There’s no better way to see the United States than by taking a road trip. From the beaches of Florida to the mountains of Colorado, there are endless possibilities for adventure on the open road. Here are some of the best routes, stops, and recommendations for a great American road trip.
Perhaps the most iconic road trip route in the United States is Route 66. The highway stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles and passes through eight states along the way. Along the way, you’ll see some of America’s most iconic sights, including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Grand Canyon. You’ll also pass through some of the country’s most charming small towns, like Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Amarillo, Texas. Be sure to stop at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma, to learn about the history of the road and the people who traveled it.
For stunning coastal views, the Pacific Coast Highway is hard to beat. Starting in San Francisco and ending in San Diego, this scenic route takes you through some of California’s most beautiful landscapes. Along the way, you’ll see the rugged coastline of Big Sur, the towering redwoods of Muir Woods, and the sandy beaches of Malibu. Be sure to stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and take a detour to visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed road trip, the Great River Road is a great option. The route follows the Mississippi River from its source in Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, you’ll pass through 10 states and see some of the most historic sites in the country. Stop in Hannibal, Missouri, the birthplace of Mark Twain, and explore the quaint river towns of Illinois. In Louisiana, be sure to visit New Orleans and experience the city’s unique blend of cultures and music.
If you’re a nature lover, the National Parks Loop is the road trip for you. Starting in Denver, Colorado, the route takes you through some of the country’s most beautiful national parks. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can hike among the towering peaks, and then head to Yellowstone National Park to see geysers and wildlife. Don’t miss the stunning landscapes of Grand Teton National Park, and end your trip in Glacier National Park, where you can see glaciers up close.
For a taste of southern hospitality, take a road trip through the southern states. Start in Charleston, South Carolina, and explore the city’s historic district and charming cobblestone streets. Head west to Savannah, Georgia, where you can take a ghost tour and visit the city’s beautiful squares. In Alabama, be sure to visit the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery and then head to New Orleans for some jazz and gumbo.
No matter which route you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your road trip a success.
Before you hit the road, spend some time planning your route. Consider the distance you want to travel each day, as well as any sights you want to see along the way. Use a mapping app like Google Maps or MapQuest to plan your route and get an estimate of the driving time.
Make sure you pack everything you need for your trip, but don’t overpack. Remember that you’ll be spending most of your time in the car, so make sure you have comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring snacks and drinks to keep you fueled, and don’t forget a first-aid kit and a map in case you lose cell service.
While planning is important, be open to detours and unexpected discoveries. Road trips are all about the freedom to explore, so allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from your original plan if something catches your eye. Some of the best memories are made when you embrace the unexpected.
Safety should always be a priority during a road trip. Observe traffic rules, wear your seatbelt, and avoid distracted driving. Take breaks every few hours to stretch your legs and stay alert. It’s also a good idea to have roadside assistance and emergency contact numbers on hand.
One of the joys of a road trip is experiencing the diverse cultures and traditions across the United States. Engage with locals, try regional cuisines, and explore local attractions. Embrace the uniqueness of each place you visit and make connections with the people you encounter along the way.
Don’t forget to document your road trip adventure. Take photos, write in a journal, or create a travel blog to capture the special moments and highlights of your journey. These mementos will allow you to relive the memories long after your road trip comes to an end.
Embarking on a great American road trip is an opportunity to discover the vast beauty and diverse landscapes of the United States. Whether you choose the iconic Route 66, the breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway, the historic Great River Road, the natural wonders of the National Parks Loop, or the southern charm of the southern states, each route offers its own unique experiences and adventures. So, fuel up your car, hit the road, and let the great American road trip unfold before you.