Always take the scenic route: 10 all-American road trips you have to try
So, what’s the best way to appreciate a big country that is blessed with diverse cultures and nations? Pack enough clothes, stay longer, buckle up, do cross-country road trips and get ready to live up in the amazing USA roads!
The USA is not short of scenic routes for you to explore. There are national parks, coastal roads, breathtaking landscapes and vintage-looking establishments, to name a few. You'll be pulling over every now and then to take postcard perfect photo opportunities or make a stopover for an hour or two.
Here, I list 10 USA road trip routes that you may want to try.
1. Inaugurate in the Mother Road or the Route 66 Road Trip
The Route 66 Road Trip route: Illinois - Missouri - Kansas - Oklahoma - Texas - New Mexico - Arizona - California
To kick off your USA road trip, why not pass through Route 66, otherwise known as the Mother Road? Route 66 was said to be the pioneer of the great driving vacation. It has earned the reputation of being the main street of America after World War II because every little bit of what you need to experience and see in the country was there: small towns, iconic family-run motels smack in the middle of nowhere, neon lit signages, tourist attractions, stretch of diners and environs that would make your jaw drop.
Even if the historic two-thousand-mile route is no longer the main route across the country, people are still on to it because of its nostalgia that takes them back to the heyday of contemporary America.
2. Head up north for The Great Northern Road Trip
The Great Northern Road Trip route: Washington - Idaho - Montana - North Dakota - Minnesota - Wisconsin - Michigan - Canada - Vermont - New Hampshire - Maine
Also a stretch of about 2,000 miles, The Great Northern road trip promises breathtaking landscapes along the way. This is one of the longest USA road trips starting in the port of Seattle where the road will lead you right to the mountains of Cascade Range, then to the farmland of the distinguished geographic region in the country called Columbia Plateau.
From there, the wildlife world will gradually take you to the peak of Idaho Panhandle, then to Montana where the Glacier National Park awaits. Expect sightings of falls, rivers, bursting vegetation of terrains, and probably some grizzly bears to keep you company--or not.
After braving the adventure-packed time, head straight to Great Plains in between Montana and North Dakota and learn the richest of the rich history lessons and trace the glorious days of the buffaloes that once ruled the area, to name a few.
The next thing you’ll know, you are already in Minnesota, the border of Canada and the largest of the great lakes called Lake Superior. Enjoy your time around here by not missing out on what Crookston and Erskine, Fisher and the big city of Duluth has in store for you. Continue toggling through the road until you reach Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan.
And voila: you’re now in Ontario, Canada! Be sure to squeeze in fun times along North Bay, Ottawa, Deep River and Chalk River, Sudbury, and Montreal, among others, until you reach the jungles of Vermont and the peaks of New Hampshire.
Finally, roam around Maine where you can find some of its impeccable tourist spots such as Rumford, Bethel, and Acadia National Park to end your great trip up north.
3. Pave way for the Pacific Coast Road Trip
The Pacific Coast Road Trip route: Washington - Oregon - California
Fuel up your Pacific Coast Road Trip starting from the tropical jungles and pristine beaches of Washington. Pull over once in awhile and take your feet right in Hoh Rain Forest for a meeting with Mother Nature and in the Long Beach Peninsula to have some fun under the sun.
Until then, find some quiet time in the shorelines of Oregon. Here, you can find time for both relaxation and culmination of activities in the areas of Astoria, Lincoln City, Newport, Cape Perpetua, Shore Acres State Park and Gold Beach.
And if you are still fine, fresh, and fierce, then put your hands up in the sky and welcome what California has for you. There are redwood forests up north and captivating seaside cliffs of Big Sur down south. More importantly, get your sun-kissed skins game on by its primed beaches!
4. Create fun memories in The Loneliest Road Trip
The Loneliest Road Trip route: California - Nevada - Utah - Colorado - Kansas - Missouri - Illinois - Indiana - Ohio - West Virginia - Virginia - Maryland
With more than 10 states to toggle through, The Loneliest Road Trip is without a doubt, not a lonely one at all. The 3,200-mile voyage gives sea to summit sightings that start from San Francisco, California. Who would be lonely with such breathtaking views? Definitely not me.
While you’re in California, be left in awe with the wonders that Oakland, I-80 Towns, The American River and Lover’s Leap, and South Lake Tahoe until you reach Nevada.
Interestingly, some parts of Nevada have the reputation of having “The Loneliest Road in America” because of its long distances. But fret not: Nevada has equal portions of beauty to share in the form of Grimes Point and Sand Mountain, Stateline, Virginia City, Fallon, Eureka, Reno, and Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area.
And if these are not enough beauty for you, The Great Basin National Park has you covered! It exhibits wonderful views of summits, foothills, watersheds, windmills, tropical trails and every little bit of nature to rejuvenate your weary self. It lies in the peripheries of Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Oregon, and the Mexican state of Baja California. From there, head to Missouri for a view of Mississippi River, then to the countryside beauty of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
At the end, the rewarding worlds of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland will welcome you. Trek through shrines and mountains in West Virginia, have some appreciation of the arts, music, and culture in Washington D.C. until you get to cap off the trip in the shores of Maryland.
5. Get lost in The Road to Nowhere Road Trip
The Road to Nowhere Road Trip route: North Dakota - South Dakota - Nebraska - Kansas - Oklahoma - Texas
Have the greatest escape of your life and let all roads lead to the great unknown. Well not really, because ‘nowhere’ is still somewhere else. In The Road to Nowhere Road Trip, you will witness different landscapes, grasslands in the middle of nowhere, small towns, and wide thoroughfares through the grandeur of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
To start with, navigate through North Dakota with heartening views of Fort Clark, The Enchanted Highway, Westhope, Minot and Bismarck.
Next is the extensive state of South Dakota. There lies the cinematic sights of Black Hills National Forest, Sitting Bull Memorial, the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, and the Rosebud Indian Reservation that leads to Nebraska.
Nebraska, on the other hand, compels the grasslands of the Great Plains, heightening dunes of Sandhills, The Great Platte River Road Archway Monument and McCook, which brings you to the Midwestern state of Kansas.
In Kansas, be sure not to miss varieties of museums that will take you on a trip down memory lane, the Monument Rocks, Oberlin, Garden City, and Oklahoma.
To conclude your trip, choose from all the wonders Texas has to give you. There’s Perryton, Paint Rock Pictographs, Shamrock, Abilene, Buffalo Gap, Texas Hill Country, Uvalde, Childress, Paducah, and South Padre Island to name a few!
6. Binge-drive on a Border to Border Road Trip
The Border to Border Road Trip route: Canadian Rockies - Montana - Idaho - Nevada - Arizona
Enter a dimension of complete magnificence from the Canadian Rockies where national parks such as Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park, and Yoho National Park to kick off your Border to Border Road Trip.
The terrific terrains of Montana will then welcome you, where your legs will be put into a great workout with its lakes, snow-capped mountains, and trails to walk on such as Eureka, Kalispell, Hamilton, and Bitterroot Mountains.
From there, the mountainous landscapes of Idaho comes next. Marvel through the wonders of Challis and the Land of Yankee Fork State Park, Julia Davis Park, Sun Valley, Snake River, Ketchum, and Nat-Soo-Pah Hot Springs.
You will then see the diverse deserts of Nevada, the ever alive casinos of Las Vegas, Panaca and Cathedral Gorge, Boulder City, McGill, Pioche and Laughlin as you make way for Arizona.
In the final Border to Border Road Trip, the southwestern state of Arizona will greet you for a job well done. It is home to the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Phoenix, Tucson, Superstition Mountains and the Apache Trail, Picacho Peak, and Nogales.
7. On to The Oregon Trail Road Trip
The Oregon Trail Road Trip route: Oregon - Idaho - Wyoming - Nebraska - Iowa - Illinois - Indiana - Ohio - Pennsylvania - New York - Massachusetts
The Oregon Trail Road Trip is a 3,300-mile road trip that casts sightings of concrete jungles, national parks, shimmering waters of the sea, museums, gustatory diners and whichever site you could think of as this is one of the longest USA road trips ever.
The most remarkable points of interests to take note of are the Yellowstone National Park, the three-waterfall Niagara Falls, the skyscrapers of New York, Sandhills in Nebraska, the ever scenic routes of Ashfield and Conway in Massachusetts, and the distinctive sculptures of Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Carhenge.
8. Amaze yourself with The Atlantic Coast Road Trip
The Atlantic Coast Road Trip route: New Jersey - Delaware - Maryland - Virginia - North Carolina - South Carolina - Georgia - Florida
Starting off with the momentous Statue of Liberty to the Latin-American state of Florida, The Atlantic Coast Road Trip won’t disappoint you with all the islands, wetlands, historical sites, sand dunes, mouthwatering food offerings, amiable locals and expats alike, dreamy boardwalks, and seashore parks available for everyone to enjoy.
As you go through the aforementioned routes, make time to visit The New Jersey Shore, Atlantic City, Cape May and the Statue of Liberty in New Jersey; the Roanoke Island in North Carolina; Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; Cumberland Island National Seashore and the smallest church in America found in Georgia; and the Miami Beach in Florida.
9. Go with the flow in The Great River Road Trip
The Great River Road Trip route: Minnesota - Wisconsin - Iowa - Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri - Kentucky, and Tennessee - Mississippi - Louisiana
Otherwise known as the GPR or the River Road, The Great River Road Trip showcases the unparalleled beauty of 10 states. It starts off in Minnesota where Grand Rapids, Little Falls, Lake Itasca State Park and the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul can be marvelled on.
The route is followed by Wisconsin where Spring Green, Main Street USA, and Prairie du Chien will lead you to Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. There, The Yellow Banks, Hannibal, Mississippi Palisades, Cape Girardeau and the Trail of Tears, Shawnee National Forest and the home of Superman called Metropolis await.
In Kentucky and Tennessee, the spots of Memphis will lead you to Mississippi until you reach Louisiana.
10. Go down south for the Southern Pacific Road Trip
The Southern Pacific Road Trip route: California - Arizona - New Mexico - Texas and New Mexico - Louisiana - Mississippi - Alabama - Georgia
From the palm trees of California all the way to scenic public squares of Georgia, The Southern Pacific Road Trip is all about giving the different flavours of America that you won’t be able to resist.
Here, you will drive through a 3,000-mile journey across Point Loma and Center of the World Pyramid Monument in California; Yuma, Colossal Cave, Tombstone, and Cave Creek Canyon and Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona; Deming and Juan de Oñate Trail in New Mexico; Shreveport and Bossier City in Louisiana; Jackson and Meridian in Mississippi; Columbus, Dublin and Vidalia, and Tybee Island in Georgia.
And there you have it! Which of the USA road trip options would you like to brave on for the season? We know, it’s hard to pick one because all encompasses unique beauty that is surely worth making the long drive for. But keep in mind: buckle up and always take the scenic routes!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mikee Pascual is a Filipino travel and lifestyle writer who is gradually shifting from a sedentary life to a nomadic one. She dreams of traveling to all 81 provinces in the Philippines and having her own book, hostel and restaurant someday. Keep track of the world through her words at World in My Words.
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