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

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Pacific Coast

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Border to Border

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The Road to Nowhere

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The Great River Road

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Appalachian Trail

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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

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Open Road

The Appalachian Trail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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23 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

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

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A highway leading toward mountains

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

Photo by Zack Frank / Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

Plan your trip

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

People biking on a busy street

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

Photo from Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wooden pier with shops on top juts out into the ocean

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

Photo by Denise Lett/Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by tusharkoley / Shutterstock

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

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

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

Couple sitting in front of a curving road

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

Photo by Anh Luu/Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of the Surf Hotel

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

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

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

Woman walking by a mural of a river and bridge

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

Photo courtesy of Travel Portland

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of ExploreAsheville.com

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

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

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

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

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

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

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

Green tree near brown house during daytime

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

Photo by Mark König/Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by warnsweet / Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy of Idaho Tourism

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Shutterstock/QZ

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

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

  • The AFAR Guide to Minnesota

Overhead view of curvy Kancamagus Highway through fall forest

Wind your way through colorful foliage in New Hampshire.

Photo by Shutterstock

17. Kancamagus Highway: A Quintessential New England Drive

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

  • Plan Your Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

Red boat beside a wooden dock in a cove

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

Photo courtesy of QualityHD / Shutterstock

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

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

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

  • 8 Scenic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Year

Interior of Leah & Louise restaurant in Charlotte

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

Photo by Peter Taylor Photography

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

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

  • A Road Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two stand-up paddleboarders on the water at sunset

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

Shutterstock

21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by f11photo on Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Alexsf.gr/Shutterstock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 25 best road trips in the usa.

Best Road Trips USA

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

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

Best Road Trips USA

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

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

Here's a Short Cut

The Best USA Road Trip Safety Tips

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

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

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

Prepare Your Car for the Best Road Trips in the USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Road Trips USA

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

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

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

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

Best Road Trips USA

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

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

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

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

Best Road Trips USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA

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

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

Read more about our detailed West Coast Road Trip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to continue on farther, you can do this amazing gulf coast road trip !

● Begin: Jackson, Wyoming ● End: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming ● Distance: 70 miles ● Drive Time: 1.5 hours National Parks make for the best road trip destinations. Explore both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with this road trip full of stunning mountainous scenery! It’s the perfect summer road trip.

● Begin: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona ● End: Moab, Utah (one of the most amazing things to do in Utah !) ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 11 hours This nature-packed road trip will allow you to see five stunning Utah national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zions’, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches. This is a great Utah road trip itinerary if you’re interested in exploring even more of this beautiful state.

Check out this Utah Road Trip Itinerary

● Begin: Kahului, Hawaii ● End: Hana, Hawaii ● Distance: 52 miles ● Drive Time: 2.5 hours This is possibly the most popular road trip in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The 60-mile Road to Hana takes you along the eastern coast of Maui where you will be sandwiched by beautiful ocean views and jungles filled with waterfalls. The Hana highway will wind you around approximately 600 curves, crossing 59 bridges, but the ride is worth it!

● Begin: New York, New York ● End: Corning, New York ● Distance: 250 miles ● Drive Time: 4.5 hours I love this New York road trip! After enjoying the busy city life, escape into the Fingerlakes region of upper state New York. Enjoy culture, scenery, great food and wineries along the way. New York City with kids is so much fun, but it’s great to mix it with a more relaxing and nature-filled vacation.

  • Begin: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • End: Washington, D.C
  • Distance: 240 miles
  • Drive Time: 4.5 hours

Brush up on your colonial history and visit the homes of some of our founding fathers while reliving the past. Begin your journey in southern Virginia where you can visit Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement, where you’ll witness historical reenactments and join in on living history.

Next, head to Charlottesville and visit the homes of former presidents Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) and James Monroe (Highland). Head to Mount Vernon, just outside Washington DC to visit George Washington’s home (Mount Vernon) and finish off your trip in our nation’s capital. The distance from Williamsburg VA to Washington DC isn’t much, but the history that can be found on the side of the road is amazing!

You can also do this trip in reverse. It’s one of the best road trips from DC I’ve ever taken.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Miami, Florida End: Key West, Florida Distance: 170 miles Drive Time: 3.5 hours Take the 150-mile drive on Route 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, from Miami to the Florida Keys, crossing 42 bridges. These sandy islands are full of history, sun, and relaxation. This southern USA Florida road trip is sure to be one of the most sun-filled, fun-filled drives ever!

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Canyon National Park End: Las Vegas, Nevada Distance: 250 miles Drive Time: 4.5 hours Start out with nature, and end in Sin City. This desert drive will take you through the majestic Grand Canyon, with a stop in St. George, Utah and end with some fun in Las Vegas.

Check out this awesome Utah road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Deadwood, South Dakota End: Hot Springs, South Dakota Distance: 100 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours The Black Hills of South Dakota offer more than just Mount Rushmore. Drive along the Badlands Scenic Byway, making stops at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the infamous Wall Drug. National parks are some of the places to stop on a road trip. Stunning sunsets and sunrises in the Badlands will take your breath away. Keep an eye out for bison on the road. Check out this South Dakota road trip planner for more information.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Milbridge, Maine End: Eastport, Maine Distance: 125 miles Drive Time: 6 hours Explore the southeastern corner of Maine, also known as “Downeast Maine” as you drive along the Lobster Trail on Coastal Route 1. This colorful and delicious journey will take you through beautiful coastlines and forests while providing tasty and adventurous stops where you can find lobster and all kinds of local seafood. Try your hand at some local activities like clam digging or goat milking. There are so many more incredible east coast road trips .

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Shenandoah National Park End: Asheville, North Carolina Distance: 469 miles Drive Time: 6 hours The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular road trips in the US. Connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this 469-mile stretch of scenic road is the most visited road controlled by the U.S. National Parks system. Stops along the way include Skyline Drive (particularly beautiful in the fall), Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and Asheville.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming End: Glacier National Park, Montana Distance: 500 miles Drive Time: 9 hours Explore two national parks in one road trip by driving from Grand Teton National Park to Glacier National Park . The drive along the way will provide some of the most diverse landscapes in the U.S.

Begin: Carova, North Carolina End: Ocracoke, North Carolina Distance: 138 miles Drive Time: 5 hours North Carolina’s Route 12, otherwise known as the Outer Banks Scenic Byway spans 21 coastal villages and 138 miles of paved road and 25 ferry-traveling miles along the coast of North Carolina. Dotted with lighthouses, museums, houses and hotels, the Outer Banks is a great beach road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Seattle, Washington End: Seattle, Washington Distance: 300 miles Drive Time: 10 hours Explore Washington’s Olympic Peninsula on this scenic road trip which takes you through the Olympic National Park and Forest and the lush Hoh Rainforest. There are great spots along the way for hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Santa Monica Pier, California End: Chicago, Illinois Distance: 2,500 miles Drive Time: Several days Follow in the path of your grandparents by taking a quintessential cross-country road trip along one of the original highways in the U.S., Route 66. This road is not traveled very often now that the Interstate Highway system is established, but you can still visit many old towns that once thrived in the middle of the last century along The Mother Road. Route 66 crosses 8 states and dozens of historic sites along the way. It’s the ultimate US road trip, but with so many good road trip places around the country, this classic can be overlooked for bigger cities and National Parks. Don’t skip Route 66!

Begin: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada End: Anchorage, Alaska Distance: 2,500 miles Drive Time: 27 hours Stretching nearly 1,500 miles between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, the historic Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN) is not for the faint of heart. Though most of the road is paved, many sections are constantly under construction and parts of the road are only gravel.

It’s a road that should only be attempted in the best of weather, usually during the summer months, but the views and wildlife along the way are worth the adventure. An Alaska highway road trip should be well planned out in advance, with stops and accommodations mapped out at least six months in advance!  But it is worth the planning. Alaska is one of the most amazing places to take a road trip! Learn more about planning a trip to Alaska.

Begin: St. Augustine, Florida End: Destin, Florida Distance: 1,400 miles Drive Time: 24 hours See the majority of Florida by circling the entire state, starting in St. Augustine(America’s oldest town) then bring out your inner-child in Orlando, eat your way through Miami, and relax on the beach in Clearwater, then explore the panhandle in Destin. This route is long, but the stops and scenery are breathtaking. Learn more about the best things to do in Destin, Florida .

Best Road Trips USA

Begin : Boston, Massachusetts End : Seattle, Washington Distance : 3,000 miles Drive Time: 45 hours This is the best cross country road trip! We’ve done this road trip across America many times out of necessity. It’s more exciting to do it when it’s just for fun. The I-90 spans 3,000 miles across the entire country from Boston to Seattle or vice versa, running along the northern part of the U.S. This route makes some incredible stops like Niagara Falls, Chicago, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and Yellowstone. This is one of the best American road trips you will ever take! A US cross country road trip can seem a little daunting. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time and map out your stops ahead of time, breaking up the long drive.

Begin: Anchorage, Alaska End: Seward, Alaska Distance: 125 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours This quick 125-mile drive along the Seward Highway takes you from Anchorage to Seward. While small, this strikingly beautiful route offers incredible stops like seeing the Bore Tide at the Turnagain Arm, glacier hiking, berry picking, fishing, rafting, kayaking and more. Once in Seward you can finish off your trip with a fishing excursion or a wildlife cruise in the Kenai Fjords National Park where you’ll sail among whales, puffins, seals and more.

Begin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada End: Tijuana, Mexico Distance: 2,300 miles Drive Time: 24 hours Hit three countries in one epic road trip by starting in British Columbia, Canada and using this itinerary all the way down to the border of U.S. and Mexico into Tijuana.

Whatever road trip you choose this summer, be sure to prepare your car for an epic road trip and install a HumX in your vehicle to take the worry out of your journey and to get you on the road!

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Wanderlust Crew

6 thoughts on “ the 25 best road trips in the usa ”.

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thanks for all the info and pictures! would love to do some of these one day I’ve done a lot of road trips in Europe but none in the US yet! route 66 and the grand canyon is definitely on the bucket list!

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America certainly has some awesome road trips! I’ve done a lot in Europe, but would definitely love to do more!!

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I love that some of these road trip destinations are kid friendly. The kids and us could really use some time off from the house after all that’s happening. But we ‘d like to go once things get better. or rather, safer.

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Cross country trips and most of the iconic rides like Route 66 are the best! Gotta love having the countries (and even the continents) so close to us that we can travel by land all we want.

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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

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 streetartmap.org 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 Booking.com 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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10 of the best road trips in the USA

Bailey Freeman

Jan 5, 2024 • 6 min read

us road trip tours

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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The Best USA Road Trip Routes

An essential guide to epic american road trips.

Amy Balfour

Amy Balfour

Stuart Thornton

Stuart Thornton

Sarah Bence

Sarah Bence

  • In this guide
  • Rocky Mountain road trip
  • Utah's national parks
  • Grand Canyon loop
  • California road trips
  • Skyline & Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Western North Carolina
  • West Virginia To Shenandoah NP

Great Smoky Mountains

  • NC's Outer Banks
  • White Mountains & Falls
  • Coastal Maine's Route-1
  • Fall foliage
  • Lakes Michigan & Superior
  • South Dakota
  • Chicago to the Ozarks
  • Renting an RV
  • National park road trips
  • Two week routes
  • Best cross-country routes
  • Family road trip routes
  • Summer road trip routes
  • History & culture road trip routes

That ribbon of highway, the endless skyway…. Woody Guthrie immortalised life on the road in 1940 and it’s been sung about, written about and filmed about ever since.

So it’s no surprise that the ‘Great American Road Trip’ has a grip on all our imaginations. Anywhere else, a long car journey is nothing but a mundane chore. But you know where to get your kicks, right? Out on…oh you-know-where.

Maybe it’s something to do with the frontier myth: echoes of intrepid settlers, covered wagons, and the search for the American Dream. Or maybe it’s just that the American landscape, in all its dramatic, epic scale, makes a great backdrop for romantic adventures on four—or two—wheels.

There aren’t many places you can get this much scenic diversity without passing a single passport control. Your only problem is deciding how much ground you want to cover.

With a little forethought you can devise your own journey and, if you squint a little, maybe catch a glimpse of the American fairytale.

Mount Washington Auto Road in the White Mountains of New Hampshire USA

Mount Washington Auto Road, in New Hampshire's White Mountains

Top US national park road trips

This country was made for epic road adventures. You could just set off and see where the road takes you, or you could use some of the following routes for inspiration.

A few tips: Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Accept you’re not going to discover America on a two-week road trip. Less is more—slow down, avoid the interstates, and steer clear of the A-list tourist hotspots. The national parks hog all the attention, but you’ll find just as much wildlife and adventure (without the crowds) in state parks, national forests, wilderness areas and national monuments.

And most importantly, plan ahead! There might be some romantic appeal to just following the open road, but in reality that can mean expensive motels, RVs camped in Walmart parking lots, and crowded roads snaking through the aforementioned over-popular national parks.

USA yosemite3

Yosemite National Park, California

The west coast in two weeks

Approx. distance: 1,700 miles

Duration: 14 days

Suggested route: Seattle, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Los Angeles.

Take in the magnificence of the western United States mountains, while also walking among some of the world’s biggest trees and get sprayed by a few of North America’s largest waterfalls on this route. This inland tour of the best mountainous parks in Washington, Oregon, and California includes crowd favourites Olympic National Park, Crater Lake National Park and Yosemite National Park.

Read more: West coast road trip

Arches national Park Utah USA

Arches National Park, in Utah

Utah's 'mighty five' road trip

Approx. distance: 1,200 miles

Duration: 10 days

Suggested route: Salt Lake City, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Moab, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Salt Lake City

Fiery red rock formations dot the Southwest, lighting up the landscape at sunrise and sunset with a brilliant array of colours, from red to orange to deep purple. Created by erosion over millennia, and still changing today, these sandstone wonders are the photographic highlight of most road trips across southern Utah.

Read more: Utah's 'mighty five' road trip

Redwood National Park fog in the forest

Redwood National Park

Northern California road trip

Approx. distance : 600 miles

Duration : Seven to 10 days

Suggested route : Bodega Bay, Avenue of the Giants, Redwood National & State Parks, Mount Shasta, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

North of San Francisco, California becomes less populated and wilder. Here nature dominates the landscape from the skyscraping redwood trees to the crashing waves on the rugged coast to the volcanic wonders bubbling inland. Northern California is also the place to see magnificent wild animals whether it’s the migrating gray whales off Bodega Bay or the majestic Roosevelt elk wandering around Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Read more: Northern California road trip

Foothills Parkway northern Great Smoky Mountains tennessee usa

Foothills Parkway in the northern Great Smoky Mountains

Approx. distance: 450 miles

Duration: Six days

Suggested route: Knoxville, Urban Wilderness, Gatlinburg, Cades Cove, Clingman's Dome, Ocoee Scenic Byway, Lookout Mountain, Knoxville.

Gorgeous scenery and outdoor adventure join forces on this Great Smokies loop, which swings past urban parks, waterfall trails and wildlife playgrounds.

Read more: Great Smoky Mountains road trip

Buffalo badlands national park dakota usa

Badlands National Park

South Dakota & Badlands

Approx. distance: 400 miles

Duration: 8 days

Suggested route: Rapid City, Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Black Hills National Forest, Hill City, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, Wall, Badlands National Park, Rapid City.

This figure-of-eight route takes you on an epic road trip through South Dakota’s national parks, forests, and monuments. The area is particularly rich in Native American history, including that of the past and present-day Lakota people. Although covering a smaller area than other Midwest road trips, it’s filled with plenty of arresting scenery, from the Badlands, to the Black Hills.

Read more: South Dakota & Badlands National Park Road Trip

White Mountain National Forest fall foliage on Kancamagus Highway near Hancock Notch aerial view Town of Lincoln New Hampshire NH USA

Fall foliage in the White Mountains

New England's fall foliage

Approx. distance: 700 miles

Duration: One week

Suggested route: Boston, Berkshires, MA, Mohawk Trail Scenic Drive, Vermont Hwy 100, Littleton, NH, Franconia Notch State Park, Kancamagus Highway, Wolfeboro, Lake Winnipesaukee, Boston

When to go: Foliage season runs from mid-September through mid-October

Foliage across New England puts on a brilliant display of colour in fall, with yellow, orange and deep red leaves shimmering across forested hills.

This loop passes leaf-peeping hotspots across Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Foliage season runs from mid-September through mid-October.

Read more: New England's fall foliage road trip

Stunning sunrise in Big Bend National Park Texas usa

Sunrise over Big Bend National Park, southwest Texas

Two week US road trip routes

Austin, san antonio & west texas.

Approx. distance: 1,000 miles

Duration : Two weeks

Suggested route: Austin, Hill Country, San Antonio, Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site, Big Bend National Park, Route 170 River Road, Marfa, Fort Davis, El Paso

South Congress Avenue encapsulates the best of Austin: live music at the Continental Club, tacos at Torchy’s and the quirky appeal of the I Love You So Much mural. Watching the flight of Mexican free-tailed bats from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge is a nightly tradition (Mar-Oct).

Wildflowers, wineries and dance halls abound in the Hill Country. The Salt Lick is a popular Hill Country BBQ joint. Tour the Alamo in San Antonio then dine beside the River Walk.

It’s a long haul west to the pictographs in Seminole Canyon and mountain trails in Big Bend National Park, an International Dark Sky Park.

Follow the Rio Grande west on Route 170 then continue to Marfa for minimalist art and mysterious lights. Sunsets glow with purple-and-orange intensity behind the Davis Mountains while murals brighten downtown El Paso, the westernmost city in Texas.

Four Corners loop: Ancestral Puebloan history

Approx. distance: 1,100 miles

Duration: Two weeks

Suggested route: Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos Pueblo, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Zuni Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, Albuquerque

Comprising Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah, the Four Corners region is home to the longest-surviving communities in North America, including the mesa-top villages of the Hopi Tribe and the Acoma Nation.

It’s a landscape rich with beauty and tradition but still bearing the scars of historic cruelties inflicted by white explorers and settlers. Mesa Verde and other lofty cliff dwellings, built by Ancestral Puebloans, are the photogenic hallmarks of the region, but these remote ruins were inhabited for just a short segment of the centuries-old timeline.

Other Four Corners highlights include the ruins at Chaco Canyon, the red-rock spires and buttes of Monument Valley and Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly.

New York City to Miami: Big cities, mountain towns & the coast

Suggested route: New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD, Floyd, VA, Asheville, NC, Greenville, SC, Charleston, Savannah, GA, Orlando, FL, Miami, the Everglades

From the Met to Chelsea Market, from MOMA to the latest pop-up, the Big Apple is a cultural and culinary powerhouse. A tip: Don’t try to do too much, just pick one or two neighborhoods and go deep.

For early US politics, head to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Afterwards, compare Philly cheesesteaks from Pat’s and Geno’s.

In Baltimore, dive bars and seafood joints are packed tight in cobblestoned Fells Point. Mountain music catches the ear in Floyd, Virginia, part of the Crooked Road Music Trail.

Ashville is a mountain town with a sophisticated palate, for good food and drink try Burial Beer, C´urate and the Biltmore Estate.

With its tree-lined Main Street and downtown waterfall, Greenville is notably picturesque. Hit the coast for shrimp & grits, Fort Sumter and live oaks draped with Spanish moss. In Florida, sunbathe on pristine beaches, hurtle through Space Mountain at Disney World, party in South Beach and paddle the swampy Everglades.

Autumn sunset view from Little Stony Man Cliffs along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park Virginia USA

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Best US cross-country road trip route

Washington, d.c. to los angeles.

Approx. distance: 3,200 miles

Duration: At least three weeks

Suggested route: Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Nashville, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque & Santa Fe, Petrified Forest National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA

This cross-country trip introduces roadtrippers to America’s cultural and artistic diversity as well as its striking landscapes. Cultural highlights include the National Museum of African American History & Culture in D.C., the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

The art scene is varied too. Study the masters at the National Gallery of Art, step into the art at Meow Wolf and stroll the gardens at the Getty.

American-born music is another feature. Mountain music thrives at the Carter Family Fold in Virginia while country music legends perform at the Grand Ole Opry. B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis parties late into the night.

Natural beauty is prevalent too, from the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Mississippi River to the multi-hued grandeur of the Grand Canyon and the golden beaches of Los Angeles.

Saguaro National Park arizona usa

Classic Arizonan scenery in Saguaro National Park

Best US road trips for families

Arizona: the wild west.

Approx. distance: 625 miles

Suggested route: Tucson, Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Chiricahua National Monument, Bisbee, Tombstone, Wickenburg, Prescott, Jerome, Sedona

With cacti and crusty mountains as your backdrop, this partial loop kicks off in Saguaro National Park in Tucson. From here, delve into the conflicts between the U.S. Army and the Apache at Fort Bowie and at Chiricahua National Monument, where towering volcanic rocks once doubled as a hideout for Apache warriors.

Next up are a string of mining towns where prospectors, cowboys and gunslingers once trod the dusty streets. Families can immerse in Wild West history at the Queen City Mine in Bisbee and the OK Corral in Tombstone.

Dude ranches near Wickenburg offer multi-day horseback-riding experiences. Several dozen multi-use trails crisscross the red rocks of Sedona, which may look familiar from classic western movies.

Southern California: Beaches, Disneyland & Hollywood

Approx. distance: 200 miles

Suggested route: San Diego, La Jolla, Carlsbad, Huntington Beach, Disneyland Resort, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles

Kick off with koalas at the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park in San Diego then follow Hwy 101 north along the Pacific Coast, passing sea lions, snorkelling hotspots and cliffside tidepools.

Surf culture reigns on Huntington Beach, where evening bonfires are allowed. Younger kids will love the Coastersaurus and other low-scare rides at Legoland in Carlsbad.

The 14-acre Star-Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the newest “land” at the iconic Disneyland Resort in nearby Anaheim. Street performers and an eye-catching skatepark keep Venice Beach abuzz while the Pacific Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier offers bird’s-eye views of the coast.

Tour movie sets on the backlot then scream at velociraptors on Jurassic World – The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Southern New Mexico: Caverns, aliens & white sands

Approx. distance: 350 miles

Duration: Five days

Suggested route: Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Roswell, Lincoln, Capitan, Valley of Fires State Park, Three Rivers Petroglyphs Site, Alamogordo, White Sands National Park

The Natural Entrance Trail is a 1.25-mile drop from the mouth of Carlsbad Caverns to the geologic wonders of the Big Room. After touring the cavern and its formations, high-speed elevators whisk families back to the earth’s surface in minutes. Tour the International UFO Museum in Roswell to learn more about the alleged crash of an alien spacecraft here in 1947.

Wild West history roams the streets in Lincoln, where outlaw Billy the Kid escaped the local jail. Fire-fighting legend Smokey Bear is buried in nearby Capitan. Budding geologists can explore a lava field in Valley of Fires State Park and look for rock art at the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. Learn about space exploration at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo then watch the moonrise during a full moon hike at White Sands National Park. Sledding down the dunes is also recommended.

Mammoth Cave National Park Kentucky USA

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Best US summer road trips

Best of kentucky: bourbon, thoroughbreds and mammoth cave.

Approx. distance: 275 miles

Suggested route: Lexington, Keeneland, Versailles, Bardstown, Loretto, Mammoth Cave National Park, Louisville, Frankfort, Midway, Lexington

Anchoring the eastern edge of the Bourbon Trail, Lexington is a cosmopolitan base for visiting the horse farms, distilleries and small towns dotting the rolling hills that stretch west from the city. Pull over for horse races at Keeneland (Apr & Oct; tours year round) and learn about Kentucky’s limestone-filtered water on distillery tours at Woodford Reserve, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace.

Eleven distilleries cluster near Bardstown, where boutiques and historic buildings fill the small downtown. Seal your bourbon bottle with red wax at Maker’s Mark before driving to Mammoth Cave National Park, home of the longest known cave system in the world.

Museums in Louisville spotlight native son Muhammad Ali, Louisville Slugger baseball bats and the Kentucky Derby.

Exploring the Eastern Shore

Approx. distance: 375 miles

Suggested route: Virginia Beach, VA, Chincoteague Island, Assateague Island, MD, Berlin, Ocean City, Rehoboth, DE, Cambridge, MD, Easton, St Michaels, Annapolis

Beaches, fresh seafood and wildlife refuges are plentiful on the Eastern Shore, also known as the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) Peninsula. This slow-paced region, tucked between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic, is an easy drive from Washington, D.C. and Virginia Beach.

In Virginia, Chincoteague Island hosts its wild pony swim every July, when the ponies that roam Assateague Island are brought to auction. Just north in Maryland, it’s easy to spot wild ponies while you explore Assateague Island National Seashore.

Crowds flock to Ocean City for the convivial beach-and-boardwalk scene. State parks stretch north from here along Hwy 1 to Rehoboth, known for art galleries and upscale eats.

On the western coast, immerse in centuries-old waterman culture in St Michaels and other coastal villages then crack open steamed blue crabs at Cantler’s in Annapolis.

Route 66: New Mexico & Arizona

Approx. distance: 675 miles

Duration: Five to seven days

Suggested route: Tucumcari, New Mexico, Santa Rosa, Albuquerque, Gallup, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, the Wigwam Motel, Winslow, Meteor Crater, Flagstaff, Williams, Seligman, Kingman, Oatman

The completion of the interstate highway system spurred the decline of Route 66, which crossed eight states on its run between Chicago and Los Angeles. Today, the historic route draws road trippers seeking a slower and kitschier drive.

The kitsch hits its peak in the scrubby high-desert of New Mexico and Arizona. Unique lodging includes the neon-fronted motels of Tucumacari, concrete wigwams in Holbrook and a former bordello in Williams.

Quirky attractions run the gamut: a scuba friendly blue hole in Santa Rosa, fossilised logs in the Petrified Forest, the Standing on the Corner statue in Winslow and wandering burros in Oatman. In Flagstaff, taxidermied wildlife watches the roadhouse action inside the Museum Club, which opened on Route 66 in 1931.

Beale street memphis usa

Historic Beale Street, in Memphis Tennessee

Best US history & culture road trip routes

America's beginnings: jamestown to dc.

Approx. distance: 300 miles

Suggested route: Jamestown, Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, James River Plantations, Richmond, Monticello, Charlottesville, Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Washington, DC.

This history-themed trip spotlights the colonial era and begins at the Jamestown settlement. Established in 1607, Jamestown was the first permanent English colony in the New World. Thriving towns like Williamsburg soon followed.

More than 150 years later colonists fought for independence in the Revolutionary War. Virginia’s Historic Triangle brings Colonial history to life with interactive museums, costumed reenactors and the surviving redoubts at the Yorktown battleground.

From here, the stomping grounds of the country’s Founding Fathers stretch from Berkeley Plantation on the James River to St. John’s Church, Monticello and Mount Vernon. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Tennessee & Mississippi music tour

Approx. distance: 500 miles

Suggested route: Memphis, Clarksdale, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, Tupelo, Natchez Trace, Muscle Shoals, AL, Nashville

Blues music spills from late-night clubs on Beale Street in Memphis while 1970s grooviness spills from every direction in the Jungle Room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.

They say bluesman Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil at the crossroads of Hwys 49 and 61 in the Mississippi Delta, where the blues was born. Red’s is the place to hear it. Test your musical prowess at the hands-on GRAMMY Museum in Cleveland.

Elvis reappears in Tupelo, site of his childhood home. The leafy Natchez Trace Parkway ribbons north from here, passing Muscle Shoals and its historic rock-n-roll recording studios.

The enormous Country Music Hall of Fame anchors the South of Broadway (SoBro) scene in Nashville. Appreciate acoustic perfection at Ryman Auditorium then elbow into Tootsies Orchid Lounge for a raucous honky-tonk jam.

US civil rights tour: Memphis, Alabama & Mississippi

Duration: Eight to 10 days

Suggested route: Memphis, TN, Greenwood, MS, Jackson, Birmingham, AL, Selma, Montgomery

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis shares space with the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

Just south, the Mississippi Freedom Trail stops at Bryant’s Grocery near Greenwood. The historic marker here covers the murder of Emmett Till by two white men in 1955. His brutal death and the subsequent acquittal of his killers kick-started the Civil Rights movement.

At the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, powerful displays explore the struggle for racial equality in Mississippi. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute spotlights the 16th Street Baptist Church, bombed in 1963. State troopers and their dogs attacked peaceful marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma two years later.

In Montgomery, learn about Rosa Parks and her refusal to give up her bus seat to white passengers.

New Orleans & Southern Louisiana

Suggested route: New Orleans, Barataria Preserve, Whitney Plantation, Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, Avery Island, New Orleans

French, Spanish, African and Caribbean cultures collide in New Orleans. The city shares this diversity through food, music and friendliness. Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street are calling cards, but full immersion includes oyster po’boys at Domilise's, live music on Frenchmen Street and a ride on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar.

Beyond the Big Easy, trails at the Barataria Preserve bring the bayou up-close while the Whitney Plantation describes life on a sugar plantation through the lens of those it enslaved. Breaux Bridge and Lafayette are the heart of Cajun Country, where menu specialties include boudin sausage and boiled crawfish.

Zydeco and Cajun tunes keep everyone dancing at the Blue Moon Saloon. Popular regional tours include swamp tours on Lake Martin and a trip through the McIlhenny Tabasco Factory.

In this guide:

Western US National Park Road Trips

Western US National Park Road Trips

Combining the awe-inspiring national parks of the Western USA into a single road trip makes for a true Americana adventure…

The Best East Coast USA Road Trips

The Best East Coast USA Road Trips

There are three national parks in the East Coast mid-Atlantic region: Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the newly created New River Gorge National Park…

The Best New England Road Trips

The Best New England Road Trips

Acadia National Park in Maine is the only national park in New England, although the region is packed with other federally run recreation areas, including national monuments, seashores and forests…

The Best Midwest National Park Road Trips

The Best Midwest National Park Road Trips

The Midwest US is often unfairly labeled “flyover country” but those who fly over middle America don't know what they're missing…

Renting An RV For An Epic Road Trip

Renting An RV For An Epic Road Trip

The joy of an RV national park road trip is its simplicity: your family, the open road and the great outdoors…

About the authors

The Best USA Road Trip Routes

Amy has authored or co-authored 26 books on the USA for Lonely Planet. Her articles and essays have appeared in Backpacker, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Houston Chronicle, Redbook, Southern Living, Women’s Health, Vegetarian Times, the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

The Best USA Road Trip Routes

Stuart is a California-based travel writer and guidebook author. His books include Moon California Road Trip , Moon Coastal California and the forthcoming Moon Northern California Road Trips . For more about Stuart and his books, visit his website.

The Best USA Road Trip Routes

Sarah Bence is a travel journalist based in her home state of Michigan, after living in the UK for three and a half years. She writes for Lonely Planet, Fodor's, Roadtrippers Magazine, Business Insider, and more.

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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.

us road trip tours

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.

us road trip tours

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.

us road trip tours

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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Read more about the article A Map Of The World’s Population Divided Into 10 Equal Sections

A Map Of The World’s Population Divided Into 10 Equal Sections

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Hello Andrew, the PHD student suggests in the 1st Itinnerary that the one stop to make in Washington State is the Hanford Nuclear Reservation?! Flat out, that is a terrible idea. It is in the middle of nowhere, I am just shocked it’s mentioned. Out of all the beautiful and amazing places to see in such a diverse state as Washington, a Nuclear Site was chosen? Surely this student could have done so much better. Thank you for allowing comments.

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Having been all around the Olympic Peninsula, I agree that’s there are better stops. But my understanding is that he really optimized for the quickest way to do all 48 and had to choose a point of interest that wasn’t too far off that optimal path, hence that choice (I think).

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thanks for sharing this information with us.

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I have taken a road trip from California to the the most northeastern part of theUS. west Quaby light house. it was my 1st trip across the us. .I seen so many amazing places.

Quite the drive for sure! Must have been epic.

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Why do Americans always think the Statue of Liberty is in NY? it is in NJ. I’ve done road trips now that have taken in 39 states. Here’s a quiz to see how well you know the USA: Which state has only one syllable? Only one city has been name-checked on the moon. In which state is it? Which is the most Northerly of the contiguous states? In which state were Tennessee Williams and Elvis Presley born? Which was the last of the contiguous states to be admitted into the USA? Which four states all share a border with each other? Which state has the lowest population? Twelve cities are name-checked in “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” but only three states. Which? Which state has the longest name? Which two states have the most borders with other states? In which state is the geographical centre of the USA – and which one if you exclude Hawaii and Alaska? Which of the states of the USA has respectively the most Northerly, Southerly, Easterly and Westerly points?

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The official Statue of Liberty address is Liberty Island, New York, NY, 10004.

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Wow, these comments are very rude for no reason. Thanks for the article, maybe when I graduate from college I’ll consider hitting part of one of these itineraries.

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“it’s a huge country (even larger than Canada when considering land area alone).”

Canada – 3.855 million mi² USA – 3.532 million mi² Where does this math fail you?

Where did reading fail you :P? It explicitly says “ when considering LAND area alone ” The quote you copied literally has a link provided under “even larger than Canada” and if you read that, it explains how Canada is only larger than the US due to water area being counted 🙂

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There is no stop in North Dakota on the city version. You should stop in Fargo after Billings and before Sioux Falls

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I’m 46 years old .. I have been to all 50 states and I’m 17 away from all 50 twice .. I have driven to 47 .. flown to Alaska, Hawaii and Washington..

Wow! That’s impressive :O

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This is awesome

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This is inspiring! Thank you for sharing!

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“this roadtrip in only 9 days“ is extremely false statement. It is only 9 days if you are driving non stop, no breaks to even get out of your car, get gas, or actually see these places. From start to finish drive time it is 225 hours, 16 minutes = 9 days. Wow. Take some time to enjoy the view.

Yes, that’s what we said too 😛

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Thanks for the tip 😊

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Do you know the total distance of this itinerary? At what moment of the year doing this trip would be the best? Thanks!

Hi! It is 13,699 miles (22,046 km) for the landmarks itinerary and 12,290 miles (19,780 km) for the city version. You can even have the Google Maps links on the creator’s original post (I’ve reposted the link below). As for the timing, I guess it depends on your preferences, but I’d want to avoid that top half of the country (so half the itinerary) in the winter for sure! http://www.randalolson.com/2015/03/08/computing-the-optimal-road-trip-across-the-u-s/

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Crappy itinerary! Does not even include Zion National Park… and so many stops in the North Eastern states?? Nobody cares about those places except maybe a couple of places.

As explained, the PhD student who built the itinerary wanted to have one stop per state, and there are many states in the North-East so that’s why there are many stops there. I agree that Zion is an iconic spot, but his goal was also to optimize a routing that was as short as possible so that’s why it’s billed as an itinerary to see all lower 48 states at once and not an itinerary to see *the best spots*. But those interested in doing this can definitely adapt it and add many interesting stops for sure 🙂

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Curtis, you are crappy. Obviously this is meant as a guide that can be adapted to add spots. I think it’s awesome.

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Road to Grand Tetons from Yellowstone with mountains visible in the distance, one of the best road trips in USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)

If there’s one travel bucket list experience that our home country of the United States is best for, it’s road trips.

From small towns to big cities, from mountain ranges to deserts, from forests to plains, and from sea to shining sea, there is no shortage of epic destinations for road trips in the USA.

We’ve taken USA road trips in about 30 of the 50 states ourselves (and hope to finish them all off one day!).

To help fill in the gaps, we asked fellow travel bloggers to share some of their favorites for this Great American road trips blog post.

They delivered an enormous variety of USA road trip itinerary ideas, from weekend trip options to weeks-long excursions!

Dreaming of taking a road trip in the United States and not sure where you want to go?

This list of exciting USA road trip itinerary ideas will help you decide where to hit the open road next! 

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Your USA Road Trip

Cross-country usa road trip ideas, southern road trips in the usa, united states road trip ideas in the west, east coast road trips in the usa, central usa road trip routes, non-continental usa road trips.

Kate Storm in a black dress walking away from the camera along Jones Steet in Savannah GA, with several American flags hanging from homes on the right side of the photo

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Before we dive into exploring the best USA road trips, there are a few tips to be aware of–especially if you’re visiting as an international tourist and haven’t explored the United States before!

If you’re renting a car, shop around.

The best company to rent a car from for your United States road trip will likely vary dramatically depending on where and when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits.

Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through  Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your USA road trip.

Browse rental cars for your American road trip today!

white hyundai accent parked on the million dollar highway in colorado

Read the rental requirements carefully.

Especially make sure you know how many miles you’ve been allotted (or ideally, if they’re unlimited), if you need to return the car empty or full of fuel, what to do if the car breaks down, and what damages you’re liable for in the event of an accident.

On the off chance that you’re planning on continuing your road trip into Canada or Mexico , be sure to check any requirements for crossing the border as well.

Book travel insurance.

We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen on the road, and an epic road trip is definitely a case of better safe than sorry.

Check prices and inclusions with Safety Wing for road trips in the USA!

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at craggy pinnacle on blue ridge parkway during 3 days in asheville nc

Don’t underestimate how sparsely populated parts of the USA are.

If this is your first time visiting the USA, you may be surprised to see just how long you can drive in the United States without coming across a town or even a gas station–especially out west.

Be sure to keep an eye on your directions, and fill up your gas tank before heading into any particularly unpopulated areas!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm taking a selfie in Spooky Canyon Utah

Make sure you pack the right gear.

From safety gear to snacks, a big USA road trip requires bringing the right tools along, whether you’re taking a short vacation, diving into van life , or somewhere in between.

We recommend taking a look at the suggestions in our road trip packing list before you go!

kate storm in front of emerald lake, one of the best hikes in rocky mountain national park colorado

Consider bringing your sleeping arrangements along with you.

It’s not right for everyone, but there’s a reason that using an RV or campervan is such a classic American road trip experience!

And, you don’t need to dive into the RV lifestyle and buy one for your next trip in order to try it out: you can try out the experience by renting RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy .

Browse RVs available to rent with Outdoorsy today!

Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

If possible, stop in at least one national park!

Our home country is filled with an enormous number of interesting and beautiful places, but perhaps none shine quite as brightly as our national park system.

Want to climb sand dunes? We have that.

Marvel at glaciers? Check.

Hike across mountains? Take your pick.

Go scuba diving? Definitely.

Admire the power of incredible geysers? Got that, too.

Whatever kind of outdoor wonder you have in mind, you can find it at one of the most beautiful national parks in America !

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

From Stephanie of Oklahoma Wonders

Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip, inspiring songs, movies, and novels.

Starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, Route 66 passes through nine states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Some of the best things to do on the route are enjoying the kitschy 1950s motels, gas stations, and restaurants that harken back to the days of the Great American Road Trip.

You’ll also find tons of quirky roadside attractions like the Catoosa Whale, Cadillac Ranch , and the Twin Arrows that are must-sees.

If you want to enjoy some nature along the way, you can visit the Grand Canyon or Petrified Forrest National Park.

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

The most typical way to explore Route 66 is to start in Chicago and drive all the way to Santa Monica, but there are many who drive smaller portions of it or go from west-to-east instead of east-to-west.

There’s no single “right” way to make the drive. Just make sure you enjoy yourself as you go!

Recommended Road Trip Length

Because the route is so long and there’s so much to see, it’s recommended you spend two weeks exploring it one way.

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

New York to Los Angeles

Driving across the United States from New York to Los Angeles is one of those classic American road trip routes that, quite honestly, is not suited to most USA vacations–you’ll be looking at a lot  of cornfields and open plains along the way and spend many days on the road.

… But that being said, the legend and myth of this USA road trip route endure because it does make for quite the adventure!

With nearly 3,000 miles of driving to do between NYC and LA, you have extreme flexibility to create your own USA road trip itinerary!

However, the most direct route (a mere 44 hours of drive time, not including stops and traffic!) will take you to Chicago, across the open fields of Iowa and Nebraska, through some stunning nature in Colorado and Utah, and right through Las Vegas before delivering you to the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

view of an rv driving through valley of fire state park, one of the best day trips during 3 days in las vegas nevada

If you’re open to detours, plenty of national parks will be within your reach on this USA road trip, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, and even the Grand Canyon!

If you’d like to enjoy a coast-to-coast road trip in the USA, we recommend setting aside at least two weeks to ensure you have enough time to experience the route along the way (and avoid spending too many days at a time looking at nothing but highways)!

Kate Storm standing on the beach next to Santa Monica Pier is Los Angeles, California, the final destination of some of the most classic USA road trip itinerary ideas

Blue Ridge Parkway

From Carl of NC Tripping

If you’re exploring the western parts of North Carolina or Virginia , the Blue Ridge Parkway is always lingering somewhere nearby.

It’s the most popular road trip between the two states and connects two of the United States’ most-visited national parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.

At 469 miles in length, this road will take some time to explore !

Narrowing things down to a few places you must visit is tough, but here are some “musts.” 

Moving north to south, highlights on the Virginia side include Humpback Rocks (Milepost 5), Mabry Mill (MP 176), Peaks of Otter (MP 85), and the Blue Ridge Music Center (MP 213).

Across the border in North Carolina, you at least need to see Linville Falls (316), Craggy Gardens (MP 364), Graveyard Fields (418), and Oconoluftee (MP 469) at the end of the line.

Blue Ridge Parkway USA shot from above during the fall, with fall foliage on either side of the road--one of the best weekend trips in the United States

Of course, there are more spots scattered throughout that are within a short drive of the Parkway , such as the ever-popular Asheville, NC , the Biltmore Estate , and more charming mountain towns than you can count.

That, along with its length, is why this is one USA road trip that will take some time, if ever, for you to complete. 

Please note that some areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway close during winter through parts of spring. The NPS is pretty good about keeping information up to date on their website .

While you can drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in less time, ideally, if you want to hike and explore along the route, a week is a great starting point for this USA road trip route.

kate storm and ranger storm at looking glass falls, one of the best stops on a 3 days in asheville itinerary

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

From Katie-Beth of Her Life in Ruins

Who doesn’t love a nice glass of bourbon?

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you tour 18 different distilleries, try multiple bourbons (and other treats) at each, and take in tons of bottled-up history throughout the gorgeous Bluegrass State. 

While there is no official route for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, stay in either Lexington or Louisville as a “home base” for the experience, as all of the distilleries are within a few hours’ drive of these cities (some are mere minutes!).

Each day, pick 4-5 distilleries to visit, starting when they open in the morning and touring until they close.

Try to do the distilleries that are closest together on the same days (less driving and easier to get from one place to another).

If you’re a serious drinker, there are some bus tours that will chauffeur you throughout the Trail!

You’re never given more than about 2 ounces of alcohol at each distillery, but you may want a designated driver just in case.

On the drive between distilleries, you’ll see the rolling hills of Kentucky, some of our famous horse farms, and, of course, rick houses holding millions of gallons of the delicious spirit. 

In order to visit all of the distilleries, I recommend spending 4-6 days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Flight of Bourbon--you'll see plenty of these if you take one of the best us road trips in the south, the kentucky bourbon trail

Southeast Coastal Road Trip

The stretch of coastline running from St. Augustine, Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina is packed with beautiful sights, historic cities, and laid-back beach towns.

We consider this area one of our personal favorites for road trips in the USA, and we’ve taken dozens of road trips in the region!

Start in St. Augustine, founded in 1565 by Spanish settlers and one of the most historic cities in the USA.

Explore its beautiful Castillo de San Marcos, check out the Fountain of Youth, relax on the beach, and explore the Colonial Quarter.

From there, head north to Savannah , where you can enjoy its incredible architecture and town squares, and then move on to Charleston , where you’ll find compelling American history and the lovely Folley Beach.

Kate Storm sitting in front of the pineapple fountain in Charleston SC--choosing whether to visit Savannah or Charleston is no easy task, but we wrote this guide to help!

As you move up the coast, consider detouring for brief stops in Beaufort, South Carolina and/or Hilton Head Island, before heading into North Carolina.

Historic Wilmington and New Bern are always worth a look as you pass by, and while you’ll need to head all the way up to Kitty Hawk and Nag’s Head to experience the classic Outer Banks destinations, the Crystal Coast ( Emerald Isle , Morehead City, Beaufort , Atlantic Beach , etc.) has been my family’s haunt for generations and is also well worth experiencing.

And, the Crystal Coast also happens to be closer geographically to the rest of the stops on this United States road trip itinerary!

ranger storm standing on the sand at atlantic beach nc at sunset

Want to continue north to the Outer Banks?

Ocracoke Island, Nags Head, Duck, Kitty Hawk (famously home to the Wright Brothers’ first-ever flight!) and more are all ready to welcome you.

We recommend spending about 10 days enjoying this USA road trip route.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse NC as seen from behind sand dunes

Orlando to New Orleans Road Trip

From Christine of Live Love Run Travel

Driving from Orlando to New Orleans  gives you plenty of options for stops along the way as well as enough to fill up an entire vacation at the starting point and ending point of the road trip.

From natural springs to beaches to caverns, there is plenty to see along this route to break up the trip.

Orlando is of course known for its iconic theme parks including Disney and Universal Studios.

However, Orlando and Florida also offer plenty of natural highlights including the natural springs.

On the way from Orlando to New Orleans , stop at Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs, or Ginnie Springs along I-75.

Once you get onto I-10, make sure to stop at Florida Caverns State Park for a unique Florida experience.

Plus, if you are taking this trip in the summer, you’ll appreciate the cooler air in the caverns!

clear waters of three sisters springs in florida with sup board, one of the best places to visit in summer in the united states

Along I-10, there are also plenty of opportunities to stop for some time at the beach.

Consider Pensacola, Florida, or the Gulf Shores, Alabama, or any of Mississippi’s beaches to avoid a long drive off the main road.

From there you are in New Orleans where you can enjoy the bayou, lots of amazing food and live music, and plenty of history and beautiful architecture in the various districts within the city.

The length of this road trip depends on a few factors including how long you want to spend in Orlando and New Orleans.

The drive itself only takes about 9 hours, but if you want to spend time at the springs, beaches, and caverns, stretch it out to a 2 or 3 day drive, with a few days on either end to explore Orlando and New Orleans.

close up shot of wrought iron balconies in the french quater of New Orleans--you'll see plenty of beautiful corners like this throughout your 3 days in New Orleans itinerary!

Washington State

From Katie of Two Wandering Soles

With rugged driftwood-strewn beaches, snowcapped peaks, small towns, and major cities, Washington State is a true gem.

Home to incredibly diverse landscapes and endless adventures to be had, this Pacific Northwest destination is one of the best places to take a road trip in the United States. 

Start by  exploring Seattle (if you have the time) because there is plenty to do in this PNW hub. But when you’re ready to get out of the city, head straight to the Olympic Peninsula .

With temperate rainforests, waterfalls, remote beaches, and a towering mountain range, Olympic National Park is arguably the most diverse swath of land in the state, if not one of the most unique places in the country, and is the perfect place to try out some hikes in Washington .

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

Another drive well worth your while is to head northeast toward the iconic Mount Baker.

If you have the time, continue north to Highway 20 which brings you into the breathtaking North Cascades National Park.

Make photo stops along the way (like at the spectacularly beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Diablo), set off on epic hikes, and refuel at the small towns along the way.

Eventually, you’ll reach Lake Chelan , which is a perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer day.

From Lake Chelan, you have a stunning drive on Highway 2 back to Seattle with many more opportunities for exploring small towns and hiking along the way, if time allows. 

If you want to cover this whole route, you should allow 1.5 – 2 weeks. If you have less time, shorten your USA road trip itinerary accordingly.

Lake Diablo in Washington State as seen from above--an excellent stop on a west coast road trip USA

Southwest Colorado Road Trip

From Tanya of Rad Family Travel

Exploring Southwest Colorado on a memorable summer road trip through the mountains offers adventure in every direction.

Sand-sled through Great Sand Dunes National Park, drive breath-taking mountain passes, soak and swim in hot springs, and climb ladders to ancient Puebloan dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.

From there, imagine taking a jeep ride to old mining towns, biking along scenic trails, and hiking among wildflowers.

Arrive in Telluride in style via a free gondola, go whitewater rafting or alpine sliding, sleep under the stars, and top it all off with local burgers and cold brews.

Gondola in southwest Colorado with mountains visible in the background

In other words: whatever kind of outdoor adventure you’re looking for, southwest Colorado has you covered.

A Southwest Colorado road trip highlights diverse outdoor fun in Great Sand Dunes National Park, Pagosa Springs, Durango, Mesa Verde National Park, Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista.

Choose from tent camping, cabins, or hotels, or a mixture thereof, for lodging along the way.

Allow at least nine to ten days for this epic southwest Colorado Road Trip , starting from Colorado Springs.

If you prefer slower travel and lots of outdoor adventure, consider making it a fourteen-day loop by staying longer in Ouray, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista — and really delve into these sweet mountain towns . 

great sand dunes national park colorado as seen from a distance

Utah’s Mighty Five

From Ali of Travel Made Simple

Utah is home to five amazing national parks, all close enough to each other to visit on one iconic national parks road trip .

These national parks are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Since they’re all in the southern half of the state, you can drive in a loop to get to them all.

This also works well as part of a bigger  southwestern US road trip .

If you’re short on time or not in great shape, you can see a lot by driving or taking park shuttles, where available.

Hop out at designated parking lots, lookout points, or shuttle stops, take pictures, and go for a short walk.

For more activity, each park has hiking trails for beginners to expert-level hikers.

You can see the highlights of each park in about a day, but allow more time at any park where you want to experience more hiking.

kate storm holding ranger storm at dead horse point state park

Start and end in Las Vegas and drive counterclockwise.

Since driving from Las Vegas to Moab , where Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are located, is quite long, consider stopping in Page, AZ (home of the famous Horseshoe Bend ), or Monument Valley on the AZ/UT border. Or both!

From Moab, drive to Capitol Reef National Park, then Bryce Canyon National Park , and lastly Zion National Park before heading back to Vegas.

If you prefer, you can also do this route in reverse!

Give yourself at least a week to do this road trip, or longer if you’re stopping in Page and/or Monument Valley.

View from Sunrise Point, which is one of the best places to visit in Bryce Canyon Utah

South Dakota

If you’re craving wide open spaces, plenty of buffalo and prairie dog sightings, gorgeous caves, and a quirky roadside stop or two, then South Dakota is the American road trip for you!

Driving from east to west (though you can easily reverse it), pay a quick visit to Sioux Falls and then The World’s Only Corn Palace (their words, not mine) before diving into Badlands National Park.

Drive the Badlands National Park scenic loop, do some hiking (the Notch Trail is not to be missed), and when you’re ready for a break, detour to Wall Drug for a heavy dose of kitsch.

landscape of badlands national park in south dakota, one of the best things to do usa

Head north to visit the Wild West town of Deadwood, and if you’re up for it, detour into Wyoming for a quick visit to Devil’s Tower, the first US national monument!

Back in South Dakota, base yourself in or around Keystone to explore Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and–if you have time–Spearfish Canyon.

Going inside Wind Cave National Park requires a guided tour, so be sure to book in advance!

Determined road-trippers can do justice to this South Dakota road trip route in about 5 days, though 7 allows for a bit more hiking and a chance to add on places like Rapid City.

South Dakota is also perfectly located for combining with road trips in Wyoming and beyond, so you can easily use this route as a building block for a bigger US road trip itinerary!

3 praire dogs in badlands national park, a great stop on a south dakota midwest road trip

Scenic I-90 from Portland to Yellowstone

From Catherine of Passports and Adventures

Visiting Yellowstone National Park from Portland, Oregon is easy and there is no better route to take than the scenic I-90.

This 812-mile trip starts from Portland and takes the I-84 along the very beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

As you get started, stop at Multnomah Falls to photograph the famous waterfall!

Continue to Richland where you could rest overnight before jumping onto the I-90, the longest interstate in the United States.

Multnomah Falls near Portland OR in the early fall

This interstate highway passes Spokane before trailing alongside the lake of Coeur d’Alene, a beautiful part of the country, and then snakes through the Nez Pearce-Clearwater National Forests.

Imagine a highway surrounded by forests on either side, and you have an idea of what this part of I-90 is like.

A great town to stop along the I-90 is Missoula, which sits along the Clark Fork River and has plenty on offer including a great park, Caras Park where families and visitors can unwind.

After Missoula, continue along the I-90 and join Highway 287 which will take you to West Yellowstone to start your visit to the first national park.

This route from Portland to Yellowstone is 812 miles via these interstates and highways and could be done in two days but is best enjoyed over a few days before your  Yellowstone vacation .

As you get close to the national park, you can also find some great camping near Yellowstone along this route.

herd of buffalo in yellowstone national park with geysers visible in the background. yellowstone is an unforgettable piece of some of the best road trips in usa

Northern New Mexico

From Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

Northern New Mexico is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to have a road trip.

The weather is gorgeous and sunny at almost any time of year, and many of the state’s most interesting places are just an hour’s drive away from each other!

Start the road trip in the state’s largest city, Albuquerque. Almost all people arriving in New Mexico start here because this is where the major airport is located.

Tourism in Albuquerque has really taken off since the show  Breaking Bad  was filmed here, but those who are not  Breaking Bad  fans will still love seeing Albuquerque’s charming Old Town.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan your trip around the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta , you won’t be sorry you did!

kate storm and jeremy storm smiling at the camera at the albuquerque international balloon fiesta

After a couple of days in Albuquerque, drive an hour up to Santa Fe and spend a couple of days here. This is New Mexico’s capital and its most beautiful city.

You can stop for a bath in the hot springs at Ten Thousand Waves and see the historic Spanish Colonial Palace of the Governors. 

Finally, check out some smaller towns like Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed, Chimayo, which is a popular pilgrimage site, and Taos, where you can visit a Native American pueblo that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You’ll be amazed at how much Northern New Mexico has to offer!

I recommend spending about a week on this USA road trip route.

Chimayo Pueblo Church in northern New Mexico, a popular pilgrimage site and a stop on one of the best road trips in America

Denver to Yellowstone Loop

Starting from Denver, you can easily craft a fantastic road trip plan.

USA national parks are in abundance in the west, but from Denver, you can hit three of the most legendary in short order: Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the ever-popular Yellowstone National Park.

For your first stop, base yourself in the beautiful mountain town of Estes Park , where you can access some of the best hikes in RMNP while also enjoying this idyllic mountain town.

From there, head up to Yellowstone to enjoy a few days of geysers, geothermal pools, wildlife spotting, and utterly unique views.

geothermal pool in yellowstone np, an amazing feature on a road trip plan usa

On your way back to Denver, head to Grand Teton National Park to visit highlights like Jenny Lake, enjoy some hiking, and soak in iconic views like those along Mormon Row.

Don’t miss the chance to spend a bit of time in Jackson Hole, one of the USA’s most iconic mountain towns, while you’re there!

We recommend setting aside at least a week for this all-American road trip–if you’d like to spend some time in Denver, a full two weeks is best.

kate storm standing in front of a barn at mormon row in grand teton national park, a feature on many of the best usa road trip itineraries

San Francisco to Yosemite Loop

From Julie of More Than Main Street

Typically, you think of the Pacific Coast Highway when you think of the best California road trips, right? Well…consider something a little different!

This 10 day California road trip , forming a loop from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park and back, is one of the best road trips in the USA.

You’ll get the best of big-city excitement, some time by the ocean, beautiful scenic vistas, and outdoor fun galore!

After spending a few days in San Francisco , hit up Monterey, Carmel, and part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Can’t-miss destinations include the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Big Sur, and the world-class Monterey Aquarium.

Next head east over to Yosemite National Park for some incredible hiking, followed by a little wine tasting in Sonoma or Napa Valley, a stop in Muir Woods to see the giant redwoods, then finally back to San Francisco.

This road trip is perfect for families, couples, or even solo travelers and is guaranteed to be one you won’t forget!

You’ll need at least 10 days to do justice to this epic California road trip.

Vineyard in Napa Valley CA with a wood barn visible in the background, one of the best honeymoon destinations in usa

The American Southwest from Las Vegas

Thanks to inexpensive flights, a convenient location in southern Nevada, and its widespread appeal, Las Vegas is a fantastic place to kick off a road trip through the southwest!

With Las Vegas as a starting point, head off to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada before making your way to the ultimate USA road trip destination: the Grand Canyon.

From there, loop up to Moab to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, head west to visit Bryce Canyon National Park , and then move onto Zion before circling back to Vegas.

Kate Storm wearing a blue tank top walking between two formations in Goblin Valley State Park Utah

With extra time, you can add on more exciting stops in Arizona and Utah like Monument Valley, Page (home of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend ), Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, and more.

Ten days is a good starting place for this American road trip, but you can do an abridged version in one week, and the sky is the limit as far as how long you can take to explore every nook, cranny, and slot canyon in the region!

South Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous national parks in USA

New York State Road Trip

From Melissa of Navigation Junkie

The route from Buffalo, NY to New York City is full of great attractions and small towns to explore, and the variety of stops along the way will be sure to entertain every member of the family!

To begin the journey, start at Niagara Falls in Buffalo, NY.

See the roaring power of the American and Canadian falls, and if you are up for it, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist to get up close and personal with the falls.

After visiting the falls continue on to Letchworth State Park, the Grand Canyon of the East, for a day of hiking and enjoying nature.

Continue on to   Rochester, NY , where you will find a variety of fun attractions, history, and nature experiences.

The next stop along the route is the Finger Lakes region, where you can enjoy the lakes, waterfalls, and some wine tasting.

rainbow falls in watkins glen new york, a fantastic usa road trip itinerary destination

From there, head to Saratoga Springs, known for horse racing and mineral baths.

After visiting Saratoga Springs, continue on to the Catskills Region, where you will find plenty of scenic views and hiking trails for hikers of all abilities.

Finish up your road trip in New York City, where you can visit the Statue of Liberty, The World Trade Center Memorial, Central Park, and Times Square, among many other iconic attractions!

We recommend taking a minimum of one week to fully experience all stops along this USA road trip route.

kate storm standing at a magnifying glass on liberty island overlooking financial district manhattan

Miami to Key West Road Trip

From Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz of Getting Stamped

If you’re looking for a tropical road trip, consider making the drive from Miami to Key West .

On this US road trip, you’ll travel through the islands that make up the Florida Keys on the “Overseas Highway.”

It’s said to be one of the best road trips in the country!

While the drive to Key West isn’t too far (165 miles), the stops and the scenic beauty along the way are what make it worthwhile. The road trip is full of fun and quirky things to do and see!

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Spiegel Grove Shipwreck are two great spots for exploring under the surface, where you’ll find coral reefs, sea life, and a sunken Navy ship.

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

For above the water, consider taking a cruise on The Africa Queen through the canals of Key Largo. 

There are great restaurants and bars along the way too.

Some popular stops include Plantation Key’s Mile Marker 88 Beach & Bar for all the tiki vibes, Islamorada Beer Company, and Robbie’s Restaurant, where you can feed tarpons from the dock. 

This road trip is best for a weekend (2-3 days).

Palm-tree lined path leading to Caribbean Sea beach in Key West Florida, one of the best southern weekend getaways

New England

Made up of some of the USA’s smallest states, the northeast region of New England is one of the best places for a road trip in the USA.

Featuring historic cities (hello Boston !), adorable small towns, a rugged coastline, gorgeous harbors, and plenty of lighthouses, New England spots a charm and culture all its own.

Consider starting and ending your New England road trip in Boston, the region’s largest city and airport hub, where you can walk the Freedom Trail, stroll cobblestone lanes, and visit some of the most impressive universities and museums in the country.

From there, make your way to beautiful Acadia National Park in Maine, stopping at charming coastal villages like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kennebunkport, Maine along the way–plus of course, a stop in the charming city of Portland.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

On your way back south, drop by the White Mountain National Forest, and beautiful towns like Stowe, Vermont (legendary for its fall foliage) and Woodstock.

If you have time, head south of Massachusetts before heading back to Boston, visiting the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, and the idyllic small town of Mystic, Connecticut.

To take a USA road trip through all six New England states, two weeks or more is best. 

However, with less time you can easily pick and choose a couple of states to visit and still have an amazing road trip experience!

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Texas Hill Country

Tucked into the central part of the Lone Star State, west of both Austin and San Antonio, lies an oasis of beauty.

Visit the Texas Hill Country for sparkling rivers, charming small towns, incredible hiking, beautiful waterfalls, excellent Texas barbecue , magnificent wildflowers, and more wineries and distilleries than you can count.

Some of the best things to do in the Texas Hill Country include visiting the town of Fredericksburg, which is known for its German heritage, enjoying a wine tasting, exploring beautiful Wimberley, climbing Enchanted Rock, exploring dramatic limestone caves, sampling barbecue, and visiting some of the best swimming holes near Austin , including the legendary Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well.

kate storm in a blue dress in front of the luckenbach post office

Be sure to save time for a couple of state parks, as well!

In addition to Enchanted Rock, popular state parks in the Hill Country include Garner State Park, Guadalupe River State Park, and Colorado Bend State Park (home to 70-foot Gorman Falls).

The lakes are also unforgettable: don’t miss a chance to admire the beauty of Canyon Lake or Lake Travis during this incredible US road trip!

Even if you only have one day, it’s worth taking a quick Texas Hill Country road trip–but ideally, we recommend setting aside a week to explore.

While you can visit year-round, bluebonnet season (roughly late March-April) is undoubtedly the most scenic time to visit!

cypress creek blue hole in wimberley texas, one of the best american small towns to visit

Northwest Arkansas

Packed with beautiful forests, idyllic hot springs, historic towns, and a lesser-known but beautiful national park, Northwest Arkansas is the perfect option for travelers looking for an interesting but off-the-beaten path US road trip destination.

Start your road trip at Hot Springs National Park, one of the only US national parks to be set in an urban (really, more like small-town) setting.

Nine historic bathhouses in the national park line Bathhouse Row, where visitors flocked to enjoy the local hot springs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You can still soak in two of them today!

small waterfall in hot springs national park arkansas

From there, head north all the way to Eureka Springs, which is known for its historic architecture, beautiful setting in the Ozark Mountains, and even more hot springs.

Along the way, consider detouring slightly to visit Hawksbill Crag (pictured below), one of the best viewpoints in Arkansas.

Whether you want to hike, soak, shop, or simply relax and enjoy the views, Northwest Arkansas is a delightful getaway.

This trip can be completed over a long weekend, but 5 days would be ideal.

hiker standing on hawksbill crag in northwest arkansas ozark mountains

From Carole of Travels With Carole

For one of the best road trips in Texas , begin in El Paso and head southeast. 

West Texas is filled with art, much of it BIG Texas art.

Before reaching the iconic West Texas art hub of Marfa , you’ll encounter some roadside art stops that include the “Giant” movie set installation featuring huge cutouts of stars Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson.

This is followed by stops at the Prada Marfa store that never opens, and at the railroad-side World’s Smallest Target Store that is complete with a shopping cart. 

kate storm in front of prada marfa in west texas, one of the best road trips in america

The tiny town of Marfa itself is home to the Chinati Foundation’s series of huge indoor and outdoor installations located on a former military base, as well as a plethora of art galleries–one of which displays Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.” 

In addition to art, Marfa has a viewing center where locals and visitors alike congregate at night hoping to see the area’s legendary and unexplained bouncing light orbs.

And if that’s not enough, you can also dine at the Stripes convenience store where Anthony Bourdain ate a fried burrito while filming what turned out to be his last episode of “Parts Unknown.” 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a fascinating visit to this area. 

Allow 3 nights to visit this area and another night or two for an excursion to Big Bend National Park.

fort davis drugstore hotel in west texas with a pink truck parked in front of it, part of one of the best road trips in us southwest

Northern Michigan

When considering the best road trips in America, the Great Lakes are often overlooked in favor of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts–but for a magnificent summer road trip through one of the USA’s hidden gems, head to northern Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior are located a mere five hours or so apart if you drive directly.

And, if you’ve never set eyes on the Great Lakes, this road trip will defy your expectations of what lakeshores look like!

view of fall foliage with lake in the foreground on michigan upper peninsula

Between them, be sure to take a step back in time at Mackinac Island, one of the best places to visit in Michigan.

Here’s the twist, though: no cars are allowed on the island, so you’ll need to leave yours on the mainland during your island escape!

Plan for about a week to make the most of this USA itinerary.

arch rock formation on mackinac island michigan

From Zach & Julie of Ruhls of the Road

Kauai is one of the most unique and beautiful destinations on earth.

However, when most people visit, they experience the inside of their resort and maybe a few beautiful places on day trips.

In truth, the best way to experience this incredible island is on a road trip to all of the best places on the island!

To start your Kauai road trip, go to the number one destination on the island: the Na Pali Coast.

The Na Pali Coast defies description, it is a place you have to see to believe.

The best way to see the area is on the Awa’awapuhi Trail, but make sure you hike the trail on a clear day for the best views!

Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii. Kauai is one of the best road trips in USA.

From here, check out the Alakai Swamp, a boardwalk that also boasts incredible views.

As you leave the Na Pali Coast area, head down towards Waimea and see the Waimea Black Sand Beach.

Moving along the coast, stop at the Poipu area and see one of Kauai’s famous Hula shows.

Continue this coastal route and head into Wailua State Park. In this beautiful area, you’ll want to see Wailua Falls, Opaeka’a Falls, and hike the Kuilau Ridge.

The Kuilau Ridge Hike offers a 360-degree view of the Kauai landscape that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Finish your road trip by heading up to the Princeville area and checking out Queen’s Bath.

This is a beautiful tide pool that will make for the perfect ending to your Kauai road trip.

Make sure to check tides and go at low tide, as this area isn’t safe at high tide.

We recommend completing this Kauai road trip in 3 days.

twin waterfalls in forest in kauai hawaii

Road to Hana, Maui

From Jess of I’m Jess Traveling

When you think of Hawaii you may not think of a road trip but prepare to have your mind altered.

When traveling on the island of Maui driving the Road to Hana is a must!

The scenic drive takes you from Kahului to the east side of the island to the town of Hana. 

The Road to Hana is 52 miles of one-lane bridges, hairpin turns, and curves.

This drive will take up an entire day so make sure you pack lots of snacks and fill up for gas beforehand.

black sand beach in Waianapanapa state park on road to hana maui, one of the best things to do in usa

The winding road takes you past jaw-dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls, and exotic flora.

Some highlights of this drive include Ho’okipa, Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Honomanu Bay, Wailua Falls, and the awe-inspiring Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Don’t forget to wear your bathing suit and pack a towel because pulling off the side of the road to take a dip in the ocean or swim under a waterfall is the name of the game.

Buckle up, enjoy the ride, and prepare for a trip of a lifetime.

You can drive the Road to Hana in a day, but if you’d like to savor the experience, consider camping or staying in Hana town for a few days to make sure you see all the best sights along this road trip in the USA.

Bright blue water as seen along the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best USA road trip itinerary ideas

Alaska Road Trip (Anchorage to Valdez)

From Wendy of Adventurous Retirement

Alaska is filled with excellent American road trip opportunities, especially in the summer.  

Start in Anchorage, when the museums are open.

Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about the indigenous people of the ‘last frontier’, and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center to learn about the history and culture of Alaska for free.

Take the Trolley tour for a fun overview of Anchorage, its history, and the earthquake of ‘64.

Ride the free shuttle to the Ulu factory, and check out the salmon runs at Ship Creek.

On day 2, head to Palmer and visit the Iditarod Museum before driving to Hatcher Pass.

Go to the high point for incredible views, hike the trails, and admire blue mountain lakes. 

Continue on this road to loop back to town.

Matanuska Glacier near Valdez Alaska. Alaska is home to some of the best road trips in USA

From there, head to Matanuska Glacier, located one hour from Palmer. Spend day 4 hiking to and on the glacier. 

After that, drive toward Valdez Alaska on the Scenic Richardson Highway. It’s about 3 hours to Valdez.

Stop at Worthington Glacier Recreation Area to see the glacier or hike it. Stop at the various pullouts to view the waterfalls along Thompson Pass and the Highway.

If the salmon are spawning, visit Crooked Creek and see if you can spot a bear fishing for dinner.

While in and around Valdez, also consider taking an all-day wildlife glacier cruise, visiting the Valdez Museum and Annex, and visiting the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum.

This is a 5-day, 6-night road trip that keeps visitors busy every day. 

3 photos of usa travel destinations: alaska glacier, havasu falls, portland maine. black and red text on a white background reads "25 bucket list usa road trips"

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About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

6 thoughts on “25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)”

Love all these ideas and inspiration for my next trip!

Thanks Jess! So hard to choose.

So many fantastic ideas – I can vouch for the awesomeness of WA, my home state! I am itching to get driving!

We are too! Hopefully we’ll all be able to soon. 🙂 We’d love to get back out west this year!

Everybody skips over Arkansas and Missouri when they suggest road trips, big mistake. Some of the best driving roads and scenery are located in the Ozarks and Quachita National Forests. Start in Springfield, Mo to the north. Stops could include Branson, Mo, Buffalo National River, Little Rock, Ar, Hot Springs, Ar, Talimena Scenic Drive from Mena, Ar then back north through the river valley of Fort Smith, Ar,, up Hwy 23 (Pig Trail) to Historic Victorian Eureka Springs, Ar. Then back to Springfield, Mo. You could easily spend 10-14 days on this road trip and see very diverse entertainment, scenery, hiking and waterfalls, mineral and hot springs, mountain and valley vistas. Best time to travel would be spring and/or fall. Scenery rivals anywhere in the country.

It is a beautiful part of the country! We actually visited Eureka Springs the weekend we got engaged, stayed at the Crescent. 🙂 We had someone signed up to contribute the Ozarks to this post but we haven’t heard back from them yet–maybe we’ll add it ourselves during a post update!

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Inspired Routes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must-see video: road trips USA

Best road trips in USA map

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

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

Essentials to pack on the greatest road trips in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best road trips USA

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

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

range rocky hoodoos on sunny day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

2. Ozark Mountains

us road trip tours

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Theresa of The Local Tourist

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

4. Florida Springs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Victoria of Florida Trippers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Audrey of That Backpacker

6. Washington DC to Boston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Victoria of Guide your Travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Jenifer of The Evolista

8. Newfound Gap Road, Smoky Mountains USA road trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Yukti of Travel with me 24 x 7 Blog

More of the best road trips USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Dhara of Roadtripping California

10. Coastal Carolinas road trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Ada of Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

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

smooth tan rocks sand and Joshua Tree blue sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Marissa of Postcards to Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Stephanie of History Fangirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. Athens to Macon, Georgia

music museum with record and photos on walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Apryl from   Southern Hospitality Magazine  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Karen of Forever Karen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Alanna of Periodic Adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

18. Savannah to Charleston

sunset view along Savannah pink sky during USA road trip routes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Erin of Savannah First Timer’s Guide

Best road trips in USA – continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Destiny of Guided by Destiny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Amanda of Hey! East Coast USA

22. Texas Hill Country (an underrated American roadtrip)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Sierra from Very Truly Texas

23. Southern Colorado

sand dunes with footprints and mountains in distance blue sky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Chris of Around The World With Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels

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

Oahu hawaii view of teal water and coastline on sunny day

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

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

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

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

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

Other highlights include…

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Melodie of Travel Must Do’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommend by Lindsay of Siouxland Families

27. Washington DC to Asheville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended by Terri of Female Solo Trek

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

US road trips view of road with rocky cliffs in distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29. Milwaukee to Minneapolis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Road trips USA

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

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

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

Best US road trips

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

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

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

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

Saturday 4th of March 2023

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

Friday 10th of March 2023

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

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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?

us road trip tours

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20 Greatest Road Trips in the USA

Renting a car in the usa.

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 rentalcars.com 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.

us road trip tours

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.

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15. The Hana Highway

A must-do on your hawaiian vacation.

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

hana highway, hawaii - most beautiful roads in america

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

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

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

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

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

16. Charleston to Savannah

Southern comfort at its finest.

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

City Market, Savannah - Southern USA road trip

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

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

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

17. The Best of the American Southwest

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

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

havasupai grand canyon day trip driving from las vegas, nevada

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

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

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

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

18. Route 61 – The Blues Highway

Visit some of the most significant musical sites in america.

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

blues hall in memphis starting the great american musical road trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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19. Seward Highway

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

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

alaskan road trip seward highway and ice road

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

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

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

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

20. Park Loop (Acadia National Park)

Rugged new england coastline.

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

acadia national park maine beach

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

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

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

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

For niiieerrrdddsss (kidding).

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

new york city skyline from brooklyn

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Pack for a Road Trip in the USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

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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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USA TODAY 10Best

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10 must-see roadside attractions across the country

USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards logo

Best Roadside Attraction (2024) May 15, 2024

America’s highways are dotted with countless cultural and quirky landmarks that capture the attention of travelers. They're more than just stops along the way; they're destinations in their own right, each with a story to tell.

To find the best places to check out during your next road trip, an expert panel selected their top picks for the best roadside attractions across the U.S. — all just a short detour from a major highway. Then, readers voted for their favorites to decide the winners. Here are the 10 best roadside attractions across the country.

Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum

No. 10: Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum - Gibsland, Louisiana

Opened in 2005, the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum resides in the former Ma Canfield's Cafe, the last business this couple visited before being ambushed and killed 8 miles down the road. Visitors can see photos and artifacts from the ambush as well as a replica of the car the couple died in. 

Wall Drug Store Inc

No. 9: Wall Drug Store Inc - Wall, South Dakota

A mainstay in Wall, South Dakota, since 1931, Wall Drug didn't take hold until it started offering visitors one simple thing: free ice water. Today, Wall Drug is home to more than 300 original oil paintings of Western art and illustrations, a restaurant, a mini Mount Rushmore, and much more. And, of course, you can still get free ice water. 

Wheat Jesus

No. 8: Wheat Jesus - Colby, Kansas

Along Interstate 70 in Colby, Kansas, a billboard stands tall, featuring an image of Jesus standing in a wheat field with a sheaf of wheat in his hand. Paid for in large part by Tuffy and Linda Kay Taylor, the sign is meant to inspire passersby. It also remains a popular place for travelers to stop and snap a photo. 

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

No. 7: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox - Bemidji, Minnesota

Well-known through folktales, Paul Bunyan and his pet, Babe the Blue Ox, are immortalized throughout Minnesota. One such paring is found at the Tourist Information Center in Bemidji, where visitors from all over take a moment to pose with the duo for a photograph. Paul stands at 18 feet tall, alongside Babe whose horns span 14 feet. 

Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum

No. 6: Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum - Logan, Ohio

More than 20 years ago, the Rev. Paul Johnson began collecting the seemingly mundane pencil sharpener. Today, the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum showcases more than 3,400 pencil sharpeners at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. 

Dalmatian Fire Hydrant

No. 5: Dalmatian Fire Hydrant - Beaumont, Texas

Donated by the Walt Disney Company in 1999 for the re-release of the animated movie "101 Dalmatians," the giant dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant stands 24 feet tall next to the Fire Museum of Texas in Beaumont. Not your ordinary fire hydrant, this one weighs 4,500 pounds, and at the time of its unveiling, it was the largest fire hydrant in the world.

Carhenge

No. 4: Carhenge - Alliance, Nebraska

Nebraska's version of Stonehenge, Carhenge is composed of 39 automobiles placed in the same proportions as Stonehenge. Additional car sculptures have since been added in what is known as the Car Art Reserve.

World's Largest Ball of Twine

No. 3: World's Largest Ball of Twine - Cawker City, Kansas

In 1953, Frank Stoeber started gathering up a ball of twine. Four years later, that ball of twine stood 8 feet high and weighed 5,000 pounds. Each year, more twine is added to the ball, and, as of September 2023, it weighed more than 27,000 pounds. 

Shealy's Official Skunk Ape Headquarters

No. 2: Shealy's Official Skunk Ape Headquarters - Ochopee, Florida

Sometimes called the Sasquatch of the Southeast, the skunkape is rumored to live in the Everglades near Ochopee. At Shealy's Official Skunk Ape Headquarters, interested visitors can see a plaster cast of a skunkape footprint and Dave Shealy's photographic evidence of the creature.

Lucy the Elephant

No. 1: Lucy the Elephant - Margate City, New Jersey

Listed on the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks, Lucy the Elephant stands six stories high in Josephine Harron Park. Visitors can stop by and have their photos taken with Lucy, and, for those who wish to go inside the elephant, guided tours are available. 

About 10Best Readers' Choice Awards

Nominees are submitted by a panel of experts. 10Best editors narrow the field to select the final set of nominees for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Readers can vote once per category, per day. For any questions or comments, please read the FAQ or email USA TODAY 10Best .

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Jenny Peters

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Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good things in life. She is a founding/voting member of the Critics Choice Association, who present the Critics’ Choice Awards every January. Her favorite places to be are on the beach in Southern California playing volleyball, scuba diving with the sharks in warm tropical waters or strolling the streets and soaking in the atmosphere of one of the world's great cities (New Orleans and Florence are her favorites).

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Kyle McCarthy

Kyle McCarthy

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Kyle McCarthy is the co-founder and editor of Family Travel Forum, the trusted resource for family vacation planners since 1996. FTF’s award-winning publications: MyFamilyTravels.com , America’s Most Popular Family Vacations and  The Family Vacationist  e-newsletter  provide destination reviews, tips and  seasonal roundups  for all aspects of travel. Ms. McCarthy, author of a dozen Frommer’s guidebooks, also contributes to US News, CNN and other publications. She can be found on most social networks @familytravelforum.

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Melanie Reffes

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Melanie is an island girl at heart . Born in Manhattan, she now lives on the sunny island of Montreal and covers  the Caribbean for a variety of publications  including  USA TODAY 10Best, CaribbeanTravel.com and MarryCaribbean.com.  A journalist with a boatload of writer awards under her belt, Melanie's affection for the Caribbean started  young when her family vacationed in Puerto Rico.   An avid fan of spicy food,   Melanie enjoys the diversity of Montreal - especially during the warmer months -when she's not en route to the Caribbean. She  holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Toronto. 

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Shea Peters

Shea Peters

Shea Peters is a NYC based writer and frequent...   Read More

Shea Peters is a NYC based writer and frequent world traveler that looks to the history of a location in order to tell the story. Growing up in a Southern family that loves to travel, Shea has seen 44 of the 50 US states and believes that every place has a story worth telling, regardless of how populated or rural. She's currently a regular contributor discussing travel, culture, history, food, wellness, and business at Travel + Leisure, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Oprah Daily, Women’s Health, TripAdvisor, Cosmo, and Revolt TV. When she's not traveling, rooting for some unlikable sports team, or taking a pilates class, you can find Shea in her rooftop garden that is currently flourishing above the streets of New York City. You can follow Shea on  Instagram  and  Twitter .

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10 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas

5 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas featured by top US family travel blog, More Than Main Street: Lookout Mountain

USA Travel: Southern States Road Trip Itineraries

Planning a southeast USA road trip?

Wonderful!!

I’m so excited to continue my USA road trip series! Hopefully over the course of this series you’ll find some of the best American road trip routes and definitely some of the best road trips in the south!

This week I am sharing ten fabulous southeast USA road trip ideas. From Florida to North Carolina to Arkansas we’ve got southeast vacation ideas for couples, family, and even solo travelers.

In this post you will find ten southeast USA road trip ideas:

Washington DC to Outer Banks Road Trip

  • West Coast Florida Road Trip
  • East Coast Florida Road Trip

Tennessee to North Carolina Road Trip

  • Southern US Road Trip through North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

South carolina coastal road trip.

  • Highlights of Arkansas Road Trip
  • Georgia and South Carolina Road Trip
  • Interstate 95 Road Trip

Are we there yet? Check out our epic list of 250 road trip questions to keep everyone entertained along the way!

Southeast USA Road Trip Vacations

I’m a believer that an epic road trip belongs on every bucket list !

Road trips are the best because they allow you to plan and be spontaneous all at the same time. They are also a great way to bond with your family. Gone are the days of the dreaded family road trip. We now look forward to spending time together and experiencing new things and new places!

We personally have road tripped all over the United States from California to Utah to New York to Florida. But because we live in the south, we road trip the southeast USA by far more often than the rest of the country. So…I’ve listed some of the best road trips in the south to inspire you to create your own epic road trip too!

How do I create my road trip itineraries?

I have a variety of methods, but it generally starts with one main destination.

Then I look to see if there is a loop I can create or if it will be a “there and back trip”. Some of my best planning tools include Google maps, Pinterest , and Instagram . If you’re not using these already, then you’re probably missing out on some fun stops and hidden gems! I’m also a huge fan of Yelp when it comes to finding great places to eat!

So let’s get to it!

I hope these southeast USA road trip itineraries give you some inspiration, tips, and all the tools you need to create your next epic road trip!

Make sure to read our Road Trip Essentials Checklist before hitting the road!

This post contains affiliate links which means I could earn a small commission, if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, read my full Disclosure  HERE .

Hatteras Lighthouse on the Outer Banks- an epic addition to any east coast road trip!

Southeast USA Road Trip Itinerary: Washington DC – Williamsburg, Virginia – Outer Banks, North Carolina

Looking for a good mix of history, adventure, and fun in the sun? Then this is the perfect southeast road trip for you! You’ll need a minimum of five days (although we definitely recommend six or seven) for this southern road trip from Washington DC to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Days 1 & 2: Spend the first two days of your trip in our nation’s capital. There are so many fun things to do in Washington DC. You won’t want to miss the National Zoo, the National Monuments and Memorials, The White House, and the Capital.

You should also consider visiting Arlington National Cemetery, one of the most famous cemeteries in the US , and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while you are in the area. It is an absolutely unforgettable experience.

Washington DC is exceptionally beautiful during springtime if you’re able to time your southeast USA road trip to see the cherry blossoms!

Day 3 : Drive 2.5 hours south for a day full of history and fun in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Watch history come alive in the world’s largest living history museum. Check out Colonial Williamsburg, historic Jamestown, and Yorktown. Had your fill of history? Get your adrenaline pumping at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

Insider Tip: If you have more time, consider an extra day in Richmond, Virginia before arriving in Williamsburg.

Days 4 & 5 : It’s up to you how you spend your last two days in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Just 2.5 hours from Williamsburg, you can fill your days with loads of Vitamin D and rest and relaxation on the beautiful beaches of the OBX.

But, don’t be fooled, there’s a lot more to the Outer Banks than just beaches!. Get even more history in at the Wright Brothers Memorial or The Lost Colony. Get active hiking, surfing, kayaking, hang gliding and more!

Visit Jockey’s Ridge, the tallest living sand dune system on the east coast. And wrap up your unforgettable southeast USA road trip through DC, Virginia, and North Carolina with a tour to see the wild horses in Corolla.

Need more details ? Read our family friendly guides to Nags Head , Corolla , and the rest of the Outer Banks !

Need suggestions on where to stay in the Outer Banks? We recommend: The Saturday House Airbnb , the Hilton Garden Inn , or check out these amazing beach house rentals.

5 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas featured by top US family travel blog, More Than Main Street: Siesta Key Beach

Florida West Coast Ramble Road Trip from Coleman Concierge

Day 1: Arrive in Naples Day 2: Punta Gorda, Charlotte Harbor, Cayo Costa Day 3: Siesta Key, Venice Beach Day 4: St Petersburg, Clearwater Day 5: Tarpon Spring, Dunedin, Crystal River Florida’s west coast has everything great about the state packed into 250 miles of scenic beauty. Since the Everglades covers the entire South-West tip of Florida, Naples makes an obvious choice to start this trip.  We made a day of visiting  Cayo Costa , a state park only accessible by boat that’s home to some the best shelling beaches in Florida. Spend the night in a waterfront hotel in Punta Gorda after returning from the Charlotte Harbor Tour. For Day three, plan a visit to Venice Beach, the shark tooth capital of the world, at low tide. You’ll find fossilized shark teeth by the dozens sieving through the sand. You might even find a giant megalodon tooth from this 50 million-year-old beast. Spend the remainder of the day on the sparkling white sand of  Siesta Key  which gets consistently rated as one of America’s most beautiful beaches. Day four takes you to the urban hip city of St Pete. Enjoy the gastropubs of Ybor City and sunset on Clearwater Beach. Be sure to check out the Dali Museum in Tampa and explore the Florida Aquarium.  If you feel particularly daring, try diving with the sharks in the aquariums giant tanks. Day five lets you drive across Europe but never leave Florida. Dunedin is a Scottish style village where we found bagpipers playing in the town square and enjoyed a pint at an authentic Scottish pub. Tarpon Springs is the sponge capital of the world and built like a Greek Village fishing village. If you have time, check out this guide for more fun things to do in Tarpon Springs .

Roll into Crystal River and call it a night. You’ll have an early day tomorrow. The grand finale of Florida’s west coast is swimming with manatees. Crystal River is the only place in the world you can swim with manatees. More than 400 of these gentle giants come to King’s Bay every winter. Take the earliest tour possible and maybe, if you’re lucky, a baby manatee will come out to play with you.

Do you love the beach as much as we do? Check out these other awesome east coast beach destinations to help with your trip planning!

5 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas featured by top US family travel blog, More Than Main Street: Famous Florida beaches.

Traveling A1A: Florida’s Iconic Beach Route from Florida Man on the Run

Day 1: Fernandina Beach Day 2: St. Augustine Day 3: Cape Canaveral (Cocoa Beach) Day 4: Delray Beach Day 5: Miami Beach Day 6: Key West

Florida doesn’t seem like your typical road trip destination, but that is a misconception. In fact, one of the most iconic coastal routes in America can be found along Florida State Road A1A. This six-day itinerary will let you take the drive in leisurely fashion, which is the only way to do it.

Day One: Fernandina Beach is everything you could want from Old Florida. Check out the beach inside Fort Clinch State Park to get one of the more pristine Florida beaches. The city’s downtown is a perfect slice of Old Florida, so don’t miss it.

Day Two: Packed full of history, St. Augustine is a major destination on this trip. Castillo de San Marcos is the center piece of St. Augustine. Make your way down St. George Street to do some shopping. Afterwards, head onto the island to visit Anastasia State Park or the Alligator Farm with the kids.

Day Three: Cape Canaveral allows you to explore being an astronaut, stand next to ginormous rockets or perhaps even catch a rocket launch. Kennedy Space Center is a unique place you won’t be able to find anywhere else in America. Spend the night at Cocoa Beach and get your first taste of Florida’s beach night life.

Day Four: While there is plenty of beach front to explore on this trip, Delray Beach offers the perfect blend of beautiful beach front, quirky arts districts, and all-Florida charm. The trip between Cocoa and Delray is one of the longest days, so get an early start to enjoy Delray.

Day Five: How can you take a trip along the Florida coast and not spend some time on South Beach! It’s not the usual road trip scene, but the sights and sounds of South Beach truly aren’t to be missed. So go enjoy yourself and live it up!

Day Six: Today you’ll travel along one of the most unusual bridges in the world to a destination equally as unique. Make your stop at the Southern Most Point, then head to Duval Street and party it up! The best thing about ending in Key West is that you literally have nowhere else to go, so sit back, relax, and grab a margarita.

Make sure you don’t forget a thing before you head to the beach with our ultimate beach day packing list !

5 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas featured by top US family travel blog, More Than Main Street: Nashville Tennessee

Day 1: Nashville, Tennessee Day 2: Nashville, Tennessee Day 3: Nashville, Tennessee Day 4: Chattanooga, Tennessee Day 5: Chattanooga, Tennessee Day 6: Asheville, North Carolina Day 7: Asheville, North Carolina

Days One-Two-Three: Start this road trip with a bang in Music City! Nashville, Tennessee has so many fun things to do that it deserves three entire days! Start out Day one in the heart of it all by enjoying some live music downtown. Visit the Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and catch the best view of the city from the famous Pedestrian Bridge. If you really want to experience authentic Nashville try free line dancing lessons from the Wildhorse Saloon each afternoon!

If country music really isn’t your thing, be sure to venture out of the downtown area. Visit the 12 South neighborhood for some awesome shopping, food, and street art. This is where you’ll find the famous “I Believe in Nashville” mural. The Gulch is another awesome area for food and some can’t miss wall murals like the “what lifts you” wings. Next check out the exact replica of the Parthenon, Bicentennial Capitol Mall State, Park, and the State Capitol. Finally, no matter where you are staying the Gaylord Opryland Resort is absolutely worth a visit. Be sure to check out a performance at the nearby Grand Ole Opry too!

If possible, you should absolutely consider adding a day in Memphis, Tennessee to this road trip!

Days Four & Five : Next hit the road and head to Chattanooga. This drive should take you about 2 hours. If you’re into Jack Daniels, stop through Lynchburg for a distillery tour . Once you arrive in Chattanooga, check out Raccoon Mountain Caverns, the Riverwalk, or try white water rafting on the Ocoee River. BUT, in my opinion, two can’t miss things to do in Chattanooga are Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls (I mean have you ever seen an underground waterfall before??)

Days Six & Seven : Finally finish your trip by heading northeast about three and a half hours to the super hip town of Asheville, North Carolina. Asheville is known for it’s music, food, craft beer, history, and outdoor fun! Check out the Biltmore Estate, Sliding Rock, and my personal favorite: breakfast at Biscuit Head.

Need more details? Read our family friendly guide to visiting Asheville and The Biltmore Estate !

The Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington North Carolina is a great winter weekend getaway in the US!

Explore North Carolina

NC Road Trip Itinerary: The Triangle: Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill – Wilmington – Pinehurst, North Carolina

North Carolina truly has so much to offer! While the mountains and the Outer Banks get all the fame and attention, there are so many more awesome North Carolina destinations worth a visit! This road trip might be one of my favorite southeast US vacations, but I guess I may be a little biased! LOL. You’ll need at least two days in each destination, but I’m betting you’ll want even more time!

Days 1 & 2: You’ll begin this southeast road trip in Raleigh, NC’s capital city. Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are called “The Triangle” and are all within 30 minutes drive of one another. All vibrant cities on their own, you’ll have to pick and choose where to spend your time over these first two days.

There are so many fun things to do in Raleigh !

We recommend spending a bit of time outdoors at one of the area parks and recreation areas. Check out Eno River State Park, Lake Johnson Park, Sarah P Duke Gardens, or simply wander the campus of UNC- Chapel Hill. Check out some of the great area museums like the NC Museum of Art, catch a show or sporting event, and do not miss out on the incredible foodie scene!

Days 3 & 4 : Just two hours down the road is Wilmington NC, my most favorite city in North Carolina!! Soak up the sun at any of the three amazing area beaches: Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach. Explore the downtown Riverwalk area, shop the boutiques, and check out our favorite places to eat in Wilmington . Visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, visit USS NC Battleship, and Carolina Beach State Park. Want to do something totally unique? Did you know that venus flytraps only grow in the wild within a 100 mile radius of Wilmington NC? Check out the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Gardens to see them- one of the best free things to do in Wilmington !

Local Insider Tip : If you have an extra day to fit in here, I highly recommend a day trip to Bald Head Island ! You won’t regret it!

Days 5 & 6 : Time to say goodbye to the beach, but don’t worry, you’re going to love Pinehurst . You may think that Pinehurst is only for golf lovers, but you would be wrong! Just 2.5 hours from Wilmington and one hour back to Raleigh is the super cute town of Pinehurst. Of course, if you’re into golf, then by all means, this is definitely the place to play. But, you’ll also fall in love with the charm of downtown Pinehurst and the Pinehurst Resort. Ride bicycles and explore, hang by the pool, take a romantic carriage ride, visit the spa, and do not forget the amazing food options. Pinehurst is the perfect spot to slow down and savor some southern charm.

For more details on the best things to do in all of these destinations, check out my family friendly guides to Raleigh , Wilmington , Carolina Beach , and Pinehurst !

Want to explore more of North Carolina? Read our ultimate North Carolina road trip guide!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the perfect fall foliage road trip through the south- photo from Canva.

Fall foliage isn’t only found in New England!! If you’re looking for the perfect fall foliage road trip in the south, then this is it! Keep in mind the leaves turn a bit later in the season than in the northeast USA, but it is still just as stunning!! 

When planning your southeast US road trip through the Blue Ridge Parkway the best colors are often seen during the month of October. However, this will all depend on your elevation, location on the Blue Ridge Parkway (it spans 469 miles!), and of course the weather! It can be very tricky to plan travel for peak fall foliage but predictor maps are often found with a quick google search.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the USA and belongs on everyone’s USA bucket list ! Although you can probably drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in around twelve hours, you will definitely want five to seven days exploring this beautiful area around the Appalachian Mountains! 

Starting in Virginia going south to North Carolina, here are some of the stops you should consider during your road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  • The Natural Bridge in Virginia 
  • Purgatory Mountain Overlook
  • Wildcat Rocks Overlook
  • Grandfather Mountain
  • Linn Cove Viaduct
  • Linville Falls
  • Crabtree Falls
  • Mount Mitchell
  • Craggy Gardens
  • Mount Pisgah

What is there to do near the Blue Ridge Parkway? There are so many cool things to do and see on this epic southeast road trip itinerary. Hiking for all ages and abilities, the cutest markets and orchards, mountain biking opportunities galore, waterfalls, history, food, and more will keep you busy for days! You will want to stop at every scenic viewpoint and soak it all in. But beware! You won’t be the only one out there. Prepare for traffic and crowds…this is known as “America’s Favorite Drive” for a reason!

Make your reservations as far in advance as possible! Depending on the length of your southeast road trip itinerary we recommend staying in Roanoke, Blowing Rock, Boone, Asheville, or Cherokee.

Short on time? Consider Asheville or Boone for your next NC weekend getaway !

Myrtle Beach is one of the best beaches in South Carolina and the perfect addition to any southeast USA road trip!

Southeast Beach Vacation: Myrtle Beach – Charleston – Hilton Head, South Carolina

Love the beach? Then this is one of the best road trips in the south for you!! Get your fill of fun in the sun on South Carolina’s best beaches!

Days 1 & 2: Arrive in Myrtle Beach early as there are so many fun things to do while you are in town. Play in the surf, build sand castles, and look for seashells along the 60 mile stretch of coastline in Myrtle Beach. Check out Broadway at the Beach, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, and more! Catch one of the famous Myrtle Beach shows- our favorites are Medieval Times and The Pirate’s Voyage. Finally don’t forget to check out one of the south’s most beautiful gardens year round: Brookgreen Gardens. (Psssttt…this is also a great golf destination too!)

Visiting during the off season? Find out all the best things to do in Myrtle Beach during the winter !

Days 3 & 4 : Head south about two hours to Charleston ! Be sure to check out downtown Charleston, take a carriage tour, visit Patriot’s Point, and Fort Sumter. But since this is a beach vacay, you’ll want to spend some time along the coast as well. Check out Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, or Isle of Palms. You’ll be able to surf, kayak, sail, and more at all of these beaches. Don’t forget to make time for some golf while you’re in town too.

Days 5 & 6 : Two more hours south and you’ll arrive in Hilton Head. You may be ready for some R&R but there’s plenty to keep you busy here too! We love to stay at The Sea Pines Resort so that we can ride bicycles to everything! Visit the famous Harbourtown Lighthouse, check out the fancy yachts in the harbor, and of course go to the beach!! Need more to do? Hang out by the pool, go horseback riding, play tennis, and of course play some golf!

Needless to say, South Carolina has two things we absolutely can’t get enough of: beaches and golf! Any way you cut it, you’re going to have a lot of fun in SC!

5 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas featured by top US family travel blog, More Than Main Street: caverns

Arkansas Road Trip from Heart of a Homemaker

Day 1: Harrison Day 2: Harrison, Benton Day 3: Murfreesboro Day 4: Hot Springs Day 5: Little Rock Day 6: Depart from Little Rock

Day One – Drive from Kansas City Missouri to hotel in Harrison, Arkansas.

Day Two – Our first stop was Mystic Caverns with a tour of two beautiful caves, which were easy to walk through with affordable admission. We then drove down Scenic Highway 7 towards Jasper and enjoyed the gorgeous views. We stopped at the Observation Tower and Gift Shop for a small break. This is not a highway for someone that gets car sick. My son never had before and this one did him in.  Then we drove to Benton, AR (suburb of Little Rock) to our hotel.

Day Three – Drive to Murfreesboro – We spent the whole day at Crater of Diamonds State Park. The visitor’s center was interesting, and we enjoyed digging for diamonds. It was a very hot and sunny day, so we only searched for a couple of hours. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and then cooled off at the Diamond Springs Water Park right next door. It is part of the state park and was clean, fun, and budget friendly.

Day Four – Drive to Hot Springs – We visited the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. This place is incredible, and we held a baby alligator!  We went to the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. On the way back we drove through Lake Catherine for a picnic lunch. We hiked the Falls Branch Trail to a lovely waterfall and played in the crystal clear and refreshing water.

Day Five – Drive to Little Rock – We spent half a day at the Little Rock Zoo. It is a smaller zoo with a wide variety of animals and a spray park. We were tired from the trip, so we crashed at the hotel for the rest of the day, but if you have the energy consider visiting Pinnacle Mountain State Park or Museum of Discovery.

Day Six – Depart to home. We made a last-minute stop at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and North Shore River Walk.  The tour included going down into an old navy submarine, and the museum had some very informational and interesting exhibits. After that we hit the road back to Kansas City. As always, we followed these tips for safer family travel .

5 Fabulous Southeast USA Road Trip Ideas featured by top US family travel blog, More Than Main Street: Charleston Carriage Tour on our southern road trip!

Georgia to South Carolina Road Trip

Day 1: Arrive Atlanta, Georgia Day 2: Atlanta, Georgia Day 3: Savannah, Georgia Day 4: Savannah, Georgia Day 5: Charleston, South Carolina Day 6: Charleston, South Carolina Day 7: Depart Atlanta

Alert! Serious southern charm ahead!

Day One & Two : Fly into Atlanta, Georgia as it will probably be your cheapest option. Spend Days one and two exploring Atlanta. My number one stop would be the Georgia Aquarium…I mean it is the largest indoor aquarium in the Western Hemisphere! Other worthwhile stops are The World of Coca-Cola, Stone Mountain Park, the shops at Buckhead, or catch a Braves game!

Days Three & Four : Next, hit the road about four hours to beautiful Savannah, Georgia! If you’re looking for southern charm, you’re in the right place! Start out by strolling the City Market shops, the Savannah Waterfront, and grab lunch at Paula Deen’s restaurant Lady & Son’s . Spend Day four choosing between exploring Wormsloe historic site (for that classic oak tree lined drive dripping with moss), relax at Forsyth Park, or visit a historic home. Be sure to indulge in the Savannah’s amazing food scene!

Days Five & Six : Finish up your week in the incredible city of Charleston, South Carolina . The drive should take you about two hours. We highly recommend the horse drawn carriage history tour- even our kids loved it! Spend the afternoon exploring The Battery, take the ferry across to Fort Sumter, and Charleston’s City Market. Oh, and don’t forget a picture with the famous pineapple fountain! If you missed the classic oak tree lined drive in Savannah, don’t worry you’ll have another chance! Visit Boone Hall Plantation for some pretty cool history and check out some famous movie filming locations too!

There are so many fun things to do in Charleston, I might consider one less day earlier in the week to give you more time here! You can choose to see the 500 year old Angel Oak Tree, the beautiful beaches, or Patriot’s Point . While you’re in the area, stop at one of these amazing places to eat in Mount Pleasant. Charleston also has an epic food scene and is not to be missed! Return back to Atlanta with a full belly and a week full of fabulous memories.

Family at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island Georgia.

I 95 Road Trip

Interstate 95 is the major highway for travel up and down the east coast in the US. And our family has road tripped up and down I 95 many many times!

In fact, we live right off of I95 in North Carolina! Whether you’re just looking to break up your southeast USA road trip or are looking to visit somewhere new, these are some of the best places to stop on I 95. So pick two or three stops and create your own southeast USA road trip!

Richmond, Virginia

Suggested things to do in Richmond, VA : 

  • Maymont- beautiful estate, gardens, farm, and park
  • Museums: There are several great museums to visit in Richmond. We recommend the Virginia Fine Arts Museum, the Science Museum of Virginia, and the Virginia Holocaust Museum. The Poe Museum is also a unique thing to do in Richmond!
  • Belle Isle – a great spot for some outdoor fun!

Rocky Mount, North Carolina

Rocky Mount is my hometown and a little known North Carolina gem!

Suggested things to do in Rocky Mount, NC :

  • Visit the Rocky Mount Mills for coffee, small batch breweries, and good food !
  • Stretch your legs and check out the waterfall at Battle Park.
  • Check out the Imperial Center for the Arts & Sciences with the kids.

S uggested places to stay in Rocky Mount : For a unique stay, check out the world’s largest tiny house hotel, River & Twine . The Fairfield Inn and Country Inn & Suites are super convenient options too!

Read my full guide to Rocky Mount NC for more details!

Wilson, North Carolina

Suggested things to do in Wilson, NC :

  • Check out one of the best roadside attractions in NC, Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park !
  • Grab a bite to eat at Brewmasters or Jack’s
  • Get some fresh air by wandering Barton College, The Wilson Botanical Gardens, or Lake Wilson

Local Insider Tip : If your southeast road trip happens to be during spring, be sure to pop in to see the Wilson Rose Garden!

Suggested places to stay in Wilson: Both the Hampton Inn & Suites or the Comfort Suites are super convenient places to stay right off of I95 in Wilson! Grab a bite at Best in Burger nearby too!

Savannah, Georgia

We happen to think Savannah is one of the most beautiful towns in the southeastern USA!

Suggested things to do in Savannah, GA:

  • Visit Forysth Park
  • Savannah City Market
  • SCAD Museum of Art
  • Do a food tour or ghost tour!
  • Check out the historic district and the waterfront area
  • Make reservations at The Grey or The Olde Pink House
  • Wormsloe Historic Site – if you’re looking for those spanish moss covered trees- this is it!
  • Leopold’s ice cream- a must!

Suggested places to stay in Savannah: Check our the JW Marriott Riverside or The Hyatt Regency Savannah .

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island is a little farther off the Interstate, but well worth the stop! 

Suggested things to do in Jekyll Island, GA:

  • Surfing, kayaking, SUP, fishing, and biking
  • Bird watching 
  • Georgia Sea Turtle Center
  • Driftwood Beach- While there are tons of fun things to do in Jekyll Island, my best recommendation is visiting Driftwood Beach at sunset. Truly a magical experience!

Jacksonville, Florida

Suggested things to do in In Jacksonville, FL:

  • Visit Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and TPC Sawgrass Golf Resort
  • Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens
  • The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
  • Little Talbot Island
  • Kingsley Plantation
  • Museum of Science and History
  • Fort Carolina National Memorial

Wherever you decide to stop on I 95, all of these destinations are sure to be a great addition to any southeast USA road trip!

And be sure to share all your epic adventures on Instagram with these fun road trip captions and quotes !

10 epic Southeast USA road trip ideas and itineraries featured by top US travel blog, More than Main Street.

Southeast USA Road Trip Itineraries

I truly hope these USA road trip itineraries have given you some inspiration to visit the south! Having lived in the south for over twenty years, I may be a little biased, but… if you can look past the summer heat and humidity, there are some really beautiful beaches, incredible scenery, fun outdoor opportunities, awesome food, and a rich history.

Do you love a road trip as much as I do?

Have you visited any of these fun southern destinations? Do you have any exciting east coast trip ideas?

Be sure to follow along to see more road trips across America- what area of the USA will we feature next? Stay tuned!

USA Road Trip Itineraries

Not looking for a road trip in the southeast corner of the USA? Check out these other USA road trip itineraries:

An Epic Southwest Family Road Trip: Colorado!

An 8 Day New England Road Trip from Boston- College Towns

An Ultimate 10 Day California Road Trip From San Francisco

A Road Trip to Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming

As always, if you enjoyed this Southeast USA road trip post please consider saving it to Pinterest or sharing it on social media. Every little bit helps! Thanks y’all!

Top 10 best road trip in the south featured by top US family travel blog, More than Main Street.

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13 comments.

I love that this post included 5 road trip itineraries! This is a lot of great info in 1 amazing post! So incredibly helpful! -Jen

Thank you! Im so glad you found this info helpful! We love a road trip and I’m always excited to find inspiration and ideas from others!

These are routes I never would’ve though’ve myself. I especially like the Georgia to South Carolina Road Trip suggestions. I’ve been wanting to get down there for years.

Oh it’s so worth a visit!! So many fun cool cities to explore!

Your Charleston pineapple fountain photo brought a smile to my face. I loved exploring that city! Great to know your other suggestions, too.

Thank you! Charleston is such a special city! We adore it too!

I do love me a good road trip! These are great choices. Personally I want to do Miami to Key West -never been!

We do too! We did Miami to key west a few years ago and it was incredible!!

This is so useful. I would love to do a US roadtrip but I have no idea which one! So many awesome itineraries to choose from.

What a fun list of road trip ideas! We have stuck to the SW, but I’d love to do the SE soon!

These are incredible – great detail & lovely trips!

These are all such great suggestions. I am happy to report that I have visited several places that you suggested 🙂

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Frugal Traveler

Taking the Long Way Home From Alaska

On an epic road trip, a family plots a course from Alaska to the Lower 48, passing through some of Canada’s most spectacular scenery. The tally: 2,200 miles, five national parks, numerous hot springs and one excellent reindeer hot dog.

Beneath a blue sky, a spectacular landscape of forests, distant mountains and lakes, with a two-lane highway cutting through the forest, is seen from above.

By Elaine Glusac

Elaine Glusac is the Frugal Traveler columnist, focusing on budget-friendly tips and journeys.

Within months of the Pearl Harbor bombing on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States, in cooperation with the Canadian authorities, set out to build a highway from British Columbia to Alaska, then a territory and viewed as vulnerable to attack by Japan. The original 1,685-mile road took more than 10,000 soldiers less than nine months to complete.

An upgraded version opened in 1948 and has been continually resurfaced and rerouted; It now measures just shy of 1,400 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction in Alaska, according to “ The Milepost ,” a guidebook to the drive.

The highway formed the heart of a family road trip I took last September from Alaska to Idaho, passing through the Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta, in Canada, along the way.

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territories

Wrangell-St. Elias

National Park &

Liard River Hot Springs

Provincial Park

Kluane National

Park & Reserve

Dawson Creek

Kootenay National Park

Radium Hot Springs

united states

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Relying on Google Maps won’t get you far on this drive, where cellphone service is sparse. In preparation, my son found a 1972 road map of western Canada and eastern Alaska that has remained fairly accurate.

The route, which takes motorists through some of the most stunning landscapes in North America, lends itself to a budget trip. We spent about $300 on fuel for the whole trip in a medium-size S.U.V. We often camped and ate picnic meals, starting in coastal Valdez, Alaska, where we overnighted on a 32-foot powerboat listed on Airbnb ($68 a night) with a great blue heron and a harbor seal as neighbors.

May and September, the start and end of the high-season months for traffic along this route, are also good times to see wildlife that is often pushed to lower elevations by snow.

Lessons in patience

From Valdez, we made our way to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve (free), the largest U.S. national park, and then joined the Alaska Highway at Tok , a small town about 90 miles from the Canadian border that plays a large role in servicing sparsely populated eastern Alaska with its grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.

We planned to drive deep into the Yukon on Day 1, but even with just 10 vehicles ahead at the border checkpoint, it took two hours to reach the lone agent, who asked us a few questions — mostly concerning firearms and hunting — and sent us on our way.

It was the first slowdown of many caused by stretches of unsealed road, construction detours and spots where the blacktop had pitched above frozen ground.

Yukon wilderness

Nearly 600 miles of the Alaska Highway traverse the Yukon.

From the border, the road travels southeast, passing yawning valleys with snaking streams and long glacier-fed lakes en route to Kluane National Park and Reserve , home to 19,551-foot Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada, and more than 2,000 glaciers. It, along with neighboring Wrangell-St. Elias and other parks, forms a UNESCO World Heritage site that enshrines the largest ice fields outside of the polar caps.

“This is how the Rockies would have looked years and years ago,” said Fitz McGoey, the visitor experience product development officer for the park, about 80 percent of which is covered by snow and ice.

Losing daylight, we opted for the first campground we could find north of the park. Quiet Lake Creek (20 Canadian dollars, or about $15, a night) offered riverside camping where we made quesadillas over a fire and fell asleep to the sound of a hooting owl while clutching cans of bear spray.

After days of driving and camping, and one excellent reindeer hot dog from a gas station in Haines Junction , we stopped in Whitehorse , the capital of the Yukon and the only major city on the highway, which was on the 52 Places to Go in 2024 list as a destination for northern lights tourism.

Across the 350 forested acres of the nearby Yukon Wildlife Preserve , a three-mile trail linked the habitats of 12 tundra species, including thinhorn sheep, arctic fox and Canadian lynx (admission 19 dollars).

Checking into the Raven Inn (284 dollars), we explored Whitehorse’s walkable downtown and splurged on dinner at Belly of the Bison (bison Bolognese, 34 dollars). Afterward, our waitress directed us to the ’98 Hotel lounge for “a real taste of Whitehorse.”

It was open-mic night in the bar, which was decorated in animal skins and antique rifles, and free mugs of Molson beer arrived whenever someone rang the bell above the bar to buy the house a round.

The M.C. encouraged reluctant talent by reminding the crowd, “There is no tomorrow if you don’t live today.”

Yukon kitsch

For the most part, the Alaska Highway is free of roadside kitsch with one enormously engaging exception: Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, Yukon (free).

Roughly 270 miles southeast of Whitehorse, a forest of poles displays innumerable road signs posted by motorists since 1942 when a homesick American soldier named Carl K. Lindley erected a sign with the mileage to his hometown, Danville, Ill.

Now license plates and tributes constructed of everything from flip-flops to a toilet seat compete with the signage.

“We call it the largest public display of stolen property in North America,” said Chris Irvin, the mayor of Watson Lake, in a phone interview, who estimated there are about a million signs in the forest.

In British Columbia, springs and safaris

In Alaska and the Yukon, we’d spotted bear and moose. But the wildlife in northern British Columbia, which we entered shortly after the Sign Post Forest, felt like a safari.

We saw black bears emerging from the woods and frequently stopped to view caribou grazing or herds of wood bison on the highway shoulder. A family of thinhorn sheep licking salt from the road nearly collided with our vehicle, their hooves skittering on the pavement.

Reassuringly, our next stop, Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park , offered camping behind an electric bear fence (26 dollars a night). Campers have unlimited access to the springs, reached via a boardwalk — the original was built in 1942 by American forces — over a warm-water swamp and a boreal forest so unusual in nurturing species like orchids that it was originally named Tropical Valley.

With mossy banks, rubble bottoms and temperatures that ranged from about 108 to 126 degrees, the park’s natural pools stayed open around the clock, and we found solitude both at night while stargazing and the next morning in the fog of dawn.

The highway flattens as it nears its origin in Dawson Creek , a British Columbia town of 500 that grew virtually overnight to roughly 10,000 when highway construction began. Black-and-white photos of servicemen working on the road, sitting atop a truck mired in mud and bathing in a river filled the hallways at our hotel, the no-frills George Dawson Inn (174 dollars, including breakfast).

The highway’s much-photographed Mile Zero marker neighbors a former grain elevator that has been restored as the Dawson Creek Art Gallery (free).

The gallery’s back stairway exhibits a collection of photos, letters and tributes called “The Road.” It included this anecdote: When the Indigenous people of Canada’s north questioned the speed of the road’s construction, they were told about Hitler’s plan for world domination, to which one replied, “What’s he want all that land for? He will surely die someday like everyone else.”

Alberta’s parks

From Mile Zero, the most direct route to the Lower 48 crosses into Alberta and transits two marquee attractions of the Canadian Rockies: Jasper National Park and neighboring Banff National Park .

In view of rising mountains, immense river valleys and herds of elk, we drove 280 miles, primarily on Highway 40, to Jasper National Park (22 dollars per family or group). Its main road follows the glacial blue Athabasca River to the town of Jasper, where we checked into HI Jasper hostel (306 dollars for a four-bed private room).

Rising early, we beat the tour buses to the park’s Maligne Canyon to peer into a river-carved chasm, following the flow from a cliff-top trail that descended with the river to rapids and pools.

Connecting Jasper and Banff over roughly 145 miles, the Icefields Parkway offered spectacular views of waterfalls and peaks winking in and out of the clouds. We picnicked on the rocky shores of the Athabasca and skipped tourism developments like the glass Columbia Icefield Skywalk , where admission starts at 41 dollars.

A double rainbow arched across Highway 93 as we entered Banff, the popular Canadian mountain town. We stayed just outside the busy city center at the Juniper Hotel (317 dollars) and used its free shuttle service to hit the town center for a round at Three Bears Brewery and Restaurant (pints 8.95 dollars) and stock up on picnic supplies at Wild Flour Bakery .

A quiet alternative

On a sunny morning, as Banff flexed its magnetism, framing mountain views down seemingly every lane, we backtracked about 18 miles to rejoin Highway 93 as it takes a southwestern swing into Kootenay National Park (22 dollars per family or group).

In Kootenay, we had Marble Canyon, a 200-foot gorge with marble walls polished by a roaring river, to ourselves. Seven bridges allowed us to cross the narrow gap as ruby-crowned kinglets sang from the pines.

We found Kootenay’s crowds at Radium Hot Springs (17.50 dollars). Surrounded by forested slopes, the large pool lacked the aura of a wilderness hot springs, but with family-friendly shallows and a stinging cold plunge, it was a great diversion.

From Kootenay National Park, the U.S. border lies about 140 miles south on uncrowded roads that follow rivers and lakes, skirting the British Columbia ski town of Kimberley , where we spent our last night at its new boutique hotel the Larix (rooms from 155 dollars, including breakfast).

The tiny former lead-, silver- and zinc-mining town is now an outdoorsy destination with three golf courses, a downhill ski area and over 60 miles of bike trails. Restaurants and breweries in the pedestrian center included Hourglass , serving cocktails, charcuterie and cheese plates (from 22 dollars). “We do pack a lot into this little town,” said Breanna Fast, a co-owner.

Just over an hour from the border, Kimberley made a fitting finale to a trip so packed with sights that I never cracked the novel I brought.

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

The Alaska Highway:  On an epic road trip, a family plots a course from Alaska to the Lower 48, passing through some of Canada’s most spectacular scenery .

Minorca:  Spend 36 hours on this slow-paced Spanish island , which offers a quieter and wilder retreat than its more touristy neighbors.

Japan:  A new high-speed train stop unlocks Kaga, a destination for hot springs, nourishing food and traditional crafts , as an easy-to-reach getaway from Tokyo.

London:  The Victoria and Albert Museum is a treasure trove of art and design. Here’s one besotted visitor’s plan for taking it all in .

Memorial Day road trip ahead. Here are the best and worst times to go in Florida, the Southeast

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Memorial Day is rapidly approaching, which means millions will be hitting the roadways or skies for a quick weekend getaway.

AAA projects 43.8 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the Memorial Day holiday travel period. This is a 4% increase over last year, with experts noting this comes close to matching 2005’s record of 44 million Memorial Day travelers. 

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” Paula Twidale, Senior Vice President of AAA Travel, said. “We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”  

When is Memorial Day 2024? When is Memorial Day weekend 2024?

Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday of May, with this year's being on Monday, May 27. Memorial Day weekend starts on Friday, May 24, and lasts through the holiday until Monday.

Why we celebrate: What to know about federal holiday, what’s open in Florida

Which will be more congested for Memorial Day travel — roadways or airports?

According to AAA, road trips are expected to set a record with 38.4 million people projected to travel by car over Memorial Day weekend. Drivers can expect similar gas prices as last year when the national average was roughly $3.57.

Renting a car for your road trip? Florida-based rental company  Hertz  says Orlando, Denver, Atlanta, Boston and Las Vegas are the cities displaying the highest rental demand, with the busiest pick-up days projected to be Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24. 

But airports are also bracing for a large surge of travelers next weekend.

Is Memorial Day a busy airport day?

AAA expects 3.51 million air travelers this holiday weekend, an increase of 4.8% over last year and 9% jump compared to 2019.

"This will be the most crowded Memorial Day weekend at airports since 2005, when 3.64 million flew for the holiday as the travel industry finally rebounded post 9/11," AAA said in its press release.

As for other modes of transportation, AAA predicts nearly two million people are expected to travel by buses, cruises, and train.

“This category took the biggest hit during the pandemic with fewer people taking public transportation or not cruising at all,” Twidale said. “Now – five years later – we’re back to 2019 numbers. Travel demand has been soaring, and long holiday weekends create the perfect windows for getaways.” 

When are the best and worst times to travel on Memorial Day?

For those planning a road trip for the holiday weekend, transportation data and insights provider INRIX offers the best times to get on the road.

Experts advise drivers leaving Thursday or Friday should hit the road early to avoid mixing with commuters. Travelers going back home on Sunday or Monday should avoid the afternoon hours when return trips will peak.  

“Travel times are expected to be up to 90% longer than normal. Travelers should stay up to date on traffic apps, 511 services, and local news stations to avoid sitting in traffic longer than necessary,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said.

What are the busiest travel days around Memorial Day?

Thursday, may 23.

  • Best times: Before 11 a.m., After 7 p.m.
  • Worst Times: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Friday, May 24

  • Best times: Before 11 a.m., After 8 p.m.
  • Worst Times: 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 25

  • Best times: Before 11 a.m., After 6 p.m.
  • Worst Times: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Sunday, May 26

  • Best times: Before 1 p.m.
  • Worst Times: 3 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Monday, May 27

  • Best times: After 7 p.m.

Floridians beware: Other states are heading to Florida to vacation

Whether Florida residents plan on traveling or relaxing at home all weekend, they might want to be aware of the thousands of others joining them.

AAA compiled a list of the top domestic travel destinations for Memorial Day weekend, with three Florida cities making the list:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Seattle, Washington
  • New York City, New York
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Anaheim/Los Angeles, California
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Miami, Florida
  • Boston, Massachusetts

"This Memorial Day weekend, travelers are seeking theme parks and entertainment venues in Orlando, New York, Las Vegas, and Southern California. Seattle, Anchorage, and Vancouver rank high because of the popularity of Alaska cruises this time of year. Florida beaches and cruise ports will also be packed," AAA writes.

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I'm a Packing Expert, and the 14 Travel Accessories That Help Me Double My Suitcase Space Are on Sale From $7

From packing cubes to tech organizers to my go-to handheld steamer.

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Travel + Leisure / Jaclyn Mastropasqua

As a travel writer and the founder of packing site Just Packed , I’ve found that there’s only one way to minimize stress and maximize efficiency within the packing process: preparation. No matter the length of your trip, it’s always beneficial to take the time to think through what (and how) you’re packing. Sometimes, that means devising a list of your trip outfits a week before your departure. Other times, it’s ensuring your bathroom cabinets are well-stocked with travel-sized toiletries for easy grab-and-go packing the night before. 

With summer travel just days away — and can’t-miss Memorial Day sales already popping up online — now’s the perfect time to begin your packing game plan for the next few months. I recommend taking stock of the packing essentials you currently have (things like suitcases, packing cubes, and toiletry bags), and determining if there are any you may need to acquire or replace. And if you’re not sure which pieces to invest in for an overall easier time packing? I can help. 

Below, I combed through Amazon’s travel gear deals to find the best, highest-reviewed packing essentials, including a set of packing cubes and a durable, expandable suitcase. With these items in your travel arsenal, you’ll be completely ready to take advantage of any last-minute trips or weekend getaways this season — and you won’t have to spend a ton of money to do so. 

Hotor Packing Cubes

I’m a firm believer that every traveler can benefit from using packing cubes – whether they’re traveling with a carry-on or a checked bag. They’re ideal for keeping the contents of your suitcase organized, and I find they’re also useful for storing dirty clothes, damp bathing suits, or anything you’d rather keep separate from everything else. I usually suggest opting for sets of packing cubes that come with a variety of sizes, like this one from Hotor. For under $10, you get three packing cubes, a shoe bag, a drawstring pocket, and an underwear bag. 

Traveler's Choice Pagosa Carry-On Spinner

Suitcases can run the gamut in price, but you don’t have to spend a pretty penny for a high-quality, decent-sized piece of luggage. Case in point: The Traveler's Choice Pagosa Carry-On Spinner, which is currently on sale for under $70 (in certain colors). Armed with a scratch and water-resistant polypropylene hardshell, the bag comes with a built-in USB port, an interior power bank compartment, and 360-degree spinner wheels. It also has top and side rubber carry handles and an adjustable telescoping handle for greater maneuverability. Finally, all good carry-ons should have at least a couple of interior organization functions, and this one is designed with several zippered pockets and interior compression straps to keep your clothing secure. 

Vorspack Transparent Shoe Bags

Packing cubes usually steal the spotlight in the travel world, but don’t sleep on transparent (and affordable) shoe bags. Most travelers buy them to keep more delicate shoes from scuffing while in transit, but I also tend to use them to transport toiletries, socks, underwear, or other smaller-sized items. I might even pack an empty one or two — as they hardly take up any precious suitcase real estate — in case I have a need for an extra bag or organizational compartment during my trip.  

Iniu Portable Charger

There are some travel stresses that simply cannot be avoided (like delayed or canceled flights). Your phone battery dying because you can’t find a working outlet, however, does not need to be one of them. The night before I’m set to travel somewhere, I always make sure my portable charger is full of power and safely packed away in my bag. By buying a charger like this one from Iniu, I’ve never again had to experience the stress of arriving at my destination, only to realize I can’t call an Uber or access Google Maps until I find a plug to revive my phone battery. 

Raycon Everyday Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds 

For a long time, I swore by my large, noise-canceling headphones. While they’re comfortable and nearly impossible to lose, they take up a not-insignificant amount of room in my bag. To pack a bit lighter, I’ll switch out the bulky headphones for a pair of earbuds, like the Raycon Everyday Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds. On sale for 25 percent off, they’re the perfect alternative when you want to listen to your music or audiobook on the go, but you don’t have a ton of extra space. 

Kebnor Handheld Travel Steamer

The key to looking put-together while traveling is simple: You need a steamer. Forget the hotel iron (it takes too long to set up anyway), and leave the extra-large steamer at home. Instead, whip out the Kebnor Handheld Travel Steamer, currently marked down by 33 percent. In just 15 seconds, it will steam for eight minutes, allowing you to quickly freshen up your linen top or wrinkled pants. Plus, it’s small enough to easily slip into a personal item bag or a tiny space between your packing cubes. 

Tocelffe TSA Approved Silicone Travel Containers

Any traveler with a set beauty or skincare routine will know the struggle of packing your toiletries. Not all shampoos, conditions, moisturizers, and serums come in travel-sized containers, and you’ll frequently need to transport them in smaller containers when you’re only traveling with a carry-on bag — or risk airport security throwing them away. By having these Tocelffe TSA Approved Silicone Travel Containers on hand, you can use the funnel or spatula (both of which come with the set) to easily transfer your favorite products into either the silicone bottles, spray bottles, or cream jars. 

Bevegekos Cord Organizer Storage Case

Organization comes naturally to some travelers. For others, it’s a constant struggle, usually accented by unnecessary stress and worry. If you fall into the latter camp, you may benefit from the Bevegekos Cord Organizer Storage Case. Marked down to under $7, the travel pouch is designed to keep all of your electronic gadgets — like a power bank, charger cables, earbuds, and adapters — stored safely in one place. Gone are the days of digging through your backpack in a panic, searching for your charger or extra battery before your phone dies. 

Niveaya Hat Clip

If the beach, pool, or a generally strong sun will make an appearance in your travel plans this summer, you might be contemplating bringing along a sun hat. While important for sun protection, a wide-brimmed hat isn’t always the easiest accessory to pack — unless you use a magnetic hat clip. On sale for under $22, the Niveaya Hat Clip snaps onto your hat and then clips onto your tote bag or backpack, allowing for hands-free transportation. Thank me later.

Vorolo Crossbody Belt Bag

Whenever I’m flying, I’ll usually have an empty shoulder bag or belt bag tucked into my carry-on suitcase or personal item bag. That’s because while I like to have a smaller, on-the-go bag to use upon arrival, I also want to avoid an extra bag charge. The Vorolo Crossbody Belt Bag is the perfect example of this type of packable accessory. Not only is it functional (the nylon material is waterproof), but it’s sleek enough to wear with a variety of outfits and it can be worn as a crossbody bag, fanny pack, or an across-the-chest style. 

Travel Inspira Luggage Scale

A few years ago, I finally caved and bought a luggage scale — and I’ve never looked back. Prior to leaving for the airport, I’ll use it to measure the weight of my checked bag (instead of hoping for the best upon check-in). It’s also small enough to bring along on trips. That way, if you happen to pick up a few souvenirs, you can reweight the contents of your suitcase and adjust accordingly. I promise this will be the best $8 you’ve ever spent. 

Balulhg Travel Toiletry Bag 

A reliable, spacious toiletry bag is non-negotiable in my book, and I even have a few different shapes and sizes that I can alternate between on trips. One of my favorites is a hanging toiletry bag. It has enough room for all of my everyday products, and it’s designed so I don’t have to go digging through the bag to pull out a particular one. This style from Balulhg comes in two sizes, medium and large (as well as a variety of colorways), so you can pick whichever one makes the most sense based on how many products you typically travel with. 

Npcqun Compact Umbrella

An umbrella is often a forgotten packing essential, but I’ve learned the hard way you should always have one tucked into your luggage. While you might not use it every day, it’s the type of item that can make or break a trip, especially if you’re traveling somewhere with an ever-changing forecast. When broken down, this umbrella is only 11.5 inches in length, and it can easily be tucked into the bottom of your tote bag or the side of your suitcase. 

Molnia Travel Backpack

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'Absolute chaos': Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in Lisbon delayed as fans waited to enter

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LISBON — Chaos and madness. Two words that fans may fit into "Blank Space" lyrics were instead two words frantic Swifties used to describe Taylor Swift’s first-ever show in Portugal.

“I’m just sad,” says Noelle Vavuris who went to the Eras Tour in Santa Clara, California, and wanted to see the new “Tortured Poets Department” addition at the Estadio da Luz. “I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars to see Taylor. Please. I just want to be inside.”

Vavuris lives in Amsterdam and came to the concert with three of her best friends. 

“We’ve been waiting in line for an hour and a half and we just got all the way to the stadium and then got sent all the way outside,” she says, trying to find her correct gate after multiple attempts. “We’re herded cattle. There’s absolute chaos.”

Show opener Paramore went on after 7 p.m. The tickets said the show was supposed to begin at 6 p.m. You could hear Hayley Williams singing her last song “This is Why” booming from the open-roofed stadium as Vavuris made it past security. 

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“There was a massive bottleneck at the security checkpoint to get rid of water bottles,” says Malika Nunes, who lives in Lisbon and was in the same line as Vavuris. “And then people were jumping over the barricade, pulling them apart. We stood behind a post."

Security opened the gates to more areas and fans ran by the hundreds to the stadium doors.

"They finally got more police and more security people," Nunes says. "There's soccer games here weekly with as many people, and those are organized. This is chaos. I've never seen anything like this."

Temperatures hovered in the mid-70s. When Swift took the stage at 8 p.m., the temperature was 66 degrees. In a last-minute change by producer Last Tour, fans were allowed to bring a plastic water bottle into the open-roofed stadium up to 50 centiliters (about 16 ounces). No glass, hard plastic or metal containers were allowed inside according to an informational packet released .

When Swift came on stage, she didn't mention the delay or the wait. Her team didn't respond to an email asking about the late start.

"This is my first time getting to come to Portugal, and this is how you welcome us," she said, and the crowd went wild. "When I first walked out in the show and I looked out and saw the crowd, you took my breath away. My heart was beating so fast. You just made me feel so loved. Thank you so much."

Swift will play one more night in Lisbon before going to Madrid.

Don't miss any Taylor Swift news; sign up for the  free, weekly newsletter This Swift Beat.  

Follow Taylor Swift reporter Bryan West on  Instagram ,  TikTok  and  X as @BryanWestTV .

Holocaust museum will host free field trips for eighth graders in New York City public schools

A privately funded effort in New York City will offer a Holocaust education field trips to all eighth graders in public schools.

NEW YORK — A Holocaust museum in New York City will offer free educational field trips to eighth grade students in public schools in a program announced Thursday aimed at  combating antisemitism.

The program will allow up to 85,000 students at traditional public schools and charter schools to tour Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage over the next three years, starting this fall. New York City is the largest school district in the nation, serving more than a million students. Organizers say the museum and the new program have the capacity to host up to one-third of the district’s eighth graders each year.

City Council member Julie Menin said she raised the idea with the museum after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, in an effort to combat rising antisemitism in the U.S. Incidents targeting Jewish and Muslim Americans have been recorded across the country since the Israel-Hamas war erupted, ranging from  offensive graffiti  to  violence .

“We needed a proactive approach to combat this hatred at its roots,” Menin, a Democrat and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said in a statement. “That’s why I approached the Museum of Jewish Heritage with the vision of a universal field trip program.”

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The Associated Press

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    Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum - Gibsland, Louisiana. Opened in 2005, the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum resides in the former Ma Canfield's Cafe, the last business this couple visited before being ambushed and killed 8 miles down the road. Visitors can see photos and artifacts from the ambush as well as a replica of the car the couple died in.

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