Would you like to really see the USA? Do you enjoy road trips? From the redwood forests to the gulf stream waters, and from sea to shining sea, there’s truly so much to see. So, without further ado, here are the 24 best road trips in the USA.
- 1. Route 66
- 2. New York City To Los Angeles Road Trip
- 3. The Blue Ridge Parkway
- 4. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
- 5. Southeast Coastal Road Trip
- 6. Orlando To New Orleans Road Trip
- 7. Washington State Road Trip
- 8. Southwest Colorado Road Trip
- 9. Utah’s Mighty Five Trip
- 10. I-90 Portland To Yellowstone Trip
- 11. Northern New Mexico Road Trip
- 12. The Denver To Yellowstone Loop
- 13. San Francisco To Yosemite Loop
- 14. The American Southwest From Las Vegas Trip
- 15. New York State Road Trip
- 16. Miami To Key West Road Trip
- 17. The New England Loop
- 18. Texas Hill Country Road Trip
- 19. Northwest Arkansas Road Trip
- 20. West Texas Road Trip
- 21. Northern Michigan Road Trip
- 22. Kauai Road Trip
- 23. The Road To Hana, Maui
- 24 Alaska Road Trip
24 Best Road Trips In The USA
1. Route 66
Made famous by the classic Nat King Cole record, Route 66 is an officially decommissioned, 2,448-mile route from Chicago, Illinois through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada to its end in Santa Monica, California. It still slots high on many travelers’ “must-do” road trip lists today. Along the way, you will see kitschy 1950s motels, old-school gas stations, and intriguing eateries. As previously noted, you can complete the entire trip in only two weeks. Highlights here include Cadillac Ranch, Catoosa Whale, the Twin Arrows, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest National Park.
2. New York City To Los Angeles Road Trip
Cruising from New York City to Los Angeles is yet another truly classic US road trip. The trip covers almost 3,000 miles. The most direct route will take you 44 hours, but that doesn’t include traffic issues or rest stops. You will go to Chicago, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada before you reach L.A. If you like side trips and have a couple of weeks, make up for seeing nothing but blacktop, plains, and cornfields, make some detours and visit Las Vegas, Rocky Mountain National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, and the Grand Canyon.
3. The Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re visiting Virginia or North Carolina, consider a week-long road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This 469-mile road is very popular and joins two of the country’s most popular national parks—Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains. Driving north to south, here are some of the things you must see. The Virginia side includes The Humpback Rocks, Mabry Mill, the Peaks of Otter, and finally the Blue Ridge Music Center. (MP 213). In North Carolina, stop at Linville Falls, the Craggy Gardens, the Graveyard Fields, and Oconaluftee. Don’t go in the winter as some parts may be closed.
4. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail
We don’t encourage anyone to drink and drive, so give yourself between four and six days to enjoy the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Here you will sample multiple bourbons and other assorted treats as you tour 18 different distilleries here in the beautiful Bluegrass state. Oddly there’s no official route to this trail, but you should stay in Louisville or Lexington as your “home base” since the distilleries are all within a couple hours’ drive.
Veteran visitors suggest visiting four or five distilleries each day. Each distillery gives you no more than two ounces of alcohol. Still, if you’d rather avoid driving, take a bus tour.
5. Southeast Coastal Road Trip
Your 10-day journey begins in St. Augustine, Florida, founded by Spanish settlers back in 1565. Before continuing along the coastline to the exceptional Outer Banks of North Carolina, visit Castillo de San Marcos, the famous Fountain of Youth, the beach, and the Colonial Quarter. Next stop, Savannah, Georgia to take in the charming town squares and excellent architecture.
Historic Charleston, South Carolina follows here. Here you stop in fun Folly Beach, Beaufort, and/or Hilton Head Island, then you’re off to North Carolina. On the way, hit Wilmington, New Bern, Kitty Hawk and Nag’s Head, and the Outer Banks.
6. Orlando To New Orleans Road Trip
This road trip from Orlando, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana offers a number of interesting options for stops and detours. While you could easily make it in nine hours, give yourself three days so you can enjoy yourself. Orlando is famous for such popular theme parks as Disney and Universal Studios. However, there are other highlights such as worthwhile Ginnie Springs, Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs, or Ginnie Springs all along I-75.
When you hit I-10, visit Florida Caverns State Park. Additional recommended stops include beach breaks at Pensacola, Florida, the gorgeous Gulf Shores, or any of Mississippi’s beaches. In New Orleans, you can enjoy the city and the bayou. Drive time’s less than nine hours but give yourself two or three days to relax!
7. Washington State Road Trip
Start this road trip in the Pacific Northwest hub of Seattle. Then drive to the Olympic Peninsula. Explore Olympic National Park and all its diversity, remote beaches, majestic mountains, temperate rainforests, and crashing waterfalls. There’s also Mount Baker and if you go north on H-20, the North Cascades National Park. Don’t forget turquoise Diablo Lake either!
When you reach Lake Chelan, stop and chill. Take Highway 2 back to Seattle and do some hiking or explore the little towns on the way. Give yourself one and a half to two weeks if possible.
8. Southwest Colorado Road Trip
This trip is about outdoor activities so give yourself up to two weeks to complete it. Enjoy activities in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Buena Vista, Crested Butte, Durango, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Ouray, Pagosa Springs, Ridgway, and Telluride too. Recommended activities include alpine and sand-sledding, soaking in hot springs, exploring old mining towns, hiking and biking, climbing ladders to the ancient Puebloan dwellings at popular Mesa Verde, riding the free gondola to see Telluride, going camping or whitewater rafting, sleeping ‘neath the stars, and sampling the local cuisine.
9. Utah’s Mighty Five Trip
Visit all five national parks here on one loop road trip. Those who have been, suggest taking a good week with a focus on the five parks: Zion, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. Begin and end your trip in Las Vegas, Nevada. You may, however, want to stop briefly in Page or Monument Valley (on the border) as well since the drive to your first official stop in Moab is lengthy. The next stop is Capitol Reef. From there you go to Bryce Canyon, and eventually a last stop in Zion before driving back to Las Vegas.
10. I-90 Portland To Yellowstone Trip
Taking this scenic route from Portland, Oregon to see Yellowstone National Park is an exceptional 812-mile trip. Your journey begins on I-84 as you cruise along the striking Columbia River Gorge. Stop at beautiful Multnomah Falls then spend the night in Richland.
Then you take I-90 through Spokane, past the lovely lake of Coeur d’Alene, then through the Nez Pearce-Clearwater National Forests. Stop in Missoula, along the Clark Fork River, and see Caras Park. Follow I-90 to Highway 287 which leads to West Yellowstone where you’ll find the national park. You could do it in two days but take four or five.
11. Northern New Mexico Road Trip
Almost all the suggested stops here are within an hour of each other. Still, give yourself a week to see everything. Begin in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, where the major airport is found. Check out picturesque Old Town sometime before you leave.
Next, head for Santa Fe, the state’s most beautiful city and capital. See the Spanish Colonial Palace of the Governors and soak in the hot springs at Ten Thousand Waves. Stop at Los Alamos, where the infamous atomic bomb was developed, the pilgrimage site Chimayo, and Taos, too, where you can see a Native American pueblo.
12. The Denver To Yellowstone Loop
From Denver, you can take a trip to see three of the country’s most well-known national parks: Grand Teton National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and famous Yellowstone National Park. Head first to the charming town of Estes Park which provides easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park.
The next stop is Yellowstone National Park to spend time checking out the geothermal pools, great geysers, and wildlife. Then head back to Denver, stopping at Grand Teton National Park to enjoy Jenny Lake and the views along popular Mormon Row. Give yourself a week or two.
13. San Francisco To Yosemite Loop
This is a 10-day loop trip from the city of San Francisco to popular Yosemite National Park and back again. Explore San Francisco then head to Monterey and Carmel and cruise part of the well-known Pacific Coast Highway. “Must-sees” include Alcatraz, Big Sur, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and the Monterey Aquarium.
Next, drive east to Yosemite National Park, do some hiking and see the sights. Wash it down with some wine tasting in Napa Valley or Sonoma. See the giant redwoods in Muir Woods, then head back to San Fran.
14. The American Southwest From Las Vegas Trip
Because of inexpensive flights, Las Vegas, Nevada, is a great place to start a road trip. Start this 10-day trip by cruising to the Valley of Fire State Park then head to the Grand Canyon. From there, do a loop drive to Moab and explore both Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. Next, go west, young man, to see Bryce Canyon National Park, and then Zion before heading back to Vegas. Other optional stops include Antelope Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Horseshoe Bend, Goblin Valley State Park, and Monument Valley.
15. New York State Road Trip
Start this one-week trip at Niagara Falls in Buffalo. Check out the falls, and even get up close with them by riding the Maid of the Mist. Next, head for Letchworth State Park, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon of the East.
Stop next is Rochester, where you’ll discover numerous attractions. Then check out the waterfalls and wine in the Finger Lakes region before cruising to Saratoga Springs, to enjoy a mineral bath and see a horse race. Then head to the Catskills Region and go hiking. End your trip in New York City, and see all the sights!
16. Miami To Key West Road Trip
Give yourself two or three days for this 165-mile tropical road trip through the Florida Keys via the “Overseas Highway.” Do some underwater exploring at the well-known Spiegel Grove Shipwreck, and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Above water, take the Africa Queen through Key Largo’s various canals. Popular stops for meal breaks include Islamorada Beer Company and Robbie’s Restaurant, where you can actually feed tarpons from the boat dock, and the tiki-vibing Plantation Key’s Mile Marker 88 Beach & Bar too.
17. The New England Loop
This trip includes historic cities, charming small towns, gorgeous harbors, historic lighthouses, and a rugged coastline. Begin and end your journey in Boston. It’s an airport hub and you can hike the famous Freedom Trail, stroll cobblestone streets, and see the museums.
Next, drive out to Acadia National Park found in Maine, stopping at the coastal villages of Kennebunkport, Maine, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Don’t miss Portland, Maine either. Head back going south and check out popular White Mountain National Forest, Stowe, Vermont, and Woodstock. Take two weeks and hit all six New England states if possible.
18. Texas Hill Country Road Trip
Take up to a week to visit the Texas Hill Country. It is highlighted by picturesque small towns, rushing rivers, thundering waterfalls, colorful wildflowers, and numerous distilleries and wineries too. Visit Fredericksburg, for its German heritage, sample some wine in Wimberley, climb Enchanted Rock, explore limestone caves, enjoy some barbecue, and jump into a swimming hole in the Austin area. Other great stops include Garner State Park, the Guadalupe River State Park, and Gorman Falls in Colorado Bend State Park, and see Lake Travis and Canyon Lake as well.
19. Northwest Arkansas Road Trip
The historic towns, enjoyable hot springs, verdant forests, and an often overlooked national park makes this a great “off-the-beaten-path” road trip. Your adventure begins at popular Hot Springs National Park. Relax at one of the nine bathhouses on Bathhouse Row.
Beautiful Eureka Springs in the awesome Ozark Mountains is next on the agenda to enjoy hiking and hot springs. If you make good driving time, try detouring to Hawksbill Crag on the way. Give yourself between three and five days on this one.
20. West Texas Road Trip
This Texas trip begins in interesting El Paso. Head southeast towards Marfa and feel free to stop to take in the distinctive roadside art stops including the famous Giant movie set installation, the eternally closed Prada Marfa store, and the World’s Smallest Target Store.
Marfa is also home to the exceptional art gallery that features Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.” There’s also the town viewing center where people go to see the mysterious bouncing light orbs. Plan on three nights here with one or two more to travel to Big Bend National Park.
21. Northern Michigan Road Trip
The Great Lakes are all too often overlooked when it comes to summer road trips. Yet this place is a hidden gem complete with such noteworthy stops as Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior and just a few hours away Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan and (of course) all the Great Lakes themselves. Memorable Mackinac Island is another must-see but you park on the mainland because the island is vehicle-free. Allow yourself a week to enjoy everything available here.
22. Kauai Road Trip
The Hawaiian island of Kauai is arguably one of the world’s most beautiful, unique travel destinations. Leave the resort property and drive to the noteworthy Na Pali Coast. Hike the Awa’awapuhi Trail, see the Alakai Swamp, and head towards Waimea to check out stunning Waimea Black Sand Beach.
Cruise the coast until you reach the Poipu area where you can take in a hula show. Then it’s on to Wailua State Park. Hike Kuilau Ridge and be sure to see Opaeka’a Falls and Wailua Falls. The final stop on this three-day trip is in the Princeville area to visit Queen’s Bath.
23. The Road To Hana, Maui
Who takes road trips in Hawaii? The truth is if you visit the lovely island of Maui, you simply must drive the scenic road to Hana. The 52-mile road runs from Kahului to the town of Hana on the island’s east side.
The road is all curves, hairpin turns, and single-lane bridges. You’ll see exotic flora, striking seascape views, and roaring waterfalls. Highlights here include Honomanu Bay, the Painted Forest, Twin Falls, Wailua Falls, and Wai’anapanapa State Park. You can complete the drive in one day but consider camping or staying in town for a bit to really enjoy yourself.
24 Alaska Road Trip
You begin this cool five-day, six-night summer road trip in Anchorage. Explore the Alaska Public Lands Information Center and the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Take the fun Trolley tour and ride the shuttle to the local Ulu factory too.
Watch the salmon runs and sample some salmon at Bridge Seafood which overlooks Ship Creek. Drive to Palmer and see the Iditarod Museum then drive to Hatcher Pass to hike and see the lakes. Next stop, the mighty Matanuska Glacier. Take Richardson Highway towards Valdez and see the Valdez Museum and Annex.