The 10 Best Road Trips in the USA

Avatar photo

You can spend a lifetime traveling across the US and just barely scratch the surface. Stunning national parks, dynamic cities, sprawling farmland, and massive lakes are united under this country, just waiting to be explored. 

The best way to see the country is on a great American road trip. From the iconic Route 66 to the enchanting Blue Ridge Parkway, there are countless paths that connect the country’s top attractions. 

Plan your next adventure now with our list of the top 10 best road trips in the U.S.

#1: Route 66 (Chicago to Los Angeles)

    Average Time: 14 days, 2,448 miles

    Experience the quintessential American road trip along Route 66, spanning from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. This historic highway is symbolic of American freedom and has been featured in countless movies and books. 

    Originally commissioned in 1926, Route 66 played a significant role in the westward migration during the Dust Bowl era. Today, remnants of its past can still be seen in the form of nostalgic roadside diners and vintage motels. Along the way, keep an eye out for unique art installations and sculptures, such as Cadillac Ranch and Blue Whale of Catoosa.

    Courtesy of The Telegraph

    #2: Pacific Coast Highway (California)

      Average Time: 7-10 days, 1,650 miles

      If the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t already on your bucket list, now’s the time to add it. This dreamy route travels up the rugged California coastline, with charming seaside towns, panoramic ocean views, and dramatic cliffs at every turn. Much like Route 66, this route has been featured in many films, including La La Land and Into the Wild

      There are many ways to plan a road trip around the Pacific Coast Highway, but most travelers start in San Francisco and end in either Los Angeles or San Diego. Along the way, make sure to stop at Big Sur for some panoramic ocean views, and Monterey, home to the famous Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

      For an even longer trip, you can start in Seattle and cruise through Washington and Oregon before reaching the California coast.

      Courtesy of Roadtrippers

      #3: Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia to North Carolina)

        Average Time: 3-7 days, 469 miles

        This route spans from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains and is particularly impressive in the fall when the leaves change color. 

        On cruising down the Blue Ridge Parkway, don’t miss attractions like the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, or the picturesque mountain town of Boone. 

        Courtesy of Travel Leisure Vans

        #4: Great River Road (Mississippi River)

          Average Time: 10-14 days, 2,340 miles

          Spanning 2,340 miles and passing through eight states, the Great River Road follows the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana.

          Explore charming river towns like Galena, Illinois, and Natchez, Mississippi, and sample a variety of food, from spicy Cajun dishes in Louisiana to hearty Midwestern fare in Wisconsin. For a much-needed pit stop, fish, bird watch, or even treat the family to a day of boating.

          Courtesy of Explore

          #5: Overseas Highway (Florida Keys)

            Average Time: 2-3 days, 113 miles

            Fall in love with Florida while traveling along the Overseas Highway, a scenic route that spans the length of the Florida Keys. Starting in Miami and ending in Key West, this route takes you across 42 bridges on a 113-mile-long highway.

            Overseas Highway is all about sampling fresh seafood, exploring sandy beaches, and enjoying a slower pace of life. Along the way, explore quirky roadside attractions, such as the giant lobster statue in Islamorada or the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. You’ll also uncover snorkeling opportunities and colorful beach bars, perfect for grabbing a drink and recovering from the drive. 

            As you continue your journey, be sure to stop at Bahia Honda State Park to explore the remnants of the old railway bridge. 

            Courtesy of National Park Service

            #6: Going-to-the-Sun Road (Montana)

              Average Time: 1-2 days, 50 miles

              Going-to-the-Sun Road is the best choice if you’re looking for a shorter route. This road is a fantastic way to see the majestic Glacier National Park, located in Montana. The route stretches 50 miles from West Glacier to St. Mary, boasting unparalleled views of glaciers, rugged mountains, and pristine alpine lakes along the way. 

              Starting at the western entrance in West Glacier, Going-to-the-Sun Road winds its way through dense forests and along the shores of Lake McDonald. As you ascend higher into the mountains, be prepared for tight turns and steep cliffs as the road climbs to its highest point at Logan Pass.

              Continuing eastward, the road descends into the St. Mary Valley, where the adventure ends. Along the way, be sure to stop at Jackson Glacier Overlook to catch a glimpse of one of the park’s remaining glaciers before they disappear.

              Courtesy of Trip Savvy

              Save up to $1,200/year on RV storage & parking

              #7: Historic Columbia River Highway (Oregon)

                Average Time: 2-3 days, 70 miles

                The Historic Columbia River Highway winds through the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. This 70-mile route carves through the Pacific Northwest while showcasing waterfalls, forests, and volcanic cliffs. 

                Venture through charming towns like Hood River and The Dalles and learn about the region’s history at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. Don’t miss iconic stops like Vista House, an observatory with panoramic views, and Multnomah Falls, a flowing waterfall. (You can even stop for a hike or an afternoon of wine tasting). 

                Courtesy of Real Food Traveler

                #8: The Loneliest Road (Nevada)

                  Average Time: 2-3 days, 400 miles

                  Explore the American West on The Loneliest Road, a stretch of U.S. Route 50 that crosses the vast desert landscapes of Nevada. This road dates back to the 19th century when it was used by pioneers and settlers looking for gold and silver. As you travel along this historic route, you’ll pass through towns like Ely and Austin, which were once bustling mining hubs.

                  This remote highway also passes through ghost towns, expansive desert valleys, and stark mountain ranges, with plenty of opportunities for stargazing and experiencing the solitude of the open road. 

                  For an even more immersive experience, bring your camping gear and sleep in the desert. 

                  Courtesy of Cottage Connection of Maine

                  #9: Historic Route 1 (Maine)

                    Average Time: 5-7 days, 527 miles

                    Route 1 winds along Maine’s rugged coastline, revealing stunning views of rocky shores and quaint fishing villages. In your five to seven-day road trip, be sure to stop by Portland Head Light and the Nubble Light), and don’t forget to carve out some time for exploring Acadia National Park. 

                    The route passes through coastal towns, including Bar Harbor and Camden, where you can sample fresh seafood, including Maine’s famous lobster rolls. You’ll even have a chance to go on a once-in-a-lifetime whale-watching excursion. 

                    Courtesy of Roadtrippers

                    #10: Beartooth Highway (Montana to Wyoming)

                      Average Time: 1-2 days, 68 miles

                      Stunning natural beauty awaits on the Beartooth Highway, which travels through the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness–from Red Lodge, Montana, to Cooke City, Montana. On this scenic route, you can soak in panoramic views of rugged mountains, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. You’ll even pass by Beartooth Pass, which reaches over 10,000 feet in elevation.

                      Originally constructed in the 1930s, the Beartooth Highway is known for its tight turns and dramatic vistas. Look for mountain goats and bighorn sheep. You can also explore the nearby Yellowstone National Park.

                      5 Tips for an Epic Road Trip

                      If one of these routes calls your name, here are some tips and considerations before embarking on your next adventure. 

                      Tip #1: Pack a Roadside Emergency Kit

                      Safety is everything. Stay prepared by packing an emergency kit. Include essentials like a flashlight, jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge, a multi-tool, first aid supplies, and emergency contact information. You’re better safe than sorry. 

                      Not sure what else to pack? Check out our guide on road trip packing essentials

                      Tip #2: Plan for Plenty of Breaks

                      It’s easy to get a little overambitious during the planning phase of your trip. But remember, you won’t enjoy yourself if you spend all day driving. Schedule regular stops to rest, stretch your legs, and stay alert while driving. This helps prevent fatigue and allows you to enjoy the journey more. 

                      Tip #3: Consider Taking Your RV (Or Renting One)

                      Stay in an RV for a more comfortable and flexible travel experience. These vehicles are often equipped with a kitchenette, bathroom, and bedroom, meaning you won’t have to stay in a hotel or motel every night. This is especially convenient if you’re planning a long road trip.  

                      Just remember that an RV road trip comes with extra consideration and responsibilities. For example, you’ll have to store the vehicle after your trip. 

                      Due to potential HOA violations, RV owners are advised not to park in their driveways, so some turn to storage facilities or peer-to-peer RV storage marketplaces, like Neighbor

                      If you do opt to travel in an RV, check out some of our other resources, including this guide to the best RV road trip routes, this list of the top 10 off-road campers, these helpful RV apps, and this breakdown of the best RVs for boondocking

                      Tip #4: Research the Local Wildlife

                      Research the area you’ll be traveling through to understand the native wildlife and how to safely interact with them. For instance, you might spot grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains along the Beartooth Highway. If you do come across a grizzly bear, it’s important to hold your ground, give the bear plenty of space, and not run. If necessary, play dead. 

                      Tip #5: Check Your Vehicle

                      Before hitting the road, inspect your vehicle for any issues or maintenance needs. Check the tires, brakes, fluid levels, and lights to ensure everything is in working order for a safe journey.

                      An Adventure for All

                      These epic routes will never go out of style, but of course, not all Americans are comfortable with a lengthy road trip. If you’re not a confident driver or are worried about your car’s condition, there are plenty of exciting train adventures you could consider instead. 

                      Hop aboard the iconic California Zephyr, which travels from Chicago to San Francisco, or explore the scenic beauty of the Alaska Railroad. 

                      Related Posts