Everyone has their own idea of the dream vacation. And while you could fly to far-away destinations and travel halfway across the globe, have you ever considered exploring a little closer to home? By embarking on a U.S. road trip, you can incorporate the travel into your adventure, finding the best hotels and places to stay, the most delicious restaurants, and the most stunning attractions along the way. And that's exactly why we've rounded up the best road trips the U.S. has to offer just for you. But which one will you drive first?
If Montana has always been on our bucket list, it's fair to say that you can't travel to Montana without checking out Montana's Glacier National Park. After all, everyone should drive through the Rocky Mountains at least once - and the Going-to-the-Sun Road allows you to do just that. This road travels a whopping 7,000 feet above sea level, allowing you to drive past some of the country's best views.
It's a good idea to take your time when embarking on this U.S. road trip, though. This route is full of hairpin bends, and the last thing you want is to miss the stunning views.
Going-To-The-Sun Road Must See: Lake McDonald
If the Going-to-the-Sun Road sounds like the kind of U.S. road trip for you, it might be time to start planning your adventure. And while this 51-mile route might not be the longest on the list, that doesn't mean that you have to rush through it. You must stop and see everything along the way - including the beautiful Lake McDonald. Yes, with crystal clear water and amazing multi-colored rocks, it's a must-see.
However, Montana's National Glacier Park is prone to extreme weather conditions. Because of this, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is usually open for just a few months in the summer. So, planning is key.
Great River Road
Often called the best drive in America, the Great River Road is more than just a road; it's an adventure! Following the Mississippi River across an incredible ten states, this 3,000-mile U.S. road trip will see you pass through the likes of Minnesota, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The National Scenic Byway will take you around 36 hours to drive in one go - but it's always a good idea to split this up and check out some cool places to stay along the way.
In fact, we'd suggest splitting up this journey anywhere between four to 10 days, allowing you the chance to really appreciate the scenic river views and the hotels you can find along the route.
Great River Road Must See: Oak Alley
If you plan to set off on this U.S. road trip, you'll want to split your time between the different states. So, make sure you give yourself some extra time in Louisiana to truly appreciate the stunning Oak Alley home. Giant oak trees pave the way to a grand plantation home that offers a Civil War exhibit and the famous Sugarcane Theater, and it's something everyone must experience at least once.
If that's not your style, however, you'll be happy to know that New Orleans is just a 56-minute drive away, offering you a Mardi Gras vibe and plenty of places to stay while you embrace the eclectic culture.
Pacific Coast Highway
Arguably the most well-known U.S. road trip on this list, the Pacific Coast Highway route is famous with everyone from spring breakers to retirees - and there's a good reason for that. Spanning 659 miles, this route will follow scenic roads all across California, from San Francisco to San Diego. Along the way, you'll see breathtaking coastal views and be able to enjoy the warm weather of the Golden State.
Of course, we'd always encourage anyone embarking on this U.S. road trip to travel by style. And what's more stylish than an open-top convertible? It just has to be done.
Pacific Coast Highway Must See: Bixby Creek Bridge
One of the things travelers love most about the Pacific Coast Highway is the fact that the landscape is so rough and rugged. Because of this, there are so many amazing bridges along the way - including, of course, the very famous Golden Gate Bridge. But while this San Francisco attraction should definitely be at the top of your to-do list, so should the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur.
This bridge offers endless views of the coastline and is a striking feat of engineering. And if you take the highway from the north to the south during sunset, you'll get the best view.
North Shore Drive
If you're looking for a shorter U.S. road trip that has less travel time, the North Shore Drive could be perfect for you. At just 154 miles long, it's great for a long weekend road trip, allowing you the chance to take in the scenery and find the best places to stay. And the best part? This route will take you from Duluth in Minnesota all the way and the Canadian border.
This means that you could add in a Canadian road trip on top if you really wanted to. But if you want to stick to the U.S., there are so many things to see and do along the way.
North Shore Drive Must See: Gooseberry Falls State Park
Of course, no trip along the North Shore Drive would be complete without a trip to Lake Superior. But if that isn't enough adventure for you, why not stop off at Gooseberry State Falls, too? This park is the ultimate playground for nature lovers, offering everything from rock climbing to views of the spectacular waterfalls. In fact, it's great for those who want to add a hike to their U.S. road trip.
If you're a keen hiker, you could even consider camping for the night in the park. This would break up the journey and give you a chance to avoid expensive hotel fees.
Everyone knows Route 66, right? This famous U.S. route is the main route between Santa Monica and Chicago and is great for those who want to experience the different landscapes of the country. But be warned, you can't drive this route on a weekend! As it spans 2,400 miles, crosses three time zones, and goes through eight different states, it's one heck of a road trip. And it's suggested that you should take three weeks to complete it.
Of course, you could drive it quicker - but why would you want to do that? Traveling through the desert and investigating charming roadside towns is all part of the fun and all part of the adventure.
Route 66 Must See: Petrified Forest National Park
As it's so huge, there's so much to see and do when you travel along Route 66. You could spend months truly investigating everything on the way, but if you want to see the best of the best, why not add a trip to St. Louis and the Gateway Arch to your bucket list? When you get further along, check out the Route 66 Museum in Oklahoma, and then the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
This national park looks like another world and is something you definitely need to see at least once in your life. After all, the petrified wood in this park is over 225 million years old!
If you're not scared of water, you need to add a road trip along the Overseas Highway to your bucket list. As suggested by this name, this highway was built on top of the water, allowing you to cross the Gulf of Mexico, Florida Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean by a series of almost 50 bridges. And while it was originally intended to be used as a railroad, it was turned into a stunning U.S. road trip option in the 1930s.
All in all, this route will allow you to travel across 113 miles. But while it might not be a very long road trip, it'll certainly be one you won't forget anytime soon.
Overseas Highway Must See: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
If you're going to be driving through Florida, you've got to take advantage of the impressive Floridian waterways. And while there are so many beaches and Keys to explore while traveling along the Overseas Highway, you cannot miss the chance to explore the world's first undersea park. Called the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, it's a work of engineering and fun - and there's so much that you can see and do.
Qualified divers can, of course, go scuba diving, but you don't need to have your license to enjoy the delights of these underwater worlds. You can also go snorkeling or even ride on a glass-bottomed boat.
Trail Ridge Road
If you want to travel the U.S. and truly appreciate what this country has to offer, you need to check out the Rocky Mountains. And one of the best ways to do that is to drive along Trail Ridge Road. Perfect for a weekend getaway, this 48-mile-long U.S. road trip will allow you to take in stunning vistas while getting closer and closer to the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
You'll definitely need to remember your camera if you're going to drive this road, as the stunning landscapes will hit you from all sides. But with a few sketchy turns and turns, you'll need to make sure that the passenger is in charge of the camera!
Trail Ridge Road Must See: Sprague Lake
Considering the Trail Ridge Road trails through the Rockies, you probably don't need us to tell you that this is full of amazing landscapes. And while you can see them from the car, why not take a break and explore some of the amazing pit stops along the way? You could visit Estes Park or Fairview Curve, and we'd always suggest seeing the stunning Sprague Lake in all of its glory.
But if you're planning on embarking on this U.S. road trip during the winter, don't bother. Due to the harsh winter conditions and safety concerns, the trail is closed to the public during this time.
If you're looking for a scenic drive that will take your breath away, you might want to head to the heart of Utah's southwest. Here, you will find the stunning Patchwork Parkway, a 55-mile-long U.S. road trip that will take you through craggy canyons, green forests, crystalline lakes, and Native American petroglyphs. Yes, this road packs in a lot despite its short length, and there's so much to see and do.
However, you need to be careful when driving this road. The Patchwork Parkway may be short, but it offers the driver a whopping 4,500 feet of elevation change. So, you'll need to be on the ball if you're driving.
Patchwork Parkway Must See: Cedar Breaks National Monument
With its red rock formations and craggy landscape, the Cedar Breaks National Monument is a must-see if you're going to drive the Patchwork Parkway. Plus, this attraction is normally much quieter than its neighbors at Bryce Canyon National Park, which means you'll be able to appreciate the beauty of this martian landscape without the hustle and bustle of other tourists. They're not the only things you must see during this U.S. road trip, though.
No trip to Utah would be complete without a trip to Dixie National Forest, either. And if you have time, make sure you check out the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs - or just stop to appreciate the clear night skies!
If you find yourself in the western United States, why not add a U.S. road trip to your itinerary? If you decide that this is the travel adventure you're after, the Beartooth Highway could make all of your road trip dreams come true. As a gateway to Yellowstone Park, it's the perfect excuse to travel the rest of Montana and enjoy everything the Treasure State has to offer. It's not too long, either, at just 68.7 miles.
Yes, if you fancy mountain views for most of the journey, Beartooth Highway certainly fits the bill. But just remember that this road is closed during the winter months, as the hairpin pens can become dangerous in the snow and ice.
Beartooth Highway Must See: The Log Cabin Cafe
Driving through the mountains will certainly work up an appetite, and if you're looking for the best places to eat during your U.S. road trip, look no further than the Log Cabin Cafe in the town of Silver Gate. Although this may be a small eatery, it has a big reputation for offering some of the most delicious food along the route. In fact, customers have been raving about it since it opened in 1937.
As it can get pretty cold along the Beartooth Highway, we have no doubts that you'll appreciate a warm cup of Joe or a big plate of pancakes at the Log Cabin Cafe. Just tell them we sent you!
While some of the U.S. road trips on this list could take you weeks, the Brandywine Valley route doesn't take long at all. In fact, you should be able to cover this whole route in just under 30 minutes! But just because it's a short route doesn't mean that you should go home straight away. You could spend days exploring the best places to eat and the nicest hotels in this area between Pennsylvania and Delaware.
There's so much to see along this route, too. From the grand homes to the manicured gardens, it's definitely a trip that will make all of your followers on Instagram jealous.
Brandywine Valley Must See: Winterthur Museum
If you're more excited about culture than mountainous views, the Brandywine Valley route is perfect for you. That's because there are so many historical stops along the way that will fill your mind with knowledge and culture, including the famous Winterthur Museum. But, if we're being honest, you don't need to be told where to go if you're going to embark on this U.S. road trip. As it's so short, you can just stop whenever you see something you like the look of.
In fact, we have a feeling that this will take you a lot longer than 30 minutes, purely because you're going to see so much that you like the look of. So, make a weekend of it!
Oregon Coast Highway 101
As you can probably tell by the name, the Oregon Coast Highway is not only in Oregon, but it also offers some of the best coastal views the country has to offer. In fact, there are some people who would say that the Oregon Coast Highway trumps the Pacific Highway in terms of things there are to see and do. All in all, it spans 363 miles, which means you could technically drive the whole thing in under 12 hours.
But why would you want to do that when you want to make the most out of your U.S. road trip? It's suggested that you should spend at least five days along this road, checking out the local hotels and finding the best places to eat.
Oregon Coast Highway Must See: Cape Creek Bridge
If you want to add the Oregon Coast Highway to your bucket list, there are certain things that you need to see before you head back home again. For starters, you might want to add a hike through the Fort Stevens State Park to your itinerary, or you could head further towards the coast to see the last wooden lighthouse in the state - the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse - in the flesh.
But if you want our opinion, no trip along the Oregon Coast Highway would be complete without seeing the Cape Creek Bridge. It really is a beautiful sight to behold.
If Alaska has always been on your bucket list, we don't blame you. This state is often overlooked by those who prefer the warmer temperatures of the continental U.S., but Alaska has so much to offer it would be a shame to miss out just because you'll need to pack a few extra layers. And one of the best road trip routes in Alaska just has to be the Seward Highway. Trailing from Anchorage to Seward, it spans across 127 miles.
When driving this highway, you can look up and see beautiful forests and snow-capped mountains. But look to your side, and you'll see moose and bears. And if you look down, you might even spot some beluga whales!
Seward Highway Must See: Turnagain Arm
With such a rich gold mining history, it would be a shame to finish your U.S. road trip without at least trying to find some gold at the Crow Creek Mine. But if you're heading to Alaska to immerse yourself in the wilderness instead, you'll be happy to learn that there are so many things you can do. Of course, just keeping your eyes peeled for moose and bears will keep you busy - but how about a trip to Beluga Lookout, too?
Situated right next to the famous Turnagain Arm, you might even be lucky enough to watch the belugas riding the surf. If not, you'll probably see a human riding the surf!
Park Loop Road
Maine is a beautiful state that has so much to offer, and while it would be easy to fly there and stay in a hotel, there's nothing quite like hitting the open road and traveling at your own pace. Thankfully, this state offers one of the most stunning U.S. road trip trails in the country, and the Park Loop Road is a must-drive. Designed by the same architect who designed the iconic Central Park in New York City, this loop is a scenic masterpiece.
Offering some of the best views of the Acadia National Park, this loop spans just 27 miles. But during that time you'll be able to stop at so many amazing observation points, no matter whether you want to see cragged mountains or crystalline lakes.
Park Loop Road Must See: Cadillac Mountain
Many people embark on the Park Loop Road road trip for the views alone, so we wouldn't blame you if you did the same. And while the stopping-off points along this route offer these views in abundance, nothing quite compares to the views seen at the top of Cadillac Mountain. But be warned; it can get pretty busy up there, despite the fact that you'll have to hike 3.5 miles up to reach the summit.
But when you get to the top, you'll see what all the fuss is about. And if you stick around for sunset, we have no doubts that you'll create a core memory that will last a lifetime.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive
Northern Michigan doesn't get the credit that it's due. This area of the country is absolutely stunning, with some of the most diverse landscapes you'll see. But while many people still travel to this state to check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes, it's incredibly easy to turn this trip into a road trip. That's because the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is just over 7 miles long, but during that time, you can pass by everything from thick forest to sandy dunes.
In fact, you'll even get a peek at Lake Michigan as you drive this U.S. road trip. As you can imagine, this means that there is so much to see and do along this route.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive Must See: Lake Michigan Overlook
If you know you're going to be driving by Lake Michigan, why wouldn't you stop and explore? Whether you want to take a dip or just lay out on the sand, the best place to do this is at Lake Michigan Overlook. However, it's important to note that you can't just rock up and explore this area. If you want to truly appreciate the Lake Michigan Overlook in all of its glory, you need to book a vehicle pass.
It's definitely worth the extra admin, though. Lake Michigan is a sight to behold, and the colors of the water below will truly take your breath away. Yes, it's a must-see.
Many of the U.S. road trips on this list are so named for a reason, and this is no different when it comes to the Bluebonnet Trail. After all, anyone who has ever heard of Ennis, Texas, will know that this city is famous for its bluebonnets blossoms. And every April, the city is transformed into a striking landscape full of these stunning blooms. But pictures just don't do them justice.
If you want to see these blooms with your own eyes, we'd suggest driving the 40-mile Bluebonnet Trail. Offering the best views of expansive bluebonnet fields, this route will be a feast for the eyes.
Bluebonnet Trail Must See: Bubba's BBQ & Steakhouse
With your eyes taking in every inch of these bluebonnet fields, you might forget to eat. But don't worry, we're not going to let you forget one of the best places to eat in the whole of Texas. Yes, Bubba's BBQ & Steakhouse is legendary, offering some of the best barbecue food you've ever eaten. With big portions, you'll need to take a big appetite with you - but don't worry if you can't eat it all.
If you have any leftovers, box them up and take them to the Meadow View Nature Area. It's the perfect spot for a picnic, offering amazing views over the surrounding wildflower fields.
Many people add Washington, D.C. to their bucket list, but next time you decide to head to our nation's capital, why not turn your trip into a road trip? Just an hour away from the capital city you'll find the Skyline Drive road trip route. It's a 105-mile stretch that will take you on a winding route through the stunning Blue Mountains, and it's a definite must-see. Especially as it's the only public route through these famous peaks.
As you pass through the likes of Shenandoah National Park, you'll be struck by the impressive nature around you. Keep your eyes peeled, though, as you might spot some black bears!
Skyline Drive Must See: South River Overlook
Much of this U.S. road trip falls within the boundaries of the Shenandoah National Park. And along the way, you'll be able to find 75 designated scenic stopping points that offer you outstanding views of the nearby area. Because of this, you could spend hours taking in the view. But if you want our opinion, head to the South River Overlook early in the morning for a sunrise like you've never seen before.
You can make of this park what you will, though. With four different entrances, you could also deviate from the planned route and see where the wind (and your engine) takes you.
We wouldn't be surprised if you were already familiar with the history of Lemhi Pass. After all, this route through the Beaverhead Mountains is where Lewis and Clark found the continental divide - and stories of their explorations have been taught in schools ever since. But if you want to have a slightly easier adventure and embark on a more enjoyable U.S. trip, you might want to explore the Lemhi Pass by car, instead.
Located on the border of both Montana and Idaho, this road trip is perfect for adding on to a larger road trip - especially as you have to check out both the Beaverhead- Deerlodge National Forest and the Salmon-Challis National Forest at least once in your life.
Lemhi Pass Must See: Sacajawea Memorial Area
While many years have passed since Lewis and Clark embarked on their historic trip, no road trip along the Lemhi Pass would be complete without paying homage to them. And while you can do this by simply appreciating the views and the winding roads, you might want to get out of the car, too. If you're prepared for a slight hike, a trip to the Sacajawea Memorial Area is a must-see.
Not only is it the perfect place to reflect on the beauty of the park, but it's also a great place for a picnic - or even a larger hike! In fact, there's a beautiful wildflower trail that leads on from the Sacajawea Memorial Area.
If you're looking for a road trip just outside of the mainland U.S., look no further than the Ruta Panorámica. This epic highway can be found in Puerto Rico, allowing you the chance to travel the whole island from west to east. Along the way, you'll pass everything from luscious rainforests to central mountain ranges and postcard-perfect villages along the way. You'll have to be a confident driver to drive this, though.
Some of the roadways along this route aren't up to the same standard as on the mainline U.S., so you'll need to hire a car that has some very substantial tires!
Ruta Panorámica Must See: Salto De Doña Juana Falls
If you're happy to take on the challenge of the Ruta Panorámica roads, you won't be disappointed. This tropical landscape is often a welcome change from the rolling fields and mountains of the U.S., and there's so much to see and do. Whether you want to try out the local coffee or find a delicious place to eat, there's no doubt that you'll leave this island with a full stomach. And a heart full of memories, too.
In fact, you can't drive this U.S. road trip without stopping off at the stunning Salto de Doña Juana Falls. This 120-foot waterfall even offers you a refreshing pool at the bottom to cool down.
Hawaiʻi Belt Road
There are so many roads in the state of Hawaii that would make the perfect U.S. road trip, but most people would agree that the Hawaiʻi Belt Road on the Big Island is top of that list. Circling the whole island, this route gives you the chance to see everything this island has to offer - from volcanic landscapes to beautiful sandy beaches, tropical rainforests, and even snowy mountains in the higher regions.
The 260.43-mile-long route will take you around six hours to complete if you don't stop, but we'd recommend breaking the driving up into chunks so you can find nice hotels to stay in and delicious places to eat.
Hawaiʻi Belt Road Must See: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa
One thing to note about Hawaiʻi is that gas prices have skyrocketed over the past few years, which means that this will be an expensive trip. But we guarantee that it'll be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, even just for the volcanoes alone. That's because there are actually four active volcanoes on the Big Island, with Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa being visible from the Hawaiʻi Belt Road. So, why not stop off and check them out?
You can actually take volcano tours if you want to get up close and personal with these volcanoes, and sunrises and sunsets are particularly special from these heights. If you stay late after sunset, you could even check out the amazing stargazing opportunities.
Utah is known for offering some of the best road trip options in the U.S., and Highway 12 is another to add to your list. Spanning from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef, this road trip will give you the chance to see the ever-changing landscape of the mainland U.S. Of course, this gives you plenty of stopping opportunities, no matter whether you want to explore the pine forests, craggy canyons and desert, or pioneer towns.
But more than anything, this route offers breathtaking views and gateways to the two national parks it connects. So, it's a great U.S. road trip to take if you want to explore these parks further.
Highway 12 Must See: Bryce Canyon National Park
Of course, no trip to Utah would be complete without exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. Yes, even if you only manage to explore a small slice of this natural wonder, you'll see why it's one of the most popular national parks in the country. But the adventure doesn't stop there. When you've finished at Bryce Canyon, you could travel down the infamous Hell's Backbone Road - a dirt road track that connects Escalante and Boulder.
This whole route will offer you some of the most magical views you've ever seen in your life, so make sure you have your camera at the ready throughout the whole trip.