The 10 best road trips in the US to take

  • Post last modified:May 1, 2022
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The best road trips in the US offer incredible variation. They include not only big cities and famous sights, but also cute villages and unknown gems far away from the crowds. As you venture off the beaten path, the ultimate American road trips let you explore the attractions that other travelers miss out on.

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1. The Atlantic Coast road trip

No matter what you’re into, an Atlantic Coast drive is one of the best road trips in the US to take. It’s an American road trip for every type of traveler.

If you begin in the north, the tourist hotspots New York and Washington D.C are impressive places to start off with. The two cities offer one world-famous attraction after another.

But don’t forget the towns and sights more off the beaten path. The Outer Banks in North Carolina is one such road trip treasure that has a lot to offer.

Did you know that the Outer Banks is where the first human flight ever was made? Or that wild horses wander freely along the North Carolina coastline?

Past the Outer Banks historic cities in the American South appeal. Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah are full of history for the history buff to indulge in.

As you reach Florida the road trip route along the Atlantic Coast gets the end it deserves. Orlando is entertaining year round, and South Florida offers beach weather every month of the year.

Outer Banks black and white lighthouse pointing towards blue sky
Outer Banks lighthouse.

2. The New England road trip

A New England road trip shows off the beauty of the northeastern corner of the United States. No other American road trip offers such an idyllic setting.

Along the coast of New England you find an abundance of iconic lighthouses and charming seaside towns to explore.

As Cape Cod stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean, the peninsula truly embraces the region’s spirit. Home to 15 historic towns, several lighthouses and miles of untouched beaches it’s a timeless place.

Further north Acadia National Park offers majestic Atlantic views. Cadillac Mountain is one of many highlights in the unmatched New England park.

Just the scenery along the coast makes the New England drive one of the best road trips in the US to take. But still there’s a lot more on offer if you venture past the spellbinding coast.

Away from the Atlantic Ocean the White Mountains, Green Mountains and Berkshires are picturesque areas not to miss. Far away from the buzz its cute villages and covered bridges amaze the most hard-flirted roadtrippers out there.

View from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
View from Cadillac Mountain.

3. The Blue Ridge Parkway road trip

The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, also known as America’s favorite drive, is a mountain drive of true perfection.

From Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Cherokee in North Carolina the parkway winds through the wonderful Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a 469 miles (750 km) long drive with many gems along the way.

Home to tall mountain tops, deep gorges and cascading waterfalls the Blue Ridge Parkway is a great American road trip to enjoy nature. As you drive, you find an abundance of hiking trails and jaw-dropping overlooks.

But the Blue Ridge Parkway also offers attractions and towns that complement the impressive nature in the best possible way.

One of the parkway’s most photographed spots is the Mabry Mill. It’s a restored mill from the early 1900s with high Instagram potential. In addition to its charming facade the on-site restaurant also offers tasty pancakes.

A more sprawling experience is the Biltmore Estate in the celebrated mountain town Asheville. The US road trip highlight is known as the largest privately owned home in America.

Yellow and orange trees on Blue Ridge Parkway fall foliage road trip
Fall at the Blue Ridge Parkway.

4. The Gulf Coast road trip

For the beach bum, the best road trips in the US need spectacular shorelines. Along the Gulf Coast you find all the dreamy beaches you need, and a few more.

As you uncover the Gulf Coast region, the many world-famous beaches are remarkable. In a paradise setting, far away from the hustle and bustle, the beaches are as white as snow.

Clearwater Beach, Sanibel Island, Naples and Marco Island are just a few among the many popular beach destinations to choose from as you explore the Gulf Coast of Florida.

With such a line-up the Florida Gulf Coast road trip is an unparalleled US road trip for the beach lover.

The warm climate also makes it one of the best US road trips to take year round. All you need to pack is your beach outfit, and you’re good to go.

But if you want a more extensive trip, you can venture past the renowned Florida beaches too. The ultimate Gulf Coast itinerary includes 5 different states and takes you more off the beaten path.

Clearwater Beach North sun and chairs on the sand
Relaxing Clearwater Beach, Florida.

5. The Overseas Highway

The best road trips in the US to take don’t have to cover huge areas. Although it’s not more than a few hours long, the Overseas Highway has something that no other drive in the United States has.

Most remarkably the tropical highway connects the Florida Keys to mainland Florida. On the jaw-dropping Overseas Highway you travel from island to island until the continent ends.

As you drive the Overseas Highway, it’s easy to see why it’s often referred to as the best road trip in the US. The panoramic ocean views are unbeatable along the Florida highway.

Still the ambience is as appreciated as the views when you work your way through the Florida Keys. The region is known for its laid-back vibe, and as you drive through any world problems feel far away.

So far south the Florida Keys is also known for its endless summer. With warm temperatures even in winter the Overseas Highway stands out as one of the best US road trips to take throughout the year.

Bahia Honda State Park in Florida Keys
Bahia Honda State Park.

6. The Route 66 road trip

For the nostalgic roadtripper it doesn’t get any better than the Route 66 road trip. It’s a journey on a historic highway that has meant so much to the country.

Route 66 was established in 1926 and soon became one of the most important highways in the United States. The route made it easier than ever to travel between the Midwest and the Pacific Ocean.

But that’s just a part of the story. Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America, became more than a road. As people could move more freely than ever, Route 66 became an American symbol of freedom.

Nowadays the historic highway isn’t the important transportation route it once was. Route 66 was decommissioned, or removed from the highway system, in 1985.

What certainly hasn’t changed is that Route 66 continues to be one of the best road trips in the US to take. Along the iconic route you still find eye-catching neon signs, retro motels and timeless roadside attractions.

Vintage Car in Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona
A vintage car along Route 66.

7. The Yellowstone road trip

Many of the best American road trips include national parks, and Yellowstone National Park is the mother of all national parks in the US.

The 1st of March in 1872 the already then renowned Yellowstone became the first national park in the United States. It’s a park that is home to forests, valleys, rivers, mountains, wildlife and even thermal activities.

In tough competition the Old Faithful geyser is one of the top attractions on a Yellowstone National Park road trip. The geyser is truly faithful as it erupts once or twice every two hours.

But the Old Faithful is just one of many highlights in Yellowstone. At a size larger than some small states, Yellowstone is a dream place in the US to road trip for the nature lover.

In addition the neighboring park offers even more scenery as you road trip your way through USA. Next to Yellowstone you find the less famous but also bucket list worthy Grand Teton National Park.

Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

8. The Southwest road trip

If you look for an otherworldly road trip, the Southwest road trip calls your name. The road trip offers deeper canyons and redder deserts than anyone can imagine as it cherry picks the best stops from the Arizona itinerary and the Utah itinerary.

Arizona is home to not only the world-famous Grand Canyon but also many more USA road trip gems, such as Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

The neighboring Utah is certainly not less impressive. In the state you find not less than five mighty national parks, including Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches.

Yet maybe the most classic US road trip destination of them all is Monument Valley. On the border between Arizona and Utah the valley truly feels like another planet.

Red rock formations in Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah
Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah.

9. The Pacific Coast Highway road trip

No collection of the best road trips in the US is complete without the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s certainly a legendary American drive to take.

Along the coastal route, from Seattle in the north to San Diego in the south, the natural beauty is exceptional. Its rugged mountains, stunning beaches and towering redwood forests make the most experienced roadtrippers humble.

Although the West Coast is home to big cities to enjoy too, the coastline outside the major metropolitan areas still is surprisingly untouched.

If you want to have the ocean on your side of the road, take the drive from north to south. But regardless of direction the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best American road trips to take.

Just make sure that you allow enough time for the incredibly scenic US road trip. A slow pace is needed to fully appreciate the spectacular coastline.

10. The cross-country road trip

A cross-country drive lets you tick off many of the best US road trips with one grand journey. Why choose one if you can have more?

From the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the tall skyscrapers in New York the road trip potential is unlimited.

A popular Los Angeles to New York route includes the Southwest, Route 66, Tennessee and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Another alternative is to take the southern route across the country. A road trip from San Diego to Florida keeps you far south throughout the drive.

But no matter which cross-country route you go for, a drive across the United States is an unparalleled experience.

The ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary
An unparalleled US road trip.

The best road trips in the US to take FAQ

Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about the best road trips in the US.

Where is the best place to take a road trip?

The best road trip in the US depends on what you’re after. From the short but sweet Overseas Highway to the extensive cross-country road trip there’s something for every type of traveler.

What is the most famous road in America?

Route 66 is often referred to as the most iconic route to drive in America. Much of the historic highway, which extends from Illinois to California, is still driveable.

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