America is one of the most expansive and geographically diverse countries in the world. With geography ranging from valleys and streams to desserts and high mountains, the US has a lot to offer for those wanting to hit the road exploring. We’ve compiled a list of the best road trips in the USA you should consider if you want to get out and explore the open road.
Best Road Trips in America
If you’re in the Northeast, or you’re interested in visiting, you should consider road tripping up through the communities, towns, and beaches of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As you pass through a variety of small New England towns, you’ll get the chance to get a feel for the pace and style of life of New Englanders who choose to live in one of the most scenic areas of all of Massachusetts.
There are plenty of opportunities to stop and absorb the local culture and food (the lobster rolls are considered to be some of the best in the country), and you’ll have ample opportunity to stop at the multitude of bustling small town squares in towns like Barnstable, Massachusetts as you make your way to the cape.
If you’re looking to get out into some expansive areas on the West Coast, consider taking a drive through Mount Rainier National Park in Washington.
Mount Rainier is the largest mountain in the continental United States, so views of the mountain are nothing short of epic as you drive through the park. The views of the mountains and bodies of water surrounding it, combined with the beautiful greenery and fresh air of the rural Pacific Northwest, make for one of the most magical and peaceful road trips possible.
When you plan your road trip, if you plan on staying in the area for multiple days, consider lodging at the historic Paradise Inn. It’s a historic hotel in the heart of the park. Built in 1916, and featuring log cabin-style architecture, the hotel is famous for its views and its meals. In fact, it’s a recommended pitstop for travelers going through the park even if they’re not staying the night because of its infamous record for hospitality and great meals, which truly makes this one of the best road trips in the USA.
Collegiate Peaks is a series of tall mountains along the Colorado Rockies on the way to Aspen from the East. Situated west of Colorado Springs and directly south of Aspen, Collegiate Peaks is a top recommendation for seeing some of the most expansive views the Rockies have to offer.
Highway 82 will take you straight through an area known as Twin Lakes for nice photo opportunities of the beautiful mountain ranges set behind the gleaming lakes. Take an opportunity to stop off at some of the beautiful trails and amazing views on popular trails with incredible sights such as Mount Elbert Trail.
There are many of these trails and views situated off Highway 82 as you make your way toward Aspen where, of course, there are a ton of activities to get into since it’s such a famous vacation destination and a top pick for American road trips.
Florida Highway 30A
Highway 30A is a scenic highway situated in the Florida Panhandle between Destin and Panama City. This highway weaves through a series of pristine state beaches and beach communities along the Florida coast. These beaches are protected nature preserves, so you won’t find any looming hotels (which are common along the Florida Panhandle).
This also means these beaches are mostly void of foot traffic to destroy the natural landscape of the Florida shoreline, so you’ll see beautiful natural dunes as you drive down 30A. It’s popular to stop off at spots along the shoreline to take pictures of these natural beaches and their dunes.
It’s also popular to stop along the drive at the many picturesque beach communities you will encounter as you traverse 30A.
Check out the best road trips in South Florida.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is considered one of the most beautiful natural parks in the United States. Located in southern Utah, Zion is composed of a series of mountains, fauna, bodies of water, and natural ecosystems. Driving through the park, you will get to see its natural beauty from the variety of roads that cut through the park.
From switchbacks cutting down hillsides and roads cutting through mountains via the tunnel, you will get to enjoy the views the park has to offer along with the crisp dry mountain air as you make your way through Zion.
And, of course, don’t forget to stop off at the entrance of the park to see the ‘postcard’ views of Zion that everyone gawks about. Be sure to stop off at Angel’s Landing to see the most popular views of the park and views of Mount Zion itself.
California Highway 1
California Highway 1 is a scenic highway along the coast of California. As you make your way up or down the coast on this highway, you’ll get to see some of the most beautiful views possible of the California coastline. And, you’ll get to see a variety of California towns and cities as you do it.
Spanning most of the coast of California from Northern California past Los Angeles nearly to San Diego, this highway is very long, so consider mapping out a section to drive through if you’re looking for a scenic day drive. However, at just over 600 miles in length, you could travel it in a day if you so choose.
Some of the most popular scenic spots include Hearst Memorial State Beach (great for watching ocean wildlife from the shore) and Pismo Beach (which is a great spot for butterfly-watching at certain times of the year).
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park offers a variety of experiences and views for those who choose to drive through this southern Texas national park. Being a national park, it might come as no surprise that the scenery is exquisite in this park. The landscape of this park is akin to something you might see in an old Hollywood Western movie.
With features such as plains, desert fauna, rivers, and beautiful mountains, Big Bend’s views are easily enjoyed from the open road via the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
This road allows you to see the beauty of the park while giving access to many of the popular attractions in the park such as access to trailheads, historic Western towns that now lie within the park, campgrounds, and brief access to the Rio Grande River that separates the United States and Mexico.
Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re looking to explore some of the best natural scenery in the eastern United States, there are few better scenic drives through Appalachian scenery than the Blue Ridge Parkway. Cutting down from Roanoake Virginia along the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains toward the Smokey Mountain National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway will take you along beautiful greenery, mountains, streams, and beautiful valleys as you make your way along its path.
This is a popular scenic route year-round because of its reputation for beautiful views, but it’s most popular to go in the Fall when the foliage along the Appalachian Mountains is turning yellow and orange for fall. If you hit the time of year just right, you will find yourself truly in awe of the beautiful colors and scenery you will see as you drive along the trail, but, of course, the views are fantastic year-round.
Located east of the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, the Painted Desert is one of the most unusual and beautiful natural wonders of the West. The name ‘Painted Desert’ stems from the hills and mountains in this area being composed of varied layers of different varieties of sediment due to natural geological change.
As a result of these layers being deposited over many years and under many conditions, the amazing geography of this region is said to look like it’s straight from a painting. And, if you are looking for more than just gorgeous views and open space for your road trip, the Painted Desert offers a variety of sightseeing activities.
The Painted Desert runs east of the Grand Canyon National Park and down to the Petrified Forest National Park through many regions considered historically significant to Native American nations such as the Navajo Nation Territory. So, there are ample opportunities to observe some of the historic artifacts and current culture of the people native to these beautiful lands.
Oregon Coast Highway
The coastline of Oregon is packed with coastal towns to visit to take in the local vibes, beaches to enjoy the cool and breezy Pacific Northwest weather, amazing views, and historical landmarks.
While the scenery is reason enough to make a trip down the coast, there are a ton of tourist attractions along the way. Besides the local life you can take in from the various towns along the coast, there are activities to partake in at different locations on the coast such as aquariums (i.e. the Seaside, Oregon Aquarium), a shipwreck in Fort Stevens State Park, and even a famous creamery called the Tillamook Creamery.
With such a variety of activities, taking a road trip along the Oregon coast is a sure bet for a good time especially if you’re looking to take a road trip with more available activities beyond just sightseeing from the car, making this a top choice the best road trips in the USA.
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Conclusion – Best Road Trips in the USA
That concludes our list of the best road trips in the USA. I hope we helped you find your next adventure and more sure you are well prepared for your trip by learning how to plan a road trip.
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