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31 USA Road Trip Ideas + Tips

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Heading out on a USA road trip this summer? This MASSIVE list is packed with routes recommended by travel bloggers all around the US sharing tips about their favorite American road trips. From the West Coast to Key West, this article has the best routes for your next open road adventure!

USA Road Trips Campervan

Imagine this: The windows are down and the wind blows through your hair as your favorite playlist blasts through your car’s speakers. You sing along and soak up the feeling of freedom that only comes with driving on the open road.

The United States is one of the best countries in the world for road tripping. And we’re not just saying that… With mountains, deserts, beaches, forests and lakes, you can’t argue the natural beauty and diversity the U.S. has to offer.

On top of the sheer amount of places to see around the country, the U.S. is also very well-suited for road trips. 

With clean drinking water accessible in most parts of the country, roadside rest stops (ahem, public toilets!), well-maintained roads, relatively affordable gas prices, and lots of camping options, it’s hard to find any other country that comes close to the ease and accessibility that the USA offers when it comes to road tripping.

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Whether you are staying in a hotel, living in a campervan or RV, or you’re trekking in the backcountry, here is everything you’ll want to pack on a road trip. Plus tips and advice on making your next road trip go as smoothly as possible!

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Start planning your perfect USA road trip

USA Road Trip

Make your way along famous highways, like Route 66 through the heartlands of the country, or California’s iconic Highway 1. Venture on lesser-known backroads and escape the crowds and get lost along the way. 

Drive through charming small towns and big, lively cities. Explore National Parks or get off the beaten path in State Forests and protected lands.

There are literally endless road trip routes you could take, and choosing the best one for you depends on what exactly you’re looking for.

  • Do you want to explore any National Parks on your trip?
  • Do you want to see iconic sites or get off the beaten path?
  • Do you plan to camp or stay in hotels? (If you plan on camping, our advice is to download The Dyrt, an app that’ll take your campervan game to the next level. Use this link to get 30 days of the Pro Membership totally free – no strings attached).
  • Are you more into nature or cities? (Or maybe you want a combination of both!)
  • How long do you have? Maybe you have the entire summer to do as you wish and you’re planning an epic 3-month road trip. Or maybe you just have a few days to spare between work weeks.

Whatever type of getaway you’re craving, there is a perfect USA road trip out there waiting for you!

Tips for planning your USA Road Trip

Road Trip Quotes

Use these helpful tips to start planning your USA road trip. If you want a more detailed breakdown, we have an entire guide that walks you through how to plan a road trip, packed with hacks and expert advice.

1. Research your destination

Find out what the weather will be like in your destination during the time of year you plan to travel. Check average temperatures in the area to know what to expect and how to pack. 

Consult city guides and other travel resources to figure out which highlights to stop at and which tourist traps to avoid. You can get a lot of information simply from typing “things to do in…” and then entering your destination into Google. 

Buying a guidebook will give you tons of insider advice and helpful information at your fingertips. 

Having a physical guidebook allows you to have all the info you need in one place; plus, you can make notes and highlights (anyone else love being able to do this?!). And you won’t have to worry about losing signal on your phone while exploring — this happens a lot in the mountains! — because you’ll have all the tips you need with a turn of a page.

If you plan on visiting any National Parks during your trip, listen up… 

Moon USA National Parks is one of the best guidebooks we’ve found for exploring the United States. 

This 700-page guide goes through each of America’s 62 National Parks and explains the history, best hikes, iconic viewpoints, and places to stay. Plus, it includes maps of each park so you can plan your itinerary accordingly. This guidebook will be a super handy tool while on the road.

Bonus: The Moon guidebook has super beautiful photography, making it a fun coffee table book after your trip (and possibly to inspire future travels).

2. Choose your method of transportation

Best+Vans+for+Campervan+Conversion-2

Consider your options for transportation on your USA road trip…

  • Your own car: No need to pay for a rental vehicle if you have your own—just be sure it can handle the conditions and terrain you plan to traverse on your road trip.
  • Campervan or RV: Our personal favorite way to go on a road trip and for so many reasons! It gives you the ultimate freedom, you save money on hotels and can get off the grid, to name just a few. 
  • Rental car: A great option if you are just flying into a city and want to hit the open road. We trust Rentalcars.com to find the best deals and rates on rental cars across the country.
    • For example, we rented a small SUV for a road trip in Washington state and paid less than $30 per day!

Wanna test out #VanLife?

It’s no secret we are big fans of #vanlife. If you don’t have the time (or interest!) in building your own conversion but you still want to give van life a test drive on your USA road trip, we’ve tons of ideas for you! Check out our list of top companies for USA Campervan Rentals, from budget to bougie, including exclusive discounts for our readers!

One company we’d recommend looking into is Escape Campervans. They have 12 different locations across North America and come fully loaded with all the gear you need for an epic road trip. Plus, their rates are fair and affordable.

BONUS: We’ve partnered with them to give you a 10% off discount when you use our link!

3. Set a budget and plot out your accommodation

Campervan Lyle River Campground

A road trip budget will vary from person to person, but having an idea in mind of how much you plan to spend beforehand is always a good idea. 

You can find out exactly how much money we spent on our first vanlife experience in the US in our 3 month road trip budget breakdown. If you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll want to check out these money-saving tips for a cheap road trip

Once you have a good idea of the costs to factor in a road trip budget and a reasonable idea of how much you’re able to spend, it’s time to start booking accommodation!

Since we are usually traveling in our campervan on road trips, we tend to seek out campsites as accommodation, but you can choose to stay in hotels or Airbnbs as well. 

Psst! Read our tips for booking an Airbnb if you’re not familiar with the site.

If you’re traveling in a campervan or on a tight budget, camping is the way to go! We have some great tips for finding free campsites along the way. Another suggestion is to get familiar with campsite apps—a great resource for finding campsites along your route and filtering for your specific needs.

The+Dyrt+Banner

Our recommendation: Our favorite camping app is The Dyrt because it has the largest network of campsites in the USA (and has some other really cool features). It has both free and paid versions, but we’ve got a special link just for our readers which will give you 30 days of the Pro membership totally FREE!

4. Save money with the America the Beautiful Park Pass

National Park Pass

You’ll notice many of these epic USA road trips include stops at some of our National Parks. Entrance fees to the US National Parks can run you upwards of $30+ per vehicle for each park, which can really add up. 

If you’re planning to stop at more than one National Parks on your road trip, you may want to think about getting the America the Beautiful Park Pass to save money. 

At just $80 for a full year, the pass grants you free access to over 2,000 Federal recreation areas in the United States, including all 62 National Parks. We put together an article detailing the America the Beautiful Park Pass and answering the question, is it truly worthwhile?

5. Download maps and entertainment offline

Best Japan Travel Apps

You don’t want to be ripping through your data plan while on the road. In order to avoid those pesky overage fees, you can download your navigation (hello Google maps offline feature!) and entertainment like Spotify playlists, podcasts and audiobooks to your device so you can listen offline. 

Downloading Google Maps offline is super simple and you will be able to get real-time GPS coordinates, search the map for nearby establishments and turn on directions from point to point, all without using any data. 

Follow these steps to download Google Maps offline:

  1. Download and sign into the Google Maps application (it’s connected with your Gmail account).
  2. Search for a destination in the search bar. (Example: “San Francisco” or “Idaho”)
  3. The top half of your screen should populate with a map of your destination while the bottom half shares details about the place. Swipe up so the details fill your screen. Then just under the Location, toggle to the right past the labels for “Directions,” “Save,” “Label,” etc. until you see “Download”. 
  4. Make sure you’re on WiFi, center the map in the area you will be driving, and click the “download” button.

The map data from this region will now be on your phone, and can be accessed even when you have no cell signal! You’ll even be able to see your current GPS location as long as you have it authorized. (Settings > Google Maps > Location > select “Always”)


Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip

We’ve called on some travel bloggers to share their top American Road Trips. We’re even adding a few of our own favorite road trips in there!

All the road trips below are broken down by region in the United States, and each route includes how many days you should plan to be on the road, best time of year to travel, and the top things to do along the way.

If you know which region you’re interested in, click on the link below to jump straight to that section. Otherwise, keep scrolling down for ALL the inspiration you can handle!

Psst! Get motivated to plan your next adventure with this list of inspiring road trip quotes (+ graphics!).


West Coast USA Road Trips

With the Pacific Ocean to the west and mountains and deserts to the east, this part of the country is one of the best places to take a road trip. 

You’ll be able to explore some of the most exciting cities in the United States, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. Plus, the West Coast boasts some of the best sunsets in the nation.

Road Trips:

1. Pacific Coast Highway in California

This gorgeous USA road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway will lead you across one of the most beautiful regions in the country. With mesmerizing beaches, ample palm trees, and perfect weather, the journey is an ideal two-week getaway.

lizards-mouth-sunset-santa-barbara
Sunset in Santa Barbara atLizard’s Mouth
  • Route: Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
  • At a glance: San Francisco – Yosemite National Park – Santa Barbara – LA – San Diego
  • Distance: 731 miles
  • Duration: 12 days
  • When to go: June-August; summer is the perfect time for this road trip since the water will be warm enough for a quick dip along the way!

The Route

Begin your road trip in San Francisco. Catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge before all the tourists wake up in the morning, then head to Fisherman’s Wharf. Grab some lunch at one of the many restaurants and visit a few historical ships along the way. Rent a bike and spend some time touring the streets, including one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country and Union Square, a modern plaza.

Spend the next day exploring the Google Campus in Mountain View before jumping back into your car and heading east, where you can spend a day or two hiking in Yosemite National Park amongst the breath-taking landscape.

Next, head south towards Santa Barbara, where you can enjoy some delicious seafood and a more laid-back vibe. There are many things to do in Santa Barbara, including visits to wineries, a walk along the shoreline, and a short hike at Lizard’s Mouth, which is a beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the entire city. 

Spend two days relaxing along the coast before making your way down to Los Angeles.

Located two hours south of Santa Barbara, L.A. can keep you busy for days. A walk along Hollywood Blvd will prepare you for the glam and glitz of the city. Check out the Hollywood Sign and catch a movie at the TCL Chinese Theater before grabbing some dinner at the Hollywood and Highland Center. 

Spend the following day at Universal Studio Hollywood, before heading south to Orange County.

Orange County has a few beautiful beaches, including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach. A day can be spent beach-hopping before heading to Disneyland in Anaheim the following day.

The last two days will be spent in San Diego visiting the Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. Hike and scuba dive at La Jolla Cove and end your Pacific Highway road trip with one last dip in the ocean!

Highlights

  • Ride in a street trolley in San Francisco
  • Hike Yosemite and catch a sunrise!
  • Grab a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer Viewpoint
  • Go winery hopping in Santa Barbara
  • Have some fresh oysters right by the Santa Barbara Harbor
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign in L.A.

Contributed by: Daisy Li from Beyond My Border

2. Oregon Coast & Forests Road Trip

This road trip takes you through quirky Portland and charming oceanside towns. You’ll adventure in the mountains, find hot springs, and explore one of the coolest National Parks in the US. Let’s go! 

Tamolitch Blue Pools Oregon
  • Route: Oregon Coast & Forests road trip
  • At a glance: Portland – Hood River – Bend – Crater Lake – Samuel H. Boardman State Corridor – Cannon Beach – Portland
  • Distance: 1,100 miles
  • Duration: 10 – 12 days
  • When to go: May – October will give you the best weather, and the earlier and later end of the spectrum will help you avoid the summertime crowds. Enjoy fall foliage in mid-October!

The Route

After exploring the quirky sights of Portland, head east along the Columbia River Gorge. Make a day of it and see as many waterfalls as you can before stopping for the night in charming Hood River where you can see people windsurfing on the Columbia River.

Heading south, you’ll enter Mount Hood National Forest, which offers lots of hiking if you have the time. Stop at Trillium Lake for a picnic with unrivaled views of the volcanic mountain.

Heading even further south, you’ll reach the beautiful town of Bend, which is a fun place to explore for a day. For a fun little side trip, head past the small town of Sisters and into the Willamette National Forest where you can find waterfalls and the incredibly vibrant Tamolitch Blue Pools.

Continuing further south, spend a couple days taking in the sights and hikes in Crater Lake National Park, and hunting for hot springs in Umpqua National Forest.

Short on time? If you’re short on time, you can cut over to the coast and head back to Portland along the ocean.

But if you have the time, there are more adventures to be had. Explore the cute little town of Ashland, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch one of their famous Shakespeare Festival, which happens all summer long.

You’ll actually need to cross into California briefly before returning into Oregon to see the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The name of this park is long, but the ocean views are some of the best in the state! 

After you’ve explored to your heart’s content, make your way north through all sorts of cute coastal towns, stopping whenever you get the urge. (We liked the town of Bandon, and enjoyed seafood and sunset here!)

On your way back to Portland, stop at the Tillamook Creamery for some of their famous cheese and ice cream, and spend the night in Cannon Beach so you can see the iconic sea stacks at sunset.

Highlights

  • Sample all the craft beer you can in Portland
  • Go chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Picnic with views of Mount Hood at Trillium Lake
  • Explore the fun towns of Bend, Hood River and Ashland
  • Hike to Tamolitch Blue Pools for some of the bluest water you’ll ever see!
  • Explore Samuel H. Boardman State Park for some of the most epic ocean views in the state 
  • Eat clams and seafood in one of the many small towns along the coast. We loved Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon.
  • See the sea stacks on Cannon Beach at sunset
  • Stop at the Tillamook Creamery for the famous cheese and ice cream

Helpful resources for your Oregon road trip:

  • If the coast is calling your name and you’d rather spend all your time near the ocean, we have a huge Oregon coast road trip guide to help you customize your itinerary and plan your trip.
  • If you’re interested in traveling by campervan (highly recommend!), be sure to check out the best campervan rentals in Portland.

Recommended by Katie and Ben from Two Wandering Soles

3. San Francisco to Seattle: Coastal Drive

This San Francisco to Seattle drive is a scenic route that includes the dramatic California and Oregon coastlines and stops at a few national and state parks. Since most of this USA road trip follows the Pacific Coast Highway, the views from the drive alone will be stunning.

San Fransisco to Seattle USA Road Trip
  • Route: San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA (coastal drive)
  • At a glance: San Francisco – Mendocino – Florence – Redwood National Park – Cannon Beach – Olympic National Forest – Seattle
  • Distance: 920 miles
  • Duration: 2 weeks 
  • When to go: June – October. Summer months bring pleasant temperatures and mostly sunny skies. Visiting in the early Fall is great because there are fewer tourists and the weather is still mild.

The Route

The drive begins in San Francisco. Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, riding the trolley, and hopping over to Sausalito, there is plenty to do and eat in a couple of days.

After taking in the sights in San Fran, begin driving north to Mendocino. This charming coastal northern California town has scenic kayaking and biking opportunities, as well as hiking trails nearby. 

The last stop in northern California is to explore the majestic redwoods. In addition to Redwood National Park, there are many state parks that have redwood forests. 

Continue your route along the coast until the next stop in Florence, Oregon. Florence is where you can hop on an ATV and explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. 

Then continue along the Pacific Coast Highway making stops along Oregon’s gorgeous and charming coast line. A highlight is a stop in Cannon Beach, one of the cutest towns on the Oregon Coast, where the famed Haystack Rock is just a few feet offshore. 

The final leg of the journey is the drive towards Seattle, with a stop at Olympic National Park. After admiring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastline, this park showcases even more of Washington’s untouched nature. 

Seattle is the last stop on the road trip. Visiting the classic attractions such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market are some of the top things to do in Seattle

Highlights

  • Walk along the Golden Gate Bridge, stroll Fisherman’s Wharf, take a ferry to Alcatraz Island and take a ride on a trolley in San Francisco
  • Kayak sea caves and go biking along the Big River in Mendocino, California
  • Hike along trails in Redwood National Park
  • Ride an ATV on the Oregon Sand Dunes
  • Take a walk on the beach during low tide to Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach and have some coffee at the Sleepy Monk
  • Hike some scenic trails in Olympic National Park
  • Grab some lunch at Pike Place Chowder and witness the views from the Space Needle in Seattle

Contributed by: Margie from DQ Family Travel

4. Seattle to San Francisco: Inland Route

This lesser explored route between the two major cities takes you inland to national and state parks you’ve probably never heard of, chasing waterfalls and hiking mountains.

Seattle to San Fran USA Road Trip
  • Route: West Coast Inland Road Trip – Adventures and Waterfall Hikes
  • At a glance: Washington – Oregon – California
  • Distance: 807 miles
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • When to go: Fall – So you can see those incredible fall colors and the crowds have left.

The Route

Your first day will be spent just outside Seattle exploring some of the waterfall hikes like Snoqualmie, Franklin and Twin Falls. 

Meander your way down into Mount Rainier National Park for the next day or two and take it all in, there’s a lot going on there.

Then make your way to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, where you’ll see some of the most beautiful Oregon waterfalls. Multnomah Falls is famous and absolutely worth a gander, but there are other falls worth a visit. We also recommend the underrated Dry Creek Falls, which is actually way better than it sounds.

Wrap up your first week on the road by riding through Bend, Oregon, the adventure capital of the state! Smith Rock State Park is a must and treat yourself to as many craft beers as you’d like.

As you make your way to California, you can stop off to do some hiking in Crater Lake National,  before you bid adieu to Oregon. Lassen National Park and Lava Beds National Monuments aren’t as well-known, but have some great hikes and incredible views. Kings Creek Falls hike is known for bear sightings!

As you wrap up your inland Seattle to San Francisco road trip, take time to visit Burney Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll probably ever see, Big Trees National Park and Muir Woods National Monument.

Highlights 

  • Mount Rainier National Park is a playground for hikes, exploring, and seeing those epic fall colors!
  • Find out all the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon— hands down the best city in the area. (I’m only sort of biased)—a visit to Smith Rock State Park, the craft beer scene, lots of hikes, waterfalls, floating down the river… There’s so much to do and the area is gorgeous.
  • Burney Falls is STUNNING.
  • The Columbia River Gorge in its entirety and getting the less popular spots like Dry Creek Falls all to yourselves will be epic—not many wander up there.
  • Seeing Crater Lake at sunset is incredibly majestic.

Contributed by: Nina Ragusa from Where in the World is Nina?

Psst! We have a guide to the best campervan rentals in Seattle that will be super helpful if you’re thinking about this route!

5. Washington State Road Trip

Washington State is packed with some of the most stunning natural landscapes you’ll find in the United States. There is so much more to this PNW state than Seattle, and if you get out of the city limits, you’ll find adventure and beauty abound. This route will bring you through some of the most beautiful places in this state.

Washington State Road Trip
  • Route: Best of Washington State
  • At a glance: Seattle – San Juan Islands – North Cascades National Park – Winthrop – Lake Chelan & Stehekin – Leavenworth – Seattle
  • Distance: 500 miles
  • Duration: 10 – 12 days, with options to add on 2 – 4 days for the Olympic Peninsula (find the itinerary below)
  • When to go: May – October

The Route

Start your road trip in Seattle, and spend a day or two exploring the city if you’ve never been. Once you leave the city limits, the real adventure begins! 

Heading north, you’ll come to the seaside town of Anacortes, from which you can take a ferry to the San Juan Islands. Explore the cute island towns, and if your budget allows, splurge on a whale watching tour – it’s one of the best places in North America to do it!

Once you’re back on the mainland, head into the mountains. North Cascades National Park is home to the most epic scenery you’ll see on this trip, so stop often and take lots of photos along the way. Mount Baker National Forest is a great place for hiking, and you’ll get stunning views at Diablo Lake and Ross Lake.

Continue east on Highway 20 and you’ll come to Washington Pass, where you’ll definitely want to get out of your car and bring your camera! The next stop is the Western style town of Winthrop, which is a fun stop for a beer before heading on to Lake Chelan.

This narrow, 50.5-mile lake almost looks like a river from the map, but it’s possible to take a ferry to the opposite end of the lake, where the tiny town of Stehekin lies. With fewer than 80 permanent residents, Stehekin is a great place to get away from it all, go hiking, stay in a cozy cabin, and eat at the town’s famous bakery. 

Now it’s time to make your way to the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth. Home to lots of cute shops and breweries, it’s a nice place to relax. 

If you have the time, try to get out and explore the nature surrounding the town, as it is absolutely magnificent (Colchuck Lake is one of our favorite hikes!). If you want an extra adventure, book a trip with our friends at Wildwater Rafting for a fun time on the Wenatchee River!

Your drive back on Highway 2 is beautiful and passes by a couple waterfalls and viewpoints. If you’re hungry, stop at a local favorite, Sultan Bakery, for donuts and famous sandwiches before arriving back in Seattle.

Tip: Be sure to stay at some of Washington’s best campsites along the way!

Highlights

  • Visit Seattle’s famous sites: Pike’s Place Market, the Post Alley Gum Wall, and the Space Needle, then explore the Fremont neighborhood where you can sample the city’s best craft beer and seek out the famous Fremont Troll.
  • Go whale watching in the San Juan Islands
  • Hike as much as you can in North Cascades National Park: Diablo Lake and Mount Baker are highlights
  • Take a ferry on Lake Chelan to the tiny town of Stehekin. Don’t forget to eat at the town bakery!
  • Sample German pretzels and beer in the Bavarian town of Leavenworth

Recommended by Katie and Ben from Two Wandering Soles

6. Olympic Peninsula Washington

With driftwood-strewn beaches, temperate rainforests, mountains and waterfalls, Olympic National Park is packed full of beauty and adventure. This short but sweet route brings you through the best of the Olympic Peninsula.

Shi+Shi+Beach+sunset
  • Route: Olympic National Park and Beaches  
  • At a glance: Seattle – ferry to Bainbridge Island – Port Angeles – La Push – Olympia – Seattle
  • Distance: 550 miles
  • Duration: 2-4 days
  • When to go: May – October

The Route

The Olympic Peninsula is just a short drive from Seattle, making it a great weekend camping trip, or a good addition to a longer PNW road trip. The quickest way to get to the OP is by taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island. You can find the schedule here.

Once you’re back on the road, make your way to Hurricane Ridge where you can enjoy epic mountain views and explore the trails in Olympic National Park. On a clear day, you can even see the ocean! 

Spend the night at Lyre River Campground, which is free and absolutely beautiful. Try to arrive early, as it is first come, first served. In the morning, head inland to explore Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls before making your way back to the coast and preparing for a hike. 

Walking out to Shi Shi Beach will likely be a highlight of your time in the OP (especially if you’re a photographer). If you have the time and camping equipment, plan to spend the night at Shi Shi and enjoy an epic sunset with few other people around.   

The next morning, hike out and get back on the road. You’ll pass through Forks, the small town made famous by the Twilight series, and you can explore the beaches near La Push. This is a nice place to spend the night. 

Wander through the Hoh Rainforest and stop for a picnic lunch near Ruby Beach on the following day before making the drive back to Seattle. 

Highlights

  • See mountains and ocean at the same time at Hurricane Ridge
  • Explore the lush Hoh Rainforest
  • Imagine fairies are real on a walk around stunning Sol Duc Falls
  • Camp on a beach in the Olympic Peninsula

Recommended by Katie and Ben from Two Wandering Soles

Go Wander Wild Banner

7. California National Parks

One of the most picturesque drives in California through some of the most famous National Parks in the United States.

California National Parks
  • Route: Yosemite to Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park
  • At a glance: Yosemite – Kings Canyon – Sequoia
  • Distance: 186 miles
  • Duration: 5-8 days 
  • When to go: April- October; Spring and Fall are the best time of year to travel to the National Parks, since the weather will not be too hot or too cold, and the crowds should be fewer than in the Summer.

The Route

​​Yosemite is one of the busiest national parks in the country. For this reason, you might want to book your spot in advance, if you plan to hike the famous Half Dome. Otherwise you can enjoy the hikes around like Vernal Falls or Taft Point and view Half Dome from a distance. 

Be sure to be on the lookout for bears and other wildlife hanging around as well. For a nice easy stroll, take the trail down to Mirror Lake for a one-of-a-kind view.

Continue your road trip south towards Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The two adjacent parks are jointly managed by the National Parks Service and with a single entrance fee. 

Spend a day exploring Kings Canyon and then make your way to Sequoia National Park. Its in both of these parks where you’ll find yourself among some of the largest redwood trees in the world.

In fact, the General Sherman tree in Sequoia, stands as the largest tree in the world by volume. And don’t forget to drive through the downed Redwood, as it’s one of the last drive thru trees around.

Highlights 

  • Enjoy all the waterfalls you find along the route 
  • Hike Half Dome, or many of the other hikes around Yosemite
  • Drive through the giant Redwood trees in Kings Canyon & Sequoia
  • Take a picture in front of the largest tree in the world

Contributed by: Sara from Our Kind of Crazy

8. Lake Tahoe to Eastern Sierra California Road Trip

This beautiful road trip may not cover a lot of distance, but it’s so crammed with epic scenery and things to do that seven days will seem too short! The road travels along the stunning Eastern Sierra, and side trips include the scenic Tioga Pass Road and other short roads leading to points of interest along the route.

Fall colors at Conway Summiton CA Route 395
Fall colors at Conway Summiton, CA Route 395
  • Route: California State Route 395 from South Lake Tahoe to Bishop
  • At a glance: South Lake Tahoe – Bridgeport – Lee Vining – Mammoth Lakes – Bishop
  • Distance: 175 miles
  • Duration: 7 days
  • When to go: Hands down, Autumn is the best time of year to do this spectacular road trip through the Eastern Sierra. The next best is late spring, when wildflowers are in bloom. In late spring, summer, and fall, you can enjoy hiking trails all along the route! 

The Route

Start this USA road trip in scenic South Lake Tahoe, where you can spend a couple of days enjoying the beauty of the large alpine lake. Make sure to take the short drive to Hope Valley and the nearby mountain passes to see leaf colors in the fall.

Next, take California SR395 South to the Bridgeport area, where you can take the short detour to see the ghost town of Brodie (it’s now a state park). 

Further south, you can make a stop at Conway Summit, the highest point along the route, and Mono Lake, a large saltwater lake famous for its tufa towers and thousands of birds. Arrive at Mammoth Lakes, which will be your base for the next three days.

Spend the next three days exploring the areas north and south of the resort town of Mammoth Lakes. From lakes to waterfalls and mountains to creeks, you will find lots to see here. The town of Mammoth Lakes is a well-known winter sports resort, and offers lots of accommodation and dining options.

Spend the last two days of your trip in Bishop, where again you can explore side roads to scenic lakes and an abundance of color in the fall.

Highlights

  • Try SUP boarding on the crystal clear waters of beautiful Lake Tahoe 
  • Explore the ghost town of Brodie, preserved exactly as the occupants left when they fled
  • Visit the Devil’s Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes
  • Marvel at the tufa towers at Mono Lake: an excellent sunset photography spot!
  • Enjoy the stunning beauty of the lakes of the Eastern Sierra all along the route

Contributed by: Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

9. Eastern Oregon Road Trip

This off-the-beaten path adventure offers wide open roads, rustic hot springs, mesmerizing desert and unparalleled stargazing.

Wildhorse Steens Eastern Oregon
Steen’s Mountain glacial valley
  • Route: Steens Mountain Scenic Byway in Eastern Oregon
  • At a glance: Boise – Alvord Desert – Steen’s Mountain – Crystal Crane Hot Springs – Boise
    • As an alternative to Boise, you can drive the Steen’s Mountain Scenic Byway from Bend, Oregon. The distance and timing is approximately the same.
  • Distance: 600-650 miles
  • Duration: 4-5 days
  • When to go: Soaring heat in summer and the closure of the Steen’s Mountain Loop in winter, mean Spring and Fall are the best times of year to drive the Steen’s Mountain Scenic Byway.

The Route

Drive four hours west from Boise (or four hours east from Bend) and enter one of the most remote areas of the United States. 

Your first stop is at the Alvord Hot Springs, where you can soak in the rustic thermal pools at the edge of a large dried-out lake known as the Playa. For optimal stargazing, head to the middle of the cracked-earth Playa and camp in complete solitude under the milky way.

In the morning, spend a few hours zooming around the Alvord Playa in your 4×4 vehicle and marvel at the vastness of your surroundings. Fill up with gas in the small town of Fields (population 14), before driving up the west side of Steen’s Mountain to the historic town of Frenchglen.

Frenchglen is the gateway to the Steen’s Mountain Loop and the surprisingly lush Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy one or two days of hiking or bird-watching. Before heading back to Boise or Bend, spend the night soaking under the stars at the Crystal Crane Hot Spring.

Highlights

  • Soak in the Alvord Hot Springs at any hour of the day or night
  • Drive your vehicle onto the cracked-earth Playa and chase mirages across the desert.
  • Camp out on the Playa and enjoy opportunities for perspective photography
  • Drive the Steen’s Mountain Loop and soak in views of glacial valleys
  • Hike to Wildhorse Lake
  • Admire birdlife at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge
  • Take a sunrise soak in the warm lake waters of Crystal Crane Hot Springs

Contributed by: Erika Bisbocci from Erika’s Travels


Western USA Road Trips

The mountains are calling! And the deserts too! Drive through the Rocky Mountains over snowy mile-high passes. Explore the unique rock formations of the deserts that has taken millions of years to create.

This is also where you’ll find some of the nation’s most prized National Parks, and some of the best preserved Native American sites. You can really get out in the wild in the Western States.

Road Trips:

10. American Southwest National Parks

This epic road trip with both popular and off-the-beaten-path stops is one of the finest adventures the wild west can offer.

Horseshoe Bend American Southwest Road Trip
  • Route: American Southwest Road Trip
  • At a glance: Nevada – Utah – Arizona
  • Distance: about 1,000 miles
  • Duration: 1 week 
  • When to go: May is a very popular month, and it was when I did the trip, though the locals said fall is the best time of the year. 

The Route

This American Southwest Road Trip begins in Los Angeles, California. Take your car or campervan to Nevada, and make a stop at the Seven Magic Mountains, followed by a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon (the best way to see it if you are short on time!), and be sure to make a stop at the Valley of Fire State Park.

Recommended sights at the Valley of Fire include Seven Sisters, Elephant Rock, Beehives, and Fire Wave Trail, some of the best hikes near Las Vegas

Next, move on to Utah and get ready for the gorgeous views at Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and more.

Finally, make your way to Arizona, which is famous for some more incredible canyons, like the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and The Wave.

Highlights 

  • Helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon
  • Coyote Gulch trail in one day via the sneaker route, which involve using a rope to climb down a 250-foot vertical rock and navigating by GPS
  • Sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park
  • The gorgeous rock formations at Valley of the Gods

Contributed by: Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse 

11. Utah’s National Parks

If Utah is on your bucket list, you should bookmark this road trip route. It takes you through the state’s 5 National Parks plus some other hidden gems and cool towns—basically all the best places to visit in Utah.  

Zion National Park | Two Wandering Soles
  • Route: Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks   
  • At a glance: Moab (Arches & Canyonlands National Parks) – Capitol Reef National Park – Grand Staircase Escalante – Bryce Canyon National Park – Zion National Park – St. George
  • Distance: 550 Miles
  • Duration: 10 – 12 days
  • When to go: March – May and September – November; avoid the summer months as it is very crowded and hot at this time of year. Spring and fall bring much more comfortable temperatures and fewer people.

The Route

Begin by exploring the town of Moab for a day or two. If you like mountain biking, this is the place to get out on two wheels! 

Make stops at both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, as they offer very different experiences. You can also stop at Dead Horse Point State Park if you have the time.

On your way westward, make a stop at the House on Fire, ancient ruins located near a river bend of Mule Canyon. And like the name implies, they look just like a house on fire. When we visited there were only a handful of other people, and it was a super interesting place many travelers miss. 

Capitol Reef is the next park on the route, and it is the least visited of Utah’s National Parks, but certainly worth the stop. 

Spend the night near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and if it’s open, Kiva Koffeehouse makes a perfect place for food, coffee and views. 

Now you’re almost to Bryce Canyon National Park which is your next stop before heading to your final park: the famous Zion. St. George is a cute town to spend the final days of your trip, or to relax before continuing on.

Depending on your time frame and flights, you can either:

  • end your trip in St. George
  • continue onto Las Vegas (lots of cheap flights leave from here)
  • extend your trip to include stops at Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley before circling back up to Moab 

Highlights

Recommended by Katie and Ben from Two Wandering Soles

12. Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

This epic road trip brings you from the craziest city to 3 amazing canyons, a beautiful forest and back to Las Vegas, all along the famous Route 66.

Grand Canyon Arizona USA
Views from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
  • Route: Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon
  • At a glance: Las Vegas – Antelope Canyon – Horseshoe Bend – Coconino National Forest – Flagstaff – Grand Canyon – Las Vegas
  • Distance: 800 miles
  • Duration: 1 week
  • When to go:  All year long, but remember July – August will be quite hot.

The Route

Begin your journey in Las Vegas and spend the day driving through Utah and Arizona to the Antelope Canyons. Explore both the Upper and Lower Canyon, each a wonderland for photographers as lights, sand and shadows play beautifully together.

Spend a night in Page and also visit Horseshoe Bend the next day. The Colorado River writing poems into the landscape should not be missed.

Next, head south towards Flagstaff. You will pass the Coconino National Forest. Be sure to stop and take a left into the forest. The flower fields are breathtaking and there is also an interesting crater to visit.

Once in Flagstaff, enjoy the rustic wild west atmosphere (and if you have more time in Arizona try checking out Tucson). 

The next day make your way towards the Grand Canyon. Drive back up the road to Cameron and take a left there to make the most of your time in the park. Several Native shops will offer nice handicrafts as a souvenir.

To end the journey, find your way towards the setting sun again, West, and take a little detour from the main new interstate to end up on the famous Route 66.

Highlights

  • Gamble but don’t lose all your money in Las Vegas
  • Explore and take a photographers tour in the Antelope Canyons
  • Hike around Horseshoe Bend
  • Just breath and relax in the Coconino National Forest
  • Feel like a cowboy in Flagstaff
  • Finally visit the most majestic canyon of them all: Grand Canyon. Several hikes are available in the area
  • Head back to Las Vegas via Route 66 and crank up the radio

Contributed by: Theo from Tripcrafting

13. Colorado Road Trip

Take in the snow-capped mountains, breathtaking landscapes, and soak in natural hot springs on this epic Colorado road trip. 

Hanging Lake Colorado
Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
  • Route: Colorado Road Trip: Cities and Nature
  • At a glance: Denver – Boulder – Glenwood Springs – Grand Junction – Ouray – Mesa Verde National Park – Buena Vista – Colorado Springs – Denver
  • Distance: 900 miles
  • Duration: 1-2 weeks
  • When to go: June – August; Spring is nice too, but a summer Colorado road trip does allow you to see more and enjoy the outdoors that makes Colorado so awesome.

The Route

Kick start your Colorado road trip with 2-3 days in the ‘Mile High City’ of Denver exploring its vibrant arts scene. Stop two is a day trip to Boulder, stroll along Pearl Street, the pedestrian walkway downtown, or head to the foothills to hike any of the 45,000 acres of designated trails.

From there, head to Glenwood Springs, but make a stop on the way to hike to Hanging Lake to take in the stunning turquoise lake suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon.

After a few days chilling in the laid back vibe of Glenwood Springs, pick up the pace with 1-2 days in Grand Junction. The area has a number of sightseeing hotspots such as the vineyards of Palisade and the Colorado National Monument.

Continue south to the charming town of Ouray before heading onto Mesa Verde National Park which you can easily explore in 1 day.

Your next stop is Buena Vista, a must for all adventure lovers. Get ready for stunning scenery as you head to the penultimate stop on your itinerary, at Colorado Springs. 

There you can marvel at the red sandstone formations in the Garden of the Gods or spend the day at the North Cheyenne Canon Park before heading back to Denver to complete your epic Colorado road trip.

Highlights

  • A scenic drive to Lookout Mountain for spectacular views of Denver
  • Explore the hiking and riding trails around Boulder, especially the Hanging Lake Trailhead
  • Whitewater rafting along the Colorado River.
  • Have a picnic after hiking the nature trails at the beautiful Rifle Falls State Park
  • Take in the grandness of the Colorado National Monument, its spectacular canyons, red rocks, and sandstone towers.
  • Explore Pike’s Peak by Cog Train to view the beautiful vistas of Colorado Springs from above

Contributed by: Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel

14. Idaho Wilderness & Small Towns

We’ve said time and time again that Idaho is one of the most underrated states in the US, and we’re going to preach its epic-ness once again. With incredible hot springs, the rugged Sawtooth Mountain Wilderness, and charming towns, a road trip through Idaho is perfect if you want to have epic adventures without the crowds of many other Western states.

Goldbug Hotsprings Idaho Hike Katie and Ben
  • Route: Best of Idaho Road Trip
  • At a glance: Boise – Twin Falls – Ketchum – Stanley – Salmon
  • Distance: 915 miles
  • Duration: 1 week
  • When to go: June – September, outside of these months, you will likely find some roads closed due to snow, so it’s best to travel during the summertime. Compared to other states in Western USA, you won’t find nearly as many crowds even during the peak summer season.

The Route

Begin your journey in Boise and spend a day exploring Idaho’s largest city by bicycle. Your next stop is the town of Twin Falls where you can watch BASE jumpers and make the detour to the nearby sand dunes.

Next, head up towards the Sawtooth Wilderness, where you can stop off for hikes along the way. Ketchum is a small town with lots of charm and outdoor activities all year long.

Stanley is not far from here, and this tiny town of 63 people looks like it’s straight out of a Western movie set. Enjoy the scenery and do a little hiking if you’re keen. 

From here, make a stop at the stunning Goldbug Hot Springs before ending your trip in the Western-themed town of Salmon.

Highlights

  • Explore Boise by bicycle and stop at a few of the (many!) breweries along the way
  • Watch BASE jumpers at the bridge in Twin Falls
  • See Ernest Hemingway’s grave in Ketchum, and enjoy the many cute shops and cafes in town 
  • Go for a hike (or two!) in the Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness Area. Alice’s Lake is a good one!
  • See the cute little town of Stanley, and be sure to grab a bite to eat at the Stanley Bakery. You can’t miss it! Tip: The cinnamon rolls are to die for!
  • Soak in Goldbug Hot Springs — likely the most scenic hot springs you’ll ever see! If you have a tent, you can spend the night here beneath the stars!

Recommended by Katie & Ben from Two Wandering Soles

15. Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Take an incredible road trip through some of the most epic scenery in the northwestern United States. This road trip has you stopping in Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as you make your way through Montana and Wyoming. 

Grand Teton National Park | Two Wandering Soles
  • Route: Glacier Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks
  • At a glance: Glacier – Yellowstone – Grand Teton
  • Distance: 450 miles
  • Duration: 1 week or longer depending on the time you want to spend in each park
  • When to go: April to September

This route brings you through three of the best National Parks in the U.S. beginning in Montana, and heading south into Wyoming. Give yourself a minimum of 2 full days to explore each of these famous National Parks and allow an extra day in between each for driving time. 

Start your road trip at Glacier National Park in Montana where the highlights include driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, wildlife spotting and plenty of incredible hiking. If you’re up for an overnight backpacking adventure, hike the Highline Trail to get off the beaten tourist path and see some of the best views in the park.  

From Glacier you can reach the west entrance of Yellowstone in just 6 hours and 30 minutes. 

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the U.S. and probably one of the most well-known, next to the Grand Canyon. The park is home to some of the most unique ecosystems in the world.

Don’t miss the drive down Yellowstone’s scenic loop road where you’ll pass by geysers, encounter wildlife, and witness geologic sites like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 

Finally, make your way south for just about 30 miles to reach Grand Tetons National Park and your third stop on this incredible USA road trip. 

Famous for the snow-capped jagged peaks of the Tetons Mountain Range, excellent chances for spotting wildlife, alpine lakes in brilliant shades of blue, and plenty of opportunities for adventure, Grand Teton National Park isn’t overrated in the slightest. 

Be sure to check out some of the best Grand Teton hikes while you’re there to really experience the beauty of this place. 

Highlights

  • Get the best views of Glacier National Park while driving the Going-the-Sun-Road
  • Spot a moose or some buffalo in the wild
  • Take a chilly dip in a glacial lake
  • Drive Yellowstone’s Scenic Loop Road, circumnavigating the entire park
  • Photograph the rainbow colors of Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Watch Old Faithful erupt on time
  • Hit the trails in Grand Teton National Park

Recommended by Katie & Ben from Two Wandering Soles


Hawaii & Alaska Road Trips

Get out of the continental USA for a road trip of your dreams!

In Hawaii, your road trip will have shorter distances, but with stops for fresh poke and shave ice plus epic sunset views, this small state packs in a ton of adventure!

And up in Alaska you’ll drive some of the most remote roads in the USA. This is the perfect state for a road trip through epic wilderness without the crowds.

Road Trips:

16. The Dalton Highway

Take a drive into the Arctic wilderness as you follow the famed Ice Road from Fairbanks to the Deadhorse, Alaska.

The Dalton "Ice Road" Highway Alaska
  • Route: The Dalton Highway – The Ice Road
  • At a glance: Fairbanks – Yukon River – Arctic Circle – Coldfoot – Deadhorse
  • Distance: 828 miles
  • Duration: 4 Days 
  • When to go: June to August – The summer provides the most daylight and the conditions are most favorable for driving the road. 

The Route

Before heading up the Dalton Highway, one of Alaska’s most remote roads, you need to be prepared. The Dalton is a remote grave 2-lane highway. The primary use of this road is to haul oil drilling supplies from Fairbanks to the oilfields of the Northern Slope of Alaska. The speed limit is 50 m.p.h.

The weather here is unpredictable, so you need to be ready for snow at any time. There are four gas stations on the road and NO CELL SERVICE. If this hasn’t scared you off yet, get ready for an adventure…

Your trip up the Dalton Highway starts in Fairbanks, Alaska. First learn about Alaska’s gold mining history at Gold Dredge 8 and view the Alaskan Pipeline exhibit. 

Upon departing Fairbanks, follow the Elliot Highway until Livengood. From here you will be on the haul road. 

Your first big stop will be at the famed Yukon River. The river bank has thick mud that really likes to eat shoes. Depending on the salmon run, you may see locals harvesting salmon. Across the road from the camp is a small overlook with great views of the bridge.

Up next is Milepost 115 and the Arctic Circle. Be sure to take a picture with the sign. There is a campground and restrooms here. You will pass several scenic lakes and stops as you reach Coldfoot Camp and the halfway point of the Dalton. 

Next, get ready to cross the Brooks Mountain range through Atigun Pass. This is the highest point on the road and the most dangerous spot. 

The landscape will start to open up and you will start being able to see for miles. Keep an eye out for Musk Ox. There are several small herds on the way to Deadhorse. 

Once at Deadhorse, you are at the end of the road. You will need to arrange a tour if you would like to get to the shore of the Arctic Ocean. 

From here, turn around and head back the way you came.

Highlights

  • Gold Dredge 8 and the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline to learn about the mining and drilling history of Alaska
  • Walk down to the edge of the Yukon River and watch the water flow
  • Check out the unique rock formations at Finger Mountain
  • Get your photograph taken at the Arctic Circle
  • Have lunch at Coldfood Café which is seen on Ice Road Truckers
  • Tour Weisman and learn what life above the Arctic Circle is life
  • Take a tour to Prudhoe Bay and learn about the oilfield and see the Arctic Ocean

Contributed by: Jennifer Melroy from National Park Obsessed

17. Denali to Kenai

This scenic road trip itinerary takes you through some of the most stunning landscape of Alaska, from the snow-covered peaks of Denali National Park to the glaciers and fjords of Kenai.

Denali National Park Alaska
Denali National Park
  • Route: 7 Days in Alaska: Denali to Kenai
  • At a glance: Anchorage – Denali – Anchorage – Seward – Kenai
  • Distance: Around 800 miles
  • Duration: 7 Days
  • When to go: Mid-May to mid-September is the best time to visit Alaska, with July and August as the “warmest” months (and the busiest) when temperatures reach 60°F to 80°F. 

The Route

Your road trip starts with a drive 4 hours north from Anchorage to Denali National Park where you can admire the majestic Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), the highest mountain peak in North America.

At visit the park offers a chance to spot grizzlies, moose and other wildlife. Other opportunities for epic adventures include hiking, white water rafting, off-roading, zipline tours, and aerial tours of Denali.

Head back to Anchorage and learn about Alaska Native traditions at the Anchorage Native Heritage Center

Finally, drive straight south past Anchorage for 2.5 hours to the Kenai Peninsula for a chance to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. Don’t miss a hike to the Exit Glacier, and take a cruise through the Kenai Fjords.

Return to Anchorage when you’re ready for your road trip to come to an end. 

Highlights

  • Join a ranger-guided tour at the Denali National Park and learn about the fantastic wildlife
  • Go on a flightseeing tour to admire Denali from up close
  • Take a heli-hiking tour to explore the Alaskan backcountry
  • Visit the Anchorage Native Heritage Center
  • Try salmon jerky or jams made of local berries like salmonberries, lingonberries, or cloudberries
  • Catch dinner by salmon fishing on the Kenai Peninsula
  • Hike on the Glacier Overlook Trail of Exit Glacier
  • Board a cruise to see whales, seals, and sea lions on Resurrection Bay

Contributed by: Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs

18. Hawaii’s Big Island Road Trip

This road trip takes you through every single landscape you can imagine: From the rough volcanic rocks at Hawai’i Volcano National Park to the stunning beaches of Captain Cook and right up to a stargazing oasis at the volcano Mauna Kea.

Hawaii Big Island
  • Route: Big Island & Volcano National Park
  • At a glance: Hilo – Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park – Captain Cook – Kona – Mauna Kea
  • Distance: 187 miles
  • Duration: 2 Days
  • When to go: All year around: Big Island has a climate that works from January till December. 

The Route

Start in the cute little village of Hilo, where you can stock up on your food supplies before you head right into the Hawai’i Volcano National Park. 

The park is easy to drive through and it’s up to you how long you want to stay here. You could definitely easily spend an entire week here, hiking and exploring, but if you only have a couple of days on Big Island you can squeeze the highlights into half a day. 

Once the day ends, you will have reached Kona, where you can chill at the beach the next day. Don’t forget to get ready for sunset at the most epic spot ever: Mauna Kea. The volcano not only has the perfect sunset setting, but also a free stargazing event that takes place several days a week. Do check their website for the most accurate information. 

Highlights

  • Have a burger at the Hilo Burger Joint
  • Attend the stargazing event at Mauna Kea
  • Go for a helicopter flight above Big Island’s volcanoes and opt-in for the open door flight 
  • Make sure to go on at least a short hike at Hawai’i Volcano National Park
  • Look out for turtles at the beaches around Kona

Contributed by: Anne Steinbach & Clemens Sehi from Travellers Archive

19. Road to Hana, Maui

This tropical road trip through winds around the east side of Maui, Hawaii, taking you through quaint surf towns and showing off the gorgeous coastline with ample hiking opportunities.

Black Sand Beach at Wainapanapa State Park
  • Route: The Road to Hana, Maui
  • At a glance: Paia – Haiku – Hana – Kaupo  
  • Distance: 64.4 miles
  • Duration: 1 day travel time
  • When to go: It’s Hawaii so the weather is generally perfect year round. During the summer months, it is much busier than other times of the year. 

The Route

Start your drive in Paia, a cute surfer town on Maui’s north shore. Get breakfast at Charley’s to start the day. They have monster pancakes and some of the cajun Ono eggs benedict on the island. 

If you have time, do some shopping. Paia has lots of funky boutiques with surf gear and clothing. Don’t forget to grab some snacks from Mana Foods before you head out.  

Next, take a break at Twin Falls just up the road from Paia. They have some really nice and easy hiking trails and waterfalls. With fresh coconut water, smoothies, and homemade banana bread, the snack stand there is also quite popular. 

Waianapanapa State Park is another great stopping point along the way and not far from Hana. This 122-acre state park is known for its beautiful black sand beach but don’t miss the lava tubes or freshwater caves. 

Once in Hana, relax for a bit. Go to the spa at Travaasa Hana, check out the Hana Beach Park or enjoy shopping at the local art galleries.

The drive is long and I’d highly recommend spending the night in Hana before making your way back. There is one major hotel, Travaasa Hana, vacation rentals, and places to camp overnight.

Highlights

  • An easy but beautiful waterfall hike at Twin Falls 
  • Take your time and pull over at overlooks to take in the incredible views
  • Stop at Nahiku Marketplace (Mile Marker 29) if you get hungry. There are lots of different food trucks serving everything from Thai food to shave ice.  
  • Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park is just 12 miles past Hana and a must visit. Hike the Pīpīwai Trail (4 miles) to see gorgeous waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and a giant banyan tree
  • The White Pocket, which is an awesome alternative to The Wave

Contributed by: Emily Hines from Em’s on the Road


Midwest USA Roadtrips

Don’t skip over the Midwest, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. 

From the shores of the Great Lakes to the historic Route 66, when road tripping through the Midwest you’ll meet some of the nicest people in the US. 

Summer and autumn are the best times to take a trip, but they are also the most popular.

Road Trips:

20. Route 66 Road Trip

One of the world’s most famous driving routes, this USA road trip takes you through small town America and the former Wild West.

Route 66 California
  • Route: Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles
  • At a glance: Chicago – St. Louis – Carthage – Clinton – Tucumcari – Gallup – Seligman – San Bernardino – Los Angeles
  • Distance: 2400 miles
  • Duration: 8 days
  • When to go: Spring and Fall – the route will be less busy and not so hot, but pleasant for sightseeing and driving

The Route

Route 66 starts in Chicago, and you’ll want to get going early as you have a long way to drive in a week. Your first day has you driving through Illinois, with highlights including the Rabbit Ranch in Staunton and the Cozy Dogs in Springfield.

Stay overnight in St. Louis where you’ll want to at least visit the arch, before heading on to the world famous Meramec Caverns. We’d also recommend a stop at the Mule Trading Post and Route 66 Car Museum. Spend your second night in Carthage, MO.

On day 3, follow the Route from Carthage with a stop in Galena, Kansas, to see the tow truck that inspired Mater in the movie “Cars”. Continue on into Oklahoma to see one of our favorite stops, the Blue Whale, then overnight in Clinton.

From Clinton, you’ll drive across a sliver of Texas and into New Mexico. You can spend the night at Tucumcari, home to some of the best preserved Route 66 motels. 

On day 5, be sure to stop in Albuquerque where Route 66 crosses itself. We also recommend a stop at the Continental Divide, before overnighting in Gallup.

Day 6 has you crossing through Arizona, with stops at Petrified Forest National Park, the “Here it is!” sign and the town of Flagstaff. Spend the night in Seligman.

The following day you’ll enter your final state: California. Make sure to stop in the town of Oatman for a Wild West show before spending the night in San Bernardino.

On your final day, you’ll be arriving at the end of the road in Los Angeles. Well done! If you want a more detailed version of this route, check out our complete 8 day Route 66 itinerary.

Highlights

  • See The Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
  • Visit the Blue Whale in Catoosa
  • See the “Here it Is!” sign near Holbrook, AZ
  • Eat all kinds of incredible food
  • Visit one of the many Route 66 museums along the Route

Contributed by: Laurence from Finding The Universe

21. North Shore Lake Superior, Minnesota

Minnesota’s scenic Highway 61 follows the shoreline of the Great Lake from Duluth, Minnesota all the way into Ontario, Canada. Dubbed simply “the North Shore,” this region of Lake Superior is known for scenic trails, historic sites and untouched wilderness.

North Shore Lake Superior Minnesota
  • Route: North Shore of Lake Superior: Minneapolis to Grand Marais
  • At a glance: Minneapolis – Duluth – Two Harbors – Grand Marais
  • Distance: 264 miles
  • Duration: 3 – 4 days, you can make the drive in 4.5 hours but you’ll want to stay a few days.
  • When to go: May – October. Summertime is nice because you’ll have long days, but the fall is the best because it’s the peak season for fall foliage and leaves changing colors.

The Route

While there are so many things to do in Minneapolis, head north out of the city and make the quick 2 hour drive up to Duluth, MN, the farest west port city of the Great Lakes.

Duluth is a fun college town with some serious character. Explore the brick downtown or head down to Canal Park to watch the historic Lift Bridge operate, allowing cargo ships to pass underneath. 

Grab a burger and beer at Grandma’s Saloon or Fitger’s Brewhouse for dinner. Then stay the night, or continue up the north shore taking in the coastal view of Lake Superior until the town of Two Harbors. 

Pop into the Northshore Pizza cafe for a bite to eat or visit Castle Danger Brewery (one of our favorite brews in MN).

Be sure to stop at Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls (very easy 0.5 mile hike to the lower falls) on your way up to Grand Marais.

Spend a night or two in Grand Marais. Get a donut at the World’s Best Donut Shop and a slice of pizza from the iconic Sven and Ole’s (get a sticker while you’re there!). For a nicer meal, the seasonally-open Angry Trout is a good choice, and if you want a morning Bloody Mary, you won’t find any better than at the Gunflint Tavern.

Highlights

  • Watch as cargo ships come into Duluth harbor and see the iconic Lift Bridge rise to let them in
  • Get smoked fish from a local market along the way
  • Stop at Split Rock Lighthouse
  • Skip rocks into Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake in the world!)
  • See Gooseberry Falls
  • Grab a beer at Castle Danger Brewing near Two Harbors, and Voyager Brewing in Grand Marais
  • Take a gondola ride at Lutsen Ski Resort (in the summer or fall months), or go skiing in the winter months
  • If you’re not camping, we highly recommend staying at The Hungry Hippie Farm & Hostel!

Recommended by Katie & Ben from Two Wandering Soles

22. Amish Country Byway, Ohio

This Northeast Ohio road trip travels over rolling hills and past Amish farms. The Amish Country Byway is a designated federal Scenic Byway.  The roads of the Amish Country Byway share the story of the simple life of the Amish and Mennonites and allow visitors to explore this quiet part of Ohio.

Amish Country Byway Ohio
  • Route: Amish Country Byway
  • At a glance: Various routes throughout Holmes County, Ohio make up the Amish Country Byway (Map)
  • Distance: 160 miles
  • Duration: At least 2 days
  • When to go: May – November; May and November are considered the shoulder-season and travelers will find smaller crowds and less traffic. Due to the religious nature of this area, most attractions are closed on Sunday.

The Route

Begin your journey near Berlin, Ohio at Behalt. This cyclorama, known as the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center, shares the history of the Amish culture and their journey from Europe to NE Ohio.

Continue north on County Rd 77 to Heini’s Cheese. Weekday visitors will have a chance to see cheese being produced and sample numerous flavors of this local delicacy.

Next, take US 62 North to Ohio 515 South. Stop and taste Trail Bologna, owned by the same family since 1912. Locals send this bologna to friends and family all over the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Amish, make sure to stop at Yoder’s Amish Home. Tours include a typical Amish home, an Amish school, and a horse and buggy ride. This is a great place to apply what was learned at Behalt!

Highlights

  • Looking to sample more cheese? Don’t miss the world-famous baby swiss at Guggisberg Cheese, located near Charm.
  • Interested in glass collection? Millersburg Glass was crafted in Millersburg, Ohio for only 3 years, and its carnival glass is known for its brilliant coloring. The Millersburg Glass Museum has a full collection of the glass, plus tells the story of founder, John Fenton. This is one of the few attractions open on Sundays during the high season.
  • Historic downtown Millersburg is home to antique shops, small eateries, and a brewery.  
  • If visiting during the fall, the Hershberger Farm and Market offers a pumpkin patch.  

Contributed by: Leah Yoder from Yoder Toter Blog


Southern USA Road Trips

Welcome to southern hospitality at its finest. Cruise through lands where the sky is big and so are the BBQ’s! 

If you’re into having a beverage or two, take your pick of distilleries, breweries and moonshine-ries. Travel here in the springtime to enjoy the blooming flowers and avoid the heat of the summer.

Road Trips:

23. Dallas to San Antonio, Texas Road Trip

This Texas road trip takes you to Enchanted Rock State Park, through the pseudo-German town of Fredericksburg, San Antonio, often called the “Venice” of Texas, and Austin.

Austin, Texas
View of downtown Austin from Zilker Park
  • Route: A Texas Road trip
  • At a glance: Dallas – Enchanted Rock – Fredericksburg – San Antonio – Austin
  • Distance: 415 miles
  • Duration: 1 week 
  • When to go: March to June; Spring is the best time for this road trip as the medians along the highways are covered with wildflowers and the Texas state flower bluebonnets are in bloom.  It is a great time for hiking on the Enchanted Rock.

The Route

Begin your journey in Dallas. Spend a day exploring the metroplex and enjoying some BBQ. In the evening head out towards Enchanted Rock in the Hill Country, 250 miles Southwest of Dallas. 

Enchanted Rock State Park’s massive pink granite dome has drawn hikers and rock climbers to climb the magical rock formations for years. The following morning is a great time to attempt this hike. 

Next, drive to Fredericksburg which is home to more than 20 wineries, second only to Napa in the United States. Sample some German beer and bratwurst and peruse the many quaint shops.  

Afterwards you’ll want to head up towards San Antonio. 

Just North of the city, stop by the Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest known commercial caverns in the state of Texas.  Within the city limits you have The Riverwalk, Fiesta Texas, the Alamo, San Antonio Zoo, Six Flags and The Pearl. You can spend an entire week here, but plan for at least 2 days.

Austin, the capital of Texas, is an hour and 30 minutes away and there is so much to do here. From shopping on funky South Congress Avenue to stand-up paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake and seeing live music, not to mention the best tacos in Texas.

Once you’ve had your fill, make your way down to Austin from San Antonio. Be sure to make time on the drive between the cities for a shopping spree at The San Marcos Outlets, which feature some designer stores.

If you have more time, explore the Texas Hill Country which is home to over 45 wineries, vineyards and lavender fields. 

Highlights

  • Taste the best BBQ in Dallas
  • Scale the massive pink granite dome in Enchanted Rock State Park
  • Sample some German beer and bratwurst in Fredericksburg
  • Enjoy the Riverwalk and a boat ride in the canals in San Antonio 
  • Designer Outlet shopping in San Marcos
  • Explore the Texas State Capitol Complex at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center in Austin

Contributed by: Priya from Outside Suburbia

24. Louisiana to Florida Road Trip

This cultural road trip along the US Gulf Coast brings you through the heart and southern soul of coastal Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, some of the lesser explored areas of the United States.

Wakulla Springs Florida Gulf Coast Travlinmad
Wakulla Springs, Florida
  • Route: Gulf Coast Road Trip from Louisiana to Florida
  • At a glance: Lafayette, LA – New Orleans, LA – Mobile, AL – Gulf Shores, AL – Tallahassee, FL – Wakulla Springs, FL – Crystal River, FL
  • Distance: 685 miles
  • Duration: 10-15 days
  • When to go: May through October with summer shoulder months of May and September being ideal with less traffic.

The Route

The Gulf Coast of the southern United States from Louisiana to central Florida has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Not only is there interesting American history, the distinct culture along the Gulf Coast is like nowhere else in the world.

If you love local food, you’ll love the fresh seafood in this region, just one of the reasons a Gulf Coast road trip is always a great idea.  

Start your trip in Lafayette, Louisiana, where you’ll find Louisiana’s original good time town. The Acadiana (Cajun) culture is evident here in everything from the local food to the dance halls where any night of the week you’ll find welcoming crowds who will happily teach you the local zydeco moves! 

Just an hour away in nearby New Orleans is where the party really starts…and lasts for days.

Spend a day tasting the local flavor then drive out into the country and explore the River Road plantations, some of which offer interesting and poignant tours of the Antebellum history of New Orleans. 

Psst! Read this ethical guide to plantation tours to gain a better understanding and find the tours that combat racism through education. 

An hour east of the Big Easy (aka New Orleans) is the gracious southern city of Mobile, Alabama. A trip through here deserves a few days of boat tours, vintage thrift shopping, and eating their famous Alabama shrimp and oysters. 

Afterwards, head for the beach in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama, just an hour away. Alabama truly has some of the most beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast, and natural wildlife you can enjoy from a boat or kayak. The white sand beaches here are spectacular. 

From here, head to Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee and explore the Spanish history the state was founded on. Just 20 miles south of Tallahassee is Wakulla Springs, a natural warm crystal spring where you can swim and relax, and even stay a night or two.

Next, head further down the Gulf Coast to the town of Crystal River, where summertime is scallop season. Grab your snorkel and fins and head out on a scalloping tour to gather up your own scallop feast for dinner!

Highlights

  • Lafayette, Louisiana is a foodie’s dream and there’s always a fun festival to attend. A visit to Avery Island and the TABASCO factory is a must. Plus, if you haven’t tried a drive-thru daiquiri, here’s your chance!
  • New Orleans is a must-see along this trip, whether you have a day or more. Spend the day in the French Quarter, grab some beignets and pralines and stroll to your heart’s content.
  • Tallahassee, Florida is a hip University town with great farm-to-table restaurants, awesome vintage stores, and a thriving art scene. Don’t miss the fun and funky Railroad Square Art Park!
  • Wakulla Springs, Florida offers a great chance to cool off from the heat in one of Florida’s most beautiful natural crystal springs.
  • Crystal River, Florida is home to the Florida manatee, but summertime is scallop season and a must-eat when you’re in town!

Contributed by: Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad

25. Great Smoky Mountains Road Trip

This epic road trip through the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains takes you through one of the most gorgeous national parks and best roads in the country. 

Great Smoky Mountains view from Craggy Gardens
Great Smoky Mountains view from Craggy Gardens
  • Route: Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • At a glance: Gatlinburg – Cataloochee Valley – Asheville – Mount Mitchell – Linville Falls
  • Distance: 130 miles
  • Duration: 1 week 
  • When to go: Spring for Wildlife; Fall for Foliage

The Route

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans between Tennessee and North Carolina and has always been one of my favorite places in the world. The perfect one-week road trip starts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, traveling to Asheville, North Carolina through the Smoky Mountains before hopping on the Blue Ridge Parkway and heading North to Linville Falls.

Gatlinburg is a great starting point for this road trip because it has a little something for everybody: moonshine distilleries, restaurants, themed attractions, beautiful wildlife, and scenery. I would spend two days here.

For the first day, check out the town of Gatlinburg, the trails near town including the ghost town of Elkmont, Roaring Fork Motor Trail and more. 

On the second day, I would spend exploring Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an 11-mile paved loop where you can drive or bike the loop while making stops along the way and exploring the trails. Here is your best chance of seeing black bears!

There are so many beautiful spots between Gatlinburg and Asheville. See the elk in Cataloochee Valley, visit Soco Falls (right off the road), and several other gorgeous locations. Next stop is Asheville – one of the best cities in the South in my opinion. Don’t miss checking out local breweries, touring Biltmore Estate, the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar.

On the way to Linville Falls, North Carolina, you’ll pretty much be on the Blue Ridge Parkway the entire way and you’ll find yourself stopping often for the views. A few of my favorite spots included Mount Mitchell and Little Switzerland. 

Once in Linville Falls, the Falls, Gorge, and Caverns are all absolutely breathtaking and worth checking out. Using Linville Falls as a base, take your second day here to explore Grandfather Mountain, Boone, and Blowing Rock.

Highlights

  • See black bears in Cades Cove 
  • Visit the abandoned ghost town of Elkmont
  • See elk in Cataloochee Valley
  • Visit a unique bookstore in Asheville that also doubles as a champagne bar
  • Visit Little Switzerland to fill your Bavarian-themed town quota
  • Hike the Craggy Gardens Overlook at sunrise but be prepared to be brought to tears 

Contributed by: Ashley Hubbard from Wild Hearted

26. Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Who doesn’t love a nice glass of bourbon? On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you tour 16 different distilleries, try multiple bourbons (and other treats) at each, and take in tons of bottled up history throughout the gorgeous Bluegrass state. 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail
  • Route: The Kentucky Bourbon Trail 
  • At a glance: Lexington – Frankfort – Louisville – Owensboro (with some smaller towns in between) 
  • Distance: 250ish miles (depending on order of distilleries)
  • Duration: 4-5 days
  • When to go: Late spring or early fall, as many of the distilleries shut down during the hot summer months. 

The Route

While there is no official route for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, I recommend picking either Lexington or Louisville as a “home base” for the experience, as all of the distilleries are within a few hours drive of these cities (some are mere minutes!). 

Each day, pick 4-5 distilleries to visit, starting when they open in the morning and touring until they close.

I usually try to do the distilleries that are closest together on the same days (less driving and easier to get from one place to another). If you’re a serious drinker, there are some bus tours that will chauffeur you throughout the Trail so you don’t have to worry about driving. 

You’re never given more than about 2 ounces of alcohol at each distillery, but you may want a designated driver just in case.

On the drive between distilleries, you’ll see the rolling hills of Kentucky, some of our famous horse farms, and, of course, brick houses holding millions of gallons of the delicious spirit. 

Highlights

  • Dip your very own bottle of Maker’s Mark at Maker’s Mark Distillery
  • Drink bourbon barrel aged beer at Town Branch Distillery in Lexington 
  • Pose with a giant Louisville Slugger near Angels Envy in Louisville 
  • Experience what it was like to access a Prohibition Era speakeasy at the Evan Williams Experience
  • Live like Matthew McConaughey at Wild Turkey Distillery
  • Visit the stone warehouses at Woodford Reserve 

Contributed by: KB Gamblin from Her Life in Ruins


Eastern USA Road Trips

Cute oceanside towns and major metropolises alike dot the East Coast. This is where you’ll find some of the country’s oldest buildings and most historic neighborhoods. 

Eat all the seafood you can handle, and soak up the quaint fishing village vibes.

And you won’t have to drive too far from any major city to get into the beautiful countryside. Visiting this region in the autumn months will reward you with stunning fall foliage.

Road Trips:

27. Southern Florida Road Trip

This road trip will take you all over South Florida, from cities to small towns and swamps to beaches.  It’s the best of Florida with plenty of time off the beaten path.

Southern Florida Road Trip
  • Route: South Florida National Parks and Outdoors
  • At a glance: Miami – Everglades City – Homestead – Key Largo – Key West – Miami
  • Distance: 465(ish) miles
  • Duration: 10 days
  • When to go: January to mid-March; the weather is coolest then, but still hot, and the bugs are minimal, but still around.

The Route

Flying in and out Miami will be easiest for this South Florida road trip. Start here before heading over to Everglades City on Alligator Alley.  Spend the night camping in Big Cypress National Preserve or in a hotel in Everglades city if you’re not a camper.  Make sure to book far in advance for that.

With Everglades City as your base, visit Fakahatchee Strand State Park, Florida Panther Preserve, 10,000 Islands, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Spend a few days exploring the area before heading back to the east in Homestead.  

From Homestead, visit the main area of Everglades National Park. Look for wildlife on the Anhinga Trail, stop at the boardwalks, and take a boat or kayak tour at the Flamingo area. This is a great base for visiting Biscayne National Park, too.  

Next up is the Keys. Spend a night on Key Largo and take a day to drive down to Key West making stops along the way at beaches and John Pennekamp State Park. Make sure to do some snorkeling. 

And you can’t forget about the food scene in the Keys because it is delicious! The flavors of the Caribbean are added to the freshly caught fish, you really can’t go wrong!

Finally, before heading back to Miami, spend a couple of days in Key West and go to Dry Tortugas National Park for a day.  

Highlights

  • Hike to the Fakahatchee Hilton and admire the gator pond out back
  • Explore Big Cypress National Preserve and sleep under the stars (if that’s your thing)
  • Look for wildlife on the Anhinga Trail and a boat trip in Everglades National Park
  • Take a boat tour to the islands in Biscayne National Park
  • Visit the John Pennekamp State Park on your way to Key West
  • Take the ferry or seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park for a day 
  • Explore Miami and see the Wynwood Walls

Contributed by: Megan Johnson from Red Around The World

28. Miami to Savannah, Georgia East Coast Road Trip

This beautiful road trip takes you through the East coast of Florida and in to Georgia via some of the region’s most iconic cities, charming small towns and gorgeous islands.

Driftwood Beach on Georgia coast
  • Route: Miami to Savannah via the big cities, small towns and beautiful islands
  • At a glance: Miami – Orlando – New Smyrna Beach – Amelia Island – Jekyll Island – Saint Simons Island – Savannah
  • Distance: 600 miles
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • When to go: Autumn. Go when the summer crowds have left the sunshine state but the weather is still balmy and you can enjoy the beaches and coastline.

The Route

Start your road trip in Miami for some beautiful beaches and stunning art deco buildings. However long you spend here it won’t be long enough but enjoy the buzz of the city and the vibrant experiences on offer.

Head up the coastline to Orlando for some theme park fun or to take in some of the amusements of the area. There’s something here for everyone whether you’re into roller coasters or some of the natural springs you can view from glass-bottomed boats. 

For an extra bit of adventure, head toward the ocean where you will find the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which is known as one of the best places to go bioluminescent kayaking in Florida. This is a pretty spectacular phenomenon that’s well worth a spot on your itinerary.

From there, it’s only a short hop to New Smyrna Beach on the coastline. Stop off at Kennedy Space Center to get your fix of rockets and space shuttles before small town America beckons. 

New Smyrna Beach will feel a world away from the bright lights of Miami and Orlando. Enjoy the windswept beaches which have turtles nesting on them if you’re there in the right season. It’s also a great location from which to see dolphins in the wild.

Further up the coastline Amelia Island is a beautiful final Floridian stop off with the longest stretch of beach and a lovely old school feel. There’s a simplicity to life here which is refreshing and uplifting.

It’s just around the final edge of Florida and into Georgia for the next island stop off of Jekyll Island. Once the playground of the rich and famous it fell out of favor for a time. Now it’s a lovely retreat and with beaches including the stunning Driftwood Beach it’s a lovely place to cycle around with Spanish Moss-covered trees creating the perfect shade. 

Saint Simons Island has a real feel-good factor with shopping arcades and a wonderful playground that spills out onto the sand if you’re traveling with kids. There’s more going on here and it’s the perfect contrast to Jekyll Island.

Finish off in Savannah where the antebellum houses sit grandly and wide streets and gorgeous public parks call for impromptu picnics. 

Highlights

  • Don’t miss Little Havana, the Cuban district of Miami, known for bright colors and cool vibes
  • Silver Springs just outside of Orlando is a great place to get some retro USA vibes going
  • Visit Indian River Lagoon to try and spot bottlenose dolphins at New Smyrna Beach
  • Stop off in the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah to clamber aboard historic carriages
  • Eat great Asian fusion food in Vault, Savannah

Contributed by: Nichola West from Globalmouse Travels

29. Golden Isles of Georgia

This peaceful coastal road trip through Georgia’s Sea Islands brings you to a quaint beach town, 5-star resort, massive state park, and National Seashore.  

Golden Isles of Georgia
  • Route: Georgia Sea Islands
  • At a glance: St. Simons Island – Sea Island – Jekyll Island – Cumberland Island
  • Distance: 915 miles
  • Duration: 1 week 
  • When to go: Late spring or early fall. Avoid summer to save cash and steer clear of crowds. April-May is a beautiful time to visit this area because the spring blooms will be in full force and the brunt of the summer heat won’t have hit yet. Early fall is great too because it is still warm enough to hit the beaches and the bugs won’t be as bad.

The Route

Begin your journey in St. Simons Island and spend your time biking on the island-wide bike paths covered by the shade of an incredible live oak canopy. 

Grab award-winning BBQ at Southern Soul before hitting the beach. As one of the first colonial outposts in the United States, the island is the perfect mix of coastal scenery, great local restaurants, cool boutiques, and history. 

If you’re looking for some luxurious R&R head to Sea Island and the fabulous Cloister Resort, the only Forbes Five Diamond Resort in Georgia. Book a room at the hotel, visit their incredible spa and dine like royalty.  

Jekyll Island is the next stop on this road trip and the next island south of St. Simons and Sea Island. Once a winter escape for New England’s elite, Jekyll is now a state park so it is far less developed than St. Simons and Sea Island.

Bike around the island and take a picnic to the famous Driftwood Beach. Tour the historic Jekyll Island Club resort and neighboring historic district before grabbing some Wild Georgia Shrimp at The Wharf on the waterfront.

The last stop on the trip is Cumberland Island, Georgia, one of the nation’s National Seashores. The largest barrier island on Georgia’s coast has acres of untouched maritime forests, beaches, and marshes. 

Camp beneath the live oak canopy or stay at the exquisite all-inclusive Greyfield Inn, once home to the Carnegie family. 

Highlights

  • Sample some of Georgia’s best BBQ at Southern Soul in St. Simons Island, Georgia  
  • Climb the 129 stairs of the St. Simons Island Lighthouse for an incredible view 
  • Dine like royalty with a multi-course tasting menu in the Forbes Five Star Georgian Room at Sea Island’s Cloister Resort 
  • See the eerie Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island
  • Visit the church where JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy married on Cumberland Island, Georgia 
  • Explore the Carnegie’s Dungeness Mansion ruins on Cumberland Island   

Contributed by: Emily Hines from Em’s on the Road

30. New York State Road Trip

This road trip through the Lower and Mid-Hudson Valley of New York is not only beautiful but showcases the history of the Hudson Valley through architecture, tradition and art. It inspires and educates through the most breathtaking area in the North East of the United States.

Hudson River GW Headquarters
Hudson River GW Headquarters
  • Route: Lower to Mid-Hudson Valley, NY from Tarrytown to Highland
  • At a glance: Tarrytown – Tuxedo – New Windsor – Newburgh – Highland
  • Distance: 73.6 miles
  • Duration: 3-4 days
  • When to go: September (weekends); Late summer/Early Autumn is the best time for this road trip, as that is when the Annual NY Renaissance Fair takes place and the weather is more agreeable for outdoor exploration.

The Route

Begin your journey at Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY and spend a few hours taking a tour of the mansion and exploring the grounds. Visit the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse and take in the views of the Majestic Hudson River. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are wonderful places to have dinner.

Next, head North over the ‘Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge’ or the “New Tappan Zee Bridge” towards Rockland County, where you can stop off to shop at the famous Palisades Mall or Spend the Day at the NY Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY.

The next stop is the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY. This massive open-air Museum and Sculpture Park is a must see when in the area. After exploring the grounds of Storm King, a quick drive to Newburgh is in order for a view of the Hudson River from Washington’s Headquarters.

Lastly, for those interested in a one-of-a-kind experience, a visit to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Park is in order. This is the World’s Longest Pedestrian Bridge.

Highlights

  • Take a tour of Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY
  • Eat and enjoy a day full of Entertainment at the NY Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY
  • Explore enormous sculptures at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY.
  • Learn all about the area’s history at the Washington’s Headquarters Historic Site in Newburgh, NY
  • Walk over the Hudson River at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Park.

Contributed by: Jackie Ramirez from Hudson Valley Exposed

Psst! If you’re going to be passing through the Big Apple on your way to upstate New York, be sure to read our article with the best things to do in NYC.

31. New England Coast Road Trip

Thanks to its scenic beauty and rich history, New England is the perfect road trip destination – as long as you wait until after the snow melts. 

Driving straight from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine, the town adjacent to Acadia National Park, takes about 6 hours. However, to do this trip right, you’ll probably want to take at least a week (and eat a lot of lobster along the way!).

Acadia National Park Maine, USA
Acadia National Park
  • Route: Scenic New England – from Boston, Massachusetts to Acadia National Park in Maine
  • At a glance: Boston – Salem – Portsmouth – Bar Harbor (You’ll follow Route 1 north for most of the trip.)
  • Distance: 269 miles
  • Duration: 7-10 days
  • When to go: April to October; this is a great route to see some fall foliage

The Route

Once the snow and ice melt, I love nothing more than getting out of Boston for a few days and exploring New England’s beautiful beaches and charming towns. Driving straight from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine (my favorite route) usually takes about 6 hours.

First up along the coast is the North Shore of Massachusetts, which is jam-packed with things to do. 

Historic Salem is definitely worth a stop for its kitschy witch-themed attractions, and so is Gloucester for its Fisherman’s Memorial. The streets of both Rockport and Newburyport are lined with galleries, restaurants and shops, and if you’re looking for beaches, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Crane Beach are two of the best.

Passing briefly through New Hampshire, you should spend at least a few hours strolling around Portsmouth. There are lots of great craft breweries in and around the city.

Crossing into Maine, Kennebunkport and Old Orchard Beach are popular vacation destinations in the summer, and if you’re an L.L. Bean fan, then you can’t miss the flagship store in Freeport. 

Portland has the region’s hottest restaurant scene, so you’ll want to plan at least a meal or two there.

Once you arrive in Bar Harbor, you’ll need a few days to relax and see the sights in and around Acadia National Park. If you’re feeling ambitious, head up to Cadillac Mountain and watch the spectacular sunrise!

Highlights

  • Stop by the witch-themed attractions in Salem
  • Check out Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester
  • Enjoy the beach at Crane Beach and Manchester-by-the-Sea
  • Stroll around Portsmouth and drink a craft beer or two
  • Watch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain

Contributed by: Brianne Miers from A Traveling Life


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Best USA Road Trips | Two Wandering Soles
Best USA Road Trips | Two Wandering Soles

We want to hear from you!

Where has your favorite road trip taken you? Do you have any of these USA road trips planned out soon? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (32) on “31 USA Road Trip Ideas + Tips

  1. Isabella says:

    Next December we will go out on the road with a group, and that’s why I am doing research. I found your post and just read it. I really learned a lot. Many thanks.

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      That would be such a fun trip with friends! I don’t think it’ll take much to convince them to go on a road trip once it’s safe again!

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Oh we know what you mean! We’ve had to cancel some trips, so I can’t wait until it’s safe to travel again and we can reschedule! SO many places I’m excited to go, and I won’t be taking the freedom to spontaneously plan a trip for granted anymore!

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      I know what you mean – Ben does most of the driving! Road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel though because it lets you go at your own pace and allows you to stop in places you otherwise never would. Happy you enjoyed this article!

  2. g.omoboni@hotmail.it says:

    I would absolutely love to do an Alaska road trip! Those wild landscapes are something I’ve always wanted to see. Was meant to be on a west coast road trip now but sadly it got pushed back. Maybe when I do get round to doing it I’ll combine it with an Alaska road trip! Thanks for sharing, such beautiful suggestions! 🙂

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      That is one of our dreams too! We were planning to travel to Alaska this summer, but sadly, that’ll probably be put on hold. Just happy to know all these places will still be there when it is safe to travel again!

  3. madhuonthego@gmail.com says:

    This is a great list and this is all I needed.during my visit to USA last year we took a road trip from Vegas to Grand canyon n horse shoe bend.looking forward to more

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      That’s a great plan! You’ll get to see lots of incredible sights, city and nature; plus, they’re all located relatively close together (in USA terms of "close"! haha). Best of luck planning!

  4. marisa@thisworldtraveled.com says:

    What an impressive list! Ive always dreamed about doing a road trip through the states and I’d love to start in the Pacific Northwest! USA has so many beautiful national parks with such diverse scenery so I can’t wait to get home and explore more!

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Oh, what a good place you’ve picked to start: our absolute favorite part of the country! I hope you get to plan your road trip soon!

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Thanks! I lived in Florida for a couple of years, so it was fun hearing others’ favorites and gathering road trips from all around the country!

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Thanks! Yosemite is amazing! If you like getting off the beaten path, we’d definitely recommend getting a backcountry permit because it is absolutely incredible. We were there on a weekend in July (busiest possible time!), but in the backcountry, we only saw one other person camping!

  5. paula@sydneyexpert.com says:

    I am really keen to do the Pacific Coast drive but also think the drive north to Seattle looks fantastic. Which would you recommend if I only have time for one?

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Ohh a tough choice for sure! Highway 1 (in California) is stunning, but it is a bit more crowded, whereas some of the drives around Seattle and north are more rugged and have fewer people.

      Temperatures for lounging at the beach are going to be more comfortable in California though (so it depends on what you’re most looking forward to!). Either choice will be a good one 🙂

  6. ahhatravels@hotmail.com says:

    I’ve done most of these, but you’ve done a great disservice skipping Arkansas. The Pig Trail is not to be missed, especially by motorcycle. Boston and Ozark Mountains are beautiful, especially in the fall.

  7. m.macalou@hotmail.co.uk says:

    These are great options! I would love to do a road trip but sadly I can’t drive. I just need to find that right person to do the trip with me to tick it off my bucket list! I’m looking forward to visiting San Francisco too.

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