Just an hour away in nearby New Orleans, the party really starts and lasts for days. An hour east of New Orleans is lovely Mobile, Alabama which deserves a few days of eating amazing Alabama shrimp and oysters. Further east another hour is Gulf Shores, where you can relax for days on some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the country.

From here, head to Tallahassee, the capital of Florida and explore the Spanish history the state was founded on. Just 20 miles south of Tally is Wakulla Springs, a natural warm spring where you can relax overnight and swim in the crystal clear waters. Finally, the road trip ends in Crystal River, Florida, where summertime is bay scallop season, and you can snorkel and gather up your own feast for dinner! – Contributed by Lori from Travlinmad

Jacksonville to Charleston, South Carolina Road Trip

One of the Best East Coast Road Trips

If you want to do a fantastic East Coast road trip that combines gorgeous landscape, historic cities and charming towns to visit then you might want to consider a trip from Jacksonville to Charleston, South Carolina. This road trip can be an easy short getaway or an extensive travel journey depending on your interest in visiting many of the fascinating places attractions and landscapes along highway I 95 that covers all the three states. Or get off the main highway and travel slowly on the coastal roads that go through smaller southern towns and beautiful landscapes of low country.

Fantastic places to discover along the way on your road trip include Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach in northern Florida and into Georgia visiting the coastal towns St. Mary’s, Brunswick and islands at St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Sapelo Island and finally to beautiful Savannah . The city is historic and filled with gorgeous squares, stately homes and stunning architectural buildings in the historic center of the city. On the way to Charleston in South Carolina, you can stop by stunning southern towns like Beaufort and uber trendy Hilton Head and Kiawah Island. Charleston spared by the civil war is a Southern gem exudes all the wonderful and elegant architecture, landmarks and attractions in the historic district and is worth spending more time to enjoy the beauty and magnificent details of this beautiful city.

You can also do this road trip from Charleston to Jacksonville and both locations are served by mid scale airports that service many different airlines. It is also easy to find a variety of rental car agencies directly at each airport.- Contributed by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery

Overseas Highway

Overseas Highway Florida Keys road trip

From Miami to Key West, you have to take the Overseas Highway or US 1 which connects all the islands of the Keys. There is lots of fun things to do during this roadtrip.

Along the road we made a short sidekick to visit the Everglades, but after that we took the US 1 and passed bridge after bridge after bridge.  The scenery is spectacular.  There’s water on you left and right and in front of you appears one island after another.  The road is about 182 km long but it takes you about 4 hours to get there. The final destination is Key West , a cosy town filled with bright coloured wooden houses.

If you are looking for a nice place to stay, I can highly recommend Truman Hotel .  It’s a boutique hotel in the center of town with a small inner courtyard that looks like a tropical rainforest with a pool.

If you want to explore the island, book a ride on the Conch Tour Train.  You will pass east Martello Tower, early conch houses, Sloppy Joe’s (Ernest Hemingway’s favourite bar), Bahama Village and much more. – Contributed by Wendy from WorldWideWendy

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to take an American road trip.

Have you done a road trip in the United States? What do you think are the best road trips in the USA ?

Want some more road trip inspiration from around the world?

  • Best Road Trips in Europe
  • Best Road Trips in Australia

Best Roadtrips in the USA

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savvyglobetrotter

This just goes to show that despite having travelled to the US 4 times, how little I have actually managed to see! I would love to do the Pacific Coast highway, it would be my top pick from this list. However, Route 66 looks pretty awesome too. I haven’t been to a national park yet so even the one from Vegas to Salt Lake City for the Utah National Park would be a great experience. And I really want to visit Oregon sometime, looks gorgeous!

Those would be my top picks too!

What a detailed and informative post! It makes me realise I’ve not seen enough of the US. Utah really appeals to me, would love to do a road trip here.

Ahh, yes, Miami to Key West… It has some boring parts, but there’s more than a few things to see along the way. Look for the big lobster as you get close… and fill up before leaving the mainland. It only gets more expensive the further out you go!

I love how informative this post is – so unique in showcasing fun roadtrips across the states. Pinning for later – thanks so much for sharing!

All look like a blast but Route 66 is near the top of my list.

Wow you have given me a ton of ideas! Route 66 is on the top of my list along with the Washington State trip. Thanks for sharing.

I saved this to Pinterest to use as a reference later. My sister lives out in Portland and my husband and I have been wanting to go out there at some point and do a road trip. We also had been planning a road trip to Memphis, but then Covid happened so we had to postpone it.

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Are you ready for a Road Trip? Explore these eleven incredible cross-country road trip routes across the U.S.!

best time to road trip usa

Pacific Coast

border to border road trip badge

Border to Border

road to nowhere road trip badge

The Road to Nowhere

best time to road trip usa

The Great River Road

appalachian trail road trip route badge

Appalachian Trail

best time to road trip usa

Atlantic Coast

great river road trip badge

The Great Northern

oregon trail road trip badge

The Oregon Trail

loneliest road trip route badge

The Loneliest Road

southern pacific road trip badge

Southern Pacific

route 66 road trip badge

Classic American Road Trips

best time to road trip usa

Pacific Coast Highway

Starting at the northwest tip of the United States at Washington’s Olympic National Park and remaining within sight of the ocean all the way south to sunny San Diego, this 1,650-mile, mostly two-lane road trip takes in everything from temperate rainforest to near-desert.

Highlights along the Pacific Coast Route: Olympic National Park (WA), Three Capes Loop (OR), Redwood National Park (CA)

mountain landscape with overlaid text reading Route 66 Road Trip

Historic Route 66

The romance of traveling along historic Route 66 from where it starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles continues to captivate people around the world. If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, rusty middle-of-nowhere truck stops, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Highlights along Route 66: Chicago (IL), Meramec Caverns (MO), Tucumcari (NM), Painted Desert (AZ), Santa Monica (CA)

best time to road trip usa

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Books-A-Million
  • Indigo (Canada)
  • Powell's Books
  • Apple Books

big sky and water adjacent to a road with overlaid text reading the loneliest road trip

Running coast-to-coast from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland, “The Loneliest Road in America” is a 3,200-mile odyssey from sea to shining sea. US-50 passes through a dozen different states, four state capitals, and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

Highlights along the Loneliest Road: South Lake Tahoe (CA), Moab (UT), The Million Dollar Highway (CO), Washington D.C.

suspension bridge backed by forest with overlaid text reading The Oregon Trail Road Trip

Following in the footsteps of pilgrims and pioneers, US‑20 takes in a little of everything during its two-lane trek from Oregon’s rugged coast to the glorious sea and sand of Cape Cod.

Highlights along the Oregon Trail: Cannon Beach (OR), Fort Boise (ID), Yellowstone National Park (WY), Mt Rushmore & Carhenge (NE)

trees with vivid fall color with overlaid text reading The Great Northern US-2 Road Trip

Dubbed the Great Northern in memory of the pioneer railroad that parallels the western half of the route, US‑2 is truly the most stunning and unforgettable, not to mention longest, of all the great transcontinental road trips.

Highlights along the Great Northern: Tumwater Canyon (WA), Glacier National Park (MT), Lake Michigan (MI), Acadia National Park (ME)

The Open Road

The Appalachian Trail

This driving route of the Appalachian Trail parallels the epic hike. From the top of New England to the heart of Dixie, it takes you through continuous natural beauty—without the sweat, bugs, or blisters.

Highlights along the Appalachian Trail: Mt. Washington (NH), The Poconos (PA), Shenandoah National Park (VA), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC)

lakes and green landscape with overlaid text reading the Great River Road Trip

Old Man River, Father of Waters, “body of a nation,” Big Muddy: By any name, the mighty Mississippi River cuts a mythic figure across the American landscape. Tag along from its headwaters in Minnesota to where it meets the sea in Louisiana via the GRR.

Highlights along the Great River Road: Main Street USA (WI), St. Louis (MO), Natchez Trace Parkway (MS), New Orleans (LA)

dense city on a peninsula with overlaid text reading the Atlantic Coast Road Trip

Starting at the Statue of Liberty and ending with a drive across the Overseas Highway to free-wheeling Key West, these almost 2,000 miles of roadway run within earshot—if not sight—of the Atlantic Ocean.

Highlights along the Atlantic Coast: The Statue of Liberty (NJ), Assateague Island National Seashore (MD), Savannah (GA), Cocoa Beach (FL)

old Spanish-style church with overlaid text reading the Border to Border Road Trip

Starting at Canada’s Jasper National Park, and winding down in the Sonora Desert, this route traverses some of the wildest and most rugged lands imaginable: mighty mountains, glaciated valleys, raging rivers, and two very different deserts.

Highlights along the Border to Border Route: Columbia Icefield (AB), Bitterroot Mountains (MT), The Extraterrestrial Highway (NV), Joshua Forest Parkway (AZ)

dunes with overlaid text reading tThe Road to Nowhere US-83 Road Trip

Once the only entirely paved route from Canada to “Old Mexico,” US‑83 cuts across America’s heartland and remains a must-do long-distance byway—transnavigating this broad, odd nation without once grazing a conventional tourist destination.

Highlights along the Road to Nowhere: Sitting Bull Memorial (SD), Nebraska Sand Hills (NE), Monument Rocks (KS), Paint Rock Pictographs (TX)

trees draped with moss with overlaid text reading the Southern Pacific US-80 Road Trip

Following old US-80 and its contemporary equivalents takes you through more varied cultural and physical landscapes than you’ll find along any other cross-country route. From deserts to bayou swamps and Tex-Mex to barbecue, this route offers a full-flavored taste of America.

Highlights along Southern Pacific: The Desert View Tower (CA), Tombstone (AZ), Roswell (NM), Civil Rights Movement National Historic Trail (AL)

US map showing the 11 cross-country road trips on roadtripusa.com

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The 25 best road trips in the usa.

Best Road Trips USA

 If you’re looking for the best road trips in the USA, look no further! These great road trips will have you driving for the rest of your life.

This post was written in partnership and paid for by Hum by Verizon . All opinions are my own.

Best Road Trips USA

There’s probably nothing more American than packing up your car and hitting the open road with family or friends, some good snacks, and great tunes… and for good reason. With more than 3.7 million square miles to discover and 4,071,000 miles of road , the United States has so many hidden gems accessible by car.

Although I’ve got about 194 countries on my bucket list right now, I’m grateful to live in the great US of A and think it’s one of the most amazing countries to explore from the road. There are so many fun road trips that you can take all over the country!

Here's a Short Cut

The Best USA Road Trip Safety Tips

Get ready for the best road trips in the usa, 1. pacific coast highway, 2. park loop acadia national park, 3. washington-oregon coast, 4. great river road, 5. big island loop road, 6. musical road usa trip, 7. northern national parks road trip, 8. southwest national parks road trip, 9. hana highway road trip, 10. new york city to finger lakes, 11. williamsburg, va to charlottesville, va to washington d.c., 12. miami to the overseas highway to key west, fl: 160 miles from miami, 13. the grand canyon to las vegas, 14. black hills of south dakota, 15. maine lobster trail, 16. blue ridge parkway, 17. grand teton national park to glacier national park, 18. outer banks scenic byway, 19. olympic peninsula, 20. route 66, 21. alaska highway, 22. ultimate florida road trip, 23. the great american road trip – cross country on the i-90, 24. anchorage to seward, 25. canada to mexico.

If you’re planning to take a road trip this year, I’ve compiled the best American road trip routes in the country.  These are 25 of the best road trips in the USA that everyone should take in their lifetime. We’ve been lucky enough to drive almost every inch of this country and there is some beautiful land to see out there.

Before you leave on any road trip, be sure your car is road trip ready.  If you’re traveling the US by car, it’s important to know how to prepare.

Prepare Your Car for the Best Road Trips in the USA

Before heading out on your USA road trip, be sure your car has been serviced, and everything is working properly. When you road trip around the US, anything could go wrong! It’s best to be prepared.

Use Hum by Verizon  to Prepare for Road Trip Vacations I’ve talked about my love of Hum by Verizon before, but it’s because I love my HumX and think anyone taking a road trip should have one!

Hum by Verizon is campaigning to make the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Safer Days of Summer.” During these 100 Days, you can find helpful tips for safer driving on their Facebook page.

According to a study from Hum by Verizon and Wakefield Research that surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult drivers ages 20 and older, 80% of participants think that drivers are more likely to speed during the summer months. The survey also found that 61% of millennial drivers struggle to focus while driving during the summer, and one in five drivers have received at least one speeding ticket within the past five years.

Hum by Verizon wants to change that, by helping us practice important road safety with “100 Safer Days of Summer.”

With so many great summer road trip destinations around the country, and so many more Americans traveling these days, safety has never been more important! The best summer trips are safe summer trips!

Best Road Trips USA

We use HumX in our car. HumX is a little device that is easily installed in your car and takes the guesswork out of driving by using connected car technology. It allows you to have quick access to emergency services and loved ones while on a road trip, or any time on the road.

If you have an accident or emergency, HumX can send assistance to help you get back on the road.

Hum X car also runs diagnostics on your vehicle to make sure that things are running smoothly so you can take these cool road trips worry-free.

I love that HumX helps you keep track of general maintenance like oil changes and tire rotation, and you can set up alerts to remind you when it’s time for service.

Best Road Trips USA

All the Hum by Verizon services can be accessed on your smartphone from the Hum App which you can find in the App Store or Google Play . HumX also comes with a Bluetooth speaker that clips to your visor. This will give you access to roadside assistance with the touch of a button and can also be used as a speaker for your phone and be connected to your contacts.

I’m also really excited to have this service when my kids start driving, which is only in 3 more years (HELP)! It provides a safety score, boundary alerts, and records speed, so you can monitor your teen’s driving.

You can also track your fuel and mileage using HumX, which is great if you’re taking road trips that are for work and need to track mileage for expenses or tax purposes.

To prepare for your American road trip of choice, be sure to follow these tips that I’ve shared in How to Plan a Road Trip . If you don’t know what to do on a road trip, these tips will help you prepare and also help you have the best time! Learn a lot and have fun along the way while you road trip USA style!

Best Road Trips USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA

● Begin: San Francisco, California ● End: San Diego, California ● Distance: 655 miles ● Drive Time: 12 Hours

California is one of the best places to road trip in the USA! Its size and diversity provide so many options and the Pacific Coast Highway is just one. This iconic highway along the California coast covers 655 miles of awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from San Francisco to San Diego. See classic sites like the Golden Gate Bridge and Bixby Creek Bridge along the way. The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best summer road trips in the world!

Read more about our detailed West Coast Road Trip.

● Begin: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Acadia National Park, Maine ● End: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Acadia National Park, Maine ● Distance: 27 miles ● Drive Time: 2 hours This is one of the best east coast road trips I’ve ever taken. This is a quick road trip but packed full of stunning views as you drive along the Park Loop in Acadia National Park. Forests, mountains, and rocky shores greet you on your drive along with plenty of wildlife. Be sure to spend some time in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine , the town where you can base your Acadia trip from. All good road trips include some amazing scenery, and this one is no exception!

If you’re looking for a great guide to the park, check out this Acadia National Park Guide.

● Start: San Juan Islands ● End: Brookings, Oregon ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 15 hours

The Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to go on a road trip due to its geographical diversity and stunning scenery. One of the most dramatic coastlines in the world, the Pacific Northwest offers rocky beaches, turbulent waters, thick forests, and great food. Begin in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington and continue down to the southern tip of Oregon for one of the best road trips in the USA.

● Starting point: Minnesota ● Ending point: Louisiana ● Distance: 3,000 miles ● Drive Time: 20 hours Follow along the mighty Mississippi River from its beginning in Minnesota, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. This route is called the Great River Road and it cuts 3,000 miles down the center of our great nation, passing through 10 states, where you’ll see St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and everything in between. This United States road trip is one of my all-time favorites as it explores some lesser-known destinations in the “fly over” states!

● Starting point: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii ● Ending point: Mauna Kea, Hawaii ● Distance: 300 miles ● Drive Time: 7 hours The Island Loop Road of the Big Island of Hawaii offers scenic views of beaches, mountains, lava fields, active volcanos, black sand beaches, and heated swimming pools. This may be the most diversity in landscape you’ll ever see in one day.

● Begin: Nashville, Tennessee ● End: New Orleans, Louisiana ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 9 hours If you’re a music fan, then Route 61 (also known as the Blues Highway) will be a perfect road trip for you, giving you the chance to hear live music, visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and see famous recording studios. Finish in New Orleans, where you’ll hear live jazz on the streets nightly!

If you want to continue on farther, you can do this amazing gulf coast road trip !

● Begin: Jackson, Wyoming ● End: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming ● Distance: 70 miles ● Drive Time: 1.5 hours National Parks make for the best road trip destinations. Explore both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with this road trip full of stunning mountainous scenery! It’s the perfect summer road trip.

● Begin: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona ● End: Moab, Utah (one of the most amazing things to do in Utah !) ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 11 hours This nature-packed road trip will allow you to see five stunning Utah national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zions’, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches. This is a great Utah road trip itinerary if you’re interested in exploring even more of this beautiful state.

Check out this Utah Road Trip Itinerary

● Begin: Kahului, Hawaii ● End: Hana, Hawaii ● Distance: 52 miles ● Drive Time: 2.5 hours This is possibly the most popular road trip in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The 60-mile Road to Hana takes you along the eastern coast of Maui where you will be sandwiched by beautiful ocean views and jungles filled with waterfalls. The Hana highway will wind you around approximately 600 curves, crossing 59 bridges, but the ride is worth it!

● Begin: New York, New York ● End: Corning, New York ● Distance: 250 miles ● Drive Time: 4.5 hours I love this New York road trip! After enjoying the busy city life, escape into the Fingerlakes region of upper state New York. Enjoy culture, scenery, great food and wineries along the way. New York City with kids is so much fun, but it’s great to mix it with a more relaxing and nature-filled vacation.

  • Begin: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • End: Washington, D.C
  • Distance: 240 miles
  • Drive Time: 4.5 hours

Brush up on your colonial history and visit the homes of some of our founding fathers while reliving the past. Begin your journey in southern Virginia where you can visit Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement, where you’ll witness historical reenactments and join in on living history.

Next, head to Charlottesville and visit the homes of former presidents Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) and James Monroe (Highland). Head to Mount Vernon, just outside Washington DC to visit George Washington’s home (Mount Vernon) and finish off your trip in our nation’s capital. The distance from Williamsburg VA to Washington DC isn’t much, but the history that can be found on the side of the road is amazing!

You can also do this trip in reverse. It’s one of the best road trips from DC I’ve ever taken.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Miami, Florida End: Key West, Florida Distance: 170 miles Drive Time: 3.5 hours Take the 150-mile drive on Route 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, from Miami to the Florida Keys, crossing 42 bridges. These sandy islands are full of history, sun, and relaxation. This southern USA Florida road trip is sure to be one of the most sun-filled, fun-filled drives ever!

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Canyon National Park End: Las Vegas, Nevada Distance: 250 miles Drive Time: 4.5 hours Start out with nature, and end in Sin City. This desert drive will take you through the majestic Grand Canyon, with a stop in St. George, Utah and end with some fun in Las Vegas.

Check out this awesome Utah road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Deadwood, South Dakota End: Hot Springs, South Dakota Distance: 100 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours The Black Hills of South Dakota offer more than just Mount Rushmore. Drive along the Badlands Scenic Byway, making stops at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the infamous Wall Drug. National parks are some of the places to stop on a road trip. Stunning sunsets and sunrises in the Badlands will take your breath away. Keep an eye out for bison on the road. Check out this South Dakota road trip planner for more information.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Milbridge, Maine End: Eastport, Maine Distance: 125 miles Drive Time: 6 hours Explore the southeastern corner of Maine, also known as “Downeast Maine” as you drive along the Lobster Trail on Coastal Route 1. This colorful and delicious journey will take you through beautiful coastlines and forests while providing tasty and adventurous stops where you can find lobster and all kinds of local seafood. Try your hand at some local activities like clam digging or goat milking. There are so many more incredible east coast road trips .

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Shenandoah National Park End: Asheville, North Carolina Distance: 469 miles Drive Time: 6 hours The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular road trips in the US. Connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this 469-mile stretch of scenic road is the most visited road controlled by the U.S. National Parks system. Stops along the way include Skyline Drive (particularly beautiful in the fall), Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and Asheville.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming End: Glacier National Park, Montana Distance: 500 miles Drive Time: 9 hours Explore two national parks in one road trip by driving from Grand Teton National Park to Glacier National Park . The drive along the way will provide some of the most diverse landscapes in the U.S.

Begin: Carova, North Carolina End: Ocracoke, North Carolina Distance: 138 miles Drive Time: 5 hours North Carolina’s Route 12, otherwise known as the Outer Banks Scenic Byway spans 21 coastal villages and 138 miles of paved road and 25 ferry-traveling miles along the coast of North Carolina. Dotted with lighthouses, museums, houses and hotels, the Outer Banks is a great beach road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Seattle, Washington End: Seattle, Washington Distance: 300 miles Drive Time: 10 hours Explore Washington’s Olympic Peninsula on this scenic road trip which takes you through the Olympic National Park and Forest and the lush Hoh Rainforest. There are great spots along the way for hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Santa Monica Pier, California End: Chicago, Illinois Distance: 2,500 miles Drive Time: Several days Follow in the path of your grandparents by taking a quintessential cross-country road trip along one of the original highways in the U.S., Route 66. This road is not traveled very often now that the Interstate Highway system is established, but you can still visit many old towns that once thrived in the middle of the last century along The Mother Road. Route 66 crosses 8 states and dozens of historic sites along the way. It’s the ultimate US road trip, but with so many good road trip places around the country, this classic can be overlooked for bigger cities and National Parks. Don’t skip Route 66!

Begin: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada End: Anchorage, Alaska Distance: 2,500 miles Drive Time: 27 hours Stretching nearly 1,500 miles between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, the historic Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN) is not for the faint of heart. Though most of the road is paved, many sections are constantly under construction and parts of the road are only gravel.

It’s a road that should only be attempted in the best of weather, usually during the summer months, but the views and wildlife along the way are worth the adventure. An Alaska highway road trip should be well planned out in advance, with stops and accommodations mapped out at least six months in advance!  But it is worth the planning. Alaska is one of the most amazing places to take a road trip! Learn more about planning a trip to Alaska.

Begin: St. Augustine, Florida End: Destin, Florida Distance: 1,400 miles Drive Time: 24 hours See the majority of Florida by circling the entire state, starting in St. Augustine(America’s oldest town) then bring out your inner-child in Orlando, eat your way through Miami, and relax on the beach in Clearwater, then explore the panhandle in Destin. This route is long, but the stops and scenery are breathtaking. Learn more about the best things to do in Destin, Florida .

Best Road Trips USA

Begin : Boston, Massachusetts End : Seattle, Washington Distance : 3,000 miles Drive Time: 45 hours This is the best cross country road trip! We’ve done this road trip across America many times out of necessity. It’s more exciting to do it when it’s just for fun. The I-90 spans 3,000 miles across the entire country from Boston to Seattle or vice versa, running along the northern part of the U.S. This route makes some incredible stops like Niagara Falls, Chicago, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and Yellowstone. This is one of the best American road trips you will ever take! A US cross country road trip can seem a little daunting. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time and map out your stops ahead of time, breaking up the long drive.

Begin: Anchorage, Alaska End: Seward, Alaska Distance: 125 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours This quick 125-mile drive along the Seward Highway takes you from Anchorage to Seward. While small, this strikingly beautiful route offers incredible stops like seeing the Bore Tide at the Turnagain Arm, glacier hiking, berry picking, fishing, rafting, kayaking and more. Once in Seward you can finish off your trip with a fishing excursion or a wildlife cruise in the Kenai Fjords National Park where you’ll sail among whales, puffins, seals and more.

Begin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada End: Tijuana, Mexico Distance: 2,300 miles Drive Time: 24 hours Hit three countries in one epic road trip by starting in British Columbia, Canada and using this itinerary all the way down to the border of U.S. and Mexico into Tijuana.

Whatever road trip you choose this summer, be sure to prepare your car for an epic road trip and install a HumX in your vehicle to take the worry out of your journey and to get you on the road!

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Wanderlust Crew

6 thoughts on “ the 25 best road trips in the usa ”.

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thanks for all the info and pictures! would love to do some of these one day I’ve done a lot of road trips in Europe but none in the US yet! route 66 and the grand canyon is definitely on the bucket list!

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America certainly has some awesome road trips! I’ve done a lot in Europe, but would definitely love to do more!!

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I love that some of these road trip destinations are kid friendly. The kids and us could really use some time off from the house after all that’s happening. But we ‘d like to go once things get better. or rather, safer.

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Cross country trips and most of the iconic rides like Route 66 are the best! Gotta love having the countries (and even the continents) so close to us that we can travel by land all we want.

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The perfect itinerary for an epic USA roadtrip (48 states at once)

You are currently viewing The perfect itinerary for an epic USA roadtrip (48 states at once)

  • Post author: Andrew D'Amours
  • Post published: December 28, 2022
  • Post category: Travel inspiration / Trip itineraries & destination discoveries
  • Post comments: 23 Comments

Do you like roadtrips? They happen to be a very American tradition and we found the perfect itinerary to visit every state in the continental USA during 1 epic roadtrip. A great trip idea for those who have a lot of time but want to stay closer to home .

Personally, I love roadtrips and I hit the road as much as I can, despite also being an aviation geek: you can like both, right? What matters is traveling and seeing new places , no matter how.

So here are the maps and details of the 2 itineraries that allow you to see all the lower 48 states at once, depending on your travel preference.

Basics of the 2 epic USA roadtrip itineraries

The USA is a huge country, almost as big as Europe (it’s even larger than Canada when considering land area alone).

So the USA has a lot of variety in terms of landscapes, but even in terms of culture too (even if many who aren’t from the country don’t realize that).

If you aim to eventually visit every state, any 1 of these 2 itineraries is a great way to almost all of them at once. The only 2 states you’ll have left to visit after this roadtrip will be Hawaii and Alaska.

There’s a version for national parks and points of interest and a version for cities.

best time to road trip usa

I’m on the quest to visit all 50 states myself (in addition to also visiting every country obviously), and I’m not doing too bad with 47 already.

But let’s just say it would’ve been much quicker to get to 48 at once with this roadtrip instead of having to do it over dozens of trips.

Here are the details.

48-state roadtrip – national parks/points of interest version

Here’s a map of the 1 st itinerary.

best time to road trip usa

It was conceived by American Ph.D. student Randy Olson, on  his blog , and it was done scientifically to optimize the routing: each stop represents a national park or a point of interest.

So you’re not just seeing every state, you’re seeing cool parts of every state (which sadly wasn’t our case in North Dakota during our very random 1200-miles-nonstop-in-2-days Flytrippers roadtrip across the Midwest just for fun).

Good times. Roadtrips always make for great stories.

Anyway, the itinerary has also been optimized to be as efficient a route as possible to see all 48 states, so you can rest assured you won’t be wasting any time.

If you only stop to sleep, you can complete this roadtrip in only 9 days, but we recommend taking at least a couple of weeks to explore all these places obviously.

And gas is significantly cheaper in the US in case you were wondering. You can start anywhere, it’s a continuous loop, and it passes through many spots near the Canadian border.

You can even take a shortcut from Michigan to Vermont through Canada, as the stop in Cleveland is only to keep Americans without a passport from crossing into the Great White North.

Here is the complete list of all 50 landmarks (48 states + Washington, DC + a bonus stop in California):

1. Grand Canyon, AZ 2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT 3. Craters of the Moon, ID 4. Yellowstone National Park, WY 5. Pikes Peak, CO 6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM 7. The Alamo, TX 8. The Platt Historic District, OK 9. Toltec Mounds, AR 10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN 11. Vicksburg National Military Park, MS 12. French Quarter, LA 13. USS Alabama, AL 14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL 15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA 16. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC 17. Lost World Caverns, WV 18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC 19. Mount Vernon, VA 20. White House, Washington, D.C. 21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD 22. New Castle Historic District, DE 23. Cape May Historic District, NJ 24. Liberty Bell, PA 25. Statue of Liberty, NY 26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT 27. The Breakers, RI 28. USS Constitution, MA 29. Acadia National Park, ME 30. Mount Washington Hotel, NH 31. Shelburne Farms, VT 32. Fox Theater, MI 33. Spring Grove Cemetery, OH 34. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY 35. West Baden Springs Hotel, IN 36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL 37. Gateway Arch, MO 38. C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS 39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA 40. Taliesin, WI 41. Fort Snelling, MN 42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE 43. Mount Rushmore, SD 44. Fort Union Trading Post, ND 45. Glacier National Park, MT 46. Hanford Site, WA 47. Columbia River Highway, OR 48. San Francisco Cable Cars, CA 49. San Andreas Fault, CA 50. Hoover Dam, NV

These are all very enticing attractions, for the most part. It seems I’ve only seen 14 of those, so maybe I should hit the road again after all.

How about you? Tempted?

48-state roadtrip – city version

Here’s a map of the 2 nd itinerary.

best time to road trip usa

If you’re more of a city slicker, the map’s author has created a 2 nd version that routes you through amazing cities instead.

It is slightly shorter but quite as impressive: it makes you go through the “Best City to Visit” in each state, according to TripAdvisor .

But you won’t have all the lower 48 states, unlike the other itinerary. That’s because no city in Vermont, West Virginia, or North Dakota made the top 400 cities to visit ranking, unfortunately. So plan on making a few extra detours if you want to hit all states at once with this version of the itinerary.

Here is the complete list of all cities:

  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • San Francisco, California
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Park City, Utah
  • Jackson, Wyoming
  • Billings, Montana
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Portland, Maine
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • New York City, New York
  • Ocean City, New Jersey
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Wilmington, Delaware
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Houston, Texas
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Branson, Missouri

I do a little better on this list, with 31 already visited. You can see I love cities. How about you?

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If you were looking for an excuse to go on a roadtrip, this is it. And since we always enjoy giving you more for your money, we think 48 states instead of only 1 or 2 is something you’ll enjoy!

What’s the coolest roadtrip you’ve ever been on? Tell us in the comments below.

See the deals we spot: Cheap flights

Explore awesome destinations : Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks : Travel tips

Discover free travel: Travel rewards

Featured image: The itinerary (image credit: Randy Olson)

Original publication date: May 29, 2018

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Andrew D'Amours

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This post has 23 comments.

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Hello Andrew, the PHD student suggests in the 1st Itinnerary that the one stop to make in Washington State is the Hanford Nuclear Reservation?! Flat out, that is a terrible idea. It is in the middle of nowhere, I am just shocked it’s mentioned. Out of all the beautiful and amazing places to see in such a diverse state as Washington, a Nuclear Site was chosen? Surely this student could have done so much better. Thank you for allowing comments.

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Having been all around the Olympic Peninsula, I agree that’s there are better stops. But my understanding is that he really optimized for the quickest way to do all 48 and had to choose a point of interest that wasn’t too far off that optimal path, hence that choice (I think).

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thanks for sharing this information with us.

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I have taken a road trip from California to the the most northeastern part of theUS. west Quaby light house. it was my 1st trip across the us. .I seen so many amazing places.

Quite the drive for sure! Must have been epic.

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Why do Americans always think the Statue of Liberty is in NY? it is in NJ. I’ve done road trips now that have taken in 39 states. Here’s a quiz to see how well you know the USA: Which state has only one syllable? Only one city has been name-checked on the moon. In which state is it? Which is the most Northerly of the contiguous states? In which state were Tennessee Williams and Elvis Presley born? Which was the last of the contiguous states to be admitted into the USA? Which four states all share a border with each other? Which state has the lowest population? Twelve cities are name-checked in “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” but only three states. Which? Which state has the longest name? Which two states have the most borders with other states? In which state is the geographical centre of the USA – and which one if you exclude Hawaii and Alaska? Which of the states of the USA has respectively the most Northerly, Southerly, Easterly and Westerly points?

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The official Statue of Liberty address is Liberty Island, New York, NY, 10004.

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Wow, these comments are very rude for no reason. Thanks for the article, maybe when I graduate from college I’ll consider hitting part of one of these itineraries.

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“it’s a huge country (even larger than Canada when considering land area alone).”

Canada – 3.855 million mi² USA – 3.532 million mi² Where does this math fail you?

Where did reading fail you :P? It explicitly says “ when considering LAND area alone ” The quote you copied literally has a link provided under “even larger than Canada” and if you read that, it explains how Canada is only larger than the US due to water area being counted 🙂

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There is no stop in North Dakota on the city version. You should stop in Fargo after Billings and before Sioux Falls

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I’m 46 years old .. I have been to all 50 states and I’m 17 away from all 50 twice .. I have driven to 47 .. flown to Alaska, Hawaii and Washington..

Wow! That’s impressive :O

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This is awesome

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This is inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

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“this roadtrip in only 9 days“ is extremely false statement. It is only 9 days if you are driving non stop, no breaks to even get out of your car, get gas, or actually see these places. From start to finish drive time it is 225 hours, 16 minutes = 9 days. Wow. Take some time to enjoy the view.

Yes, that’s what we said too 😛

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Thanks for the tip 😊

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Do you know the total distance of this itinerary? At what moment of the year doing this trip would be the best? Thanks!

Hi! It is 13,699 miles (22,046 km) for the landmarks itinerary and 12,290 miles (19,780 km) for the city version. You can even have the Google Maps links on the creator’s original post (I’ve reposted the link below). As for the timing, I guess it depends on your preferences, but I’d want to avoid that top half of the country (so half the itinerary) in the winter for sure! http://www.randalolson.com/2015/03/08/computing-the-optimal-road-trip-across-the-u-s/

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Crappy itinerary! Does not even include Zion National Park… and so many stops in the North Eastern states?? Nobody cares about those places except maybe a couple of places.

As explained, the PhD student who built the itinerary wanted to have one stop per state, and there are many states in the North-East so that’s why there are many stops there. I agree that Zion is an iconic spot, but his goal was also to optimize a routing that was as short as possible so that’s why it’s billed as an itinerary to see all lower 48 states at once and not an itinerary to see *the best spots*. But those interested in doing this can definitely adapt it and add many interesting stops for sure 🙂

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Curtis, you are crappy. Obviously this is meant as a guide that can be adapted to add spots. I think it’s awesome.

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The 18 Best Road Trips in the U.S. in 2024

Updated : June 14, 2024

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

Table of contents.

  • Southern New England
  • Northern Arizona Canyons
  • Natchez Trace Parkway
  • Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country
  • Southern Arizona
  • Southern California
  • Northern CA & Southern OR Coast
  • Vegas to National Parks to Vegas
  • Smoky Mountains
  • Grand Pacific Northwest
  • Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina
  • Route 66 - Eastern New Mexico
  • Black Hills
  • Utah's National Parks
  • Big Sky Country
  • South Florida
  • San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno

Plan Your Next Road Trip with AAA Travel

Road trips let travelers see the world from a new perspective and explore distant locations. Recent studies indicate that more than 100 million Americans plan for road trips in the summer. Each state offers a unique experience for travelers, so it can be hard to limit your options. Whether you are dreaming up road trip ideas or simply curious about the most popular ones, here we’ll explore 18 of the best road trips in the U.S. and share some of the ways AAA Travel can make planning a breeze.

1. Southern New England

best time to road trip usa

Starting and ending in Boston, this Southern New England road trip quite a bit of history and scenery in one route. One of the best road trips in the U.S., you’ll see sites from the American Revolution along Boston’s Freedom Trail , quaint shops housed in Colonial-era buildings on the streets of Mystic, Connecticut and lavish mansions from the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island. This trip also offers prime leaf-peeping opportunities in late October and early November. (To explore nearby Martha’s Vineyard, check out the Cape Cod Road Trip .)

  • Length: 229.4 miles
  • Time: 5+ hours
  • Great for: Couples, history buffs and families

2. Northern Arizona Canyons

best time to road trip usa

Southwest desert scenery is on full display on this northern Arizona canyons road trip . From the red rock formations of Sedona to the majesty of the Grand Canyon , this loop journey from Flagstaff hits all the highlights. It includes stops at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the ancient pueblos of Wupatki National Monument and the lava fields of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.

  • Length: 274.3 miles
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Great for: Solo and adventure travelers

3. Natchez Trace Parkway

best time to road trip usa

To see the American South in all its glory, the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the best places to go on a road trip. Stretching from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi (by way of Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley), this rural route makes it easy to visit archeological sites, prehistoric ceremonial mounds, Civil War battlefields and the original Native American trail.

  • Length: 494.6 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Music lovers and history buffs

4. Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country

best time to road trip usa

Expect to see horse-drawn carriages and historic covered bridges on a drive through Hershey, Pennsylvania, Dutch Country . Named after the German (Deutsch) immigrants who settled there in the 18th century, Pennsylvania Dutch Country offers the unique chance to see people of the Amish, Mennonite and Brethren faiths practicing their simple, modest lifestyle. The road trip also includes a stop in Gettysburg . (For more nearby things to do, see Best Historical Places to Visit on a Pennsylvania Road Trip ).

  • Length: 197.0 miles
  • Great for: Families and history buffs

5. Southern Arizona

best time to road trip usa

From the towering cacti of the Sonoran Desert to the Wild West saloons of Tombstone, photo-worthy sights are aplenty on a drive through southern Arizona . You’ll pass through the vibrant cities of Tucson and Scottsdale on this trip, with art galleries, authentic Mexican restaurants and splurge-worthy resorts along the way. (For more things to do near Scottsdale, see Best Places to Hike and Eat in Scottsdale, Arizona, on a Weekend Getaway .)

  • Length: 547.1 miles
  • Great for: Couples and adventure travelers

6. Southern California

best time to road trip usa

It’s sunny skies ahead on this Southern California cruise , which includes a seven-hour journey from Los Angeles to Temecula wine country that features palm tree-dotted beaches, coastal cliffs, rugged desert canyons and a stop in San Diego . Travel editors recommend you plan this trip for spring or fall , as temperatures at some points along the drive can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. (For more escapes from L.A., check out the Los Angeles to Death Valley Road Trip or the California Desert Road Trip .)

  • Length: 307.4 miles
  • Great for: Couples and solo travelers

7. Northern CA & Southern OR Coast

best time to road trip usa

Definitely not short on scenery, this Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast drive can easily be split up over a few days so you have plenty of time for exploration. You’ll start in California’s Central Valley, then wind your way up the Pacific Coast to see towering redwoods, quaint beach towns, shifting sand dunes and breathtaking ocean views on Oregon’s U.S. 101. (If you drive an electric vehicle, also check out Where to Stop and Recharge on an EV Road Trip Down Oregon’s Coast .)

  • Length: 380.1 miles
  • Time: 8+ hours
  • Great for: Families, couples and campers

8. Vegas to National Parks to Vegas

best time to road trip usa

A multiday road trip from Las Vegas is a great way to explore the Southwest and check off a few bucket list items. AAA’s Vegas road trip covers 860 miles in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and includes stops at man-made landmarks like the Hoover Dam and Route 66 and at natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and the hoodoos (rock formations) of Bryce Canyon. (For more inspiration, see Ditch the Glitz for Adventure in Vegas .)

  • Length: 857.4 miles
  • Time: 16 hours
  • Great for: Solo and adventure travelers and campers

9. Smoky Mountains

best time to road trip usa

See the signature haze of the Great Smoky Mountains on this 500-mile loop that provides plenty of ooh- and aah-worthy views of America’s most-visited national park. One of the best road trips in the USA, AAA’s route begins and ends in Knoxville , Tennessee, and includes stops in fun mountain towns like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina.

  • Length: 497.8 miles

10. Grand Pacific Northwest

best time to road trip usa

Soak up views of iconic Northwest landmarks on this Pacific Northwest drive , which covers 550 miles in Oregon and Washington. From the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway to the summer wildflowers of Mount Rainier National Park, this road trip is sure to please nature lovers. (For even more adventures in the “upper left” of the U.S., see Best Pacific Northwest Road Trips (and When to Take Them) .)

  • Length: 551.1 miles
  • Great for: Families and campers

11. Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina

best time to road trip usa

America’s longest linear park is also one of its most scenic, which makes the Blue Ridge Parkway a clear winner in AAA’s list of the most popular road trips in the U.S. The portion of the parkway that runs through North Carolina follows curvy mountain roads from Cherokee to the North Carolina-Virginia state line, with plenty of spectacular views and hiking opportunities along the way. You could easily stretch this drive into a multiday trip.

  • Length: 303.8 miles

12. Route 66 - Eastern New Mexico

best time to road trip usa

The Route 66 road trip is a staple of “Americana” culture and the subject of a particularly catchy tune from the 1940s. This massive highway stretches across two-thirds of the United States, so it’s not uncommon for folks to explore Route 66 bit by bit. The Eastern New Mexico stretch of Route 66 will take you from Albuquerque , New Mexico, the primary setting of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” to Adrian, Texas — the “Midpoint of Route 66.” 

  • Length: 118.7 miles
  • Time: 2+ hours
  • Great for: Americana fans, families and couples

13. Black Hills

best time to road trip usa

Mount Rushmore , a scenic memorial that features four of the United States’ most famous presidents, is the center point of this Black Hills road trip . However, there are plenty more historic landmarks along the way, including the legendary gold rush town of Deadwood, South Dakota, and the Jewel Cave National Monument.

  • Length: 209 miles
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Great for: History buffs, families and campers

14. Utah's National Parks

best time to road trip usa

Utah is adored for its delicious food scene and gorgeous natural landscapes. This scenic road trip of Utah's National Parks will let you get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful sights in Utah. Throughout the 1,050-mile voyage, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Utah’s world-famous natural scenery. You’ll also be able to sample local delicacies from venues like the Sunset Grill in Moab, Utah .

  • Length: 1,049.3 miles
  • Time: 19+ hours
  • Great for: Outdoor adventurers and naturalists

15. Cape Cod

best time to road trip usa

This 174-mile road trip through Cape Cod highlights Boston’s natural beauty and historic significance. During this drive, you’ll encounter a touching monument to John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States. You may also get a chance to admire humpback whales if you visit during whale-watching season, which normally runs from mid-April to October.

  • Length: 173.7 miles
  • Great for: Fishing fans, beachgoers, and whale watchers

16. Big Sky Country

best time to road trip usa

The term “Big Sky Country” refers to the parts of the U.S. that still largely consist of untouched natural land. This This 425-mile scenic road trip will take you through portions of Montana and Wyoming. Highlights include visits to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

  • Length: 425.4 miles
  • Great for: Campers, astronomy fans, and naturalists

17. South Florida

best time to road trip usa

Folks have called Florida the Sunshine State since before the 1970s — and for good reason. This popular vacation destination is brimming with sandy beaches and tropical weather. AAA’s 421-mile route through South Florida hits major destinations like Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach . Along the way, you might even see herds of deer or congregations of alligators.

  • Length: 421.1 miles
  • Great for: Wildlife watchers, beachgoers, couples and families

18. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno

best time to road trip usa

California and Nevada feature a bevy of breathtaking sights and sounds. AAA’s 486-mile route from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno provides plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in natural experiences near Lake Tahoe — and enjoy some of Reno ’s most impressive resorts, like the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.

  • Length: 486.3 miles
  • Time: 9+ hours
  • Great for: Museum fans, kayakers and hikers

AAA Travel can help you streamline your next cross-country cruise with our wide selection of pre-planned road trips. Travelers with AAA memberships can also capitalize on big savings and exclusive offers while sightseeing. 

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linn cove viaduct on blue ridge parkway with early fall foliage, one of the best southern usa road trip itineraries

17 Spectacular Southern USA Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

From the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains to the sandy beaches of the Lowcountry, and from the music of Nashville to the food scene of New Orleans, there is no shortage of wonderful options when looking for the best southern USA road trip itineraries.

I’ve been taking road trips in the south for my entire life, crisscrossing across the southeast USA visiting cities, towns, national parks, beaches, marshes, and beyond.

And yet, even after all that time, there are still plenty of southern road trip routes on my wish list.

In order to give perspectives beyond my own, I asked several other travel bloggers to share their favorite road trips in the south, and the result is a road trip bucket list that would take even the most dedicated road-tripper years to complete!

From weeks-long deep south road trip itineraries to quick weekend getaways, these southeast US road trip ideas cover an enormous variety of landscapes and interests.

No matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for, we have a southern USA road trip itinerary here for you!

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Your Southeast USA Road Trip

Deep south usa road trip itinerary ideas, other multi-state southern usa road trip routes, more single-state southeast road trip itineraries.

Jones Street in Savannh GA with a green house in the left foreground and an oak tree on the right. Jones Street is one of the best Savannah photo spots

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Ideally, take your southern road trip in the spring or fall.

While you can technically take all of these southern USA road trips year-round, the south’s notoriously brutal summer means that it’s best to avoid the months of June, July, and August if you can (unless you plan to spend most of your time on the beach, of course).

Winter, depending on the location, can be gray and rainy, but can also be a joyous time to visit cities, towns, and mountains that see far less tourism in the winter (but don’t underestimate the possibility of snow in the mountains, either: it may be the south, but the Smokies still get snow!).

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at craggy pinnacle on blue ridge parkway during 3 days in asheville nc

If you’re renting a car, shop around.

The best company to rent a car from for your US south road trip will likely vary dramatically depending on where and when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits. Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through  Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your USA road trip.

Browse rental cars  for your southern USA road trip today!

We have offered suggestions for the best hotels in each place but if you are doing this as a true road trip it is really cool to do it in an RV. You can rent incredible RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy, book here for your next road trip!

Kate in a pink dress next to a blue Vespa on Ocean Avenue.

Read the rental requirements carefully.

Especially make sure you know how many miles you’ve been allotted (or ideally, if they’re unlimited), if you need to return the car empty or full of fuel, what to do if the car breaks down, and what damages you’re liable for in the event of an accident.

two lane road shaded by spanish moss on jekyll island georgia

Don’t underestimate the south’s national parks!

The wide-open spaces and epic landscapes of the American West are often the typical images conjured up when imagining the USA’s national parks–but the south has plenty to offer, as well!

In fact, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee is the most-visited national park in the country, and its gorgeous vistas and jaw-dropping waterfalls are well worth exploring.

Other southern national parks to consider adding to your road trip through the south include Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Everglades National Park in South Florida, and Congaree National Park in South Carolina–just to name a few!

rainbow falls smoky mountains, surrounded by green foliage

Make sure you pack the right gear.

From safety gear to snacks, a deep south road trip requires bringing the right tools along, whether you’re taking a short vacation, trying out van life, or something in between.

We recommend taking a look at the suggestions on  our road trip packing list  before you go!

Don’t overextend yourself.

Exploring every nook and cranny of the US south is a project for a lifetime, not one trip!

As tempting as it is to add on additional driving to stop at just one more beach or small town, make sure that you leave enough time to thoroughly explore each destination rather than spending the entirety of your road trip driving from one spot to the next.

Kate Storm in a purple dress standing at the top of Cape Lookout lighthouse with the barrier island visible behind her

Mississippi Gulf Coast Scenic Byway

From Charles of US Gulf Coast Travel

One of the best scenic coastal drives in the United States is the Gulf Coast Scenic Byway (US Highway 90 / Beach Boulevard) in  Coastal Mississippi , where for 11 glorious miles there is nothing between you and the soft sugar sand and Gulf of Mexico water.

The most awe-inspiring section of the Gulf Coast Scenic Byway is from Henderson Point Beach to the Port of Gulfport Mississippi.

Drive this portion, or this entire road trip, in either direction, but we suggest west to east because you are closer to the water.

Start this road trip after an overnight in Bay St Louis or New Orleans (55 miles away).

In Bay St Louis, fuel up at Mockingbird Cafe (try their pulled pork and grits) or Serious Bakery (superb chicken salad).

Drive across the iconic St. Louis Bay Bridge and your senses will activate and heighten with your first Gulf and sand view.

Stop as often as you want because parking is free!

The coastal drive continues through Gulfport and into Biloxi.

road lined with trees in mississippi on a deep south road trip itinerary

Visit the new Mississippi Aquarium, stroll the Biloxi Beach Boardwalk, and eat at White Pillars or The Blind Tiger.

After crossing the Biloxi Bay Bridge, make time to explore the wonderful small town of Ocean Springs.

Stroll the gorgeous oak-lined Washington Avenue, stop at Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and eat at Vestige.

Highway 90 continues through Pascagoula (Jimmy Buffett’s birthplace) and into Mobile, Alabama, where you can turn around and complete this classic deep south road trip again.

Driving Distance

Bay St Louis to Pascagoula is 50 miles. New Orleans to Pascagoula is 107 miles and it is another 35 miles to Mobile, Alabama.

Recommended Road Trip Length

You can drive this coastal scenic drive in a couple of hours but we suggest allowing three or more days to fully experience the spectacular sugar sand, seafood, sunsets, and small beach towns of Coastal Mississippi.

beach at sunset in mississippi as seen on southeast usa road trip route

Alabama Black Belt Road Trip

From Lori of Southerner Says

A road trip through the Black Belt region of Alabama is one of the best southern USA road trips around.

Named for the dark fertile soil of the region, the Alabama Black Belt is made up of twenty-three states across central and south Alabama.

This part of Alabama is the place where significant law-changing history was made, where literary giants were born, and is home to some of the best food that can be found in the United States.

For first-time visitors or someone flying in, there’s no better way to start an Alabama southern road trip than by including the capital –  Montgomery.

Plan on visiting important civil rights sites and the renowned Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Next, drive west approximately fifty miles to Selma, Alabama on Highway 80.

This route is the same route as the important Selma to Montgomery march for voters’ rights that took place in 1965.

See the places that put this small town on the map and made it crucial in the civil rights movement.

Walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge, eat locally caught catfish, and sleep in a hotel that was built in 1837 . 

edmund pettus bridge in selma alabama, important civil rights destination

After saying a farewell to Selma, drive county backroads approximately seventy miles to the literary capital of the south.

As unbelievable as it may seem, Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird and Truman Capote – Breakfast at Tiffany’s were childhood friends in the south.

They both grew up in Monroeville, Alabama – the next stop on this southern road trip. Take a walk around the charming downtown square to spot murals that pay tribute to these well-known books and authors.

From Monroeville, it’s easy to hop on Interstate-65 north to return to Montgomery or take the scenic route for a few more towns and sites on your southern road trip.

Driving Distance 

Recommended road trip length  .

This itinerary would be good for a weekend or long weekend.

Since the Alabama Black Belt is a rather large region there is an abundance of small towns and sites that can be added to a southern road trip.

Visitors could easily spend a week or two in the area.

historic route street signs in montgomery alabama on deep south road trip itinerary

Mississippi’s Highway 61 (Blues Trail)

From Hannah of HH Lifestyle Travel

A road trip from Memphis to New Orleans down Mississippi’s Highway 61 is rich in music history; and the inevitable river lore that pervades a road trip running parallel to the Mighty Mississippi.

In true road trip style, the road itself is part of the fun of the journey.  

Highway 61 is long and flat and often sits higher than the fields and levees below it.  It is punctuated by quaint southern churches, glimpses of the Mississippi River, and cities rich in blues history. 

Enjoy visiting one of the legendary ‘juke joints’ in  Clarksdale, Mississippi .  

If there is one stop on the road trip to learn about the history of blues music in the area, it’s Clarksdale.  

Visit the Devil’s Crossroads, the Delta Blues Museum, and many more Blues Trail plaques.

Your next stop is Vicksburg.  Brimming with Civil War history, Vicksburg mixes reverence with rejuvenation.  

Pay your respects to meaningful Civil War history, but then enjoy a day spa and quality craft brewpub experience.

bridges crossing the mississippi river at vicksburg, an interesting stop on a deep south road trip itineraries

Natchez sits on an important bluff on a bend in the Mississippi River with a long history.  

The historic district of Natchez Under-the-Hill has a prime position along the river and was once famous for gambling and river pirates.  

Nowadays it’s a cute place to see the Mighty Mississippi and have lunch in one of the historic buildings.

End your road trip in the vibrant and magnetic city of New Orleans .

Driving Distance  

It takes around 9 hours of non-stop driving time from Memphis to New Orleans, but with time spent in the stops above it would suit a 5–7-day road trip.  

Plan a bit longer if you want to spend time in both Memphis and New Orleans before and after this deep south road trip experience.

Street in NOLA French Quarter at night with neon lights from the bars lighting it up--don't miss a chance to experience the legendary New Orleans nightlife during your 3 days in NOLA itinerary!

Coastal Georgia and South Carolina Road Trip

From Noel of Travel Photo Discovery

One of the fabulous road trips in the southeastern USA travels along the historic coastal corridors of Georgia to South Carolina, finishing in Charleston.

From the Georgia border to Florida, the major artery is Hwy 95, you’ll pass through so many historic and recreational sites along the way to make this a few days or even a longer visit depending on how many places you want to see and experience.

Some of the cool and historic places to visit in Georgia include St. Marys and Cumberland Island, Brunswich and St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island , Tybee Island , and Savannah .

Places to explore around South Carolina’s southern coastline from Savannah include Hilton Head, Beaufort, Edisto Island, and Charleston.

Each of these areas caters to historic sites or recreation getaways that are fun to explore when you have more time to visit each area on this road trip.

woman riding a bike through a path lined with spanish moss on jekyll island, one of the best day trips from savannah georgia

Even though you can go directly on Hwy 95 from the Georgia border all the way to South Carolina, it’s the small detour expressways and backcountry roads that will give you a better insight into visiting some of these gems in the region.  

If you only have a few days or longer then the major cities of Savannah and Charleston are memorable cities to prioritize to experience the local lifestyles foods that you’ll enjoy on this southern road trip experience.

Savannah, with its historic squares, fabulous architecture, and historic district that remains intact includes so much to see, do and experience around the historic center of the city.

Charleston on the other hand is more compact and walkable with a tighter historic district to enjoy and explore on your own or with some tour operator sharing the main attractions to see in town.

It’s 107 miles to drive straight from Savannah to Charleston.

If you’re focusing on Savannah and Charleston, 5 days is a comfortable length for this USA southern road trip itinerary.

Add additional days for each city, small town, or island that you’d like to visit.

kate storm in a floral dress at rainbow row in charleston sc

The Classic Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip Route

From Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches 469 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, is such an unimaginably epic USA road trip, that veterans almost envy people who are experiencing it for the first time.

There are a lot of reasons it’s the #1 most visited unit in the US National Park system (with more than 15 million annual visitors), including 200 jaw-dropping BRP overlooks that offer stunning Blue Ridge Mountain vistas and provide access to the region’s most incredible hiking trails, landmarks, mountain towns, and waterfalls.

Designed as part of FDR’s New Deal to protect American wilderness and provide jobs in the wake of the Great Depression, construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began back in 1935.

Most of the scenic route was completed by 1966, but the popular 8-mile stretch around the iconic Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina (including the engineering marvel known as the Linn Cove Viaduct) wasn’t finished until 1987.

The BRP is the longest linear park in the country, taking travelers through the Jefferson, George Washington, Nantahala, and Pisgah National Forests.

best time to road trip usa

So naturally, there are a lot of exciting things to do along the way. 

At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River, with lots of challenging hiking trails and a relatively easy paved path to the observation platform at the summit.

Grandfather Mountain State Park is also home to epic hiking trails (including several with ladders to climb massive boulders), and the neighboring Grandfather Mountain attraction is home to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge, a small zoo featuring native North Carolina animals, and myriad picnic areas. 

Virginia’s Mabry Mill is the most photographed spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and one of the region’s many historical attractions.

mabry mill on blue ridge parkway, one of the top us south road trip itinerary ideas

There’s very little commercial development along the Parkway, with only a few hotels and resorts (including the historic Switzerland Inn in  Little Switzerland NC ,  and the Peaks of Otter Lodge in Bedford VA).

But part of the fun is exploring some of the charming little mountain towns along the way, including Cherokee, Blowing Rock, and Boone in NC, and Bedford, Lexington, and Waynesboro in VA.

You could drive the entire Blue Ridge Parkway in as little as 15-16 hours if you wanted, but that would totally defeat the purpose.

Some people like to break it up into weekend getaways, basing themselves in a local town.

But you could also spend a week or two driving the entire route, spending nights in lots of little towns along the way.

best time to road trip usa

Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina

From Kim of Traveling Swansons

A Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina southeast road trip takes you on a tour of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the region.

Chattanooga is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and located along the Tennessee River.

There are many fun things to do here including the Tennessee Aquarium, Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Ruby Falls, and the Incline Railway.

After leaving Chattanooga, your next stop will be Knoxville, Tennessee.

Check out the Sunsphere Tower, which was built for the 1982 World’s Fair.  Walk around Market Square and grab a bite to eat and shop.

After leaving Knoxville, your next stop will be Pigeon Forge. 

historic gristmill in pigeon forge tennessee at night, one of the best places to stay down south

Here you find no shortage of attractions including the popular Dollywood. 

Right next to Pigeon Forge, you’ll find the town of Gatlinburg. 

In Gatlinburg, you will also find plenty of attractions including Anakeesta and the Gatlinburg Skybridge. 

Gatlinburg is one of the busiest and most popular gateway towns to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park  has many amazing hiking trails, waterfalls, and views. 

Drive the breathtaking scenic Newfound Gap Road to Cherokee, North Carolina. Jump out along the many turnouts along the way and enjoy the scenery. 

Once you reach Cherokee, explore the Oconaluftee Indian Village and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  Shop for some authentic Cherokee arts and crafts.

The drive from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina is 191 miles and takes 3 hrs 51 minutes if driving straight through. 

Since there is so much to do on this southern USA road trip, you will want to spend at least 5 days here in order to take in as much as you can along the way.

view of great smoky mountains sunset from newfound gap road trip south usa

NOLA to Nashville Southern Road Trip Itinerary

From Agnes of The Van Escape

The southern USA road trip from New Orleans to Nashville is extraordinary.

Why? Nashville and New Orleans are music cities.

New Orleans – the world capital of jazz and Nashville – the capital of American country music – anyone who likes live concerts will appreciate this combination.

And indeed, in both cities, you can listen to music at every turn!

Concerts, music events, live music in almost every restaurant, bar, and even on the streets – Nashville and New Orleans are alive with sounds.

Moreover, there are many great  things to do in Nashville and in New Orleans.

In Nashville visit Jonny Cash Museum, Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, Grand Ole Opry, reproduction of the Parthenon, and Downtown with famous Broadway Street.

Skyline of Nashville Tennessee at sunset overlooking the river, one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

In New Orleans, visit the French Quarter, the Jazz Museum, the Woodoo Museum, the National WWII Museum, explore one of the famous cemeteries, sign up for a swamp tour. Enjoy the best cocktails at the famous Bourbon Street.

Both cities are also known for their excellent cuisine. In New Orleans, you’ll melt at the tastes and smells of Louisiana Creole cuisine, and in Nashville, you’ll delight at the famous juicy BBQ ribs and more.

That’s not all. Both cities are famous for the finest spirits.

New Orleans offers great alcoholic cocktails and in Nashville, you can try classic Tennessee Jack Daniels whiskey , whose distillery is nearby.

The driving time from NOLA to Nashville is about 8 hours, and 4-5 days is perfect for this road trip.

You can cover the distance in one day or split it into two days and spend one night in Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama.

To feel the atmosphere of each city and immerse yourself in its music world, we recommend two nights in New Orleans and two in Nashville.

3 Days in New Orleans Itinerary: St Louis Cathedral

Virginia Beach, Virginia to Hilton Head, South Carolina

From Alex of Wander With Alex

If you’re planning a road trip from Virginia Beach, VA to Hilton Head, SC, and need a few stops along the way, we’ve got you covered!

While Virginia Beach and Hilton Head are both popular southern beach towns, the experience is very different!

They are both, however, family-friendly vacation destinations with lots of unique things to do and see.

While in Virginia Beach, VA you’ll want to check out the main beach at the Oceanfront.

fishing pier in virginia beach va at sunrise

There are 35 miles of beachfront, an amusement park on Atlantic Ave, and tons of souvenir shops for you to choose from.

If you’re looking for something free to do, check out the Creative ViBE District for murals, sidewalk art, and other creative artwork!

Now that’ll you’ve explored Virginia Beach, it’s time to hit the road!

After being on the road for seven and a half hours, you’ll be nearing Savannah, GA! If you’ve never been to Savannah, consider staying overnight.

You can take a riverboat dinner cruise on the Savannah River or enjoy a low country dinner at one of the best restaurants in Savannah .

Kate Storm and Ranger Storm on Jones Street, one of the best places to take pictures in savannah ga

And since Hilton Head is only 45-minutes from Savannah, you can stick around for a few hours in the morning and to Tybee Island before heading over to Hilton Head!

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina is a laid-back resort town offering beautiful beaches and tons of golf courses.

Additionally, Hilton Head is incredibly bike-friendly.

Head over to Hilton Head Outfitters, rent bicycles for the whole family, and go exploring!

And if you are a seafood lover, you’ll have tons of waterfront restaurant options!

A road trip from Virginia Beach, VA to  Hilton Head, SC  via Interstate-95 is approximately 589 miles.

If you do not want to stay overnight in Savannah, you can make the trip in seven and a half hours.

However, if you prefer slow travel and wish to explore Savannah, you should consider making this a two-day drive.

red and white lighthouse and small harbor in hilton head sc, one of the best stops on a deep south usa road trip route

Gulf Coast Beach Road Trip from Alabama to Florida

From Ashlee of The Happiness Function

One of the best-kept secrets in the South are the sugar-white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico from Alabama to the Florida panhandle.

If you have never heard of Dauphin Island, Alabama, it is a must-visit southern destination.

Take the ultimate beach road trip from Dauphin Island, Alabama, to Pensacola, Florida!

Dauphin Island, Alabama, is a beautiful place to visit. The island is home to many different wildlife species, including sea turtles, and the scenery is simply stunning.

If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy nature, Dauphin Island is the perfect spot. Plan to stay at least two days.

beach at dauphin island alabama southern beach road trip

From Dauphin Island, take the ferry across Mobile Bay to Fort Morgan, where visitors can continue the road trip to Gulf Shores.

Be sure to visit Gulf State Park and enjoy the incredible beaches from Gulf Shores to Orange Beach! Plan at least two days in Gulf Shores.

Gulf Islands National Seashore in Fort Pickens is a popular tourist destination offering a variety of activities such as catching some sun on beaches, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and exploring the historic fort.

Camp at the  Fort Pickens Campground  for a few days to enjoy all the island offers.

From Gulf Shores, continue east into the Florida panhandle towards Pensacola.

A road trip along the southern coast of Alabama into the Florida panhandle makes for an incredible beach road trip any time of year.

We recommend taking about a week to enjoy this road trip in the US south.

This way, road trippers can enjoy each destination for two days.

pensacola beach water tower with beach visible in the background

Savannah, Georgia to Clearwater, Florida Road Trip

From Terri of FemaleSoloTrek.com

If you’re looking for beautiful beaches and fun in the sun, plan a short southern road trip route from Savannah to Clearwater.

Plan to start at dawn from Savannah on a Saturday so you can arrive by noon in  Clearwater, Florida .

Google Maps or Waze will offer you the choice of traveling down I-95 toward Orlando and then across to Tampa/St. Pete outposts.

Alternatively, you can drive through Jacksonville and then cut across the state via US-301 S and I-75 S.

The estimated time is 6 hours if you don’t hit bad traffic on I-95.

aerial view of clearwater beach florida, a fun stop on a usa south road trips

You will also have time to eat fried grouper at Clearwater Beach for lunch, then hit the Clearwater Aquarium for an afternoon adventure.

Dedicate the evening to drinking margaritas and watching the sunset.

You might want to watch the sunset (while sipping a cocktail) at Pier 60 on Saturday night or delay until Sunday because you will be exhausted from your early morning drive.

Clearwater is also a great place to settle while you plan day trips to Tampa, St. Pete, and Sarasota.

While you can easily make the drive in a day, it’s best to set aside a week for this US south road trip as you will lose two days to travel.

Florida’s Gulf Coast deserves a minimum five-day stay so you can experience different beaches.

promenade along the sand in clearwater beach florida

Southeast USA Road Trip from Washington DC to Florida

From Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

One of the best road trips in the southeast US is from Washington, DC to  Anna Maria Island, Florida . 

If you want to break it up with overnights and stops, I recommend going from Washington DC to Raleigh, NC on Day 1.  On Day 2, drive from Raleigh, NC to Savannah, GA.  Then on Day 3, drive from Savannah, GA to Anna Maria Island, FL.

Starting in Washington, DC, where there is much to see from the Capitol to the Washington Monument to the Smithsonian Museums, you can begin heading on the road toward Virginia and the Carolinas. 

In Virginia, the historic college town of Williamsburg is well worth a visit. 

In addition to being a beautiful town, home to William and Mary College, it is also where you can step back in time at Colonial Williamsburg and learn a bit about American history. 

Horse and carriage in colonial Williamsburg that is moving away from the camera on a paved road

From here, head into North Carolina and stop in Raleigh if you plan to spend the night.

Then head into South Carolina, where a drive-through or stop in Charleston is a great thing to do. 

The historic and lavish architecture is well worth a look, and the southern hospitality and walk on the waterfront are worth it even just for a short visit. 

From here, continue into Georgia, where a stop in Savannah is a must. 

If you have a bit of time to spend in this southern city, the hop on hop off trolley, walking tours, and a 90-minute riverboat sightseeing cruise would be worth doing. 

This beautiful and historic city really is a gem on this road trip, so be sure to build in a bit of time, and even book a bed and breakfast for the night.  

Kate Storm in a black dress in front of a brick home on Jones Street during a long weekend in Savannah GA

Continue on from Georgia into northern Florida, where if you can stop in Jacksonville for a visit to the University of Florida or in St. Augustine for lunch or a walking tour of this beautiful and historic city. 

There is an old town part of St. Augustine well worth visiting, and depending on the time of day, is a great stop for a lunch. Continue on from St. Augustine to Anna Maria Island, Florida.

You may pass through Orlando and Tampa, which if you have time, may want to stop in one of these cities. 

While Orlando is home to many theme parks and activities, you won’t have time on this drive to do many of those unless you build in another day or two to your drive.

Instead, I suggest stopping in Tampa, where you will get to view this fantastic seaside city, where you can enjoy a cruise, walk around Ybor City, or grab a meal at the famous (and delicious) Columbia Restaurant. 

view of downtown tampa fl looking up with skyscrapers and palm trees

While you are also right at Clearwater Beach, you may want to save that beach visit for Anna Maria Island, just about an hours drive from Tampa, on the Gulf Coast, and renowned for its teal Caribbean-like water, white soft sand, quieter beaches, and home rentals perfect for a beach getaway. 

It’s the perfect destination to such a cultural and historic road trip, and one of the best road trips in the south USA.

Approximately 945 miles (about 14 hours total) one way.

Approximately 945 miles (about 14 hours total) one way, this road trip is at least a two to three-day drive, depending on how much you would like to stop along the way. 

aerial view of anna maria island, one of the best unknown vacation spots in us hidden gems

The Outer Banks of North Carolina Road Trip

From Candice of CS Ginger

One of the best Southern USA road trips is driving through the Outer Banks. There are so many fun things to do in the Outer Banks  and its sweeping coastal scenery is gorgeous.

The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands off the North Carolina coast filled with beautiful beaches, lighthouses, and fun beach towns.

A great historic stop in the Outer Banks is at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

This is where the Wright brothers completed the first controlled flight in December of 1903.

There are a fun visitor’s center, some historical markers, and a replica of the first plane.

The Outer Banks is also home to the tallest brick lighthouse in the world. You can climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. There are 257 steps to the top.

The lighthouse and Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a great place to spend the afternoon. The beaches are beautiful and not crowded.

view of black and white cape hatteras lighthouse north carolina

After spending time at Cape Hatteras, you can take the ferry over to Ocracoke Island.

There is another lighthouse on this smaller island, but it is not open to visitors.

There are, however, beautiful beaches making this island a fun spot to explore.

The distance from the northern town of Corolla through Hatteras, the southern point, is about 95 miles.

If you continue to the ferry to Ocracoke, the mileage is longer.

You can easily fill 4-5 days with fun activities during your Outer Banks road trip, and spend even more time in the area if you want to relax on the beach.

couple walking along the beach at sunset in the outer banks, one of the most romantic getaways in north carolina for couples

Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

From Anna of Stuck On The Go

One of the best road trips in the southern US winds through Shenandoah National Park offering stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you drive Skyline Drive straight through it only takes a little under 3 hours but there are so many hikes, overlooks, and small towns to stop and explore. This is the perfect road trip for outdoorsy people.

You can start at the Front Royal Entrance Station and on your first day hike to Compton Peak where you’ll find a gorgeous view as well as unique geological formations that resemble the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland .

In the afternoon, head out to the town of Luray where you can shop in the boutiques along Main Street and visit the famous Luray Caverns.

If you like to camp then stay the night in Mathews Arm Campground, otherwise rent a room at the Skyland Resort inside the park.

For day two you can fit in two hikes – Stony Man and Hawksbill – which both offer stunning mountain views and are 2 of the best hikes in Shenandoah .

stony man cliffs in shenandoah national park virginia

Have lunch at Big Meadows and make sure you get the blackberry ice cream pie for dessert!

In the afternoon you can hike Dark Hollow Falls or just head into Elkton or Sperryville.

Visit Sperryville for wineries and Elkton for breweries. Tonight stay at the Lewis Mountain Cabins & Campground.

On the last day of the road trip, hike Doyles River Falls and Blackrock Summit.

Stop for lunch at Blue Mountain Brewery and check out some of the other Waynesboro breweries. Main Street in Waynesboro is also very quaint.

For many people, 3 days is enough to spend in Shenandoah National Park.

However, if you are very outdoorsy and love to hike and explore small towns then you can spend a week in the Shenandoah Valley.

road through shenandoah national park from above in early fall, one of the best road trips in south usa

Northwest Arkansas Road Trip Loop

From Lydia of Lost With Lydia

Arkansas is an underrated state with a lot to offer for outdoor adventurers!

The state has beautiful state parks, incredible mountain biking trails, a uniquely historic national park, and much more.

The northwest portion of Arkansas is where you’ll find the most beautiful natural areas along with some fantastic cities. 

This road trip begins in Bentonville, a city known for mountain biking, modern art, and as the Walmart headquarters.

There are miles of mountain biking trails in parks around the city and trails range from beginner to advanced. 

Continue on from Bentonville to Buffalo National River, a beautiful river with epic canyon walls towering above it.

After the National River, enjoy hiking in the Ozark National Forest (the most famous hike is Whitaker Point) and take in the views at Mount Magazine and Mount Nebo. Mount Magazine is the highest point in the state. 

Be sure to not miss the most iconic state park in Arkansas: Petit Jean. This state park is a favorite of many and is home to a 95-foot waterfall, caves, and several unique rock formations. 

Spend some time in Little Rock for great food and interesting history. 

hiker standing on hawksbill crag in northwest arkansas ozark mountains

Things to do in Little Rock include visiting the Little Rock Central High School Museum, exploring the vibrant SOMA neighborhood, and hiking at Pinnacle Mountain. 

Finally, end your road trip with a visit to Arkansas’ only national park: Hot Springs.

Hot Springs National Park was a resort destination in the early 1900s and there are a couple of bathhouses still in operation today.

In addition to the spas, you can visit a brewery inside of a bathhouse and enjoy the views from the observation tower. 

A week is the minimum amount of time you’ll want to fully explore the cities and hiking destinations along the way.

Ideally, take 10 days or more to take your time and enjoy this underrated southern USA road trip itinerary.

small waterfall in hot springs national park arkansas

Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast Road Trip

From Lori of Travlinmad

If you’re looking for an ideal year-round  road trip destination, Florida’s Gulf Coast  offers dreamy beaches, fantastic food, and some of America’s most (in)famous history!

Begin your road trip in Tampa, where you can spend 2 days exploring the city’s Cuban history in Ybor City and enjoy the amazing cuisine before heading south to Sarasota and Siesta Key.

Spend the next day in Sarasota admiring the mid-century architecture and visiting the Ringling Museum.

Shoppers will no doubt stay longer on St. Armand’s Circle, then head to Siesta Key later in the day to take in the new age vibes of the nightly drumming circle on the beach at sunset.

The next day, drive south to Casperson Beach in Venice and rent a “Florida snow shovel” for a few dollars to dig in the sand for prehistoric megalodon shark teeth.

Millions of them wash ashore every day and you just might find a big one to treasure!

Spend the night at Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island, one of Southwest Florida’s most historic towns before heading out the next morning for Fort Myers.

port boca grande lighthouse in florida at sunset, a fun stop on a usa south road trip

Situated where the Caloosahatchee River meets the Gulf of Mexico, the city of Fort Myers is worth a few days to explore the history and the beautiful beaches on Sanibel and Captiva.

Visit the summer homes of neighbors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, whose mansions are popular tourist attractions today.

The last stop on your road trip is Naples and Marco Island on the southwestern coast. This stunning region is known as the Paradise Coast and it’s easy to see why.

Spend your days on the soft white sand beaches, shopping at the luxury stores and dining downtown, or get out into the Everglades for some adventure.

It is 180 miles from Tampa to Marco Island.

Plan on 7-10 days for this southern road trip route.

There is plenty to see in the major cities of Tampa, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Naples, and Marco Island, but you’ll find the real gems in between!

dome houses on marco island florida

Virginia’s Eastern Shore Drive: Chincoteague to Cape Charles

Recommended by Erin Gifford of Go Hike Virginia

There’s so much to love about  Virginia’s Eastern Shore .

Roll down the windows and breathe in the salt-infused air as you make the 70-mile drive north to south from Chincoteague to Cape Charles.

Get ready to make stops for sandy beaches, ice cream shops, and verdant wetlands just right for a scenic paddle.

Start at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to miles of stroller-friendly hiking and biking trails.

The Chincoteague Lighthouse Trail is a must-visit to ogle the red-and-white striped Assateague Lighthouse.

Take a guided kayak tour or nature cruise across pristine coastal waterways with Assateague Explorer.

Keep your eyes open for wild ponies, as well as native wildlife, like sandhill cranes and eastern mud turtles, that call the wildlife refuge home.

wild horses on the beach of Chincoteague virginia, one of the best usa small towns to visit

Order up a scoop of Mint Chip or Pony Tracks at Island Creamery.

Spend the night at the Refuge Inn, a mainstay in Chincoteague since 1973. Chincoteague is also home to several camping resorts, including KOA and Jellystone Park.

Continue on to Onancock, a historic waterfront town.

Start your day with a delicious breakfast sandwich at Janet’s Café before strolling the hamlet’s tree-lined streets that wow with Victorian-style homes.

Take a tour of Ker Place, a historic Federal-style home.

On the south end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is Cape Charles, which is home to gentle beaches and vibrantly-colored sunsets.

sunrise in the harbor with boats in virginia

Spend the day on the beach at Kiptopeke State Park, then order hush puppies at The Shanty.

Cap off the day with a scoop at Brown Dog Ice Cream and settle in at the Sunset Beach Hotel on the Chesapeake Bay.

70  miles.

This trip is best enjoyed over at least 3 days, including one day in Chincoteague, one day in Onancock, and one day in Cape Charles.

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2 photos of southern road trips, charleston and anna maria island. black and red text reads "17 epic road trips in the south"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

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Where Are Those Morgans

30 Awesome Road Trips In USA: Most Scenic Drives In America

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by Mark and Kristen Morgan

Published: August 24, 2022

UPDATED: June 24, 2024

30 of the best bucket list USA road trips from day trips to multi week adventures across America

The United States has hundreds of scenic road trip routes through national parks, mountains, deserts, coastlines and forests. You can drive iconic US road trips like Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway, but there’s also lesser known areas, shorter drives and unique routes you can create from scratch. We’ve racked up some serious milage driving around America, and we’re here to help you find a new adventure.

In this guide we show you 30 amazing USA road trips to add to your bucket list, based on our own experiences.

Our US Road Trip Experience

Couple standing against a blue car on a road with mountains in the background

We’ve driven many of the great American road trips across more than 30 US states since we began traveling full time in 2018. Our trusty Ford Escape “Big Blue” has stickers from the likes of CA, WA, UT, AZ, WY, SD, VT, NH, NY, NC, VA and other popular US road trip destinations. Read more about us .

Over the last 6 years, we’ve driven every single one of the short US road trips and custom routes you’ll find listed in this guide. We’d love to drive one of those epic long distance USA road trips like the Atlantic Coast in the near future. Sticking to the coastline from Miami to Boston sounds awesome, right?

About This Guide

We’ve rounded up the most scenic, iconic and adventurous road trips in the US to help you create a bucket list filled with amazing routes covering as many American states as possible.

Road trips in this guide are based on legend and our own experiences. The list is in alphabetical order but stick around until the end to see our personal top 5 USA road trips ranked!

1. American Southwest

Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the best places to visit on a Utah and Arizona American Southwest road trip through USA

  • Start : Las Vegas, NV
  • End : Las Vegas, NV
  • Distance : 1,700 miles
  • Days : 10-14
  • Season : Year round

The American Southwest road trip is a 1,700-mile loop through Utah and Arizona featuring some of the most famous natural attractions in the USA. Our longer and slower version of the classic US southwest route includes Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks, Kanab, Page, Grand Canyon National Park and Sedona.

We’ve driven around Utah and Arizona twice. They’re two of our favorite US road trip states because they’re overflowing with hikes, photo spots and dramatic formations. You can create shorter versions of this route, but allow for 14 days to tick off the top highlights.

Places to visit:

  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Monument Valley
  • Grand Canyon North Rim
  • Grand Canyon South Rim

2. Anchorage To Valdez

Denali National Park in Alaska at sunrise

  • Start : Anchorage
  • End : Valdez
  • Distance : 300 miles
  • Season : Summer

The Anchorage to Valdez road trip is a 300-mile point to point route in Alaska featuring striking mountains and glaciers. It takes around 6-7 hours without stops but you should plan for one full day with stops. Matanuska Glacier and Wrangell-St Elias National Park are the two places you shouldn’t miss.

With two days , we would add a side trip from Anchorage to Kenai Fjords National Park. Or for a truly unforgettable 14 day Alaskan adventure, we would road trip from Seward to Valdez via Fairbanks. This would include Kenai Fjords, Denali and Wrangell-St Elias National Parks. Wow!

  • Eklutna Historical Park
  • Reindeer farm
  • Matanuska Glacier
  • Wrangell St Elias National Park
  • Worthington Glacier

3. Appalachian Trail

Farm in Vermont colorful with fall leaves part of the Appalachian road trip in US

  • Start : Monson, ME
  • End : Suches, GA
  • Distance : 1,350 miles
  • Days : 5-10
  • Season : Spring-fall

The Appalachian Trail is among the most famous hikes in the US . But what if you don’t have half a year spare to trek over 2,000 miles through 14 states from Georgia to Maine? Well, you drive it instead. This 1,350-mile route hits the major highlights of the hike but rather than walk, you drive between the popular national parks and mountain ranges.

Over the last decade we’ve driven or hiked many parts of the Appalachian Mountains. We think this route is a fantastic way to experience the most scenic natural wilderness areas on the US east coast. Start in Maine at the beginning of October to follow peak fall foliage colors south through New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Green Mountains
  • White Mountains
  • Mount Washington

4. Atlantic Coast

New York City skyline at sunset is one of the top places in the USA to start a road trip including the East Coast or Atlantic Road Trip

  • Start : Miami
  • End : Boston
  • Days : 14-21

The Atlantic Coast road trip is a 1,700-mile long distance US east coast route hugging the coastline between Miami and Boston . It stops at the major tourist destinations and cities along the eastern seaboard, and it can easily be adapted to suit your timeframe.

I-95 runs the full length of the Atlantic Coast but you should stick to coastline hugging roads as much as possible for the most scenic and enjoyable experience. There’s lots of additional stops you can make with more time, including Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, Virginia Beach and Philadelphia.

  • Outer Banks
  • Washington DC
  • New York City

5. Black Hills South Dakota

Mount Rushmore at sunrise - one of the most popular stops on a black hills loop road trip in south dakota usa

  • Start : Rapid City, SD
  • End : Rapid City, SD
  • Distance : 550 miles

The Black Hills of South Dakota road trip is a 550-mile loop featuring attractions like Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park and Needles Highway. It’s great for couples and families, with scenic drives, excellent hikes and historic wild west towns to discover. There’s more fun things to do near Mount Rushmore than you might imagine.

We’ve driven through South Dakota twice, first in October 2019 and again in April 2021. We think the Black Hills are most beautiful in fall when golden and green leaves complement its granite rocks. It’s a hugely underrated region that deserves to be on every USA road trip bucket list.

  • Badlands National Park
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Custer State Park
  • Needles Highway
  • Iron Mountain Road
  • Wind Cave National Park
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Devils Tower National Monument

Further Reading : South Dakota road trip itinerary ideas

6. Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway in early fall bending road

  • Start : Waynesboro, VA
  • End : Cherokee, NC
  • Distance : 469 miles

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic 469-mile road trip route connecting Shenandoah National Park, VA with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC . It’s the most visited National Park Service site in the US, receiving 15.7 million recreational visitors in 2022. Fall is the best time to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway for vibrant foliage colors.

We’re moving to North Carolina in 2024 and the Blue Ridge Parkway is top of our own American road trip bucket list. We’ll begin in Waynesboro around October 20th and spend a week slowly driving down to Cherokee to follow the peak colors. Maybe we’ll see you along the way.

  • Natural Bridge
  • Grandfather Mountain State Park
  • Mount Mitchell State Park
  • Biltmore Estate

7. Border To Border

Craters of the Moon in Idaho road winding through volcanic fields

  • Start : Jasper National Park, Canada
  • End : Nogales, AZ
  • Distance : 2,245 miles

The Border to Border road trip follows US-93 from Jasper, Canada to Nogales, Arizona on the Mexican border. US Highway 93 is a 2,245-mile route featuring a wide range of scenery, including striking mountains, alien landscapes and arid desert.

The best part of this route? You’ll see some of the most visually stunning national parks in North America but also have a few days to splurge in Vegas !

  • Jasper National Park
  • Banff National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Craters of the Moon
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Las Vegas attractions
  • Saguaro National Park

8. Coastal New England

Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine is one of the best stops to make on a Coastal New England road trip in northeast USA

  • Start : Cape Cod, MA
  • End : Bar Harbor, ME
  • Distance : 450 miles

The Coastal New England road trip is a 450-mile road trip following Routes 6, 3A and 1 from Cape Cod, MA to Acadia National Park, ME . It’s a hugely popular itinerary with stops in quaint coastal towns throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

We drove the New England coastline from Acadia to Portland after the peak fall colors in October 2019. It was too late in the season to sunbathe on the beach or take a whale watching tour. But it was quiet, relaxing and affordable at hotels in towns like Boothbay Harbor and Portland.

  • Plymouth Rock
  • Salem at Halloween
  • Kennebunkport
  • Portland Head Lighthouse
  • Boothbay Harbor
  • Acadia National Park

9. Deep South

Deep South road trip features the famous tree tunnel in Savannah GA

  • Start : Charleston, SC
  • End : New Orleans, LA
  • Distance : 1,100 miles

The Deep South road trip is a 1,100-mile route featuring the highlights of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in the southern United States. You can learn about the civil rights movement, discover the birthplace of American music and eat some of the best barbecue food in the world.

The Southern Belle states offer an authentic, immersive and off the beaten path American road trip experience. You can easily adapt this route to include Memphis, Nashville, Asheville, the Smokies and Florida with more time.

  • Fort Sumter National Monument
  • Forsyth Park
  • Tybee Island
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • MLK Jr Historic Site
  • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
  • The Legacy Museum
  • National WWII Museum
  • French Quarter

10. Great Northern

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park Maine marks one end of the Great Northern USA road trip

  • Start : Everett, WA
  • End : Houlton, ME
  • Distance : 3,400 miles
  • Season : Summer-fall

The Great Northern is a 3,300-mile road trip following US-2 from Everett, WA to Houlton, ME . Part of the route passes through Canada’s Ontario and Quebec regions, bridging the gap between Michigan and New York.

US Highway 2 takes you through valleys, mountains, plains, lakes, logging towns and national parks. It’s one of the long distance routes we’d love to drive one day. And we’d definitely drive it in late September through early October for the best colors.

  • Leavenworth
  • Coeur d’Alene
  • Grand Rapids
  • Isle Royale National Park

11. Great River Road

Largest 6 pack of beers in the world in La Cross Wisconsin

  • Start : Minneapolis, MN
  • Distance : 2,000 miles
  • Days : 7-14

The Great River Road is a 2,000-mile long road trip following the Mississippi River through 10 states from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico . Multiple local, state and federal roads were combined to create the GRR National Scenic Byway, which is signposted with a green pilot’s wheel and steamboat from the first mile to the last.

Are you a foodie or music lover? This could be the perfect route for you. It’s far from the busy tourist attractions and cities on the coasts. The Great River Road is about eating, drinking and singing your way from Minneapolis to New Orleans.

  • Minneapolis
  • New Orleans

12. Historic Columbia River Highway

Hiker stood on a rock in the middle of a waterfall in Oregon

  • Start : Portland, OR
  • End : Hood River, OR
  • Distance : 60 miles

The Historic Columbia River Gorge Highway road trip is a 65-mile one way drive between Portland and Hood River in Oregon. It twists around cliffs with views of the gorge before descending into the Waterfall Corridor, which is a 12-mile stretch of the highway with various hiking trails leading to waterfalls.

We drove both the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River Gorge in 2021, stopping to hike dozens of fantastic waterfall trails. It’s great if you’re traveling as a family or couple and you love to hike. We think the Columbia River Gorge is one of the best bang for your buck US road trips.

  • Latourell Falls
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Wakheena Falls
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Mt Hood Scenic Byway

13. Kancamagus Highway

Heart Lake along the Kancamagus Highway road trip through White Mountains in New Hampshire during Fall one of the best short easy road trips in America

  • Start : Lincoln, NH
  • End : Conway, NH
  • Distance : 35 miles

The Kancamagus Highway is a 35-mile long scenic byway through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Also known as Route 112, the Kancamagus Highway runs from Lincoln to Conway and it’s regarded as one of the best places in the world to see fall foliage colors.

We’ve driven the Kancamagus Highway twice in peak fall foliage season and it’s nothing short of magical. It has dramatic and far reaching views over rolling hills, fun waterfall hikes and countless stunning photo spots. Add The Kanc to your USA road trip bucket list and drive it at the beginning of October .

  • Hancock Overlook
  • Pemigewasset Overlook
  • Sabbaday Falls
  • Champney Falls
  • Rocky Gorge
  • Albany Covered Bridge

Further Reading : Best stops on the Kancamagus Highway road trip

14. Los Angeles To Las Vegas

Lake Tahoe emerald bay at sunrise one of the best places to visit on a USA road trip

  • Start : Los Angeles
  • End : Las Vegas
  • Distance : 1,050 miles

The most direct Los Angeles to Las Vegas road trip is a 270-mile drive on I-15. But what if you took the scenic route instead? Our 1,050-mile long custom version of the LA to Vegas road trip features national parks, lakes, incredible hiking trails and countless areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Ditch the boring drive on I-15 and explore both sides of the Sierra Nevada Mountains instead. The route passes through Yosemite on the way to Lake Tahoe, before dropping back down through Death Valley on the way to Las Vegas. It’s a far more scenic way for you to drive between LA and Las Vegas!

  • Los Angeles
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Red Rock Canyon

15. Loneliest Road

Delicate Arch at sunset on the Loneliest Road trip across America

  • Start : Sacramento, CA
  • End : Ocean City, MD
  • Distance : 3,100 miles
  • Days : 14 – 21

The Loneliest Road is a 3,100-mile long cross-country road trip following US Route 50 from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD . US-50 is eerily remote from Lake Tahoe to Great Basin National Park, and in 1986 this desolate stretch of highway was dubbed as The Loneliest Road In America by Life magazine .

Also known as The Backbone of America , US Highway 50 will take you through 14 states, 4 state capitals and a wide range of landscapes, including mountains, deserts and flat plains.

  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Kansas City

16. Mount Rushmore To Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring colorful and steaming in Yellowstone National Park Wyoming a popular road trip route in the USA

  • End : Jackson, WY
  • Distance : 775 miles

The Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone road trip is a 775-mile route featuring the best of South Dakota’s Black Hills and the three most popular places to visit in Wyoming ; Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Jackson. It’s an easy route with just one long day of driving across the Bighorn Mountains.

We’ve driven from Mt Rushmore to Yellowstone twice. We think this route has to be classed as one of the best USA road trips because it has so many attractions, hikes, national parks and photo spots with very little wasted driving time. You should take Cloud Peak Skyway from Buffalo to Ten Sleep for the most scenic route across the Bighorn Mountains.

  • Mount Rushmore
  • Spearfish Canyon
  • Devils Tower
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park

Further Reading : Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone and Grand Teton road trip itinerary

17. Natchez Trace Parkway

Luke's Bar sign on a guitar attached to a building in Nashville

  • Start : Nashville, TN
  • End : Natchez, MS
  • Distance : 444 miles

The Natchez Trace Parkway road trip is a 444-mile scenic byway from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS . It’s a relaxing route with 50mph speed limits and no stop lights. The byway connects the most popular parts of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

This classic route following the Old Natchez Trace is all about music, civil war history and Americana. It’s free of commercialism and takes you into the heart of authentic American history. Looking for an easy going middle distance road trip on relaxing roads? This could be your best bet.

  • Leiper’s Fork
  • Muscle Shoals

18. New England In Fall

Stowe Vermont smugglers notch road from drone colorful trees in Fall make new england one of the best USA road trips

  • Start : Lake Placid, NY
  • End : Boston, MA
  • Distance : 600 miles
  • Season : Fall

The New England fall road trip is a 600-mile route through the most attractive towns, hiking areas, national forests, lakes and mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire during the peak fall foliage season. Parts of New York, Massachusetts and Maine can be included if you have more time.

We drove through New England during peak fall foliage season in both 2019 and 2023. It’s one of our favorite American road trips because every hike, photo spot, attraction and town is surrounded by radiant earthy colors. New England in fall should be somewhere near the top of your bucket list.

  • Lake Placid NY
  • Burlington VT
  • Artists Bluff
  • Flume Gorge
  • Mt Washington
  • Kancamagus Highway
  • Lake Winnipesaukee
  • Woodstock VT
  • Manchester VT
  • Mohawk Trail

Further Reading: New England fall foliage road trip itinerary

19. Olympic Peninsula Loop

Hoh Rainforest is a must stop on the Olympic Peninsula road trip in USA pacific northwest

  • Start : Seattle, WA
  • End : Seattle, WA
  • Distance : 400 miles

The Olympic Peninsula Loop road trip is a 400-mile scenic drive around Olympic National Park, Washington . Spur roads filled with pot holes take you inside the loop to Olympic’s most picturesque mountains, hikes, rainforest and lakes.

We drove the Olympic Peninsula Loop road trip in October 2021. It’s a fun national park to explore because it has incredibly diverse scenery. Mount Storm King was our favorite hike and the unique Hoh Rainforest was our favorite photo spot.

  • Port Townsend
  • Hurricane Ridge
  • Lake Crescent
  • Hoh Rainforest
  • Lake Quinault

20. Oregon Coast

Stunning sunset at Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast one of the best road trips in the US

  • Start : Astoria, OR
  • End : Brookings, OR
  • Distance : 340 miles

The Oregon Coast road trip is a 340-mile coastal drive following Highway 101 from Astoria to Brookings . It features unique and photogenic rock formations, small coastal towns and epic sunsets. You can also include excellent side trips to Silver Falls State Park and Crater Lake National Park.

We drove the top half of the Oregon Coast road trip route in October 2021. After photographing Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach at sunset, we toured the Tillamook cheese factory and drove through Tillamook State Forest to Portland. We’ll definitely be back to complete the southern half sometime soon.

  • Cannon Beach
  • Pacific City
  • Samuel H Boardman

21. Outer Banks Scenic Byway

Outer Banks in North Carolina pier and beach at sunset

  • Start : Nags Head, NC
  • End : Beaufort, NC
  • Distance : 138 miles

The Outer Banks Scenic Byway is a 138-mile long road trip following North Carolina Highway 12 between Nags Head and the intersection of US-70 and Merrimon Road near Beaufort . NC-12 is a narrow road flanked on both sides by the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound. It even includes two ferry rides.

We’ll be based in North Carolina in 2024 so we’ll definitely be driving the Outer Banks Scenic Byway as a priority once the weather is warmer. Our plan is to spend a few days lounging around on the beaches rather than rushing through it in a day.

  • Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park
  • Bodie Island Light Station
  • Pea Island Wildlife Refuge
  • Cape Hatteras
  • Ocracoke Island

22. Overseas Highway

Overseas highway in Florida freeway built over turquoise water in southeastern USA

  • Start : Monroe/Miami-Dade, FL
  • End : Key West, FL
  • Distance : 113 miles

The Overseas Highway is a 113-mile long road trip with 44 islands and 43 bridges connecting Key Largo to Key West in the Florida Keys. There’s lots to see and do on the islands, including scuba diving, nightlife and beaches.

You can easily include potential side trips to Miami, Everglades National Park and maybe even The Bahamas?

  • Biscayne National Park
  • Seven Mile Bridge
  • Dry Tortugas National Park

23. Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway pacific ocean and cliffs

  • Start : Olympia, WA
  • End : San Diego, CA
  • Distance : 1,600 miles

The Pacific Coast Highway is a 1,600-mile road trip from Olympia, WA to San Diego, CA . Highway 101 and Highway 1 hug the US west coast for its full length through Washington, Oregon and California. The PCH has lots of fantastic stopping points, including national parks and major bucket list US cities.

We’ve driven most of the Pacific Coast Highway across various itineraries. It’s a diverse and incredibly scenic route with potential for a wide range of excellent side trips. The lower California coastline is by far the most popular part, but it’s nice and quiet to the north of San Francisco.

  • Olympic National Park
  • Redwood National Park
  • San Francisco
  • Santa Barbara

24. Road To Hana

Road to Hana in Hawaii lush green trees with curving road and waterfall

  • Start : Mile Marker Zero (Route 360), HI
  • End : Hana, HI
  • Distance : 34 miles

The Road To Hana is a famous 34-mile one way road trip route in Maui, Hawaii . It’s a popular route with heavy traffic because it passes through beautiful natural areas, waterfalls, hiking trails and viewpoints. The best way for you to see Maui is to drive beyond Hana and complete a full loop of the island.

  • Garden of Eden
  • Honomanu Bay
  • Waianapanapa State Park

25. Route 66

Chicago cloud gate sculpture at one end of the famous USA road trip Route 66

  • Start : Chicago, IL
  • End : Santa Monica, CA
  • Distance : 2,400 miles

US Highway 66, also known as Route 66, is an iconic 2,400-mile long distance US road trip from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA . Once known as America’s Highway, Route 66 passes through 8 states and 3 time zones.

It’s not what it once was, but Route 66 remains the most famous great American road trip. We would choose other long distance routes before this one, but if you’re feeling nostalgic or want to drive an old legend, Route 66 still has life left in it yet.

  • Gemini Giant
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Santa Monica

26. Salt Lake City To Yellowstone

Wooden barn lit up by sunlight at sunrise with mountains in the background

  • Start : Salt Lake City, UT
  • End : Salt Lake City, UT
  • Distance : 750 miles

The Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip is a 750-mile loop through Jackson , Grand Teton and Yellowstone . SLC has the closest major international airport to both national parks, so this is a popular driving route with lots of variations depending on how many days you have available.

We’re huge fans of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Ideally, you’ll have one day in Salt Lake City, one day driving to Jackson, 1.5 days in Grand Teton and 3.5 days in Yellowstone for a total of 7 days . With less time you could skip SLC, or take a day each from the parks. But with more time, we recommend you add places around SLC like Park City, Bonneville Salt Flats or hiking in the Wasatch Mountains.

  • Temple Square
  • Wasatch Mountains
  • Bonneville Salt Flats
  • Grand Teton
  • Yellowstone

Further Reading: Salt Lake City to Yellowstone road trip itinerary

27. San Francisco To San Diego

Bixby Bridge near Big Sur on one of thest most popular USA road trips from San Francisco to San Diego

  • Start : San Francisco, CA
  • Distance : 630 miles

The San Francisco to San Diego road trip is a 630-mile route following the most popular section of the Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and San Diego in California. It features bucket list US cities, golden sandy beaches, spectacular coastal views and many more natural attractions.

We spent 12 days driving from San Francisco to San Diego in November 2021. You should plan for 3-5 days just for the coastal stops, plus the amount of time you want to spend in each of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Carmel, Big Sur and Santa Barbara were our favorite stops.

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea

Further Reading : Best stops on a San Francisco to San Diego road trip

28. Southern Pacific

Sunset Cliffs in San Diego living up to its name with a gorgeous sunset

  • Start : San Diego, CA
  • End : Tybee Island, GA
  • Distance : 2,671 miles

The Southern Pacific is a 2,900-mile long distance coast-to-coast road trip loosely following US Route 80 from San Diego, CA to Tybee Island, GA . It passes through 8 southern US states with stops at important historical and agricultural sites, national parks and major cities.

If you’re looking for a transcontinental route to drive in the winter months, this southern United States adventure could be perfect. It takes in some of the stops along the Deep South road trip but it also includes remote national parks in Texas and New Mexico.

  • Guadalupe Mountain National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park

29. US Route 20

Niagara Falls near Buffalo New York is a popular stop on the Oregon Trail road trip route in the US

  • Start : Boston, MA
  • End : Newport, OR
  • Distance : 3,365 miles
  • Days : 14-28

The US Route 20 road trip is a 3,365-mile long distance route following Highway 20 from Boston, MA to Newport, OR . It’s an attraction heavy cross-country route featuring national parks, major cities and various areas of outstanding beauty.

We’ve been to almost every major stopping point along Route 20 and we think it’s one of the best ways to travel east-west in America. There’s so much to see and it’s far more scenic than driving I-90. Trust us, we know!

  • Watkins Glen
  • Niagara Falls
  • Indiana Dunes
  • Silver Falls State Park

30. Zion To Bryce Canyon

Zion Canyon overlook spectacular vista through the giant canyon walls of Zion

  • Start : Zion National Park, UT
  • End : Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  • Distance : 87 miles

The Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip is a popular 87-mile loop from Las Vegas featuring two of the five Utah national parks. The major highlights in Zion and Bryce Canyon can be seen in just 2-4 days and there’s nothing to see in between so you won’t need any more time. Plan for more time in Zion if you’re a hiker and prioritize Bryce Canyon if you’re into photography.

We’ve spent 8 full days exploring Zion and 2 days in Bryce Canyon. We think they provide the perfect introduction to hiking and photography in Utah. Las Vegas airport gives you an easy, short and affordable loop route to both parks, so you can do it in a long weekend or midweek when it will be quieter.

  • Angels Landing
  • The Narrows
  • Zion Canyon Overlook
  • Kolob Canyons
  • Bryce Canyon Amphitheater
  • Queens Garden Navajo Loop

Further Reading : Zion to Bryce Canyon road trip itinerary

Our Top 5 USA Road Trips

Badlands National Park on a cloudy day in April

It’s almost impossible for us to tell you what the best USA road trips are because it’s just too subjective . Our favorite might be your 5th favorite or 29th favorite. But for arguments sake, we’re going to show you our personal top 5 favorite USA road trips ranked in order.

  • American Southwest
  • New England fall foliage
  • Mount Rushmore to Yellowstone
  • San Francisco to San Diego
  • Los Angeles to Las Vegas via Lake Tahoe

Don’t agree? Let us know your favorite American road trips in the comments below!

More From The US

  • 50 best hikes in the USA
  • 50 best places to visit in the USA
  • 20 best national parks in the USA
  • 20 best places to visit in Arizona
  • 20 best places to visit in Utah
  • 10 best places to visit in Vermont
  • 10 best places to visit in Wyoming

More Road Trips

  • Best road trip quotes
  • Black Hills South Dakota
  • Mt Rushmore to Yellowstone
  • Salt Lake City to Yellowstone
  • Utah road trip ideas
  • Zion to Bryce Canyon

We hope this best USA road trips guide helps with planning your next American adventure!

Please let us know if you have any questions about this list in the comments box below.

Happy Travels ,

Mark and Kristen

Enjoy this guide? Pin it for later!

best time to road trip usa

Note : This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All Rights Reserved © Where Are Those Morgans, LLC. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, maps, graphics, etc.) in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

best time to road trip usa

Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.

Where Are Those Morgans has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications. Read more about us .

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Travels with Ted

Travels with Ted

10 Epic Bucket List RV Road Trips in the US

RVing in the USA Road Trip

This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.

I’ve lived in an RV since 2016 and traveled thousands of miles across the country (and into Mexico and Canada). In this guide to the best bucket list road trips in the USA, I share my favorite RV road trips.

Ready to start planning your own RV trip across America? Let’s get started.

  • 1.1 Renting an RV
  • 1.2 Finding Campgrounds
  • 1.3 Buying Gear for your RV Road Trip
  • 2.1 Olympic Peninsula
  • 2.2 Utah National Parks
  • 2.3 Route 66
  • 2.4 California’s Pacific Coast
  • 2.5 Blue Ridge Parkway
  • 2.6 South Florida
  • 2.7 Upper Peninsula of Michigan
  • 2.8 Columbia River Gorge
  • 2.9 Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
  • 2.10 North to Alaska

Planning your RV Road Trip

If you are already an experienced or full-time RVer, go ahead and skip down to the bucket list RV road trips . Otherwise, here are some key planning tools to utilize before your first RV trip.

RV road trip destination: Valley of Fire.

Renting an RV

If you do not already own an RV, it is best to rent a rig for your first RV road trip in the USA. A rental RV allows you to test drive the type, layout, and travel style of an RV before you make a large investment.

RVshare allows you to rent fifth wheels, travel trailers and motorhomes directly from local owners. They have every type of rig available, and you can filter by price and features to pick the perfect RV.

best time to road trip usa

Finding Campgrounds

Find Awesome Campgrounds for your RV Road Trip

After you’ve secured an RV, you need to find places to sleep. Fortunately, there are several great apps to help you find campgrounds and RV parks in the USA. If you are visiting an area during the peak season (i.e. Winter in Florida) you will need to make campground reservations in advance.

However, if you are traveling during less busy times, it is best to leave a few open days between reservations so you can be more spontaneous.

To find RV parks and campgrounds, download the AllStays Camp & RV app ($9.99). The AllStays app has an interactive map that allows you to find campsites directly along your route.

AllStays has the most comprehensive list of campgrounds and RV parks for people RVing in the USA. The app also shows truck stops, dump stations and RV services so you can easily find fuel and supplies.

For free RV camping , use the Campendium website to find no cost RV campsites. Free camping is a great way to save money and find more secluded locations.

However, most free campsites do not offer water, electric or sewer hook-ups, so you should be prepared to “rough it.” If you plan on dry camping or boondocking at free campsites, choose a rental RV that has a generator on board.

If you are planning an extended RV round trip, consider joining one or more RV membership clubs to enjoy discounted camping fees.

Buying Gear for your RV Road Trip

The last step in the planning process for an RV road trip is buying all the gear you need. Review our Amazon list of must have RV supplies and either buy them or verify that your rental RV comes equipped with the proper gear.

I also highly recommend buying a road trip journal to record your adventures and experiences RVing in the USA.

10 Best RV Road Trips in the USA

Olympic peninsula.

Our Dog, Ted, Enjoying the Olympic Peninsula

Driving highway 101 around the Olympic Peninsula is a short but sweet RV road trip. The complete Olympic Peninsula rod trip is just over 300 miles, so it can easily be completed in a few days.

On the other hand, there is so much to see in this region you could also stay for weeks. The main attraction on the Peninsula is Olympic National Park which features a lush rain forest, stunning mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes and the Pacific Coast.

There are plenty of RV campground options in the area. There are several private campgrounds just off highway 101 and there are 10 campgrounds in the National Park that can accommodate RVs.

Most National Park campsites are designed for RVs up to 21 feet long, and none of them accept rigs over 35 feet. If you plan to camp in the park, make sure to travel in a smaller RV.

While the National Park is the main feature, there are several other sights to see along this route. For incredible views, take a side trip to Cape Flattery, the most northwesterly tip of the contiguous 48 states.

To reach Cape Flattery, first head to the town of Neah Bay from highway 112. In Neah Bay, go as far west as you can, follow signs to Cape Flattery Road and head south. After 7.7 miles the road will take you to the trail head parking lot.

Don’t forget to stop in Neah Bay and purchase a Makah Recreation Pass , which is required to hike on the trail. The trail is an easy 1.5 mile round trip that winds through the forest and ends in stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Utah National Parks

Zion national park

Utah has five National Parks with jaw dropping scenery. Combining all five parks into a single road trip is an unforgettable adventure, and one of my personal favorite experiences RVing in the USA.

Start your adventure in Zion National Park then drive on Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands. Allot at least 2 days in each park to make sure you have ample time to hike and relax. Since most of the trails in National Parks are not pet-friendly, this is not a great RV road trip with dogs.

All of the Utah National Parks, except Canyonlands, have RV-friendly campgrounds that can be reserved in advance. Reservations are accepted 6 months ahead of time and should be made exactly 6 months in advance for summer reservations.

None of the NPS campgrounds offer electric hook-ups, so RVers looking for more comfort should stay in private campgrounds near the parks. Reservations for RV parks also need to be made at least six months in advance to guarantee availability.

Don’t forget to add a few Utah State parks into your road trip itinerary. Dead Horse Point State Park, located just outside of Canyonlands, offers dramatic views of the Colorado River and the pinnacles of Canyonlands.

This state park has two campgrounds with 30 and 50 amp electric outlets. An hour from Zion, Sand Hollow State Park is a great summer stop if you are looking to get in the water.

The main feature of this state park is a refreshing reservoir with boat rentals. Their Westside campground also offers spacious campsites with full hook-ups.

Route 66

Route 66, also know as the Mother Road, is the most iconic and celebrated RVing route in the USA. Historic Route 66 covers over 2,400 miles, starting in Chicago and ending at Santa Monica, California.

For the classic experience, I would recommend sticking to the westernmost portion of the route. This area features many kitschy attractions that will take you back in time. Start your journey in Amarillo, TX and take Route 66 all the way to the Pacific Ocean in California.

There are many RV campgrounds along historical Route 66. Simply use the AllStays app to find campgrounds with good reviews at your desired stopping points.

State park campgrounds are a good option if you are looking to incorporate more outdoor adventures into your road trip. Consider camping at Santa Rosa Lake, Homolovi Ruins and Malibu Creek State Parks.

Hualapai Mountain Park, 11-miles off of the road in Arizona, offers a great break from the desert. The campground sits in the Hualapai Mountain Range, so you can enjoy views of the desert below from a cooler elevation.

You want to take your time driving down Route 66, so you have plenty of time to stop for roadside attractions and detours. Starting in Amarillo, check out the Cadillac Ranch, an art installation made using old Cadillac cars.

During your RV road trip, stop at the ghost town of Oatman, Arizona that has a friendly local population of wild burros.

California’s Pacific Coast

California Coast

The Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) hugs the Pacific Coast of California for 650 miles. The route is best driven from north to south, so you are on the ocean side of the road for the entire drive.

This coastal road trip is not for the faint of heart. The route features winding turns, small shoulders and big drop offs. I would recommend this RV road trip for more experienced drivers not first time RVers. Drive slow and plan short days to keep this drive fun and safe.

There are several state park campgrounds and private RV parks available along Highway 1. Spend a few days at the San Francisco RV Resort just outside of the city. This resort is pricey, but it features stunning ocean views, full hook-ups and easy access to the city.

Also stop at Doheny State Beach campground in Dana Point. This campground does not have any hook-ups, but there are campsites available right on the beach.

One of the most iconic stops along the California Coast is Big Sur. Plan to spend at least a few days of your road trip exploring this area.

The hike to McWay Falls should definitely be on your travel and adventure bucket list. The trail is less than a mile, but the views are incredible. You can access the trail head directly off of Highway 1.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches through the mountains from Afton, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina (my home state). This road is an iconic route for people RVing in the USA.

There are plenty of overlooks and the speed limit never exceeds 45 mile per hour, making for a leisurely RV road trip. The route has many sweeping curves, but is generally easy to drive without many tight turns. The vistas are stunning during the peak fall season when the leaves are changing, but be prepared for crowds during this time.

There are eight National Park Service Campgrounds on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Most of these campgrounds do not have hook-ups, but they offer potable water, bathrooms with flush toilets, picnic tables, fire rings and RV dump stations.

These campgrounds are open from May to October for a fee of $20 per night. If you are looking for higher-end accommodations, there a plenty of private RV parks a short drive off the parkway. Near Asheville, North Carolina, spend a night or two at the stunning mountaintop RV sites at Mama Gertie’s Hideaway Camp.

Views and hiking are the two main features of the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of our favorite hikes in the area is Crabtree Falls. The trail head is located at milepost 339.5.

There are two trail options: an easier 3 mile out and back hike on the same trail or a more strenuous 3.5 mile loop trail that climbs a ridge above the falls. The main feature of the hike is the 70 foot waterfall but there are also beautiful wildflowers in the early summer.

South Florida

Florida RV Campground

If you are looking for a winter destination to RV in the USA, look no further than the Sunshine State. While many RVers park in one spot for the winter, a Florida road trip is a much better adventure.

I recommend starting your Florida road trip near Everglades National Park and driving down the Florida Keys.

Start your trip at the Miami Everglades RV Resort, a full hook-up RV park near the Everglades that offers amenities including a pool and game room. In the Keys, Sunshine Key RV Resort is another high-end RV park located right on the water.

For a more affordable camping option in the Keys, stay at Bahia Honda State Park which offers campsites with electric for $38 per night. Be sure to make your campground reservations six to twelve months in advance to avoid being stuck without a place to stay.

If you make it all the way to Key West, consider leaving your RV behind for the day to visit Dry Tortugas National Park. The park which is an island 70 miles west of Key West is only accessible by boat or seaplane.

Daily ferries shuttle visitors from Key West to the park, or you can arrive in style by flying in with Key West Seaplane Adventures. Once you arrive, you can spend the day swimming, snorkeling and exploring the 19th century fort.

Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Mackinac  Island

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan (The U.P.) is a beautiful natural playground for campers RVing in the USA. Summer is the best time to visit when you can count on warm, pleasant weather.

The U.P. is accessed from I-75 on the lower peninsula of Michigan. From there, you can plan your own route around the U.P.

Straits State Park is a great place to start and end your U.P. RV road trip. Located right after the bridge onto the Upper Penninsula, the park has two campgrounds with electric hook-ups. From this location, you can easily access the ferry to car-free Mackinac Island.

Also consider staying at Indian Lake State Park which offers lake front campsites. There are also plenty of private campgrounds on the U.P. for the remainder of your road trip.

Just 10 minutes from Indian Lake State Park is The Big Spring ( Kitch-iti-kipi ) . The natural spring has crystal clear blue water that makes for a beautiful photo opportunity.

While you can’t swim in the spring, the park offers a self-operated observation raft that you can take out onto the water. Through observation windows on the raft floor, you can see trout swimming below. Also, don’t forget to eat a Pasty, a local meat pie delicacy.

Columbia River Gorge

Beacon Rock RV Road Trip

The drive along the Columbia River Gorge is one of the most scenic drives in the Pacific Northwest. The gorge reaches heights of 4,000 feet, and the river serves as the boundary between Oregon and Washington.

I recommend starting in Troutdale, Oregon and driving on Interstate 84 to at least Hood River. This trip is a very short drive, but you can extend the trip by taking detours over the river to the Washington side.

This is a perfect first time RV road trip, allowing you to drive just 30 minutes between RV parks.

In Troutdale, stay at the Sandy Riverfront RV resort. This full hook-up campground offers direct access to the Sandy River where you can swim and float on hot summer days.

At the end of your trip, stay at the Blue Barn Grill & RV park on the Washington side of the river. In between, small RVs (20 feet max) can stay at the Eagle Creek campground within the National Scenic Area.

Even though the Columbia River Gorge is a short trip, it is not lacking in activities. There are stunning waterfalls, local breweries and hundreds of hiking trails to explore. One can’t miss hike along the gorge is Beacon Rock.

The trail is a one-mile hike up the 848 foot Beacon Rock, the core of an ancient volcano. The hike involves many switchbacks and steep drop-offs, but handrails make it safe for even casual hikers. At the top you are rewarded with vast views of the Columbia River Gorge.

Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

If you are looking to incorporate both city life and the great outdoors into your RV road trip, consider driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. The drive from Las Vegas to the south rim is just over four hours, but you can spend a significant amount of time at each destination.

If you are renting an RV , you can take a round trip route so you can fly in and out of Las Vegas. Alternatively, this trip can be combined with a Utah National Park or Route 66 road trip for a longer adventure.

There are many large RV resorts around Las Vegas that offer pools, outdoor activities and shuttles to casinos. If you want to stay right on The Strip, camp at Circus Circus RV Park. The campground offers full hook-up sites on the Circus Circus property, and campers have access to all the same amenities as hotel guests.

Once you reach the Grand Canyon , stay at the Trailer Village campground which offers full hook-up RV sites close to the south rim of the canyon.

Don’t forget to stop along the way to the canyon and explore Arizona a little more. Stop in the town of Chloride for some history and culture. The old silver mining town now features some interesting art with many residents creating junk art sculptures on their property.

Just outside of town, park the RV and walk 1.5 up a rough dirt road to see the murals of Chloride miner, Roy Purcell. Painted in 1966, these murals are a sight to see, covering 2,000 square feet of rocks and granite.

North to Alaska

RVing in the USA, Alaska

Once you have completed some shorter road trips RVing in the USA, consider upping your road trip game and driving to Alaska. Leaving from Washington state, you can drive through British Columbia and The Yukon to reach Alaska.

Allow an absolute minimum of one month for this RV road trip, so you have plenty of time for driving and exploring. Ideally, this RV road trip would take two to three months so you have plenty of time to explore Western Canada as well.

On the route to Alaska, you will find plenty of RV parks off the highway. The AllStays app will help you find campsites in the US, as well as Canada.

Once you arrive in Alaska, the whole state is your campground. Alaska is one of the few places in the USA where it is legal to camp almost anywhere. Check out Call to Wander’s post for some Alaska campsite recommendations.

Once you reach Alaska, be sure to make it to Denali National Park. The park features Denali, the highest peak in North America, as well as plentiful wildlife.

The only entrance to the park is 240 miles north of Anchorage off Alaska Highway 3. There are RV-friendly campgrounds within the park, so you can enjoy the experience of camping right beside the natural wonders.

If you are new to RV travel, download our free RV setup and departure checklists to guide you when parking and packing up the RV.

Also, save our list of 250 road trip questions to help pass the time while you are driving.

Happy Camping!

Christina Pate, Author of Travels with Ted

Christina Pate is a seasoned full-time RVer who, along with her husband Justin, has journeyed across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Drawing from her extensive travels, RV repairs and RV renovations, she founded Travels with Ted to guide and inspire fellow RV enthusiasts. Christina is also the co-author of The Owner’s Guide to RV Maintenance and the creator of My RV Log Book .

best time to road trip usa

9 of the best road trips in the USA

US road trips remain ever-present on travel bucket lists the world over.

A true pillar of American folklore, their routes are steeped in history and paint a picture of the USA through the ages, from the Gold Rush to the Cold War.

In the modern day, these routes remain on the travel lists of Americans and tourists alike, all longing to head out on the open road to discover vibrant cities, desert plains, attractive coastlines and enormous mountain ranges.

In a nation that stretches over 3,000 miles from east to west, there are hundreds of routes to take you across the country, whether you want to follow the coast north from California or take a more remote route in Alaska.

Lesser known odysseys such as Route 101 or the Lincoln Highway quickly capture the imagination, while famed highways such as Route 66 dominate the dreams of would-be road trippers. To help you decide which route suits you, we’ve rounded up a list of the best trips across the country.

Chicago to Santa Monica

The USA’s most famous route has been immortalised via a combination of pop culture and nostalgia, despite no longer officially being classified as highway. Today, it remains the holy grail of US road trips.

Stretching for around 2,500 miles from Chicago to the beachfront of Santa Monica (just next to Los Angeles), it provides a taste of times gone by in the US, from kitsch gas stations to the Wild West-like emptiness of the Arizona and New Mexico desert.

This retro feeling is lost at either end of the ‘Mother Road’, especially when arriving into LA, but the marked contrast means that those travelling the route get to experience a quintessential slice of the States, including beautiful desert landscapes, the vintage Americana of Texas and two of the country’s foremost modern cities.

Read more on North America travel :

  • The best time to visit Hawaii for a holiday – and how to avoid the rain
  • Affordable New York: How to do the notoriously expensive city on a budget
  • Canada travel guide: Everything you need to know before you go

The Great River Road

Minnesota to louisiana.

This winding route follows the equally serpentine Mississippi River for a total of over 2,300 miles through 10 states. It starts (or ends) in Louisiana, near the Gulf of Mexico, before coursing through Mississippi, Tennessee and ending up in Minnesota, near the Canadian border.

At its start, the route takes travellers across two of of the US’s most famous cities. It begins in New Orleans , the centre of Cajun and Creole culture, and shortly after passes through the capital of blues, soul and rock’n’roll: Memphis , Tennessee.

The rest of the route is renowned for showcasing an abundance of different natural landscapes that only a country as geographically diverse as the US could provide. The wetlands and bayous of Mississipi and Louisiana, including the Atchafalaya Basin, will be the most alien environment to many visitors, with a distinctly eerie, almost rainforest-like feel.

Following along the Mississippi, drivers will see flat plains, mountains and extensive woodland as the route crosses Arkansas, Kentucky, Iowa and Wisconsin, before finishing in Minnesota, “the Land of 10,000 Lakes”.

Lincoln Highway

New york to san francisco.

Though no longer in existence as a single route, a little research will help you take on a section – or all – of the 3,389-mile long transcontinental route that was originally conceived in the 1910s. The route started in New York City and extended all the way to Lincoln Park in San Francisco , taking in 14 states including Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska, Utah and Nevada. Today, much of the road is now Route 30, from Pennsylvania to Wyoming – avoid the freeways of the I-80 for a trip with less motorway and more character.

Today, driving the route is easier in some states than others due to different standards in maintaining the route’s heritage, but this highway will take you across roughly 700 cities and towns, from small-time American settlements to big-hitters like Chicago and Pittsburgh. Along the way, you can learn about the history of both the highway and early America, visit 19th-century mining towns and see some delightful nature, including parts of Lake Tahoe and the Utah desert.

Los Angeles to Olympia, Washington

Route 101 traces the US’s Pacific Coast from California up into Washington, offering some of the best coastal views in the country. Though it technically starts in Los Angeles , you can begin the route from near the Mexican border, close to San Diego, all the way up to the border with Canada.

The route is split into different sections of road in each state. The first section is California State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, which offers the first uninterrupted sightings of the turquoise waters of the Pacific. It carries on through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge, passing through the famous wine regions of the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, before picking up the Oregon 101.

Oregon’s coast is home to raw natural beauty, captured in the rugged, unspoilt coastline of areas like Cannon Beach and the valleys of the Columbia River. You continue along the river as you enter Washington, eventually circling the Olympic Peninsula and its mountains before finishing near Olympia’s State Capitol Building.

Richardson Highway

Valdez to fairbanks.

Shorter than many US trips, but certainly no less scenic, the Richardson Highway extends for “just” 364 miles between the cities of Valdez and Fairbank. Alaska offers some of the wildest natural landscapes in America, perhaps best compared to parts of Iceland when viewing its large glaciers, towering peaks, dramatic gorges, steep waterfalls and the Valdez glacier lake.

Various locations offer a host of activities such as white water rafting, hiking, fishing and even ice climbing (as well as views of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline). Both Valdez and Fairbanks have a range of things to keep you busy too, from lake cruises and whale watching to skiing and Northern Lights spotting.

The Atlantic Coast

New york to florida keys.

Another road trip that gets to roughly 2,000 miles but can easily be split up into manageable sections, a trip down the Atlantic Coast is a worthy alternative to its Pacific counterpart. There is no defined route, with some beginning as far north as Bar Harbor in Maine, and others starting in NYC . If you do start in Maine, you’ll have the option to explore Boston, Rhode Island and the Hamptons, as well as the Big Apple.

Continuing south towards Miami , you can travel through Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Atlantic City, the East’s answer to Las Vegas. If you stick to the coast rather than heading to the capital, you’ll go through Delaware before crossing a tiny section of the Atlantic over into Virginia Beach.

Carrying on through North and South Carolina, you’ll eventually reach Florida , first via Jacksonville and then Orlando if you fancy a small detour. From Miami you’re on the home stretch, but not before you cross arguably the highlight of the entire trip – the 113-mile Overseas Highway, which extends over the Atlantic between Miami and Key West, the final stop.

Road to Hana

Hana to kahului.

Hawaii may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of road trips, with the Polynesian-influenced State home to a fascinating local culture, laid-back towns and coastline so picturesque it’s scarcely believable. But one small route stands out on Maui that’s as beautiful as those famed beaches – the Hana Highway, which links the towns of Hana and Kahului.

Running for just 64 miles, this coastal route usually takes around three hours to drive due to speed limitations and around 600 bends, winding through dense jungle and passing over imposing cliffs while tantalisingly close to the emerald waters of the Pacific.

Western Highlights

San francisco to las vegas.

This trip takes in some of the US’s most famous landmarks and cities, passing through California , Nevada and Arizona.

Begin in charming San Francisco, where innovation, forward-thinking and counterculture have combined to form a bohemian city backed by national landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge. The first stop on your route will be Yosemite National Park, a land of surreal landscapes including giant sequoias, the 914-metre vertical rock face of El Capitan and North America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls.

Continue on a slightly longer drive southeast towards Los Angeles, where you’ll need a few days to take in the sights of Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu and the rest, before continuing on to the Grand Canyon via the I-10 or I-40 freeways.

Red rock hills and desert plains will quickly come into sight before you reach what is undeniably one of America’s most famous, and impressive, natural sites. Explore, hike and marvel at the vast sandstone cliffs and winding waterways, before spending the night in a rustic mountain cabin. This grandiose trip finishes in equally extravagant Las Vegas , the US’s undisputed home of hedonism.

Read our reviews of the best USA hotels

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The 10 best states for summer road trips, ranked

  • WalletHub released a report ranking the best US states for summer road trips.
  • States were ranked across 32 metrics including gas prices, safety, and number of attractions.
  • Texas was ranked the best state for summer road trips, followed by Minnesota and New York.

Insider Today

If you're determined to take a road trip this summer but aren't sure where to go, consider one of these 10 states ranked by WalletHub as the best summer road-trip destinations.

To determine the best states for summer road trips, WalletHub, a personal-finance website, measured 32 metrics in each state across three overall categories: costs, safety, and activities.

Each state's road trip potential was determined by examining factors such as gas prices, safety, and the number of attractions including amusement parks, historical sites, and national parks .

These 10 states earned the highest scores in WalletHub's ranking.

10. Pennsylvania

best time to road trip usa

Pennsylvania ranked 32nd in costs and 14th in both safety and activities, according to WalletHub.

Popular road-trip destinations include views of Amish country along Route 30 and historic sites such as Gettysburg and the Liberty Bell.

best time to road trip usa

In addition to numerous scenic byways, Maine is also home to Acadia National Park, one of the most-visited national parks in the US.

WalletHub found that Maine had the lowest average cost of car repairs out of any state. Maine was also the safest state, taking the top spot in WalletHub's safety ranking. It scored 29th in costs and 30th in activities.

best time to road trip usa

Camping prices in Wyoming are the second-lowest in the country — perfect for visiting hot spots like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Wyoming was also the fifth-safest state in WalletHub's ranking and placed 22nd in activities.

7. North Carolina

best time to road trip usa

North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway helped the state rank fourth for the most scenic byways and seventh in WalletHub's overall activities ranking. It was also 17th in costs and 34th in safety.

best time to road trip usa

Ohio features a mix of natural wonders like Cuyahoga Valley National Park, touristy spots like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and quirky roadside attractions like the world's largest basket .

It's the second-cheapest state for car repairs behind Maine, contributing to its ranking of 21st in costs. WalletHub also ranked Ohio 24th in safety and 13th in activities.

best time to road trip usa

Florida is tied with Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Washington for the state with the highest percentage of total area designated as national parkland. It also has attractions like Disney World , placing it second in WalletHub's activities ranking (California, the home of Disneyland, snagged the top activities spot).

Florida ranked 23rd in costs, but last in safety.

4. Louisiana

best time to road trip usa

Louisiana has the third-lowest average gas prices, contributing to its first-place pick in WalletHub's costs ranking. It ranked ninth in activities and 46th in safety.

New Orleans offers a plethora of live music, Cajun restaurants, and lively festivals, but there's also plenty of wildlife to see in Louisiana's famous wetlands.

3. New York

best time to road trip usa

New York is full of fascinating tourist sites with the second-most National Historic Landmarks per capita, placing it third in WalletHub's activities ranking. It ranked 40th in costs and 12th in safety.

In addition to the densely packed streets of New York City, upstate New York offers hiking trails, historic mansions , and views of Niagara Falls.

2. Minnesota

best time to road trip usa

Minnesota ranked 12th in costs and 20th in activities. WalletHub found that the state has the third-fewest vehicle fatalities per million miles, contributing to its ranking of seventh in safety overall.

Minnesota also has the fourth-most fairs and festivals per capita in the summertime — the Minnesota State Fair in particular is legendary for its over-the-top culinary offerings.

best time to road trip usa

With over 9,500 miles of scenic byways, numerous famous attractions including The Alamo and the Space Center Houston, and affordable accommodations, WalletHub ranked Texas the No. 1 state for summer road trips in 2024. It topped WalletHub's list with rankings of 11th in costs, 39th in safety, and fifth in activities.

best time to road trip usa

  • Main content

Expect a record-breaking number of travelers on Fourth of July week: How to avoid traffic

best time to road trip usa

  • An estimated 70.9 million people will travel for the Fourth of July holiday, a record-breaking number.
  • The most popular domestic destinations are Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, Honolulu and Miami.
  • The worst times to drive for 4th of July week are July 3 and 4 between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

If you’re one of the projected record-breaking 70.9 million travelers going on a Fourth of July trip, get ready to pack some patience. 

“With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. “We anticipate this July 4 week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

Whether you’re going by airplane or car, traveler numbers are hitting historic highs. An estimated 5.74 million people will fly to their Independence Day destination, a 7% increase from 2023. (We can thank domestic airfare being slightly cheaper this year for that.)

This year, 2.8 million more people will travel by car than last year, for a total of 60.6 million travelers. According to AAA partner and rental car company Hertz, cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco are showing the highest rental car demand. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Fourth of July travel. 

Learn more: Best travel insurance

Planning your summer trip? Where to go and how to save on summer vacations

What are the most popular destinations for Fourth of July week?

Many travelers are headed to the coast for their Independence Day trip, with states like Hawaii and Florida topping the list. With the best time for Alaskan cruises in full swing, cities like Seattle, Vancouver and Anchorage are popular among travelers. As expected, beloved European destinations like London and Rome earned spots on the list as well. 

Most popular domestic destinations:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Anchorage, Alaska

Most popular international destinations:

  • Vancouver, British Columbia

What are the best times to drive for Fourth of July week?

As is typical with holiday travel, the early bird will catch the worm, which means encountering the least traffic. Drivers should depart on their Independence Day road trips before noon on July 3 and 4. To return home, drivers should leave before 11 a.m. on July 7 and after 7 p.m. on July 8. 

What are the worst times to drive for Fourth of July week?

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7, as they return,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in a statement. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal.”

On July 3 and 4, drivers should avoid being on the road between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., when traffic will be most congested. On Friday, July 5, the worst traffic will be between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

On Saturday, July 5, the worst traffic for travelers returning home will be between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The worst traffic is expected July 7, so drivers should avoid the road between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. 

“Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions,” Pishue said.

Peak congestion times in major US cities

  • Worst route: Birmingham to Atlanta via I-20 E
  • Worst day: July 7
  • Worst time: 6:30 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 3 hours, 36 minutes
  • 42% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Boston to Hyannis via Pilgrim Hwy S
  • Worst day: July 4
  • Worst time: 1:45 p.m.
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
  • 31% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Fort Collins to Denver via I-25 S
  • Worst day: July 8
  • Worst time: 2:45 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
  • 56% increased travel time
  • Worst route: San Antonio to Houston via I-10 E
  • Worst day: July 6
  • Worst time: 1:30 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 3 hours, 48 minutes
  • 41% increased travel time

Los Angeles

  • Worst route: Bakersfield to Los Angeles via I-5 S
  • Worst time: 2:15 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • 29% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Jersey Shore to New York via Garden State Pkwy N
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • 40% increased travel time

San Francisco

  • Worst route: San Francisco to Monterey via Santa Cruz Hwy S
  • Worst day: July 2
  • Worst time: 5:45 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 2 hours, 31 minutes
  • 19% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Ellensburg to Seattle via I-90 E
  • Worst time: 4:30 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 2 hours, 19 minutes
  • 35% increased travel time

Washington, D.C.

  • Worst route: Baltimore to Washington via Balt/Wash Pkwy S
  • Worst time: 3:15 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hours, 1 minute
  • 67% increased travel time

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected] .

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .

IMAGES

  1. The 25 Best Road Trips in the USA

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  2. 29 Best Things To Do In The USA

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  3. 21 Best Road Trips in USA to Put on Your Bucket List » Local Adventurer

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  6. Ultimate Road Trip Map: Things To Do In The USA

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COMMENTS

  1. 15 BEST USA Road Trips of a Lifetime 2023 (Photos + Maps)

    If you're interested in this road I recommend checking out our article on the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park. 14. Natchez Trace Parkway. Location: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, USA. Distance: 444 miles (715 km) Suggested Time: 5 days. Minimum Time: 1 day. Best Time of Year: October - November.

  2. 23 Best Road Trips in the U.S. to Take in 2024

    Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock. 10. Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville, Tennessee: Follow the Path of the Women's Suffrage Movement. Starting in New York's Finger Lakes region and ending at the State Capitol Building in Nashville, this road trip traces the route of the national women's suffrage movement.

  3. 29 AMAZING Road Trips USA: Scenic (& Underrated) Routes You'll Love

    You're going to love this amazing list of the best road trips in America! 1. Utah national parks road trip (one of the absolute best road trips in America) Stunning views in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah😍. Distance: 878 miles. Recommended time: 6-10 days. Best time of year: spring, summer or fall.

  4. 23 Best Road Trips in the U.S.

    From Hawaii to the Florida Keys, these are 23 of the best road trips in the U.S. By. Sarah Rose. Updated on March 15, 2023. Photo: Loki1100/Getty Images. From the dramatic California coast to the ...

  5. 25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)

    From Stephanie of Oklahoma Wonders. Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip, inspiring songs, movies, and novels. Starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, Route 66 passes through nine states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. READ NEXT.

  6. 10 of the best road trips in the USA

    3. Route 66. Best road trip for American kitsch. Chicago-Los Angeles; 2250 miles; 1-2 weeks. Nicknamed the Mother Road, Route 66 has permanently ingrained itself in the international psyche as the original US road trip. Starting in Chicago, it crosses eight different states and connects travelers to national parks, weird-but-wonderful ...

  7. The Best Road Trips in the USA

    The Best USA Road Trips. 1. The Ultimate California Road Trip. Sonoma - San Francisco - Santa Cruz - Monterey - Big Sur - Paso Robles - Santa Barbara - Malibu - LA - Laguna Beach - San Diego - Palm Springs - Joshua Tree - Death Valley - Yosemite - Lake Tahoe - Sacramento - Yolo - Shasta Cascade - Mendocino.

  8. 24 Best Road Trips in the USA For Your Bucket List

    1. California's Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) - One of the most famous USA road trips. Location: California. Distance: 480 miles. When it comes to spectacular California road trips, it's pretty hard to beat Highway 1, also known as Pacific Coast Highway and Route 1.

  9. 18 Best Road Trips in the USA To Take This Year

    Big Sur 's answer to the Golden Gate in San Francisco, this impressive open-spandrel arch bridge soars 260-foot above cliffs and a steep canyon. Trip length: 150 miles from San Francisco to Big ...

  10. 20 BEST USA Road Trips (2024 Destination Guide)

    End: Rockfish Gap. Total Distance: 105 miles. Best Part: Parking the car and going for a quick hike. One of the best mountain drives in the United States. It's a favorite day trip for those visiting Washington DC for a simple reason: the Skyline Drive is one of the most accessible mountain drives in the USA.

  11. 31 USA Road Trip Ideas + Tips

    Lizard's Mouth. Route: Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip At a glance: San Francisco - Yosemite National Park - Santa Barbara - LA - San Diego Distance: 731 miles Duration: 12 days When to go: June-August; summer is the perfect time for this road trip since the water will be warm enough for a quick dip along the way! The Route. Begin your road trip in San Francisco.

  12. The BEST Road Trips in the USA For Your Bucket List

    Washington State National Parks Road Trip. Route: Seattle - Seattle. Distance: 700 Miles. Suggested Duration: 8 days. Best time to go: Summer or fall is definitely prime time for this road trip that way you can experience all the great nature, hiking trails, and wild berries in bloom.

  13. 11 Epic Cross-Country American Road Trips

    Buy Now. Your great American road trip awaits! Get the fully updated 25th Anniversary Edition of Road Trip USA for the glovebox or as a gift for your favorite armchair adventurer. Author Jamie Jensen's full-color guide includes over 125 driving maps and key sights along the eleven cross-country road trip routes featured on this site.

  14. The 25 Best Road Trips in the USA

    23. The Great American Road Trip - Cross Country on the I-90. 24. Anchorage to Seward. 25. Canada to Mexico. If you're planning to take a road trip this year, I've compiled the best American road trip routes in the country. These are 25 of the best road trips in the USA that everyone should take in their lifetime.

  15. 25 Epic USA Road Trip Itineraries: Drives You Need to Make in Your

    The Going to the Sun Road is a 50 mile stretch of road that goes from Apgar, Montana to St Mary, Montana, right through the heart of the park. Along the route are an endless number of beautiful sights and lookouts, including Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park. Lake McDonald is a jaw-dropping lake.

  16. The perfect itinerary for an epic USA roadtrip (48 states at once)

    Here is the complete list of all 50 landmarks (48 states + Washington, DC + a bonus stop in California): 1. Grand Canyon, AZ. 2. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT. 3. Craters of the Moon, ID. 4. Yellowstone National Park, WY.

  17. The 18 Best Road Trips in the U.S. in 2024

    One of the best road trips in the USA, AAA's route begins and ends in Knoxville, Tennessee, and includes stops in fun mountain towns like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina. Length: 497.8 miles; Time: 10+ hours; Great for: Families, couples and campers; 10. Grand Pacific Northwest

  18. 24 Epic Western US Road Trips for Your Bucket List!

    Colorado is an amazing state to visit, and one of the best western US road trips takes you to three national parks in Southern Colorado. For this Colorado road trip, start in Alamosa and end in Montrose, for about 600 miles of driving. The best time to do this road trip is early summer or early fall, when the weather is mild.

  19. How to plan the ultimate road trip across the USA

    People with more time can spend a few hours driving per day or even stay several days in one location. This kind of road trip can take several weeks or months to drive across the U.S. Consider fuel costs to calculate your budget and decide on the getaway duration. Use our road trip gas calculator to see how much your road trip will likely cost.

  20. 17 Spectacular Southern USA Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

    From Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids. One of the best road trips in the southeast US is from Washington, DC to Anna Maria Island, Florida . If you want to break it up with overnights and stops, I recommend going from Washington DC to Raleigh, NC on Day 1. On Day 2, drive from Raleigh, NC to Savannah, GA.

  21. 30 Awesome Road Trips In USA: Most Scenic Drives In America

    US Highway 66, also known as Route 66, is an iconic 2,400-mile long distance US road trip from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. Once known as America's Highway, Route 66 passes through 8 states and 3 time zones. It's not what it once was, but Route 66 remains the most famous great American road trip.

  22. 10 Epic Bucket List RV Road Trips in the US

    Route 66. Route 66, also know as the Mother Road, is the most iconic and celebrated RVing route in the USA. Historic Route 66 covers over 2,400 miles, starting in Chicago and ending at Santa Monica, California. For the classic experience, I would recommend sticking to the westernmost portion of the route.

  23. 9 of the best road trips in the USA

    US road trips remain ever-present on travel bucket lists the world over. A true pillar of American folklore, their routes are steeped in history and paint a picture of the USA through the ages ...

  24. Best States for Summer Road Trips, Ranked

    WalletHub released a report ranking the best US states for summer road trips. States were ranked across 32 metrics including gas prices, safety, and number of attractions. Texas was ranked the ...

  25. Best and worst drive times for Fourth of July week travel

    This year, 2.8 million more people will travel by car than last year, for a total of 60.6 million travelers. According to AAA partner and rental car company Hertz, cities like Dallas, Los Angeles ...