As somebody who lives in the United States, I’m sometimes guilty of taking my own country for granted. I guess it’s a case of not seeing the beauty right in front of you, right? The USA has some of the craziest landscapes in the world. There are massive cities, wide open deserts, expansive mountain ranges, beautiful beaches, and so much more, all in one country. This post is going to go through all of the best road trips in the USA so you can get out there and see all the wonderful things the USA has to offer!
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Why a USA Road Trip?
Road trips have been a classic way of travel for ages. I mean, let’s face it. Cars have been around a lot longer than planes and commercial flying. Road trips are the perfect way to have some freedom to stop where you want, when you want.
So why is the USA a great spot for a road trip? First of all, the USA is MASSIVE. That means there’s so much to see that sometimes isn’t convenient unless you have a car. Plus, the public transportation across the USA largely sucks, so most places require a car to efficiently get around.
Whether you’re driving from your home or flying into a new region to explore, road trips are a great way to get into the nitty gritty of an area.
Best Road Trips in the USA: Western USA
The Western part of the United States is full of excellent road trips. This area of the country has more national parks than anywhere else in the country. Let’s be honest, the national parks are some of the best parts of the USA, so an epic USA road trip is a great way to see one or a few of them.
Aside from the national parks, there are some incredible USA cities to be seen on the West Coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco and Seattle to Portland.
You’ll have to decide if you want to base yourself in one city and do day trips or if you want to do a larger place to place road trip. If you want to base yourself in a city and go from there, some great cities are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Let’s dive right into some of the best road trips in the USA, Western edition!
From the towering, mind-bending arches riddled throughout Arches National Park and the deep canyons beaming with dark reds and purples in Canyonlands National Park, to the red Mars-like environment of Moab and ancient petroglyphs left long before our time on rocks by the Ute Indians, Eastern Utah completely blew my mind and is one of the most underrated and best road trips in the USA.
When I decided to take a four-day road trip through the Eastern Utah area that includes Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and the nearby town of Moab, I had no idea I was about to embark on one of the most epic road trips to date.
Visitors to this incredible area must see the majestic Delicate Arch. It’s plastered on the Utah state license plate and is everywhere on social media. Don’t miss Landscape Arch, predicted to be the next arch to topple over in the near future, Corona Arch, one of the most underrated arches due to its proximity outside Arches National Park, and Mesa Arch, the most prominent arch in Canyonlands National Park.
In nearby Canyonlands National Park, separated with Arches National Park by a mere 45 minutes, you must see the Upheaval Dome. It’s a crater in the ground that still baffles scientists to this day. Make sure to see Grand View Point, a stark perspective of barren 1,000-plus foot deep canyons in the foreground of the 13,000-foot plus high La Sal Mountain Range covered in snow nearly all year-round.
Eastern Utah is filled with arches, canyons, 13,000-plus foot mountains, snow, desert, and lots of hiking trails that are geared for everyone from beginners to expert trekkers. My four-day road trip quickly turned into five days, and I recommend anyone road tripping to the area give at least five to seven days to see everything.
Jarrod Heil | Ramble Around The World
Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway is among the most iconic and famous USA road trips. From the sunny beaches of the California coast to the moody, rocky shores of Washington state, the entire trip length stretches 1,657 miles from Olympia, Washington to San Diego, California. Get ready for fresh and gorgeous sunsets every night!
There are so many amazing stops along the way which is just part of what makes this one of the best road trips in the USA. California’s most iconic locations include Santa Monica Pier, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Redwoods National Park.
Along the Oregon Coast, you can discover Cannon Beach, many historic lighthouses, and plenty of panoramic coastal hiking trails. Finally, Washington brings sun-bleached driftwood piles and tide pools teeming with marine life.
End your trip in the northwest corner of the lower 48 — Cape Flattery brings iconic sea stacks just offshore for an amazing end to your road trip. The Pacific Coast is the perfect adventure for people who love the outdoors and the ocean of course!
If you are in a hurry, you can get away with driving the entire length in 5 days — just prepared for early mornings and late nights. The recommended length to plan for this trip would be between 10 days to two weeks. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy each location, and even spend more than one night in a place you love!
Emily Mandagie | The Mandagies
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge along Highway 84 is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon and has hundreds of waterfalls and hikes for all fitness levels. This area is an awesome location for a road trip for Portland that can easily be done in a day trip or over a weekend.
Start your road trip by visiting the Vista House, which is an observation area with views overlooking the gorge and over to the Washington side. A short drive away is Latourell Falls, which is a great location for a longer hike. Lower Latourell Falls is a short walk from the parking lot. If you want to go on a nice hike then visit Upper Latourell Falls, which takes about an hour and a half round trip. Not many people hike to the Upper Falls, so it’s very quiet and a great spot for photos.
Afterwards, driving along the highway you’ll find signs for Bridal Veil Falls, which is absolutely worth the stop. Only a 15-minute walk from the parking lot, you will see a cascading waterfall with a nice picnic area at the start of the trail.
The last stop on the road trip is to Multnomah Falls, which is the most popular waterfall in Oregon — and for good reason! Multnomah has massive falls cascading from the side of the cliff with a bridge in between. It’s absolutely worth the visit on this road trip.
Tiana Bantis | Passport of Memories
Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is one of the most scenic places to take a road trip in America. You’ll want to have at least 3 days to see the area, if not longer. You can start off by going to the coast to see the magnificent Pacific Ocean. There are multiple beaches you can stop at while you’re here, such as the famous Ruby Beach. Many people choose to tent camp right on the beach, or you can camp out of your car. Either way, you’ll wake up to one of the most stunning sunrises you’ve ever seen.
You’ll also want to check out Olympic National Park to see this stunning area. There are dozens of hikes to choose from, ranging from easy to difficult. You can also take a stroll through the Hoh Rainforest, which is the only one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. If you like hot springs, check out Sol Duc Hot Springs, where you can take a dip for the afternoon or spend an evening at their lodge.
If you like seafood, head up to Port Angeles to try some of the local restaurants. It’s a good bet that the fish you order was caught fresh. You’ll also want to step into the shops for unique souvenirs, such as lavender from nearby lavender farms.
Marissa Pedersen | Postcards to Seattle
Phoenix & the Grand Canyon
Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is one of America’s greatest road trips to visit the most popular National Park in Arizona. The Grand Canyon sees over 6 million visitors a year and there is never a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon.
The south rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a 3.5-hour drive from Phoenix. Head north to Flagstaff along I-17 and then head west along Highway 180 to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Along the way, you can stop off at Sedona to see the Red Rocks or even take a hike on one of the vortex hikes. Or, you can stop off in Flagstaff and grab some lunch before heading to the Grand Canyon.
If you are visiting the Grand Canyon in one day, you will want to stop at some of the best Grand Canyon Viewpoints. Try Pima Point for a 40-mile long panoramic vista along the northernmost corner of the South Rim. In my opinion, Hopi Point is the best point along the South Rim. Hopi has some of the most unobstructed views on the West rim and makes an ideal spot for visitors to catch some impressive and awe-inspiring sunsets.
I also recommend taking a short hike. You can hike the South Rim Trail, which is an easy 13-mile hike along the rim. If you are not interested in doing the entire trail, you can take the shuttle for part of it, which runs along Hermit Road. This part of Arizona has stunning views and will make your road trip from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon worth the drive!
Nicole LaBarge | American Southwest Obsessed
North Cascades Highway, Washington
If you find yourself in Seattle and are looking for an incredible scenic road trip, look no further than the North Cascades Scenic Byway. Starting from Sedro-Woolley, Washington, which is an hour and a half north of Seattle, this unbelievable scenic drive will take you east along Highway 20 up into North Cascades National Park and down into the lush Methow Valley.
It’s a short drive, just three hours from Sedro-Woolley to Twisp, but with countless stops along the way it makes for a perfect long weekend summer road trip. Along highway 20, don’t miss the Diablo Lake Overlook to admire the blue-green water of Diablo Lake, and the Washington Pass Overlook, which marks the highest point of the mountain pass.
If you have more time, you’ll want to check out two of the best hikes in Washington State — the Maple Pass Loop, and the strenuous climb to Hidden Lake, where you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of a perched lake in the foreground with the rocky, snow-capped peaks of the Cascades in the distance. Continue down into the Methow Valley to Winthrop and Twisp, which are two perfect home bases for a summer weekend full of outdoor exploring in the surrounding area.
For a longer summer road trip, continue the loop through Lake Chelan and Leavenworth, and return along Highway 2 through the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. It’s important to note that the North Cascades Scenic Byway is closed from winter to early summer, so this road trip is best done between July and October.
Matt Hansen | Wheatless Wanderlust
Las Vegas & Western Utah
If you are in Las Vegas and have some extra time, then driving the Las Vegas loop that takes you to two national parks in Utah is a fantastic idea. I would recommend that you plan for a week or at least five days for this trip. There are many lodges and campgrounds near both the national parks.
If you have flown to Las Vegas, you can rent a car from the airport, and drive straight to Zion National Park. Most of this 170 miles drive is on Interstate 15, and it should take about three hours until you reach Zion.
With its huge red-and-pinkish sandstone cliffs and tons of wildlife, Zion National Park draws visitors from everywhere in the United States. If you love hiking, then chances are that you have heard about the famous Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. This National Park comes with a bevy of things to do, from canyoneering to stargazing to kayaking.
From Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park is only 86 miles, but it will take you more than 2 hours because the drive is much slower here. Don’t miss the stop after the Zion tunnel from where you can see the scenic Red Canyon.
With irregularly eroded spires of rocks called hoodoos everywhere, Bryce Canyon National Park has a landscape unlike any other place you’ve been to. There are various short and long hikes all around. And in case you go there in winter, the whole park is gorgeous. If you love skiing or snowshoeing, you can do cross-country skiing as well as snow-shoe hikes.
From Bryce to Las Vegas, it’s around 250 miles that would take you four to five hours to get back.
Deb Pati | The Visa Project
Yosemite National Park & Sequoia National Park
One of the best road trips in the USA is from Yosemite National Park to Sequoia National Park. This road trip covers spectacular views and takes approximately 6 hours by car via CA-41.
Sequoia National Park is the home of massive trees and mountains. The best time to visit Sequoia National Park is between June and August. Don’t miss the fruit at Blossom Trail Fruit Stand before you get your first day started!
The Giant Forest and Kings Canyon National Park are two of the best stops near Sequoia National Park. Much like its name, Giant Forest is one of the world’s largest forests. Don’t forget to make a stop at German Sherman Tree, which is one of the world’s largest trees, standing just shy of 275 feet tall. After this, we visited the Giant Forest Museum, which is definitely worth the stop. We took another hour to drive down into Kings Canyon. If you time it right, you can climb the Moro Rock to see one of the best sunsets on the whole trip.
To start the next day, we drove through Tunnel Log. It’s a fallen tree with a tunnel so you can drive right through its trunk. On the way towards Yosemite, we saw Tharp’s Log which was used as a shelter by early pioneers. The first stop you’ll want to make in Yosemite National Park to avoid crowds is Yosemite Falls.
The next destination is Yosemite Valley. To get here, you’ll pass through a dark tunnel and emerge from the tunnel with a breathtaking view. From here, you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls. Lastly, make sure you don’t miss Glacier Point, as it’s one of the best views in all of Yosemite National Park. You’ll travel on Wawona Road to get here, and it’s one of the most beautiful drives.
This whole trip could be easily done over a weekend, but it’s best if you give yourself a few days to see the most of all the incredible sights for this road trip between Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park.
Ruma Dey Baidya | The Holiday Story
Las Vegas & Southern California
One of our most memorable road trips, after a crazy weekend in Las Vegas, was leaving Vegas and heading to Palm Springs. Palm Springs is an absolutely beautiful city which is incredibly rich with culture and has a slow, tranquil pace of life. We were actually there over Christmas, and coming from Toronto, the weather was amazing.
The drive non-stop is approximately 5 hours, however, we decided to set off very early in the morning as we wanted to visit a few places on route. Our first stop, around 1 hour out of Las Vegas, was Red Rock Canyon. This canyon will leave you in awe as you drive through it freely and soak up the beautiful, bright red reflecting off the stone.
Another reason we left early is because we wanted to take the slightly longer route and drive via Joshua Tree National Park. You will drive for hours on end through jaw-dropping nature. With many safe parking zones to stop at, you will be able to stop to take a short walk and take photos whenever you’d like. It almost felt like we were driving in the middle of 2 different countries — one side was mainly desert and the other was mini mountains of rock formations.
After making our way through Joshua Tree, we finally arrived at Palm Springs, which is a great place for a weekend trip. We did this drive in a day, but it’s possible to spend some extra time staying overnight in Joshua Tree if you wish.
Manpreet Kaur | Hello Manpreet
Best Road Trips in the USA: Central USA
The next area in the United States to cover is the central part of the state. This area of the country is largely considered to be flyover states that don’t get much attention. That being said, there are tons of hidden gems out here that are worth your time.
This area of the USA is great for road trips because states tend to be massive and don’t have as frequent airports or large cities. Little towns are best visited by renting a car and driving all around making stop after stop when you see fit.
Colorado & Mesa Verde National Park
Whether you are from near or far, a Colorado road trip is the ultimate American adventure and one of the best road trips in the USA. Anyone interested in the outdoors or spectacular scenery will love soaking in the mountain culture. We completed the loop in 14 days and were left wanting more.
Start your Colorado road trip in Denver, discovering the Mile High City before heading to Boulder, its hip younger brother. Glenwood Springs is the next stop, known for its geothermal activity and plethora of outdoor activities.
Grand Junction is located en route from Glenwood Springs. It has one of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls, Rifle Falls, and is located close to the mountainous wine region of Palisade. Ouray is located 2 hours away and is all about hikes. Its main street is lined with cute boutiques, coffee shops, and friendly locals.
Mesa Verde National Park is a national treasure and a UNESCO site, which contains the unforgettable dwelling remains of the Ancestral Pueblo people. For continued adventure, Buena Vista offers biking, rafting, and opportunities to summit any of the 20 “fourteeners.”
Your final destination before looping back to Denver is Colorado Springs. Here you can visit the iconic Garden of the Gods, take the Cog Train to the summit of Pikes Peak, and explore Pike National Forest. Take it from us, you won’t want this road trip to end!
Oksana & Max | Drink Tea & Travel
Yellowstone National Park
One of the best USA road trips to take has to be a road trip around Yellowstone National Park. The world’s first National Park, Yellowstone is an amazing place to take a road trip to and around the area. Whether you enjoy hiking, exploring, camping, or wildlife, Yellowstone has it all.
To get the most out of this national park, you will need at least 3 days to really explore as much of it as possible. The park is much bigger than people anticipate and there are so many things to see and explore along every route.
Yellowstone has a circular route around it which is split into the Upper Grand Loop and the Lower Grand Loop. While technically you could drive it all in one day, you will not have time to stop at all the places you must stop at. And, that’s not including any impromptu stops for bison crossing the roads.
You should split your time between the two Loop roads. If you are exploring the Lower Grand Loop, then you need to plan to stop at Grand Prismatic Spring. Get there early in the morning to avoid crowds and to get parking. Loop back to the Lower Geyser Basin before heading to Old Faithful to see this world-famous geyser erupt. Carry on from there to Canyon, stopping at Yellowstone Lake and along the Hayden Valley if you spot some bison. It’s also worth stopping by the Mud Volcano along this drive.
At Canyon you can view the Upper and Lower Falls of Yellowstone and see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. From Canyon Village, you could head to the Norris Geyser Basin to complete this loop.
For the Upper Grand Loop, you could start at Norris if you didn’t previously and make time to see Gibbon Falls, a small, but very beautiful waterfall. Then, drive towards Canyon before heading north towards Roosevelt. From there, drive through Lamar Valley before looping back and heading to Historic Fort Yellowstone and then Mammoth Hot Springs. Then head south to complete this loop.
Yellowstone is huge and while a 3-day road trip around it will allow you to see most of the main points of interest, if you can spend longer there, I highly recommend you do!
Cath Jordan | Passports and Adventures
Great River Road
One of the ultimate USA road trips is the Great River Road, following the mighty Mississippi River that flows 3,000+ miles through 10 different states. The route meanders through back roads and opens up countryside, water tower towns, and so many cultural points of interest you might never have the pleasure to experience otherwise.
The trip can be done in two days straight driving, but where’s the fun in that? From north to south, you’ll pass through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and finish up in Louisiana.
Following the distinctive green pilot wheel road signs, we did the route south to north, starting in New Orleans, Louisiana and ended in Davenport, Iowa. With no agenda, we stopped off at motels wherever and whenever the fancy took us, as long as we made our return flight home in four weeks’ time!
The trip took us to New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Vicksburg, Memphis, St. Louis, and Hannibal, the boyhood home of Mark Twain. The route is strewn with iconic attractions like the Budweiser Brewery tour, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Peabody Ducks in Memphis, and a range of visitor centers focusing on Slavery, Civil War battlefields, ancient Indian Burial Mounds, and of course the Blues Music Trail.
We were particularly taken with the Winterville Mounds in Greenville, Mississippi. We’d never heard of this aspect of Native American culture before. The mounds are man made earthworks dating back to 1100-1350 AD and are the ancient ceremonial and burial sites of Native American tribes. The highest is nearly five storeys tall at 55 feet.
The Great River Road is dotted with these and many more fascinating memorials. It’s possibly one of the best ways to see America.
Sharon Henry | What The Saints Did Next
South Dakota probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you picture an epic American road trip, but it’s one of the most unique places for a road trip in the United States. Within just a few hours, you can find massive granite mountains, underground labyrinths, stunning canyons, and an impressive expanse of badlands.
The Black Hills region features many national parks and two of the world’s longest caves. Jewel Cave and Wind Cave are both managed by the National Park Service and tours occur daily. Also in the Black Hills, we find the famous Mount Rushmore. The faces of four U.S. presidents have been meticulously carved into this granite peak.
Just over the border in Wyoming, you’ll find another national park site: Devil’s Tower. Made famous in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, this sacred monolith is an important site for the Native Americans in the area.
There are things besides national parks in the Black Hills as well. Custer State Park is easily one of the most popular state parks in the country with hundreds of hiking trails and excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. More tourist attractions include Bear Country USA (a drive-thru zoo) and the Reptile Gardens. Both stops are on your way to Rapid City. Be sure to walk downtown to see statues of the first 44 presidents.
Rapid City is also a gateway to the Badlands region of South Dakota. This includes the astounding Badlands National Park, which showcases incredible beauty despite its desolate appearance. Across the street, gain an insight into nuclear history and the Cold War at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
Riley Hays | Parks Expert
Denver & Great Sand Dunes National Park
One of the most underrated things to do in Colorado is to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park which is basically the biggest sand dunes in North America! I wanted to drive down to Mosca (the nearest town) from Denver, so I packed up and got ready to make my drive down.
This 3.5-hour drive is not only the most scenic drives I’ve ever done, but also the most altitude changing! You’ll drive through Colorado Springs, where you start to see more of the beautiful mountain range, all the way down to Pueblo. Pueblo is the most beautiful town with some of the best architecture I’ve ever seen. I loved driving through the town and though I couldn’t stay, I stopped by downtown to take a couple of pictures and make note of some delicious places to eat on my way back.
Driving from Pueblo to the Great Sand Dunes is the most gorgeous out of the whole trip. I drove through rain, snow, and desert! I saw cow pastures, beautiful mountains, flat snow lands, and many scenic stops.
I would recommend some things for this drive. You will drive through a lot of different altitudes and as I was still acclimatizing, I had to keep hydrated and have snacks, as well as take breaks to just get used to the altitude. If you happen to take this trip especially in the winter as I did, be sure to rent a four wheel drive vehicle. I was able to drive there and back on the same day alone, but unless you have another driver with you, I would recommend staying a few days in Mosca or even Alamosa, which is its neighboring city.
Yasmin Ali | Oh, Yasmin Travels
Montana & Glacier National Park
Doing a road trip from Montana to Glacier National Park takes you from one of Montana’s most beloved cities to an esteemed National Park, passing many other beautiful landmarks along the way.
Before you leave Missoula, make sure to check out some of the top things to do in Missoula. Have a tasting at one of the craft breweries downtown before going for a ride on A Carousel for Missoula, a lovely hand-carved carousel. Then, go for a walk along the scenic riverfront in Missoula.
After you head out to Missoula, plan some substantial time — even an overnight or two — in the Flathead Lake area. Flathead Lake is known for its beautifully clear glacial water, where you can enjoy a day boating and fishing or just lounging on a picnic blanket by the lakeshore.
From Flathead Lake, it’s about an hour to Glacier National Park, and once there, your Montana road trip is about to get even more epic. In Glacier National Park, make sure to do the Going-to-the-Sun drive for majestic mountain views. Other drives within the park that should be part of your Montana road trip are Inside North Fork Road and Camas Road.
If you’re ending your road trip back in Missoula, take the longer route through Flathead National Forest with a detour to Helena, Montana’s beautiful capital city, before heading back to Missoula via I-90.
Gina Tarnacki | Travel Montana Now
Who knew that sand can be found in the middle of a prairie? That’s right — real sand in the middle of Nebraska. There’s actually a lot of it up in North Central Nebraska. So much so that the area is called the Nebraska Sandhills. And it’s a beautiful area of the country! It’s rugged and spacious and you can see stars at night like you’ve never seen!
From Omaha take I-80 to Grand Island then head North West onto Highway 92 and then North on Highway 11 through the towns of Ord and Burwell. Both towns have quaint downtown areas with great food. In Burwell, make sure you stop into The Hub for extraordinary ice cream. Be prepared, the portions are huge!! Also make sure you take the time to visit Calamus Lake outside of Burwell. It’s a gorgeous lake with white sand beaches that you’ll definitely want to explore.
Highway 11 turns into Highway 91 and Highway 91 turns into Highway 2, which has been called one of the most scenic routes in the country. You won’t believe you’re in Nebraska! It’s beautiful in all seasons, but fall is especially spectacular. You’ll be going through beautiful rolling hills and sand the whole way, so make sure you take in the views.
Sarah Morgensen | The Prosperous Blonde
When thinking of Wisconsin, a road trip doesn’t necessarily come to mind for most people, but Wisconsin is a great place for a road trip! There are tons of things to see and do, plenty of beer to drink, and lots of delicious food to eat.
One week is about the perfect amount of time for a Wisconsin road trip, but you could always do more and explore all the nooks and crannies of this beautiful state. To narrow down the Wisconsin road trip itinerary to about one week, start in Milwaukee where you can stop by Lakefront Brewery for the best brewery tour in the state. From here, drive west to Madison, the state’s capital.
In Madison, walk down State Street, which connects the Wisconsin State Capitol and the University of Wisconsin and is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. From Madison, head northwest to the Wisconsin Dells, the Waterpark Capital of the World. This is a fun stop whether you have kids or not! After getting your adrenaline rush on water slides or relaxing in the lazy river, take the short drive to Devil’s Lake for one of the most scenic parks in Wisconsin.
Next you’ll take a longer drive to La Crosse on the Mississippi River. This college town is nestled between the bluffs and river and is a great place to stop before heading south down the Great River Road along the Mississippi to Prairie du Chein.
From here, head back east towards Milwaukee through the Driftless Region, which offers unique landscapes formed by glaciers. Make a stop at the famous New Glarus Brewing and Wisconsin’s own Spotted Cow, which you can only get in the state. Finally, head back to Milwaukee to complete your road trip.
Mike & Becca | MY Travel BF
Best Road Trips in the USA: Southern USA
The Southern part of the United States has tons of great American road trips. Some states like Texas and Florida lead the charge with the most epic road trips in this area, but that’s not to say there aren’t great road trips outside these states.
If you’re a history buff, you can road trip to several of the sites associated with the Civil War. The South is filled with charming towns that make the perfect itinerary for some of the best road trips in the USA.
El Paso & Big Bend National Park
After spending close to 2 months road tripping around the US, I can tell you the place I liked the most was Texas. The Lone Star State is simply perfect for road trip lovers. First of all it’s absolutely huge, meaning there are endless road trip opportunities, it’s really varied in terms of landscapes and experiences, and locals are really friendly and hospitable.
A perfect Texas road trip itinerary, taking between a week and 10 days, could be from El Paso to Austin, via Big Bend National Park and the Hill Country. El Paso is a truly unique city, with the Mexican border running right into the center of town — it’s ideal to explore the “border” atmosphere, gorge on Mexican food, and maybe spend an afternoon hiking in the nearby Franklin Mountains.
Hiking lovers will go crazy in Big Bend National Park, where you can explore three distinct ecosystems — desert, mountains, and riverine. To make things even more special, Big Bend is the only park in the US (and probably the world) with an entire mountain range running within its borders — the Chisos Mountains, home to fantastic hiking trails.
After a few days of adventure at Big Bend, you could explore the Hill Country for a few days, enjoying slow life between its farms, wineries, and Old World atmosphere. Make sure you try Texas barbecue at least once (or more!). The Salt Lick is a great place, and you can easily stop there on your way to Austin.
Finally, spend a few days in Austin. The capital of Texas is completely different from the rest of the state, with an alternative vibe, lots of street art, and some really great restaurants. If you’re up for another barbecue, try Franklin’s — you’ll find a long queue, but it’s worth it!
Margherita Ragg | The Crowded Planet
The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys is one of the best places in the entire United States for a road trip. You’ll have the time of your life driving across the stunning bridges that take you over the beautiful Florida Keys water. Along the way, multiple stops will break up the adventure and add to the uniqueness of your trip.
To start a Florida Keys road trip, you’ll likely fly into Miami and get a rental car. From there, head straight south to the very southern tip of Florida, and you’ll cross a bridge that brings you to stop number 1: Key Largo. Key Largo is an incredible place to snorkel and fish. The best thing to do here is to get out on the water on a fun excursion. There are many spots for hotels and places to stay, so shack up for the night after you’ve had some fun on the ocean.
On day 2, wake up and begin driving along the Florida Keys one by one, making a few stops along the way whenever you see fit. A few great stops are Tarpon feeding at Robbie’s of Islamorada and the beaches on Marathon Key. If you get lucky, you may even spot a few Key Deer along the side of the road!
Day 3 is the day you’ll finally reach Key West, the final stop on this road trip adventure. Key West is a great place to let your hair down, especially on Duval Street. You can also try some awesome excursions into the ocean like jet skiing and snorkeling. All in all, a 3- or 4-day Florida Keys road trip will be the time of your life. Enjoy!
Julie Ruhl | Ruhls of the Road
The Deep South
The best road trip we have taken is one through the Deep South. We started and finished in Miami while doing a circuit around the gulf through Louisiana, up through Mississippi and then across Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia to South Carolina before heading back south along the coast to Miami.
We spent nearly 4 weeks doing this trip, but I think another week would have been even better just to take it slower along the way. My favorite thing about this route is the wide variety of attractions and places. We stopped at Disney World, New Orleans, saw orcas, visited old Civil War battlefields at Vicksburg, and saw the historic centers of Charleston, St. Augustine, and Savannah.
We also enjoyed visiting some very random attractions like the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama where much of the country’s unclaimed baggage ends up. We watched a cabbage patch kid being “born” at Babyland General Hospital and we couldn’t resist a gallon of frozen daiquiri at a Louisiana drive-thru.
Of course, there is also some great food to eat on this route from top key lime pie and southern BBQs to po’ boys and beignets. Better yet is that prices in the south are quite reasonable which makes this a very economical road trip. I can’t recommend a Deep South road trip enough and hope everyone does this at least once.
Suzi Sanders | Survey Suzi
When most people think of south Florida, they probably think of Miami and the Everglades. For this outdoor-focused trip we’ll be making a big loop from Miami to Everglades City and back so a week should be good, but you can always add more time.
First, head over to Biscayne National Park for a day trip out to Boca Chita, Elliot Keys, or Stiltsville. Make sure to go snorkeling here! Next, spend a couple of nights in Homestead so you can explore the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park. Walk the boardwalks and Anhinga Trail, then do some paddling or a boat tour in Flamingo.
On your way to Big Cypress and Everglades City, stop at the Shark Valley area to explore for the day. Once you’re in Everglades City, spend some time walking the boardwalks of Big Cypress National Preserve and the Fakahatchee Strand. If you want to do a swamp hike, check out the Gator Hook Trail. Do a ranger-led paddling tour one day and rent a kayak to do a paddling trail on your own.
Finally, hike to the Fakahatchee Hilton, a little swamp shack with a gator-filled pond out back. Once you’re done here, head back over to Miami for a little city life before leaving.
Megan Johnson | Red Around the World
Best Road Trips in the USA: Eastern USA
The last area is the Eastern part of the USA. While the East Coast is primarily known for its cities, it has a ton of opportunity for some great American road trips. Plus, it’s a great area to combine some city living with some more relaxing quaint towns.
The Eastern part of the United States is especially great for road trips in the fall. The leaves absolutely light up and provide some incredible fall foliage drives. That being said, there are a ton of great places to visit in the summer as well. The East Coast is full of great beach towns and lakes to make any summer road trip absolutely perfect.
New York State
New York State is full of great attractions that make for one of the best road trips in the USA. While New York City is a must visit destination, don’t forget to step outside the city and explore the state’s culture, historical sites, natural wonders, picturesque villages, and family-friendly attractions. In order to fully experience all a New York State road trip has to offer, the recommended time frame is at least 10-14 days, but the more the better!
Begin the road trip in perhaps New York’s must well know destinations, New York city. Explore some of the main historical sites, such as the 9/11 Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, wander the streets of Time Square and find the perfect souvenir to take home, or spend the afternoon enjoying a picnic in Central Park.
From NYC, make the drive to the Catskills region, where you will find plenty of great hiking options that will lead you to amazingly beautiful views of the region (it’s even more beautiful in the fall!). Next, continue on to the state’s capital region and explore Albany. Here you can see the state capitol building, enjoy a cruise along the Hudson river, or enjoy some family fun such as the Funplex Fun Park or Children’s Museum of Science and Technology.
The next stop is New York’s spa town, Saratoga Springs. Here you can spend some time hunting for the area’s many mineral springs, learn about the history of the town, or see a horse race. The Finger Lakes region is next, where you will find plenty of wineries and state parks to explore. If you are a waterfall lover, be sure to check out Ithaca, home to over 150 waterfalls.
The road trip concludes in Buffalo and the Niagara Falls region. Be sure to grab some spicy Buffalo Wings and experience the power of Niagara Falls, where you can cruise up below the falls and even go behind them.
Melissa Luther | Navigation Junkie
Skyline Drive & the Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
Driving the ridge line of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia is not only one of the best road trips on the East Coast but also one of the most scenic road trips in the entire United States. The trip consists of two connected but separate segments: Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Skyline Drive is the crown jewel of Shenandoah National Park. It runs 105 miles from Fort Royal to Rockfish Gap, with access points at Thornton Gap and Swift Run Gap. Your park entrance fee is valid for a week and allows unlimited passage between any of these entries. There are over a hundred well-maintained scenic overlooks to enjoy along the way once you’re in the park. If you’re looking for a longer stop, hiking opportunities range from short jaunts to waterfalls to tackling portions of the mighty Appalachian Trail that runs nearly parallel to the road along the ridge line.
At Rockfish Gap, where I-64 crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway. This road follows the ridge line from Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Unlike Skyline Drive, this is a free road that travels through small mountain communities. The overlooks are not as well maintained, but you will have more interaction with the locals, including opportunities to purchase crafts and home-cooked delights.
Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are beautiful year-round, but particularly stunning in the fall when the leaves change. There might be faster ways to get where you’re going, but none more scenic. It’s the perfect place for hikers, RV camping, or to rediscover the joy of driving.
Jenn & Ed | Coleman Concierge
New England is undoubtedly one of the best areas for a road trip in the United States. Visits during the fall months are the most popular as the verdant forests transform to rich reds, oranges, and browns.
However, road trips to New England should not be confined to just these months. The six states of this region boast a cacophony of attractions for visitors all year round to fit any length of itinerary. Our suggested itinerary is based on our own two week trip around New England, but can be done in less time.
Boston is the easiest city to begin this road trip, so you’ll want to start here. From Boston head north into Maine towards Portland, its capital city. Maine is home to rugged coastlines and Portland is absolutely magnificent. En route, make a stop at the charming town of Kennebunkport. Settled in the 1600s, Kennebunkport is home to sandy beaches, boutique shopping, and stunning period mansions.
From Maine, head west into the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire. A popular ski resort area, this is also popular for summer activities such as mountain biking and hikes through lush forests. Don’t miss a trip to the summit of Mount Washington or even take in tea in the splendid Mount Washington Hotel.
Continuing west into Vermont, aim for the idyllic ski resort town of Stowe. Also a mecca for summer sports, Stowe is in the Green Mountains and is one of the most picturesque destinations in all of New England. Offset all this activity with a visit to the nearby Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory.
Prior to heading south, spend a night in Burlington, Vermont’s largest city boasting a fabulous location on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain with views of the Adirondack Mountains to the west.
Three hundred miles south of Burlington on Long Island Sound lies Mystic, Connecticut. Famed for its shipbuilding reputation, the Maritime Museum offers a fascinating history into one of America’s oldest towns. Don’t miss sampling local wines as well as taking one of the many boat trips being offered.
The final stop ahead of your return to Boston is the glamorous town of Newport in Rhode Island, America’s smallest state. Newport is known for its elegant coastal mansions filled with opulence and former homes to some of America’s most famous families, such as the Vanderbilts and Astors.
Paul & Nicki | The Two That Do
New York City to Washington DC
From the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan to the scenic coastal roads of the East Coast, a road trip from New York to Washington DC is certainly one you shouldn’t miss. Separated by around 225 miles, there is plenty to see and do along the way.
There are a few routes to choose from. City lovers could head through the cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore, but for a beautiful drive with some stunning views, hugging the coastal roads is a great option.
The first stop on the coastal route is Long Beach Island, NJ. Long Beach Island is really is a beach lover’s paradise. The 18-mile long island is only half a mile wide at its widest point, with stunning beaches stretching the whole distance.
The next step is Cape May. A highlight of the trip is riding the Cape May Ferry, which is far more than a shortcut between the Delaware coast to the Jersey Shore. While on the 70-minute trip, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins leaping out of the waves, and admire the views of two of the Mid-Atlantic’s most picture perfect seaside towns.
Just the other side of the ferry, Dewey Beach is the perfect place to get some rest for the night. This popular beach town is full of eateries, and again has a beautiful beach to enjoy.
Heading back in land, you will soon make it to the city of Washington DC, with its impressive monuments, laid back atmosphere, and of course one of the most visited spots in the city, the White House itself. Plan on spending 2 or 3 days each in New York and Washington and 2 days on the journey!
Victoria Picking | Travels on Uneven Pavements
Other USA Road Trips
There are a couple road trips that couldn’t be put into the above categories, so those are here. With the exception of Hawaii, the other two are super long road trips across the entirety of the United States. While both cross the country, they’re each unique in their own ways.
Because these two road trips cover a lot more distance, you’ll want to dedicate more time to these itineraries. The trips could be driving in a couple days, but you’ll miss the entire purpose of the road trip – the stops along the way.
Maui is one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands and the landscape is incredibly diverse. The island is not that big, so when you have a rental car, you can see most of the islands in a few days. I would recommend starting with driving to Hana because the Road to Hana is one of the highlights on the island of Maui. You’ll drive on a winding road through a jungle and see multiple waterfalls. Also, Waiʻānapanapa State Park is one of the best places to visit, and it even has a beautiful black sand beach.
After driving the Road to Hana, make sure to carve out a morning to drive to the summit in Haleakala National Park. It has such a surreal landscape, it actually looks like you’re on a different planet! Make sure to get a permit to watch a sunrise in the National Park. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Then it’s time to explore the best beaches of Maui when you follow the coastline on the south and the western part of the island. The villages of Wailea and Lahaina are great stops to get delicious food. Make sure to stop at some of the beaches and take your snorkel gear. When you go snorkeling you will see a lot of colorful fish, beautiful coral, and you might even get the chance to swim with sea turtles!
Jacoba de Boer | Op Reis Met Co
Coast to Coast
Welcome to the most epic of USA road trips, the Coast to Coast. It can reasonably be done in under a week. But it can be extended to spend more time at interim destinations. A day in Charleston, Nashville, the Rockies, Zion National Park, and San Francisco brings the trip up to almost 2 weeks.
Day one starts driving from Charleston, South Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee via the Great Smoky Mountains. A quick hike in the Smokies to stretch your legs and an evening honky tonkin’ in Nashville’s downtown district are can’t miss experiences!
On day two, you’ll drive via Kentucky and Metropolis, Illinois. Stop in Metropolis to take pictures as superman where you can see his ride and phone booth. You’ll want to end this day by driving to St. Louis. Before getting on the road again, take the futuristic elevators up the Arch in St. Louis! On the next day, head to Lawrence, Kansas.
On day four, you’ll reach Denver, Colorado after a photo stop in Topeka, Kansas to get that Wild West feeling. After spending some time in Denver, cross the Rocky Mountains and make your way to St. George, Utah. Make sure to take in the views from the viewpoints along the highway in Utah. While driving on I-15, you’ll pass right by Zion National Park.
Day six will take you through Arizona. Make sure to visit the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The North Rim is so much less touristy than the South Rim! After marveling at the Grand Canyon, make your way onto Las Vegas. Don’t get hung up too long though if you want to be in Las Vegas in time to catch the fountain show at the Bellagio.
The final drive is to San Francisco where you must see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and Lombard Street. Make sure to extend a few days to enjoy California if possible!
Christin Braatz | Christin Has Fernweh
Road 66 is one of the most popular road trips in America. People come from all over the world to drive down the “Mother Road,” as the Route is affectionately nicknamed.
If you want to do Route 66 the most conventional way, start in Chicago, which is the beginning and the first of the major cities along Route 66. Driving the route isn’t just about visiting the big cities along the way, but it’s really about enjoying the kitschy roadside attractions and small towns you’re sure to see along the way.
While you could spend weeks and weeks exploring if you stop at every possible Route 66 stop, the typical timeframe for this road trip is to spend two weeks. Pick the stops you find the most important ahead of time so you don’t miss them!
Some highlights along Route 66 include the Catoosa Whale, the Arcadia Round Barn, and Cadillac Ranch. The route ends at the Santa Monica Pier, so you’ll want to set aside a day at the end to just enjoy the beach and a Pacific Coast sunset.
If you’re planning on renting a car, why not upgrade to a convertible or a vintage car so you can really appreciate the route in style!
Stephanie Craig | Oklahoma Wonders