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

road trip around north america

Pacific Coast

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Border to Border

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The Road to Nowhere

road trip around north america

The Great River Road

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Appalachian Trail

road trip around north america

Atlantic Coast

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The Great Northern

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The Oregon Trail

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The Loneliest Road

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Southern Pacific

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Classic American Road Trips

road trip around north america

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)

road trip around north america

  • 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

10 of the best road trips in the USA

Bailey Freeman

Jan 5, 2024 • 6 min read

road trip around north america

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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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?

road trip around north america

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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!

Don’t have a car yet? Well, we’re going to have to sort that out! Use to find the best deals on the web and save heaps of cash!

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.

road trip around north america

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 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.

packable travel medical kit

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.

road trip around north america

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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 , 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 .

road trip around north america

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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.

road trip around north america

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

Thanks for pointing this out. I’ve changed the detail now.

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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 / 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

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.


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

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 silhouette of a visitor in front of purple, illustrated projections at ARTECHOUSE in Washington, D.C.


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25 Must-see Spots in North America According to a Man Who Took a 22,000-mile Road Trip

road trip around north america

Have you ever dreamed of packing up and road tripping for months on end?

Nick Paquette , a freelance video editor, did just that in 2017. He embarked on a road trip across North America and drove over 21,700 miles in six months, discovering some of Canada and America's most scenic attractions on the journey.

Paquette and his girlfriend originally decided to take the trip as a way to explore their homeland Canada and later extended the trip to include the U.S.

The couple chose to do the trip by car so they would have the freedom to venture anywhere they chose over the next six months.

The duo explored everything from remote surf towns and tranquil campgrounds to adventure-packed caves, sharing the must-see locations with Travel + Leisure . From emerald-colored lakes to valleys blanketed in golden trees, here are the top North American destinations Paquette says you won't want to miss when taking your own journey.

Medicine Lake — Alberta, Canada

Paquette and his girlfriend started their trip in Ontario and headed north until they reached Alberta , where the duo stopped to admire the scenery of Medicine Lake, located in Jasper National Park. Glacial waters feed the lake in the summer, making levels so high that, at times, it can overflow before it dries out in the winter into a mudflat.

The water actually drains out of the lake from the bottom through sinkholes, like a giant bathtub and then travels through a 10-mile series of underwater caves, resurfacing at the Maligne Canyon.

Tombstone Territorial Park — Yukon Territory, Canada

The two skipped Banff National Park to catch Canada's Yukon territory while the weather was still warm. The area turned out to be Paquette's favorite.

"Yukon was always a mystery to me because it's so far north and isolated from everywhere else in Canada," he told T+L. "The landscapes here were insane since everything is so spaced out and you have nature that's much more intact with less human pollution." One of their stops in Yukon was Tombstone Territorial Park , which is known as the "Patagonia of the North" thanks to its striking combination of peaks and tundra terrain.

"It's where the forest and the tundra meet and once you go any farther north, the forest starts turning into tundra and you can't see a single tree in sight, but you see rows and rows of these spiky towering mountains that surround you," Paquette said of the Tombstone Mountains.

Salmon Glacier — British Columbia, Canada

In western British Columbia, the couple explored massive glaciers like Salmon Glacier, Canada's fifth largest glacier and the world's largest glacier accessible by road.

Thanks to its massive scale, those who visit the glacier, which sits north of both Stewart in British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska near the Canada-U.S. border, are rewarded with a striking view.

"When you get to the end of the road, you look down and there's a massive glacier ahead of you, but the scale of it is so huge that you don't even realize the crevices on it until you start to look closer," Paquette said.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park — British Columbia, Canada

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park features hiking a trail past three three turquoise lakes, which Paquette said appear increasingly brighter the higher you hike.

Park representatives say the bright hue is the result of "rockflour" (glacial silt) in the water that reflects blue and green light wavelengths from the sun to create the striking color.

Little Huson Cave Regional Park — Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

In Vancouver Island, the couple stopped at Little Huson Cave Regional Park . The park features limestone and rock arch formations, deep pools, and a variety of tunnels that have creeks flowing for as long as 60 meters (196 feet) underground.

Tofino — Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Tofino , located on the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, is known as a premiere location for surfers.

Oceanside restaurants and beachside picnics are the norm here, while a buzzing art scene has led to streets dotted with galleries.

"This is one of the only places in the world where you don't really get sick of going into the souvenir shops because you can tell everything is made locally, from their art prints to sculptures made using driftwood from the area," Paquette said.

Mount Robson — British Columbia, Canada

The couple got their first view of Mount Robson while heading north toward Jasper National Park.

The towering mountain, which is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, was shrouded in clouds when Paquette and his partner approached it. They had to wait three hours to see its peak emerge as the surrounding clouds dissipated.

The mountain sits within the Mount Robson Provincial Park, which is the second oldest provincial park in British Columbia, and is home to everything from glaciers and lakes to waterfalls, canyons, and limestone caves.

Athabasca Falls — Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

The Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park are some of the most powerful in the mountain national parks, according to park representatives, and have cut into the limestone underneath to create natural formations like canyons and potholes.

"It's a really picturesque part of Jasper as you've got the trees that are changing color, the falls, and if you look directly up, you're surrounded by mountains around you," Paquette said of the scenery.

Peyto Lake — Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Paquette said he was taken aback by the color of Peyto Lake in Banff National Park .

"It's the bluest lake you've ever seen because it's so high up," he said.

"The higher up you are looking down on it, the more blue it seems, and everything just looks so pure," Paquette said. "Even though you're surrounded by all the tourists who come to see the park's beauty, everything around you here still looks like it's never been touched and that it's a rugged landscape humans don't belong in."

Larch Valley — Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

In the fall, Banff National Park's Larch Valley is adorned with mesmerizing foliage.

The larch trees' needles turn a bright gold for a few weeks each year, attracting thousands of tourists. Larch Valley, found through a trail above Moraine Lake, is further enhanced by its striking backdrop of white glaciers and towering peaks.

Emerald Lake — Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

On the way out of Banff, the couple visited Emerald Lake at Yoho National Park .

"What we saw were the nicest colors in the entire park as the water is incredibly blue and you have all of these oranges, yellows, and reds that surround you from the nearby trees," Paquette told T+L.

Although the lake is the largest in the park , it's less known than its more popular counterpart, Lake Louise, so you'll get to enjoy the dreamy green hues and picturesque mountain scenery among a smaller crowd.

Washington Pass — North Cascades National Park, Washington

One of the first locations the couple saw in the U.S. was Washington Pass, situated right before North Cascades National Park.

"The pass is your first view into this huge mountain range, and from here you start on a winding road that's filled with vegetation as you make your way into the park," Paquette said.

The trail will take you up to an observation site where you'll be able to see sweeping views of Liberty Bell Mountain , Early Winters Spires , and Kangaroo Ridge .

Rialto Beach — Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park offers its visitors three different ecosystems — rainforest terrain, mountain territories, and coastal beaches — within one park.

One of Paquette's favorites was Rialto Beach , where massive driftwood decorates the landscape.

"You would see these massive trees that had drifted onto the beach years ago and have been there ever since, going all the way down the shores," Paquette said.

The Lost Coast — California

One of the drives the couple took as they made their way south to explore America's national parks was the Lost Coast. The region, which stretches down 650 miles of the California Coast, has no major access roads, giving it its name .

While the duo reached the Lost Coast via a road through the forest and mountains, visitors can also explore the area by foot.

Hiking the trail will take three to four days each way, but along the way you'll be able to explore wild untouched beaches and dreamy coastal views.

Barker Dam — Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park can be an incredibly dry environment , which is why Barker Dam offers such a surprising respite in the park. The dam brings with it its own set of freshwater species to admire, while giving you a different view of the park.

"The water creates a perfect reflection of the rocks that sit in front of it," Paquette said of the tranquil refuge.

You can reach the dam by taking the Barker Dam trail, which is less than two miles in total.

Yosemite National Park at Night — California

Vince Fergus/Travel + Leisure

Paquette found that admiring California's Yosemite National Park at nighttime gives a view most tourists rarely see.

"You look up in the sky and there's just all these stars, but you've also got a little bit of light that comes in from a village that's near the campgrounds as you see light peek in from the trees, and from the distance you can see mountain climbers scaling up and down El Capitan with their headlamps, but it feels like there's no one out there" Paquette describes.

The park has 13 different campgrounds , so you have many options for enjoying the cascading waterfalls, giant sequoias, and vast meadows by day and star-speckled skies during the night.

Moki Dugway — Utah

The Moki Dugway , which is located at the western end of the Valley of the Gods road, is a graded dirt switchback road carved into the edge of Cedar Mesa.

The unpaved and steep roads can be dangerous and should be approached with caution, but many tourists brave the drive for the end result. From the top, visitors are treated to sweeping views over the Valley of the Gods (famous for its buttes and towering pinnacles) and Monument Valley in the distance.

"You get an amazing 180-degree view of the entire valley that's just filled with red and orange rock formations throughout," Paquette recalled.

Fern Canyon — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California

A love of dinosaurs led the duo to visit Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, which was featured in Steven Spielberg's "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

The stream canyon is covered in a variety of fern species and mosses that create hanging gardens and small waterfalls visitors can walk underneath.

In the summer, foot bridges are installed over the creek. Water trickles down the canyon walls covered in lush greenery, making for a tranquil setting.

"We saw a lot of canyons along our trip, but none that are full of vegetation like this," Paquette said. "You're just completely surrounded by all this greenery."

Death Valley National Park — California and Nevada

Death Valley National Park , which straddles California and Nevada, is America's hottest, driest, and lowest national park . This allows the park to host a wide variety of landscapes for visitors to admire, making it Paquette's favorite stop in the U.S.

"Just because of the sheer size of it, we could have spent two weeks here," Paquette said.

"It's strange because it's a desert but it's so diverse as you've got the Artist's Palette multicolored rocks, the huge sand dunes, and canyons you can hike through, but because it's so huge it's also really easy to get away and find your own space in the park," he added.

One of his favorite stops in the park was the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes , where Paquette spent his mornings.

"At sunrise you can sit on the dunes with your coffee and feel it start to warm up around you as the sun comes up," Paquette said. "When you look down, you see all these traces from snakes and animals on the ground that scurry the area at night and retreat before the sun rises."

North Rim — Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Lack of crowds is the same reason Paquette recommends hitting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon because most travelers tend to go to the South Rim.

According to park representatives, the North Rim is only traversed by 10 percent of all of the parks visitors, with the hike from the South Rim to the North Rim spanning 21 miles.

Though it can be a trek to reach, the North Rim will reward you with breathtaking views over areas like the Painted Desert and panoramic views across the canyon both to the east and west.

Horseshoe Bend — Arizona

Horseshoe Bend has become a popular attraction for travelers, and it's one that Paquette says lives up to the hype.

"This place is one of the world's most photographed locations, so it's cool to get to check it off of the bucket list, but you only get a real sense of the scale when you see it in person," Paquette noted. "It looks huge in the photo but you don't really get a sense of how deep it is until you're right there in front of it," he added.

The bend in the Colorado River is located about 140 miles from Grand Canyon's North and South Rims and is visible from a steep cliff that's accessed through a short hike off U.S. Route 89.

Saguaro National Park — Arizona

Paquette chose to visit Saguaro National Park because of its surprising landscape.

"The landscape is completely different and I don't think people really realize how high the cacti grow until you're actually there in person," he said of the park's signature saguaro.

The saguaro are considered the nation's largest cacti and are only found in select parts of the U.S., making the park one of few locations you can take in their size. Some of the cacti rise as high as 50 feet, according to park representatives.

If you're there in the summer, make sure to take a peek at the cacti at night. During this time of the year, the cacti sprout flowers that bloom from their trunks and arms each night.

Queen's Garden — Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

One of Paquette's top spots in Bryce Canyon National Park is the Queen's Garden Trail , where you'll spot a variety of the area's famed hoodoos (tall and slender rock spires that jut out from the bottom of arid basins). One of the hoodoos at the end of the trail even looks like Queen Victoria, making it appear as though she is overlooking the garden.

"When you walk through, it feels like you're in a giant castle as you see all these rock formations around you," Paquette said of the site.

The trail is a simple one, according to park representatives , making it an easy way to start exploring the park.

Zion National Park — Utah

Paquette also recommends exploring Zion National Park , which was Utah's first national park and is home to narrow slot canyons, a variety of massive sandstone cliffs that range in color, and trails that lead to mesmerizing views.

Two of the most popular trails are: the Narrows, which takes hikers into the narrow section of Zion Canyon with walls reaching up to 1,000 feet, and Angel's Landing , a five-mile path that runs along a narrow rock fin and showcases top views of the park from every direction.

Lower Antelope Canyon— Page, Arizona

Antelope Canyon is made up of two different slots, both of which sit on Navajo lands. The Upper Canyon tends to be the more popular destination because visitors need to climb across multiple ladders to access the Lower Canyon.

That being said, it might be worth the trek to explore the less-traversed narrow canyon so you can take in the scenery at a more relaxed pace and get a better opportunity to capture some photographs.

"Everything looks like waves the way the light shines through the canyon; you can just point and shoot anywhere and every photo comes out incredible" Paquette said.

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The Great American Road Trip: A 4-Month Itinerary Around the USA

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in front of the Grand Canyon

The Great American Road Trip. It’s the kind of multi-month adventure most dream about, but few actually do.

While many of us have bucket-list goals of exploring this vast and diverse landscape, more often than not, we end up heading abroad instead. International travel just seems more alluring, exotic, and exciting.

But this country has more than enough eclectic cities, small towns, regional culinary traditions, historic sites, fascinating museums, and natural wonders to keep any intrepid traveler busy.

I’ve done five big US road trips (two that completely crisscrossed the country and three in various regions) that cumulatively add up to a year on the road (and that doesn’t count all the “regular” trips, vacations, and weekend getaways). I’ve seen a lot of the United States.

When COVID-19 caused us to consider our backyard more and more, many Americans turned to domestic travel. We finally got to explore all the wonders our own country has to offer.

So, because of that, I’ve created an epic four-month itinerary for traveling around the States. I think it balances time in cities with relaxing in nature.

It may seem like a lot, but four months just scratches the surface. And, since I don’t expect most of you to have four months, you can easily break this trip into smaller portions. It’s much better to concentrate your focus rather than try to see a lot in a short amount of time.

One note before we begin: There are so many routes you could take that it’s impossible to have one “best” route. The US is just too big. The route below is just one of my favorites. Use it as a starting point for creating your own itinerary that mixes realistic drive times, national parks, and fabulous cities.

Table of Contents

Month 1: East Coast, Southern US

Month 2: south, southwestern us, west coast, month 3: pacific northwest, western us, month 4: midwest, northeast us, days 1-3: boston, ma.

The towering skyline of Boston, MA as seen from near the water with a blue sky above

  • Walk the Freedom Trail – This 2.5-mile (4 kilometer) route links many historic sites, including the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the State House, and Bunker Hill. To get the most out of your experience, take a guided tour . You’ll be able to ask questions to an expert local guide for a more in-depth experience.
  • Relax in Boston Common – This is one of America’s oldest parks and was once used as communal pasture land by Puritan settlers. Today, it’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and picnic.
  • See the Bunker Hill Monument – The Battle of Bunker Hill (1775) was one of the first major battles of the Revolutionary War. While the British won, the Americans wore British forces down more than was expected. The monument stands 221 feet (67 meters) tall; you can climb to the top to enjoy the best view of Boston.
  • Visit the Museum of Fine Arts – This museum has over 450,000 pieces of fine art, covering everything from the pre-Columbian era to Italian Impressionists. It’s one of the biggest collections in the country. It’s free after 4pm on Wednesdays.

For more things to do, check out my free guide to Boston . And, for places to stay, here are my hostel recommendations.

Days 4-8: New York City, NY

New York City viewed from the Manhattan bridge, with tenement buildings in the foreground and modern skyscrapers in the background

  • Take a walking tour – To get a feel for the city, take a walking tour. There are myriad free and paid tours on a variety of subjects. Nothing is too obscure. Here’s a list of suggested walking tour companies in NYC .
  • Wander Central Park – This massive, 51-block-long, 843-acre park is the best free attraction in town. There are plenty of places to bike, walk, jog, read, picnic, and people-watch. During the summer, there are free concerts and theater productions too. Free tours are run by the parks service. The “Iconic Views of Central Park” tour is offered daily at 10am from the spring to the fall.
  • See the Statue of Liberty – You can pay to visit Ellis Island if you want to see the statue up close . However, you can also take a free ferry to Staten Island instead if you just want to see it while passing by.
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum – At the base of the Freedom Tower is a park commemorating the victims of 9/11. Inside the museum, there are over 14,000 artifacts from that day, as well as 3,500 recordings from survivors, first responders, and family members of those killed. It’s a sobering, eye-opening exhibit. A timed-entry ticket is $19.40 USD.
  • Walk the High Line – The High Line is an elevated urban walking park on the west side of NYC. Made from a converted train track, it runs for 22 blocks and is lined with overlooks, gardens, public art, food stalls, and greenery.
  • Cross the Brooklyn Bridge – For a view of the Manhattan skyline, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a long walk (around 40 minutes if you stop for photos), but the view is worth it — especially at night. It’s free too!
  • Explore the Met – The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the foremost fine art collections in the world. You can easily spend an entire day here if you wanted to see it all.

If you want more ideas for things to see and do in NYC, here’s a detailed suggested itinerary that can come.

For accommodation suggestions, here is my comprehensive list of hostels in NYC , my recommended hotels , as well as a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to the city .  

Days 9-11: Philadelphia, PA

View down Benjamin Franklin Parkway lined with trees with orange leaves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • See the Liberty Bell – This bell, which dates to 1752, is an iconic symbol of American freedom. It’s said to have been rung when the Declaration of Independence was read in July 1776. Today, the bell is located in Independence National Historical Park, which you can visit for free.
  • Wander around Independence Hall – Learn about the founding of the United States at Independence Hall, and wander around the area’s historic colonial buildings.
  • Explore Franklin Court – This is where Benjamin Franklin lived while serving in the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention. While his house was torn down after his death in 1790, a hollow structure stands where it was located, and there’s a museum nearby with information about his life and works.
  • Climb the Rocky stairs – The stairs from Rocky , the classic boxing film, are located at the Museum of Art. You can’t visit Philadelphia without running up them and doing your best Stallone impression.
  • Visit the Magic Gardens – This quirky art gallery is one of the most unique attractions in town: a collection of indoor and outdoor art and mosaics made from broken tiles, glass, and all kinds of odds and ends. Indoors, there’s a more conventional art gallery and space for events and concerts.

Days 12-14: Washington, DC

Aerial view of Washington DC with Thomas Jefferson Memorial building and the Tidal Basin in the foreground

  • Visit the Holocaust Museum – The Holocaust Museum is informative and heart-wrenching. Its permanent exhibit takes up three entire levels and tells the story of the Holocaust through films, photos, artifacts, and first-person stories. Admission is free.
  • Tour the Smithsonian – The Smithsonian Institution is a group of world-class museums and research centers. All of them are free to enter. Some of the best museums are: the Air and Space Museum, the African American Museum, the Smithsonian Castle, and the American Art Museum.
  • See the Lincoln Memorial – This iconic 19-foot statue is located on the National Mall and pays tribute to America’s 16th president. Built in 1914, it’s surrounded by 36 columns, each of which represents a state in the union at the time of his death in 1865.

For tons more ideas on what to see, here’s my free detailed guide to DC!  

Days 15-16: Shenandoah National Park, VA

The rolling hills and mountains of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Days 17-19: Asheville, NC

The winding Blue Ridge Parkway surrounded by forests and mountains, near Asheville, North Carolina

  • The Biltmore Estate – This is America’s largest house. It’s a whopping 178,926-square-foot mansion surrounded by 8,000 acres of land. The massive estate has over 250 rooms (including 33 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms). I love it!
  • Enjoying craft beer – Asheville has over 25 breweries (and there are another 50+ outside town too). Take a brewery tour, or just hop around and sample some local offerings. My two favorites are Bhramari and Wicked Weed.
  • Hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains – Parts of the Appalachian Trail can be found here, and there are lots of day or multiday hikes. You can also climb Mount Mitchell, the highest summit east of the Mississippi River.

Days 20-22: Atlanta, GA

The skyline of Atlanta, GA from Piedmont Park

  • See the Center for Civil and Human Rights – Opened in 2014, this museum highlights the struggles and accomplishments of the civil rights movement as well as human rights around the globe. (To learn more about civil rights history in Atlanta, take this city walking tour with Unexpected Atlanta. )
  • Wander the Atlanta Botanical Garden – Escape the urban hustle and bustle with a getaway to this 30-acre oasis in the heart of the city. In addition to its orchids and tropical plants, there’s a 600-foot canopy walk that lets you enjoy the gardens from 40 feet in the air.
  • Take a street art tour – Atlanta is one of the best destinations for street art. There are tons of murals along the Krog Street Tunnel and the Belt Line. Take a guided tour or use the website for self-guided suggestions.

Days 23-27: Nashville, TN

A view overlooking Nashville, TN at night with the downtown all lit up

  • Attend the Grand Ole Opry – Opened in 1925, this is one of the most famous country music venues in the world. Today, the Opry hosts regular live performances, TV broadcasts, and radio shows. You can buy tickets here or book a guided tour of the venue here .
  • See the Parthenon – This full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was built in 1897. It was created to celebrate Nashville’s 100th anniversary and chosen because Nashville is called “the Athens of the South” (due to its historic focus on higher education).
  • Explore the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – This museum has one of the largest music collections in the entire world. There are over 200,000 recordings here, including 98% of music released before World War II. Tickets are $29.95 USD.
  • Visit Franklin – Located just 25 minutes outside of Nashville, most people assume Franklin is just another suburb. However, it has a lot going for it: it’s bursting with small-town charm, has stellar food and drink (it’s where I discovered my favorite Bourbon, H Clark), is full of history ( there was a major Civil War battle here ), and has one of the best-preserved historic main streets in the country. I’d spend two nights here.

Days 28-30: Memphis, TN

The retro exterior and sign of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, USA

  • Visit the National Civil Rights Museum – This museum traces the history of civil rights from the 17th century to today. It’s housed in the former motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It’s powerful and poignant. Don’t miss it. Admission is $20 USD.
  • See the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – This museum highlights the musical pioneers of blues, rock, and soul music from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are costumes and recordings, interactive media, and exhibitions on famous musicians from Memphis. A joint ticket that also includes the Music Hall of Fame is $17 USD.
  • Stroll down Beale Street – Known as “America’s most iconic street,” Beale Street features many bars where you’ll find Memphis’s best live music. There are also numerous street buskers. If you’re going out at night, start here. ( Backbeat Tours offers guided tours if you’d like to learn more about the street’s history.)
  • Day-trip to Graceland – The home of Elvis Presley, Graceland is located a few miles south of town. Even if you’re not a huge Elvis fan, it’s worth a visit to see just how impactful his life and music have been. You’ll see loads of lookalikes and die-hard fans making the pilgrimage to see the King.

Days 31-32: Natchez, MS

A pathway leading up to the historic Rosalie mansion, with white pillars and a brick façade with black wooden shutters, surrounded by lush trees in Natchez, Mississippi, USA

  • Visit antebellum homes – Built in the early to mid-19th century, these historic homes are Natchez’s main draw. Longwood, Rosalie Mansion, and Stanton Hall were my favorites. Admission is $20-25 USD at each or there is a joint ticket that includes all three for $65 USD.
  • Attend the Natchez Pilgrimage – During the Natchez Pilgrimage in the spring, all of the private historical homes open up to the public. The costumed guides explain the history of the home, their owners, and the region. It’s the city’s biggest annual event, and there are some 20 homes on display.
  • See the Emerald Mount – Constructed sometime between the 13th and 17th centuries, this was an elevated place of worship for the Plaquemine Native Americans. All kinds of animal bones have been found nearby, leading researchers to believe it was the site of religious or sacred activity.

Days 33-36: New Orleans, LA

One of the many old, colorful buildings in bustling New Orleans

  • Visit the National World War II Museum – This is the largest World War II museum in America. It’s also one of the best museums in the world. You can listen to firsthand accounts of the war, which make it all feel that much more intimate and impactful. You can get your tickets here .
  • Listen to music on Frenchmen Street – Live music is available every night of the week, and there are innumerable venues to listen to blues and jazz. My personal favorite is the Spotted Cat.
  • Wander the French Quarter and Garden District – These are two of NOLA’s most iconic and historic districts, full of old French-influenced buildings and grand mansions. You can either do a self-guided tour or go with Tour Orleans to learn more about this beautiful area.
  • Take a ghost or voodoo tour – “The Big Easy” has a creepy past. The best way to learn about it is to take a voodoo or ghost tour . You’ll get to see cemeteries, explore haunted buildings, and hear all sorts of unsettling anecdotes and ghostly tales.

For more things to see and do in NOLA, check out this detailed itinerary .  

Days 37-39: Houston, TX

A huge Boeing 747 with a replica space shuttle atop it at the Space Center Houston, Texas, USA

Houston is home to the Space Center and NASA’s astronaut training complex, as well as countless breweries and museums and a killer food scene (definitely go out for Viet BBQ).

These are some things you can do while you’re in town:

  • Visit Space Center Houston – This is Houston’s top attraction, bringing in over a million visitors each year. There are over 400 items in the collection, including moon rocks and three spacecraft that were used during missions. Get your timed-entry ticket here .
  • Explore the Museum of Natural Science – Opened in 1909, this museum has four floors of exhibitions (as well as a planetarium and an IMAX theatre). There are displays on wildlife, ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, minerals, and much more! Tickets are $25 USD.
  • Wander Buffalo Bayou Park – This 124-acre park has all kinds of walking trails and is a nice spot for a picnic, to relax with a book, or to people-watch. There are also lots of concerts and events here too, so check the local tourism office to see what’s coming up.

Days 40-44: Austin, TX

A bright and sunny day overlooking the towering skyline of Austin, Texas

  • Relax at Barton Springs – Barton Springs is a pool/creek that locals flock to in warm weather. It’s fed by a natural cold-water spring in Zilker Park and has manicured lawns that are great for lounging on and relaxing when it’s too hot to do much else. You can also rent kayaks and paddle around.
  • Go two-stepping – Two-stepping is a popular country dance — and country dancing is one of Austin’s favorite pastimes. To see it in action (and try it yourself), head to the White Horse, where there are free lessons so you can then dance your way around town.
  • Enjoy world-class barbecue — Some of the best BBQ joints in the US are here in Austin. If you’re looking to treat your taste buds (and don’t mind waiting, usually a couple of hours), head to Franklin’s or La Barbecue. For something faster, check out Micklethwait Craft Meats.

For way more activities, check out my free guide to Austin ! Since I lived here for so long, I have a lot of suggestions on how to spend your time.  

Days 45-47: Truth or Consequences, NM

Originally named Hot Springs, “T or C,” as it’s known, got its name from a radio contest in 1950. After winning, the town kept the name. Located 10 hours from Austin, T or C is known for its wellness tourism. The entire town was built over a hot mineral spring, so it’s the perfect place to relax at a spa.

Try to explore some of the nearby ghost towns. Winston and Chloride, located north of T and C, are two mining towns that were abandoned in the early 1900s; some of the original buildings still remain.  

Days 48-49: Phoenix, AZ

The view overlooking Phoenix from rocky Camelback mountain above the city

  • See the Desert Botanical Garden – This 140-acre garden is home to over 50,000 plants, including over 14,000 cacti. It’s super interesting!
  • Visit the Heard Museum – This museum focuses on Native American art. There are permanent and rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as cultural artifacts that highlight the history and traditions of the region’s native cultures.
  • Hike Camelback Mountain – With an elevation of 2,700 feet, this 2-3-hour hike is a fun way to see Arizona’s stunning and arid landscapes. There are two trails, both of which are challenging but rewarding.

Days 50-51: Joshua Tree National Park, CA

The open road cutting through Joshua Tree Park in the rugged desert of California during a road trip

A seven-day vehicle pass is $30 USD. It allows multiple entries in case you stay in one of the nearby towns.  

Days 52-54: San Diego, CA

A sunny day along the beautiful coast of San Diego, California

  • See the USS Midway Museum – This aircraft carrier was commissioned after World War II and was the largest ship in the world until 1955. It saw action in numerous conflicts, including Vietnam. After it was decommissioned, it became a museum open to the public. Skip-the-line tickets are $32 USD.
  • Visit wildlife at the San Diego Zoo – Located in Balboa Park, this zoo is home to over 3,500 animals and 700,000 plant species. It’s a massive 1,800-acre park, and you could easily spend an entire day here. It’s a fun place to visit with kids (there’s even a Children’s Zoo). A skip-the-line ticket is $72 USD.
  • Go whale watching – California gray whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico between December and April. They are spectacular to see up close, as they grow up to 49 feet long and live for over 70 years. Tours range from around $60-75 USD depending on length and tour company. A 4-hour tour with City Cruises California is $73 USD.

Days 55-58: Los Angeles, CA

Streetscape in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, with palm trees and expensive shops

  • Wander Hollywood Boulevard – Play tourist and visit the Walk of Fame (where stars have their names engraved in the sidewalk) and Grauman’s (now TCL) Chinese Theatre (featuring celebrities’ handprints and footprints).
  • Relax on the beach – At iconic Venice Beach, you’ll find all kinds of street performers, surfers, roller-skaters, and locals and tourists alike soaking up the sun. Some other beaches worth checking out are Carbon Beach, Santa Monica State Beach, Huntington City Beach, and El Matador.
  • Visit to the Hollywood sign – Don’t just settle for a photo of the sign — go see it up close. The three trails that you can take (from easiest to hardest) are the Mt. Hollywood Trail, the Brush Canyon Trail, and the Cahuenga Peak Trail. Bring water and sunscreen, as the hike will take a few hours. If you don’t want to go solo, guided hikes to the Hollywood sign cost $25 USD.
  • Go hiking – LA is an active city, and locals love escaping the hustle and bustle as often as they can. Some trails worth checking out are the Charlie Turner Trail (90 minutes), Runyon Canyon (45 minutes), Portuguese Bend Reserve (3 hours), and Echo Mountain (3–3.5 hours).

For an even more detailed list of what else you can see and do while in LA, check out my Los Angeles travel guide . For accommodation suggestions, here are my favorite hostels in Los Angeles .  

Days 59-61: Las Vegas, NV

the iconic Vegas sign lit up at night in Las Vegas, USA

  • Explore Fremont Street – Old Vegas is full of sketchy bars, vintage casinos, and a Bourbon Street vibe. It makes for an interesting contrast to the sleek and polished Strip. There are lots of cover bands, buskers, and celeb lookalikes pandering for paid photos, as well as people-watching, cheap slots, and cheap drinks. There’s also an hourly light show on the ceiling above the street. Las Vegas Walking Tours offers a 3-hour tour of Fremont Street if you’d like a bit of a deeper dive.
  • Hike Red Rock – Just 30 minutes outside town, Red Rock Canyon offers plenty of hiking and biking trails. Just make sure to arrive early in the morning before it gets too hot. Red Rock Discovery Tours also offers guided hikes starting at $95 USD (includes round-trip transportation from Vegas).
  • Visit the Neon Museum – This is essentially an eclectic graveyard for the huge lights and signs that once beckoned to tourists from casinos like the Silver Slipper, Stardust, and El Cortez. It spans three acres and gives you a glimpse into the city’s shining and sinful past. Admission is $20 USD.
  • See the Grand Canyon – Rent a car and drive the four hours to the South or North Rim of the Grand Canyon . It’s one of the most epic, iconic sights in the country and absolutely worth the drive. If you can, hike down to the bottom and stay the night. It’s an amazing experience! And if you want to dive deeper into this beautiful area, check out HoneyTrek’s Grand Circle Road Trip .

For more activities (and there’s plenty to choose from that don’t involve gambling), here is my comprehensive guide to Las Vegas .  

Days 62-64: Yosemite National Park, CA

A rugged mountain with a streaming running in front in Yosemite National Park, California

Days 65-67: San Francisco, CA

The famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA at sunset

  • Walk the Golden Gate Bridge – When it opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the world’s longest and tallest suspension bridge. Spend some time walking across to enjoy the view of the bay and the ships coming and going.
  • Tour Alcatraz – One of the most infamous prisons in the country, Alcatraz housed some of the nation’s worst criminals (renowned gangster Al “Scarface” Capone spent four years here). Today, it’s a national landmark where you can take tours, step foot in the cells, and learn about its grim history. Tickets are $53.25 USD. There are also many joint ticket options, such as this one that includes a cruise around San Francisco Bay .
  • Relax at Golden Gate Park – This gigantic park features a Japanese garden, museums, an arboretum, a carousel, and many hiking and walking trails. It’s a whopping 20% bigger than New York City’s Central Park, so you easily could spend an entire day here relaxing, walking, and lounging.

Again, for even ways to spend your time in SF, here’s my guide to the city . And, for suggested places to stay, here’s a list of my favorite hostels in San Francisco .  

Days 68-69: Redwood National Park, CA

Looking upwards into the canopy of the massive Redwood trees in Redwood National Park, California

Given the drive time from SF, spend two nights here to make sure you get some good hiking in.  

Days 70-73: The Oregon Coast

The rugged coast of Oregon, USA

  • Binge on oysters – I’ve grown to love oysters in recent years and some of the best in the country can be found in Oregon. Some of my favorite places I stopped at were from Shucker’s Oyster Bar (Lincoln City), Oregon Oyster Farm and Mo’s Seafood & Chowder (both in Newport), and Clausen Oysters (North Bend).
  • See Thor’s Well – This coastal sinkhole near Cape Perpetua is known as the Drainpipe of the Pacific. While it can be dangerous to get too close (it’s very easy to get swept away into the water or rocks), you’ll nevertheless see tons of tourists posing for pictures near the well. It’s worth a stop to snap some quick pics.
  • Relax at Cannon Beach – This iconic beach is long and sandy and is best known for its photogenic Haystack Rock, a giant rock jutting out of the ocean just offshore. There are plenty of tide pools and places to picnic here, and the town itself (also called Cannon Beach) is full of all kinds of cafés and artisanal shops.

Here’s a list of my favorite things to see and do along the Oregon coast to help you make the most of your drive.  

Days 74-76: Portland

A colorful pink sunset over Portland, Oregon, USA, with Mount Hood in the background

  • See Pittock Mansion – Built in 1914, this 46-room French Renaissance-style mansion was originally owned by a wealthy couple from England. Today, it’s part of the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, you’ll find beautiful artwork and furniture collected by the original owners. Admission is $16.50 USD.
  • Devour some donuts – Portland is known for its donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts put Portland on the map with its weird and wonderful combinations, such as Cap’n Crunch and maple bacon. Some argue that Voodoo is for tourists and that actually Blue Star makes better donuts. Try both and see for yourself! You can also take a donut food tour with Underground Donut Tours for $70 USD.
  • Hike the Columbia River Gorge – Located east of town, here you’ll find waterfalls (including Oregon’s tallest, Multnomah Falls), scenic vistas, and hiking trails. Some suggested hikes are Dry Creek Falls (easy, 2 hours), Wahkeena Falls Loop (moderate, 3 hours), and Starvation Ridge and Warren Lake (hard, 8 hours). Guided hikes with Wildwood Tours cost around $80 USD (transportation included).

For more suggestions on how to spend your time in Portland, here’s a list of the best things to see and do in the city!  

Days 77-79: Seattle, WA

The skyline of Seattle from the water, with the Space Needle featuring prominently

  • Explore the Seattle Center – Seattle Center is home to the Space Needle as well as a complex of entertainment venues: the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Music Project), the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Pacific Science Center, and the outdoor Mural Amphitheater, as well as the International Fountain and the Armory food court. Don’t miss the views from the top of the Space Needle ( get your skip-the-line ticket here )!
  • Wander Pike Place Market – Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the US. It’s a nine-acre, four-floor sprawl of shops, stalls, galleries, and cafés (including the original Starbucks location) selling everything from crafts to flowers to fresh produce. Wander, eat, shop, and enjoy the ambiance. Show Me Seattle offers food tours of the market for a more guided experience.
  • See the Boeing Museum of Flight – This museum highlights planes and spacecraft through the ages, offering insight into how flight has evolved over the decades. You’ll also get a chance to see the original Boeing “factory.” The original Air Force One is here too. Admission is $26.

For more things to see and do, here’s my in-depth guide to Seattle . And here are some budget-friendly accommodation suggestions for your visit.  

Days 80-82: Missoula, MT

The view overlooking Missoula, Montana during the summer

  • Tour the breweries – For such a small city, there are breweries and bars everywhere (Montana has the third-highest number of craft breweries per capita in the country). Don’t miss Bayern Brewery (the state’s first craft brewery), Draught Works Brewery (which has live music three nights a week), and Imagine Nation (which is also a community center). If you visit in April, you can attend the Missoula Craft Beer Week.
  • Hike the M – Mount Sentinel is a small mountain nearby that offers some stunning views. The trail is just 1.2 miles, so it’s not particularly challenging, though you can extend the route for an all-day hike by continuing along the Crazy Canyon Trail at the summit.
  • Ski Snowball Mountain – In the winter you’ll find upwards of a thousand acres of skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, the area is open for zip-lining, hiking, and mountain biking. It’s just twenty minutes from downtown,

NOTE: While not here, if you have time, you can drive north to spend a few days in Glacier National Park.  

Days 83-86: Yellowstone National Park, WY

Bison roaming around the stunning fields of Yellowstone National Park, USA

Yellowstone is home to the largest volcanic system in North America, which is why geysers like Old Faithful (and the largest active geyser in the world, Steamboat) can be found here. Wolves, bears, lynx, cougars, and bison all call the park home as well. Spend some time here hiking, camping, and basking in the park’s magnificent landscapes.  

Days 87-90: Denver, CO

Shops and restaurants line the historic preservation district of Larimer Square in downtown Denver.

  • Visit the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum – This museum is housed on an old air base and has a collection of over 50 aircraft on display. Some of the highlights include a supersonic Rockwell Lancer and the massive B-52 Stratofortress. Admission is $19.95.
  • Hike Mount Evans – This 14,265-foot peak can actually be summited in under 30 minutes (though there are longer trails too). You’ll see sweeping panoramic views of the region without having to hike for hours. Be sure to visit Like Echo and Mount Goliath on the way here.
  • Catch a show at Red Rocks – The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a 9,000-seat outdoor venue that regularly hosts concerts and other events. It’s one of the most beautiful concert venues in the US. Try to catch a show here if you can.

Days 91-93: Kansas City, MO

A colorful streetcar passes in front of a historic market in Kansas City

  • Indulge in BBQ – KC is one of America’s best hubs for delicious barbecue. You can find pretty much any kind of meat barbecued here, from brisket to turkey to fish. Kansas City’s barbecue dates back to the 1920s, and the city takes this tradition seriously. Harp Barbecue and Fiorella’s Jack Stack are two of the best in town.
  • Wander the Jazz District – The historic 18th and Vine area is known as the Jazz District, owing to the popularity of jazz music from the 1920s to the ’40s and performances here by the likes of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louie Armstrong. Wander the district and bar-hop to catch some stellar live music.
  • See the World War I Museum – The award-winning National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States sheds light on the history and horrors of the Great War.

Days 94-97: Chicago, IL

A busy downtown Chicago, USA divided by the river on a quiet, sunny day with a bridge in the distance

  • Relax in Grant & Millennium Parks – Located downtown, these two parks provide a relaxing place to hang out, have a picnic, or go for a run. You’ll find people playing chess, and during the summer, there are a lot of free concerts. The famous “Chicago Bean” sculpture is located in Millennium Park.
  • Try the pizza – Deep-dish pizza and stuffed-crust pizza were developed in Chicago, and no trip is complete without trying at least one. Deep-dish pizza was invented by Pizzeria Uno, which is now a national restaurant chain. But for something more local, Chicagoans swear by Lou Malnati’s.
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago – Founded in 1879, this is one of the oldest art museums in the country. It has everything from photography to architecture to textiles, and its permanent collection includes works by Eva Hesse, David Hockney, and Ellsworth Kelly. A skip-the-line ticket is $40 USD.

If you want additional things to see and do (as well as some money-saving tips), consult my comprehensive guide to Chicago!

And here is my list of the best hostels in Chicago for budget-friendly accommodation .  

Days 98-100: Detroit, MI

The towering downtown skyline of Detroit, Michigan lit up during the evening

  • Explore the Detroit Institute of Art – This 130-year-old museum is located in the heart of Midtown and has something to offer every visitor. There are more than 65,000 works of art here, ranging from classic to more modern and contemporary pieces, spread out over 100 different galleries. It’s one of the best art museums in the country. Admission is $18 USD.
  • Walk the Dequindre Cut – The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a two-mile urban recreational path that offers a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront, the Eastern Market, and several residential neighborhoods in between. Along the path, you’ll find all kinds of street art, as well as buskers in the summer. It’s a nice place to walk or jog and take in the city.
  • Shop at the Eastern Market – The Eastern Market is a huge marketplace with local foods, art, jewelry, artisan crafts, and more. It covers 43 acres and is the largest historic public market district in the United States, dating back over 150 years. It is particularly busy on Saturdays, when farmers bring in their fresh produce.

Days 101-103: Cleveland, OH

Giant red letters that say 'long live rock' in front of the huge glass pyramid of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio

  • See the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – This is one of the largest collections of musical memorabilia in the entire world. John Lennon’s guitar, Elvis Presley’s military uniform, and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfits are just some of the items in the massive collection.
  • Tour the Museum of Natural History – Founded in 1920, this massive museum is home to over four million specimens. There are exhibits on dinosaurs, minerals, primates, animals, and more. It’s super educational, and there are lots of interactive exhibits too.
  • Hike the Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Located on the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron, this is the only national park in Ohio. Encompassing 32,000 acres, the park has all kinds of hiking and biking trails (camping is no longer permitted).

Days 104-106: Pittsburgh, PA

A red funicular car going up the mountain in the foreground with the skyline of Pittsburgh, PA with its many bridges spanning the river in the background

  • Ride the Duquesne Incline – This 140-year-old funicular used to transport workers up Pittsburgh’s steep hills before cars became commonplace. Hop on, ride to the top, and enjoy the view! Tickets are $2.50 USD one way.
  • Visit the Warhol Museum – Dedicated to Andy Warhol, Pittsburgh’s best-known artist, this is the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single person. While much of his art is unusual, it’s still worth a visit, as Warhol has had a profound and lasting impact on modern art. Admission is $25.
  • See Randyland – Created by a local artist, here you’ll find a section of the north end completely painted in all kinds of bright colors and murals. Buildings, fences, driveways — it’s a massive, bright, and fun spot to visit and unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere! Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
  • Tour Carrie Furnace – Built in 1884, these former blast furnaces were part of the Homestead Steel Works and produced over 1,000 tons of iron per day. It’s one of the only pre–World War II blast furnaces in existence. Tours are $25 USD.

Days 107-110: Finger Lakes, NY

The picturesque Finger Lakes region of New York, USA

  • Visit the wineries – There are tons of wineries all around the Finger Lakes, most of which offer tours and tastings (some also have live music and serve food). To guide your way, follow the Seneca Wine Trail or the Keuka Wine Trail, which link some of the best wineries in the region.
  • See Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen State Park gorge trail is home to 19 picturesque waterfalls spread out over a two-hour hike. It’s not particularly strenuous, and there are lots of spots to relax and snap photos.
  • Visit Ithaca – This photogenic small town has over 150 waterfalls within 10 miles of the town. There’s also a charming downtown, the beautiful Cornell campus (one of the prettiest in the country), and Cayuga Lake.

Days 111-113: Albany, NY

The view of Albany, NY as seen from the water

  • Hike in John Boyd Thacher State Park – Located 30 minutes outside of town, this state park has over 25 miles of trails, as well as panoramic views from the Helderberg Escarpment. It’s a beautiful place for a day hike.
  • Visit New York State Museum – This museum has a wide range of interesting exhibitions, including on local birds and wildlife, colonial history, and the ice age, among other topics. Admission is free (though a $5 USD donation is suggested).
  • Tour the Capitol – The NY State Capitol building offers free daily tours. They’re the perfect way to learn more about the state, the city, and the building (including some ghost stories about the capitol’s haunting). Tours last one hour.

Days 114-120: Buffer Days

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in Acadia National Park, Maine

Having some padding in your itinerary will let you explore, have serendipitous travel experiences, and dig a little deeper into the regions and cultures you’ll be passing through.

While this is a solid itinerary, please mix it up. Skip some cities and spend more time in nature — or vice versa!

At the end of the day, the United States is an amazing and diverse country. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it. Delicious food, adventure activities, hiking, museums, history — we’ve got it all. You just need to hit the road and see it for yourself.

Need a rental car for your epic adventure? use the widget below to find the best deals!

Book Your Trip to the United States: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)

Looking for the best companies to save money with? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money — and I think they will help you too!

Want more information on the United States? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the USA for even more planning tips!

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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The Ultimate 3-Week Road Trip Across North America 2024

Are you embarking on the ultimate 3-week road trip across north america in 2023.

After a long few years of on and off travel restrictions, this 3-week road trip across North America is the ultimate way to break out of your comfort zone and start seeing the world again.

You’ll be exposed to some amazing sights, get the opportunity to meet interesting people, and possibly even get the chance to capture some amazing wildlife on film!

You’ve likely traveled by plane, train, boat, and scooter before, but, perhaps it’s time for a new adventure… say, a car or van, perhaps?

Before you hit the open road, there are a few things you need to do to make sure your trip goes smoothly, however, which is exactly where I come in.

In this article, I have provided you with a detailed 3-week North American itinerary, all the information you need to know about planning a road trip, important safety tips, and much more.

My goal for you is after reading this article, you’ll be ready to pack your bags and embark on the journey of your lifetime. So, let’s get to it!

Table of Contents

Week 1: massachusetts to colorado, week 2: colorado to british columbia, week 3: british columbia to prudhoe bay, alaska (the arctic circle), map of this 3 week road trip across north america, the best time to visit the u.s., how to get around the u.s., where to stay in the u.s. on a road trip, what to eat on a 3-week road trip across america, what to pack for a 21-day usa road trip, tips for planning a u.s. road trip, safety tips for going on a 3-week road trip across america, faq: 3-week road trip across america, the ultimate 3-week road trip across north america itinerary.

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This 21-day USA itinerary marks its beginning on the East Coast in the iconic city of Boston, Massachusetts.

From this popular South Shore city, you’ll make your way through the central United States, heading northwest from Colorado through Canada’s territories, and finally ending in the Arctic Circle where you’ll step foot in one of the northernmost cities in the world!

Of course, there will be plenty of national park stops along the way for the avid nature enthusiast, like myself.

The goal of this itinerary is to get from as far East Coast to as far West Coast as you possibly can in just 3 weeks.

It’s the ultimate guide for relocating to Alaska or the West Coast of the U.S. and perfect if you want to be one of the few people in the world who can say they drove one of the longest distances across North America (6,000+ miles to be exact!)

Following the itinerary, keep reading for tips on planning a 3-week road trip across America, safety information, where to stay, how to get around, when to visit each region, and more.

In week one of this itinerary, we’ll be visiting 6 different locations, but don’t stress! 3 of them are all within an hour of each other in Colorado.

You’ll have plenty of time to do some sightseeing and not stress yourself out with too much driving as you start acclimating to life on the road.

Niagara Falls, New York

The impressive Niagra Falls

No 3-week road trip across America would be complete without a quick visit to Niagara Falls! A 7-hour drive from the city of Boston will take you through New York’s capital of Albany and straight onto the Canadian border from Syracuse.

Niagara Falls is a staggering 2,200 feet wide and 188 feet high in certain places making it one of the most impressive waterfalls in North America.

During your visit, you can take a walk along the 3-mile Niagara Parkway and enjoy the rushing rapids before the falls drop, or view them up close with a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist .

Now, you’ve probably heard that there are two sides to Niagara Falls – the New York side and the Canadian side. And if you have heard of this, then it’s likely that you’ve also heard that the Canadian side is better.

While I really enjoyed my time visiting the New York side which came equipped with dozens of food trucks, a beautiful green park, and plenty of viewing areas, these rumors are true.

The Canadian side offers a far better perspective for viewing the width and depth of the falls, so if you’re looking for some prime photo opportunities, then it will be in your best interest to spend some time in line at the Canadian border.

Just be sure to remember your passport and consider practicing your French speaking skills before you go!

✅ If you want a really special experience then consider booking a helicopter ride over the Niagra Falls. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. This 4.5 star review helicopter ride is the best out there.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH

From Niagara Falls, it’s time to head toward the Midwest, where you’ll be spending a day in the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park!

Depending on which side of Niagara Falls you visited, you can either continue your journey south from the New York side through Buffalo and down towards Cleveland, Ohio which takes about 3.5 hours, or you can continue your drive through Canada and pass through Detroit.

I don’t typically recommend the latter of the two since it would take nearly 7 hours of driving, and the journey would include some eastward backtracking which isn’t what we want when trying to be efficient.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the perfect road trip stop for nature lovers, as it’s a beautiful oasis right in the middle of Central America.

This park is set along the Cuyahoga River and features pristine hiking trails (my favorites were the Kendall Lake Loop and Deer Run trails), over 100 miles of scenic biking paths, and plenty of outdoor activities.

If you’re looking to get up close with some wildlife, don’t forget to visit the Beaver Marsh and see if you can spot any beavers or migrant birds!

Pro Tip: After exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park and kicking off your journey on the east coast, it’s important to remember that as you make your way westward, there aren’t going to be an insane amount of stops worth checking out for more than a few hours, unless you decide to drive south towards Tennessee and the surrounding states where there are several beautiful national forests.

Indiana Dunes National Park, IN

Indiana Dunes National Park, IN

From Cuyahoga, head directly west about 4.5 hours to the beautiful Indiana Dunes National Park!

Known for its expansive beaches on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes will blow you away with its pristine landscape and stunning views.

This national park is one of America’s lesser-known gems and is home to 50 miles of hiking trails and 15 miles of sandy beachfront making it the perfect spot to spend a night on your long drive.

If you enjoy sleeping under the stars, be sure to check out Dunewood Campground which is located inside the national park and is nearby Lake Michigan and some great hiking trails including Cowles Bog Trail as well as Glenwood Dunes Trail.

They have clean and well-run facilities, as well as perfectly groomed camping pads so you shower and sleep in peace following your day’s hike.

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO on a 3 week North America road trip

Keeping on the national park theme, we’re off to Colorado! Now, you’re probably thinking, “what about Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska?”, and the truth is, there really isn’t much to do near your driving route in these states.

I would, however, recommend stopping at the world’s largest truck stop on I-80 in Iowa!

But, as far as scenic stops go, you’re better off grabbing a campsite or bnb in Lincoln , Nebraska (about halfway on this 15-hour stretch), and continuing on to Colorado where you’ll be spoiled for choice with things to do.

✅ Take a look at Graduate Lincoln for an awesome night of luxury.

Don’t worry, there will be endless corn and hay fields which are actually quite beautiful along the way, but don’t expect anything too crazy to happen at this point in the journey.

Once you enter the breathtaking state of Colorado, don’t be surprised if you have to drive for an extra hour or two before you start seeing the mountains. This surprised me on my first visit when I drove along I-76, so I wanted to give you a fair warning.

But, once you start seeing the city, you’ll be so close to the absolutely incredible Rocky Mountain National Park!

Known for its expansive peaks, miles of hiking trails, and clear alpine lakes, this is one national park you don’t want to miss on your 3-week road trip across North America.

Check out Bear Lake Trailhead which offers stunning views of the pristine lake and endless mountains in the background. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, approach Nymph Lake and Dream Lake for a full day of hiking that you won’t soon forget.

✅ Book a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Rocky Mountains (but book in advance, they sell out quickly)

Rocky Mountain National Park is also covered in wildlife, so make sure to keep an eye out for deer, elk, moose, wolves, and even bears! Just don’t forget your bear spray if you plan on hiking through the park.

You could spend weeks in this park without seeing everything there is to see and do, but since we’re trying to be efficient, 2 nights or so will definitely do the trick.

Pro Tip: To limit the number of people in the park before 3:00 PM every day, you may need to reserve your timed entry spot online in the 2023 season. This can be done weeks in advance, but if you don’t then you may be forced to wait until later in the day or come back on a different day entirely. You can check the rules and regulations for entry into the park on the National Park Service website as well as reserve your spot when the timeslots become available.

Welcome to Golden sign

When in Colorado, you do as the Coloradans do! Walk around downtown Golden and you’ll immediately get a feel for the laid-back, friendly culture of this state.

Shop local stores on the iconic 12th Street and enjoy some craft beers on one of the many patios around town (my favorite brewery is The Golden Mill because of its rooftop bar with self-serve brew stations).

Be sure to make some time for a brewery tour around the world-famous Coors Brewery , and if you’re hungry, there’s no better place in Golden than The Post.

End your night in Golden with ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s and consider staying at the Table Mountain Inn for its close proximity to downtown and beautiful balconies overlooking the Rocky Mountains.

You can also combine your trip to Golden with a stop in Denver if you would like, though we have found Denver to be much more of a city that lacks the true Colorado feel.

✅ Book a stay at Table Mountain Inn here

Boulder, CO

Visit Boulder on your 3 week road trip around North America

As you make your way north towards Wyoming, be sure to stop in Boulder! Shadowed by the Flatirons on its western border, the city is known for its breathtaking views and epic outdoor activities.

Check out Chautauqua Park for a picnic lunch on the tables outside, or head to the Pearl Street Mall to do some shopping.

✅ Why not explore Chautauqua Park and more on an eBike tour. It’s one of the best ways to experience this beautiful place in a short amount of time.

Boulder is the perfect place to stock up on some craft beers and local snacks before hitting the road again, especially since you’ll be just an hour away from the gorgeous Estes Park.

In week 2, we have another six different locations, with four of them being national parks! If you would prefer to have more time in each of these places, you can always extend your trip by a few days if you want.

This is what I decided to do and it allowed me to stay in both Banff and Jasper National park for 2 nights each instead of one which made all the difference in my journey.

You also have the option of sticking to the major cities if you prefer, in which case Jackson Hole, WY is a fantastic place to consider.

Grand Tetons National Park, WY

Grand Tetons National Park, WY

Wyoming is often recognized for one thing: Yellowstone National Park . And don’t worry! We’ll get there (literally – it’s the next stop down on this itinerary), but it’s important to enjoy as much of the road trip as possible because let’s be honest… the journey is more than half of the fun.

If you haven’t heard of Grand Teton National Park before, you’re in for a real treat. Boasting some of the highest peaks in North America, the park is a sight to behold.

At an 8-hour drive from Boulder, it’s a good idea to either leave early in the morning if you’re open to a full day in the car, or plan to book an accommodation of sorts near the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest.

✅ Step back in time with a stay at the Elk Mountain Hotel

I stayed at Dugway Campground which is a free dispersed camping site with just an outhouse and first-come-first-serve campsites.

Be sure to hike around Jenny Lake which has plenty of spots for fishing and check out the National Elk Refuge near Jackson Hole.

Just keep in mind that a large influx of native Spanish speakers have moved into the area in recent years, so it’s not a bad idea to brush up on your Spanish if you will be staying in Jackson Hole for a couple of nights since many of the locals speak Spanish as their first language.

Yellowstone National Park, WY

The geysers in Yellowstone National Park, WY will be highlight on your 3 week road trip through North America

Ah, Yellowstone. Home to some of the most incredible wildlife in North America, you’re sure to be able to spot everything from bison and elk to bears and wolves as you make your way through this iconic park.

There are plenty of different hikes throughout the park and tons of outdoor activities, but what makes Yellowstone unique is its geothermal features like geysers and hot springs.

✅ Book the best geyser and hot springs tour here

The park is also home to the world-famous Old Faithful so be sure to check that out too! If you are interested in some popular day hikes , check out Bunsen Peak or the Mystic Falls Trails Loop which begins in Biscuit Basin.

Pro Tip: This is definitely one of those places on this itinerary where you should stop at the visitor center first so they can give you an overview of where all the animals are likely to be. This is also true at Grand Tetons National Park, where they have rangers consistently driving the park’s main roads and borders to keep track of where herds of elk, bison, and other wildlife are moving.

Canmore, AB, Canada

Canmore, AB, Canada

About 11 hours north of Yellowstone sits the largest city in Alberta, Canada… Calgary! But, just like most cities, Calgary has a lot of fast food spots and major highways, so it’s not exactly the place I recommend spending the night.

If you have a little more driving left in you for the day, head west about 75 minutes to the city of Canmore.

Nestled under the Canadian Rockies, this ski town perfectly represents the iconic town of Chamonix, France known for its craggy, snow-capped mountain peaks and European-style architecture and lodging!

You’ll find wooden chalets , quaint cafes (my favorite is The Summit Cafe on Cougar Creek Dr.) and nearby sits the beautiful Grassi Lakes.

✅ Stay at the beautiful Stoneridge Mountain Resort

It’s the perfect place to stop in for the night for amazing alpine views and good food before you continue your drive north to the iconic Banff and Jasper national parks.

Pro Tip: 11 hours is a long drive. Split it up by stopping in the town of St. Mary which serves as a hopping-off point for the very popular Glacier National Park! I didn’t end up including this stop on my way to Canada because I would’ve had to rush through it, but it’s definitely worth a visit if you want to make the time to stop in.

Columbia Falls on the west side of the park is where you’ll be the closest to the major sites and hiking trails if you find yourself with the time to reach it, but it is a good bit more off the direct route through Canada.

Banff National Park, AB, Canada

Banff National Park, AB, Canada

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been looking at pictures of the iconic Lake Moraine for years! And trust me when I say it is everything that you could hope for and more.

Be sure to stay the night right in the park (I really enjoyed Lake Louis Campground because it had a bear fence surrounding the whole campground, meaning it was much safer for myself and my dog), since you’ll be within a 20-minute drive of all the major sites in the park.

I recommend taking a drive up to Lake Louise early in the morning to beat the 9:00 AM crowds and then heading back down through the Bow Valley Parkway which is full of sweeping mountain views and tons of wildlife!

Banff National Park is full of incredible hikes, but my favorites were the Lake Agnes Teahouse (shown above) and Bow Glacier Falls Trail for their incredibly scenic routes and moderately challenging difficulty levels.

Again, just be sure you have an air horn, a bear bell, and bear spray if you are planning on making your way through the Canadian wilderness.

Wildlife sightings are very common, so it’s best to be well prepared and to make plenty of noise during your hike so you don’t startle any animals that may be in your path.

✅ Book a tour of all the best sights listed here if you’re short on time

Jasper National Park, AB, Canada

Jasper National Park, AB, Canada

About a 3-hour drive along I-93 north will bring you to the jaw-dropping Jasper National Park.

Often overlooked by tourists starstruck by Banff, listen to me when I tell you that many of the people we met said they liked Jasper even more than Banff!

Fantastic for wildlife viewing and endless beautiful hiking trails with a fraction of the tourists of Banff, you’ll be so glad you decided to include this lesser-known national park in Canada.

Spend a day exploring the trails surrounding the Valley of the Five Lakes, where you can go swimming in crystal clear, turquoise-colored lakes, or pop into the center of town and try the nachos at the Jasper Brewing Company.

✅ One of the most popular things to do here is the Glacier Skywalk and the Athabasca Glacier. Book now through Viator

It’s the perfect place to wrap up your evening before taking to the road the next morning.

Pro Tip: While you don’t have as many native French speakers as Quebec in this region of Canada, the city of Canmore and regions surrounding the national parks do have quite a bit of French speakers. So, it’s a great opportunity to practice your French if you’re looking for a way to connect with the locals!

Dawson Creek, BC, Canada

Dawson Creek, BC, Canada sign

Welcome to British Columbia!

5 hours northwest of Jasper National Park is the small town of Dawson Creek. Seems simple enough… but, there’s actually something quite amazing about this small town and a huge reason why you should include it on your 3-week road trip across North America.

It marks the beginning of the Alaska State Highway!

World famous for its rugged mountainous terrain, the Alaska Highway is a 1,390-mile stretch of road that connects the cities of Dawson Creek and Fairbanks in Alaska.

It’s full of small towns along the way where you can stop for gas and/or food, but it’s also full of absolutely stunning views from start to finish!

Dawson Creek itself doesn’t quite live up to its name, but it’s a great stopping point en route to Alaska if you’re in need of supplies. Plus, you’re likely going to want to break up the drive to Muncho Lake.

Muncho Lake, BC, Canada

Make sure you stop muncho lake on your 3 week North America road trip

From Dawson Creek, you’ll have a 7.5-hour drive up to Muncho Lake where you’ll be able to explore one of the most beautiful regions in British Columbia.

Muncho Lake is a breathtaking alpine lake with amazing hiking trails (particularly Stone’s Sheep Trail) that wind through alpine meadows and by glacier-fed rivers.

This region is also known for its incredible wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for animals like elk, moose, and even bears!

You’ll want to set up camp right on the shores of the lake for the best views of the sunset and sunrise, but keep in mind that you need to get there early as there are only about 10 spots, or so. It’s first-come first-serve, and an environmentalist will come around at some point in the evening to collect $20 from you for the spot.

In return, you’ll receive a small pass that gets clipped to your campsite board for the duration of your stay.

Pro Tip: Drive slowly around Muncho Lake and keep a careful eye out for wildlife. This is where I spotted a pack of 5 wolves, a massive herd of Bison, a bald eagle, and a fox all within a few miles of each other!

On the third week of this North American road trip, you might start to feel like you wished you allotted more time for the drive, or perhaps the opposite, you are ready to kick it into high gear and complete your drive to the Arctic Circle.

Whatever the case may be, this is why it’s best to keep your schedule as flexible as possible while you’re road-tripping.

If you’re camping, this is quite simple since you can just book as you go, but if you’re staying in hotels or Airbnb’s for example, then it will be in your best interest to only book accommodations with free cancelation.

I ended up increasing my 3-week trip to a 4-week trip, and I was so glad I did! Consider how much time you have for traveling and if you have any time constraints limiting your flexibility before you start the drive, so you know exactly how much wiggle room you have with your itinerary.

Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

But, to kick off our third and final week of this itinerary, we’ll be making the 8-hour drive up to the Yukon! Whitehorse, specifically.

Similar to Dawson Creek in the sense that it really is just one big city, it’s a good stopping point to get you that much closer to Alaska and it’s a great spot to pick up any supplies you may need.

Pro Tip: If you have yet to get an oil change and check your tire pressure on your road trip across North America so far, then Whitehorse is a great place to do it! There are plenty of mechanics and chain shops such as Jiffy Lube around that can take care of those simple fixes for you.

Tok, Alaska

Tok, Alaska

If you can make it this far, you should be really proud of yourself. Driving cross-country is no easy feat and is definitely something to be celebrated! When we crossed the border into Alaska, it was a fun and exciting moment that I truly hope you get to experience for yourself.

It’s about 5.5 hours to the Alcan Border from Whitehorse, but I don’t really recommend stopping there. The border doesn’t really have much going on, except that you’ll cross this awesome “Welcome to Alaska” sign.

There really isn’t anywhere to stay either, so continue 1.5 hours to the small town of Tok, where you’ll find a small, but well-supplied town with a gas station, a couple of shops and stores, and a great self-serve campground called the Alaska Stoves Camp.

It’s on an honor system, so you can simply drop the money in a camp stove out front of the main building.

Pro Tip: You will cross into a different time zone once you enter Alaska, so be sure to keep this in mind if you’re counting the hours left in your drive using your car’s clock. You’ll also have the opportunity to drive south from Tok if you want to tack on some time in the stunning Wrangell-St. Elias National Park !

Fairbanks, AK

Once you’ve had a chance to refuel, hop back on Route 2 through Delta Junction and onto Fairbanks. It’s just a mere 3.5-hour drive from here which will feel like a breeze at this point in your 3-week North American road trip.

Fairbanks is a great city to stop for a night or two (I actually ended up staying 3 nights because my husband, dog, and I simply needed a break from the car) to catch up on some much-needed rest, particularly if you’ve been camping your way through the majority of this trip like we did.

✅ We recommend a stay the The Adamina. You can book here.

I should also mention that this is your last stop for about 13 hours of driving minimum (one-way, so 26 hours round-trip), so it is vital that you stock up on plenty of food and dry goods. If you have a jet-boil, you’ll be happy to have it!

Coldfoot, AK

Coldfoot, AK

Just shy of 6 hours north of Fairbanks will bring you to the tiny, dare I even say the word town, called Coldfoot.

There is one gas pump outside of a wooden building that serves some buffet-style food to truckers and the rare tourist making their way up the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay.

It was surprisingly tasty considering its remoteness, but you may want to consider other means, especially if you have anyone in your group with a food restriction or allergy.

In terms of accommodations, well… we slept in our car, as did most of the people in the parking lot.

There is the Coldfoot Camp, but be prepared to pay a hefty fee for mediocre lodging at best. If you’re wondering why I would include Coldfoot as a stop on this 3-week road trip across North America, it’s because it’s actually the only stop en route to the Arctic Circle from Fairbanks.

You won’t find any gas stations or supermarkets between Fairbanks and Coldfoot, or between Coldfoot and Prudhoe Bay, so you’ll want to be sure you have a full tank of gas and plenty of food and water before departing for Coldfoot.

It’s the unfortunate reality of driving to one of the most remote places in the entire world.

But, if you have it in you to drive this far, I promise you can make it the rest of the way.

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Prudhoe Bay, Alaska

Wake up bright and early, toss your blanket in the trunk of your car, and continue north on the Dalton Highway for an additional 5.5 hours on the last day of your road trip.

Please bear in mind that the Dalton Highway is often rated as one of the most dangerous highways in the entire world owing to its lack of cell service, extremely poor road conditions, and lack of emergency services, and it is not to be taken lightly.

You’ll want to ensure you have plenty of provisions to keep you warm and fed for at least a few days’ time, and it isn’t a bad idea to have a satellite phone on hand.

A spare tire and all of the associated parts should be kept on hand, as well, as popped tires are all too common here.

Keep your eye out for wildlife along the drive and keep your camera handy at all times.

This is one of the few places in North America where you can see arctic foxes, Dall sheep, caribou, grizzly bears, moose, and a myriad of other species native to the Alaskan north that you just won’t find anywhere else.

We loved seeing the tundra swans and tundra loons, plus we got to see muskoxen which were much larger than we expected.

Once you’ve reached Prudhoe Bay, be sure to book an Arctic Ocean Shuttle as it’s the only way to reach the Arctic Ocean. Since the ocean lies on the other side of private oil fields, you’ll need to provide your personal information and have a background check performed before you will be allowed to cross the oil fields with a guide.

It costs about $75 per person, but is well worth the money when you can say you stepped foot (or even taken a dip) in the Arctic Ocean!

Going up to my knees was plenty for me as there were mini glaciers floating all around and the water temperatures ranged in the high 30s Fahrenheit (around 3-4 degrees Celsius).

Pro Tip: Be prepared for chilly weather and cloudy skies, even in the summer months. The Dalton Highway is nearly impassable for 18-wheelers once the snow hits, so be sure to plan your visit during the early summer months if you want to cross into the Arctic Circle with little to no issues.

Now that you have the itinerary, let’s see it all mapped out! Here is the route that we took to cross from the East Coast of the U.S. to the West Coast all the way through Canada and ending in northernmost Alaska.

I want to ensure that I mention that this route would have been far more efficient had we crossed into Canada in North Dakota, but we had family in Colorado that we wanted to see anyway, plus we got to see so many more U.S. national parks this way.

You can arrange the journey however you please, but this route worked very well for us on our way to Alaska.

road trip around north america

There is no one perfect time to visit the U.S., as every part of the country offers very different experiences throughout the year.

However, if you’re looking to do a U.S. road trip, I would recommend either early summer ( May-June ) or early fall ( late August-September ) when the weather is milder and the roads are less likely to be blocked by snow and endless flocks of tourists.

If you want to go skiing or see the Northern Lights, head to the mountains in winter (December-February), and if you want to visit theme parks or enjoy some warm weather and beaches, then visit during the summer months (June-August).

Just be sure to research what you want to do and where you want to go before making any final plans, as there can be some pretty big temperature swings from one part of the country to another!

For this 3-week U.S. road trip in particular, I would recommend not leaving any later than late July since you’ll want enough time to reach the Arctic Circle without worrying about getting hit with snow while driving the Dalton Highway.

a car in the sunset

U.S. road trips start with, you guessed it… a vehicle! Whether that be a suburban-style car or a converted sprinter van, you’ll need something with at least two wheels, but practically speaking, four would be much more convenient.

Of course, you always have the option of flying between your destinations, but you’ll miss out on everything along the way, and there are some really incredible sights to see.

Plus, it’s typically far more expensive to fly (unless you are staying in hotels the entire trip) since flights cost far more than gas, particularly in the mid-western states.

🏆 We highly recommend Escape Campervans 🏆 These campervans have everything you need to travel the country safely, comfortably, cheaply, and uniquely (seriously, go check out the designs on these vans!) They have excellent customer support and are now the largest campervan rental in North America, with over 90,000 happy customers. Head to their website and you’ll see why.

However, the general rule of thumb for the best way to get around the U.S. stems from your goals.

If you’re planning to visit multiple national parks or do more extensive sightseeing along your 3-week U.S. itinerary, then driving between destinations is the best choice.

But, if you want to be as efficient as possible and know exactly where you want to go and don’t need the flexibility in your schedule, then you should definitely fly between places to save time.

When it comes to figuring out where to stay on a U.S. road trip, you really are spoiled for choice. These days, you have endless high-end campgrounds, Airbnb’s, VRBO rentals, hotels, and even tree houses you can stay in.

But, it really all depends on what your comfort level is and what your budget is. So, let’s jump into some details on these topics.

a road trip through North America

Over our 4-week U.S. road trip, we decided to camp for 3.5 out of the 4 weeks. Why? We love camping and we also had a dog with us which made finding hotels and accommodations just a bit harder.

We also travel full-time, so this wasn’t as much of a vacation for us as it was just another trip where we were working on the road. So, we needed the experience to be both budget-friendly and pet-friendly.

It doesn’t really matter what your situation is, if you find yourself with similar limitations, then camping is a great option.

All across America, you can find endless options for campgrounds. From the more manicured camping option at the KOA Campgrounds to free dispersed camping in the national forests of Wyoming with nothing but an outhouse, you’re never without a spot to sleep.

This is a great way to keep your costs low and keep your schedule and U.S. road trip itinerary flexible in the event that you decide you want to spend an extra night somewhere or even leave a day or two early from a specific place.

In my opinion, campgrounds are the best place to stay when going on a cross-country road trip since you can set up your “home for the night” pretty much anywhere.

There are some downsides, of course, including the fact that you’ll be susceptible to the weather and safety can be a concern for some, particularly in regions with a lot of wildlife.

You’ll also notice that finding campgrounds with Wifi and free showers can be challenging, so you’ll need to be prepared for these practical limitations if you find them to be crucial to your daily routine.

Hotels and Accommodation Rentals

a couple on a US road trip

If money isn’t of much concern, then hotels and accommodation rental companies can be a very comfortable and luxurious way to make your journey cross country, as well.

There are hotels, bed and breakfasts, Airbnb’s, VRBO properties, and everything in between all over the U.S. so you’ll never be without a comfortable bed and clean shower.

Plus, these days most hotels offer free continental breakfasts at a minimum, so you’ll be well taken care of during your trip.

The only downside of living almost exclusively in hotels is the lack of a kitchen, which means you’ll likely find yourself eating at restaurants a lot more often which can really rack up your bills.

If you don’t want to sacrifice comfort and cleanliness but don’t want to break the bank either, then I highly recommend considering Airbnb or apartments on

It’s a great way to find reasonably priced accommodations that have everything you’re looking for. Also, if you’re traveling with a pet, I have found self-hosted to be a fantastic option, and in fact, it’s what we use every time we travel with our dog.

Renting a campervan is another fantastic option for heading out on a U.S. road trip. For starters, it can save you tons of money on lodging, as you can simply drive to your next destination and sleep right there in your vehicle.

You’ll just need to make sure to check if overnight parking is allowed at each place you stay.

Plus, you can often cook light meals right inside which saves you a ton of money on eating out! But, the real perk that is no matter what the weather looks like, you’ll be nice and dry come morning and bears are going to have a very hard time opening your van door.

The downside to van life is the initial outfitting of the van itself… it can be very expensive. Even renting a pre-outfitted van can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars per week, so you’ll want to get a quote for your rental period if this is something you’re considering.

If you decide to outfit your own van you can save a lot of money, but the van itself usually starts around $30k for a decent model.

Similar to camping, however, a van allows you to keep your schedule totally flexible since you can sleep practically anywhere that doesn’t have “no overnight parking” posted nearby making it a top contender when considering where to stay on a 3-week North American road trip.

✅ Book with Escape Campervans for the best price and experience

Last, but definitely not least, is RV life.

The stereotypical perspective of this option is that it’s primarily for the older generation, but that simply isn’t true. If you’re traveling with a larger group or simply want to do your U.S. road trip on the slower side, an RV is a great option.

It offers everything that a typical hotel can offer you, with the perks of a kitchen and being close to nature. It’s practically camping, van life, and hotels all wrapped up into one!

There are a few downsides to this option, however, including that RVs, like outfitted vans, can be outrageously expensive.

If you want to buy one, it’s almost like buying a small house without a yard. If you want to rent one, well… you might as well buy one!

But, as I said, if you have a big group that can split the cost, this is a great way to go cross-country road-tripping in the U.S. You may have some trouble finding a spot for everyone to sleep, but it will be well worth your efforts if you are hoping to live comfortably and casually.

camping food on a 3 week road trip around north america

This will almost entirely depend on what you’re hoping to eat on your trip and where you plan to stay.

If you’re camping, you’ll be more limited to whatever you can keep cold in your cooler and how many pots and pans you want to bring back and forth to the one dish sink at the campground. I will say that buying ice gets old very quickly, especially if you’re traveling in the summer months, so this is something to keep in mind if you almost always cook all of your meals from scratch.

If you’re living it up in a van or RV, it depends on how many dishes you want to do and how big your fresh gallon tank is. If you’re constantly having to find places to fill your water tank up, you may get used to a sandwich for lunch instead of something that creates a lot of dishes.

You’ll notice at the beginning of your trip that you’re far more excited and motivated to cook fun meals over a campfire and pull out pans for whatever you need. But, once you start week two and especially week three of this U.S. road trip, there’s a good chance you’ll start finding easier meals that you enjoy that don’t require a lot of clean up.

For us, we found sandwiches, soup, fruit, and beans to make up the bulk of our diet over the course of those 4 weeks. I primarily picked up pre-made food at the local supermarkets and we would eat that while we drove.

It doesn’t sound great, and I agree it wasn’t, but it got the job done and it saved us a ton of money.

At first, I was so excited to create these elaborate meals and after just one week, we decided that all of the extra work after a full day in the car simply wasn’t worth it.

You may find you agree or disagree, but I will say that over time you’ll want something that you can make for yourself.

If you try to stick to mainly fast food and restaurants, you’re going to eventually get tired of the pre-made food and especially the bill.

It’s a good idea to keep a healthy mix between making your own food and eating out so you don’t get too tired of one before the journey is over.

the sign for the entrance to alaska

21 days may seem like a long time to pack for, but luckily pretty much everywhere you go will have plenty of opportunities for laundry services.

I found it extremely helpful when we were camping to book an Airbnb with a washer and dryer twice during our trip, so we only had to pack for about 10 days worth of clothing.

This kept our load light and prevented us from spending a lot of money on multiple washing sessions.

Pro Tip: If you’re trying to travel light with nothing but a backpack and a couple of pairs of shoes, then be sure to check out this minimalist packing list before your trip!

If this sounds like a good fit for you or something you would like to try, then try out the 10-day packing list below that works wonders for any 21-day USA road trip.

It includes everything you’ll need no matter the weather, so if you’re traveling in the harsher seasons of winter or spring you may need to add or take away some clothing.

I have also included the basic necessities you’ll need for camping, so feel free to omit those if you plan on outfitting a van, staying in an RV, or getting other accommodation rentals.

  • Tent ( 2-4 person tents usually work well )
  • 2 Tarps and Rope (one to tie above your tent and one to put below your tent when it rains)
  • Sleeping Bags ( ensure they’re rated for cold weather )
  • Headtorch (handy for just about everything!)
  • Air pads (great if you’ll be camping for long periods of time)
  • Camping Chairs (nothing too fancy, you don’t want them to take up a lot of room)
  • Cooler (preferably one that holds ice for at least 24 hours)
  • Portable Grill ( I use the one-burner Coleman propane stove )
  • Pots/Pans/Plates/Cups/Utensils (use metal! It can go over an open flame and saves a lot of wasted single-use plastic. Most campgrounds across the U.S. have very limited recycling capabilities)
  • Instant Coffee (perfect for when you’re trying to pack up and go)
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30+) & Hat for sun protection
  • Waterproof Boots
  • Basic Hygiene Items (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, moisturizer, hairbrush, toothbrush & paste, floss, razor, tweezers, deodorant, etc.)
  • Rain Jacket ( This Helly Hanson jacket is perfect )
  • Hooded Sweatshirt or Fleece
  • 1 Winter Jacket (if applicable)
  • 1-2 Sweaters
  • 2-3 Long Sleeves
  • 2-3 T-Shirts
  • 1-2 Pairs of Shorts
  • 1-2 Pairs of Leggings
  • 1 Pair of Jeans
  • 1 Sleep Outfit
  • 10 Pairs of Underwear
  • 5-7 Pairs of Socks

a road leading to a mountain

When it comes to planning a 3-week road trip across the U.S., there are some things you’ll need to know ahead of time that may not be as obvious as you would hope.

Over the next two sections, I’m going to provide you with tips on how to plan your road trip itinerary as well as some safety tips that I learned along my route.

Don’t book anything until you’re 100% satisfied with your route and plans. It can be tempting to jump right in and secure your dates for Lake Louis Campground in Banff, but just ensure that your itinerary is exactly how you want it and everything that you’ve planned has availability before doing so.

Don’t take the itinerary I provided and assume it’s perfect for you. You may want to travel further south or north, increase or decrease your time in different areas, or skip somewhere altogether.

We used this route to relocate to Alaska for a few months, but we’ll be taking an entirely different route back to New England on the return trip to see the southern half of the country.

Do your research. I can’t emphasize this one enough!

Had we not researched the flooding that occurred in Yellowstone National Park in early 2022, we never would have known that the northern side of the park road was still closed to traffic which would add an extra 2 hours to our drive when we were heading north to Montana.

Always research current road conditions and keep up to date with events that could potentially interrupt your route or schedule.

Think about your interests first and your itinerary second. What do you want to do? What do you actually want to see? If you have no interest in being in the mountains and prefer big cities, then you can probably skip several of the national parks on this list.

Once you know what you want to do during your road trip, you can start thinking about your itinerary.

Have a general schedule in mind. Are you using this 21-day U.S. road trip to relocate to the West Coast, or are you hoping to return to the East Coast in as little as 3 weeks? This will majorly dictate how far you can go and how much time you spend in each place.

Don’t try to fit too much in. The U.S. is massive! Zigzagging your way north to south to hit the entire lower 48 before you go to Alaska will take months, not weeks.

Keep this in mind and don’t try to squeeze an extra city or two in if it’s going to take away from the rest of the places you really want to see.

Think about your budget ahead of time. This isn’t something you should start considering on week two after you’ve already spent far more than you were hoping for.

Make a spreadsheet and start considering your overall budget for food, gas, lodging, souvenirs, oil changes and car maintenance, and other incidentals that could occur (you lose your phone, perhaps) well before you depart.

Have your roles. If you’re traveling with a partner or friend, decide who will set up the tent while the other gets dinner going. This will make your life go far smoother after a 12-hour day in the car.

Get excited about the little things. There are parts of the U.S. that are just plain boring. And that’s okay! Embrace it.

Instead of getting caught up in the idea that every minute of this road trip has to be beautiful and exciting, enjoy the fact that you have no idea what may happen tomorrow and every new day is an adventure at this point in your life.

Don’t argue and have fun! This one seems obvious, but you’re going to take the wrong on-ramp at some point and have to backtrack a little.

This is a very normal part of road-tripping across the U.S. and there’s no point in wasting your time arguing about who was supposed to be looking at the map.

a car driving through North America

Next up, the safety tips! You may know how to change a tire (and you should before departing for this road trip), but there are some less obvious tips I have for you too.

Be prepared for inclement weather.

I left for my road trip at the end of July and it took me through August to reach Prudhoe Bay. When I was camping in Yellowstone National Park in mid-August, it dropped to about 45 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The further north I went, the faster it dropped to as low as 30 degrees at night. It doesn’t matter when you’re traveling, nighttime temperatures are a whole new ball game that you need to be prepared for if you’re sleeping outside.

Don’t speed.

This is for your safety and others. It can be exciting, overwhelming, and scary all at the same time to go on a U.S. road trip, but it’s not worth getting in an accident. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.

Have a GPS that works without an internet connection.

No, your phone is not good enough. I can’t tell you how many times we didn’t have service on any of our phones (we have T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T), but our GPS still got us where we were going. It’s also a good idea to have an updated paper map or atlas in your car, as well.

Keep your car well stocked with supplies at all times.

You never know what may happen. You could blow a tire in the middle of the Dalton Highway with no services for 300 miles or you could break down in the middle of the Montana desert with no cell service.

Always ensure you have warm blankets, food, and water for at least 3 days in your car.

Ensure you have tires with good treads.

We figured out about 3 weeks into our drive when the rainy season began in Canada that our treads were no good and we were sliding all over the road.

We had to stop and get new tires as soon as we entered Alaska which not only cost more money than it should have, but it also took several hours of our time.

Do yourself a favor and ensure that everything on your vehicle is operating the way it should before you depart!

Niagara falls

Below are some of your most-asked questions that I’ve provided some unique answers to based on my personal experiences and what I believe may be a good fit for other people.

3 Week Road Trip across America Cost

Now for the question that you’ve likely wanted to know the answer to this entire time… “how much did this U.S. road trip cost you?” Well, here’s the breakdown for our 4-week itinerary:

Campgrounds and Airbnb’s – $1,580 Food & Alcohol – $150-$200 per week ($700 total) Gas – $55 per tank (about $1100 total)

We also had a dog with us which increased our costs slightly in terms of the Airbnbs that we had to rent, her food, etc. In terms of gas, this is when gas prices were at an all-time high practically, so we were spending far more on gas than we normally would with our Subaru Forester.

We anticipated the trip to cost around $800 for gas and tolls, and it likely added up to around $1200-$1300 with tolls in the long run due to the $5+ per gallon gas prices.

The learning curve with this is always to anticipate your road trip to cost more and be pleasantly surprised if it costs less but comfortable if it costs what you expected.

How Long Does it Take to Road Trip around America?

This entirely depends on where you’re starting and ending your road trip, but typically 6-8 weeks is a good amount of time to see the major sights across the whole country while still having some time to enjoy yourself.

This is, of course, if you’re hoping to get across most of the states in the country.

If you want to spend more time in certain places, it may take several months or even longer is recommended depending on how much ground you would like to cover and how much you want to drive each day.

Along our U.S. road trip, we met someone who was visiting Alaska as their 49th state, and they had left in March! That means they had been road-tripping for over 4 months to see almost all of the U.S.

Keep this in mind if you’re hoping to check out numerous states and want to spend a good amount of time in each.

If you just want to drive between the major sites in each state and don’t mind skipping popular hiking trails and sights along the way, then 3-4 weeks will suffice.

Where Should I Go in the U.S. for 3 Weeks?

a van driving through north america on a road trip

If you only have 3 weeks for a North American road trip, then it’s best to keep your route somewhat limited. Particularly, if you plan on returning to where you started in 3 weeks’ time.

If you are leaving from the East Coast and are planning on being home within 3 weeks, then I wouldn’t go further west than Colorado.

But, if you have 3 weeks to go in one direction, then you could definitely reach California or even Alaska in that time.

Where you go will entirely depend on your preferences, but you can use the itinerary I provided to get some ideas on where may work best for you!

Pro Tip: It’s going to be warmer the further south you go and cooler the fourth north you go, regardless of when you leave.

The Wrap-Up: 3-Week North American Road Trips

Overall, U.S. road trips are one of the best ways to break out of your comfort zone and start traveling again.

Whether you’re planning this trip for just yourself, you and a partner, you and a friend, or even your entire extended family, this 3-week road trip across North America certainly has some new adventures in store for you.

road trip around north america

Author Bio Contributed by Emily of Emily Embarks .

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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.

road trip around north america

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 1st itinerary.

road trip around north america

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 2nd itinerary.

road trip around north america

If you’re more of a city slicker, the map’s author has created a 2nd 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.

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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!

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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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If you’re reading this, then we’re sure you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time daydreaming about just how awesome road tripping across North America would be. The good news is, the continent is HUGE so you’ll never run out of amazing things to see, but the bad news is, narrowing down where to go can be a tough decision… We’ve compiled a list of the absolute best road trips in North America so you can worry more about the when and less about the where ! 

North America has an insane variety of landscapes, from the magnificent snow-capped mountains of the Canadian Rockies, the vast prairies of the South Dakota Badlands, and the tropical golden-sand beaches of Baja California. There is something for everyone, with loads of interesting cities, towns, and villages, to break up your journey. 

Keep reading as we’ve got a list of the most epic North American road trips coming your way. Some of these are so incredible you’ll no doubt have heard of them, but, since we’re not your ordinary travel website, we’ve thrown in a few wild cards too *winks*

Table of Contents

Pacific Coast Highway – United States

Who hasn’t heard of the Pacific Coast Highway? This incredible route is known for being one of the most scenic roads on the planet. You can feel the cool, California sea breeze running through your hair, while you take in the mountains, forests, and stunning coastline. The road trip starts in San Francisco where you can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy some fresh seafood on Pier 39. It ends in San Diego, home of the legendary San Diego Zoo. 

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The Pacific Coast Highway is without a doubt one of the best road trips in North America and even though the route start-to-finish takes around ten hours, we recommend stretching it out to at least six days. Luckily, California is pretty mild weather-wise, so you can enjoy this trip at any time of the year. But for the best weather, plan to drive it between late spring and fall, avoiding July and August if you wanna skip the crowds. 

Of course, you can stop anywhere you want, we do have a few suggestions though! Stop over in Santa Cruz to experience that high-stoke surf culture and to ride on some of the world’s greatest off-shore breaks. Monterey Bay is a great place for families because the Monterey Bay Aquarium is LIT. Spend the night sleeping under the stars amongst the iconic redwood trees in Big Sur (campsites get booked up pretty quickly, so book well in advance), and you definitely have to check out McWay Falls, a magical waterfall that flows right onto the beach! To top it all off, head on over to Los Angeles to get your Hollywood on.

Route 66 – United States

We’ve got another iconic route for you (maybe even the most famous road in the world???) it’s none other than the one and only… Route 66! This road trip is not for the faint-hearted – or for anyone in a bit of a rush. You’re looking at covering just under 4,000 km of road and crossing eight US states. Starting in Chicago, Illinois, and ending in Santa Monica, California, you can make this trip in two weeks at a squeeze, although four is the ideal to make the most of the sights. 

What makes this road trip one of our best road trips in North America, aside from crossing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona along the way, is the sheer history of the road. Since it was built in 1926, “The Mother Road” has been walked on by Dust Bowl migrants fleeing to California for a better life, used by the American military during World War Two, and in its height of fame in the 50s, was frequented by Midwest Americans heading on vacation. Today, the road has changed a lot, but you can still drive over 80% of the original route!

There is so much to see and do on Route 66, from cities like St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Albuquerque, to natural sites like the Mojave Desert, Petrified Forest National Park, and the Mississippi River. But, what Route 66 is really about, is eating a hamburger and fries at a classic roadside diner , and checking out the quirky attractions like the world’s largest rocking chair in Illinois, or the Cadillac Ranch in Texas. The best time to drive Route 66 is between late spring and early summer or in the early fall. 

The Great River Road – United States

The Great River Road is another long road trip that spans through a whopping 10 states! This National Scenic Byway is around 4,800 km long and follows the Mississippi River from start to finish. If you were to drive it straight in one go, it would take around 36 hours from north to south, but, you should note that the full route runs on both sides of the river. Most people give it between ten days to two weeks for the whole road trip, but, if you were to only drive on one side of the river, it’s doable in as little as four days (at a pinch). Fall is by far the best time to drive the Great River Road. You’ll get to enjoy the beautiful colors, and the numerous festivals and farmer’s markets that will be popping up left, right, and center! 

Start off your journey in Minneapolis, Minnesota, kayaking on the Chain of Lakes and hitting up the Mall Of America. Then, make your way through Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Take a couple of days in Louisiana, to party it up on the streets of New Orleans before driving back to Minneapolis on the other side of the Mississippi River! There are plenty of scenic river towns along the way, as well as a whole load of history. You can check out a list of all the museums and historical sites you’ll find along the way here .  

Since the Great River Road isn’t one long route, but a series of well-marked roads and highways, you are really free to change it up and customize your itinerary! Some of our top spots on the journey are the National Brewery Museum found in the Potosi Brewery in Wisconsin (yes, you can sample the beer), LeClaire, Iowa, where you can ride a historical Mississippi river boat, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. While you’re in Tennessee, you also HAVE to visit Graceland, the home of the “king” himself, Elvis Presley.

The Loneliest Road in America – United States

Coined as the “Loneliest Road in America”, we actually think this route is one of the best road trips you can take in the whole of Northern America! This route (which goes through Nevada) is actually a smaller portion of the much larger U.S. Route 50, but there’s something about the dramatic landscapes and vast open road that make this part extra special. Spring or early fall are the ideal times to drive this scenic route as it can get a little too toasty in the summer. 

The Loneliest Road is over 600 km long and will take you over six hours to drive if you do it all in one go. Its short length makes it perfect to squeeze into a long weekend, or a regular old two-day weekend (if you have no choice!). It starts in Nevada’s capital, Carson City, where you should spend a day or two to visit the Nevada State Museum and to take the short drive to nearby Lake Tahoe, which has things to do in both summer and winter.  

Because this road trip is relatively short, most people end up making the same stops. These are Dayton, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, and Ely. The trip ends at Great Basin National Park, an area filled with pine trees, lakes, streams, and awe-inspiring limestone caverns, like the Lehman Caves. Close to Fallon, you’ll have incredible views of Sand Mountain and if you have enough time, you should spend the night camping at the Pinon Flats Campground for some seriously amazing stargazing!

The Cabot Trail – Canada

The Cabot Trail is a just-under 300 km route that goes around the best part of Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada . It’s not only considered as one the best road trips in North America, but the world! This incredibly scenic route is littered with hiking trails, dramatic ocean views, and cultural heritage sites! From start to finish, it takes roughly five hours, but to take advantage of the hiking, whale watching, water sports, and quaint fishing towns and villages, you’ll want to plan for at least three to five days. 

It’s better to visit the Cabot Trail in the peak of fall (the first and second week of October) to enjoy the red, orange, and golden-yellow colors of the changing seasons to the max! The road can be steep and curvy, with steep drops throughout the route. Because of this, we recommend driving around clockwise so you’re on the inner side of the road, away from any cliff edges. Another top safety tip is to be on the lookout for moose, hitting one of these will NOT end well (for you or the moose).  

Our things to do along the way are visiting Margaree Harbor to check out the Margaree Salmon Museum and to try your hand at fly fishing on the river, whale watching in Pleasant Bay, and hiking the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands. You should also take BIG advantage of the freshly available lobsters and crabs at every opportunity that comes your way!

Baja California Sur – Mexico

While there’s no “official” Baja California Sur road trip, driving along Mexico’s stunning tropical peninsula is unbeatable! There’s everything from fun party towns, idyllic white-sand beaches, and quaint fishing villages. The best time to road trip Baja California Sur is between December to May, you’ll get to experience cooler, drier weather, AND be clear of the hurricane season. If you want to see Whale Sharks on the peninsula’s eastern coast, then the season is from June to December! 

The route we’re going to suggest is a big loop, so feel free to start wherever you want. However, since La Paz and Cabo San Lucas both have international airports, you’ll probably end up starting from and hiring a car there. The places we suggest stopping at are Todos Santos, La Paz, La Ventana, Santiago, and Cabo San Lucas. 

Some of the highlights on this road trip are swimming with whale sharks in La Paz, hiking up the Pedregal for the best views of Cabo San Lucas (and some heart-pumping cardio too), and learning to Kiteboard in La Ventana. For anyone who loves a bit of the tropics, this is one of the best road trips in North America, hands down.

Door County – United States

You may not have heard of Door County, Wisconsin, but this sweet little county sits on a peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. It’s filled with quaint little towns and picturesque views (and a whole load of adventure). Driving is by far the best way to experience the sleepy little towns and villages that line the water’s edge, and a road trip around Door County is an awesome way to spend a weekend. 

Take the Door County Coastal Byway around the peninsula starting in Sturgeon Bay, making stops at Fish Creek, Sister Bay, Ellison Bay, Washington, and Bailey’s Harbor. Door County is beautiful from May to October, with the spring bringing cherry blossoms, wildflowers, and fewer crowds, and the fall bringing amazing colors and crisp, cool days. The summer undoubtedly has the best weather, but this is peak season, so there’ll be more people around, and more people means higher prices.  Some things you absolutely CANNOT miss in Door County are cider tastings in Ellison Bay,  taking in the views of Cana Island Lighthouse just north of Bailey’s Harbor, and having a sunset picnic on Sister Bay (with some of Door County’s famous cherry pie, of course). Door County has lots of events throughout the year like the Door County Beer Festival, the Door County Wine Festival, and the annual Cherry Fest – these guys just love their festivals! So if you pan, try to time your road trip with one of these. We definitely think a road trip in Door country is one of the best (if not one of the most underrated) road trips in North America!


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11 Best Road Trips in North America to Plan ASAP

Published by rachel bicha on january 22, 2021 january 22, 2021.

If you’re looking for spring or summer travel plans, what better than an epic road trip to get a change of scenery? From West Coast to East Coast, US to Canada, we’ve got a lineup of the best road trips that’ll provide you with some of the incredible scenery in North America, delicious food, outdoor adventures and enough driving to fill a week or a weekend—or even an entire summer. Don’t have your own car? No worries—we’ve got student rental cars available worldwide for everyone that’s at least 20 years old.

1. Pacific Coast Hwy, CA 

Endless miles of ocean views, sweeping cliffs and vista points, and CA sunshine? Sign us up. The Pacific Coast Highway in California is often considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, and you can easily do it in a weekend or spread it out for a week. 


Where to Start: Start in Los Angeles and head north or start in San Francisco and head south. Either way, just follow Hwy 1 and you’ll be good to go.

Must-Stops: Go hiking in Big Sur: check out McWay Falls or anywhere in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. There’s plenty of places to hike or even just get out and stretch your legs all along the drive. Check ahead online or in a ranger station to see what’s open—many trails are seasonal. Don’t miss exploring, shopping and eating in Carmel-By-the-Sea and Santa Barbara.

Spend the Night Here: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur and Carmel-By-The-Sea are all great places to spend the night.

2. The Trans-Canada Highway

If you’ve got some time, the Trans-Canada Highway is a monster of a road trip that will take you through some of the most beautiful places in the world. Clocking in at almost 5,000 miles, you’ll need at least a few weeks, but a whole month—or a whole summer—would be ideal. Plus, since it’s all one highway, it’s pretty easy to avoid getting lost! 


Where to Start: Start in Victoria (near Vancouver, BC) and make your way east. It’s a LONG haul, so you’ll want to make it a one-way trip. We recommend renting a car for a one-way trip and flying back at the end. 

Must-Stops: This trip, as the name suggests, crosses all the way across Canada, so there’s no shortage of places to see along the way. We recommend spending some time in Vancouver, Banff National Park, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Quebec City and Prince Edward Island. There’s plenty of hiking and other scenic places to stretch your legs and enjoy some nature along the way too.

Spend the Night Here: You’re going to need to spend several nights during this trip. You can find last-minute hotels wherever you are on-the-go on our app, or map out your route and plan in advance. There’s some camping available in national parks along the way, too. 

3. Route 66

Route 66 is the classic All-American road trip—and since it crosses a good portion of the US, it’s easy to drive all or part of the route based on where you live or how much time you have. With history to explore, hiking, National Parks and more along the way, it’s a great way to get a slice of US culture! 


Where to Start: Route 66 starts in Chicago and stretches all the way down to LA. Start wherever you are and drive as much as you have time for.

Must-Stops: Chicago , St. Louis, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles are all on your route (or close to it). Pick one close to you and go explore!

Spend the Night Here: Spend a few nights exploring some of the big cities mentioned above. Need a place to spend the night in between? Book cheap hotels on the go using our app.

4. Overseas Hwy, Florida

How does a few days of road-tripping surrounded by tropical blue water and clear skies sound? We’re guessing pretty good, and if so, we’ve got just the spot for you. The Overseas Highway does just what it sounds like: takes you for a few days of driving literally over the ocean. 


Where to Start: Start in Miami and make your way south to Key West.

Must-Stops: Islamorada for good food and quiet(er) beaches. If you’re into scuba diving, definitely stop in Key Largo. There’s tons of amazing diving spots with reefs, shipwrecks and heaps of fish.

Spend the Night Here: Jules’ Undersea Lodge: a hotel that’s completely underwater! You’ll have to scuba dive to your room, so it’s definitely one of the most unique places to stay. If that doesn’t appeal to you, though, there’s plenty of other places to stay in Marathon or Islamorada.

5. Kancamagus Hwy, NH 

If you’re looking for a fall road trip , you can’t get much better than quintessential New England for fall foliage and colorful views. The Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire is one of the best road trips for leaf-peeping. With plenty of hiking, apple cider and tiny cottages to stay in along the way, it’s the perfect place for a fall getaway. 


Where to Start: Boston —with plenty of cheap flights and autumn charm of its own—is the perfect jumping off point for a fall road trip.

Must-Stops: The drive from Boston to the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains only takes about two hours, so you can easily get there in a day. Enjoy a drive along the (very scenic) Kancamagus, go hiking in the White Mountains, then enjoy a day or a quick pit stop in Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire on your way back to Boston. 

Spend the Night Here: There’s plenty of camping and lodges available throughout the White Mountain National Forest. Conway and Franconcia are also good places to find places to stay.  

6. Sea-to-Sky Highway, BC 

This relatively short route from Vancouver to Whistler will literally take you from the sea to the sky. It’s quite busy during the summer months, but there’s plenty of things to do and see along the way, from beaches and scuba diving, to mountain biking, hiking and paragliding. 


Where to Start: Start in Vancouver and head up to Whistler. Come back in a day or stay up at Whistler for a weekend before driving back.

Must-Stops: Howe Sound (the Sea-to-Sky gondola near Squamish offers incredible views of Howe Sound), Horseshoe Bay, Shannon Falls Provincial Park, Squamish and Whistler. 

Spend the Night Here: It’s easy to get up to Whistler in a day and then stay there for the night if you want. Squamish also has plenty of accommodation options if you want to stretch it out.

7. US National Parks Tour

With 60+ National Parks in the US, this is one of the best road trips to see some of the big ones. It won’t take you to all of them, but you’ll get to see about eight along this route. At around 44 hours of drive time—and nearly endless amounts of places to see and hike—you’ll need at least a week to really enjoy this route. Early summer would be an ideal time to explore!


Where to Start: Start in Phoenix or Seattle (or anywhere along the way) and start driving. There’s no shortage of incredible National Parks between these cities!  If you don’t want to have to drive back, rent a car for a one-way trip in Phoenix and fly back from Bozeman or Seattle. 

Must-Stops: Hit up the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon in Arizona before heading to Zion, Bryce and Arches National Parks in Utah. Wyoming offers two massive parks, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. If you have time, head up to northern Montana for Glacier National Park (one of our favorites!) and tack on Olympic National Park in Washington as well.

Spend the Night Here: There’s camping available in all of the National Parks, and most have lodges and budget hotels as well if you don’t want to tent-camp. Flagstaff, Springdale, Salt Lake City, Jackson and Spokane are all good places to find non-camping places to stay.  

8. The Cabot Trail

The Cabot Trail packs a lot into a short-ish (4.5 hours) drive and is considered one of the world’s most scenic destinations. You’ll easily see why once you start driving and exploring! From insanely gorgeous scenery and hiking to delicious food all along the way, it’s the perfect way to explore Cape Breton. 


Where to Start: Start in the small town of Baddeck. 

Must-Stops: Enjoy some of the beaches along the way, like Ingonish Beach and Margaree Harbour Beach. Be sure to squeeze in a hike or two as well—the Skyline Trail is a MUST in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. And enjoy some delicious seafood in the small towns along the way!

Spend the Night Here: You’ll find cottages, inns and small bed and breakfasts all along the Cabot Trail, particularly near Ingonish, Pleasant Bay, and Margaree Harbour.

9. The Road to Hana

Hawaii might not be the first place you think of for a road trip, but once you’re there, there’s some really scenic drives that make for great road trips! The Road to Hana is one of the best road trips in Hawaii, particularly famous (and thrilling) because of it’s 600+ hairpin turns (and just as many good views) to keep you on your toes.


Where to Start: Start wherever you are, but most travelers start in Kahului, Maui’s biggest city. 

Must-Stops: There’s dozens of pull-outs and places to stop along this short route, so do some research in advance to see what interests you most. There’s no shortage of hiking, waterfalls, swimming holes and lagoons, so pick and choose your favorites. We recommend the Bamboo Forest Hike and at least one waterfall swimming spot! 

Spend the Night Here: It’s possible to drive up to Hana and back in a day, but if you’re looking for more time to explore the otherworldly forests and waterfalls along the way, spend the night in Hana before returning. 

10. Irish Loop, Newfoundland and Labrador

This lesser-known loop will help you explore a side of Canada many people don’t get to see! From whales and puffins to hiking and picnics, there’s plenty to do for a weekend on the Irish Loop. 


Where to Start: Start in Saint John’s. 

Must-Stops: Have the fanciest picnic of your life at Lighthouse Picnics in Ferryland. You can bring your own, of course, but we recommend reserving your picnic basket in advance and enjoying the delicious food from the lighthouse. Also don’t miss whale watching in Witless Bay and St. Vincent’s, plus a chance to see fossils at Mistaken Point. 

Spend the Night Here: Several of the small towns and villages along the routes have hotels or inns. Saint Mary’s or Trepassey are two good places to stop for the night if you’re making a weekend of it.

11. Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

The Blue Ridge Parkway is home to tons of mountain views, waterfalls and scenic lookouts along Virginia and North Carolina. Whether you want to get out and enjoy the views from a hike or just enjoy them while cruising with the windows down, you’ll find plenty to enjoy to enjoy along this route.


Where to Start: Start near Charlottesville, VA (just two hours from Washington, D.C.) and head south. Finish off your trip in Asheville , a hip and artsy city with amazing food.

Must-Stops: Check out some waterfalls at the Cascades or Linville Falls. Climb Chimney Rock for sweeping views over the valley. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just an hour from Asheville, too, if you need more hiking (or scenic views) after your drive, or just turn up the music and enjoy the drive. 

Spend the Night Here: Little Switzerland, Roanoke and Asheville all have plenty of places to stay, from cheap hotels to charming bed & breakfasts. 

Ready to start planning your next road trip ASAP? Rent a car if you need one (we have rental cars available for everyone aged 20+) or else just get packing!

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Road Trip USA: 12 Most Famous Routes To Travel In America

  • Famous routes in the USA offer adventure, quirky roadside stops, and iconic diners for road trip enthusiasts craving exploration.
  • Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, and the Florida Keys Scenic Highway are some of the most iconic road trips in the US, with breathtaking sights and delicious food stops.
  • The Loneliest Road, the Alaska Highway, the Grand Circle, and the Oregon Trail provide unique and scenic routes through untouched wilderness, historic landmarks, and stunning landscapes.

From East to West and North to South, the United States is lucky to have numerous scenic highways and iconic roadways that are beckoning to be explored and perfect for road trips. Whether searching for breathtaking desert mountain ranges or vast misty forests, adventure, quirky roadside stops, and iconic American diners await travelers on these routes. Here are some most famous routes in the USA to travel for those with wanderlust, a yearning for exploration, and the desire to visit some of the best destinations in the US by road.


Two More Incredible Road Trips To An Already Outstanding List

America is truly a land of never-ending possibilities as far as epic road trips are concerned, and this list is richer by two more. From the East Coast to the Wild West, the United States of America is one of the best countries on Earth for a road trip. Drive safe!

Related: 10 Best Road Trips You Can Take Through The Scenic State Of Texas

Route 66: A Driving Adventure Along The Most Famous Road In The World

Over 2,400 miles across eight states, from Chicago, Illinois, to the Pacific Coast in Santa Monica, California.

Route 66 is one of the most famous road trips in the United States and a classic choice for travelers hoping to soak in Americana culture. Spanning from Chicago to California, Route 66 covers eight states and takes drivers through many historic landmarks and quirky roadside attractions, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; and the Santa Monica Pier in California.

  • Popular sights: Ozark Mountains in Missouri, the Painted Desert in Arizona, and the Pacific Coast in California
  • Popular food stops: Lou Mitchell's in Chicago, Illinois; the Ariston Café in Litchfield, Illinois; and the Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas

Before traveling on the most famous road trip in the US, plan to add the best stops along Route 66 to visit on a road trip to the itinerary.

The Pacific Coast Highway: A Rocky Coastline, Striking Cliffs, And Unspoiled Beaches Make PCH One Of The Most Scenic Highways

650 miles on an epic west coast road trip from the north to the south of california..

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, is probably the most famous route in America to drive and stretches more than 600 miles across the California coast. The Pacific Coast Highway offers lots to see on the way and is a must-drive route for anyone seeking gorgeous ocean views, sunny weather, and carefree California vibes.

From the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, this route takes roadtrippers through some of California's most stunning and breathtaking sights.

  • Popular sights: Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Point Lobos State Reserve, Big Sur State Park, and Pfeiffer Beach
  • Popular food stops: Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, Hog Island Oyster Company in Tomales Bay, and The French Laundry in Yountville

The Florida Keys Scenic Highway: 110 miles Across The Islands Of The Florida Keys

Scenic images of dolphins swimming, manatees floating in the waters, and endangered birds gliding through the brilliant blue sky..

The iconic drive along the Florida Keys Highway is perhaps one of the most beautiful road trips in the US in terms of tropical scenery and sea views. The route takes travelers from Miami to Key West with incredible ocean sights all along the way. This road also takes roadtrippers through friendly small towns filled with quirky beach bars and laid-back Florida charm.

Outdoor lovers can spend the day swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving in Florida's pristine waters or exploring some of the beautiful parks in the area, which include the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo and the Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key. The Florida Keys are known for their fresh seafood, and travelers with a sweet tooth must try the area's famous specialty: Key Lime Pie.

  • Popular sights: Key West Lighthouse, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, and the Indian Key Historic State Park
  • Popular food stops: Hogfish Bar and Grill in Stock Island, the Conch Republic Seafood Company in Key West, and the Fish House in Islamorada

Related: The History Of Route 66, And Why You Should Be Visiting Its Museums

The Blue Ridge Parkway: "America's Favorite Drive," Through The Appalachian Mountains

469 miles of breathtaking scenery through shenandoah national park and the great smoky mountains national park..

Spanning 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most famous road trips in the US, as it takes drivers through the majestic Appalachian Mountains. Blue Ridge Parkway is filled with beautiful stops , and outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy camping, hiking, and fishing in the beautiful state parks found along the route, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The region is filled with plenty of wildlife, and nature lovers might stumble upon black bears, deer, and birds of prey native to the area.

  • Popular sights: Shenandoah National Park, Pisgah National Forest, Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mabry Mill in Virginia, the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park in North Carolina
  • Popular food stops: The BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville, Virginia; the Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina; and the Woodlands Barbecue in Blowing Rock

The Loneliest Road: Most Desolate, Yet Most Interesting

A road trip that touches colonial-era landscapes while passing through the wild west up to high-tech silicon valley..

The Loneliest Road is a perfect road trip route for lovers of the American Southwest and has become one of the most famous roads in America. This route belongs to the portion of U.S. Route 50 that runs through Nevada. The Loneliest Road got its name in 1986 when a travel magazine proclaimed there was absolutely nothing interesting along this route, conjuring up images of desolate landscapes and barren wastelands.

This route, however, is filled with captivating desert landscapes, historic ghost towns from Nevada's famed Gold Rush, and quirky roadside attractions.

  • Popular sights: The Ruby Mountains, the Great Basin National Park, the Eureka Opera House, and the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park
  • Popular food stops: Middlegate Station in Fallon, Grandma's in Austin, and Racks Bar and Grill in Ely

The Alaska Highway: A Work In Progress For 75 Years

A magnificent road trip through the epic northern scenery, two-thirds of which lies in canada..

Running from British Columbia to Alaska, the Alaska Highway offers travelers a unique opportunity to explore some of North America's most untouched parts of wilderness. Nature lovers can marvel at epic mountain ranges, sparkling lakes, and vast forests filled with beautiful wildlife and flora.

Visitors can hike or camp in Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve. The Alaska Highway also offers travelers one of the best places in the entire world to see the surreal beauty of the Northern Lights during the winter months.

  • Popular sights: Mile 0 Cairn in Dawson Creek, the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, and the Big Delta State Historical Park in Delta Junction
  • Popular food stops: The Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer and Fast Eddy's in Tok

The best time of year to drive the Alaska Highway is from late spring to early fall when the weather is warmer, and there are plenty of daylight hours. Travelers who are determined to travel the route in winter can still make the drive as long as they take extra precautions to keep warm and safe.

The Grand Circle: Some Of The Most Stunning Scenery Imaginable

An epic journey through five states and nine national parks..

The Grand Circle loop takes drivers through some of the most iconic national parks in the American Southwest. Visitors will be able to see the stunning views of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. A popular place to start this loop is in Las Vegas, where visitors can rest and refresh after a long road trip spent hiking, camping, and exploring some of the most beautiful views in the US along the way.

  • Popular sights: Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Valley of Fire
  • Popular food stops: The Rocking V Cafe in Kanab, Utah; Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, Utah; and El Tovar Dining Room at Grand Canyon National Park

Related: Blue Ridge Parkway Vs. Skyline Drive: Which Is More Scenic?

Maine's Route 1: Over 500 Miles Of Pavement That Snakes Its Way Through New England

A perpetually evolving panorama of coastline, historic landmarks, and charming towns..

Route 1 takes travelers along Maine's rugged coastline, rustic seaside towns, and some of the best lobster shacks in the country. From Kittery to Fort Kent, this route features some of the most charming views of this New England state, including the Acadia National Park, Maine Maritime Museum, whale-watching tours, and some of the most famous lighthouses in America.

  • Popular sights: Acadia National Park, Maine Maritime Museum, Portland Head Light, Pemaquid Point Light, and West Quoddy Head Light
  • Popular food stops: Red's Eats in Wiscasset, Moody's Diner in Waldoboro, The Whale's Tale in Boothbay Harbor

The Great River Road: A National Scenic Byway And All-American Road Following The Mississippi For 3,000 miles

A collection of state and local roads that take the course of the mississippi river through 10 states of america..

The Great River Road is also among the most famous road trips US states have to offer; it follows the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana and features charming river towns, breathtaking views of the epic Mississippi River, and historic sites related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the American Civil War. This route is also one of the best road trips in the US for foodies, offering everything from Tennessee barbecue to New Orleans gumbo.

  • Popular sights: Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi; the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; and the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana
  • Popular food stops: The Frostop Drive-In in New Orleans, Louisiana; The Blue Owl in Kimmswick, Missouri; and Fitz's Root Beer in St. Louis, Missouri

Related: Here's What Roadtrippers Should Know About The Loneliest Road In America

The Oregon Trail: America's Historic Road Trip Where 400,000 Pioneers Traveled From 1840 To 1880 In Wagons

Nearly 2,000 miles through mountains, valleys, and wild prairie on the historic route of america's first settlers..

Exploring The Oregon Trail is one of the most famous roads in America; it's a road trip made for history buffs and adults who spend their childhoods playing the popular video game. This historic route follows the path of the 19th-century pioneers who settled in the West, offering a fascinating glimpse into America's frontier past. There are plenty of museums on the route that tell the story of westward expansion, such as the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, Oregon.

Tourists can even visit pioneer cemeteries scattered along the Oregon Trail that shed light on just how grueling this journey was. Some of these cemeteries include the Whitman Mission National Historic Site in Walla Walla, Washington, and the Blue Mountain Cemetery in Prairie City, Oregon.

  • Popular sights: Independence Rock in Wyoming, Chimney Rock in Nebraska, and Fort Laramie in Wyoming
  • Popular food stops: The Oregon Trail Restaurant in Baker City, Oregon, and Fort Laramie Bed and Breakfast Cafe in Fort Laramie, Wyoming

Mighty 5: A Ride Into The Heart Of America's Red Rock Country

Driving through 5 national parks of utah for the most epic adventure..

Known to many as "The Utah National Parks Road Trip" or "Mighty 5 Road Trip", this famous US route is often considered the best road trip in America and, by some, even the best in the world. Drive through Utah's national parks with canyons stretching as far as the eye can see, soaring sandstone cliffs, fire-colored rock hoodoos, and thousands of dramatic arches, like the famous formations in Arches National Park .

  • Popular sights: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Parks
  • Popular food stops: Hell's Backbone Grill and Farm in Boulder, Capitol Burger in Torrey, Arches Thai in Moab, I D K Barbecue in Tropic

Olympic Peninsula Loop: a 300 Mile-Long Odyssey Through Stunningly Gorgeous Landscape

Winding around the perimeter of olympic national park, passing rugged mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes, lush green forests, and scenic beaches..

Although packed with famous US highways that are seemingly made for road trips, few Washington drives are as iconic as the Olympic Peninsula Loop. The Olympic Peninsula Loop is 330 miles long and studded with countless sites to explore.

Although the loop can be covered in one day, to justify this road trip, travelers on the route can break the journey along many stops, such as the glassy Lake Cushman inside Olympic National Forest, Port Townsend known for its Victorian architecture, Lavender farms in the town of Sequim (pronounced “Squim”) and a historic lighthouse from 1857 inside Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Seattle and Portland are two major cities accessible from the Olympic Peninsula Loop.

  • Popular sights: Lake Cushman, Lighthouse inside Dungeness Refuge, Hoh Rain Forest, La Push, Ruby Beach, Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent
  • Popular food stops: Pellegrino's Italian Kitchen in Tumwater, Jean-Pierre's Three16 in Tumwater, Gardner's Restaurant in Olympia

Road Trip USA: 12 Most Famous Routes To Travel In America

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Tailor Made American Road Trip Holidays

The 50 ultimate usa road trips.

Below are our 8 most popular self-drive tours…

New Orleans French Quarter. Man Playing Jazz. Trumpet, Deep South Road Trip

Classic Deep South

Visit Atlanta, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Nashville, Memphis, Natchez, New Orleans & Florida Panhandle

Explore This Route

Route 66 road at Sunset

Route 66 Explorer

Visit Chicago, Springfield, St Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Winslow, Grand Canyon NP, Las Vegas & LA

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA

The Golden Triangle

Visit San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, LA, Vegas, Death Valley NP, Yosemite NP and Napa Valley

Zion National Park in Utah, USA, Las Vegas to The Grand Canyon

Las Vegas & The Canyons

Visit Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon NP, Lake Powell, Monument Valley & Vegas

Phoenix, Sonoran Desert Arizona, USA

Ultimate Southwest

Visit Grand Canyon NP, Monument Valley, Zion NP, Las Vegas, Yosemite NP, San Fran, Big Sur, LA & San Diego

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California West Coast, USA

Ultimate West Coast

Visit Seattle, Olympic NP, Oregon Coast, Portland, Crater Lake NP, Redwoods NP, Napa, San Francisco, Big Sur & LA

Central Park, NYC. New York to LA

New York to Los Angeles

Visit NYC, Niagara Falls, Detroit, Chicago, St Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Utah's National Parks, Las Vegas & LA

Charleston, South Carolina

Ultimate East Coast

Visit New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Colonial Parkway, Outer Banks, Charleston, Savannah, Orlando & Miami

Florida Panhandle, USA, Surfer on Beach, New Orleans to Miami

Why take an American Road Trip?

We passionately believe that American road trips are the ultimate holiday experience, nothing beats exploring North America’s vibrant cities and stunning natural wonders on a classic American road trip.

Cruise along the USA’s scenic highways in a convertible Mustang or a luxury SUV as you head from one amazing experience to the next – you’ll never want to waste weeks on a sun lounger again.

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In summary, if you want a seamless, memorable, and value-packed travel experience in the USA or Canada, do yourself a favor and reach out to The American Road Trip Company.

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The Best Road Trips in North America

From the Canadian Kootenay Rockies to Southwest hot springs, we found the most scenic stretches of road for epic summer adventures

Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

There’s real adventure out there. You just need to know where to look. We asked our editors and writers for their all-time favorite drives—and tips on how to pack as much riding, paddling, climbing, and running into them as possible.

Lake Superior Circumnavigation

road trip around north america

Miles: 1,300 Activities: Kayaking, wreck diving, mountain biking

Bring a bike, because there’s plenty of riding in hubs like Ontario’s Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and Copper Harbor, Michigan, as you circle the greatest of the Great Lakes. Begin your trip in Duluth, Minnesota, on the lake’s far southwestern corner, where hundreds of miles of flowy, technical, purpose-built singletrack parallels the 26-mile-long city and offers views of Superior. On the lake’s northwestern shore, Ontario’s Pukaskwa National Park receives fewer than 15,000 visitors annually, and even fewer attempt its challenging 37-mile Coastal Hiking Trail. Experienced divers can explore hundreds of shipwrecks preserved by Superior’s famously frigid water, including the Bermuda, a 150-foot schooner that sank in 1870 near Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore . Finish your epic seven-to-ten-day circuit by paddling Wisconsin’s Apostle Island National Lakeshore, a 21-isle archipelago just a few dozen miles east of where you started.

Pro Tip: Camp within a stone’s throw of the water at any of the dozens of state, provincial, and national parks that line the lake. —Stephanie Pearson

Great Basin National Park to Lake Tahoe, Nevada

road trip around north america

Miles: 400 Activities: ­ Hiking, hot springs, petroglyphs

Despite its nickname, U.S. 50— the Loneliest Road in America —is never boring. Start in eastern Nevada at Great Basin National Park . (That way you can finish the trip with a well-earned dip in Lake Tahoe.) From its 4.6-mile round-trip Bristlecone-Glacier Trail , you can take in the park’s Wheeler Peak Glacier, one of the southernmost ice fields in the country. (It’s predicted to disappear in as little as 20 years.) Stop off in Ely, 66 miles west of the park, to play a few hands of blackjack at Hotel Nevada , a prohibition-era gambling hall that, at six stories, was once the state’s tallest building. From there it’s a 125-mile drive to the hiking, camping, and rock art at Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area. The road-weary will enjoy a soak and the stunning views of the Toiyabe Range at Big Smoky Valley’s Spencer Hot Springs before making the final push for Carson City. Once you arrive at Lake Tahoe, detour from Highway 50 and take Highway 28 north to swim at Skunk Harbor, Whale Beach, or Secret Cove (if public nudity isn’t your thing, avoid the last one).

Pro Tip: Get gas whenever you see it, and pack plenty of water. —Ruben Kimmelman

Miami to Key West, Florida

road trip around north america

Miles: 171 Activities: ­Saltwater fly-fishing, reef diving, conch fritters

The drive from Miami International Airport to Key West makes for a bona fide tropical road trip, with dozens of state parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and plenty of roadside seafood shacks. Get out of the city fast, stopping only to load up on conch fritters at Alabama Jacks on County Road 905A. Once you cross the sound to North Key Largo, hike under the sea grape trees and mahogany mistletoes of Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park . After switching over to famed Route 1, snorkel among the angelfish at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and dive to a Spanish shipwreck at Cannon Beach. Cheeca Lodge , in the village of Islamorada, has bounced back from 2017’s Hurricane Irma with $25 million in restorations and renovations, and it’s still one of the region’s best base camps from which to prowl the backwater flats for snook, bonefish, and tarpon. Once you’ve caught your limit, it’s on to Key West and mile marker zero. Connect with the folks at Southernmost Sailing School, who can show you your bowline from your clove hitch and take you out to see the dolphins.

Pro Tip: US-1 Radio gives you traffic, island news, and lots of classic rock. —Tim Neville

Bentonville to Mount Magazine State Park, Arkansas

road trip around north america

Miles: 211 Activities: ­Paddling, climbing, leaf peeping

Pack a trail bike, a canoe, and a pair of hiking shoes for this tour of America’s most overlooked mountain range: the Ozarks. Start by exploring Bentonville, home to Walmart, the world-class Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art , and hundreds of miles of the best mountain biking between the Appalachians and the Rockies. From there, it’s just an hour drive east on U.S. 62 to funky Eureka Springs for a dose of classic Victorian structures, hip art galleries, and the Thorncrown Chapel, an architectural gem of soaring glass and timber set in the surrounding woodland. Veer south to Scenic Byway 7 and head for the Buffalo National River  to float easy rapids below its 500-foot-tall limestone bluffs. Climbers should make a detour to nearby Horseshoe Canyon , a dude ranch with over 400 established routes and the site of the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell climbing competition, held every autumn. After crossing the Arkansas River, it’s a short jaunt east to the Ouachita Mountains and hang gliding, backpacking, and camping at Mount Magazine State Park.

Pro Tip: The park lodge sits atop the state’s highest point (from $218). —Nicholas Hunt

Carlsbad, New Mexico, to Buena Vista, Colorado

road trip around north america

Miles: 635 Activities: Sand sledding, peak bagging, summer skiing

Skip the overcrowded Carlsbad Caverns National Park in favor of New Mexico’s rugged Brokeoff Mountains Wilderness Study Area , which has remote trails that wind through cacti, agaves, and soaptree yuccas. Then it’s 140 miles north through Lincoln National Forest to the gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument . It’s too hot in summer to camp, but there are six miles of trail for trekking and plenty of sand for sledding. Join up with U.S. 285, your route for the rest of the journey, and head north to Santa Fe and the ample hiking and biking in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Range. End the day with a soak at Ten Thousand Waves spa , a southwestern take on a classic Japanese onsen. Continuing north, be sure to climb the gentle volcanic slopes of San Antonio Mountain immediately off the highway on the New Mexico side of the state border, then hit up Calvillo’s restaurant in Alamosa, 50 miles farther north, for amazing Colorado-style huevos. Outside Salida, click into your backcountry skis for a late-season skin up Monarch Ski Area, or ride the 36-mile Monarch Crest Trail for some of the best singletrack in the country. Then just 25 miles north of Salida, you’ll find the small town of Buena Vista, a prime location for bagging fourteeners and kayaking the Arkansas River. Stop by Brown Dog Coffee for a strong brew: you’ll need it to get up Colorado’s highest peak, nearby 14,440-foot Mount Elbert.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the homemade malted milk balls at New Mexico’s retro Clines Corners truck stop. —Axie Navas

Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Boone, North Carolina

road trip around north america

Miles: 193 Activities: Paddleboarding, trekking, boiled peanuts

It would take two weeks to do justice to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile, two-lane byway with endless Appalachian views and easy access to some of the South’s best adventures, but you can knock out its stunning North Carolina section in a handful of days. First up? Trekking to LeConte Lodge , a hike-to backcountry inn that sits at 6,400 feet in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Be sure to stop and enjoy the 80-foot cascades along the Rainbow Falls Trail as you head out. From there, follow the parkway into Asheville to paddleboard or fly-fish the mellow French Broad River before sipping a few pints at some of the city’s 30 craft breweries. If you have the legs, the region is home to some of the best singletrack in the East, like the jump-heavy Green’s Lick Trail in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest. From town, head north past 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell—the tallest peak east of the Mississippi—to the Roan Highlands, where the Appalachian Trail crosses a series of treeless peaks covered with native grasses. Knock out the 5.5-mile hike along the trail to the Overmountain Shelter , an old barn with a sleeping loft that’s a favorite of through-hikers.

Pro Tip: Look for roadside stands selling boiled peanuts, a southern delicacy, on the country roads just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. ­—­Graham Averill

Quebec City to Saguenay Fjord and Back

road trip around north america

Miles: 448 Activities: Tubing, via ferratas, cycle touring

With its hilltop châteaus and charming old-world-style streets, Quebec City is a worthy road trip, but it’s even better as a jumping-off point for a 450-mile lollipop-shaped route through the province’s intense glacial-carved topography. Head north on Quebec 175 to Saguenay, population 145,949, stopping along the way to rent a tube and float among the hardwoods lining the calmer sections of the Jacques-Cartier River that cuts through 260-square-mile Jacques-Cartier National Park . Then it’s on to the showstopper—the road-and-ferry loop known as the Route du Fjord , a 187-mile lap around the beluga whale-filled waters and 1,000-foot-high granite walls of Saguenay Fjord. Three via ferratas race along the cliffs in the 123-square-mile Saguenay Fjords National Park, including La Grande Dalle, a 656-foot-high ramble across a gigantic vertical slab. Before heading back to Quebec City, stop at the Parc Aventures Cap Jaseux campground, on the fjord’s northern bank, to cast for Atlantic salmon, and spend the night in the camp’s 20-foot-diameter glass dome tucked among the pines high over the water (from $198).

Pro Tip: The Route du Fjord makes for a spectacular bike tour, too. —T.N.

Fayetteville to Snowshoe, West Virginia

road trip around north america

Miles: 256 Activities: Rafting, climbing, bluegrass

West Virginia has some of the wildest terrain in the mid-Atlantic, and this 256-mile trek takes it all in. Start in the paddling haven of Fayetteville, a mile away from the New River Gorge . Rafting season on the Class II–V New River runs from early spring through fall, but the best whitewater can be found in autumn on the Gauley River, one of the toughest commercially rafted waterways in the country. North of Fayetteville, Dolly Sods Wilderness Area is full of red spruce, cold creeks, and massive views of the Allegheny Mountains. Grab a pint at Mountain State Brewing and a room at the Cooper House in Thomas , which has complimentary afternoon libations. Drive south and sign up for a two-day trad-climbing course with Seneca Rocks Climbing School, or tackle the multi-pitch routes that rise several hundred feet from the valley floor on distinctive rock fins on your own. Cap off the journey at Snowshoe Mountain Resort’s lift-served bike park, which will host a World Cup Downhill race this summer.

Pro Tip: The Purple Fiddle, in the town of Thomas, attracts some of the best touring bluegrass musicians in the country. —G.A.

Glacier National Park, Montana, to Jackson, Wyoming

road trip around north america

Miles: 476 Activities: Car camping, day hiking, hot springs

Sometimes called the National Parks Highway, U.S. 89 runs due south from the Canadian border to Flagstaff, Arizona. But if you’ve only got a week, start at the icy peaks of northern Montana and end at the boiling waters and mountains of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The trailhead for the 11.8-mile Highline Trail —which will treat you to alpine meadows and views of the Livingston Range—is just off Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier. Buffalo Joe’s Eatery and Saloon, in Dupuyer, has amazing burgers and a friendly eight-room motel around back. Wake up and hike the Watchable Wildlife Trail at the nearby Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch, where there’s a good chance you’ll spot elk and golden eagles. After that, you can fish for big browns on the Missouri River. The town of White Sulphur Springs is your midway point. Make a pit stop at its hot springs, or plan your trip for July’s rootsy Red Ants Pants Music Festival . From there, it’s on to Yellowstone and the Tetons, both of which need no introduction.

Pro Tip: Join a guided dinosaur dig at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum, Montana. —Charlie Ebbers

Fernie to Revelstoke, British Columbia

road trip around north america

Miles: 378 Activities: Mountain biking, craft beer, small towns

Let the hordes have western British Columbia— the Kootenay Rockies in the east are loaded with hundreds of miles of new, empty singletrack, lift-served bike parks, and hip, blue-collar mountain towns. Kick off the trip in Fernie, in far southeastern B.C., and earn a free beer and a medal from Fernie Brewing by completing the Trail to Ale Challenge , where you’ll attempt to bag three of Fernie’s toughest peaks by foot or bike in just 24 hours. Then head northwest to Bootleg Mountain, outside Kimberley, where a handful of downhill trails like Atlas Shrugged and NIMBY offer up to 2,000 feet of descent. From there, it’s on to Panorama Mountain Resort , one of the best bike parks east of Whistler, Radium Hot Springs, at least 124 miles of cross-country trails overlooking Golden, and the high-alpine biking in Revelstoke, where its namesake resort will open its first gondola-served trail this summer. Finish up by heading south on B.C. Highway 23 toward Naksup and use your all-wheel-drive vehicle and sturdy hiking boots to reach the rugged Halfway River hot springs, a 40-minute drive north of town.

Pro Tip: Kimberley Centex Market looks like a gas station (and it is), but it also has the best coffee and cold-pressed juice in the province. —G.A.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, to Badlands National Park, South Dakota

road trip around north america

Miles: 550 Activities: Fly-fishing, wildlife, history

If you think the Dakotas are only for flying over, you’re dead wrong. This 550-mile meandering drive winds from the grasslands and canyons of North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the state’s southern twin and the buttes and spires of Badlands National Park . Start by mountain biking the Maah Daah Hey Trail, 144 miles of rugged singletrack, river crossings, and precipitous ridge climbs just outside South Billings. Across the border, Custer State Park has herds of bison, and rainbow trout lurk in nearby Spearfish Creek, a cold-water fishery just off the road in the Black Hills. Take a break from the sun and explore a few of the 147-plus miles of mapped caverns in Wind Cave National Park, before ending your journey at the 60-foot-tall mugs of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore.

Pro Tip: Got kids? Stay the night in a brand-new, impressively plush covered wagon at the Wagons at Rushmore Shadows, which includes a cowboy hot-dog dinner served around a fire (from $154). —S.P.

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The Ultimate Guide to USA Road Trip

Although it’s tempting to head overseas every time you get a bit of vacation time, taking a road trip around America can be just as eye-opening and exciting! A USA road trip can help you see parts of the country you may not have considered visiting before and will give you a better understanding and appreciation of the beauty of landscapes within the United States. 

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Renting a vehicle for a drive across America (or using your own) and heading out to discover what many consider to be their own backyard can be just as fun as heading to exotic locations. 

A cross country road trip is the perfect holiday option when flights are expensive or if you are looking for a more eco-conscious way to explore the country. Whether you only have a few days or want to take a 2-week road trip, USA destinations can really surprise you! There are plenty of road trip ideas and itineraries to explore.

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Traveling Soon?  Here is a list of our favourite travel providers and accessories to help get you ready for your upcoming trip! Book Your Accommodation HERE Search for Great Tours HERE Get a Car Rental HERE Buy Travel Insurance HERE See our Favourite Camera Bag HERE Grab a Reusable Water Bottle HERE or a Filtration Straw HERE Order an eSim HERE

Best 2 Week Road Trip – USA Routes

You don’t need to cram a whole 48-state road trip into 2 weeks. These 2 week road trip ideas highlight the best of different parts of the USA.   

West Coast America Road Trip: California, Highway 101

This west coast USA road trip is definitely a classic road trip option as the Californian highway is peppered with lovely towns with views of the Pacific Coast. Typically planning a California 2 week road trip, USA, along Highway 101 calls for driving from San Francisco to San Diego (or the reverse) and has several stops along the way.

Top eco-friendly destinations: san-francisco-fishermans-wharf

Of course, it’s your 2 week US road trip so hit whatever stops interest you, but here are a few destinations suggestions for your west coast of USA road trip.

  • Start your road trip adventures in San Francisco and take a tour of the city highlights along with a stop at Alcatraz . 
  • Head to Santa Cruz and stop at the amusement park, Beach Boardwalk . 
  • Don’t miss Monterey , which has boutiques, bars, and restaurants in converted factories. The area also has Monterey Bay Aquarium , which is actively involved in conservation efforts. 
  • Next, the coast highway will take you to Big Sur a mountainous area, national park, and one of the most famed places on a 2 week road trip across America. Slightly below is San Simeon , where you can view migrating elephant seals. 
  • Pismo Beach is known for its wineries and beaches, and Monarchs migrate south to this area in the cooler weather. 
  • See the architecture in Santa Barbara , California.
  • Include Malibu in your USA road trip planner to see the beach.
  • Experience Hollywood in Los Angeles
  • Finish your trip at the galleries and museums in San Diego.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA road trip

A California Highway 1 USA road trip, west coast, offers a huge variety of experiences . There really is a little something for everyone along this route. If you like Pacific coast scenes, this is the best US road trip for you.


Chicago to Los Angeles Road Trip, Route 66

This stretch is a historic route and one of the most famous trips around America. Route 66 deserves a try if you want to drive part way across the country on a 2 week cross country RV trip.

Chicago, IL, USA road trip. Photo by Bert Kaufmann via Flickr CC

  • Start your USA road trip planning in Chicago (or you could end here if you choose). It allows you to visit one of the many museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago . 
  • Next on your US trip head to see the arch in St. Louis
  • Drive through the heartlands of Oklahoma with stops in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, both of which are known for their architecture. 
  • Route 66 also passes through the upper tip of Texas , which takes you through Amarillo and also through Jericho Gap , where many cars once got stranded in the mud on old Route 66 on their road trips of America. 
  • The beautiful views and varied landscapes of the Midwest continue through New Mexico (be sure to stop in Albuquerque and Santa Fe , New Mexico).
  • Travel America via Route 66 to Arizona, with Flagstaff and Sedona taking center stage as points along the two week road trip, USA.
  • Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard are good points to visit while you are in Los Angeles, California. 

Route 66 is one of the most iconic road trips in the US and often listed as one of the best US road trips. If you have more time then consider extending your trip into a 3 week road trip across America. However, if you do extend ensure you consider the additional cost to drive across country.

East Coast Road Trip: New York City to Miami, Route 95

An east coast USA road trip has a lot to do, and being able to take it at your own pace is a good way to go . Add the following places to your US road trip planner to make the most of your America trip.

Cityscape of New York city with Empire State Building

  • Start your America road trips in New York City, where you can visit the Statue of Liberty , attend a Broadway show, or hit all the major sites in New York with a guided tour . 
  • From there, head south through Baltimore (which is worth a stop!) 
  • Continue down to the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, where you can view many of the sites on a “hop on hop off” bus tour . 
  • This route will also take you through the beautiful states of Virginia (possibly stop in Richmond ) and North Carolina before you hit Savannah on your roadtrip. America is full of history and lovely architecture in this area.
  • Once you hit Florida , you will head through Jacksonville , West Palm Beach , and Fort Lauderdale.
  • If you want to veer off of Route 95 just a bit, you can visit the oldest town in the US, which is St. Augustine. It’s filled with museums, lovely buildings, and a Spanish fort from the 1500s.
  • Once you end your journey in Miami , you can head to South Beach, visit the Art Deco district, or take an airboat ride to view alligators in their natural habitat.

If you are an American road trip planner who wants a taste of a little bit of everything or if you are history buff then you might consider Route 95 one of the best road trips in USA.

: Road trip around America stop: Miami Beach, Florida

This 2 week road trip across America takes you between two of the nation’s biggest cities , gives you a chance to explore the past, and will win you over with the charm of the people you meet along the way. However, if you are going to be indulging in the big cities ensure you include that in your road trip USA budget.

Colorado Road Trip

If you want to experience the beauty of inland United States, Colorado definitely delivers. For this route, consider starting your road trip USA planning in Denver

  • Visit the Lookout Mountain and take a tour of the Rocky Mountains . 
  • S pend a day in Boulder and take a tour of Rocky Mountain National Park and experience the trails. 
  • The Glenwood Springs area offers some of the most gorgeous views of any American road trips, so have your camera ready! 
  • Grand Junction is next, which is home to parks, trails, and the Colorado National Monument . 
  • You can also stop in Ouray , which has lots of hiking options and then be sure to stop for a day in Mesa Verde National Park , which is full of history from the Ancestral Pueblo people.
  • Other stops along the way include Buena Vista – home of the Rio Grande National Park Forest – and Colorado Springs – where you can take a segway tour of the Garden of the Gods .

We think this is one of the USA best road trips for getting close to natural destinations and exploring national parks. If you are self-contained and stay in free camping spots along the way you can really reduce your road trip across America cost too.


Southern USA Road Trip: Savannah to San Diego

Heading from coast to coast can be one of the USA best road trips as you get a glimpse of what each state offers.

Sunny day in Atlanta in the winter. USA

  • Start your road trip routes in Savannah , Georgia, a quintessential southern town with beautiful architecture and trees dripping with Spanish moss. 
  • Then stop Atlanta for a 1.5-hour highlight tour of this capital city .
  • The route also passes through popular US towns such as Birmingham , Alabama ; Jackson , Mississippi ; and Shreveport , Louisiana . These towns all showcase America’s southern history and sites that were significant in the civil rights movement. 
  • Then you will arrive in Dallas , Texas , where you can take a tour to learn about this historic city .
  • Continue on to El, Paso, Texas on your road trip USA before you get to beautiful Tuscon, Arizona , where you can add a bit of adventure to your trip by exploring history on a scavenger hunt .
  • End your trip in San Diego by exploring the historic old town on a narrated trolley tour .

Downtown Atlanta. USA

Road trip routes through the Southern United States will give you a taste of Southern charm and will give you a chance to learn about the civil rights movement – exactly where it took place. However, keep in mind that big-city travel can really cut into your cross country road trip cost so be wary of your spending there if you are trying to keep your road trip America cost low. 

Road Trip Across America: Cost Considerations

If you have ever considered a road trip across America, you’ll have asked yourself “how much does it cost to drive cross country?” and considered the cross country road trip cost .

If you don’t have a vehicle at your disposal, you’ll need to rent one. It’s practically impossible to rent a car in the US for less than $40/day and it’s really hard to find a deal for an RV for under $100/night. So this will affect your road trip America cost – but it is a necessary expense.

Beautiful road ahead. Colorado. US

Add in spending on gas, accommodation, food, etc and your cost of cross country road trip will quickly add up , making what seemed like a great vacation idea seem like a rather expensive getaway.

We’re always crunching numbers and asking ourselves, “how much does it cost to travel around the world?” But we really had no idea of the road trip across America cost!

Planning for our trip, we knew that sticking to a small daily budget was going to be tough, but we wanted to see if we could keep our road trip across America cost to $125/day for two people (Spoiler: we almost did!).

How Long Does it Take to Drive Across America?

It is totally up to you to decide how long does it take to drive across the US. Each of the road trip routes we have suggested can be completed comfortably in two weeks . However, there are innumerable things to do along the way and the States is a big country so you can take as long as you like.

Road trip america cost

We met people who had been on the road for years, making their way slowly across the country. So, as you can imagine, there are no hard and fast rules to answering how long does it take to drive across America – the decision is up to you!

But how long does it take to drive across America non-stop anyway? If you weren’t in it for the journey and were just trying to zoom from coast to coast as quickly as possible, you could do it in 35-45 hours. Some people even take it a step further and take on the 48 states in 10 days route . This is a surefire way to check off tons of states on your list but we much prefer to enjoy the journey as much as the end destination.

Is it Safe to Drive Across America?

Of course! Always be sure to educate yourself on state driving laws while following the speed limit and being aware of your surroundings. There are A LOT of large transport trucks on American highways so be mindful of passing etiquette and you’ll be good to go.

Cross-Country Road Trip Cost

Here is a detailed breakdown of our cross-country road trip cost to help you answer the question of “how much does it cost to drive across the country?” It is based on our 16 days 3,000 mile/4,500kms road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles .

If you are wondering “How much does it cost to drive across the country?” the first thing to consider is the cost of driving itself. 

The cost of driving from Chicago to Los Angeles was by far the biggest percentage of our overall USA road trip budget . We knew that we had to find a cheap way to get around or this USA road trip ideas would quickly be thrown out the window.

Beautiful roadside views! Roadtrip USA

RV Rental – $610 ($38/day)

Luckily, we were able to use some of the tips and tricks we learned while traveling around Australia to determine how much it would cost to travel across America. Then apply them to help our 2 week cross country RV trip cost in the US.  

We were lucky to have been able to find a GREAT DEAL for a campervan rental at just $39/night.

While it wasn’t as good as $1/day, the deal offered us a longer rental, giving us more time on the road , and a brand new (hence the factory relocation) massive RV for our cross-country road trip. It was big enough for 7 people, so having all the space for just 2 of us felt like absolute luxury. 

The total for 16 days/15 nights added up to $610 of our cross country road trip cost.

The interior of our Cruise America RV. Road trip planner

READ NEXT: 12 Best Van Conversion Companies That Will Build Your Van for You

Fuel – $682 ($42/day)

Gas ended up costing a bit more than we would’ve liked on our 2 week road trip across America, adding up to almost 30% of our total travel budget . With 3,000 miles (around 4,500 km) ahead of us on our 2-week road trip, we knew that we’d need around 6 tanks of gas to get us from Chicago to Los Angeles , but we underestimated the cost of gas across the country and our RV’s efficiency on the road. How much does a cross country road trip cost? More than we thought as far as fuel was concerned.

Cruise America RV on the road in Iowa. 2 week cross country rv trip

Propane = $60 ($4/day)

When budgeting for our trip, we completely forgot to account for the cost of propane . It didn’t add up to a lot, which was surprising considering that the stove, fridge, furnace, and water heater in our RV were all powered by propane. All things considered, it was a small drop in a big bucket but should be accounted for if you’re the designated road trip USA planner.

Accommodation Costs = $179 ($12/day)

Despite the fact that our RV was completely self-sustainable (it was equipped with a shower, toilet, and a full-size kitchen), we weren’t able to spend more than 2-3 days away from an RV park during our trip.

America RV road trip

To our greatest surprise, RV parks in the US weren’t as cheap as we expected. We planned on spending $10-15/night for a powered site, but in reality, we never found anything for less than $30/night. It was yet another thing that added more than we thought to our United States road trip cost.

On nights when we didn’t need to be plugged in, we followed seasoned RV’ers advice and parked in Walmart parking lots or enjoyed being away from it all by finding an isolated spot in the middle of a forest road just off of our trip routes.

Road trip USA

Food Costs = $339 ($21/day)

To keep our cross country road trip cost down, we choose not to eat out on this trip and cooked most of our meals in the RV . But we didn’t deprive ourselves.

We stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies, good quality meats, and nutrient-rich ingredients. Let’s face it, American groceries tend to be a bit more expensive than what we had been used to in Costa Rica so we had to keep our food expenses in check. Since our American road trip budget didn’t allow for daily meals out, we made sure to cook up a storm and make a big deal out of our meals.

We drank wine, enjoyed some beers, and even splurged on desserts! Needless to say, we weren’t starving throughout our trip and our food and drinks expenses reflected that.

Road trip USA On our long-term travel

Cost of Supplies

Rv supplies – $292 ($18/day).

It cost us a few hundred dollars to stock up on various supplies for the RV . There were a few road trip accessories that we can’t believe we didn’t think of before our trip and some bedding and kitchen supplies.  

Cruise America offers to rent bedding and crockery to guests for their USA road trips but we figured that we could find much better quality stuff if we were to buy it ourselves for our 2 week cross country RV trip. And we did!

Cruise America RV inside bedroom. Road trip USA

At the end of the trip, we took all the supplies up to Oksana’s parent’s house in Canada. One day, we’ll dig them up from storage in the basement and use them for another drive across America! 

How much does a road trip cost? A lot less when you already have the supplies from a previous trip!


Mobile Phone – $60 ($4/day)

To stay connected on the road we purchased a 30-day 10GB mobile data plan from T-Mobile for $60 . It was a pricey investment and one that we completely forgot to account for at the beginning of planning a road trip across the States, but being able to stay connected and keep up with our work while on the road warranted the expense. 

Oksana working in the Cruise America RV. Road Trip USA

A great alternative, which we didn’t know about it at the time, would have been a Solis Hotspot . Solis Hotspot offers flexible data plans , including Unlimited Data plans for heavy users or a Pay Per Use plan at just $9/1GB ideal for someone who just wants to stay connected and keep up with emails/messages or spends hours on social media while on this trip.

Cost of Activities – $160 ($10/day)

We didn’t spend a ton of money on activities throughout our road trip across America . Cost was factored into many of the things we did. 

We splurged on a Cog Railway ticket to the top of Pikes Peak, because hiking up the mountain wasn’t an option in my condition , and our 30 foot RV wouldn’t have made it up the winding roads either. Luckily, it was a great journey and money well spent.

Road trip USA: Max & Oksana peaking out of Cog Railway en route to the top of Pikes Peak. Rocky Mountains. Colorado. USA Road trip

National Parks Pass – $80

Another expense that we incurred on the trip was the cost of a yearly National Parks Pass ($80) . We got lucky with our timing as the first week of our trip coincided with the Annual National Parks Week , which gave us access to all National Parks across the country for free.

But by the time we got down to Arizona and California, the deal was off and the steep price at the Grand Canyon and at the Joshua Tree National Park made the $80 we paid for the pass completely worth it.

Under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Road Trip USA

We think that $80 for an annual park’s pass was very reasonable. Especially considering they were some of the highlights of our American road trip. You can pre-purchase your National Park’s Pass here .

2 Week Road Trip USA – Total Cost – $2,382 ($149/day)

Our road trip across America cost us $2,382, or an average of $149/day between both of us for a 16-day road trip across the US. 

It’s more than the $125/day that we planned on for our USA road trip budget, but we’re not kicking ourselves for it. Our estimate for how much would it cost to travel across America was a bit off, but we had a great experience despite a bit of increased road trip cost.

RV Camp site, part of the road trip USA budget

Looking back on our spending patterns, we realized that the biggest cost drivers were RV rental and gas . And while it might be possible to reduce the daily gas costs by staying on the road for longer and spreading the cost of gas over more days, the increase in daily RV rental would probably offset that.


How to Save on USA Road Trips

Looking ahead, we are not giving up on our mission to find more cost-effective ways to enjoy USA road trips . Next time, we plan USA road trips we will cover shorter distances (and save on gas in the process), look for even better relocation deals, and use some of our existing supplies to help us save on USA road trips costs. 

Road trip USA: Beautiful views on our American road trip

We are confident that we can make it happen on future road trips, USA! Of course, having now put together this handy cross country road trip cost calculator it will be helpful in estimating all travel costs ahead of the trip. 

We hope that this info can also aid you in determining how much your road trips USA may cost.

Road Trips USA – Eco-Friendly Tips

American road trips USA can take its toll on the environment but there are ways to minimize its effects. Not to mention, we tend to find that the more eco-friendly a trip is the more cost-effective trip too!

  • Choose a hybrid model or energy-efficient vehicle whenever possible.
  • If you’re driving your own car or an RV get it serviced prior to your USA road trip. Your RV or car rental agency will do this for you but you can still check your oil and tire pressure regularly while you’re on the road for better fuel efficiency.

Road trip USA: A road in Colorado

  • When it’s hot out roll down the windows instead of using A/C for better fuel economy.
  • Choose eco-friendly accommodation options , and restaurants while on the road. Try camping or staying in national parks like we did, and shopping for food at local farmers markets.  
  • Avoid single-use plastics and minimize packaging by using reusable grocery bags and collapsible containers when you need to restock food and refreshments. 
  • Don’t forget to invest in a good reusable water bottle.
  • Bring your friends! It’s always better to travel with a full car or RV. A five-person vehicle is so much more eco-friendly and cost-effective than traveling with a couple of two-seaters.

Your USA Best Road Trips Await

No matter what USA road trip routes you take, one thing reigns true – the United States is filled with variety! From mountainous regions and oceans to historic cities and untouched land, there are so many things to do on a two-week road trip for a variety of tastes.

Hanging Lake, Colorado. road trip USA

We hope this article will give you the USA road trip ideas and tools you need to plan your trip. See you on the road

Do you have any questions about an American road trip? Itinerary planning? Road trip suggestions are always welcome!

Read Next: Road Trip Essentials: 50 Things To Bring On A Road Trip

About The Author

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Oksana & Max St John

34 thoughts on “the ultimate guide to usa road trip”.

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Excellent article. I was wondering what it was costing you to travel around. I know in New Zealand I got a great deal on Toyota Space Wagon and it was very cheap. Obviously your RV was much larger and better equipped but it’s still fairly expensive it would seem.

We never paid for RV parks or stuff either, we used to sneak into hostels and use their showers (I was young and on a budget so forgive me)!

But I remember the freedom of travelling around in the car and the complete freedom was an amazing feeling. I have been wondering how a road trip across America would compare to my recent trips to Uzbekistan and other more average priced destinations. It seems that the price is comparable if there are two people travelling.

Thanks for information.

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We know we didn’t get the best deal on the campervan itself, so that’s a cost we can improve on, but the rest of it really just comes down to the price of gas and groceries. That’s really where the bulk of the costs comes from. Also, if you don’t have a large RV with a toilet and/or shower and don’t need to dump gray/black water, then there is really no need to stay in RV parks in the US either. There are tons of truck stops along the highways where you can actually shower and use the toilet for free or for next to nothing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for us. At least not with this RV.

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Your pictures are beautiful! 🙂 My dad always wanted to take RV trips, but they can definitely be more expensive than you would expect.


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Thanks for sharing! I would love to do a road trip across the US in the next few years, and may look at doing an RV. My husband and I are doing a short RV trip from Darwin, Australia in a few weeks, and we learnt that it’s definitely not cheap – especially when we didn’t want to use Wicked, plus needed a guaranteed Auto. (Luckily as a travel blogger I managed to get a good discount!)

We found Apollo to be great in that part of Australia. They had some great $1/day deals from Darwin to Perth when we looked into it. If you end up doing more road trips in US or in Australia, look into Imoova – great rates on relocations in both Australia and the US.

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My friend told me about how RV’ing is a huge culture down in the United States, and that it is quite common to park at Walmart parking lots overnight to reduce costs. I thought he was just kidding about that, but you have confirmed that it is not the case. I would have assumed you would get ticketed or towed if you did that.

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Also, you can overnight at some large truck stops, some casinos, and our state parks and national parks are very reasonably priced, but some of the more popular ones are reserved up to a year ahead. For self-contained (no hook up)/boondock/’dispersed’ camp sites, there are many free places in the western part of the country–BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and COE (Corps of Engineers). Campendium is a good resource to find these.There are also apps where you can find pump outs and potable water to refill your tanks, without staying in an expensive RV park.

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Nice post. So its cost you close to 2400US dollars for the travel. You guys really have a huge budget for the journey.

We usually travel on a budget of $100/day between both of us, which isn’t that high at all! On this trip, we went a bit over budget, which sometimes happens. Luckily, we are able to offset more expensive trips like this one with cheaper destinations and make sure that we stick to our $100/day budget on average for the year!

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Sounds wonderful! We have recently retired and are really wanting to travel west, being from Illinois, but we always thought the RV would be way out of our budget. But, when you consider hotel rooms and restaurants in a car(even a fuel efficient one like ours), the RV rental makes a lot of sense. I always see them parked at Wal-Mart’s and truck stops. One question? Can we make it to Los Angeles, up the Pacific Coast Highway, Yosemite and back to Illinois on Hwy 80 in 2 weeks?

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@SALLY Miller : I don’t see why not ,but here’s the thing , why would you want to put yourself in time constraints ? Taking you on that trip is about 5300 miles dividing that into 14 days is about 350 miles a day, taking you to Portland Or. and back. I’d try to take more time if it were me .

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Did you ever drive and stay in the cities at that RV? Is that possible to go through Chicago by the way?

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We mostly stayed in National Parks or in designated RV sites. There were some in the cities, but we did not stay in Chicago. We started our trip just outside of Chicago, so we did not need to drive through the city. But, there is no reason why you would not be able to go on the highway with your RV.

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I am amazed and excited to read about your journey. It would help me a lot in planning my trips. You missed my country Pakistan. I suggest that you should explore the cultural city of Lahore and Northern Pakistan. Let me know if I can be on any help.

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Thank you soooo much for posting all this detail! Our family of 4 (maybe 5 if the niece comes along) is going to do about a 3k R/T Eastern Canada trip and I can actually apply so much of your budget to our trip. And your resources. You’re legends – the both of you!

You seriously don’t know how much I appreciate this!!!

Happy to hear that you have found the post helpful. Enjoy your adventure 🙂

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Thanks for all the great information, sounds like you had a wonderful time. My family and friends are planning a USA trip from Australia next September 2020. I was wondering who you went with for the hire of the RV? Thanks Tracey

We hired our RV through Cruise America. They had a great relocation deal that helped us save tons on the rental.

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How did you rent your camper so cheap? Cruise America is quoting me over $5,000 for a two weeks. Thanks Nathan

We scored a great relocator deal! You have to be flexible with your dates and your route and you can find some great budget-friendly options.

For those who don’t know, a “relocator deal” is when they need the rig moved to where you are going. You are actually transporting the vehicle for them, and using it along the way.

Thanks for all the tips!

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I enjoyed visiting your webiste. I rarely leave comments, but you definately deserve a thumbs up!

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Just read your post on your drive across America from Chicago to LA. I have been wanting to take my family on a cross country trip for along time. I was just looking at RV rentals and chose Cruise America like the one you used. What am I missing? A standard RV rental for cross country trip both ways from GA to CA is over $4000 even with a 50% off promo code. You don’t just have to pay for the rental, you have to pay for mileage also. I was expecting a cross country budget for my family of 6 (me, my wife, and 4 daughters all under 9 years) to be around $5K-6K . The cost of RV rental would almost double that budget estimate and puts this trip out of reach. How did you rent an RV for 16 days for $600+?

Hi Will, we mention our “trick” in the article a bit. We found a great relocation deal for our road trip. These are quite common and are offered by many RV providers, but they do require you to be somewhat flexible with your dates and sometimes even destinations. A relocation deal is a special discount offered on one-way rentals when the rental company really needs to get an RV from one destination to another. Instead of hiring a worker to drive the RV to the desired destination, they put the vehicle up for rent, specifying the dates and route that needs to be taken. It’s worth looking through the deals if you have flexibility. Good luck with your search!

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I just checked RV price on and the price is far more expensive from what You presented.

Estimate (All Prices USD $) 15 Nights $1270.05 1500 Estimated miles: $525.00 Supplemental Liability Insurance: No Charge Environment Fee: $7.00 Subtotal: $1802.05 State Tax: $108.12 Damage Deposit: $500.00 Total Charge: $2410.17

Hi Dario, yes regular price for an RV will be much higher. We got ours through a relocation deal. It was a one-way rental deal with a particular route and for specific dates. Check their relocation deals and see what they might have on offer right now. Keep in mind that you will need to stay flexible with dates and route if you want to score a deal like we did.

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I have an interesting situation. Our leased car has 7000 miles left over due to lock down. So only gas cost is there. It is a suv large size very comfortable but gas consumption will be high. Your suggestion of national park tickets in membership is a good one.. thanks for your tips. If you had included Things not to miss would have been great.

Glad you found the tips useful. Hope you find a fun way to use up those extra miles on your car. Sounds like a road trip is a must!

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I’m planning a cross country road trip from NY to California and need suggestions on itinerary and best sightseeing routes, places to stay etc. I found your article very informative, thanks

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Such a fascinating read. It’s amazing to see a full break down of what you paid for your road trip! Thank you for the amazing tips, and info, this really helps!

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Hi dear Oksana&Max I’m Dariush from Iran. I enjoyed this text.thanks for excellent description about your trip. I hope could make program to travel to the us in close future. I invite you to come Iran. I can be your free host. Hope to see you

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Thank you for sharing your incredible travel journal. Amazing Mind Blowing Video.

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Good you explained everything in detail it has been a great help. Thanks for sharing the Useful and Informative Blog. Wonderful travel blog along with beautiful pics. This is the amazing Travel Plan.

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North America features hundreds of exciting vacation travel destinations, attractions, parks and resorts! Discover the open roads and scenic byways, and enjoy a cross-country trip on Route 66 The Mother Road and a quiet weekend journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway .

When cruising the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado or the Burr Trail in Utah, excitement lies around every curve.

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9 places to nosh on bagels in southern Maine

From old-school spots to foodie favorites, there's a 'hole' lot to try.

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Bread and bagels at The Works Cafe in downtown Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

From New York-style boiled bagels to Montreal-inspired wood-fired ones, there’s lots of great bagels in southern Maine and several shops have the accolades to back that up.

In 2023, Bon Appetit named bagels from Rose Foods and Rover Bagel among the best in the country.

Two years before that,  Food & Wine Magazine put Rover, Forage and Scratch Baking Co. on its list of best bagels in the U.S.

Whether you like yours toasted with cream cheese or as the bread for your breakfast sandwich, you can find plenty of styles and flavors from Biddeford to Brunswick.


The offerings at Beach Bagels include a French toast and marble bagel, and the cream cheese menu comprises spreads like strawberry, olive and honey walnut. Along with breakfast sandwiches, Beach Bagels has hearty breakfast options like omelets and pancakes. Best of all, you’re steps away from a beach stroll. Just don’t let the seagulls steal your bagel. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily WHERE: 34 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach. ______________

Dutchman’s opened in 2022 as a pop-up housed at Nomad pizza in Brunswick’s Fort Andross building. It’s since become a permanent fixture there and uses the pizzeria’s wood-fired ovens to bake its bagels. The hand-shaped, honey-boiled bagels come in plain, roasted garlic, poppy and a bagel-of-the-day flavor.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Sunday WHERE: Fort Andross, 14 Maine St., Brunswick. ______________


Making bagels at Forage Market involves a two-day aging process. The bagels are naturally leavened with wild yeast starter and baked next to a hardwood fire. There are usually five flavors available, including sesame and garlic. Breakfast sandwiches (including vegan options) are available. Forage also has a location in Lewiston. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 123 Washington Ave., Portland. _____________


There are 10 or so Mister Bagel locations in Maine, including South Portland and Falmouth. It all began with the Portland location, which was the first bagel shop to open in Maine. The late Rick Hartglass started Mister Bagel in 1977, and it is still a family business. Music fans will appreciate the breakfast sandwich menu, which includes The David Bowie (bacon, egg and American cheese), the Jimmy Buffett (egg with roast beef and cheddar) and The Lady Gaga (avocado, salt and pepper, with or without egg).

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 599 Forest Ave., Portland. ______________

At Rose Foods, the menu varies depending on the day, but there are usually six to eight flavors available. For example, should you pop in on a Friday, you’ll find a poppy and onion bialy (a cousin of the bagel that is not boiled). Rose Foods also makes a number of bagel sandwiches, including the Classic Nova with Nova lox and the Classic Whitefish. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily WHERE: 428 Forest Ave., Portland.



At Rover Bagel, you’ll find wood-fired plain, poppy, sea salt, sesame and everything bagels available most of the time, and the spread game here is strong with cream cheese options like lemon-thyme-honey cream and chili-garlic.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 10 West Point Lane Suite 10-204, Biddeford (Pepperell Mill).

______________ Advertisement


You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the line of devoted fans waiting for Scratch Baking Co. to open, especially on weekend mornings. Along with the popular Maine sea salt, plain and other everyday flavors, Scratch has a daily special bagel. There’s honeyed rosemary on Wednesday and jalapeno cheddar on Thursday. Scratch is also famous, at least to locals, for its P-Cheese spread. It’s a pimento cheese recipe made with cheddar, mayo, roasted red peppers and seasoning and was passed down to co-owner and head baker Allison Reid by her grandmother, Mern.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 416 Preble St., South Portland. ___________


The Maine Bagel is a drive-thru with several breakfast and other kinds of sandwiches available. With a bagel list that features egg and bialy among the standards, the family-owned spot is the perfect place to stop on your way to Pine Point Beach. The Maine Bagel really shines with a dozen kinds of cream cheese spreads, including raisin-walnut, lox, strawberry, cranberry-nut and bacon-chive.

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: 117 Route 1, Scarborough. Advertisement


The Works Cafe is an institution on the edge of the Portland’s Old Port. It opened in 1990 as Bagel Works before it changed its name in 2002. The original shop in this regional chain opened in Manchester, Vermont, in 1988, and there are 11 locations around New England, though just the one in Maine. Gone are the ’90s-era banana-walnut bagels and cold pizza cream cheese, but The Works Cafe is still a reliable place to grab a salt, multigrain or cinnamon raisin bagel, among others. The menu also has bowls, sandwiches and smoothies.

WHEN: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily WHERE: 15 Temple St., Portland.

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