Road trips, overnight camping, and sightseeing. One of the best parts of being a travel lover is understanding the essence of such simple activities that one must do in one’s life. I am personally a car lover and I started driving at the age of 16 (yes before the legal age, do not try this, it is fun but not safe).
Be it with my family or friends, the stories we have shared around the bonfire and the songs we have sung during long road trips, were all some of the best moments in my life.
We used to create a lot of noise as we went, turning our speakers up to full volume. But the fun lies in how many memories we make and the stories we tell after these road trips.
Road trips are always refreshing and adventurous. The best part about a road trip is that we can never plan according to the things that are about to happen. Maybe the fuel might suddenly be not enough or the restaurant that we planned on eating from, might turn out to be actually closed.
Yes, road trips are surely adventurous and breathtaking. Especially when you are driving through a cliff and if you look left, it’s a huge pit. This is not to scare you because, at the end of the day, you feel strong, special, and refreshed which is worth it.
With all that said, let us have a look at the ten best places for road trips in the United States of America. We personally love these places not just for road trips but for enjoying its beauty. And as we always say, driving to your dream destination is always fun. Especially when you have someone special to share the journey with 😉
We thought of starting off our list with the original route of America. This route in simple words could be told as the grandfather of all roads in the United States. It is also known as the ‘Main street of America’ and ‘The mother road’.
This route is over two thousand miles and runs between Chicago and Los Angeles. One main reason people hit this route nowadays is to experience the rich history and adventure of this route. It passes through various destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Oklahoma, the Ozarks, the city streets of St Louis and Chicago, New Mexico, and Texas.
Basically, anyone who wants to experience nostalgia can hit this route. Many people today would say that Route 66 has lost its original glory but hey let’s not forget the saying, ‘Old is Gold‘, and many people still consider this route, gold.
Things to do here:
- Visit the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas which is famous for its public art and sculptures. You could even spray paint a part of Cadillac yourself.
- See for yourself the beautiful ‘Painted Desert’ in Indian Wells, Arizona. The Desert got its name from its amazing colors that almost make it look like a painting.
- Take a 630-foot ride to the top of St Louis and the Gateway Arch.
- Explore the Petrified Forest in Holbrook, Arizona
- Grasp a view of the famous endpoint sign for Route 66 that is placed on Santa Monica Pier.
- Get some great food from ‘Lou Mitchell’s Diner, Chicago, Illinois. This American Diner is known as the ‘First Stop on the Mother Road’.
Situated from Miami to Keywest, the Overseas highway or ‘The highway that goes to the sea‘ is a modern wonder. The highway is just as it sounds, overseas. You are going to have some spectacular views and some memorable experiences.
We would suggest bikers to hit this road more as riding a motorbike through this highway is absolute bliss.
Things to do:
- The first keyspace you would come across is the Key Largo. If you need to stretch your legs, stop at the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.
- You will also come across various beautiful places such as the History of Diving Museum, Dolphin Research Center and the famous seven-mile bridge.
- Your overseas highway shall end when you hit Key West and if you made it this far, just drive till the end of the highway to experience extreme content.
Do not start your trip thinking you will eat along the way as the roads are long without any stops in between and sometimes the traffic will be pretty slow. But at every key stop, you will have amazing restaurants, resorts, and places that offer bed and breakfasts.
Try leaving at an off-peak hour to grasp the total adventure of this trip as you will not love the traffic at holiday weekends.
The Great river road
It follows the course of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana. This river road passes through ten states and takes an average of 4 to 10 days to make the journey.
Things to do:
- Some of the best places you will see along the journey are the Fort snelling, Nelson Dewey state park, Chain of Rocks bridge in Illinois, Trail of tears state park, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Mud island park in Tennessee.
- For the book lovers, you can visit the hometown of mark twain along the journey. The whole town is recreated and animated by historical actors and interpreters. It also hosts famous oil paintings. This amazing town of animated literary icons is in Hannibal Missouri.
- You can also take a ride on a Mississippi River riverboat which is bound to take you back in time. These cruises shall be 90 minutes long and for sure a once in a lifetime experience
This amazing journey of the great river road ends in New Orleans. New Orleans has a lot of narrow streets filled with art galleries, restaurants, and music. People at times party even in the street.
Kancamagus Scenic Byway, New Hampshire, New England
New England without a doubt is one of the most famous towns for its fall foliage. It is too beautiful during the fall and a must-visit for all travel lovers. It runs through the White Mountain national forest and you could camp almost anywhere without a permit here. But you would need to purchase a parking permit for your car.
Things to do:
- You will be able to visit the Russell-Colbath Homestead which is a restored farmhouse and now a museum.
- You can also see the Sugar hills, Falls pond, Rocky gorge, and Hancock and would be able to view nature at its best. Photographers find these places magical, so do not forget your camera.
- Also, take a short hike of half a mile to see the Sabbaday Falls which is a popular stop on the highway.
- If you are taking a tour before the first week of October and choose to stay at The loon Mountain ski resort, you will be very lucky to take part in the Franconia notch bike tour. In this tour, you can see the natural wonders of New Hampshire such as The old man of the mountain and Flume gorge.
- Pass through Lincoln at the end of September and you will be able to witness the largest Scottish cultural event called New Hampshire highland games. It will include dancing, music, athletic competitions, and even whiskey tasting. Make sure to visit Clark’s trading post for an Eskimo sled dog ranch. You can also pick up some traditional maple syrup and stoneware from here.
Hudson Valley is known for the nation’s finest antique hunting. Filled with beautiful scenery, authentic mansions, and unique attractions, the National Geographic traveler named this region among the top 20 best of the world destinations.
Things to do:
- Hudson Valley has almost everything. It has great restaurants, amazing gardens, performing arts, and even awe-striking landscapes.
- This Valley has some of the best farm-markets in the Country.
- It even hosts some of the award-winning food festivals because of which dining in this dreamy place is legendary.
- Do not miss the beauty of nature at the Innisfree Garden.
- Also, make sure to attend the Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel and even the Caramoor Summer Music Festival.
- The world’s longest pedestrian bridge is built here, to the Shawangunk Mountains. It is an amazing rock climbing area.
- You could also visit the Storm king art center and the bohemian towns like New Paltz and Woodstock during the fall.
The Appalachian trail
This trail starts from the north woods of Maine all the way south to Georgia. It holds both the extremes of the country, the wealthiest, and the neediest. Completing the entire Appalachian trail is considered so hard that people claim that it is harder than climbing The Everest.
Things to do:
- You can hike to the top of Mt Katahdin in Northern Maine and Tallulah Gorge State park if you are adventurous.
- Some of the iconic routes in the Appalachian trail are the skyline drive which runs along the Shenandoah national park and the blue ridge parkway from the blue ridge to the black mountains.
- Also, you can make a pit stop at Asheville, dinosaur land, and Gettysburg.
- You can also drive up to Mount Washington after which you will be awarded a bumper sticker to prove your drive to the mountain.
- This trail is mostly for hikers and will take up to 15 days if you start and finish in Toronto.
- You will also be able to experience regional crafts and music at Tamarack.
- We would suggest you take a cooler for snacks and breakfast because all hotels don’t offer breakfast.
- Picnics are great fun in most of the spots so packing your food is going to be a big boon. Also, you will love to explore Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
Known as the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the United States, Big Sur is termed as one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines. It consists of more than 90 miles of coastline, from the Pacific to the west and St Lucia Mountain range to the east. If you are a nature lover, this will be heaven for you.
Things to do:
- You could hike the Manuel peak at Pfeiffer Big Sur state park.
- Wander through the Limekiln State park or even watch the graceful McWay Falls.
- Pfeiffer Beach is located next to Los Padres National Forest and is famous for its rock formation. It can get a bit crowded and you might have to wait a bit to get parking, but travelers say that it is worth the ride and wait. It is quite windy here hence a jacket would be a great idea. And it is highly rated for photography as everywhere you look, you will only see impressive scenery.
- There is also the Sand Dollar beach which is the largest unbroken stretch of sand in Big Sur. It is considered to be one of the best surfing sports here.
- Also, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park which is an absolute favorite among tourists and locals is a must-visit for all travel lovers.
The Pacific Northwest
Even the Pacific Northwest is known for its coastline along with its rainy weather and massive mountains. These states are in Washington and Oregon and are similar in climate. Even though the region only has two big cities, Portland and Seattle, the pacific northwest is all about the outdoors and road trips.
Things you can do:
- You can hike, climb, and even bike in some of the nation’s best national parks.
- You could visit the peaks of North Cascades and the National Park of Mount Rainier to see its beautiful wildflowers.
- Also, the lava scraped landscapes of Mount St Helens, Washington is really beautiful.
- You can hike in the Olympic National Park to escape from the busy life at Seattle.
- Portland on the contrary to Seattle is filled with greenery all around the city. You could just take an Aerial Tram above the city to see some magnificent views of it. And the best part about Portland is that it becomes more beautiful at night.
- From Portland, if you drive for two hours, you will reach Mt hood which will give you a great view of the mountain and the forest. But beware, Mt Hood is a potentially active volcano!
The Big Bend
The Big Bend is the shorter version for the Big Bend National Park. It is quite isolated and you won’t find much traffic here thus giving you a peaceful road trip. This National Park is in the wilderness of West Texas.
The best part about this park is that it is a certified dark sky park which means you will get a clear view of stars at night. Hence, take your binoculars and camping gear so that you can explore the whole area.
Things to do:
- You will be able to view the Santa Elena canyon, the Emory peak, the Lost mine trails, Chisos mountains, and the Chihuahuan desert.
- You can hike in the Santa Elena canyon and soak yourself in the hot springs.
- The drive through the park on the Ross Maxwell scenic drive is really amazing.
- You can take a trail to the Mexican village of Boquillas and the Rio grande village.
- And the best part about road trips to here is camping during the night time. Watching the stars above you and just falling asleep to that wonderful sight is really an amazing memory to have.
- Visiting the Terlingua ghost town is actually fun (despite the term ‘ghost town’).
The big bend has three campgrounds and some great resorts so you don’t have to worry about accommodation.
Smoky mountains are great for nature sightseeing. It is another national park known as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and has almost 270 miles of roadways.
Extending from Tennessee to North Carolina, the Smoky Mountains are also known for its beautiful fall foliage. Because of this, the fall season is the best time to visit this place.
Things to do:
- You could visit the cades cove for a touch of historical brilliance.
- Make sure you visit the Newfound gap, the Sugarlands visitor center, the Roaring fork motor nature trail, and Clingmans Dome.
- Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Tennessee and in the park. You would need a jacket even during summer as it is much colder in the peaks.
- The Abrams, Laurel, and Grotto waterfalls here are very mighty and astonishing to watch.
The Great Smoky Mountains is the country’s most visited national park and this will surely leave you with a lasting memory. There are many campgrounds here but only one lodge. You could find many hotels, cabin rentals, and beautiful resorts in gateway towns. All you would need are 3 days to explore this beautiful place.
Lets hit that road!
Road trips are always memorable and one of the best experiences as a travel lover. Since my childhood, my family has loved taking road trips. We lived in Dubai, so we used to hit the roads to Oman almost every holiday. When I think about it now, all those small experiences are what made my love for traveling so incredible.
Some people enjoy the drive while others enjoy being with their family or friends. There are some that enjoy camping and a picnic. And some just enjoy the refreshing scenes of nature.
Then there are those people that enjoy all of these and mostly those amazing memories that are made during such trips. I am one of those people. Are you?
Now if you have loved any of these places that we’ve mentioned and have found them useful or if you know any more that you’d like to recommend to us, feel free to tell us through email or the comment section below. We would love to interact and know more about you.