Take a road trip in the USA today!
Sure you can find a great road trip just about anywhere in the world. But, the United States’ wide roads and abundance of open spaces make it one of the best countries to explore by car.
There’s probably nothing more American than packing up your car and hitting the open road. Especially with family or friends, some good snacks, and jammin’ tunes… and for good reason. And, 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.
From the dramatic California coast to history-lined routes of New England, there are countless scenic drives across the country—and some stellar standouts.
And on U.S. 1 from Key Largo to Key West, travelers are treated to a good time, Florida style. The island chain’s stretch of road surrounds everything from underwater coral reefs and 7 Mile Bridge, one of the longest in the world. All to marinas where you can hand-feed tarpon, and beach bars filled with Jimmy Buffett fans drinking margaritas.
So, bring a friend or your family and let’s hit the road.
The Great American Road Trip
This is one of the best cross country road trips from Boston, Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington! Interstate 90 is a coast-to-coast, transcontinental freeway, and it just so happens to be America’s longest Interstate Highway.
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!
Depending on the time of year you decide to drive I-90, it’s important to note that weather can affect your journey. Snow and high winds will plague you from Minnesota to Montana, especially in the winter.
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. Start planning with this master list.
This road trip will appeal to the part of you that reminisces about the good ol’ days of mom-and-pop shops and a simpler life. Though Route 66 doesn’t officially exist anymore. However, you can still drive most of it and you can 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.
Several states have even implemented their own Scenic Byway programs to preserve their leg of the journey! Visit the National Park Service’s Route 66 webpage to learn more about the route. Because each state is in charge of their specific section of the route, it’ll be easiest to plan this route by state.
It’s the ultimate road trip in the USA, but with so many good road trip places around the country, this classic can be overlooked for bigger cities and National Parks.
Maine Lobster Trail
Explore the southeastern corner of Maine, also known as “Downeast Maine” as you drive along the Lobster Trail on Coastal Route 1. This route will bring you from Milbridge to Eastport, Maine.
This road trip is ideal for those who enjoy majestic ocean views, want to get out of the car to explore lighthouses, and hiking trails. Try your hand at some local activities like clam digging or goat milking.
New York City to Finger Lakes
New York City is a fantastic city that everyone should experience at least once, but sometimes you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Escape into the Finger lakes region of upper state New York. Enjoy culture, scenery, great food and wineries along the way.
The Finger lakes is a lush area of towering trees, lake views, and adventures galore.
The region is about a five-hour road trip away, depending on the time of day. Make incredible family memories when you venture outdoors to the Finger Lakes of New York.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular road trips in the USA. It connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Asheville, North Carolina.
The nearly 500 miles of blacktop was built for travelers seeking Appalachian overlooks. It’s a panoramic drive for all seasons, with flowing slopes of color in autumn, a bounty of forest canopy in summer, and hot-cider ski resorts in winter.
The Blue Ridge Parkway contains some of the best landscapes that the Southeast has to offer.
The parkway has become a paradise for birders: with over 50 resident species, it boasts more diversity than the entire continent of Europe.
This scenic road is the most visited road controlled by the U.S. National Parks system. And, stops along the way include Skyline Drive, Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and Asheville.
Outer Banks Scenic Byway
North Carolina’s Route 12, otherwise known as the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, spans 21 coastal villages, 138 miles of paved road and 25 ferry-traveling miles along the coast of North Carolina.
This scenic byway starts in Carova and ends in Ocracoke, North Carolina.
Known as one of the most beautiful stretches of pavement and water, in North Carolina, the Outer Banks Scenic Byway is a perfect destination for a lazy day-trip or weekend getaway where all the adventures take place on the road.
Dotted with lighthouses, museums, houses and hotels, the Outer Banks is a great beach road trip.
They also have their own website as a resource for visitors, http://outerbanksbyway.com.
Miami To the Overseas Highway To Key West
U.S. Highway 1 is the longest north-south road trip in the USA, running down the East Coast from the Canadian border to Key West. While there are plenty of chunks within 2,369-mile road filled with exciting landscapes, Florida’s section of Highway 1 is particularly beautiful.
Leaving the mainland, starting in Miami, for the 150-mile-long drive on Route 1, travelers enter a paradise of beach bars and water sports.
Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, strings the islands together like beads. Crossing 42 bridges, running past lighthouses, underwater coral-reef parks, and across 7 Mile Bridge—one of the longest bridges in the world.
These sandy islands are full of history, sun, and relaxation. This southern USA road trip is sure to be one of the most sun-filled, fun-filled drives ever!
Zydeco-Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway
Find the heart of Cajun country deep in Louisiana. Take a backroads trip to Louisiana on Highway 90 and the Zydeco-Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway.
Looking for a driving tour that sounds as good as it looks? The Zydeco Cajun Prairie Byway pays tribute to the music of south Louisiana, touching many iconic music spots while strolling through serene, rolling prairies.
You’ll pass crawfish farms, sweet potato fields and pastures where beef cattle and saddle horses graze.
A ride along this byway also illustrates why Louisiana is well-known for its many festivals. The towns along the route (St. Landry Parish, Acadia Parish, and Evangeline Parish) hold celebrations to honor everything from cotton to cracklins.
So, check out this road trip in the USA and experience some southern charm.
Great River Road
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.
All along the Great River Road, visitors will find interesting things to see and do. Including a number of river-related attractions and designated interpretive centers.
The communities you’ll encounter along the way, from tiny riverside villages to vibrant metropolises, are where you’ll experience the living history of the region through music, culture and local cuisine.
But when it hits Louisiana, the road offers a special peek into the world of antebellum southern living. Between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, drive under broad oak canopies and forests dripping with kudzu to view the colonnaded, plantation-era “Big Houses.”
Kentucky Bourbon Trail
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a collection of eighteen bourbon distilleries, is drawing hundreds of thousand of visitors every year. Touring the distilleries, learning about the origins of bourbon, and tasting lots and lots of bourbon whiskey is an excellent way to spend a long weekend.
At your first distillery, pick up a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport. All of the distilleries are listed inside, with space for your own notes and a stamp from each distillery.
Check out their website for more information: https://kybourbontrail.com/
Musical Road USA Trip
The legendary Blues Highway is an unforgettable journey from Nashville, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana, with music around every corner. From the birthplaces of celebrated artists and vinyl record shops to recording venues and Southern culinary delights, every stop has a story to tell.
If you’re a music fan, then Route 61 (also known as the Blues Highway) will be a perfect road trip for you. Because it will gives 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!
Canada to Mexico
North America is a huge continent, but it’s possible to drive across the three countries contained within the continent in one trip.
You can trek all the way from Canada’s mountains all the way to Mexico’s deserts and beaches.
There are few ways one could take this trip: Windsor, Ontario to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico OR Abbotsford, BC to Tijuana, Mexico OR Coutts, Alberta to Sonoyta, Mexico. These, of course, are some of the shorter trips to take.
With there being so many routes to take this trip, one would become a ‘road trip in the USA’ enthusiast.
National Park Loop
Few road trips take you past spectacular 14,000-footpeaks, soothing hot springs and fantastic historical towns like this loop.
You will be exploring many places, such as: Grand Canyons, one of the 7th wonders of the world, to the Arches of Utah and blue waters of the Colorado River. And, you will be mesmerized by the scenery enveloping right before your eyes.
Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
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.
But, if you want an easy, inexpensive way to make the trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, try an organized tour. This is an all-day experience that takes you via motor coach from the Las Vegas Strip area right to the Grand Canyon.
Organized tours are great for when you are traveling with kids.
Southwest National Parks Road
The southwestern corner of the United States is home to some of the most frequently visited national parks.
This nature-packed road trip will allow you to see five stunning national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zions’, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches.
Northern National Parks Road
National Parks make for the best road trip in the USA destinations.
One of the best ways to experience America’s rugged national parks and the history of the west is the Northern National Parks road trip.
Explore both Grand Teton National Park just north of Jackson, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. This road trip is full of stunning mountainous scenery and natural wonders! It’s the perfect summer road trip.
Black Hills of South Dakota
The Black Hills of South Dakota offer more than just Mount Rushmore. So, take a rive along the Badlands Scenic Byway, making stops at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the infamous Wall Drug.
But that’s only some of what you’ll find here. With over five million acres of forest and mountain lands and an oasis in a sea of prairie. In the Black Hills you’ll also find rich western history, abundant natural beauty and meaningful adventure.
Stunning sunsets and sunrises in the Badlands will take your breath away. Keep an eye out for bison on the road.
Grand Teton National Park to Glacier National Park
Explore two national parks in one road trip by driving from Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming to Glacier National Park, Montana. The drive along the way will provide some of the most diverse landscapes in the U.S.
Start in Grand Teton, where the lakes and the jagged mountain range create a hiker’s and photographer’s paradise. And end your road trip in Glacier National Park, one of the USA’s most beautiful national parks.
Pacific Coast Highway
Strap in and get ready for an exhilarating driving experience along this twisting, cliff-hugging route.
The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most popular road trips in the United States––and rightfully so! Because, this 1,650-mile highway runs through California, Oregon, and Washington alongside the west coast.
The variety of sights you can see along the PCH are enormous. You can spend one day exploring bustling Los Angeles, only to spend the next exploring the Redwood trees of Big Sur!
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!
The Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to go on a road trip due to its geographical diversity and stunning scenery.
The Oregon Coast! Famous for its stunning beaches, jaw-dropping sea stacks, turbulent waters, thick forests, and endless opportunities for coastal adventures.
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.
Highway 101 loops around most of the over 3,500 square miles of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, forming the Olympic Peninsula Loop. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so even a short drive through parts of this area is worth it.
You can take advantage of a ton of places along the loop, with an abundance of hiking trails and coastlines to explore. From snow-blanketed mountains to evergreen forests dripping with rain and ocean beaches pounded by winter storm waves.
Starting in Seattle, head northwest to climb into the Hoh River rainforest, dominated by ancient Sitka spruce and western hemlock. You can spy the San Juan Islands from the top of Hurricane Ridge, and at low tide, the pools on Olympic beaches are rife with starfish, sand dollars, and crabs.
Alaska is truly “The Last Frontier”. As a state full of uninhibited beauty, Alaska can be an intimidating destination to plan around.
This is where scenic byways, like the George Parks Highway, offer the perfect solution. George Parks Highway has been in Alaska since the ’70s. And it connects the state’s two largest cities––Anchorage and Fairbanks––to one another.
The highway is around 320 miles long and runs through much of Alaska’s untamed wilderness. You’ll have the chance to see wild moose along the byway, as well as Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. If you decide to follow this journey, you’ll be able to see the intense nature that makes Alaska one of a kind.
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.
Big Island Loop Road
The Big Island has diverse landscapes. There is a “wet” side that is lush and green, and “dry” side that is sunny and sparse and in-between all of it is land that looks like the surface of the strange planet.
The Island Loop Road of the Big Island of Hawaii offers scenic views of beautiful black sand beaches, towering mountains, emerging lava fields, active volcanos, and heated swimming pools.
The T-shirts all say: I survived the road to Hana. Powerful bodies of water, bamboo forests, and hundreds of twists and turns––that basically sums up the Road to Hana. It’s a must-do for visitors to Maui!
This 64-mile road is no walk in the park, with its fair share of blind corners and narrow bridges, as you snake past steep sea-cliffs lush with blooming mango trees, buy banana bread from roadside stalls, and pull over for Jurassic vistas.
But if you’re careful and selective about which places to stop, you’ll be able to see some of the best of what Maui has to offer.
Most of the big waterfalls and impressive black sand beaches are later on in the drive, so for the first hour or so, just enjoy the road. And you’ll want to get as far along as you can to keep the crowd’s way behind you, most important is to go early.
Road trips are also a great way to travel right out of college.
As you can see the United States has endless road trip possibilities.
While this list includes some of the more famous routes, it is by no means exhaustive. Use these road trips in the USA to serve as inspiration for your next adventure. Who knows––maybe you’ll find yourself planning a road trip unique to you!
But, 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. Check out this master list to make sure you’re prepared.
Traveling with your family? Here are some ideas on how to keep your kids busy or not lose your shit when your kids or teen rolls their eyes at you.