If you’re struggling to come up with some of the best road trip ideas out there, you’ve come to the right place. With so many options and so many beautiful landmarks and cities to see, it can be hard to decide on the best road trip destinations and the best trip planners to use. Luckily for you, we’ve got it all covered. We’ve laid out 10 of the best road trips in the USA for you to look through and add to your shortlist. Not only that, but we’ll link you to some of the finest USA road trip planners out there to ensure you can tick your trip off your bucket list, exactly the way you want it.
The Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
If you’re a fan of doing things by the way of “Wild” (book or film) but aren’t keen on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (roughly a 5-month endeavor), then gearing up and hitting the Pacific Coast highway is certainly the one for you. With over 900km (or 600 miles) of the road to tear up, the PC Highway is one of the most scenic trips available in the US- and with hundreds of road trips to compete with, that’s a title that doesn’t come easily.
Arguably the best scenic road trip in the USA, the PC road trip takes you from the Oregon border, all the way down to San Diego, CA. You’ll pass by some of the most beautiful landmarks of America, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, through Los Angeles and finishing in the photogenic San Diego. All-in-all, with no stops, the trip should take around 10 hours. So, this is a great way to spend a weekend if you’re looking to take a tour around each area.
The Loneliest Road
As one of the longest road trips in America, the Loneliest Road runs from coast-to-coast, spans over 3,200 miles and carries you through the heart of America. Named after a section of highway in America on Route 50, which carries the nickname “the loneliest road in America”, this part of the trip can evoke feelings of loneliness since, for many miles, you will only see mountains, sand, and a long, straight road.
Of course, the road isn’t entirely lonely. This is a trip that takes you back in time, through the pioneering West, all the way back to some of the oldest, colonial-era landscapes available. You’ll also pass the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. This may not be the busiest and most lively of road trips- but we can assure you that this is a trip that blows the cobwebs from your mind and give you some well-needed time to reflect on the beauty of nature as you pass through some of the oldest towns, finishing at the nation’s Capital, Washington DC.
The Atlantic Coast Road Trip
Covering some of the most well-known American landmarks can be found when traveling from Massachusetts and some of the oldest monuments of modern-day America, all the way down to Southern Florida (with a stop at Disneyland if that’s your style!). You’ll stop off at New York, Philadelphia, Atlantic City and Washington DC on the way, meaning you’ll need to take along an extra memory card to cover all those pictures you’ll definitely be taking!
This is a longer trip than it’s Western counterpart and will usually take between 6 days and 2 weeks to complete- longer if you intend to spend a few days in each city, with the intention of being a tourist for a while! Popular with tourists and foreign visitors, the Atlantic Coast road trip covers so many of the most popular tourist destinations, so be prepared to bring a little extra cash for your day trips out, as they can soon add up.
Route 66 Road Trip
Possibly one of the most iconic roads of America, Route 66 covers nearly 2500 miles (or nearly 4000km) and runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Although it has been decommissioned, this is still one of the most well-known and popular routes across America, with many songs written with its inspiration. Route 66 is the original American Road Trip and still one of the most-traveled roads along multiple states, today. Some of the best things to do and see along Route 66 include the Grand Canyon, St Joseph Church (the oldest church in the US) and many state capitals, all of whom have their own attractions and landmarks.
Canada to Mexico
Stretching across the entire country, you’ll begin this scenic road trip at Jasper National Park, Canada where you’ll see some of the world’s bluest and largest lakes. You will then stop at the Rockies, in which you can visit Glacier National Park, before driving through Flathead National Forest. This is a great spot for fishing, mountain biking, and camping if you’re up to the challenges. Just be careful not to camp too close to any known bear habitats.
For a change of scenery, the route will then take you through Las Vegas, so be sure to check out the slots and machines before moving on toward Arizona. Here, you’ll be able to see the Hoover Dam, Biosphere II, and even the Titan Missile Museum- so there’s definitely plenty to do on this road trip!
The Deep South
Lovers of jazz and all things touched with art-deco will adore this trip, which will have you traveling from Charleston to New Orleans. The South is rich with culture, history and flavourful foods, all of which are a pleasure to learn about and discover. Take a look around and visit some of the old plantations in Charleston, before crossing the bridge where Martin Luther King Jr and his supporters were met with violent protesters.
Finally, head into New Orleans itself- visiting the old riverboats, trying the cuisine. You should also definitely visit the French Quarter, with jazz bands playing on every corner and the streets are lively, friendly and bring you back in time with their old buildings and beautiful balconies.
Denver to Glacier
This is a road trip that comes recognized by Yellowstone National Park themselves as one of the best ways to see both Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. If you’re a sucker for scenery then this will be the trip for you, covering nearly 1,000 miles of natural beauty, you’ll see the sky with completely unobstructed views of the stars, thanks to the lack of light pollution in the area. You’ll also be able to visit some of the most well-known geysers in the world, including “Old Faithful”, while also being able to visit Virginia City, Nevada City, and Butte.
For those who like their trips with a touch of white-knuckle rides and activities, Big Sky plays host to some of the best adrenaline-filled activities around. Even better, you can top off a fun-filled day with a stop at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. This is a road trip that has everything- the countryside and city-life, adventure activities and spas. It’s fair to say that this is one road trip that will keep everyone happy!
Miami to Key West
This is one of the shortest routes on our list- but this is definitely one you’ll want to take your time on. At just under 4 hours long this is perfect for a short trip away from home, should you live in Florida. This triumph of engineering will take you from the US mainland over the Atlantic Ocean and into an island city that plays refuge to poets, writers and artists alike. Passing by the Everglades you’ll come across restaurants and colorful artwork every which way you decide to look. The only times you may notice a lack thereof, would be when crossing one of the 42 bridges you’ll cross en route to your destination.
This is the perfect road trip for those who enjoy the sunshine, beaches and a nice slice of key lime pie. You will also come across the only living coral reef in North America on this journey, so don’t forget to bring your snorkels- and remember to be respectful of your environment!
Grand Circle Tour
If you’re looking to stretch your legs whilst enjoying your road trip, this is definitely the option for you. Covering six national parks, Monument Valley, beautiful lakes and some rather unusual landmarks, this is the best scenic road trip in the USA. The Utah site suggests taking 11 days to enjoy all that this trip has to offer- though, of course, you are more than welcome to extend that time if you want to take an extra moment or two to enjoy the stops along the way.
Remember that this is a trip with few stops outside of each day’s journey, so be sure to pack up your backpacks with essentials- in particular water, since you won’t have much opportunity to top this up while you’re hiking around some of the most iconic points of America. If you have the time, you should definitely see if you can trek some of this trip on horseback- that way, you can see the views the same way the American forefathers did!
DIY Your Tour
If you like the idea of mixing and matching the above but don’t fancy seeing everything in each choice, then why not create your own road trip? Visit the USA, Road Trippers and Road Trip America all have some great websites which allow you to pick and choose your destinations, starting points and time available, all the while suggesting some great stops for you to make. While your trip may not be as iconic or cover as much ground as some of the above, you have the bonus of making your trip completely bespoke, ensuring you visit all of the places that you want to visit.
These sites also give some great suggestions based on your interests and even include forums, so you can chat with others who have taken these trips before. Feel free to sign up and get some advice on the best routes to take on your road trip, or simply find out if what you want to see lives up to its hype before you even set off. These tools can be invaluable to those who are coming from out-of-state or even from different countries, so do ensure you do as much research as possible, to make sure you get everything you want out of your once-in-a-lifetime journey.
- 13 Incredible Stops on a Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip, GapYear
- Classic American Road Trips, Road Trips USA
- Yellowstone to Glacier National Park Road Trip, Yellowstone Park