There's an unparalleled charm in the open road, a sense of freedom that defies description. A quintessentially American experience, road-tripping is synonymous with discovery, adventure, and the harmonious melding of destination and journey. The United States, a beautiful tapestry of landscapes, cultures, and histories, offers a plethora of picturesque drives for everyone. From the coastline to mountain ranges, we've compiled a list of 10 road trips that belong on your bucket list. Pack your bags, fuel up your car, and get ready to hit the road.
1. Pacific Coast Highway, California
Travel down the iconic Highway 1 and take in what California’s coast has to offer. The Pacific Coast Highway, stretching over 650 miles from Leggett to Dana Point, is a captivating journey past dramatic cliffs, towering redwoods, charming small towns, and the expansive Pacific Ocean. Highlights include the cliffside drive through Big Sur, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, and the coastal city of Monterey.
2. Route 66, Illinois to California
Embark on a quintessentially American journey along historic Route 66. This legendary road stretches over 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, showcasing classic roadside diners, quirky attractions, and the heart of Americana. Don't miss the Cadillac Ranch in Texas and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
3. Overseas Highway, Florida
Discover a uniquely American experience on the Overseas Highway, a 113-mile journey from Miami to Key West, traversing a chain of coral and limestone islands. The drive is characterized by its stunning blue waters, historic railroad bridges, and opportunities for diving, snorkelling, and seafood tasting.
4. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina to Virginia
If you're seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway is for you. Connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, this scenic drive offers panoramic views, countless hiking trails, and vibrant Appalachian culture.
5. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Located in Glacier National Park, the 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road is a breathtaking journey through the Rocky Mountains. It is famed for its awe-inspiring landscapes, glacial lakes, and diverse wildlife. Drive through in the summer months for a road trip to remember.
6. Hana Highway, Hawaii
The Hana Highway on Maui is a tropical paradise wrapped in a 64.4-mile-long highway. It offers dramatic ocean views, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and serene pools. The winding road, with its 600 curves and 59 bridges, adds a sense of adventure to the stunning scenery.
7. Oregon's Historic Columbia River Highway
Trace the path of Lewis and Clark on this 70-mile scenic byway along the Columbia River. This historic drive offers spectacular views of towering cliffs, and cascading waterfalls including the iconic Multnomah Falls, and the volcanic crown of Mount Hood.
8. Acadia All-American Road, Maine
Experience New England charm on the 40-mile Acadia All-American Road. Winding its way around a rugged coastline, the drive offers views of Acadia National Park, quaint harbor towns, lighthouses, and the first place in the United States to see sunrise: Cadillac Mountain.
9. Highway 12, Utah
Highway 12 is a mesmerizing journey through the heart of Utah's red rock country. This 124-mile stretch connects Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, offering dramatic desert landscapes, towering cliffs, ancient ruins, and diverse wildlife.
10. Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana
Follow the mighty Mississippi River on this epic 3,000-mile journey. The Great River Road is a tribute to Mark Twain’s America, meandering through 10 states, charming river towns, rich farmlands, and significant historical sites. Don’t miss the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the vibrant city of New Orleans.
Whether it's the crashing waves of the Pacific, the serene beauty of the Rockies, or the vibrant colors of the desert, these 10 bucket-list-worthy road trips offer unique perspectives of the vast and diverse American landscape. There's truly nothing quite like the freedom of the open road. So, where will your next adventure be?