The United States is indeed a very large country. This means that there is no shortage of destinations and detours that you can explore by car in this place. Whether you want an American road trip that involves a cross-country journey or a shorter jaunt through some of its most beautiful national parks, your options are as varied as the country itself. No wonder road trips have forever been a favorite pastime in the United States and will continue to do so as it is among the best ways to experience the vast array of stunning coastal views, breathtaking valleys, rugged cliffs, and more.
If you are thinking of going on a road trip but haven’t decided yet where to go, we are here to help you. In this article, we are going to explore some of the best places that you can visit in America when you go on a road trip. Whether you are seeking a soulful escape, an adrenaline-fueled adventure, or a leisurely retreat, there is surely a perfect place for you. Therefore, if you are ready, read on and learn about the best road trip destinations in the United States.
Bangor, Maine to Seattle, Washington
If you want a cross-country road trip, you can try this route. It covers both the United States and Canada, which is ideal for those who want to experience the vast diversity and expansiveness of North America. It runs the whole top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders, such as Acadia National Park in Maine, Mackinac Island in Michigan, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.
The route of this destination also passes through Canada, taking you through Ontario into Quebec. It is a route that may focus on nature, but you may also stop in Montreal or Ottawa. You may also explore Montana and Glacier National Park before passing the Columbia Plateau and ending in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, which is Seattle. Don’t miss spending some time on the Olympic Peninsula to see one of the most scenic places on the West Coast.
Chicago – Los Angeles
Your road trip experience in the United States won’t be complete without experiencing the 2,000-mile drive along Route 66. If you want to take your road trip to the next level, exploring whiskey, which is another American pastime, is a good idea.
This road trip starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. Along the way, you will stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, such as Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 360 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. While enjoying tastings, you may also make time for detours to natural attractions like the Grand Canyon or view the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Also, since you are on a road trip, always remember to drink responsibly.
Pacific Coast Highway – California
The famous Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best drives in the United States. It starts in San Diego and takes in some of the best coastal scenery in California. Throughout the journey, you can visit Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, and Hearst Castle, and follow the popular Highway One north toward the beautiful coastal town of Monterey. You will end up in the popular City by the Bay, where there are many exciting areas that you can explore in San Francisco.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia
The Blue Ridge Parkway Drive is a unique road journey that spans 469 miles (755 kilometers) from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 45 mph speed limit will be a treat as you can genuinely appreciate one of the best picturesque drives in the United States because billboards are prohibited, commercial traffic is not permitted, and there are no commercial towns.
Start your journey from Boone or Cherokee and make your way to the Blue Ridge Parkway Road so you can enjoy five and a half hours of mountainous terrain, the occasional eerie fog, waterfalls, wild turkeys, and birds, as well as scarlet sourwoods, deep reds, and vibrant yellows during the fall season (end of September–October), and a completely new assortment of wildflowers that bloom orange, white, pink, purple, and red during spring (May–June). Undoubtedly a wonderful journey that you can take at any time of the year.
Brandywine Valley – Pennsylvania and Delaware
Nothing like a quick road journey that transports you through historic beauty and is only 19 miles (or 30 kilometers) long. This charming little route will take you on a loop through picturesque chateau country scattered with historic summer estates, winding narrow roads that trace the Brandywine River, under soaring branches of oak and tulip trees, and between South Pennsylvania and North Delaware.
And if you really want to get the most out of this experience, be sure to visit the 1,077-acre Longwood Gardens, which has spring-fed lakes, an outdoor topiary, and 20 interior gardens. Otherwise, simply travel to Rte. 100 to experience and appreciate this quick yet rewarding journey. Then, continue on the winding street until it joins Rte. 52, which returns you to your starting point.
Phoenix to The Grand Canyon
Travelers may experience some of Arizona’s most recognizable landmarks, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon, during this 240-mile road trip. It offers a lot of options for picturesque drives, hiking, and biking—as well as delicious food along the way—making it a terrific itinerary for both first-time tourists and seasoned travelers. Explore the Grand Canyon State by climbing the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or hiking to Cathedral Rock in Sedona to admire the stunning red rocks.
Portland to Astoria
This six-day road trip down the Oregon coast is perfect if you enjoy being outside. Travelers will meander along Oregon’s stunning, rocky coastline as they make their way to Coos Bay from Portland, taking in views of evergreen woods, beach dunes, and marine habitats along the route.
There are other possibilities to get some exercise in between stops, like hiking, kayaking, and strolling through the tiny towns in the area, like Florence’s ancient old town. Of course, an Oregon road trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop (or three) at a quaint coffee shop like Bread & Roses in Yachats or a craft brewery like Fort George Brewery in Astoria.
Outer Banks – North Carolina
The Outer Banks of North Carolina’s Highway 12 (also known as Ocean Front Hwy-12) offers a variety of seaside experiences along its 100-mile (160-kilometer) route, including white sand beaches, historic colonial towns, fishing villages, and exclusive major tourist areas with summer residences and enormous hotels directly on the beach.
One must first cross the Wright Memorial Bridge to Kitty Hawk in order to reach the Outer Banks. From here, take Highway 12 north to enjoy Corolla’s town and duck beaches. Then, as the route stops there, you must turn around and head back south of Kitty Hawk through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which are home to several historic lighthouses.
Historic Columbia River Highway – Oregon
The oldest beautiful route in the nation, this 23-mile (37-kilometer) road journey was constructed in 1917 and was regarded as one of the greatest achievements of its day. It is now regarded as a National Historic Landmark and offers some of the most breathtaking views you can see from a moving vehicle.
Starting in Troutdale, you’ll travel on a thrilling journey that will leave you in awe of the magnificent sights, including the Vista House, which is perched over 700 feet above the Columbia River, the LaTourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Multnomah Falls, which cascade under triumphant bridges that are still in place today, and let’s not forget the road tunnels that were carved out through the Cliffs.
Cape Cod – Massachusetts
Compared to the busy and fast SH 6 or the jam-packed, overbuilt Rte. 28, driving route 6a is guaranteed a crowd-pleaser, as it is Cape Cod’s most historic and scenic route, for 57 miles (91 kilometers) down the south shore. Enjoy the 1639-established historic villages of Sandwich and Brewster, as well as the old Brewster Store, which has been in operation since the 1850s, as you go over the dunes and through these picturesque towns.
As you go to Orleans, be sure to take in the sights of the nicest beaches along the way so you can start to appreciate the 2,000 acres of scrubby pitch pine/oak woodland and haphazardly positioned freshwater ponds that make up Nickerson State Park. Continue traveling on SH 6 through Truro, then turn left onto Route 6a, which will take you to your final destination in bustling Provincetown along the beautiful bay.
There is really an incredible array of road trip destinations in the United States that cater to different interests and preferences of travelers. From scenic coastal drives to historic journeys, there is surely something for everyone. But always keep in mind that before setting off on your road trip, it is essential to plan carefully, pack wisely, and stay informed about any travel restrictions or potential challenges on your chosen route. We hope this article helped you learn more about the best road trip destinations in the United States.