21 Epic American Road Trips To Take Before You Die
The Pacific Coast Highway, California/Oregon/Washington
You can drive along the coast of California all the way to Washington with the beautiful pacific ocean by your side. Distance: 655.8 miles Where to stop: Monterey (check out the amazing aquarium), Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Prehistoric Gardens in Oregon.
Seward Highway, Alaska
The route from Anchorage to Seward (Resurrection Bay) doesn’t have billboards or tolls and boasts awe-inspiring waterfalls, mountains and blue glaciers. Distance: 127 miles Where to stop: Chugach State Park, Bird Point, Mount Alyeska.
Road To Hana, Hawaii
The trip runs along the northeastern coast of Maui and is the best excuse to open the sun roof. Distance: 68 miles Where to stop: Garden of Eden Maui Botanical Gardens & Arboretum, the Hana Lava Tube, the Red Ti Botanical Garden Maze, Twin Falls.
Beartooth All-American Highway, Montana/Wyoming
The winding road through Montana and Wyoming may not be very long, but along the way you’ll be able to see 20 mountains and thousands of glistening lakes. Plus, the drive ends near Yellowstone National Park, so the outdoorsy fun never stops. Distance: 68 miles Where to stop: Beartooth Bridge, Falls and Ravine, West Summit of Beartooth Pass Overlook, Clay Butte Fire Lookout Tower, Lake Creek Falls.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia/North Carolina
This route through the Appalachian Highlands is one of the most visited spots in the National Park Service. It’s a stretch of lush southern wonders that will make you want to bust into one of those old Americana songs that you barely know the lyrics to. Distance: 469 miles Where to stop: Looking Glass Rock, Mount Pisgah, Humpback Rocks in Blue Ridge, Roanoke, Blowing Rock, Waterrock Knob.
The New England Coast (I-95)
The journey from Mystic, Conn. to Portland, Maine is a perfect summer roadtrip that will fill all of your preppy, seafood-y fantasies. Distance: 400 miles Where to stop: Cliff Walk, Freedom Trail, Acadia National Park, the Garbage Museum.
The Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico
New Mexico has more to show for itself than hot-air balloons. This road is a snapshot of the Old West with prairies, volcanoes and old ghost towns. Distance: 400 miles Where to stop: Philmont Scout Ranch, Railroad Boomtown, Sugarite Canyon State Park (Lake Maloya), Capulin Volcano National Monument, Clayton Lake State Park.
The Pacific Northwest Wine Country (I-84), Oregon/Washington
Napa? Been there, done that. Starting from Salem, Oregon and ending in Walla Walla, Wash., the trip boasts stunning views of vineyards, old remnants of the Oregon Trail and hidden waterfalls. Distance: 300 miles Where to stop: Montinore Estate, Portland’s Saturday Market (also open on Sunday), Columbia River Gorge, Chateau Ste. Michelle Estate, K Vintners.
San Juan Highway & the Million Dollar Skyway, Colorado
The Rocky Mountains deserve to be experienced this way. It’s a winding road-filled trip, but it will give you more time to ogle at the incredible rock formations that nature has kindly made. Distance: 160 miles Where to stop: Mesa Verde National Park, Durango, the Silverton Museum, Telluride.
Black Hills Route, South Dakota
It’s a sort of figure-eight drive packed with historical sites, breathtaking landscapes, and evergreen-laden mountains. Distance: 350 miles Where to stop: Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park’s Window and Castle Trails, Wall Drug Store, Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop Road, Cathedral Spires Trail, Crazy Horse Memorial, Deadwood.
The Blues Highway, Tennessee/Mississippi
Route 61 is a great drive along the Mississippi River for music players and appreciators alike. Blues, BBQ and a slice of the famous southern Delta await those who make the journey. Distance:250 miles Where to stop: The Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Tunica, Hopson Plantation, Rosedale.
Highway 49, California
California’s Gold Country, tucked in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is home to rich and lovely vistas and reminders of the old Gold Rush days that brought a flood of people to California. Distance: 200 miles Where to stop: Railtown State Historic Park, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, a vineyard tasting room in Amador County, Placerville’s Cozmic Cafe.
Bourbon Trail, Kentucky
We’re talking 21+, ladies and gentlemen. This central Kentucky trip is filled with rolling hills and meadows, streams, bluegrass-lined roads and, of course, the state’s famous bourbon. Distance:Depends on how many distilleries you hit! Where to stop: the Belle of Louisville steamboat, Knob Creek, Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, Bourbon Heritage Center, the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, the Maker’s Mark Distillery.
The Overseas Highway, Florida
Florida’s Route 1 comprises 42 bridges and a whole lot of water. So much, that you’ll start to feel as if you’re driving right on it. It’s a unique trip that will take you across the Florida Keys and will keep those sea legs in fine shape. Distance:127.5 miles Where to stop: The Dolphin Research Center, the Seven Mile Bridge, the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar.
Following Lake Michigan
You usually don’t think “Michigan!” when someone mentions the beach, but the lake is in fact a great place to get away and soak up some sun. This trip goes up Lake Michigan’s western shoreline to Mackinac Island and is great for the whole family. Distance:413 miles Where to stop: St. Joseph, Windmill Island Gardens, New Holland Brewing Company, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinaw City.
Bluebonnet Tour, Texas
When Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, First Lady “Lady Bird” Johnson made it her mission to beautify American cities. One of her projects was to plant gardens bluebonnets all over Texas Hill Country. Today, you can hike trails near the flowers and drive from Austin to Johnson City’s Wildflower Loop to Burnet, the bluebonnet mecca of Texas. Distance: 85 miles Where to stop: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Pecan Street Brewing, Becker Vineyards.
Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana
This long journey stretches along the Mississippi river (the longest river in the United States) and will give you a taste of the past and the present. The trip starts at Lake Itasca, Minn., and ends in the New Orleans bayou. It’s your straight shot of Americana. Distance: 2069 miles Where to stop: Crossroads (MI), Galena (IL), “The Grotto” in Dickeyville, The National Brewing Museum, Wyalusing State Park.
La Ruta Panorámica, Puerto Rico
Itching for a road trip that’s a little less landlocked? Literally translated to “The Scenic Route,” La Ruta Panorámica is like Puerto Rico’s own Route 66–filled with coffee plantations, wild horses and waterfalls. Distance: 167 miles Where to stop: Museo del Cafe, Cerro de Punta, Plaza de Colón.
It may be brief, but this drive is a breathtaking trip through Montana’s Glacier National Park. The road was made especially so you won’t miss any beautiful sights or disturb any of the nature and wildlife in the park. Distance: 50 miles Where to stop: Logan Pass, McDonald Falls, Sacred Dancing Cascade, Garden Wall, Jackson Glacier Turnout.
Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah
US Highway 50
This is for the ironmen and women of roadtripping. A cross-country, border-to-border road that passes from San Francisco to The Chesapeake Bay, runs through a dozen states and four state capitals. You’ll see the country’s most famous mountain ranges, the Great Plains, deserts–and feel like you’re making the same journey as America’s original pioneers. Time magazine even named the road “The Backbone of America.” Distance: 3,200 miles Where to stop: Depends on you.