For a lot of people, the best part of their summer trip isn’t actually the destination, but the road trip to get there. Road trips are a quintessentially American activity. In a country with as much geographic diversity as the US, a road trip is a great way to see all the natural splendor that our country has.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans collectively drive more than 3 trillion miles per year. The busiest driving months are during the summer months of July and August. So this summer, why don’t you get out of the house for a road trip and see what the US has to offer?
To help you out, we put together this list of the best road trip ideas in the United States.
Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
One of the most famous stretches of roads in the country, the Pacific Coast Highway is a 123-mile long stretch of road situated alongside the California coast. The PCH cuts through most major cities in California, including the two prime destinations of San Francisco and LA. The PCH is known for its gorgeous coastal views as you cruise down the coastline.
The PCH is relatively short at only 123 miles. But it has some fascinating stops along the way. Small towns like Monterey dot the coast and you will also drive through the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which has th4e nationally famous 80-foot tall McWay Falls.
So, if you are looking for a relaxing coastal drive for a few days, consider giving the PCH a swing. You can pull off the drive in just a day or two, or you can take the long route and spend 4-5 days checking out small towns along the way.
Route 66 Road Trip (Saint Louis - Texas)
Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the world and has been immortalized in pop culture through song, dance, and literature. This 2,200-mile highway stretches all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles, though we say the part of the road with the most character is the section running between Saint Louis, MO, and Amarillo, TX. The drive between the two takes about 3 days and is full of wonderful sites, including the gentle, rolling hills of Missouri into the flatter, Southwestern plains of Texas.
Some of the best stops along the way are Meramec Caverns in Stanton and the Lake of the Ozarks along the way. You stop in St. Louis one day for barbecue and toasted ravioli and be in Texas for tacos and more barbecue the next day.
Great River Road Trip
The Great River Road is a monstrous path that runs all the way from the North in Minnesota to the south of the country in Louisiana. The road follows the Mississippi River for nearly 2,000 miles across the entire vertical distance of the country. The main road runs through the major cities in the middle of the country, including St. Louis, New Orleans, Memphis, and more.
One of the best features of the road is how it takes you through virtually every ecosystem in the country. You start in the mysterious boreal forest of Minnesota and end in the lush bayous of Louisiana, cutting through the spacious and temperate Midwest in the middle. IN all, the Great River Road takes you through 10 states and can take up to a week if you take your time to stop and see the sights.
Red Rocks Road Trip
This scenic route stretches for 120 miles across the state of Utah and is known for its alien landscape of dazzling red rock formations. The western part of the trail starts near the top part of Red Canyon and finishes right at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. Route 12 is full of the rocky, orange-tinted views of the American Southwest. You can also stop off on the east side and take a day trip to Anasazi State Park.
Along the way, you will pass through several smaller communities including Tropic, Cannonville, Henrieville, Escalante, and more. The road is also dotted with several hiking routes and camping grounds so you have plenty of options for exploring while you are en route.
Hana Highway Road Trip
Located in gorgeous Hawaii, the Hana Highway covers 60 miles across the island of Maui. The looping highway has over 600 curves and 59 bridges that guide you through the incredible natural beauty of the island. You will be sandwiched between ocean views and coastal jungles. The drive is fairly short and only takes about 3 hours to complete, but you could easily scratch the trip into 12 hours by taking your time and stopping at any interesting sites.
However, the Hana Highway is known for being a difficult and potentially dangerous drive. So while we highly recommend the sights, make sure that you pay attention to the winding road and small clearance on the sides.
Cross Country I-90 Road Trip
In our opinion, this is the best cross-country road trip you can take. The I-90 starts in Boston, MA, and stretches all the way to Seattle, WA, cutting through the northern part of the US. I-90 covers nearly 3,000 miles and intersects with some of the most well-known attractions in the country, including Chicago, Mount Rushmore, Dakota Badlands, and Yellowstone National Park. This road trip is one of the best in the country, but it is also very difficult and can take nearly 45 hours of driving. So make sure that you stock up on supplies and gas before trying to tackle this one.
The Bottom Line
There is nothing quite as American as a road trip. Whether you are just driving for a day or you want to plan a massive, two-week cross-country trek, road trips are a great way to explore all the diversity this country has to offer. So don’t miss out this summer! After an entire year of being stuck indoors, you deserve to spread your wings and get out there.