Best Road Trips In The United States

Learn about the best road trips in the United States, including scenic drives along the ocean and rural routes.

Highway 1

The ease with which one can travel around the USA by car makes it special. The United States is the same size as Australia and most of Europe, and it offers just as many amazing sights and experiences as either of those other continents. When you take the best road trips in the US, you’ll be astounded at how much one country can change as you first visit one coast, then another, before heading north or south. 

Exploring new territory, taking in as much of the scenery as you can, turning up the music to match the scenery, and, if you’re so inclined, refueling with gas station snacks, can all be part of a road trip. Legendary songs, essential movies, and classic books have all immortalized the road trip. 

Road trips are wonderful because they can be taken at any time of year. If you prefer to travel in the winter to some of the nation’s top ski and snowboarding locations, you might want to pack the car in the summer and plan your itinerary around awesome national parks and beaches. 

Browse our list of the top U.S. road trips to make your dream road trip itinerary. These journeys offer breathtaking scenery and unforgettable experiences. These road trips will cover a lot of ground and cross-off experiences from your bucket list. So keep reading to travel like a pro. And as always, please drive safely.

Top American road trips

Route 66 | CA to IL

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1. Route 66 from California to Illinois

Any roundup of the best road trips would be blasphemous if it didn’t mention Route 66. One of the original routes in the U.S. Highway System is the well-known “Mother Road,” which travels from Chicago’s downtown to Santa Monica’s pier. The historic highway, which spans eight states and about 2,500 miles, is interspersed with flashes of kitsch and vintage Americana. 

Unmissable pit stop: Take a tour of Missouri’s Meramec Caverns, which date back 400 million years. The Jesse James Wax Museum is close by, and Jesse James is known to have used it as a hideout.

Highway 1 to Big Sur | CA

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2. Big Sur Highway in California

This show-stopping road may have recently gained notoriety thanks to its appearance in the Big Little Lies opening credits montage, but it has long been a favorite of drivers in the know. This iconic stretch of coastline in California is full of heart-pounding drops and perilous turns, but it’s all worth it for the breathtaking views you’ll see along the way. Be ready: Some distances can be traveled for up to 40 miles without stopping at a gas station or restroom.

Can’t-miss rest stop: If you don’t have a photo of the Bixby Bridge to show for it, did you even drive along Highway 1? Sure, you’ve seen it in a million car commercials. This magnificent open-spandrel arch bridge, Big Sur’s answer to San Francisco’s Golden Gate, soars 260 feet above cliffs and a narrow canyon.

Route 101 | CA to WA

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3. Route 101: CA to WA

This classic route in the United States is made up of discrete road segments that make up a seamless journey. You can effectively drive from the US/Canadian border, just north of Seattle, all the way down the US West Coast, all the way to the US/Mexican border, just south of San Diego, by following Route 101, which changes to California State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, before briefly returning to Route 101 once more. My friends, that is the ultimate road trip. 

Must-stop pit stop: The views along this road trip are undoubtedly some of the best the nation has to offer. The list includes everything from Astoria’s breathtaking coastline to the Redwood Forest National Park, Napa, and Sonoma.

Blue Ridge Parkway | VA to NC

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4. From VA to NC: Blue Ridge Parkway

Ready for a leisurely, storied drive? If so, proceed to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where commercial vehicles are strictly prohibited and the posted speed limit is a comfortable 45 mph. The 469-mile route connects the national parks of Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains by meandering through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Visit in the fall when the foliage explodes in a brilliant display of crimson, auburn, and golden leaves for the best leaf-peeping opportunities.

A must-visit pit stop is Mount Pisgah in North Carolina, which is well-known for its extensive network of hiking trails and the storied Pisgah Inn, which was built in 1919.

Overseas Highway | FL

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5. Overseas Highway | Florida

Play some Jimmy Buffett and head to the Overseas Highway for a getaway to the tropics. The 113-mile, sunny drive, which follows US-1, connects the Florida Keys. The continuous road, which was first built in 1928 and rebuilt in the 1980s, links Key Largo with laid-back Key West. One of the longest bridges in the world, the Seven Mile Bridge, can be crossed while admiring imposing lighthouses, vibrant coral reef parks, and stretches of white-sand beaches.

An absolute must-stop is Islamorada, which is home to six of the Florida Keys and offers visitors the chance to swim with dolphins at the Theater of the Sea and discover ruins from the 1800s at Indian Key Historic State Park.

Going-to-the-Sun Road | MT

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6. Road to the Sun, Montana

Since its completion in 1932, this amazing road has been fulfilling its original purpose of promoting tourism and encouraging people to visit America’s national parks. The 50-mile highway cuts through Glacier National Park in Montana before ascending to Logan Pass and crossing the Continental Divide. Avoid this road in the winter when snowbanks can reach a depth of 80 feet and be careful of blind curves and sharp drops off.

Unmissable rest stop: Make plans to stop at Logan Pass during the summer. Reaching a height of 6,646 feet, it offers wide-open vistas, mountain goats grazing nearby, and swaths of meadows covered in vibrant wildflowers.

Santa Fe to Taos Loop | NM

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7. Santa Fe to Taos Loop | New Mexico

Set out for the Santa Fe Loop in New Mexico, which is woven between the Rio Grande and Sangre de Cristo mountain valleys, after packing a pair of cowboy boots. Tumbleweeds and all, this American road trip adventure looks like it belongs in an old Western film. This drive is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because of the winding desert landscapes and the pueblo communities of Ojo Caliente.

The town of Taos, which is situated in northern New Mexico’s high desert, is a must-stop rest stop. The area is well-known for its historic adobe buildings and features a number of museums, including the Taos Art Museum, as well as rafting on the Rio Grande and in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area.

Lincoln Highway | NY to CA

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8. Lincoln Highway, from NY to CA

The first highway in the entire country of the United States for cars was the little-known Lincoln Highway. Carl G. Fisher, an entrepreneur from Indiana, came up with the idea in 1912, and it was officially launched a year later. It originally crossed 13 states on its way from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It now passes through more than 700 cities, towns, and villages in 14 states, 128 counties, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California, as a result of a realignment that took place in 1928. After the creation of the Numbered Highway System, the Highway has since been gradually replaced with numbered designations, with the majority of the route becoming U.S. Route 30 from Pennsylvania to Wyoming. However, just like other traditional cross-country road trips, you can easily navigate the entire length of the original route with a little bit of research.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, is located on Cheyanne Mountain, which is very close to where the Lincoln Highway travels. This location has been featured in a number of films and television shows, including War Games and of course Stargate SG1, despite the fact that public tours are not offered.

Texas Hill Country | TX

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9. Texas Hill Country, Texas

Driving is the best way to take in the limitless beauty of the Lone Star State. Between San Antonio and Austin, the Hill Country is distinguished by its gently rolling hills and picture-perfect bluebonnet blooms. The captivating landscape is dotted with award-winning wineries, charming farmland roads, and orchards that produce countless bushels of delectable apples, peaches, and pomegranates each year. Hill Country is also overflowing with mom-and-pop barbecue restaurants for meat lovers. 

Unmissable pit stop: History buffs and outdoor enthusiasts have long been drawn to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The climbable pink granite mountain, which can be found just outside of Fredericksburg, has evidence of human habitation dating back more than 10,000 years.

Hana Highway | HI

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10. Hana Highway, Hawaii

Although Hawaii’s lush landscapes and aquatic adventures are its most well-known attractions, the 50th state of the Union is also home to one of the best road trips in the country. 60 miles of breathtaking turns connect Kahului to Hana on this drive-through paradise. Most people can travel there in three hours or less, but heavy traffic during rush hour can significantly lengthen travel times. Watch for swaying mango trees, impressive sea cliffs, and colonies of monk seals lazing in the sun as you travel.

Unmissable pit stop: Take the 32-mile exit to explore Waianapanapa State Park, where rocky, black basalt lava coastlines meet undulating emerald jungles.

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