Road trips in the United States let you enjoy the side trips just as much as the main destination, whether they are coastal drives or historical routes. If you know the best locations and routes to take, you can enjoy the road trip, whether in a van, R.V., motorcycle, or four-door sedan.
And let us introduce you to the 12 best places to take a road trip in the United States if you’re not familiar with some of the hidden gems in your country.
12 Best Places to Take a Road Trip in the USA
Whether your ideal American road trip entails a lengthy, cross-country trip or a shorter excursion through a few of the country’s most famous national parks, we have them all covered. Let’s get started!
1) Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
The most traveled road under the jurisdiction of the United States National Park Service is the 469-mile stretch from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains.
Beginning in Front Royal, Virginia, take Skyline Drive south to Luray Caverns, then west to the Natural Bridge, and finally north to Asheville, North Carolina, before continuing on to the Great Smoky Mountains.
2) Route 66: Chicago to Los Angeles
Nothing is quintessentially American is driving the entire length of Route 66. So we suggest adding a little whiskey tasting to your cross-country road trip for authenticity.
On this epic cross-country road trip, you’ll visit some of the best craft distilleries in the country, from Chicago to Los Angeles. You’ll also visit places like Few Spirits in Chicago, Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa, and Still 630 in St. Louis.
3) Columbia River Highway, Oregon
The Columbia River Highway is a 74-mile route beginning in Portland and traversing the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River Highway is a parallel, winding road that connects to Oregon Routes 35 and 30.
Expect a thrilling journey and to be awed by the natural wonders along this route. The entire road is surrounded by water features, such as waterfalls, bridges, and rivers, and it looks like an incredible gray ribbon of spaghetti winding through beautiful Oregon.
In order to keep your vacation costs low, you can take advantage of the many hiking trails and free attractions like Horsetail Falls.
4) Pacific Coast Highway, California
In the United States, this route is unrivaled in terms of its epicness. The route from Monterrey to Los Angeles follows U.S. Route 1. Stop by Monterey or Carmel by the Sea for the night. Monterrey’s marine reserve is a fantastic place to go kayaking, and Carmel is known for its excellent surfing.
It’s a scenic route along the coast of California, known for its miles of sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and storied hangouts where Hollywood elites and the super-rich have spent their downtime for decades.
5) Grand Circle Road Trip, Southwest USA
One of the most well-known road trips in the United States, the Grand Circle Route takes travelers to all of the country’s national parks. When visiting the American Southwest, most tourists will concentrate their efforts there. It mostly traverses Utah, visiting its numerous national parks, but it also ventures into Arizona.
The length of the Grand Circle Road Trip varies from around 1,000 miles to well over 1,500 miles. The majority of this area is located in Utah, but it extends into Arizona and is home to many fantastic scenic drives and detours.
6) Road to Hana, Hawaii Road Trip
The 45-mile Road to Hana is one of the most talked-about drives in Hawaii. There are 617 hairpin turns on the long winding road back home, and 56 one-lane bridges to cross, so you’ll need good stamina to complete this drive.
Taking off from Paia, the road winds along the side of high jungle cliffs that plunge into the ocean, providing stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, a bamboo jungle and Norfolk pines, sacred waterfalls and swimming holes, lava tubes, tropical flowers, and food stands along the way.
7) Brandywine Valley – Pennsylvania and Delaware
The best way to appreciate the historic beauty of the area while only traveling about 19 miles (30 kilometers) is to take a short road trip. You’ll find this beautiful loop between southern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware, and it will take you through chateau country dotted with historic summer estates and narrow roads lined with wildflowers that trace the Brandywine River beneath the soaring branches of oak and tulip trees.
And if you want to maximize your experience, be sure to visit the 1,077-acre Longwood Gardens, which features an outdoor topiary, 20 indoor gardens, and spring-fed lakes.
8) The Loneliest Road
There will be times on this transcontinental highway when you will feel like the only person on the planet.
US-50’s memorable moniker comes from the solitude and remoteness of the 3,050-mile stretch of road that connects Ocean City, Maryland, and Sacramento, California. The road that Time magazine has dubbed America’s “Backbone” is lined with hundreds of small old towns, so you won’t be completely isolated.
9) Jackson, Wyoming to Glacier, Montana
The trip from Jackson, Wyoming, to Montana’s Glacier National Park, could be accomplished in a day, but why bother? Instead, get away from it all for a week and see as much Big Sky Country as possible. It has some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in the United States.
The Grand Tetons, with their towering cliffs and rushing rivers; Yellowstone, with its geysers and wildlife; and Glacier, with its breathtaking waterfalls and glacial formations, are among the park’s many highlights.
10) Highway 7, Arkansas
The state’s hardwood and pine forests can be seen along the 290 miles of Highway 7. You’ll also travel alongside beautiful rivers and scenic hills. There are plenty of places to stay in the area’s small towns if you get too tired to drive.
The Ozark National Forest, which you can also visit, is a botanical masterpiece in the spring. It is recommended that you book a room at one of the many hotels located throughout the state. Tent sites end up being the most cost-effective choice, costing less than $10 per night compared to the $100+ starting price of most lodges.
11) Olympic Peninsula Loop, Washington
The Olympic Peninsula Loop, which includes Highway 101, is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. That fact alone makes it well worth your time to make the trip across the region. In addition, the Hoh Rain Forest should definitely be visited while you’re there.
If you enjoy going on short hikes and exploring new places, the loop is great. But the beautiful drive itself is the most exciting part of the trip. Washington’s abundant wildlife, towering mountains, and breathtaking waterfalls can all be seen along the route.
12) Outer Banks – North Carolina
This 100-mile stretch of North Carolina’s Outer Banks along Highway 12 features a wide variety of beach attractions, from quiet fishing villages to bustling resort communities with luxury hotels and sprawling summer homes. The Wright Memorial Bridge in Kitty Hawk is the starting point for any trip to the Outer Banks.
Traveling north on Route 12 will bring you to the duck beaches and the town of Corolla. If you want to see the historic lighthouses, you’ll have to take a detour south of Kitty Hawk through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but the highway ends there.
These were our 12 best places to take a road trip. There’s a choice on the list whether you thrive in the hustle and bustle of a major city, the scorching heat and freezing temperatures of the desert, or the soothing sound of waves lapping against a rocky shore.
So enjoy your road trip!
Thank you for reading!