Is there anything more traditionally American than a road trip? One of the best ways to travel is to take to the open road with the freedom to get out of the car and see new places. Fortunately, the United States has some of the most beautiful drives in the world. In the United States, there are literally millions of kilometres of road to explore. Think you’ve seen everything there is to see in this country? Think again!
Here are our top 9 favourite road trip routes in the United States, ranging from day journeys to month-long excursions.
Route 66 is number one.
From Chicago to the Golden State
Route 66 is a road excursion that brings back childhood memories. Allow plenty of time to take in all of the sights and sounds that this road has to offer. It’s achievable in two weeks, but give yourself a month to thoroughly enjoy it! If you only have a weekend to spare and still want to sample some Route 66 enchantment, choose the route from St. Louis to the Texas border; it takes only two days and is by far the best stretch. While you’re there, try some of the legendary St. Louis-style ribs.
Highway 2 (Pacific Coast Highway)
California’s whole coastline
With the roof down and your dream road trip soundtrack blasting from the car speakers, live out your teenage fantasy.
The 101 highway, often known as the Pacific Coast Highway, is a scenic route that connects the north and south of California. It’s recommended to give yourself at least 5 days to complete the full stretch of road because there’s so much to see. At Big Sur, where the road twists around towering cliffs with crashing surf below, there’s a photo opportunity not to be missed.
Start in San Francisco and end in Los Angeles for a shorter path. You’ll see everything the voyage has to offer, and it just takes approximately 5 hours nonstop — ideal for a weekend getaway.
Great River Road is number three.
New Orleans to Minnesota
The Great River Road, or GRR as it’s also known, follows the Mississippi River’s route. It isn’t the quickest route from Minnesota to New Orleans, but it is the most beautiful. It’s half the length of the interstate that follows the same path, winding through towns, woodlands, and meadows, and crossing the river whenever possible. The journey is the destination in the case of the GRR.
It takes a tremendous amount of effort to travel the full length of the Great River Road. It stretches about 3,000 miles and passes through ten US states. From start to finish, it takes about 36 hours of straight driving, therefore most people attempt to complete it in about two weeks to allow for a few days off from driving and to enjoy the sights along the route. If you don’t have two weeks to spare, take the shorter route between Memphis and New Orleans, which can be completed in a few days (and is, after all, the greatest part!)
Dawsons Creek is fourth
British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska on the Alaska-Canadian Highway
The Alaska Highway is a 1,382-mile-long paved route. You’ll witness a variety of species along the trip, which will take about 5 days to complete. Bears and moose abound in this region, and it’s not uncommon to see them as you go through the mountains and lakes. The Alaska-Canada Highway is best driven in June and July due to its northern location. The days are long, which is ideal for maximising your driving time. Despite the rainy weather, it’s still a perfect time of year to get off the beaten road for some trekking and fishing.
The fifth, Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Cherokee, North Carolina to Virginia
Along the trip, you’ll see some of the world’s oldest mountains, North America’s oldest river, and the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. From your car window, take in the view of the Great Smoky Mountains, and allow enough time to visit the Shenandoah National Parks. If you’re driving in the winter, don’t forget to bring your skis because there are several wonderful ski resorts along the way.
Hawaii is sixth
Kahului to Hana Highway, Hawaii
The road to Hana is not for the faint of heart, with 600 curves (most with blind spots) and 50 single-lane bridges. The road is slow, congested, and occasionally dangerous, but the stunning coastal cliffs, cascading waterfalls, deep vegetation, and panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean make it all worthwhile! It takes about 12 hours to travel, but if you don’t have much time in Hawaii, you can drive halfway.
The 17-Mile Drive is number seven on the list.
California’s Pacific Grove to Carmel
This 17-mile trip is actually less than 10 miles long, despite its moniker. The road passes through the Del Monte woodlands in California and is a beautiful picturesque route.
This private road has a $10.25 entrance fee. It’s worth every penny to see the magnificent sunsets and harbour seals basking in the sea.
The Overseas Highway is number eight on the list.
Florida’s Key Largo to Key West
The Overseas Highway connects the Florida Keys and is a lengthy section of road. The keys were only accessible by sea in the 1920s, before the motorway was created. On both sides of the boat, there are views of the ocean. The Seven Mile Bridge is one of the world’s longest, and it literally hangs ‘overseas.’ Stop to cool down in the ocean and take in the sights of white sand beaches and vibrant coral reef parks.
From Southwest Montana to Yellowstone National Park via the Beartooth Highway
How could a road named the Beartooth Highway not pique your interest? This journey from Montana to Yellowstone National Park is a mystical alpine wonderland, as the name implies. The road leads you deep into dense forests, past gleaming glacier lakes, and right into the path of wayward creatures. If you’re planning a road trip, keep in mind that it’s only open during the summer.
Rent the car of your dreams to add some extra oomph to your road trip. Remember to leave some wiggle room for unanticipated excursions when planning your next trip! Before you leave, read our advice on how to avoid the most typical road trip blunders.