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21 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

Whether you’re looking for sweeping views of the pacific ocean or a multiday adventure through national parks, these road trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the united states..

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A highway leading toward mountains

Glacier National Park is one of many scenic places you can visit on an American road trip.

Photo by Zack Frank / Shutterstock

In a country as large as the United States, there’s no shortage of destinations and detours to explore by car. Whether your idea of the perfect American road trip entails an epic, cross-country journey or a shorter jaunt through a few of its most iconic national parks , your options are as large and varied as the country itself.

From scenic drives along wildflower-dotted coasts to routes that help you learn more about America’s history, the following U.S. road trips allow you to enjoy the detours as much as the final destination. No matter your mode of transportation—be it van, RV, motorcycle, or four-door sedan—these are 21 of the best road trips in the nation to consider.

Cross-country road trips in the U.S.

Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

Plan your next Route 66 trip around thirst-quenching stops.

Photo by Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock

There are many ways to do a cross-country road trip in the USA, but these two itineraries will take you through some truly iconic American places.

1. Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington: The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2

Covering both the U.S. and Canada, a cross-country trip along U.S. 2 is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the vast diversity and expansiveness of North America. This drive runs the entire top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders like Acadia National Park in Maine, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, and Mackinac Island in Michigan. The route also passes through Canada, taking road-trippers through Ontario into Quebec—this route may focus on nature, but you won’t want to miss a stop in Montreal or Ottawa.

You’ll also get to explore Montana and Glacier National Park ( reservations required ) before passing the Columbia Plateau and ending in the Pacific Northwest’s largest city, Seattle. Don’t miss spending time in the Olympic Peninsula (home to Olympic National Park) for a peek at one of the most scenic places on the West Coast.

2. Chicago to Los Angeles: A Whiskey Road Trip on Route 66

It doesn’t get more American than a 2,000-mile drive along the entirety of Route 66. And to take your cross-country road trip to the next level, we recommend exploring another American pastime—whiskey.

Starting in Chicago and ending in L.A., you’ll stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, like Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 630 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. In between tastings, make time for detours to natural attractions, like the Grand Canyon, and quirky roadside attractions, like Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Just remember to drink responsibly—this is a road trip after all.

Plan your trip

The full itinerary: Put a New Twist on Route 66—Make It an American Whiskey Road Trip

Shorter road trips throughout the U.S.

Not all of us have the time to drive cross-country. Fortunately there are plenty of amazing, shorter road trip routes (ranging from three days to a week or longer): classic California itineraries , New England routes that shine especially well in the fall, scenic East Coast adventures, and a variety of Midwest journeys for folks farther from the coasts.

3. Dana Point to San Francisco: Driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) are what road trip dreams are made of, and exactly what makes this California road trip so popular. However, with so many stops along the 655-mile stretch, we pulled together a list of the ones well worth pulling over to view. Don’t miss the perfect surfing waves in Santa Cruz, seasonal cuisine in Malibu, an afternoon a the boardwalk in Santa Monica, or a night in Big Sur as you drive between Dana Point (just south of Los Angeles) and San Francisco.

  • The full itinerary: The Best Stops for a Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway
  • The AFAR Guide to San Francisco

4. Big Sur to Mono County: A Literary Road Trip Through Northern California

Yes, this itinerary requires you actually put down your book to drive, but seeing some of the pivotal places that shaped American authors will be so worth it. Follow in the footsteps of writers like Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan on this road trip that takes you through literary landmarks in Northern California, such as Caffe Trieste, a meeting place for Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other bohemian writers and thinkers. This 12-stop itinerary is perfect if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area because you’ll be able to stay relatively close to home.

The full itinerary: The California Road Trip All Book Lovers Should Take

5. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: An Iconic Arizona Road Trip

This 240-mile Arizona road trip takes travelers along some of the state’s most iconic highlights, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon. A great itinerary for first-time visitors and returning travelers alike, it offers plenty of opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and biking—as well as tasty food along the way. Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State.

  • The full itinerary: The Classic 5-Day Arizona Road Trip
  • Grand Canyon guide: The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon
  • Where to eat in Phoenix: A Chef’s Guide to the Best Restaurants
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Arizona ; The Best Airbnbs in Sedona

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah's Arches National Park.

The Delicate Arch living up to its name in Utah’s Arches National Park.

Photo by tusharkoley / Shutterstock

6. Zion to Grand Canyon: A National Parks Road Trip in the Southwest

If you’re looking to visit as many national parks as possible in one road trip, this southwestern itinerary is for you. This journey through Utah and Arizona lets you hike Angel’s Landing in Zion, feel tiny under Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, explore Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon, and, of course, raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Most visitors to the Grand Canyon remain on the rim, but we recommend staying at least four days to venture within the canyon and take advantage of the trails and river rafting.

  • The full itinerary: The Ideal Road Trip Through U.S. National Parks
  • Utah’s 8 Best National Parks and Monuments
  • 10 Best National Parks and Monuments in Arizona
  • The First-Timer’s Guide to the Grand Canyon

7. San Juan Scenic Skyway Road Trip: An Adventure Through Southwestern Colorado

This Colorado trip takes you along the 232-mile loop of the San Juan Scenic Skyway, where you will see plenty of alpine forests, mining towns, and craggy peaks. And for anyone looking to enjoy refreshments after a long day of driving, this route features many opportunities to stop at some of the best breweries in Colorado , such as Ska Brewing Co. in Durango.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Southwestern Colorado Road Trip

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

In small-town Buena Vista, the riverfront Surf Hotel offers front-row seats to Colorado-style adventure seekers.

Courtesy of the Surf Hotel

8. Denver to Montrose: A 420-Mile Road Trip Through Colorado

Want to explore even more of the Centennial State? Head out on this weeklong road trip where you can fish for salmon in Colorado’s largest reservoir, visit numerous small towns, like Paonia and Crawford, with thriving art scenes along the Colorado Creative Corridor , and explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the nation.

  • The full itinerary: Art Stars, High-Altitude Wines, and a Remote National Park: The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Colorado
  • The AFAR Guide to Denver

9. Portland to Astoria: An Oregon Coast Road Trip for Outdoor Lovers

If you love the outdoors, then this six-day road trip along the coast of Oregon is for you. After driving to Coos Bay from Portland, travelers will meander along Oregon’s dramatic, rocky coastline, discovering some quintessentially Pacific Northwest vistas along the way: evergreen forests, seaside dunes, and marine ecosystems. Between stops, there are ample opportunities to stretch your legs hiking, kayaking, or strolling around the region’s small towns—like the historic old town in Florence.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon road trip without a stop (or three) at a craft brewery, such as Fort George Brewery in Astoria, or cozy coffee shop, like Bread & Roses in Yachats.

  • The full itinerary: An Outdoor Lover’s Road Trip on the Oregon Coast
  • The AFAR Guide to Portland

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

The State Capitol Building in Nashville marks the end of this road (trip).

Photo by photo.ua / Shutterstock

10. Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville, Tennessee: Follow the Path of the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Starting in New York’s Finger Lakes region and ending at the State Capitol Building in Nashville, this road trip traces the route of the national women’s suffrage movement. Highlights include stops at the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House ; Union Square in New York City, which was the site of the first suffrage march; and the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C.

  • The full itinerary: Celebrate Women’s Suffrage on an Epic, Self-Guided Road Trip
  • Where to stay: The Best Hotels in Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Nashville
  • The AFAR Guide to Washington, D.C.

11. Charlottesville to Asheville: A Scenic Road Trip Through Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the country. Beginning in the soft hilly meadows of the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park down into the Blue Ridge Mountains, then into the Great Smoky Mountains, this five-day road trip is best done at a slower pace, which is perfect for admiring the dramatic outlooks and green plateaus. This eclectic itinerary features stops at an art museum, a dairy farm, and plenty of hiking trails.

  • The full itinerary: The Ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • Where to stay: 12 Dreamy Blue Ridge Mountain Cabins You Can Rent on Airbnb and Vrbo

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Dowa:kwe dance group from Zuni Pueblo in 2019

Courtesy of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

12. Albuquerque to Las Cruces: Discover New Mexico on This Three-Day Road Trip

This route steers you away from New Mexican tourist hot spots like Taos and Santa Fe and instead takes you on a three-day adventure with places that teach you about Pueblo history. You’ll stop at Indian Pueblo Kitchen (formerly known as Pueblo Harvest), a restaurant inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center that features Indigenous cuisine ; pick up peppers at Three Brothers in Hatch; and slide down the dunes in White Sands National Park.

The full itinerary: This New Mexico Road Trip Is the Perfect Introduction to the Land of Enchantment

13. A Five-Day Scenic Road Trip Through Texas Hill Country

This Texas road trip starts and ends in San Antonio with stops in small towns like Bandera, Boerne, and Sabinal. Over five days, you’ll find opportunities to stroll in a Japanese tea garden in San Antonio, relax along the Sabinal and Frio Rivers by inner tube, and eat as many tacos as you want. Seriously: You could eat tacos for every meal on this road trip and not get tired of them.

The full itinerary: Tree Houses, Tubing, and Tacos: The Ultimate Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Mount McKinley looms large on a drive through Denali National Park.

Photo by warnsweet / Shutterstock

14. A Weeklong Road Trip Through Alaska’s Most Majestic Sights

This weeklong drive in Alaska starts and ends in Anchorage. You travel along four scenic byways; explore Wrangell–St. Elias wilderness, the largest U.S. national park; catch sight of Denali, the tallest peak in North America; and enjoy the surprisingly stellar food scene of McCarthy, a one-road town with only a couple dozen residents.

  • The full itinerary: Glaciers, Mountain Peaks, and Organic Farms: The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip
  • Which Alaska National Parks Should You Visit?

15. Boise to Sun Valley: Explore Idaho’s Scenic Byways

Even a short road trip can be packed with adventure, good food, and scenery, which is exactly what this trip from Boise to Sun Valley along Idaho’s Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway offers. Although the drive only takes six hours, we recommend taking a few days to explore all the stops and detours along the way. One can’t-miss spot is the Kirkham Hot Springs , where you can stand under a waterfall that will splash you with 135-degree mineral water year-round.

  • The full itinerary: The Little-Known Idaho Road Trip You Need to Drive
  • Things to do: The Best Outdoorsy Things to Do in Idaho

16. Duluth to Grand Portage State Park: A Scenic Minnesota Sampler

Although there are many appealing road trips throughout the Midwest, this 143-mile, three-hour circuit, which starts and ends in Duluth, Minnesota, is worth keeping in mind. Meandering north on MN-61 with this itinerary, you will enjoy prime views of Lake Superior and towns like Grand Marais, as well as Grand Portage State Park, home to waterfalls, hiking trails, and opportunities to learn about the Ojibwe community who occupy the land today. Once back in Duluth, enjoy a beer at Canal Park Brewing Company before checking into the waterfront Canal Park Lodge nearby.

The AFAR Guide to Minnesota

Overhead view of curvy Kancamagus Highway through fall forest

Wind your way through colorful foliage in New Hampshire

Photo by Shutterstock

17. Kancamagus Highway: A Quintessential New England Drive

Yes, you can take a road trip in New England at any time of the year , but this region shows off its best colors in the fall, when locals and tourists alike head out into the country to view the changing colors of the trees. Join other admirers of fall foliage on this popular, 56-mile road trip along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway, colloquially known as the “Kanc,” for picturesque ponds, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks.

Plan Your Fall Getaway With This Peak Foliage Prediction Map

18. Maine’s “Lobster Trail”: Travel Route 1 Along the Coast

Traveling Route 1, affectionately known as “the lobster trail,” along Maine’s storied, jagged coastline is an exercise in indulgence. Sample lobster dishes in all forms—buttered, steamed, on a roll, or even in a decadent mac-and-cheese.

The trip starts in the quaint small town of Ogunquit, with its rare (for the area) 3.5 miles of white-sand beach. Make your first lobster of the journey count, steamed with a side of drawn butter at Barnacle Billy’s in picturesque Perkins Cove harbor. Stop at Big Daddy’s for a cone on your way to the shipbuilding center—and summer home of George H. W. Bush—Kennebunkport. Stay at the recently redesigned 150-year-old classic White Barn Inn , and consider a sailing trip for an afternoon. With lobsters cooked in ocean water, the legendary lobster roll at the Clam Shack is a must.

8 Scenic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Year

Interior of Leah & Louise restaurant in Charlotte

Throughout North Carolina’s Piedmont region, innovative restaurants, shops, and restaurants like Leah & Louise in Charlotte, above, are creating a buzz.

Photo by Peter Taylor Photography

19. Raleigh to Charlotte: A 4-Day Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

North Carolina’s Piedmont region extends from the coastal plain to the Blue Ridge Mountains , and includes farmland and rolling wooded hills, especially on the 1-40 stretch near Hillsborough. Starting in Raleigh, drive the short distances to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte to see how these cities are innovating through art, food, and a celebration of the past. Take your time—four days should do—to experience downtown arts districts, James Beard Award–winning restaurants, and civil rights museums that speak truths. Plan your trip A Road Trip Through North Carolina’s Reinvented Core

20. Scenic Highway 30A: A Sunday Drive Through South Walton, Florida

Florida is full of places to cruise with the top down, but it’s hard to beat a Sunday (or any day) drive along Scenic Highway 30A through northwest Florida, home to a postcard-perfect stretch of seaside towns known as South Walton.

The roughly 28-mile route through South Walton County kisses the coast for nearly all its length, taking you through gorgeous residential Gulf-front communities like Rosemary Beach, Grayton Beach, and Blue Mountain Beach. Roll down the windows and let the emerald-hued views in.

Pull over to explore, too—maybe to admire the New Urbanism architecture in Alys Beach or to swim in the clear waters at Grayton Beach State Park . (The beach here has been lauded among the best in the world.)

The full itinerary: The Florida Road Trip You’ve Been Missing

Two stand-up paddleboarders  on the water at sunset

Stand-up paddle boarding is just one way to enjoy a Florida Keys sunset.

Shutterstock

21. The Florida Keys: An Island-Hopping Getaway

For a sunny road trip itinerary in Florida, skip Miami and head farther south. Beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West, the Florida Keys Scenic Highway is often overlooked for more well-known routes up north, but it is well worth going out of your way to experience.

As the name suggests, this route is very scenic, so plan to spend at least a few days exploring it and numerous stops along the way. Some highlights include driving across the impressive Overseas Highway, stopping to admire art in the town of Islamorada, and enjoying the historic sites, food, and (of course) beaches in the city of Key West.

The full itinerary: How to Road Trip in the Lesser-Known Florida Keys

Additional road trip planning resources

Picking the route for your road trip is only one part of your planning. From what snacks to pack to which podcasts to listen to, these additional resources will help you prepare for your next adventure:

  • Best road trip snacks
  • Road trip planning apps
  • Podcasts and audiobooks to download
  • What to pack for a road trip

This article originally appeared online in August 2020. It was most recently updated on April 19, 2023, to include current information. Additional reporting by Jessie Beck, Erika Owen, Ray Rogers, Terry Ward, and Sheryl Nance-Nash.

Family Beach Fire.jpg

THE EVOLISTA

60 Bucket List USA Trip Ideas: Best Places to Visit in the US (2024)

Here are 60 awesome USA trip ideas and the best places to visit in the US that will get you really excited about exploring America.

From USA road trips , to the best city getaways, We have traveled to all 50 states and can wholeheartedly tell you there are some incredible destinations in the United States that absolutely deserve a spot on your USA bucket list .

If you are taking a trip to the USA, you’ll find that America is filled with majestic natural landscapes.

The most beautiful states in the US have incredible waterfalls, beaches, mountains, slot canyons, and more. There are terrific cities to explore too. So let’s get started with the best places to visit in the USA.

USA Road Trips

Table of Contents

Our Favorite Resources to Plan a Trip to the USA

This post contains affiliate links. If you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a commission. There is no extra cost to you. You can read our full disclosure  here .

  • A USA road trip is even more fun when you rent an RV or Sprinter Van. We booked a trip with Outdoorsy to try out Van Life and loved that we could choose from so many amazing options. Use code Jen50 to get $50 off your first Outdoorsy rental
  • I think we’ll all seen that trip insurance can come in really handy for things you would never expect to happen. We use SafetyWing to protect ourselves..
  • For more in depth trip inspiration, check out these USA Destinations or our YouTube Channel that has tons of USA Trip videos.

15 Top USA Road Trip Ideas Worthy of Your Bucket List

Whether they are close to home or far away, road trips are awesome. It lets you get up close and personal with a destination without being stuck in one place.

Road trips are great for traveling with your significant other, a family vacation, spending time with a parent, or a girlfriend’s getaway.

West Coast Road Trip Big Sur

1. Pacific Coast Highway is the Ultimate Bucket List USA Road Trip (600 miles)

A Pacific Coast Highway road trip from San Diego to San Francisco (600 miles) will take you past the Prettiest Beaches in Southern California and the cutest California beach towns .

Be sure to stop in the entertainment capital of Los Angeles , the beachy community of Santa Barbara , and nearby Ojai .

The road turns inland for stops in Solvang , Los Olivos , and Paso Robles for a wine tasting before you head back to the coast. See the famed Hearst Castle and continue on to the redwoods of Big Sur .

The quaint communities of Carmel-by-the-Sea , Monterey , and Santa Cruz are worth stops before arriving at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge . You’ll have plenty of exploring in San Francisco before you head home.

RELATED POST: 18 BEST THINGS TO DO IN THE DANISH TOWN OF SOLVANG, CALIFORNIA

California Wine Country USA Road Trip

2. Northern California Wine Country (225 miles)

California wines are renowned worldwide. To get a proper taste of them, the California Wine Country road trip is the best option.

First, make your way through Napa Valley , its vineyards, historic landmarks, and the thriving luxury hotel scene. Spend a few days wine tasting and trying some of the best restaurants in the USA.

Catch a glimpse of Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga before heading to Sonoma County and staying at a boutique hotel in the charming town of Healdsburg .

One of the best things to do in Healdsburg is shop in Healdsburg Plaza and stay overnight at the new Montage Healdsburg with gorgeous vineyard views.

Continue towards Mendocino and stop at one of many tasting rooms like Navarro Vineyards & Winery before arriving at the windswept coast.

Redwood forests and beaches abound. Head back to San Francisco driving along the stunning Northern California coast route.

Secret Cove Lake Tahoe

3. California Highway 395 and the Eastern Sierra (300+ miles)

This scenic road trip along US Route 395 will take you east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Start your adventure in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe has so many fun things to do. Bring an inflatable kayak to use in Secret Cove and other lakes.

Head to the Mammoth Lakes area making sure to stop at otherworldly Mono Lake along the way. If you have enough time, you can visit

Yosemite National Park through the east entrance in summer. Mammoth has summer activities like hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking.

Visit the Hot Creek Geologic Site and take a soak in a natural hot spring. Alabama Hills is next up and the perfect place to stay overnight with a sprinter van or RV.

This much-loved film location has hiking and beautiful vistas. Last but not least, drive another hour to reach Death Valley National Park .

RELATED POST: 10 HIKING ESSENTIALS TO PACK FOR A DAY HIKE

Bombay Beach California Desert Road Trip

4. Southern California Deserts (285 miles)

Fly into Palm Spring Airport and start the road trip exploring the eclectic area of downtown Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Don’t miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for birdseye views and a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park .

A 2-hour drive will get you to the vineyards and historic downtown of Temecula . It’s a great place for a hot air balloon ride if you plan ahead.

Continue to the beautiful Anza Borrego Desert State Park known for its natural wonders and cactus-studded hills.

Finally visit the Salton Sea , the biggest lake in California that was accidentally created. Stop by the almost ghost town of artistic Bombay Beach and Salvation Mountain , a religious structure featured in the movie Into the Wild .

The Pacific Northwest Has Stunning USA Road Trips

Oregon Most Beautiful US State

5. Oregon Coast (340 miles)

Head straight up the Oregon coast for 350 miles of extraordinary amazing Oregon beaches . See the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor .

Catch sunset at Face Rock State Park and stay overnight in Coos Bay to explore the area. Devil’s Punchbowl State Park has an incredible sea cave that you can see from above.

Go hiking at Cape Lookout State Park and take in the impossibly turquoise water nearby in Netarts Bay . Tour the Tillamook Factory for a fun outing.

Don’t miss the forest walk to Short Sand Beach where all the surfers hit the waves. Iconic Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is a must-see. End your journey in Astoria on the Columbia River or continue on to the Washington coast.

Tamolitch Blue Pool Hike

6. Oregon Scenic Byways

Venture inland on one of the Oregon Scenic Byways and you’ll be completely blown away. Oregon is best in summer but fall is absolutely gorgeous.

See incredible foliage in Silver Falls State Park and fun harvest festivals in the Willamette Valley and Mt Hood/Columbia River Gorge Area. Winter skiing at Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor in Oregon is also amazing.

Travel through the McKenzie Pass to the gorgeous Tamolitch Blue Pool and Proxy Falls. From there, it’s a quick drive to Smith Rock State Park, a premier destination for rock climbers and hikers alike.

It’s right near the active and fun city of Bend, Oregon . In addition to Mt Bachelor, you’ll find multiple lakes, the Deschutes River, Tumalo Falls, and tons of breweries.

RELATED POST: 10 BEST BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN BEND, OREGON

Olympic National Park

7. Olympic Peninsula in Washington (around 330 miles)

To enjoy nature and its beauty, take the Olympic Peninsula loop road trip. Start your adventure in the beautiful emerald city of Seattle .

Continue your way through the charming town of Port Townsend . Take a stroll through Sequim’s quaint streets – and its many lavender farms. 

Enjoy Olympic National Park and the stunning lakes within it. Drive to Hurricane Ridge for jaw-dropping views of the Olympic Mountains.

A must-see in the area is the Hoh Rainforest , one of Washington State’s natural wonders. Lastly, catch Neah Bay and the gorgeous Pacific Coast beaches before you end your trip.

Alaska Bear Glacier Kayak Bucket List USA Trip

8. Make Sure Alaska is on Your USA Bucket List – It’s Amazing!

A lot of people think of Alaska as a cruise destination but a 7 to 10 Day Alaskan Road Trip and spending time in Denali National Park is so much more exciting.

Kayak through iceberg lagoons, zipline through forests, see massive glaciers calve into the ocean, watch bears fishing for salmon, or fly around Denali, one of the tallest peaks in the world.

You may not think of Alaska as a year-round destination. While Alaska is at its prime in summer, don’t overlook the fall colors mid-September that coincide with the later end of the salmon run for those who want to fish.

Alaska is also a top spot for Northern Lights viewing between September and March.

Bucket List USA Arizona Wave

9. A Southwest USA Road Trip Never Disappoints

There are many variations of a Southwest road trip and most involve really cool USA National Parks like Zion, Bryce, Arches, Grand Canyon, or White Sands.

Visit interesting Native American sites like Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, and Havasupai.

See slot canyons, waterfalls, and more in Sedona, Arizona , Utah, Nevada, and New Mexico. The Southwest is visually stunning and full of fun activities.

Don’t miss the chance to Hike the Wave or White Pocket in Arizona. These are a few of the amazing things to do in Kanab on the Utah – Arizona border.

Spring and Fall are ideal for a Southwest road trip because it’s the best weather. In Spring, the waterfalls and wildflowers peak and you can catch some fall foliage around Taos, New Mexico, and many parts of Utah .

Cute-Sneakers-Black

10. Route 66 is a Quintessential USA Road Trip

The full Route 66 road trip is 2,137 miles, filled with natural wonders and offbeat sightseeing, between Chicago, the Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles. Do the whole route (2 weeks) or just a portion like California and Arizona.

You can also take this route on a cross-country trip and veer off course to Durango, Colorado as we did. Route 66 starts at the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and works its way through 7 states to Lake Michigan.

Florida Keys Sunset

11. Florida Keys Road Trip From Miami to Key West is A Unique USA Experience (160 miles)

This road trip traverses the overseas highway, where 43 of 1,700 islands are connected by bridges, to the southernmost tip of Florida. You can drive from Fort Lauderdale or Miami to Key West in 4 hours.

Make the trip over a few days and stop at the 16 best stops from Miami to Key West .

The north end of the Florida Keys has Biscayne National Park with crystal clear blue water and the world’s 3rd largest coral reef system with lots of outdoor activities.

The peak time to visit the Florida Keys is from November through February when the weather is perfect in the 70s-80s, but it’s also the busiest and most expensive.

Spring travel from March through May still has nice weather without the crowds Fall weather is lovely but it’s also hurricane season, so make sure you have trip insurance in case you need to cancel.

Acadia National Park

12. The East Coast is Full of Great USA Trip Ideas for Summer or Fall

A favorite East Coast road trip is from Rhode Island up to Maine. It can be a romantic fall foliage trip or a great summer trip with kids.

Hit the beaches on Block Island , mansions in Newport, charming towns of Cape Cod, the Freedom Trail in Boston, lobstering in Maine, or hiking in Acadia National Park. Check it all out on a New England Road Trip with Teens .

A Southern East Coast road trip will take you from the beaches of Florida to the historic towns of Savannah and Charleston with many historic sites and countless antique shops or markets.

Myrtle Beach is a draw for so many recreational things to do. There are so many places to explore on the Eastern seaboard.

Biltmore Asheville in December

13. Mid-South Road Trips

We did a short version of this trip through Tennessee where you can see the sights and sounds of Nashville, and whiskey tasting in Lynchburg and Chattanooga.

Add on the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Great Smoky Mountains for fall foliage and a trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

Incorporate coastal cities like Charleston and beautiful beach areas like the Outer Banks.

Most Beautiful US States Michigan

14. Lake Michigan Circle Tour is Amazing for Road Trippin’ the USA

This trip will take you through Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and a bit of Indiana. It’s the prettiest summer trip that’s perfect for families and you can combine it with a Midwest college tour.

Chicago is such a cool city, especially in summer. If you’ve never been to Wisconsin, get it on your list ASAP for a summer or fall trip with foliage and Badger football at Camp Randall.

Don’t miss Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes at the top of Michigan for beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes.

November Travel to Hawaii

15. The Road to Hana is Definitely a Bucket List USA Trip

The famed Road to Hana in Maui is more of a long, scenic drive than a road trip. In 59 miles, you will want to stop at every waterfall, black sand beach , or viewpoint.

Another great Hawaiian drive on the big island of Hawaii from Hilo to Honokaa is Hamakua Coast Drive. Big wave season is from the end of October through March on the North Shore of Oahu.

We’ve been dying to see the 30-50 foot waves in person. Hawaii has year-round amazing weather.

15 Best National Parks to Visit in the USA

If you plan to visit more than one National Park, save money with an America the Beautiful National Park Pass . There is nothing better than getting out in nature, and there are so many great national parks to visit in the US.

Grand Canyon National Park

16. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

There’s no place like the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-time visitor, there’s no wrong way to experience this natural wonder.

For the truly adventurous, a hike to the bottom of the canyon is a must. The trailhead for the Bright Angel Trail is located near the visitor center, and hikers can choose between a day hike and an overnight camping trip.

There’s no better way to appreciate the scale of the canyon than by spending some time at its bottom.

For those who want to stay closer to the top, there are plenty of vantage points from which to take in the incredible views. Yavapai Point and Mather Point are two of the most popular viewpoints.

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a see-through cantilever bridge that takes you out over the edge of Grand Canyon West.

Combine the Grand Canyon with the best places to visit in Arizona like Sedona, Page, and Monument Valley,

Arches National Park Best Place to Visit in April

17. Arches National Park in Moab, Utah

Arches National Park is full of, well, arches! The most famous of these is Delicate Arch, which has been featured on everything from postcards to Utah license plates.

But there are plenty of other arches to explore in the park, including Double Arch (shown above) and Sand Dune Arch, among others.

Of course, you can also enjoy the stunning natural scenery or stargaze in one of the darkest skies in the country.

For those who want to get closer to nature, there are plenty of hikes to explore, ranging from easy nature trails to challenging multi-day treks.

Arches National Park definitely deserves a spot on your Utah Bucket List .

Canyonlands National Park

18. Canyonlands National Parks in Moab, Utah

A visit to Canyonlands National Park can be a series of scenic drives and mind-blowing views or filled with incredible hiking and off road adventures.

With over 400 miles of hiking trails, there is sure to be a route that appeals to everyone, from casual walkers to hardcore adventurers.

No visit to Canyonlands would be complete without a trip to one of its three major attractions: Mesa Arch, The Needles, or Dead Horse Point State Park.

You can stay in Moab to visit both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Without having an airport nearby, you will probably want to see other parks on your way there like Zion.

We put together a video of our Utah top 10 and a 20 Must See Places in Utah blog post with even more.

Bryce Canyon Things to do Near Kanab

19. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth. With its red rock formations, hoodoos, and stunning views.

From above, the Bryce Amphitheater is a USA bucket list sight. There are multiple viewpoints to watch the sunset or enjoy a picnic lunch.

But the real treat is spending one Day in Bryce Canyon National Park and hiking down into the towering hoodoos.

The Navajo Loop Trail is one of the most popular trails, winding through some of the most beautiful parts of the canyon, including Wall Street. You will be surrounded by high walls of red rock and if you’re lucky, you might even see some wildlife.

USA Bucket List Trip Ideas Zion National Park

20. Zion National Park

With over four million visitors each year, Zion National Park has some of the best sights in America. The park features sandstone cliffs, canyons, rivers, and iconic views that you’ve probably seen in tons of photos.

With one day in Zion National Park , you can take a short hike on the Canyon Overlook trail and then take a scenic drive that will blow you away with its beauty.

With more time, you can take advantage of the many bucket list USA adventures in Zion. Wade through the river on the Narrows hike with 1,500-foot canyon walls towering above you.

Or get your adrenaline fill on the Angels Landing hike that takes you to the top of a 1,488-foot tall rock formation along precarious paths and steep drop-offs.

Visiting Zion is only one of the completely awesome things to do in Kanab and Southwest Utah .

Rocky Mountain National Park

21. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to an incredible amount of natural beauty, including soaring mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests.

And while there are countless ways to enjoy the park, one of the most popular activities is hiking. With more than 350 miles of trails, there’s a perfect hike for everyone.

Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are the best hiking spots for beginners. With shorter trails and lakes with beautiful reflections, these are highly popular.

A must-do hike for those that want a great workout is Sky Pond. Serious hikers head for Long’s Peak, the biggest challenge at 14,259 feet.

Yosemite in Winter Valley Floor

22. Yosemite National Park in California

Tucked away in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park is one of the world’s most incredible natural landscapes immortalized in Ansel Adams photographs.

With more than 1,200 square miles to explore, there are plenty of sights worth seeing in this national treasure.

Catch sunrise lighting up soaring granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome from Tunnel View. Then head to the thundering waterfalls of Yosemite Valley and picturesque hiking trails.

In February, catch the bucket list moment when Horsetail Falls lights up from the sunset to create the “firefall.”

Our 2 Days in Yosemite Itinerary will give you all the best things to do in the park along with where to stay and how to get around.

Things to do in Death Valley Zabriskie Point Sunset

23. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is a place of extremes. It is the hottest, driest, and lowest point in North America. But it is also one of the most beautiful places on earth. Here are some of the best things to do in Death Valley National Park.

One of the most popular things to do in Death Valley is visit the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These massive dunes are a great place to hike, sled, or simply take in the majestic views.

For another dose of natural beauty, head to Zabriskie Point for a sunset that you won’t soon forget. Another must-see are the Salt Flats at Badwater Basin.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or simply want to marvel at some of Mother Nature’s finest work, Death Valley National Park should be at the top of your list.

Joshua Tree Weekend USA National Park

24. Joshua Tree National Park in California

Joshua Tree is the most low key, surprisingly wonderful national parks. It is named after the trees native to the region, and it consists of 760,000 acres.

More than 2,500 species live in this area making it one of the most biodiverse regions in North America.

We highly recommend doing a little slow travel here. You can go rock climbing, take hikes, see stars at night like you’ve never seen before or take in the vibe at a cool Airbnb.

Check out the best things to do in Joshua Tree for a weekend getaway or as part of a California road trip.

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone

25. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the country, including glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and more than 200 species of animals.

On a 3 day Yellowstone itinerary , wildlife watching should be at the top of your list. Lamar Valley, full of bison, is so exciting that it creates a traffic jam in the park every day.

The park’s many geothermal areas are showstoppers including the world-famous Old Faithful geyser that erupts every 90 minutes. See the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the US, at ground level or from above on a nearby hike.

If you’re looking for an active adventure, you can go whitewater rafting on the Yellowstone River or hike through Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon.

Grand Tetons Fall foliage USA Trip Ideas

26. Grand Teton National Park

At next-door neighbor Grand Teton National National Park, you can boat, float, fish, hike and camp with the Teton mountain range and Snake River as your backdrop.

The 42 mile scenic drive will take you past some of the most stunning scenery in the park. Make sure to stop at Mormon Row, the historic district of well-preserved late 19th century homesteads.

Next, head to Jenny Lake for a peaceful canoe or kayak ride. This is a great way to take in the incredible views of the Tetons while getting some exercise.

If you’re feeling ambitious, hike up to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. This trail is moderate to strenuous, but it’s definitely worth it for the stunning views of Jenny Lake and the Tetons beyond.

There’s so much to see and do in Grand Teton National Park, you could easily spend days here and never get bored.

Glacier National Park Montana America the Beautiful Pass

27. Glacier National Park in Montana

Glacier National Park has over 1 million acres of wilderness and some of the most jaw dropping scenery. It’s a hiker’s paradise but you’ll also find other adventures like whitewater rafting, photographing wildlife, kayaking, fishing and more.

Don’t miss the drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road, which bisects the park from east to west.

The road climbs over 6,000 feet (1829 m) in just 52 miles (84 km), providing motorists with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park.

Visit 3 National Parks on One Trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons. They’re all driving distance from each other and each one offers something unique.

Acadia Maine

28. Acadia National Park

A trip up to Maine is so worth it for a chance to see Acadia National Park. It’s home to some of the best hiking trails in New England with plenty of scenic views and easy hikes.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of their more challenging trails like South Bubble Trail or Mt. Cadillac North Ridge Trail!

If you’re not up for a hike there is still plenty to do at Acadia National Park with many different activities including camping, biking, canoeing or kayaking on Echo Lake Lake, rock climbing, and bird watching.

Don’t miss the delicious popovers at the restaurant overlooking Jordan Pond!

Things to do in Seward Alaska Kayaking

29. Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most beautiful and underrated places in Alaska.

Some of the best things to do in Seward & Kenai Fjords National Park include a hike to Exit Glacier, iceberg kayaking in Bear Glacier Lagoon and a whale watching trip to see incredible marine life along with massive calving glaciers.

Alaska has 8 National parks and each features magnificent landscapes and activities. No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed an amazing Alaskan experience!

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park USA Trips

30. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is home to 2 of the world’s most active volcanoes.

Take the Crater Rim Drive to the Jaggar Museum overlook, hike the Kīlauea Iki Trail and through the rain forest to the Thurston Lava Tube, and have a bucket list dinner overlooking the crater at The Rim at Volcano House.

10 Cities That Deserve a Spot on Your USA Bucket List

New York in September

31. New York City, New York

New York is a city of endless possibilities. It’s the world capital of finance, fashion, media, and culture. Start your New York trip with a walk in Central Park, followed by a visit to the Met.

New York’s museums are world class and the Guggenheim is another of New York’s most iconic attractions.

Don’t miss a Broadway show in Times Square and the Empire State Building, if it’s your first trip to the the Big Apple.

Hit the latest restaurants in Greenwich Village, shop in Soho, get out on the water to visit Lady Liberty and time travel at the TWA hotel . If you visit in September , you can also see all the excitement of New York Fashion Week.

Things to do in Los Angeles Hollywood Hiking

32. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is a great city with so much more to do than most visitors realize. In addition to the amazing Southern California beaches , the mountains are filled with incredible hiking trails .

Los Angeles is a great city for foodies with insanely good restaurants to see and be seen. And the scenic drives in LA are like movies in real life.

Spend your days at one of the latest museum exhibits or take your kids to a theme park. Wander around downtown LA checking out all the cool street art.

Shop for a great outfit or home decor that reflects cool California style. Just avoid the 15 biggest mistakes when visiting Los Angeles .

Washington DC Best Places to Travel in April

33. Washington DC

Washington D.C. is a city that offers something for everyone. From the history and culture of the Smithsonian museums (there are 19 of them!) to the nightlife and restaurants of Georgetown, there’s plenty to do and see in this vibrant city.

Take a walk or bike ride through the National Mall to see the monuments and memorials, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

If you plan ahead and request a tour through your member of Congress, you might get lucky enough to tour the White House. Stay in a DC hotel with a rooftop pool for extra fun.

San Francisco California Destinations in December

34. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is one of the most unique and best places to visit in the USA. Take a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to get a view of the San Francisco Bay.

We recommend getting a view from water level too. Follow it up with a trip to Alcatraz Island, probably the only time you’ll visit a prison as a tourist attraction.

Chinatown, one of the oldest and biggest in the US, is a great place to try Dim Sum. Of course you have to ride a cable car over one of the steep city streets.

Visit Coit Tower for another great viewpoint. Spend some time in the Marina at the Palace of Fine Arts, Crissy Field and the Presidio.

Chicago Best places to visit in the United States

35. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is a fantastic city to visit – especially in good weather. Millennium Park is home to the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, as well as a variety of gardens and performance venues.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the largest art museums in the world, and a must visit. Even though it’s super touristy, it’s fun to catch a cruise at Navy Pier to tour Chicago’s incredible architecture.

If baseball is in season, you should definitely catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Hit Michigan Avenue lined for the best high-end shops.

Last but not least, while you’ll probably go to the famous long standing restaurants in Chicago, don’t miss one of the cutting edge restaurants in the city.

Best Places to visit in the USA Boston

36. Boston, Massachusettes

Boston is a city of many firsts from the country’s oldest public park, Boston Common to Harvard, America’s oldest University. Many of Boston’s historical buildings can be seen by taking a stroll on the Freedom trail including Paul Revere’s house. 

Faneuil Hall, the site of America’s first town meeting is a bustling marketplace today. Stop in Quincy market for a bite to eat and take in the vibrant energy of Boston.

Art enthusiasts will enjoy Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the largest in North America. Sports lovers should catch a Red Rox game at Fenway. Finally, don’t forget to get a peek of the Charles River, where you might see some collegiate crews rowing.

Plan an extra day or two when you visit because there are plenty of great day trips from Boston too.

Mardi Gras February Travel

37. New Orleans, Louisiana

With major events like Mardi Gras, the Jazz Festival, and others, New Orleans is one of the best places to vacation in the United States.

Watch street performers at Jackson Square and admire their impressive skills. Hop on a streetcar and discover all the fun and wild parts of New Orleans, including St. Charles Avenue, the Garden District, and Uptown New Orleans. 

Visit the French Quarter, packed with museums, art galleries, restaurants, and of course notorious bars. Since New Orleans is a foodie paradise, you have to try beignets from Cafe du Monde!

Other yummy favorites – the original Muffaletta from Central Grocery Deli, and hot dogs from Dat Dog. Don’t leave the Big Easy without meals at Commander’s Palace and Jacques-Imo’s.

Those who don’t mind venturing outside the city (approximately 1-hour drive) should discover some of the best southern plantation estates in the country, such as Laura Plantation, New Orleans Oak Alley Plantation, and San Francisco Plantation.

An airboat tour in the Bayou is another great day trip and one of the most memorable, super fun things we’ve done in Louisiana.

Maimi Florida

38. Miami, Florida

Dreaming of a beach getaway? Miami’s blend of different cultures creates the ultimate destination for entertainment. Loved for its spectacular beaches and vibrant art scene, the coastal metropolis has something to offer for everyone. 

Stop by South Beach – the most iconic area in Miami. Wander through its beautiful Art Deco District to enjoy a sprinkle of 1930’s nostalgia.

Spend the day soaking up rays and cool beach vibes. Whenever hunger kicks in, stop by Bayside Market has a lively atmosphere while enjoy views of the bay. 

To get your daily dose of culture, plan a visit to one of Miami’s greatest treasures – the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which offers a little taste of Europe with its elegant furniture. 

Other great Miami beaches include Surfside for postcard-worthy vistas and Sunny Isles Beach to be in the midst of all action. There is no doubt the coastal metropolis is one of the most fun USA places to explore.

Charleston South Carolina

39. Charleston, South Carolina

From charming cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture to world-class restaurants and lively nightlife – Charleston is surely one of the best US destinations.

Take a ghost tour in the oldest and most haunted city in America, with over 100 recognized otherworldly beings.

A trip to the Lowcountry would be incomplete without shopping for antiques and visiting high-end boutiques on King Street, which also has fantastic restaurants and bars. 

Join the locals for seafood at Chubby Fish or rev up your taste buds with a delicious cheddar and jalapeno biscuit from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.

Stop by the Charleston Farmers Market, which is considered one of the best in the South. Not only will you get your hands on amazing produce, but you may even catch a live performance.

Sullivan’s Island beach should be on your itinerary too. Although it is the smallest of Charleston’s beaches, it is the most pristine.

Seattle best places to visit in the USA

40. Seattle, Washington

Consistently ranked among the ten best places to live in the United States, Seattle’s coffee culture, grunge music scene, and lush evergreen forests will charm you too.

Visit the top of the Space Needle – an iconic part of Seattle’s skyline with 360 degree views. While in the area, have crispy pancakes at Paju or delicious ramen at Cafe Goldinblack.

Set aside some time to explore one of the country’s most famous public markets – Pike Place Market. Then, take the commuter ferry across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island and discover the stunning city from a new perspective.

For culture freaks, paying a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture – MoPop – is a must. One of the most beautiful libraries in America can be found at the University of Washington’s Suzzalo Library, which feels exactly like Hogwarts.

With endless opportunities to have fun, there is no doubt Seattle is one of the coolest USA places to visit.

Vanlife, RVs, Camping or Glamping for USA Adventure Trips

The type of accommodations you choose for your trip can actually be part of the adventure all on it’s own. Rent a converted Sprinter van or RV to be your home AND transportation on a USA road trip.

Stay in a luxurious Glamping tent to add extra pizazz to your vacation. Or enjoy nature and pitch a tent. It’s more rustic but super fun with your friends and family.

Ventana Glamping in Big Sur

41. USA Glamping Trips

Accommodations range from luxurious to rustic in permanent tent structures, cabins, teepees, chuck wagons, dome tents, yurts and tree houses. We LOVE glamping!!

Glamping in Big Sur under massive redwood trees in a king bed with an electric blanket and a push button campfire is right up my alley.

It’s one of the coolest glamping destinations in California . There are a ton of options!

We’ve glamped in Sonoma near vineyards, at El Capitan near Solvang , at Autocamp in a airstream trailer and more. Glamping with kids is really fun too!

Tent Camping USA Trip Ideas

42. Tent Camping Trips in the USA

I was so nervous to do our first tent camping trip at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon but it was a blast.

We took the dogs and piled in with an amazing 4″ memory foam mattress that made our inexpensiv e awesome tent so cozy! Obviously you can only have that much gear when you’re not far from your car.

We did it again on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to watch Speed Week on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. That was even better because the ground was hard packed salt (basically no dirt).

If you’ve never been to Crater Lake or Bonneville Salt Flats , get them on your USA bucket list. They are both jaw droppingly cool! There are incredible places to tent camp all over the USA.

USA Trip Ideas Havasupai

43. Backpacking Trips in the USA

Backpacking, as the name implies involves a hike to a remote area, where you carry everything you need on your back – like food, water and shelter.

Since you are carrying everything, you have to really conserve on the amount of weight. It’s also important to follow the leave no trace behind principles .

We planned our first backpacking trip to Havasupai and we can’t wait! That amazing blue water at Havasu Falls has been on our USA bucket list for years now.

In addition to Havasupai, the other beginner backpacking trips that are on our USA bucket list are the Lost Coast Trail and John Muir Trail in California, the Point of Arches Trail in Olympic National Park, Washington, and the Golden Cathedral in Escalante, Utah.

Jen and Guy Luxury Sprinter Van Conversion

44. Rent a Converted Sprinter Van

Campervan photos on Instagram make everyone swoon. There’s something about the idea of opening up the door to an incredible view and living life completely free.

A sprinter van allows you to have a mini RV that goes anywhere and off the grid if there’s solar power.

We rented a sprinter van for a Utah road trip on Outdoorsy. Honestly it was so much more fun than we expected.

So…. we bought one and did our own sprinter van conversion that you can see in the photo above. Use JEN50 to get $50 off your first Outdoorsy rental.

If you decide to do a van or RV road trip, we made a list of 30 Campervan Gadgets and Accessories that would have greatly enhanced our experience.

45. RV for a USA Road Trip

I have a friend that goes RV camping and I’ll be honest, I thought it was 100% not for me but I’m starting to rethink my position.

There’s so much space and some of them are seriously luxurious. The obvious benefit to an RV is that it holds more people, so it’s better for a family trip than a campervan.

A good RV Resort has a cool location, full hook ups, activities available and restaurants too.

Twelvemile Beach Campground at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan sits on a gorgeous beach near lots of great things to do. Salmon River Campground in Stanley, Idaho is quite a scenic area too.

Active Trip Ideas in the USA

Having a chance to take an active trip really makes it feel like a true vacation. It can be such a departure from everyday life and a way to disconnect from all of our electronic devices.

Whether you love water sports, Yoga retreats, or exploring backcountry wilderness on foot, the USA has tons of active trips available.

Fun Things to do in Lake Arrowhead

46. Lake Vacations are Very Popular USA Summer Trips

Lake vacations are a great way to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy beautiful scenery, fresh air, and plenty of outdoor activities.

Some of the best lake vacations in the USA can be found in states such as California, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Check out the 10 Best Southern California Lakes for a weekend gateway.

These states are home to some of America’s most picturesque lakes, which offer plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating, hiking and skiing.

Sonoma Kayaking USA Trip Ideas

47. USA Kayak Trips

If you like kayaking, you can find some amazing USA trip ideas in this post with the Best Kayaking and Canoe Trips in the USA .

A few of our favorites include iceberg kayaking in Alaska , lake kayaking and floating down the Deschutes River in Oregon, and kayaking along the bays of the Northern California Coast.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin features beautiful islands and cliffs, and is perfect for kayaking trips of all lengths.

True adventurers should try kayaking down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This trip will test your skills as a kayaker, but it’s definitely worth the effort!

USA Trips Canoeing

48. Canoe Trips

Canoe and kayak trips have a lot in common but since a canoe can carry more gear, canoe trips make great overnight adventures.

One of the best canoe trips in the US is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. This area is full of pristine lakes and rivers, and campgrounds to stay overnight.

Another great park for canoeing is Grand Teton National Park . The park has several beautiful rivers and lakes, and it’s also home to some of the most impressive mountain ranges in the country. Glacier National Park is another top spot.

OARS Green River Utah USA Trips

49. Whitewater Rafting Trips

There are many great whitewater rafting trips in the USA. With a wide variety of rapids there are trips that will thrill both beginners and experienced rafters.

The Rocky Mountains in Colorado make for some of the most thrilling whitewater rafting in the country. California offers a wealth of options for whitewater rafting trips.

The American River is one of the most popular destinations and offers everything from mild Class II rapids to heart-stopping Class V rapids.

Oars is a great outfitter with so many rafting trip options on the Green river (shown above), the Colorado River , Salmon River , Rogue River , Snake River and more.

Lake Arrowhead Winter

50. Winter Ski and Snowboard Trips

There are a plethora of awesome ski and snowboard destinations in the United States. The best quality snow can be found in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and California.

Vail , Colorado is a world-class resort with stunning mountain scenery and plenty of slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.

Another great destination is Aspen , which offers superb skiing on four mountains as well as luxurious accommodations and fine dining.

Utah is also a great place to ski, with five world-class resorts including Park City and Deer Valley .

The Sundance Film Festival in the end of January is one of Hollywood’s favorite USA trips in winter. Idaho’s Sun Valley and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole are also at the top of every skier’s list.

California has skiing up and down the state . Mammoth Mountain is one of the top rated family friendly resorts. Big Bea r is a favorite in Southern California where you can surf and ski in the same day

USA Biking Trips

51. Biking Trips to Add to Your USA Bucket List

Biking is a great way to see the sights while getting some exercise. And there are plenty of scenic biking trails all across the United States.

Whether you do a family biking trip with an outfitter like Backroads, or a longer distance ride, it will definitely be a memorable experience.

The Green Mountains in Vermont offer the Catamount Trail , a 300-mile long trail that traverses the length of the state, making it perfect for a multi-day biking trip.

For a bit of history along your ride, pedal along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Maryland . This 184.5-mile long trail follows an old canal towpath and passes through towns, forests, and along the Potomac River.

Some other must-do, incredible view rides include Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, the Flume Trail in Lake Tahoe, the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, NC, the McKenzie River Trail in Bend, and Trail 401 in Crested Butte, Colorado.

USA Bucket List Birding

52. USA Bucket List for Birding

If you’re a bird lover, or you’ve seen The Big Year , you know that people definitely plan travel around birding. The USA is home to an incredible diversity of birdlife.

There are plenty of hotspots where you can see some truly spectacular feathered friends like the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail with over 370 species.

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival is one of the best birding events in the country, attracting tens of thousands of enthusiasts every year.

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is another great spot for birdwatching, with over 200 species of birds recorded in the park.

The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival is held each year in Ohio, and it’s one of the biggest birding events in the world. Over 300 species make their way to the Great White North all the way from South America.

Other places that should be on your birding bucket list include Point Reyes National Seashore, Tuscon, Arizona, Everglades National Park, and Cape May, New Jersey,

Bucket List USA Photography Tours

Tourists flock to the USA in droves, eager to snap photos of iconic landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge. But there’s so much more to this country than those two things.

From the majestic mountains of Alaska to the red rocks of Arizona, the USA is a photographer’s paradise. Here are four of the best Photo Tours in the USA that should be on your bucket list.

Northern Lights Alaska USA Bucket List Trip

53. Alaska Northern Lights

One of nature’s most spectacular displays, the Northern Lights are a must-see for any photographer. And what better place to see them than in Alaska, where they are at their brightest?

There are few things more breathtaking than watching the skies light up in a shifting display of colors.

Northern Lights tours typically take place during the winter months, when the nights are long and the air is clear. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get that perfect photo, whether you’re using a DSLR camera or your phone.

Dress for temperatures that can dip below zero. But it will be worth it when you end up with some amazing photos that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Alaska Bears Photo Tour

54. Alaskan Bear Photo Tour

Alaska is well-known for its large population of bears, and a bear photo tour is the perfect way to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

One of the most unique photo tours you can do in the USA is to Arctic Alaska to get eye to eye with polar bears .

Plan on spending between 3-6 days, where you’ll take boat tour each day to capture the bears in their natural habitat while learning about their behavior and ecology.

During summer join a wildlife photographer for a brown bear photo tour in King Salmon. It’s a trip of a lifetime to be able to see the bears feeding during the salmon run and interacting in the wild.

2 Days in Yosemite Itinerary Taft Point

55. Channel Your Inner Ansel Adams in Yosemite

For those who love to take photos, Yosemite National Park is a veritable paradise. From the grandeur of Half Dome and El Capitan to the majesty of Yosemite Falls, there are endless opportunities for breathtaking shots.

And with a little planning, it’s easy to make the most of your time in the park. The first step is to choose the right tour. There are many different companies that offer photo tours of Yosemite, so it’s important to do your research.

Once you’ve found a tour that suits your needs, it’s time to start planning your itinerary. Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to make sure to include shots of Tunnel View, the Valley floor, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows.

Joshua Tree Weekend Star Gazing

56. Astrophotography in a Dark Sky Park

If you’re an amateur astronomer looking for the best place to snap some pictures of the night sky, you need a spot with no light pollution and the right atmospheric conditions.

There are a few places that tend to be ideal for astrophotography, such as Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Utah has incredible spots like Canyonlands and honestly plenty of spots if you just pull off the road somewhere desolate.

These locations offer dark skies and minimal light pollution, making them ideal for capturing clear images of the stars and planets. So if you’re planning a trip to see the night sky in all its glory, be sure to add these parks to your list!

Equipment to Take Magnificent Photos on Vacation:

  • Splurge on a full format camera and learn how to use it with your professional photo tour guide. Get a super telephoto lens for wildlife photography or a 10 stop filter that costs almost nothing and makes stunning, smooth waterfall shots.
  • Get a drone , learn how to fly it and capture cool photos and videos. It was our best purchase ever!
  • A GoPro offers unlimited fun potential. Strap it onto your kid’s bike helmet, put it on a surfboard, or use it for great wide angle shots. Add an underwater dome and take super cool above and below water photos.

Best Places to Visit in the USA By Season

Grand Tetons Fall foliage

57. Fall US Trips for Autumn Fun, Foliage and Less Crowds

The obvious choice for an Autumn trip is to New England for fall foliage from mid September to the beginning of October. but you can find incredible fall colors and harvest festivals all over the country.

Check the Farmer’s Almanac for peak foliage dates by state. Notable states with vibrant color include Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Colorado, and Oregon.

Another great trip idea for fall are places that are way too busy in summer like Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and the Utah Mighty 5.

New York City is perfection in fall from the excitement of Fashion Week to enjoying the delightful weather in Central Park. Albuquerque hosts Balloon Fiesta in October that is a colorful sight to see.

Best Places to Travel in January Park City

58. Winter Trips for Sun and Snow

If you’re dreaming of a winter getaway, there’s no shortage of destinations in the USA that offer the perfect combination of snow and fun.

New York, is hands down one of the best places to visit in December . You can experience all the excitement of the city that never sleeps, with the added bonus of the festive holiday season.

Take a stroll through Central Park, go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, and wrap up warm and enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snow-covered streets.

From the world famous slopes of Aspen to the majestic mountains of Colorado, there’s no shortage of great places to hit the slopes. And while you could easily spend a fortune on a luxury ski trip, there are plenty of budget-friendly options as well.

If winter sun is your jam, Hawaii is the perfect place to relax and escape the cold. San Diego has great weather year round and plenty of fun activities.

With sandy beaches and turquoise water, there’s no question why snowbirds spend the winter in Florida. And don’t forget Arizona for golf,

Skagit valley tulips

59. Flowers and Celebrations Make the Best USA Trip ideas for Spring

If you want to see cherry blossoms , head to Washington DC. Tulips abound in Holland, Michigan and Skagit Valley, Washington.

California poppies, Texas bluebonnets and Azizona’s desert blooms will make your heart sing. When Spring has sprung, it can make the grumpiest person happy.

Spring is also a great time for festivals. New Orleans is one big party from February to May. Austin, Texas hosts South by Southwest in March while California has Coachella in April .

Spring break in Alabama , Florida, Mississippi and Texas at the beach is also highly popular!

60. Summer is a Great Time to Take your USA Road Trips North

Summer is a great time for road trips in America and it is also a common time for people to take off from work.

As a general rule of thumb, the northern states are at their best while the southern ones are drowning in heat and/or humidity.

The states that are the best to visit in summer are Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska.

Where to Travel in September Los Angeles

61. Staycations for the Best Places to Visit in the USA Near Home

A staycation is the cop out of vacation ideas unless you really do it right. Take the week off of work and look at your home town as a vacation destination. What do all the people do that are tourists in your area? Better yet, what are the coolest places in your area that tourists don’t know about. Pro Tips: Stay at a hotel and make an itinerary so you aren’t tempted to keep up with real life distractions.

5 Cool Things to do on a Staycation

  • See museums, go to a play, or visit interesting cultural events. A staycation is the perfect time to support the arts.
  • Do a day trip of an area 1-2 hours away that you’ve never been to or haven’t seen in years. Head to a lake near you and spend some time enjoying lake life.
  • Eat out every night at restaurants you’re really wanted to try. Have breakfast at a cool restaurant way across town.
  • Stay at the newest hotel in your area that’s the talk of the town. We live in Los Angeles so it’s really easy to feel like you’re going on vacation 30 miles away because it can take 2 hours to get there. Haha!! For us, staying in a hotel across town would open up a world of possibilities we never touch.
  • Go hiking , take a long bike ride, or take advantage of an exercise class you’ve heard about. Take up a new sport you’ve wanted to try like rowing , stand up paddle boarding (SUP), surfing or a boot camp and kickstart your fitness regime.

Other Posts You Might Like:

  • TRAVEL:  The Best Places to Travel in March
  • ARIZONA: Visiting Sedona for Hiking and the Sedona Vortex
  • CALIFORNIA: Joshua Tree Weekend Getaway Guide
  • ALASKA: Alaska Summer Road Trip Itinerary

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20 USA Trip Ideas

About Jenifer

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23 comments.

Awesome list, you can also discover the charm of New Hampshire’s autumnal beauty and diverse attractions as you seek the best places to travel to in November.

Thank you Jennifer for the details of every place, I really love the photos

acevisiontreks

Thank you for sharing your USA travel ideas for adventure outdoor activities. Your post is really helpful.

Ganesh Adhikari

Thank you so much for listing the USA trip ideas. Love your post, Beautiful Pictures, and informative article for the outdoor travel guide.

Great to know all this about USA, Appreciate your great job Thanks

Ok, wow. Let’s just say that my bucket list has grown significantly after reading this! Thank you so much for sharing!

Just pinned! I will never need to think of where to go on vacations. Thank you for sharing such great places that I definitely need to visit.

So glad! Hope you have some great trips coming up!

Big Sur to San Diego is the most incredible road trip you will ever take. Or if I would say it correctly, it’s actually… San Diego up to Big Sur! I live in San Diego and I’ve personally done this before and the PCH and all the views up the coast is absolutely incredible. Totally amazing and probably one of the best ‘drives’ you will ever take. I can’t think of a better road trip you could ever possibly take, if you visit San Diego, consider taking a drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) up to Big Sur. This article totally nailed it.

Amazing blog, Please keep on writing blogs like this.

MP Allegaert

My bucket list has just exploded!

michele linton

I just loved this post! The photos are amazing, and now I feel inspired to get my road trip on! Thanks Jennifer!

Thanks Michele! There are so many great road trips to take in the US. Hope you get to venture out soon.

Hilda Smith

This is incredible information and I am following your vlog/videos too. Love your camper van in Utah. You two are brilliant. Not sure I would be able for that heat.

Thank you so much Hilda! We weren’t very excited about that heat either 😂

Gwen Gottlieb

So many fabulous suggestions! I just made a new bucket list! We’ve done just a few so plenty to add to the list. I think I’d be the glamping type! As long as I can bring my blow dryer!

So glad you found new things to add to your bucket list. You can definitely use your blow dryer when you go glamping 😉

Adrian Grant

So beautiful! Excited to see where the road will lead you in your new adventure 😊

I LOVE this!!!

These are really amazing and fun ideas dear!

I want to do Route 66, Pacific Northwest and the California coast road trips!

Jennifer Effortlessly Sophisticated

All 3 of those are so much fun!

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My 31 Favorite Places to Visit in the USA

The colorful rocks of the Grand Canyon during sunset

From sea to shining sea, the United States is home to a diverse landscape — both culturally and physically. Spending months traveling across it gave me a deep appreciation for all my country has to offer.

After traveling across the continental United States as part of multiple cross-country road trips (you never really realize how big Texas is until you drive through it. Damn that state is big!), I wanted to share some of my favorite places in the United States with you. I’ve already talked about my favorite restaurants and lessons learned , so it only seems proper to give you a list of the best places to visit in the USA when you come and travel here!

To help you get started, here’s a quick overview of some of the highlights:

Best destination for foodies: New Orleans Best destination for partying: Miami or Las Vegas Best destination for hiking/nature: Glacier National Park Best destination for history: Natchez Best destination for museums: Washington, D.C. or New York City Best destination for families: The Grand Canyon

In no particular order, here’s my detailed list of the best places to visit in the USA:

( Note: This list is based only on where I myself have been. There are a lot more incredibly breathtaking places I haven’t explored yet, which is why you don’t see them on this list!)  

The restaurants of Memphis, Tennessee lit up at night

WHERE TO STAY IN MEMPHIS : Hostel Memphis – A hip hostel in a century-old building with a fully-equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. The hostel is also a non-profit that donates 100% of its profit to social justice causes around the city.  

Austin, Texas skyline at dusk shining over the water

Thanks to everything from the growing food truck population to the flagship Whole Foods store with the incredible salad bar (grilled pineapple!), I eat — and eat well — nonstop. The Austin campus of the University of Texas provides a youthful vigor to the city, and its liberal attitude attracts a diverse and eclectic population. In short, you can’t skip Austin, because if you do, I’ll find you and drag you there.

WHERE TO STAY IN AUSTIN : Firehouse Hostel – This centrally-located hostel is located in an old firehall from 1885. They have fast Wi-Fi, plenty of chill common areas, and an amazing on-site bar that serves top-notch craft cocktails.

For more travel tips on Austin, check out these posts:

  • My Complete Guide to Austin
  • My Guide to Eating in Austin

3. New Orleans

The beautiful and historic buildings of New Orleans, USA at night

WHERE TO STAY IN NOLA : HI New Orleans – An award-winning hostel with spacious dorms, comfy beds, privacy curtains, and fast Wi-Fi. Everything a budget traveler needs!

For more travel tips on traveling New Orleans, check out my suggested itinerary on how to spend 4 days there !  

4. Asheville

A massive old mansion surrounded by visitors in Asheville, North Carolina

If you’ve ever seen Downton Abbey, that’s what the house is like! (And, if you haven’t, you should! The show is addicting!)

WHERE TO STAY IN ASHEVILLE : Bon Paul & Sharky’s – A laid-back hsotel with a spacious front and back porch for relaxing. There’s free parking, free Wi-Fi, and plenty of nearby restaurants and cafes.  

5. The Pacific Coastal Drive

A scenic view of the Pacific Ocean from the Pacific Coastal Drive

WHERE TO STAY ON THE PACFIC COAST HIGHWAY : Airbnb – Airbnb is your best bet here, unless you have camping gear and want to camp in one of the many parks. There are also lots of cheap motels along the highway too.  

6. Redwood National Park

Towering redwood trees in the Redwood National Park, California during the day

WHERE TO STAY IN REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK : View Crest Lodge – Located on the coast in Trinidad, this rustic budget-friendly lodge has basic amenities like free Wi-Fi and TV, and some of their rooms also have full kitchens. It’s a clean, comfy no-frills place to crash for a night.  

7. Glacier National Park

Calm waters and snow-capped mountains in Glacier National Park

WHERE TO STAY IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK : Camping – Pack (or rent) a tent and cozy up for a few nights under the stars. You won’t be disappointed.  

The downtown Denver, Colorado skyline lit up at night

WHERE TO STAY IN DENVER : Ember Hostel – This boutique hostel is rated one of the best in the country, offering a swank interior, free jacuzzi, outdoor firepit, comfy beds with blackout curtains, free parking, and more.  

The famous bean sculpture in Chicago, Illinois shining at night

And once the winter deep freeze is over, Chicagoans burst out of their homes to enjoy the summer weather, so there’s a positive, happy vibe emanating through the city. Take advantage of it.

WHERE TO STAY IN CHICAGO : HI Chicago – A spacious, clean hostel with female-only dorms, free Wi-Fi, and a great location. The beds are comfy and the common area is huge so it’s easy to meet people.

For more travel tips on Chicago, check out this detailed planning guide !  

10. New York City

The iconic skyline of NYC on a bright summer day

WHERE TO STAY IN NYC : Jazz on the Park – Located near Central Park on the Upper West Side, this no-frills hostel is close to the train and is one of the more affordable places in the city. The dorms are basic and the beds aren’t winning any awards but it’s cheap (for NYC at least!).

For more travel tips on New York City, check out these posts:

  • The Complete Guide to New York City
  • The Best Walking Tours of New York City
  • 21 Delicious Places to Eat in NYC
  • How to Spend 4 Days in New York City

11. Natchez

A bright orange sunset over the water near Natchez, Mississippi

Now, they are historic monuments, and you can tour them while enjoying a view of the Mississippi River. It’s far off the beaten path — and my favorite discovery from my last road trip.

WHERE TO STAY IN NATCHEZ : The Guest House Historic Mansion – If you want to splash out, this 19th-century mansion includes free breakfast and spacious historic rooms as well as modern amenities like Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and flatscreen TVs.

For more travel tips on Natchez,  check out this post on my visit there .  

12. Savannah

A black and white photo of an antebellum mansion in Savannah, Georgia

WHERE TO STAY IN SAVANNAH : Thunderbird Inn – This affordable three-star motel is just a short 5-minute walk from downtown. Boasting a retro vibe, there’s free coffee and juice every morning, as well as free donuts and popcorn available in the lobby.  

13. The Grand Canyon

A sweeping view from the top of the Grand Canyon on a sunny day in Arizona

WHERE TO STAY IN THE GRAND CANYON : Camp – Pack (or rent) a tent and cozy up for a few nights under the stars. You’ll need to reserve a spot early though as they disappear fast!

For more travel tips on the Grand Canyon, read this post on hiking the canyon .  

14. Nashville

A lively street of music bars in Nashville, Tennessee at night

There’s not a lot of “touristy stuff” to do here, but what makes this city one of my favorites are the music, the food, the wildly friendly and happy people, and the positive energy the city seems to exude. When you’re here, plan to spend a few hours at the Tennessee State Museum. It goes into great (though sometimes very one-sided) detail about the state’s history, but it’s more exciting than you might think.

WHERE TO STAY IN NASHVILLE : Red Roof Inn – While it’s not centrally located, this is one of the city’s few affordable two-star options. A quick 13-minute drive from the Grand Ole Opry, this budget-friendly joint boasts an outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi, and free coffee.  

15. San Francisco

Looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge from the San Francisco Beach in the summer

WHERE TO STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO : Green Tortoise – As one of the oldest in town, this hostel is an institution in San Francisco. It offers free breakfast, free dinners multiple times per week, and even a free sauna! It has a huge common room so it’s easy to meet people and has a very fun, social atmosphere.

For more travel tips on San Francisco, read these posts:

  • The Complete Guide to San Francisco
  • San Francisco Itinerary: Things to See & Do in 3 Days
  • The Best Hostels in San Francisco

Wide and spacious beach on the coast of Miami, Florida

WHERE TO STAY IN MIAMI : Generator Miami – This hostel has a pool, two restaurants, a bar, and is just minutes away from the beach. It’s massive (there are 8 floors), the beds are more comfortable than the cheap ones you’ll find at the party hostels.

For more travel tips on Miami, check out this detailed planning guide !  

17. San Diego

A tall wooden pier on the San Diego beach during sunset

The downtown Gaslamp area — as well as the famous Pacific Beach — is full of trendy seafood restaurants, bustling bars, and some seriously life-changing taco stalls. I love San Diego .

WHERE TO STAY IN SAN DIEGO : ITH Adventure Hostel – With a focus on sustainable travel (there’s a vegetable garden and backyard chickens), this chill hostel is very friendly and social. It’s clean, and the water pressure in the showers is decent, and the beds are comfy too.  

19. Lake Tahoe

A sweeping view of the forests around Lake Tahoe in California

WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE TAHOE : Camping – Pack (or rent) a tent and cozy up for a few nights under the stars. You won’t be disappointed.  

20. Anywhere in Montana

A flat, sparse farmyard in rural Montana during the summer

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTANA : Treasure State Hostel – Located in downtown Bozeman, this hotel is quiet, clean, and is home to friendly staff. They organize all kinds of events too, like pub crawls and movie nights, so it’s easy to hang out and meet people.  

21. Washington D.C.

The White House in Washington, D.C

WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON : Highroad Hostel – Offering pod-style bunks, this cool hostel is located in an old Victorian mansion. The beds have memory foam mattresses, there’s a fully-equipped kitchen, and the common area has a fireplace.

For more travel tips on Washington D.C., here are some other articles I’ve written:

  • Travel guide to Washington D.C.
  • Free Things to do in Washington D.C. in 2019

22. Cape Cod

Waves crashing against a sunny beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts

WHERE TO STAY IN CAPE COD : Cape Sands Inn – Just a short walk from the beach in West Yarmouth, this three-star property has all the standard amenities (TV, coffee/tea, free Wi-Fi), as well as free parking and a relaxing sauna and hot tub.  

A historic statue surrounded by flowers in Boston, Massachusetts

It’s home to a ton of activities, like the Freedom Trail and Faneuil Hall, the JFK Museum, and the Boston Commons and Public Garden, as well as some of the best Italian and seafood restaurants in the country. Be sure to eat at Zaftigs for the best brunch in the city! It’s wicked!

WHERE TO STAY IN BOSTON : HI Boston – This spacious and clean hostel is just a short walk from pretty much everything in the city. They have female-only dorms, free Wi-Fi, and several chill common areas where you can meet other travelers.

For more travel tips on Boston, check out these posts:

  • Travel guide to Boston
  • Boston Itinerary
  • Free Things to do in Boston

24. Las Vegas

The glamorous hotels and casinos of the Las Vegas strip lit up at night

Get off the Strip, explore the real Vegas (because technically the Strip is located in Paradise, NV, not Las Vegas), and see why people decide to live here.

WHERE TO STAY IN LAS VEGAS : Sin City Hostel – Just a short walk from the (in)famous Fremont Street, this is a social hostel that hosts all kinds of events (such as bar crawls, pasta & wine nights, BBQs, casino nights, and more). It’s a great place to connect with other travelers.

For more travel tips on Las Vegas, these articles can help:

  • Travel guide to Las Vegas
  • 12 Things to do in Vegas That Don’t Involve a Casino
  • How to be a High-Roller in Vegas on a Low-Roller Budget

25. Portland

A sunny public plaza in Portland, Oregon with people walking around

Portland is just an awesome city, especially in the summer when the weather is perfect and there are festivals and events galore, like the World Domination Summit and the Portland International Beerfest.

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTLAND : HI Portland – Northwest – Rated one of the best hostels in the world, this centrally-located HI hostel offers free breakfast, in-house made craft beer, an outdoor courtyard with a firepit, regular live music, and much more. It’s a lively, social, and fun place to stay!

For more travel tips on Portland, read this post on the city .  

26. Seattle

Neon Public Market sign lit up at night in Seattle, Washington

WHERE TO STAY IN SEATTLE : Green Tortoise – Located right across from the iconic Pike Place Market, this social hostel organizes all kinds of activities so it’s easy to meet people. They also offer free breakfast — a rare perk in the US!

For more travel tips on Seattle, read this detailed planning guide !  

27. Deadwood

The snowy main street of the historic town of Deadwood, South Dakota

WHERE TO STAY IN DEADWOOD : Gold Country Inn – This kitschy hotel is one of the cheapest places in town. Located right downtown, they have a mini gambling hall on-site, free Wi-Fi, and free parking. It’s nothing fancy but it won’t break the bank either.  

28. Kansas City

The exterior of Joe's BBQ in Kansas City, Missouri

WHERE TO STAY IN KANSAS CITY : Home2 Suites Downtown – With a fitness center, pool, and a decent breakfast spread, this three-star hotel in downtown KC is one of the more affordable places to crash in the city.  

29. Louisville

An old steamboat docked on the river in Louisville, USA

Louseiville has a laid-back, artsy vibe to it. It feels much more like an Austin or a Portland than your traditional southern/midwest city. In the past, it was considered a fly-over city and was skipped by most people. It’s definitely not now.

WHERE TO STAY IN LOUISVILLE : Microtel Inn – While it may be 20 minutes from downtown, this budget-friendly inn is affordable, includes free breakfast and free parking, and has free Wi-Fi. It’s a no-frills choice but clean and comfy.  

30. Charleston

A quiet sidestreet lined by trees in Charleston, USA

WHERE TO STAY IN CHARLESTON : Charlestons NotSo Hostel – Located in a historic neighborhood, this laid-back hostel includes free coffee/tea and oatmeal and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are small but the beds are perfectly comfy.  

31. Franklin

Downtown in Franklin, Tennessee, USA

WHERE TO STAY IN FRANKLIN : The Harpeth Hotel – This upscale property features a restaurant on-site, fitness center, bar, and terrace. If you don’t want to splash out, check Booking.com for other options.

The United States is filled with too many “must-sees” places to visit to list in a single blog post. After all, the country is home to over 329 million people and covers 3.8 million square miles.

But for those looking for a starting point for where to go, what to see, and the places to visit, this list should point you in the right direction and fill your time!

Just be sure to turn off the highways, head to the small towns, and discover some favorites of your own. The best of the USA is always away from the major highways in the little no-name towns with little diners, quirky shops, and friendly people!

For more travel tips on traveling the USA, read these other blog posts:

  • How to Travel Across the USA on $50 A Day
  • 19 Amazing Restaurants from My Road-Trip Across the U.S.
  • 9 Things I Learned While Driving Across the U.S.
  • Detailed Travel Planning Guide on The United States

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip? Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

Ready to Book Your Trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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What is the best way to get there?

International airports are located in all major cities throughout the United States.

Do I need a visa?

If you’re visiting the United States from overseas, use the government’s Visa Wizard to see if you need a visa.

When is the best time to visit?

Any time: The United States is a year-round destination. The summer months are often the busiest for city sightseeing, however, visiting in spring or autumn can mean fewer crowds. For winter travelers, cities like New York are magical over the holidays, but you could also hit the ski slopes in Colorado or Vermont, or escape to the sunny shores of Florida or Hawaii.

Festivals take place throughout the seasons in the United States, with top events including Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Burning Man in Nevada (August), South by Southwest in Austin (March), and Coachella in California (April).

Flying is by far the quickest way to travel around the U.S. It’s often more expensive than public transport but there are good deals to be found if you book in advance and travel outside of peak times.

Amtrak operates high-speed trains linking cities around the nation. Multi-ride tickets and rail passes are available.

Trailways , Megabus , and Greyhound operate low-cost long-distance bus services to destinations all around the United States.

Are there local customs I should know?

Find more information about local customs and etiquette in the United States generally here .

Roaming the USA

25 Best Weekend Getaways In The USA

Posted on Last updated: December 5, 2023

Home » USA Travel Inspiration » 25 Best Weekend Getaways In The USA

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Finding the best weekend getaways in the USA can be challenging. With so many breathtaking places, how on earth do you choose?

While all fifty states have something unique to offer, some catch the eye more than others. To save you from decision fatigue, we’ve curated a list of the best places perfect for USA weekend trips.

From the breathtaking beaches in Miami to the Big Apple, there is a fun destination for everyone! 

There are several National Parks for hiking and camping pleasure for the adventurous. Let’s explore the best weekend trips in the USA in more detail.

Table of Contents

25 Best USA Weekend Trips in the South

Here are the best US weekend breaks in the good ‘ol south!

1. Nashville, Tennessee

With so many historical sites, Nashville, Tennessee is one of the best weekend getaways in the USA

Lovers of country music will be in music heaven visiting the Capital of Tennessee, the Music City. 

Nashville , or “the birthplace of country music,” as some would call it, has plenty to offer. With so many historical sites, it is one of the best weekend getaways in the USA.

The Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, and the Ryman Auditorium are must-visit places. You don’t have to appreciate country music to enjoy these locations. 

The Johnny Cash Museum is another place worth a visit. Explore Downtown Nashville’s record stores, whisky tastings, and art galleries.

The outskirts of the city offer some fresh air and soul-reviving hiking. Perfect after a day of museums and sightseeing! Harpeth State Park has many scenic routes. 

Try the Hidden Lake Double Loop trail if you want something more secluded and magical.

2. Savannah, Georgia

Historic Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

Keen to add a spooky destination to your USA weekend trips? Savannah, Georgia , is the perfect place!

Picture eerily beautiful cemeteries, picturesque moss-covered trees, and gothic cathedrals. As the oldest city in Georgia, many historical sites exist to explore.

Some believe Savannah is one of the most haunted cities in the USA. For this reason, there are many guided ghost tours, including candlelit walking tours and haunted pub crawls. 

Savannah boasts one of the largest historic districts in the US, and a stroll through the historic district with the Spanish moss-covered trees is a delight.

Other historical and cultural attractions include the Bonaventure Cemetery, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Wormsloe Historic Site, and Forsyth Park, a popular spot in town.

Read next: Best Places to Visit in the USA

3. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans' vibrant nightlife and a historic blend of cultures make it one of the best weekend getaways in the USA

New Orleans , fondly known as The Big Easy, has a vibrant nightlife and a historic blend of cultures. New Orleans must be on everyone’s list of USA weekend trips!

Make sure to visit the French Quarter with its many eateries, pubs, and boutique stores. 

New Orleans’s rich culture is best experienced through food, and there’s no better place than the French Market! Saturday evening is the best time to experience Bourbon street if you’re a party animal.

End the weekend with a stroll around dreamy New Orleans City Park, or explore New Orleans through a walking tour through the Garden District. 

Some tours include the famed Lafayette Cemetery No.1, which you may recognize from films like The Vampire Diaries and Interview with a Vampire.

4. Key West, Florida

Charming sunset over Key West in Florida

One of the best weekend getaways in the USA is Key West, a great place to visit in Florida . Enjoy a peaceful weekend sailing, kayaking, or relaxing at the pristine beaches. 

The tranquil, crystal-clear waters and tropical islands make Key West a prime snorkeling spot.

Kayak through the mangroves, or go on a sailing experience where you can watch the wild dolphins play. For a romantic getaway , go on a sunset cruise.

Top attractions in Key West include the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, and the Hemingway Home and Museum, the home of Ernest Hemingway, the famed American writer, and Nobel Prize winner. 

There are plenty of historical and cultural tours in Key West as well. And, of course, no trip to the Southernmost point in the US will be complete without a selfie at the landmark buoy.

5. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Amazing Laurel Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains are undoubtedly one of the best weekend getaways in the USA! This Unesco World Heritage Site is a retreat for outdoor enthusiasts, offering many adventurous activities.

The best time to visit the Great Smokey Mountains is in the fall. The colors of the trees during fall are a sight to behold! 

For astonishing tree-top vistas, hike to the top of Clingmans Dome. Alternatively, opt for a self-driving tour through the park.

To blend nature and history, take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail to view the old, historic log buildings. Elkmont Ghost Town is another historic landmark well worth a visit!

The Smokies also feature spectacular waterfalls, like Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Abrams Falls. 

Fishing, horseback riding, and ziplining are only a few other activities you can do at the Great Smoky Mountains.

6. Miami Beach, Florida

Vibrant Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida

Miami is world-renowned for its breathtaking beaches, watersports, and vibrant nightlife. It is also home to the most exquisite art deco buildings, dating back to the early 1930s.

There are many thrilling activities for the adventurous, like kayaking and paddle boarding. However, jet skiing is the best and coolest way to explore Miami. 

Take a ride to Star Island to view the towering mansions of the wealthy, or share the waters with mantras and other sea creatures at Biscayne Bay.

Miami also offers more laid-back experiences. Take a wander down the iconic Art Deco Historic District, Miami Beach Boardwalk, or Lincoln road. 

Ocean Drive is the heart of Miami’s cultural life, and there are plenty of cafes, bars, and shops to explore.

Miami Beach is hands-down one of the best places to visit in the south !

7. San Antonio, Texas

Historic Mission San Jose in San Antonio, Texas

Texas may be known as the Wild West, but San Antonio is unlike any other place in Texas . The city has a colonial history that is prevalent in Spanish architecture and influences across the city.

The San Antonio Missions is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and taking a tour of this historic site is well worth it. 

San Antonio is often called Alamo City due to the “Battle of Alamo” that took place here and the present-day Alamo Museum. 

The museum forms part of the Missions site and is one of the city’s most popular attractions.

The San Antonio River Walk is a must-visit! The picturesque area in downtown San Antonio has many delicious restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes, and taking a stroll through this area makes you feel like you are somewhere in Europe.

Needless to say that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the US !

Other attractions include the San Antonio Museum of Art, The Natural Bridge Caverns, and the tranquil Japanese Tea Gardens.

8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The fun Myrtle Beach downtown

Myrtle Beach is known for its premier, well-designed golf courses and is a top destination for avid golfers. 

With ninety golf courses, miles of white sandy beaches, and plenty of family-friendly activities, this gem in South Carolina is worth multiple visits.

The best golf courses in Myrtle Beach are Grande Dunes Resort golf Course, Man O’War Golf Club, Prestwick, and Myrtlewood Golf Club.

The Beach Boardwalk and Promenade are lined with eateries, gift shops, and other curiosities to explore if you’re not too keen on golfing. 

Grab an ice cream or barbeque and take a laid-back stroll down the boardwalk. Ride the Skywheel at sunset, one of the largest Ferris wheels in the country.

9. Asheville, North Carolina

Amazing buildings by the City Park in Asheville, North Carolina

Do you enjoy browsing farmer’s markets on a Saturday morning, followed by lunch at a microbrewery? If so, Asheville is calling!

This small city is known for its culinary scene. With more than fifteen farmer’s markets to explore, you can easily spend the whole weekend market-hopping! 

Ashville prides itself on its fresh produce, evident by the many restaurants cooking with only the freshest ingredients.

However, there is much more to see in Asheville. The city has many art galleries, museums, and historic buildings, best visited by a guide. 

Biltmore Mansion is one of the most spectacular historical landmarks to visit!

Outdoor activities include hiking Blue Ridge Mountain and visiting the North Carolina Arboretum.

10. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Historic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Sta. Fe, New Mexico

Escape into a quirky wonderland in Santa Fe, a wonderful place to visit in the southwest USA . This city is a favorite destination that will surely delight your inner child! 

Santa Fe strikes a balance between outdoor pursuits, cultural attractions, historic sites, and mouthwatering food, making it one of the best weekend getaways in the USA.

The capital of New Mexico is a cultural haven located at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. During winter, this is a great destination for skiing, while the many hiking trails are best in spring and summer.

Explore Canyon Road with its adobe homes, eateries, and galleries. 

The Museum of Internation Folk Art, Sante Fe Indian Market, and The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi should be on every visitor’s bucket list. 

Artsy visitors will love Meow Wolf, an interactive art installation that looks like something out of Avatar.

End your stay with some yoga in the woods and a relaxing visit to the Salt Cave.

11. Charleston, South Carolina

Impressive Wentworth Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina

Southern laid-back style meets grandeur, luxury, and old-world charm at Charleston . Charleston is the biggest city in South Carolina, with a history dating back to 1670. 

Thus, the city has many historic landmarks and striking architecture to explore.

For a taste of splendor, book a stay at Wentworth Mansion. Located close to the historic district, you can spend a day exploring the old buildings or take a guided walking tour to gain a deeper knowledge of the city’s rich history. 

The walking tour by Undiscovered Charleston includes food, wine, and a cooking class and is highly recommended!

Best USA Weekend Trips in the Northeast

Here are the best US weekend breaks in the northeast!

12. New York, New York

Beautiful view of Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge in New York

From Broadway shows to pizza, there is something here for everyone, making New York one of the best weekend trips in the USA!

The Big Apple has much to offer! The city features some of the best architecture, delicious food, shopping experiences, and museums in the country, if not the world.

The world-renowned Empire State Building is a must-visit and is best experienced at sunset. Take a stroll through Central Park or have a slice of iconic New York pizza!

Are you a thrill-seeker? Explore Manhattan by speed boat! New York Media Boat will provide you with the best boat tour in the city and a view of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan’s skyline that you won’t get on foot.

13. Boston, Massachusetts

Historically significant Paul Revere Monument along Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts

Dating back to 1630, the capital city of Massachusetts is one of the oldest municipalities in the country and an incredible place to visit in the northeast . 

Boston’s crucial role in the American Revolution and its rich history is still evident through its old buildings, museums, and landmarks.

One thing you can’t afford to skip out on, it’s the Freedom Trail. Following the clearly-marked red line on the pavement will take you on a self-guided tour of many historical landmarks.

If you prefer guided tours, The Revolutionary Story Walking Tour and Boston’s North End Walking Food Tour are highly recommended!

Must-visit museums include the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library.

14. Washington DC

Imposing Washington Monument in National Mall in Washington, DC

Of course, who can list the best weekend getaways in the USA and not include the country’s capital? 

The city’s abundance of museums and historical sites makes it the perfect educational destination for families with young children.

Time spent at the National Mall is essential. Visit the iconic Lincoln Memorial and take the time to read the scripts on the walls. 

The park features many other memorials like Martin Luther King and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Washington is home to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, with the most impressive natural artifacts and human history collection. There are many exhibitions and activities to keep youngsters entertained.

While children won’t find the Library of Congress exciting, bibliophiles and art lovers will be in awe of this library’s sheer beauty and scale!

15. Atlantic City, New Jersey

The popular Atlantic City Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey

Atlantic City is one of the best weekend getaways in the USA, attracting millions of tourists each year! Like Las Vegas, casinos and resorts are omnipresent. 

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is most notable, conveniently located near Steel Pier, a must-visit amusement park.

If you visit with young children, a scavenger hunt is a fun way to spend the day! Alternatively, challenge yourselves at Escape AC’s escape rooms.

Fancy walking? Take a 5-mile walk down the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, ending at the historic Absecon Lighthouse. 

This landmark guided ships during the second world war and is one of the tallest lighthouses in the country.

Best USA Weekend Trips in the Midwest

Here are the best US weekend breaks in the midwest!

16. Chicago, Illinois

Amazing aerial shot of Navy pier in Chicago, Illinois

What makes Chicago a great weekend destination is its plethora of museums, architectural sites, and cultural institutions. 

Chicago boasts more than sixty museums! While you will need a good few weeks to explore them all, the can’t-miss museums are The Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

If you love architecture, there are plenty of tours to behold the works of famed architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, and Skidmore, to name a few. 

The Rookery Building is a masterpiece best appreciated up close. However, the best way to experience the magnificence of Chicago’s skyline is by boat tour.

Apart from museums and buildings, the Navy Pier is a fun-filled family spot with all its shops, attractions, and eateries. Millennial park and the iconic Bean (Cloud Gate) are other places not to be missed!

17. Indianapolis, Indiana

Amazing dinosaur models in Indianapolis Children’s museum in Indianapolis in Indiana

Indianapolis is one of the best weekend getaway destinations for families. The city offers so much to do for all ages, including toddlers.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world and a must-visit for those with young children! 

The museum offers many interactive activities and sports areas, including basketball, pedal car racing, and hockey. There are dinosaur fossils to explore and a huge play area on the second floor. Well worth a visit!

For a unique place to stay, the Bottleworks Boutique Hotel comes highly recommended. 

The hotel used to be a bottle factory in the early 30s, and many of the original art deco architecture and exterior have been preserved and restored.

Best USA Weekend Trips in the Pacific and West

Here are the best US weekend breaks in the west!

18. Seattle, Washington

Spectacular display of various aircraft models in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington

Don’t let the weather put you off Seattle! This city has many hidden gems, willing to reveal themselves to those who don’t mind a little rain now and then.

One such gem is Bill Speidel’s 75-minute underground guided tour that takes you underneath to the original CBD of the city before the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. 

Other attractions that make Seattle worth a visit include the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Flight, and Pike Place Market. Of course, there’s nothing like getting a bird’s eye view of the city center from the Space Needle!

Interested in something more relaxing? Take a day trip from Seattle to the picturesque Mt. Rainier, or enjoy floating around Lake Union in a hot-tub boat.

19. Portland, Oregon

Relaxing Koi Pond in Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon

This laid-back, walkable city is a must-visit for those who enjoy taking life a bit slower. Spending a weekend in Portland’s picturesque gardens will surely rejuvenate and calm the soul.

With over two hundred parks, gardens, and nature areas, Portland is a garden-lovers haven. 

However, the top three gardens to visit are, by far, the International Rose Test Garden (the oldest rose garden in the USA), Portland Japanese Garden (the best you will find outside of Japan), and Lan Su Chinese Garden with its authentic Chinese architecture and breathtaking gardens.

If you like ticking things off bucket lists as we do, how about adding the county’s largest urban park to your list? 

Hike through the dog-friendly Forest Park to the Witch’s Castle, or take the scenic Wildwood Trail for a more challenging hike.

20. Las Vegas, Nevada

Famous Las Vegas strip at dusk

No list of US weekend getaways will be complete without Las Vegas, one of the best places to visit in Nevada . Las Vegas is a vacation on its own!

Best-known for its casinos, 24-hour wedding chapels, and party vibe, Las Vegas has much more than gambling the night away. 

This city’s entertainment is staggering, and all the family-friendly activities make Las Vegas one of the best weekend getaways in the USA.

For fun-filled family activities, Area15 is a must-visit! The space combines alternate-reality arcades, art galleries, amusement parks, fun rides, and countless experiences. 

See the biggest video screen in the world at Fremont Street and the famous Fountains Of Bellagio.

There are many places to visit near Las Vegas by car , like the Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation representing humanity’s presence in the desert. The Hover Dam is another not-to-be-missed Las Vegas day trip .

21. Zion National Park, Utah

Spectacular Zion National Park in Utah

You can’t plan the best weekend getaways in the USA without including at least one of the country’s many magnificent national parks!

Not only that, but Zion is part of Utah’s Mighty 5 , a collection of the state’s five national parks.

Zion National Park provides surreal views of the earth in all its glory. Get a full view of the Canyons and their unbelievable formations. 

Join an adrenaline-filled 4X4 tour, or get up close and engage in hikes that explore every nook and cranny.

Explore the abandoned mines and take a trip down history. The hike or drive on the way there provides some amazing views. 

The change of scenery going into the mine is spectacular! Don’t miss out on stargazing in the New International Dark Sky when night falls. Take a look at the stars with professionals and open your mind to the vastness of space.

22. Glacier National Park, Montana

Scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana

Glacier National Park , dubbed the Crown of the Continent, is one of the most awe-inspiring places in the country. 

The park offers wilderness camping, bicycling, fishing, boating, cross-country skiing, and many breathtaking hiking trails !

Taking a drive along the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road is an absolute must-do! The pass is 6,646 feet high, and the views of the glaciers, lakes, and flora are out of this world!

As the name suggests, the park is a fantastic place to witness glaciers, but unless you are familiar with geological formations, we suggest taking a guided tour. 

Professional tour guides have a wealth of information about the glaciers and surrounding nature that will enrich your experience and expand your knowledge of this beautiful place in the US .

After glacier sightseeing, spend a half day whitewater rafting or take a scenic hike. The best hiking trails are the Grinnell Glacier trail, reminiscent of Northern Italy, the Trail of the Cedars, and the Highline trail.

23. San Diego, California

Amazing view of downtown San Diego in California

If you plan the best weekend getaways in the USA, San Diego is guaranteed to be on that list because it is hands-down one of the best places to visit in California !

The capital of California has an incredible foodie scene! There are several Michelin-Starred eateries in San Diego, such as Herb & Wood, the crack Sack – Little Italy, and Addison Restaurant.

La Jolla Cove is a fitting place to cool off and enjoy the pleasant California weather. Go swimming, diving, snorkeling, or relaxing at a beautiful beach, soaking in the sun. Indulge in some fish tacos afterward.

If you are looking for family-friendly activities, the USS Midway Museum is worth a visit. Previously an aircraft carrier, the USS Midway has become an interactive museum. 

With plenty of entertainment and interesting history, the whole family will enjoy a visit to this historic museum.

Take a stroll in Balboa Park, a well-kept and breathtaking urban park for something outdoorsy. Alternatively, explore the untouched beauty of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.

24. Gros Ventre Wilderness, Wyoming

Famous Shane Cabin ruins at Gros Ventre Wilderness in Wyoming

If you seek an outdoor adventure that might change your life, look no further! Gros Ventre Wilderness is a must for adventurous USA weekend trips.

Gros Ventre Wilderness forms part of the Yellow Stone mountain range and is known for its geological features of peaks and slopes. Most notable is the Gros Ventre Slide of Sheep Mountain. 

If you are fit and up for a challenge, Sheep Mountain provides a tough, 7-hour hike with stunning views!

Sacred Rim Trail is another fantastic hiking trail that is a much easier, off-the-beaten-path and ends with an idyllic outlook. 

However, wildlife includes wolfpacks, bears, and moose, so take safety precautions before heading out into the wilderness alone.

Other activities at Gros Ventre Wilderness include camping under the Wyoming sky and horseback riding.

25. Paso Robles, California

Scenic vineyards in Paso Robles in California

Explore the wine region of California by visiting Paso Robles. Paso Robles is scattered with wine estates due to the mountains, desert, and ocean on its doorstep.

There are tours to the wine farms in all forms of transportation, from bus to sidecar to electric bike! Whichever you decide to travel, be sure to visit the Tobin James Cellars.

After a day of visiting vineyards and wine tasting, head to Sensorio. Here, art comes alive, and thousands of colorful, solar-powered little lights light up the night sky between grass and trees. Truly a sight to behold!

Final Thoughts on US Weekend Breaks

These were the best places for a weekend getaway in the US. We hope we inspired you to travel across this beautiful country.

Did you enjoy reading about these weekend trips in the US? Then share it on your social media!

Patty Nuñez

Friday 23rd of June 2023

It’s actually spelled Paso Robles

The Best Weekend Getaways to Take Right Now

Here's where to spend a few blissful days for that well-deserved break.

best weekend trips 2020

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.

Stowe, Vermont

best weekend trips 2020

Stowe may be a popular ski destination, but it's equally appealing in the fall with its abundance of outdoor pursuits. And, obviously, the foliage alone is reason enough to visit. The 68-room Topnotch Resort sits on an expansive 120 acres with views of Mount Mansfield. Hotel activities include horseback riding, ATV tours, biking, wagon rides, and, for something a little more relaxing, a lovely spa.

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

best weekend trips 2020

Want to escape to a quaint New England seaside village? Look no further than Martha's Vineyard, with its miles of beaches and historic houses. Stay in Edgartown, a former whaling port, and you'll have access to shops, galleries, and restaurants galore. The Christopher is a chic boutique hotel with just 15 rooms that mix modern design with a classic New England aesthetic. For a seamless—and fast (read: no traffic)—trip from the New York area, book a flight on Tradewind Aviation.

Read Reviews The Christopher

Telluride, Colorado

best weekend trips 2020

It is a bit of a trek to get to this Colorado hideaway, but so worth it for its unlimited supply of fresh mountain air. The Madeline Hotel & Residences, an Auberge Resort , is surrounded on three sides by the majestic San Juan Mountains. Horseback ride through Colorado's backcountry, go fly fishing, cycle the mountains, or simply let the hotel set up a picnic feast for you in the middle of a scenic alpine meadow. However you choose to spend your days, you're guaranteed to return home refreshed.

Read Reviews Madeline Hotel & Residents, Auberge Resorts Collection

Washington, Connecticut

best weekend trips 2020

A quick two-hour drive from New York City, Washington, Connecticut has long been a retreat for a very discerning, moneyed crowd, because of its rolling hills, historic architecture, and proximity to the city. Soak that all in at the grand Mayflower Inn & Spa, an Auberge Resort , set on 58 acres of manicured gardens and woodland. There's plenty to do, including hiking, fly-fishing, archery, tennis, and croquet. In 2021, for its 100th anniversary, the hotel was refreshed by celebrated designer Celerie Kemble.

Read Reviews Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection

Whitefish, Montana

lone mountain and big sky montana at night

For a more adventurous weekend getaway, the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana offers four seasons of activities—from skiing Whitefish Mountain to hiking through Glacier National Park. Book a stay at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake , a classic mountain lodge that offers suites in the main building as well as standalone luxury homes on the property.

Read Reviews Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Malibu, California

best weekend trips 2020

This 27-mile stretch of sparkling ocean and beach is the epitome of barefoot luxury, which is why so many Hollywood A-listers own homes here. Hotels are pretty scarce, all the more lending to Malibu's locals-only vibe. Stay at the 47-room Malibu Beach Inn , located right on the water on a strip of coastline nicknamed Billionaire's Beach for all of its famous homeowners, like Larry Ellison, who owns 10 properties. For a real splurge, book a room at the intimate 16-room Nobu Ryokan , an oasis like no other that marries serene Japanese minimalism with the iconic California coast.

Read Reviews Malibu Beach Inn

Read Reviews Nobu Ryokan Malibu

Annapolis, Maryland

annapolis, maryland

Just 45 minutes outside of Washington, D.C., Annapolis feels a world apart. Yes, it's home to the United States Naval Academy, but it's far more than a college town. Embrace its nautical legacy with a visit to the Annapolis Maritime Museum, followed by an afternoon out on the water. And then enjoy Maryland's famous crabs for dinner before retiring to 134 Prince , a luxury inn in a Dutch Colonial home.

Read Reviews 134 Prince

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

autumn colors

Massachusetts' Berkshires are a year-round destination full of scenic hikes, stellar art museums, like MASS MoCA and the Clark Art Institute, and fun seasonal programming, like the region's famous Tanglewood concert series. It's also a hotbed for wellness resorts, including Canyon Ranch Lenox , which is centered around a Gilded Age mansion, and Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa , which is home to a 29,000-square-foot spa.

Read Review s Canyon Ranch Lenox

Read Reviews Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa

best weekend trips from us 2020

For East Coasters, Bermuda makes for a perfect weekend getaway. It's just a two-hour flight from NYC and Washington, D.C., meaning it basically takes less time to get there than it does to drive out to the Hamptons. Once you're on the island, head to The Loren at Pink Beach if you're in the mood for a little solitude. The property's one- and three-bedroom villas have their own private pools, making them prime spots for lounging and sipping on Bermuda's famed rum swizzles.

Read Reviews The Loren at Pink Beach

Bar Harbor, Maine

bar harbor,acadia national park,maine

A gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is everything you'd want from a coastal New England town, from stellar seafood restaurants to a bustling harbor from which you can easily hop on a boat for the day. The Primrose is a cottage-style inn built in 1878, but completely refreshed with new decor in 2020.

Read Reviews The Primrose

The North Fork, New York

mitchell park  marina greenport, new york

The South Fork of Long Island (aka the Hamptons and Montauk) may be buzzier, but for a more low-key, quiet, and down-to-earth alternative, head to the North Fork. Oysters at Little Creek Oyster Farm in Greenport are a must, as are the homemade pies at Briermere Farms in Riverhead. Then spend your afternoons visiting the area's many wineries, such as Bedell, Sparkling Pointe, and Kontokosta before retiring to the Sound View Greenport , a chic hotel where every room looks out onto the Long Island Sound and has direct access to the private beach.

Read Reviews Sound View Greenport

Asheville, North Carolina

asheville north carolina aerial view at sunset

Drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway on your way to Asheville—the fall foliage is particularly spectacular, though the views are majestic no matter the season. There, you'll want to spend plenty of time at the impressive Biltmore Estate, the largest private home in the country, built by George Vanderbilt at the end of the 19th century. While you can't stay in the home itself, you can stay on the property at the Inn on Biltmore Estate , which grants you access to the Biltmore gardens, Antler Hill Village, and the Biltmore Winery.

Read Reviews Inn on Biltmore Estate

Asbury Park, New Jersey

best weekend trips 2020

When the Asbury Hotel opened in 2016, it promised to bring about a much classier era to the oft-maligned Jersey Shore—and, in particular, the city of Asbury Park. It's just an hour away from New York City, but will feel like a proper vacation. Aside from the beach, which is a block away, the Asbury has plenty of al fresco spaces fit for play, including an expansive rooftop space that screens outdoor movies.

Read Reviews The Asbury Hotel

Texas Hill Country

texas bluebonnet field

Easily accessible from both Austin and San Antonio, Texas Hill Country is filled with quaint towns, wineries, and, in the spring, fields of blossoming bluebonnets. Treat yourself to a wellness weekend at the Sage Hill Inn & Spa , a 16-room luxury property set on 88 acres just 25 miles outside of Austin. Spend your days meandering the hiking trails, getting a massage at the spa, or playing a game of pickleball on the courts.

Read Reviews Sage Hill Inn & Spa

Golden Isles, Georgia

Wood, Property, Real estate, Outdoor furniture, Furniture, Interior design, Hardwood, Daylighting, Fixture, Balcony,

Located along Georgia's Atlantic coast between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, Jekyll Island is one of the barrier islands comprising the Golden Isles. Here, you can summer like the Vanderbilts, Morgans, Pultizers, and Rockefellers once did at the Jekyll Island Club Resort . There are loads of leisure activities, 20-plus miles of paved bicycle exploration, and two open-air restaurants. It's easy to see why some of the great American dynasties returned here year after year.

Read Reviews Jekyll Island Club Resor t

The Finger Lakes, New York

waterfall and bridge at watkins glen state park, new york

The West Coast might get the lion's share of attention when it comes to wine regions, but the Finger Lakes is perfect for a weekend away for East Coasters or Midwesterners. Explore the eleven lakes, the charming towns that surround them, and the scenic gorges. Make your home base Aurora on Cayuga Lake. It's home to the Inns of Aurora , a collection of five boutique hotels in historic buildings.

Read Reviews Inns of Aurora

Mackinac Island, Michigan

aerial view of mackinac island, michigan, usa

Retreat to Michigan's Mackinac Island for a leisurely weekend in what might feel like a bygone era. The island, located in between the state's Lower and Upper Peninsulas on Lake Huran, has banned cars, resulting in quite a peaceful atmosphere. Stay at the historic Grand Hotel , which bills its 660-foot-long porch as the world's longest.

Read Reviews Grand Hotel

Sedona, Arizona

cathedral rock near sedona

Sedona has the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation—the hiking is superb, as are the spa resorts. The 70-acre Enchantment Resort has the best of both worlds, with 50 hiking trails and an extraordinary destination spa called Mii Amo. (As of September 2022, the spa is closed for renovations, but will reopen in late 2022 or early 2023.) The property is also close to downtown Sedona, where you can get your fill of shopping between art galleries and funky boutiques.

Read Reviews Enchantment Resort

Lexington, Kentucky

horses grazing in pasture, elevated view

Kentucky has two major claims to fame: horse racing and bourbon. You'll find both in and around Lexington, between the city's famous Keeneland Race Course and the 15 distilleries within 45 miles of the city. While in town, stay at the ultra-modern 21c Museum Hotel Lexington , which also functions as a museum.

Read Reviews 21c Museum Hotel Lexington

Cape May, New Jersey

cape may beach ave

Cape May is perhaps the most charming of all of New Jersey's beach towns, thanks to the colorful Victorian-era houses that line its streets. Spend the day at the beach or peruse the shops of the Washington Street pedestrian mall, which is particularly festive in December. Congress Hall is the grande dame in this seaside resort town, and it's been hosting guests since 1816.

Read Reviews Congress Hall

Headshot of Leena Kim

Leena Kim is an editor at Town & Country , where she covers travel, jewelry, education, weddings, and culture.

Headshot of Stefanie Waldek

Stefanie Waldek is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, design, and travel. She's worked on staff at Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor company, and has contributed to Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Design Milk, and Hunker, among others. When she's not dreaming about midcentury chairs, you can find her re-watching The X-Files,  likely in an airport lounge or on a plane.

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Home » North America » USA » Best Road Trip

20 Best USA Road Trips • Famous Driving Destinations in 2024

Many will say that going on an epic road trip is the best and really the only way to experience America. This is the land of the open road, the roadside attraction, the roadside diner. If all roads lead to Rome, they must eventually make a detour in the United States, I say.

There is a lot that goes into planning a road trip in the USA. What to pack, what kind of car to rent, and, most importantly, where to go. There are a million routes out there and they all have their own merits and, in some cases, oddities.

I’ve assembled a list of some of the best and most classic road trips in the country. From East Coast to West Coast and Sea to Shining Sea, the finest stretches of good ol American-made asphalt are all found in this article. Through the desert, over the mountains, into the past, doesn’t matter; we’ve got them all covered right here.

So which Great American road trip will you take?

great trips in usa

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20 Greatest Road Trips in the USA

Renting a car in the usa.

Let’s get down to brass tacks and start talking about the top American road trips there are! Here are twenty for you to choose from!

Don’t have a car yet? Well, we’re going to have to sort that out! Use rentalcars.com to find the best deals on the web and save heaps of cash!

1. California Route 1 – Pacific Coast Highway

The road trip in the usa to take before you die.

  • States : California
  • Start: San Diego
  • End : Mendocino
  • Total Distance: 656 miles
  • Best Part: Camping in Big Sur

mcway falls viewpoint in day big sur california coast

What’s a trip to California without visiting the coast or the beach? The beach is one of the most important aspects of California livin’, after all. It is talked about during just about every other conversation in the state. Who could blame the natives for loving their coastline so much when you have superlative stops like Malibu, San Luis Obispo, and Point Reyes all there?

For the ultimate road trip in California , consider driving the entire stretch of the Pacific Route 1. This epic route, which should take at least a week (two for maximum enjoyment), seriously pulls out all the stops. Gorgeous coastline, bustling metropolises – like San Francisco and Los Angeles – and more than enough In n’ Out Burger joints all combine to make the perfect road trip itinerary. This is some of the best California has to offer.

Since you’ll be starting in San Diego, why not book a nice place to stay and soak up the city before departing?

2. Route 66

The classic road trip across america.

  • States: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California
  • Start: Chicago, Illinois
  • End : Santa Monica, California
  • Total Distance:  2448 miles
  • Best Part: The Americana

route 66 sign with rusted cars - the quintessential american road trip

Route 66 is probably the first thing that springs to people’s minds when they think “Great American road trip.” Over the years, Route 66 has been practically immortalized – by Hollywood films, musicians, novels, etc – so much so that it is practically synonymous with the very idea of going on a road trip around the USA.

Since it passes through eight different states and four different regions, Route 66 offers a somewhat abridged version of American culture. You’ll get to see roadside attractions, antique gas stations, and eccentric diners; all staples of American weirdness.

One of the best parts of Route 66? Watching the landscape shift from the Great Plains and Mississippi wetlands to the deserts and mountains of the West Coast’s roadside landscapes . Entering Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona is a particularly surreal experience, as there is nowhere else quite like the American Southwest. If you have time, be sure to stop by Monument Valley for an iconic American backdrop.

great trips in usa

The USA is  blisteringly beautiful. It’s also blisteringly expensive! Visiting two national parks in day can run you $70+ in entry fees.

Orrrr… you kick those entry fees to the curb, buy an annual ‘America the Beautiful Pass’ for $79.99,  and get unlimited access to ALL 2000+ federally managed sites in the States totally FREE!

You do the math. 😉

3. Skyline Drive

The most scenic mountain road trip on the east coast.

  • States : Virginia
  • Start: Front Royal
  • End : Rockfish Gap
  • Total Distance: 105 miles
  • Best Part: Parking the car and going for a quick hike

road driving through the blue ridge mountains, virgina

It’s a favorite day trip for those visiting Washington DC for a simple reason: the Skyline Drive is one of the most accessible mountain drives in the USA. In just over an hour, one could easily escape from the politics and actions of the nation’s capital and be in the heart of Appalachian Country. For those who like long-winding mountain roads, this will be one of the best road trips in the USA.

The Skyline Drive traverses the entirety of Shenandoah National Park. This means that, besides offering breathtaking views, the route also affords access to many local trails. The epic and grueling AT (Appalachian Trail) runs parallel to Skyline Drive. Those who’ve dreamed of hiking (a section of) the thru-hike can do so at many points of the road.

For those looking for a more docile couple of days in Shenandoah, there are lots of campsites and little towns around worth visiting. Winchester has a rich Civil War history while sleepy Staunton is generally considered the prettiest town in the region.

Stay in Washington DC a few days before heading out and be sure to check out all the spectacular museums.

4. Going-to-the-Sun Road

The best way to see one of the best american national parks.

  • States: Montana
  • Start: West Glacier
  • End : Saint Mary
  • Total Distance: 50 miles
  • Best Part: Seeing Saint Mary Lake for the first time

Shot on the Canon EOS 5d

Glacier is one of the best national parks in the USA . It’s the kind of place that, once you’ve visited, makes you want to pack up your bags and move to Montana. I’ve dreamt of doing this before and I’m sure a lot of people share this dream with me.

The main road that traverses Glacier is called the Going-to-the-Sun Road and it is, without question, one of the most beautiful roads in the US. Firstly, it passes right next to the stunning Saint Mary Lake, which is one of the highlights of the park. It also provides quick access to some very good trails in the park, like Hidden Lake Lookout. This 3-mile round-trip hike starts at Logan’s Pass and offers views of the uniquely-shaped Bearhat Mountain.

It should be noted that the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens late in the season and closes early due to heavy snow. The road is closed for 7-8 months and crazy busy the rest of the year. There are quite a few hair point turns as well so remember to keep your cool out there when driving.

5. Olympic Peninsula Loop

Rainforests, glaciers, and beaches (oh my).

  • States: Washington
  • Start : Port Angeles
  • End : Port Angeles
  • Total Distance: 330 miles
  • Best Part: Feeling the carpet in the Hoh Rainforest

Hurricane Ridge - amazing northwestern USA road trip

Very few places to see in the USA are as geographically unique as the Olympic Peninsula. Here, you’ll find a huge diversity of landscapes, from glaciers to rainforest to rugged coastline. This is a paradise for outdoorsy types or, at least, those who can’t quite decide what kind of outdoor adventure they want to go on during their road trip in the USA.

There are too many cool spots on the Olympic Peninsula to talk about. Hurricane Ridge offers the most spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and also offers solid skiing in the winter. Rialto Beach is famous for its sea stacks that resemble those found commonly in Iceland. The Enchanted Valley is a very remote portion that requires an overnight hike but rewards visitors with, supposedly, 10,000 falls.

The best part about the Olympic Peninsula is exploring the Hoh Rainforest. Thanks to constant rain, the woods of the peninsula are overgrown, towering, and constantly lush. Go for walk here and you’ll see more shades of green then you previously thought possible.

If you’re passing through, then take a couple of nights booking a stay in Seattle before visiting the Olympic Peninsula!

6. Kancamagus Highway

For fall foliage fanatics.

  • States: New Hampshire
  • Start : North Woodstock
  • End : Conway
  • Total Distance: 56 miles
  • Best Part: Being there in autumn

fall foliage drive in new england on a road trip

New Englanders are very proud people and there are certain things that you don’t talk shit about with them. Dunkin’ Donuts, lobster rolls, Tom Brady; even a whisper of ill will about any of these things is a sure way to piss of a local. Just as important to the New Englander identity as any of these though is it’s most noticeable natural phenomenon: the fall foliage.

From late-September to middle-October, the Patriots become slightly less talked about (until they eventually go to the Super Bowl) in lieu of the changing colors of the trees. New Englanders go crazy for the reds, oranges, and golds of the season; some plan whole weekend excursions in search of the best colors. Admittedly, it is pretty damn cool when you travel outside Boston and are hit by all those hues.

One of the most famous fall foliage road trips in New England is the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. When the time is right (early-October), a cold fire hits the hills and they explode with color. The 56-mile stretch of the Kanc is never-ending foliage and shifting colors; it’s like driving through the barrel of a kaleidoscope. Just be warned: you and everyone else will be there – it gets busy in October!

7. San Juan Skyway

Colorful colorado at it’s best.

  • States: Colorado
  • Start : Durango
  • End : Durango
  • Total Distance: 233 miles
  • Best Part: Dallas Divide Viewpoint

dallas divide in colorado - famous drives in the usa

The San Juan Skyway is the best road trip in Colorado ! Nestled in the far southwestern corner of the state, this route offers some of the finest Rocky Mountain views you could hope for. The road twists and turns through the valleys of the San Juan Mountains, arguably the prettiest part of the Colorado Rockies, and visits many historical towns and viewpoints along the way.

This itinerary begins and ends in the former mining town of Durango. There’s not much to do here besides ride the old gauge railroad, which is admittedly pretty damn cool if you like old-school trains.

As you head north from Durango to Silverton, the scenery really starts to unfold. To the east, the rugged Weminuche goads avid climbers and hikers. To get the best views of the Weminuche and the nearby Grenadiers, be sure to stop at Molas Pass for a break.

Beyond Silverton is the remote resort town of Ouray and the Sneffels Wilderness. The Dallas Divide, which overlooks the Sneffels, is very popular with photographers, especially in autumn when the leaves change color.

After the Dallas Divide, it’s straight onto one of the most famous mountain towns in Colorado: Telluride. If you’re staying in Telluride during the summer, be sure to check for local festivals. During this time, there’s one almost every weekend.

Just got off the plane at Denver and need somewhere to crash? Check out our comprehensive accommodation guide for Denver and find something you like!

8. The Cascade Loop

The best of the “american alps”.

  • States : Washington
  • Start: Everett
  • End : Everett
  • Total Distance: 440 miles
  • Best Part: The North Cascades to the San Juan Islands

washington pass cascade loop - amazing places to visit in the usa

This is THE ULTIMATE Pacific Northwest road trip! Seriously, there are few itineraries that offer such a huge array of activities. Alpine hiking, whale watching, breweries; these are just a few of an adventurer’s favorite things!

The Cascade Loop begins in Everett, which is just north of Seattle. Everett is a pretty little town although you will not want to miss out on visiting Seattle. From Everett, you’ll head east over Stevens Pass before turning north along the Columbia Basin until looping back west across the Washington Pass and the astounding North Cascades. You should end your road trip through Washington by spending a few days relaxing in the idyllic San Juan Islands.

If the previous paragraph felt like an oversimplification, I’m sorry; but the Cascade Loop is too grand to fit in this section. To learn more about the route, be sure to visit the official Cascade Loop website for heaps of more information!

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9. Florida A1A – Overseas Highway

340 miles, almost all beaches.

  • States : Florida
  • Start: Amelia Island
  • End : Florida Keys
  • Total Distance : 340 miles
  • Best Part: Driving across the Caribbean Sea

florida coast road trip usa

Knock it all you like for its douchey spring break parties and invasive retirees, but Florida still has some of the best beaches in all of the USA. As you may have gleaned from the subtitle of this particular USA road trip, almost all of them are accessible via a single highway.

The Florida A1A runs the entire length of the Atlantic Floridian Coast AND even further into the Caribbean Sea. The portion that connects the mainland to the Florida Keys (The Florida Key Scenic Byway) is considered an engineering marvel and this is one of the highlights of the trip. Gliding across the Caribbean and into the likes of Ernest Hemingway’s home on Key West is just too good.

But there is more to this Florida road trip than just the Keys. Fort Lauderdale is shedding its MTV beach party reputation (for a more laid back vibe). Cocoa Beach and Vero Beach still surf central. Plus, there’s always hedonistic and culturally rich Miami to demand your attention (probably too much).

Use our Miami travel guide to learn more about the city!

10. Lassen Scenic Byway

A “lasser-known” road trip in california.

  • States : California, Oregon
  • Start : Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  • End : Chemult, Oregon
  • Total Distance: 500 miles
  • Best Part: Ending at Crater Lake aka Heaven on Earth

lassen volcanic national park on a caliornia road trip

The Lassen Scenic Byway is one of the most unknown and underrated road trips in America. The route can’t be faulted either – it’s located in the relative unknown of Northern California, which, unfortunately, only enters the news when there’s a forest fire or a rebellious splinter-nation about to spring up. Yet, Northern California and Lassen are just as beautiful as anywhere else in the state.

The Lassen Scenic Byway, which takes its name from the National Park where it starts, gives a grand overview of the region. Dormant volcanoes, bubbling springs, and waterfalls are just a few of the sights you’ll see along the way. Mt Shasta, which marks the beginning of the Cascade Range, is the most prominent landmark in the area. The Park boasts some of California’s best camping spots ; enjoy the breathtaking views at Heart Lake, or kayak around Manzanita’s calm waters.

The Lassen Scenic Byway also extends across the state border into Oregon. This means you can visit one of my all-time favorite places in the USA: Crater Lake. It is an enormous body of water, perfectly serene and close to fathomless. Every time I see it, Crater Lake reminds of Thoreau and what he said about lakes in general: “(they are) the Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

11. The Oregon Coast – USA Route 101

For those who like to wear sandals and sweaters (at the same time).

  • States : Oregon
  • Start: Brookings
  • End : Astoria
  • Total Distance: 363 miles
  • Best Part: Southern Oregon Coast

oregon coast sunset at indian beach oregon coast road trip roaming ralph photography

Having spent much of my life in Portland, I’ve been on more than a few road trips in Oregon and there’s a special place in my heart for the Oregon Coast.

When I needed to get away from the city and work, I would run away to the coast. When my girlfriend and I wanted a romantic dinner, we’d skip the restaurants and instead buy fresh oysters from the local fishermen in Netarts. To me, the coast was my playground, my church, and my home away from home.

I’m not the only person who loves the Oregon Coast though – lots of people go on vacation here to get away from the madness of their lives (including everyone’s favorite Midwestern melodist, Sufjan Stevens). Apparently, the charm of old coastal towns and the particular moodiness of a cool, cloudy day is not lost on the others.

Mine romanticizing aside, the Oregon Coast is just a beautiful place to visit. The Southern portion, around Bandon, Langlois, and Samuel H. Boardman, is particularly notable as the scenery around here – rocky towers, jagged promontories, and enormous cliffs – are quintessential.

Given how sheer flippin’ magnificent the Oregon Coast is, make sure you know what areas to stay in as you drive through!

12. The High Road to Taos

The magical highway to everyone’s favorite hippy town.

  • State: New Mexico
  • Start : Sante Fe
  • Best Part: The old Spanish architecture

high road to taos and the San Francisco de Asís Mission Church in Chimayó

New Mexico is like the weird aunt that always drives up to the family gatherings in her converted VW bus and talks about gemstones all night long. Not that this is a bad thing: we all love them for doing this and hope they never change. After all, these conversations are far more interesting than the ones we have with that one overly conservative uncle (I’m alluding to you, North Dakota).

New Mexico loves art, culture, and the surrounding nature that, in turn, inspires art and culture. People from all over the country, whether native or tourist, are inspired by landscapes and old Indian pueblos of the state (even the esteemed George R.R. Martin has drawn inspiration from this landscape).

One of the best ways to experience the magic of New Mexico is via the High Road to Tao scenic byway. Starting from the city of Santa Fe and ending in Taos, this road trip not only connects two of the most artistic cities in the state, but it also features a lot of interesting stuff in between.

Chimayó makes for a very interesting stop thanks to its namesake church, which promises to heal the sick. The San Francisco de Asís Mission Church is one of the most iconic buildings in the American Southwest and could easily serve as a prop for Tarantino or Sergio Leone western.

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13. Texas Hill Country

The “green” part of texas.

  • States: Texas
  • Start : Austin
  • End : Austin
  • Total Distance: Depends
  • Best Part : The natural pools

hamilton pool - highlight of austin, texas

Texas isn’t just desert and oil fields; there is plenty of greenery around if you know where to look. In fact, there are heaps of waterfalls and grottos to be found! Texas Hill Country is full of hidden wonders that most would’ve never thought could be found arid ol’ Texas. If you’re looking for some top-notch hiking in the States and want to try some of the tastiest BBQ in the state, then consider going on a trip here.

Texas Hill Country roughly refers to the elevated areas west of Austin. Many roads that go through this area; to visit a decent chunk of it will require you to take many different routes.

Generally speaking, the best parts of Texas Hill Country are around Highway 290. Locally beloved waterholes like Hamilton Pool, Pedernales Falls, and Jacobs Well are all within about 30 minutes detour.

There are many BBQ joints and spirit distilleries spread throughout Hill Country as well. If you want some of the most legendary BBQ in Texas, be sure to drop by Cooper’s Old Time Pit in Llano.

Austin is a bit of an underrated gem, so check out our insider travel guide and make sure you experience it fully.

14. Beartooth Highway

One of the most beautiful highways in america.

  • States: Wyoming, Montana
  • Start : Red Lodge, Montana
  • End : Wyoming/Montana border via US 212
  • Total Distance: 69 miles
  • Best Part : Arriving at Beartooth Pass

motorcycle on the beartooth highway montana wyoming

For being one of the prettiest roads in America, it’s amazing how few people have probably heard about the Beartooth. When talking about what to do in Wyoming, most people talk about staying in Yellowstone or the Tetons more than anything. (Rightfully so! Those places are spectacular in their own right!)

Yet, just 2 hours away from the center of Yellowstone lies this stunner of a road trip, so stunning some say that it could easily compete with the aforementioned national park. Not to be taken lightly, this road starts at 5000 ft and climbs to a maximum height of nearly 11,000 ft. By the time you reach Beartooth Pass, you’ll be driving through high-alpine plateau; barren, humbling, and, most of all, awe-inspiring.

The drive is the show-stealer here but there’s still lots to do outside of the car on the Beartooth Highway. Lakes for fishing, trails for hiking, and kitschy shops for souvenirs all abound. Though the drive itself only takes 2-3 hours, one could easily spend several days here. Don’t just look at this as a way to connect Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks; think of this route as a park to be explored onto itself.

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Things go wrong on the road ALL THE TIME. Be prepared for what life throws at you.

Buy an AMK Travel Medical Kit before you head out on your next adventure – don’t be daft!

15. The Hana Highway

A must-do on your hawaiian vacation.

  • State: Hawaii
  • Start : Kahului
  • End : Haiku-Pauwela
  • Total Distance: 64 miles
  • Best Part: Playing “Spot the Waterfall”

hana highway, hawaii - most beautiful roads in america

Some people find the word “highway” in Hana Highway to be a gross exaggeration. “This isn’t a highway!” they might say; “this is a crooked alley in the middle of the jungle!” Fair enough fictional angry tourist I say.

The Hana Highway is not a typical highway: it’s narrow, winding, and sometimes scary to drive on. What would normally take an hour to drive will take more like two or three. The road is so small that parking on the side of the road is very difficult; sometimes it even turns into a single lane of traffic.

But the Hana Highway is worth the extra effort, of course. Waterfalls are everywhere along this road trip; during heavy rain, falls may spring up out of nowhere (be careful in this case actually). That quintessential Hawaiin lushness will be omnipresent as you coast through different areas of Maui , and you’ll even the opportunity to visit the beach! Pullover at Waianapanapa State Park just before Hana to see one of the better beaches on the island.

If you end up doing this Hawaiin road trip, just be sure to leave Kahului with a full tank of gas and snacks. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of food and gas stations along the way.

To be honest, Hawaii is yummy, expensive, and worthy of a proper adventure. Check out our budget travel guide for Hawaii and extend your trip a bit longer !

16. Charleston to Savannah

Southern comfort at its finest.

  • States: South Carolina, Georgia
  • Start : Charleston, NC
  • End : Savannah, GA
  • Total Distance : 108 miles
  • Best Part : Comparing the two cities

City Market, Savannah - Southern USA road trip

It’s a well-known fact that there’s a long-standing rivalry between the cities of Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Both are competing against each other for the title of “most charming cities in the South” and the competition is fierce. Thanks to their close proximity, one could easily visit one on a weekend road trip!

Charleston is the smaller city; not so hectic and pretty down-to-Earth by many standards. It’s mostly known for its old plantations and Southern hospitality. A lot of people – especially the locals – like to say that Charleston is much more laidback than Savannah and consequently much more hospitable. You can find plenty of great Airbnbs in Charleston too, so it’s definitely a place to stop over for a bit longer.

Savannah, on the other hand, is the larger of the two cities. It was formerly and economic center of the region and, as such, expanded quite fast. The original Southern architecture is very well preserved, the best examples being the cobblestone streets themselves, the old-school neighborhoods of Savannah , and the nearby plantations. Fun fact: public drinking is also legal in Savannah, which does lead to the occasional, spontaneous block party 🙂

17. The Best of the American Southwest

Take a trip through one of the most beautiful parts of the usa.

  • States : Nevada, Utah, Arizona
  • Start: Las Vegas
  • End : Las Vegas
  • Total Distance: 1200 miles
  • Best Part: Doing acid somewhere you love

havasupai grand canyon day trip driving from las vegas, nevada

This isn’t an established route; there is no single road that you’ll stay on over the course of this trip. What this is a collection of highways that together form without question one of the most phenomenal road trips around the USA.

The American Southwest is one of the most beautiful regions in the world; a dreamscape filled with surreal arches, bottomless canyons, and rocks painted by the passage of time. Hiking through the arid landscapes of Arizona or Utah is more fantasy than reality sometimes and, to me at least, a more appropriate place for Gods to inhabit than humans.

My mind reels when I think about how many wonders there are on this Southwestern road trip. The Grand Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, Antelope Canyon, Havasupai; all of these could be considered amongst the most beautiful places in the world. Yet, I haven’t even talked about the national parks of Utah either! Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, my god – it’s all too much to think about at once.

Love it or hate it, you’ll be visiting Las Vegas for this road trip, so you may as well make the most of it!

18. Route 61 – The Blues Highway

Visit some of the most significant musical sites in america.

  • States: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa , Wisconsin, Minnesota
  • Start : New Orleans
  • End : Wyoming (Minnesota)
  • Total Distance: 1,400 miles
  • Best Part: Finding out where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil

blues hall in memphis starting the great american musical road trip

A good American road trip doesn’t ALWAYS have to be about pleasant scenery or heritage sites. Sometimes, all a good road trip takes is an appreciation for our musical forefathers and a really good playlist to go with it.

Route 61 is called the Blues Highway because it has been a part of so many American musicians’ lives. Bastions of classic American music, like Memphis, Des Moines , St. Louis, and the classic southern destination New Orleans are all connected by this road.

That means the greatest blues singers, rockers, country wailers, and more have all, at one point in their lives, driven on this road. It goes without saying that a lot of shit has probably happened here then.

Route 61 is full of interesting and sometimes strange attractions. The BB King Museum, Heartbreak Hotel, and some of the most hallowed music venues and concert halls in the country are all along this route.

The coolest place to visit on this USA road trip? The infamous “crossroads” where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil for fame (at the intersection of Highway 1 and 8).

For a shorter version, road trippers can instead drive from New Orleans to Memphis and experience many of the same attractions.

great trips in usa

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19. Seward Highway

A wild road trip in the usa’s most wild state.

  • States: Alaska
  • Start : Anchorage
  • End : Seward
  • Total Distance: 125 miles
  • Best Part: The Kenai Fjords

alaskan road trip seward highway and ice road

Choosing between this and the George Parks Highway is a tough call. The option of seeing the monstrous Denali is possible with the latter, and that alone should be enough to entice people. But overall, the Seward Highway is probably the best road trip in Alaska .

Why is the Seward Highway great? Well, it’s not too long, not too far away from civilization, and it offers a little bit of everything. The drive itself is remarkable as you’ll be afforded views of both the Chugach Mountains and the rugged Alaskan coastline at the same time, plus a bear or two (or more) as well.

For those very adventurous folk, the Kenai Peninsula offers more than just road thrills. Kayaking in the fjords among the glaciers is available as is hiking in the Kenai Mountains. Just remember: if you do decide to go off into the wilderness, don’t forget to exhibit the usual bear safety.

Now things are getting wild! You’ll be starting with a stay in Anchorage so make sure you book an awesome place in an awesome spot… it’s cold up there!

20. Park Loop (Acadia National Park)

Rugged new england coastline.

  • States: Maine
  • Start : Hulls Cove Visitor Center
  • End : Hulls Cove Visitor Center
  • Total Distance: 27 miles
  • Best Part : Sunset beers at Cadillac Mountain

acadia national park maine beach

Maine is one of the most popular road trip destinations on the East Coast during the summer. People travel here over the weekend from as far as New York City or Philadelphia in search of some far more positive vibes. The Maine coastline, long beloved for its lighthouses and sandy beaches, for one reason or another, has long been therapeutic to these city slickers.

When it comes to coastal routes, few can compare to the Park Loop at Acadia National Park. Towering conifers, fine beaches, and that rough coastline that defines New England are all featured here; all are accessible from your car. There are several hikes around that will take you to some pretty solid viewpoints as well. The sunset at Cadillac Mountain is particularly good with friends and brews.

Because everyone wants to travel to Maine these days, it can get pretty crowded during the summer. Traffic will be bad and accommodation will either be limited or expensive. Autumn, though only slightly less busy, is a nice time to visit because of foliage. Spring is a great time though you should definitely have a coat with you. Visiting in winter should only be for the mad or photographically-inclined.

BONUS: The Ultimate USA Road Trip (According to Science)

For niiieerrrdddsss (kidding).

  • States : All 48 lower states
  • Start: New York
  • End : New York
  • Total Distance: 13,700 miles
  • Best Part: The end.

new york city skyline from brooklyn

Does anyone remember when that viral image of the GREATEST ROAD TRIP ACROSS AMERICA EVER was making rounds on the web? How many people made plans to do the damn thing?

Admittedly, this road trip was more notable for its use of data, specifically using a genetic algorithm, which already sounds super cool. In lamens, this genetic algorithm allowed the whizzes behind this to see the greatest amount of American destinations with as little backtracking as possible.

So are you ready to tackle this bad boy? Are you really in the mood for the most epic USA road trip imaginable? Then put in that vacation time and pack the car up as much as you can. Don’t skimp on the Red Bull either – there are going to be a lot of long drives here folks.

With all of those competing companies and exorbitant deposits, renting a car in the USA can seem scary. Frankly, I don’t blame people if they ever felt intimidated in this country while trying to rent a car – there’s a real learning curve.

But booking a rental car can be much more manageable if you know a few things beforehand. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You need a credit card to rent a car in America – They rental company will use it to take a deposit for the car.
  • You have to be 18 – Even then, you’ll get charged more if you’re under 28. Younger drivers are seen as liabilities.
  • Don’t book rental insurance with the rental company – Use a third party because they’re cheaper and have better protection. Rentalcover is a great choice.
  • Do your research – Use search engines, like Rentalcars.com , to find the best prices. Sedans are usually the cheapest options. SUVs will cost much more.
  • Gas prices are different in every state – Use ViaMichelin  to chart gas prices in each state. As a rule of thumb, gas is cheaper the closer you get to Texas and the South.
  • Some credit cards offer rental insurance – Be sure to check if your credit card company will cover you in the case of an accident. If they do cover you, you’ll save heaps of money. You’ll need to book the car with THAT card to qualify, of course.
  • Almost all American cars have automatic transmissions – I honestly think it might actually cost more to rent a manual…
  • Check to see if there is a cleaning fee – If you made a small mess, most companies won’t charge you anything. Some shady ones will charge you a fortune for a gum wrapper though.

What to Pack for a Road Trip in the USA

First off: your road trip packing list is going to vary wildly depending on how long the itinerary is. If you’re just going for a weekend, then your list is going to be much trimmer and less demanding. But some road trips can last weeks or even months. If you’re like my friends, Kevin and Liz, you’ll eventually end up living out of your car at which point it may be time to consider investing in the vanlife .

When packing for a shorter road trip, go minimal . Take the essentials, like a roadside safety kit and some form of navigation for example, and then add more as needed. If you’re camping, take the appropriate gear. If you have a toddler, take a doona car seat stroller (it’s a seriously cool piece of engineering). If you want to save money, take lots of snacks and pre-made meals to avoid stopping at diners. Easy peasy.

lounging in the alvord desert with an umbrella eastern oregon road trip

On the other hand, if you’re planning a truly epic American road trip route, the likes of which would make Jack Kerouac or Alexander Supertramp jealous, then you’ll need much, much more stuff. I cannot cover everything in this single section of the article but I can suggest that you check out our road trip packing checklist for more ideas and suggestions.

Aside from knowing what to pack on your road trip in the USA, you’ll also need to know how to pack . If you have a lot of stuff, you will need to be conscious of how you organize everything, especially if you have a smaller, passenger-style vehicle. Get a system in place – use packing cubes and plastic bins to keep everything separated; bungee cables will be your best friends.

For more information on how to pack a car, check out this informative article at USA Today .

great trips in usa

Wanna know how to pack like a pro? Well for a start you need the right gear….

These are packing cubes for the globetrotters and compression sacks for the  real adventurers – these babies are a traveller’s best kept secret. They organise yo’ packing and minimise volume too so you can pack MORE.

Or, y’know… you can stick to just chucking it all in your backpack…

What to do in Case of Trouble while Road Tripping in the USA

It should go without saying that you need to be prepared for your road trip in the USA. I would like to make a friendly reminder here to do so. Prepare thyself before embarking on your asphalt odysseys by having the following, at a minimum: a roadside emergency kit and some form travel insurance for the USA . 

A lot can go wrong on a road trip: tires can pop, accidents can happen, engines can stutter and stop. Getting stuck in the middle of nowhere because someone forgot to do something essential like change the oil could ruin your trip real fast.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

great trips in usa

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

A roadside assistance kit will contain everything that you could need to fix small problems on the road. They can’t fix everything (you’ll need a mechanic for that) but at least you’ll be able to recharge a dead battery and arrest a bumper on the fly.

If the shit really hits the fan and your vehicle is really in trouble, that’s when the insurance comes in handy. If there’s a fatal problem with the car, trust me, it will be expensive, and having insurance means that you’ll have a bit of financial help.

road eastern sierra nevada california road trip

Now you could invest in two types of insurance: regular travel insurance or special rental car insurance.

Some travel insurance providers provide basic vehicular coverage and will cover you in certain circumstances. World Nomads insurance is a good example. Granted, there is at times some fine print regarding who qualifies. For example, drivers from some US states cannot qualify for vehicular assistance with World Nomads. Always be sure to double-check.

If you want total protection, go with an independent rental insurance company like Rental Cover. Most offer excellent coverage at very reasonable rates, more so than the rental car company will give you.

great trips in usa

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Ralph Cope

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Best USA Road Trips: 18 Ideas for Your Next Big Adventure

Julie Last updated: January 28, 2024 United States 18 Comments

Best USA Road Trips Travel Guide

One of the best ways to explore the USA is on a good old-fashioned road trip. Cruise along Route 66, road trip through the Florida Keys, explore the American Southwest, or even drive from coast to coast. In this guide, we share 18 of the best USA road trips…18 great ideas for your next big adventure.

Table of Contents

About these USA Road Trips

These road trips range from just a several days to two weeks in length. Most them are written as 7 to 10-day itineraries.

This is not a list of scenic drives, which are drives that can be done in a few hours or a full day (for example, Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or Beartooth Highway). However, these scenic drives are included in the itineraries below.

For each road trip, we list the approximate distance you will travel and the best time of year for each trip. Most of these can be done all year, but like any travel destination, there are ideal times for each of them.

Most of these road trips include at least one national park. We are on a quest to visit all 63 national parks, and they make perfect road trip destinations.

We have done all but a few of these USA road trips…several are still on our bucket list. And on this list we have a few favorites, what we think are must-have experiences in the USA, and I’ll share those with you at the end of this guide (or you can skip ahead now).

While visiting the national and state parks, national monuments, and public places, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trails, pack out what you bring with you, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

#1 Route 66

Distance: 2,448 miles Length of Time: 1 to 2 weeks to drive the entire distance, or you can drive a section of Route 66 When to Go: All year

Highlights: Chicago, ghost towns in New Mexico and Texas, quirky roadside shops and restaurants, Petrified Forest National Park, Santa Monica. If you drive the entire length of Route 66, you will drive through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Route 66 USA Road Trip

Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the USA. This historic road is also called the Main Street of America and the Mother Road.

This road runs from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, totaling 2,448 miles. In the 1930’s, it was the route used by those migrating west to escape the Dust Bowl. And in the 1950’s, this route was used by vacationers on their way to Los Angeles.

In the 1960’s, as more direct highways were constructed, traffic along Route 66 declined, leading towards its demise. Portions of Route 66 were bypassed and neglected, although in recent years, there has been revitalization along this route.

As far as planning your road trip, you can drive the entire distance, which takes one to two weeks, depending on what you do along the way. Or, just road through a portion of Route 66.

We have driven Route 66 in Arizona. With quirky roadside stands and several great places to visit along the drive (Petrified Forest National Park, the Meteor Crater, and Flagstaff) this is one of the most iconic sections of the drive.

Route 66 Dinosaurs

Holbrook, Arizona | Best USA Road Trips

Plan Your USA Road Trip

The Route 66 Road Trip website has lots of information about what to do and see along the way.

#2 California: The Pacific Coast Highway

Distance: 650 miles Time: 7 to 10 days When to Go: spring and summer

Highlights: San Francisco, Monterey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles

Pacific Coast Highway Map

Tim and I did this over 20 years ago, and it still remains one of my favorite USA road trips.

The Pacific Coast Highway, also called California State Route 1, runs north to south from Leggett to Dana Point. The classic Pacific Coast Highway road trip runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but you can also add on San Diego in the south or continue the drive north into northern California.

This road trip is done point-to-point and can be done in either direction.

The drive between San Francisco to Los Angeles, as the road winds along the rugged coastline in Big Sur, is one of the most beautiful drives in the USA. It takes 8 to 10 hours to drive this stretch of road, but most people break the drive up into several days, spending the night in either Santa Barbara, Solvang, Morro Bay, and/or Monterey.

There are also some great nearby destinations to add on to this road trip. Napa Valley, Pinnacles National Park, and San Diego all make great additions to a Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

Here is a sample 7-day Pacific Coast highway itinerary heading south to north.   Day 1: San Diego Day 2: Los Angeles Day 3: Santa Barbara, Solvang, and Morro Bay Day 4: Big Sur State Park and Monterey Day 5: San Francisco Day 6: San Francisco Day 7: Napa Valley day trip from San Francisco

With more time, you can continue the road trip by heading north to northern California, add on more time in each city, or add on Pinnacles or Yosemite National Parks.

Big Sur USA Road Trips

Bixby Bridge at Big Sur: Phitha Tanpairoj/shutterstock.com

San Francisco

Cable cars in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO:  25 Best Things to Do in San Francisco SAN DIEGO: 10 Best Things to Do in San Diego YOSEMITE:  Yosemite for First Timers: Best Hikes, Best Views, & the Best Things to Do

#3 American Southwest

Distance: Varies, 1,000 – 1,500 miles Time: 7 days to 2 weeks When to Go: Best during the spring and fall months

Highlights: The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks

American Southwest Map

American Southwest Route | Best USA Road Trips

Admire the breathtaking vistas of the Grand Canyon, hike the thrilling trails in Zion National Park, and photograph the millions of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. The list keeps going, with the sweeping views of Monument Valley, dusty, off-road adventures in Grand Staircase-Escalante, and numerous slot canyons to scramble through. With more time, you can extend the road trip and head farther into Utah, exploring Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks.

American Southwest Road Trip

Monument Valley | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip with Zion

Zion National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon | Best USA Road Trips

If you have the time, I recommend planning a two-week road trip through this region. On just one road trip, you can visit the Grand Canyon, Utah’s Mighty 5, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, and Las Vegas.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas, Drive to the Grand Canyon Day 2: Grand Canyon National Park Day 3: Grand Canyon National Park Day 4: Page, Arizona: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend Day 5: Monument Valley Day 6: The Needles, Canyonlands National Park Day 7: Arches National Park Day 8: Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky Day 9: Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wild Horse Canyon Day 10: Capitol Reef National Park Day 11: Capitol Reef or Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Day 12: Bryce Canyon National Park Day 13: Zion National Park Day 14: Drive to Las Vegas and fly home

With less time, we have a great 10-day road trip that includes several highlights and wonderful off-the-beaten-path destinations in the American Southwest, and a 7-day road trip that includes Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. We are frequent visitors to the American Southwest and have a lot of different road trip itineraries on this website.

American Southwest Road Trip Itineraries

TWO WEEK ITINERARY: Two Week American Southwest Road Trip: Grand Canyon & Utah’s Mighty 5 10 DAY ITINERARY: 10 Days in the American Southwest: The Ultimate Road Trip Itinerary 5 TO 10 DAY ITINERARIES: Grand Canyon Road Trip: 5 Itineraries from Las Vegas

#4 Grand Teton, Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks

Distance: 900 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: Early July through mid-October, when all of the roads in the national parks are open

Highlights: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks

Grand Teton Yellowstone Road Trip Map

Day 1: Arrive in Jackson, Wyoming Day 2: Grand Teton Day 3: Grand Teton & Yellowstone Day 4: Yellowstone Day 5: Yellowstone Day 6: Yellowstone Day 7: Drive to Glacier Day 8: Glacier Day 9: Glacier Day 10: Fly Home

This is one of the best USA road trips if you want to visit three popular national parks. We like this road trip so much that we have done it twice.

This USA road trip is done point-to-point. It can be done in either direction, but most people start in Grand Teton and then head north to Glacier National Park.

In Grand Teton National Park, visit Jenny Lake, hike to Inspiration Point or head farther into the Teton Range, go wildlife spotting at Oxbow Bend, photograph the mighty Teton Range, and spend some time in Jackson.

Then head to Yellowstone, where the wildlife sightings are some of the best in the national parks and you can visit bubbling mud pots and technicolor hot springs.

Finally, the trip ends with its grand finale in Glacier National Park. Drive the beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road, take your pick between short and long hikes, and marvel at this gorgeous national park.

Grand Teton National Park

Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone Bison

Hayden Valley, Yellowstone

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park | Best USA Road Trips

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: Grand Teton, Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks: 10 Day Road Trip Itinerary WITH LESS TIME: Yellowstone and Grand Teton Itinerary: How to Plan Your Road Trip GRAND TETON:   15 Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park YELLOWSTONE: 18 Amazing Things to Do in Yellowstone National Park YELLOWSTONE:   Where to Stay in Yellowstone National Park GLACIER:   Top 10 Things to Do in Glacier National Park

#5 Washington State Road Trip

Distance: 1,225 miles Time: 7 to 14 days When to Go: July through September

Highlights: Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, Leavenworth, Lake Chelan

Washington Road Trip Map

Day 1: Arrive in Washington, drive to Port Angeles Day 2: Olympic National Park Day 3: Olympic National Park Day 4: Mount Rainier National Park Day 5: Mount Rainier National Park Day 6: Leavenworth Day 7: Lake Chelan Day 8: North Cascades National Park Day 9: North Cascades National Park or Mount Baker Day 10: Fly Home

Washington state makes an excellent road trip destination, especially for outdoor lovers, hikers, and families. Three national parks are located in Washington.

Things to Do in Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip Olympic NP

Olympic National Park | Best USA Road Trips

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse national parks in the United States. In just one national park, you can climb peaks as high as 8,000 feet, walk through old growth temperate rainforests, and stroll along beaches littered with driftwood.

For hikers, Mount Rainier is one of the best US national parks to visit. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails loop around Mount Rainier, a glacier-capped active volcano. For an epic experience, you can also climb to the summit of Mount Rainier on a multi-day hiking trip.

North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States, and we also think that it is one of the most underrated. It’s also another great spot to go hiking.

On a road trip through Washington state, you can also add on the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, go wine tasting at Lake Chelan, visit Mount Baker, go on a day hike in the Enchantments, and visit Seattle.

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: 7 to 14 Day Washington Road Trip Itinerary WASHINGTON PARKS: Washington National Parks: Travel Guide & Itinerary MOUNT RAINIER: 14 Amazing Things to Do in Mount Rainier National Park NORTH CASCADES: The Complete Guide to North Cascades National Park OLYMPIC: Best Things to Do in Olympic National Park

#6 Las Vegas to San Diego

Distance: 640 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: fall, winter and spring

Highlights: San Diego, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park (the cover photo for this article)

USA Road Trip Joshua Tree

This USA road trip is great in the wintertime. Joshua Tree and Death Valley tend to be some of the hottest spots in the USA, so it’s best to visit this area when the weather is cool.

Since this road trip is done point-to-point, it can be done in either direction. Here is a sample 10-day itinerary, starting in Las Vegas and ending in Las Vegas. For more information, plus an alternative route that includes the Mojave National Preserve, read our Las Vegas to San Diego Itinerary.

Day 1: Las Vegas Day 2: Valley of Fire day trip from Las Vegas Day 3: Red Rock Canyon or more time in Las Vegas Day 4: Death Valley National Park Day 5: Death Valley National Park Day 6: Drive to Joshua Tree National Park Day 7: Joshua Tree National Park Day 8: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Day 9: San Diego Day 10: Fly home

For a shorter version of this itinerary, skip Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the day trips from Las Vegas.

Death Valley Sunset

Death Valley National Park | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip with Las Vegas

Las Vegas | Best USA Road Trips

Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire | Best USA Road Trips

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park | Best USA Road Trips

SAN DIEGO:   Best Things to Do in San Diego, California JOSHUA TREE: Top 10 Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park DEATH VALLEY:   The Complete Guide to Death Valley National Park ANZA-BORREGO DESERT: How to Spend One Day in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park LAS VEGAS:   Best of Las Vegas: Things to Do, Day Trip Ideas & Sample Itineraries VALLEY OF FIRE:  16 Amazing Things to Do in the Valley of Fire RED ROCK CANYON: 2 Short, Fun Hikes in Red Rock Canyon

#7 Florida Keys Road Trip

Distance: 200 miles Time: 7 to 10 days When to Go: All year but this road trip is best from November through March, when the weather is cooler, rainfall is low, and there is no threat from tropical storms or hurricanes.

Highlights: Miami, Key West, Florida Keys, Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks

Florida Keys Itinerary Map

White sandy beaches, warm sunny skies, palm trees, key lime pie, warm sunny skies…sounds nice, right?

Driving from Miami to Key West is one of the best USA road trips.

The Florida Overseas Highway connects mainland Florida with Key West. As you road trip through the Florida Keys, you can visit state parks, beautiful beaches, animal conservation centers, breweries, and boutique shops. Dine al fresco, on the beach, in the shade of palm trees.

Spend some time in Miami and Key West and you can also add on three national parks: Biscayne, Everglades, and Dry Tortugas.

Overseas Highway

Seven Mile Bridge | Best USA Road Trips

Key West Road Trip

Key West | Best USA Road Trips

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Day 1: Arrive in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Day 2: Everglades National Park Day 3: Biscayne National Park Day 4: Florida Keys road trip to Key West Day 5: Key West Day 6: Key West Day 7: Dry Tortugas National Park Day 8: Key West Day 9: Florida Keys road trip to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Day 10: Fly home

If you have less time, this itinerary can easily be shortened to one week. Travel point-to-point through the Florida Keys. In our Florida Keys Itinerary, we give suggestions on how to do this.

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: 7 – 10 Day Florida Keys Itinerary: Miami, Key West & the National Parks FLORIDA KEYS:  Florida Keys Road Trip: 25 Awesome Things to Do between Key Largo and Key West KEY WEST: 18 Best Things to Do in Key West DRY TORTUGAS: The Complete Guide to Dry Tortugas National Park EVERGLADES: One Perfect Day in Everglades National Park BISCAYNE: Best Things to Do in Biscayne National Park

#8 Northern California & Oregon

Distance: 650 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: Summer and early fall

Highlights: Redwood State and National Parks, Lassen Volcanic National Park and Crater Lake National Park

California Loop Map

On this loop, visit three national parks: Crater Lake, Redwood, and Lassen Volcanic National Parks. This road trip is still on our to-do list. When we were planning one of our big summer trips, we had to choose between the Washington road trip (listed above) and this one. Washington won but we are hoping to do this one soon.

Since this USA road trip is done as a loop, there are several different spots to start this trip. Medford, Oregon is the most convenient location that I have found, since it has one of the largest airports in the area.

Below is a 10-day road trip itinerary starting and ending in Medford.

Day 1: Arrive in Medford, drive to Crater Lake National Park Day 2: Crater Lake National Park Day 3: Crater Lake National Park, drive to Lava Beds National Monument Day 4: Lava Beds National Monument, drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park Day 5: Lassen Volcanic National Park Day 6: Drive to Redwood National Park visiting Whiskeytown on the drive Day 7: Redwood National & State Parks Day 8: Redwood National & State Parks Day 9: Redwood National & State Parks Day 10: Drive to Medford and fly home

Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park: Nature’s Charm/shutterstock.com

#9 Washington DC to Asheville, North Carolina

Distance: 700 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: May through October

Highlights: Washington DC, Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, New River Gorge National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville, Gatlinburg

USA Road Trip Map Shenandoah

If you are looking for a USA road trip to do in the fall, this is one of the best on this list . In October, all three national parks are ablaze in fall colors, making this one of the most beautiful times to visit this part of the USA.

Spend a day or two in Washington DC, visiting the Smithsonian Museums, national monuments, and iconic landmarks. Then, leave the city behind, as you road trip through Shenandoah National Park, driving the beautiful Skyline Drive.

Next, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Natural Bridge. Take a detour west, spending a few days in one of the USA’s newest national parks, New River Gorge. After New River Gorge, resume the drive south, visiting Asheville, North Carolina, before ending the trip with a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Shenandoah NP

Shenandoah National Park in October | Best USA Road Trips

West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Biltmore

The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina | Best USA Road Trips

Great Smoky Mountains Cabin

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Day 1: Washington DC Day 2: Washington DC Day 3: Shenandoah National Park Day 4: Blue Ridge Parkway, Natural Bridge, New River Gorge National Park Day 5: New River Gorge National Park Day 6: New River Gorge National Park Day 7: Drive to Asheville, North Carolina Day 8: Asheville Day 9: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Day 10: Gatlinburg and fly home

To turn this into a 7-day itinerary, eliminate New River Gorge National Park and do this as a road trip from Washington DC to Asheville, North Carolina.

WASHINGTON DC: One Day Walking Tour of Washington DC SHENANDOAH: Best Things to Do in Shenandoah National Park NEW RIVER GORGE: 20 Amazing Things to Do in New River Gorge National Park NEW RIVER GORGE: 6 Great Hikes in New River Gorge National Park ASHEVILLE: How to Plan a Weekend Getaway to Asheville, North Carolina GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS: A Weekend in Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg

#10 Arizona Road Trip

Distance: 1,080 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: Fall, winter and spring

Highlights: Grand Canyon, Sedona, Monument Valley, Saguaro National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

Arizona Road Trip Map

On this Arizona road trip itinerary, you will visit three national parks, drive past the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley, walk through magical Antelope Canyon, and hike the desert hills of Sedona. Arizona is home to some of the most iconic landscapes in the United States and this road trip is the perfect way to see them.

Day 1: Arrive in Phoenix, Saguaro National Park Day 2: Saguaro National Park Day 3: Petrified Forest National Park Day 4: Monument Valley Day 5: Antelope Canyon Day 6: Grand Canyon Day 7: Grand Canyon Day 8: Grand Canyon & Sedona Day 9: Sedona Day 10: Fly Home

Arizona is a large state with a lot to do. This road trip focuses on the national parks, Sedona, and Monument Valley, but if you have more time, you can also add on Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and Scottsdale.

Grand Canyon USA Road Trip

Grand Canyon National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Sedona Arizona

Sedona, Arizona | Best USA Road Trips

Saguaro

Saguaro National Park | Best USA Road Trips

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: The Ultimate Arizona Road Trip Itinerary SEDONA: The Complete Guide to Sedona, Arizona GRAND CANYON: The Complete Guide to the Grand Canyon SAGUARO: 8 Amazing Things to Do at Saguaro National Park PETRIFIED FOREST: Petrified Forest Travel Guide & Itinerary ANTELOPE CANYON: Should You Visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon? MONUMENT VALLEY: The Complete Guide to Monument Valley for First-Time Visitors

#11 Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Distance: 100 to 300 miles Time: 1 to 7 days When to Go: All year

Highlights: Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Louisville, Bardstown, Lexington

KBT Map

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail (KBT) is a collection of eighteen bourbon distilleries located in and around Louisville. If you want to tour all eighteen distilleries, you need a minimum of seven days. For those who just want a taste of the KBT, this area also makes a great weekend getaway.

There is a lot more to do in this part of Kentucky than just tour bourbon distilleries. Enjoy the nightlife in Louisville, watch a horse race at Churchill Downs, drive through scenic bluegrass Kentucky, visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, or spend the night in a historic tavern.

Bourbon

Maker’s Mark | Best USA Road Trips

Horse Racing

Horse Racing at Churchill Downs | Best USA Road Trips

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in a Weekend

  Friday: Arrive in Louisville, evening distillery tour and dinner Saturday: Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, Bardstown Bourbon, sleep in Bardstown Sunday: Lux Row, Maker’s Mark, fly home

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in One Week

  Day 1: Louisville distilleries Day 2: Louisville: museums, distillery tours and Churchill Downs Day 3: Distilleries near Owensboro Day 4: Bardstown distilleries Day 5: Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and the Kentucky Cooperage Day 6: Wilderness Trail, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve Day 7: Distilleries between Lexington and Louisville

One week is a long time to spend on the bourbon trail and it will get repetitive. I only recommend doing this if you are a BIG fan of bourbon. It took us several different trips to Kentucky to visit all of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries.

KBT ITINERARY: Kentucky Bourbon Trail Itinerary: Suggestions for 1 Day to 1 Week KBT GUIDE: The Ultimate Guide to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail DISTILLERIES: Best Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail LOUISVILLE: Best Things to do in Louisville, Kentucky

#12 Alaska Road Trip

Distance: 700 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: May through September

Highlights: Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Kenai Fjords and Wrangell – St. Elias National Parks

Alaska Road Trip Map

There are many different ways to put together an Alaskan road trip, and in our Alaska Itinerary post, we share three detailed itineraries.

Our favorite is a 10-day trip that includes Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell – St. Elias. It’s our favorite for two reasons.

For one thing, Wrangell – St. Elias is one of the most underrated US national parks. This place blew us away, with its multiple ranges of mountain peaks, glacier hiking, and flightseeing.

The second reason is that Denali Park Road, in Denali National Park, is closed at about the halfway point, while a bridge is constructed around a landslide. Until this road fully reopens (2023 or later), I think it is best to save Denali and visit the other Alaskan national parks instead.

In our article 10 Day Alaska Itinerary: 3 Road Trip Ideas, we provide three different road trip routes through Alaska, but below is the 10-day itinerary with Wrangell – St. Elias and Kenai Fjords National Parks.

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage Day 2: Drive to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Day 3: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Day 4: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Day 5: Drive to Valdez Day 6: Valdez Day 7: Cruise to the Kenai Peninsula Day 8: Kenai Fjords National Park Day 9: Kenai Fjords National Park Day 10: Fly home

With more time, you can add on Denali or add on a day trip to Lake Clark or Katmai National Parks.

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary Photo

Kenai Fjords National Park | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip in Alaska

Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve | Best USA Road Trips

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: 1o Day Alaska Itinerary: 3 Epic Road Trip Ideas WRANGELL – ST. ELIAS: 10 Best Things to Do in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve ANCHORAGE TO VALDEZ: Driving from Anchorage to Valdez: Best Things to Do, Map & Photos DENALI: 16 Best Things to Do in Denali National Park KATMAI: 8 Amazing Things to Do in Katmai National Park

#13 New England Road Trip: Acadia to Boston

Distance: 700 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: Late spring through fall; October is the best time for fall colors

Highlights: Acadia National Park, Kancamagus Highway, Franconia Notch State Park, Stowe, Lake Champlain, the Berkshires, Boston

New England Road Trip Map

This is a road trip that is very high on our to-do list. We have been to Acadia National Park and Boston, the starting and ending points of this itinerary, and loved both experiences. Our visit to Acadia coincided with peak fall colors and it’s breathtaking.

We live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US so we get to see some beautiful fall colors in our backyard, but there is something extra special about New England in October. Not only do the fall colors seem more vibrant, but the small towns and state parks make this region one of the most beautiful destinations in the USA for a fall road trip.

Day 1: Acadia National Park Day 2: Acadia National Park Day 3: Portland, Maine Day 4: Drive to Conway, then drive the scenic Kancamagus Highway, visit Franconia Notch State Park, and sleep in or near Franconia Day 5: Stowe, Burlington, and Lake Champlain Day 6: Drive to Lenox, Massachusetts in the Berkshires Day 7: Drive to Boston Day 8: Boston Day 9: Boston Day 10: Fly home

Acadia National Park October

Acadia National Park in October | Best USA Road Trips

Boston

Boston | Best USA Road Trips

  Since we have not done this road trip yet, we have limited information. But here are a few posts which will be helpful:   ACADIA:   The Complete Guide to Acadia National Park BOSTON:   Best Things to Do in Boston, Massachusetts BOSTON:  Tips for Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston

#14 Utah’s Mighty 5

Distance: 900 miles Time: 7 to 10 days When to Go: Spring and fall

Highlights: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

Mighty 5 Map

If you like rugged, desert landscapes, it is hard to beat the beauty of Utah. If you are a hiker, there are enough trails in these parks to keep you busy for weeks. And if you like a good road trip, Utah is the perfect place to explore from behind the wheel of a car.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best USA road trips. We can’t get enough of this part of the USA…Utah keeps calling us back.

Hike the bucket list worthy trails at Zion, explore the fantasyland of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, photograph the arches and unique rock formations at Arches National Park, explore the waterpocket fold in Capitol Reef, marvel at the landscapes at Canyonlands Island in the Sky, and hike through the unique landscape in The Needles at Canyonlands.

This is just a short list of things to do on a Mighty 5 road trip. You can spend weeks here and never run out of new things to do.

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park | Best USA Road Trips

The Needles Canyonlands

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip with Mighty 5

Capitol Reef National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Day 1: Arrive in Salt Lake City, drive to Moab Day 2: Arches National Park Day 3: Canyonlands National Park Day 4: Drive to Capitol Reef, visit Capitol Reef, sleep in Torrey or near Bryce Canyon Day 5: Bryce Canyon, drive to Zion, sleep in Springdale Day 6: Zion National Park Day 7: Drive to Las Vegas, fly home

MIGHTY 5: Utah’s Mighty 5: Travel Guide & Road Trip Itinerary UTAH ITINERARY: The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary ZION: The Complete Guide to Zion National Park BRYCE CANYON: One Perfect Day in Bryce Canyon National Park CAPITOL REEF: 14 Amazing Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park CANYONLANDS: Top 10 Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park ARCHES: One Perfect Day in Arches National Park

#15 Colorado Road Trip

Distance: 1,050 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: Summer and early fall

Highlights: Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks, Aspen and Snowmass, Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and numerous scenic drives.

USA Road Trip Colorado

With four national parks, numerous national forests and state parks, plus historic towns scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains, Colorado makes an awesome road trip destination.

Our 10-day road trip itinerary includes all four national parks, which are linked together with some of Colorado’s best scenic drives (the San Juan Skyway, the Million Dollar Highway, Top of the Rockies, Mount Evans Scenic Byway, and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park).

Best Hikes in Rocky Mountains

Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado Road Trip Photo

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Day 1: Arrive in Colorado, drive to Colorado Springs Day 2: Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak Day 3: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Day 4: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Day 5: Mesa Verde National Park Day 6: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Day 7: Drive to Rocky Mountain National Park Day 8: Rocky Mountain National Park Day 9: Rocky Mountain National Park Day 10: Fly Home

This itinerary is done as a loop, starting and ending in either Denver or Colorado Springs. It’s a great road trip for families, hikers, and those who love the great outdoors and scenic drives.

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: The Perfect Colorado Itinerary: National Parks & Scenic Drives COLORADO PARKS: Colorado National Parks: Travel Guide & Road Trip Itinerary ROCKY MOUNTAIN: The Ultimate Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park GREAT SAND DUNES: 8 Amazing Things to Do in Great Sand Dunes National Park MESA VERDE: Top 10 Things to Do in Mesa Verde National Park BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON: How to Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park SCENIC DRIVES: 9 Spectacular Scenic Drives in Colorado

#16 Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore

Distance: 1,400 miles Time: 10 days When to Go: May through October

Highlights: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Beartooth Highway, Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, Custer State Park

Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore Map

With 10 days, you can visit Yellowstone, Devils Tower, and Mount Rushmore, but that’s not all. You also have enough time to visit the highlights of Grand Teton, day trip out to Badlands National Park, spend some time at Wind Cave National Park, and cruise the scenic drives and spot wildlife at Custer State Park.

That’s four national parks in one road trip, not to mention two national monuments, one incredible state park, and several very scenic drives.

Day 1: Arrive in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park Day 2: Grand Teton National Park Day 3: Yellowstone National Park Day 4: Yellowstone National Park Day 5: Yellowstone National Park Day 6: Bighorn Mountains & Devils Tower Day 7: Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Lead & Mount Rushmore Day 8: Custer State Park Day 9: Badlands National Park Day 10: Wind Cave National Park & Fly Home

It’s possible to do this in 7-days, although you will have to give up a few destinations. Get the details on how to do this by clicking here.

Best Yellowstone Itinerary

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

USA Road Trips Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway | Best USA Road Trips

Mount Rushmore National Monument

Mount Rushmore National Monument | Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip Badlands

Badlands National Park | Best USA Road Trips

READ THE FULL ITINERARY: Yellowstone, Devils Tower and Mount Rushmore: 10 Day Road Trip Itinerary ROAD TRIP GUIDE: How to Drive between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone: Road Trip Routes YELLOWSTONE: Complete Guide to Yellowstone National Park BEARTOOTH HIGHWAY: Beartooth Highway: Things to Do, Map, Photos & Travel Tips GRAND TETON: Best Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park DEVILS TOWER: The Complete Guide to Devils Tower: How to Plan Your Visit MOUNT RUSHMORE: Mount Rushmore: 10 Things to Know Before You Go BADLANDS: 15 Best Things to Do in Badlands National Park WIND CAVE: 6 Great Things to Do in Wind Cave National Park

#17 California National Parks

Distance: 700 miles Time: 7 to 10 days When to Go: May through October; some roads in Yosemite are only open from mid to late-May through mid-October

Highlights: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks

California Road Trip Map

This itinerary starts in San Francisco, travels through three national parks, ending in Los Angeles.

This road trip skips Death Valley National Park. Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are best in the summer and fall, when the roads are open. This happens to be the worst time to visit Death Valley, since it is so hot. You can add on Death Valley, just be prepared for scorching temperatures if you plan to do this from May through October.

We did this road trip in 2017. At that time, there was a road closure on the Pacific Coast Highway, so we drove through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, rather than taking the coastal route. This also makes a very nice USA road trip, particularly for those who are trying to visit all of the US National Parks.

Day 1: San Francisco Day 2: San Francisco Day 3: Drive to Yosemite Day 4: Yosemite National Park Day 5: Yosemite National Park Day 6: Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks Day 7: Drive to LA or San Diego

You can turn this into a longer national park road trip by adding on Channel Islands National Park when you are in LA. And if you can brave the heat, spend a day in Death Valley. That totals five national parks in one road trip.

USA Road Trip with Yosemite

Yosemite National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Sequoia NP

Sequoia National Park | Best USA Road Trips

SAN FRANCISCO: Best Things to Do in San Francisco YOSEMITE: Yosemite for First Timer’s: Best Views, Best Hikes & the Best Things to Do YOSEMITE: How to Hike Half Dome: A Step-By-Step Guide KINGS CANYON & SEQUOIA: One Perfect Day in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks

#18 The All-American Cross Country Road Trip

Distance: 3,000 miles Time: 10+ days When to Go: best in the spring, summer, and fall

Highlights: The USA

USA Road Trip Cross Country

Driving cross country is the ultimate USA road trip. Crossing the country by car, visiting small towns, big cities, national parks, and numerous landmarks along the way is definitely a bucket list kind of trip. In fact, it’s still on our travel wish list.

There are many different ways to drive across the US. It takes about 5 days to do this drive, averaging 8 hours a day, without making any stops. Once you start adding on time for sightseeing and detours, the distance and amount of time spent gets much longer.

Ideally, plan on doing this over a minimum of 10 days, although more time is better. Some people set aside a full month, or the entire summer, to road trip across the United States.

Here are a few cross-country road trip ideas:

Connect two big cities, New York and LA, visiting the Las Vegas, Moab, Denver, Nashville, and Washington DC on the drive (3,200 miles).

On a northern route, start in Boston, visit Niagara Falls, drive through Chicago, South Dakota, visit Yellowstone, and end in Seattle. (3,300 miles)

If you are looking to do this in the winter, you can drive across the southern US, starting in San Diego, going through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, visiting New Orleans and the Florida panhandle, ending your trip in Savannah, Orlando, or going all of the way to Miami (2,700 miles).

Which One(s) Should You Do?

If you need help trying to decide which road trip to do, here are a few suggestions.

Our favorites are the American Southwest, Utah’s Mighty 5, and Alaska.

Best Road Trips for Families

  • Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks
  • American Southwest
  • Utah’s Mighty 5
  • Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore

Best Road Trips for Hikers

  • Washington road trip
  • Colorado road trip
  • Alaska road trip
  • California national park road trip (Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia)
  • Northern California and Oregon loop

Best Road Trips for Non-Hikers

  • Florida Keys road trip
  • New England road trip
  • Kentucky Bourbon Trail
  • Pacific Coast Highway in California

Best Road Trips for Fall Colors

  • Washington DC to Asheville

Best Road Trips in the Winter

  • Florida Keys
  • Arizona road trip
  • Las Vegas to San Diego

You can also visit Utah’s Mighty 5 or do an American Southwest road trip, but it can be cold and there is a chance of snow.

There are many more ways to plan a USA road trip than what we list above. In the comment section below, share your favorite road trips…we are always looking for new ideas and our readers would like to see them too. Thanks!

And if you have any questions about these road trip itineraries, you can also let us know in the comment section below.

You Might Also Like:

  • US NATIONAL PARKS: The Complete Guide to the US National Parks
  • US NATIONAL PARKS: 20 Epic Day Hikes to Do in the National Parks
  • TRAVEL INSPIRATION: 10 Cool Travel Spots to Put on Your Travel Wish List
  • TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: Our Travel Photography Gear Guide
  • HIKING GEAR: Hiking Gear Guide: Essential Hiking Gear

Read all of our articles about the United States in our United States Travel Guide.

USA Road Trips Bucket List

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Related Posts

Work Remotely in USA

Comments 18

Avatar for Juliet Snow

Could you list all the books/guides that you have published? I am looking for a comprehensive list of guides for US. Road trips and places to visit in the US.

Avatar for Julie

As far as eBooks that can be purchased, we have eBooks for Utah’s Mighty 5, an Arches Canyonlands Capitol Reef itinerary, a Grand Teton hiking guide, a Grand Teton Yellowstone and Glacier NP itinerary, a 10 Day American Southwest itinerary, and a South Dakota itinerary. You can see all of them in our Etsy store . I also recommend referring to our United States Travel Guide and our US National Parks page . Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Anthony Osude

What budget do you recommend putting aside for a 5 night stay mid-range hotel?

That really depends on where in the USA you plan to go and the time of year you plan to do your road trip. A mid-range hotel can range from $100 to $350 per night, depending on the location and time of year. In recent years, we have found that hotels around national parks can be surprisingly expensive, especially at peak season. Cities can be expensive as well. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Nas

Hi Julie, I’m from Australia and planning to do the American Southwest in Sept. this will be my first time visiting the States. Here are my questions 1) is it safe to drive and hike solo? 2) do I need a 4wd car especially driving around the Monument Valley? 3) how good phone reception in these areas?

I really appreciate your input.

Hello Nas. That’s exciting that you are planning your first trip to the USA. Yes, it is safe to hike and drive solo in the American Southwest. I would not hesitate to take a solo trip here myself. You will need a 4WD if you plan to do Moki Dugway but for everything else that we have done in that area, a 4WD is not necessary. Phone reception won’t be very good outside of the small towns in this area. You’ll have some cellular service along some of the highways as you drive around, but don’t depend on it. We cache our maps just in case we do not have cellular service. But, for the most part, cellular service will be spotty in the national parks and outside of the towns. Cheers, Julie

Thanks Julie! That’s a huge relief. I will be travelling around the USA for 6-8 weeks and honestly no idea what to expect. A silly question, can you tell me how tipping culture works?

Btw I did a few hikes in Lofoten islands and Trolltunga, Norway last year based on information i gathered from here. I also did reach out to you asking a few questions which were very useful 🙂

Tipping in the US is a lot different from Australia. At restaurants, it’s typical to leave a 15% tip, 20% for outstanding service. Tip taxi drivers and bell hops a few dollars. Getting tipped is expected in the US and some restaurants will already add it to the bill, so check that before leaving a tip. If you have any other questions, please let me know and I’d be happy to help. Cheers, Julie

I will keep that in mind. Any recommendations for reliable car rental companies at Las Vegas Airport? Also which US SIM card is best?

I will be reading more of your USA blogs and definitely more questions to follow. Thanks for your kindness Julie!

In the USA (and around the world) we use Avis and Budget the most and for the most part, always have a very good experience. Other companies we use include Hertz and Sixt. We use Verizon in the USA and it has the fastest, most widespread coverage throughout the US. You can also compare prices with Airalo. This is an eSIM company that we use when we travel, and so far have used it in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Samoa and have had a good experience. It may not be as fast as getting a SIM card from a carrier such as Verizon, but it is convenient in that you don’t have to visit a store and it might be cheaper. We have no experience using Airalo in the USA. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Stacy

We have been to many of the places in this article for the best US road trips as a couple but would love to roadtrip through Utah and camp with our dogs. Are you able to name some of the best dog friendly campgrounds in Utah near the state and national parks that we could check out? Most national parks aren’t very dog friendly so it’s difficult to find some that are.

Hello Stacy. Thanks for writing in. We haven’t traveled with dogs so aren’t familiar with dog-friendly campgrounds. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer your question but hopefully some more searching online will get you the answers you need. Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Lia

Hi! Where do you recommend to stay at Yosemite NP? Thank you!

The best place to stay is inside of the park, in Yosemite Valley. We stayed in Mariposa, so we had a bit of a drive back and forth to the park, but we were able to get cheap lodging. Closer places than Mariposa are El Portal and Yosemite West. Cheers, Julie

Thank you so much! We’re planning for next summer and the prices for hotels inside the park are over $500… such a bummer. We’ll check the cities you suggest.

Wow! That’s so expensive. Good luck!

Avatar for Jennifer Henshaw

We want to get on Route 66 in Oklahoma, is that 40? Are the attractions on that road or do you have to exit off? Our final stop is the Grand Canyon. We want to travel the Route Oklahoma in to Arizona

Hello Jennifer. I have not driven all of Route 66 yet but included it in this post since it is a classic USA road trip. I do believe that some parts of Route 66 also includes I-40. For the Route 66 itinerary, I provided a link to a guide to Route 66 which should have the answers to your questions. Cheers, Julie

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TheTravel

13 Road Trips To Take In The USA That Are Bucket-List Worthy

  • Stunning coastal views and charming towns make the Pacific Coast Highway a bucket-list-worthy road trip in California. (100 characters)
  • Route 66 is perfect for history buffs, connecting small towns and offering iconic landmarks along the way. (102 characters)
  • The Great River Road, spanning 10 states, provides a scenic route along the Mississippi River for an ultimate bucket list road trip. (129 characters)

There's something inherently alluring about the open road. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the freedom to explore new destinations and experiences. From adventures on the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest to the stunning vistas of the Southwest, the United States is home to some of the most iconic and breathtaking road trip routes in the world. This article lists some of the best bucket-list-worthy road trips to take in the USA for a memorable adventure. So, grab those keys, buckle up, and get ready for an experience of a lifetime on one of America's most scenic roads .

UPDATE: 2023/12/07 11:27 EST BY AARON SPRAY

Even More Great Road Trips To Take In The United States

The United States is famous for being one of the best places for road tripping. There are plenty of potential road trips to take all through the United States (and not only in the Lower 48). This list was expanded to include even more excellent road trip ideas to explore the nation.

Related: 10 Of The Most Scenic Byways In The U.S. (Perfect For A Road Trip)

Pacific Coast Highway, California

Staggering sheer drops and coastal views are what make this pacific coast adventure stand out.

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous road trips in the US , stretching along the California coastline between Orange County and Mendocino County, covering a distance of approximately 655 miles. The highway is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world, offering breathtaking ocean views with stunning beaches, rugged cliffs, and charming coastal towns.

Some of the must-see spots along the Pacific Coast Highway include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Bixby Bridge, the Hearst Castle, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Pfeiffer Beach, and McWay Falls. The drive also takes you through the spectacular Big Sur region, overlooking the coastline and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

  • Length: 655 miles
  • When To Go: September through October
  • Bucket List Stop: Pfeiffer Beach to see the falls

Route 66, Illinois to California

Perfect for history buffs, route 66 tells stories of america's midwestern glory days.

Stretching from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica in California, covering a distance of approximately 2,448 miles, Route 66 is one of the most iconic highways in the US and offers plenty of places to visit along the way. The highway is a popular route for travelers, as it connects many small towns and rural areas in the Midwest and the Southwest.

Some of the must-see attractions and landmarks along the highway include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and the Santa Monica Pier in California.

  • Length: 2,448 miles
  • When To Go: May and September
  • Bucket List Stop: Blue Whale of Catoosa to add a quirky, famed landmark to the trip

Great River Road, Mississippi River

This route covers 10 states in total, making it an ultimate bucket list road trip.

The Great River Road is a national scenic byway that follows the course of the Mississippi River from its headwaters in northern Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. The road passes through 10 states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, and Louisiana, covering a distance of approximately 3,000 miles.

Some of the highlights of the Great River Road include the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri; the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi; and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. The road also passes through several national and state parks, such as Itasca State Park, Effigy Mounds National Monument, and Natchez Trace State Park.

  • Length: 3,000 miles
  • When To Go: During the fall months , September through November
  • Bucket List Stop: The French Quarter in New Orleans for an authentic Crescent City experience

Related: 10 Bucket List Road Trips To Take In The US This Fall

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Known for being the most scenic mountain road in the south, the blue ridge scenery is unparalleled.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive, spanning 469 miles through the Appalachian Mountains, connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The road is among the best road trips US states have to offer, especially due to the fact it provides breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling hills, valleys, and various opportunities for hiking, biking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular scenic drives, offering visitors a variety of attractions, including overlooks with panoramic views, hiking trails, picnic areas, and historic sites. Some of the most popular stops along the parkway include the Peaks of Otter, Linville Falls, Craggy Gardens, and the Linn Cove Viaduct.

  • Length: 469 miles
  • When To Go: Mid-May through Mid-September
  • Bucket List Stop: Shenandoah National Park to take in the beauty of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

Discover the best stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway when planning a road trip adventure along this road.

Overseas Highway, Florida Keys

Seven mile bridge connects travelers to bahia honda state park, making it perfect for nature lovers.

The Overseas Highway is a 113-mile scenic road that connects mainland Florida with the Florida Keys , a chain of islands stretching southward into the Gulf of Mexico. The highway, which is easily among the best road trips in the US in terms of ocean scenery, offers stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean - thereby also providing opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and wildlife watching en route.

Some of the highlights of the Overseas Highway include the Seven Mile Bridge, Bahia Honda State Park, and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which features hundreds of colorful butterflies and exotic birds. Other popular stops along the highway include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Dolphin Research Center, and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States.

  • Length: 113 miles
  • When To Go: Between January and April
  • Bucket List Stop: Bahia Honda State Park to appreciate the untouched beauty of this Florida Keys landscape, and any spring season festivals

The Pacific Northwest

In stark contrast to other pacific roads, the northwest scenic byway offers dense woods, mountain views, and scenic waterways.

The Pacific Northwest Scenic Byway, also known as the Cascade Loop, is another one of the most beautiful road trips in the US. It's a 440-mile scenic route that winds through the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, offering stunning views of snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers, and lush forests, allowing travelers to enjoy various outdoor recreation and cultural exploration along the way.

The Scenic Byway is dotted with charming mountain towns such as Leavenworth, and Winthrop, offering a Wild West vibe with wooden sidewalks and historic buildings. Other highlights of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Byway include North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan, Methow Valley, and the Columbia River Gorge, a stunning river canyon, a popular spot for hiking, rock climbing, and waterfall viewing.

  • Length: 440 miles
  • When To Go: During the spring or summer months
  • Bucket List Stop: North Casades National park, where travelers can cross off bucket list hikes, wildflower viewing, and scenic waterfalls off their list

Related: A Road Trip To Remember: The 10 Most Scenic Drives For Your Spring Vacation In The U.S.

The Grand Circle, Southwest USA

This route takes travelers through scenic rocky canyons between utah, arizona, new mexico, colorado, and nevada.

The Grand Circle is a scenic route that takes visitors through some of the most iconic national parks and monuments in the American Southwest. The route includes the states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, stretching over 1,400 miles of stunning desert landscapes, ancient ruins, and geological wonders.

The Grand Circle route typically starts and ends in Las Vegas, Nevada, passing through iconic national parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands, known for their towering red rock formations, stunning canyons, and unique geological features. Other highlights of the Grand Circle route include Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, and the Hoover Dam.

  • Length: 1,400 miles
  • When To Go: April to May, or September to early November
  • Bucket List Stop: Monument Valley to explore hoodoos and other unique geological formations

The Great Lakes Circle Tour

Perfect for small town lovers and scenic lakeside views, this route promises all the beauty of the great lakes.

The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a scenic road trip taking visitors around the five Great Lakes. The route is approximately 6,500 miles long and passes through eight US states and the Canadian province of Ontario, allowing travelers to enjoy a variety of landscapes, from urban areas to small towns and rural countryside.

Along the way, visitors can explore national parks like Isle Royale, Pictured Rocks, and Niagara Falls, with various historic lighthouses, beaches, and scenic overlooks. One of the highlights of the tour is the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and the St. Lawrence River, offering stunning views of the Thousand Islands, known for its charming waterfront towns.

  • Length: 6,500 miles
  • When To Go: During the summer months , between June and August
  • Bucket List Stop: Niagara Falls for those who have never been, or Pictured Rocks for those who have

The Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

Early america can be seen on this route, in the form of several landmarks and even a former midwest mining town.

The Black Hills and Badlands route is a scenic driving route passing through some of the most iconic natural landmarks in South Dakota. The route covers approximately 150 miles, taking visitors through a variety of landscapes, including the rugged badlands, towering granite peaks, and pristine forests, including several iconic attractions, such as Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Badlands National Park.

Some other notable stops along the route include Custer State Park, Deadwood gold-mining town, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, which celebrates the history and culture of motorcycle enthusiasts.

  • Length: 150 miles
  • Bucket List Stop: Badlands National park to witness some of the most famous landmarks in American history

Related: Hit The Road: 10 Unforgettable Adventures Await With These U.S. Road Trip Ideas

The Texas Hill Country

Small towns and country that span for miles exude the true charm of the texas hill country route, offering the best views in the state.

The Texas Hill Country route offers picturesque views of beautiful rolling hills and charming small towns of central Texas. The route is approximately 200 miles long, extending between Austin and San Antonio. The region is known for its stunning landscapes, historic sites, and unique cultural attractions. The road through Texas Hill Country takes visitors through several scenic small towns, such as Fredericksburg, Gruene, and Luckenbach. These are some of the best towns in the Texas Hill Country , each particularly known for its charming shops, restaurants, and live music venues.

One of the highlights of the route is the scenic drive along the winding roads of the Hill Country. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the landscape from the many lookout points and scenic overlooks along the way.

  • Length: 200 miles
  • When To Go: During the months of April, May, and October
  • Bucket List Stop: Fredericksburg, which is a bucket list destination for small town lovers

The Dalton Highway, Alaska

With this route being the only one that crosses the arctic circle, the dalton highway is the definition of "bucket list".

The Dalton Highway is the northernmost highway in the United States and the only road trip in this list that crosses the Arctic Circle. The Dalton Highway is an all-weather road but also incredibly remote and one that requires extensive planning (be prepared for breaking down in the remote Alaskan wilderness).

The Dalton Highway runs from Fairbanks (the main city in Interior Alaska) and ends at Deadhorse in Prudhoe Bay (near the Arctic Ocean).

  • Length: 414 miles
  • When To Go: June to mid-July , when the highway is usually dry
  • Bucket List Stop: Finger Mountain Wayside, which also has an interpretive half-mile hiking trail for those seeking more scenic overlooks

Hawaii Big Island Circuit Drive

While hawaii might seem out of the way, the big island circuit drive is worth the flight to see active volcanoes and stunning coastal landscape views.

The Big Island of Hawaii is by far the largest island in the Hawaiian Island Chain and is home to some of the world's most active volcanoes and some of the most stunning landscapes. One of the epic drives to consider is to drive around the Big Island. The two main roads on the Big Island are Highways 11 and 19 and taken together they create one big loop around the whole island.

  • Length: 300 miles
  • When To Go: During the months of April, May, August, September, and October
  • Bucket List Stop: Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive is at the start of Highway 19, just north of Hilo

Seattle To Fairbanks North American Drive

It wouldn't be a bucket list trip if it didn't have a unique route, and the drive from seattle to washington and fairbanks, alaska, also brings travelers through canada.

This suggested road trip from Seattle in Washington to Fairbanks in Alaska is the only American road trip to also pass through Canada. This is a mammoth 2,150-mile road trip passing through some of the remotest landscapes of North America (including British Columbia and the Yukon Territory). Alternatively, to keep it an all-American 'road trip', consider taking the Alaska Marine Highway - a ferry network that is part of the American highway system that bypasses Canada.

  • Length: 2,150 miles
  • When To Go: During summer months, preferably early June and July
  • Bucket List Stop: While Fairbanks is the ultimate bucket list stop, saving some time to explore Canada can also add a unique aspect to this road trip

13 Road Trips To Take In The USA That Are Bucket-List Worthy

19 Best Road Trips in The US in 2024

Written By: The Planet D

Road Trips , United States

Updated On: January 23, 2024

Dave and I love road trips , and we’ve taken a lot of them around the world . In our 30 years together, we’ve driven a lot of the United States. It is a huge country and it would take a lifetime to see it all, but we have put quite a dent in the backroads of America and put together this guide where we have compiled some of the best road trips in the USA that promise breathtaking views, captivating attractions, and an unforgettable journey.

From the sun-drenched coasts of California to the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the USA is home to some of the most diverse and striking landscapes in the world. There is no better way to explore this vast country than by taking a road trip. So buckle up and prepare to hit the open road!

Table of Contents

Great Road Trips in The US

Before hitting the road in America, be sure to pick up your National Parks Entrance Pass. The $80 USD annual fee gives access to United States national parks and national wildlife refuges and national forests. This American Road Trip guide goes through a lot of National Parks and National Forests and you don’t want to always be scrambling for cash.

If you are flying in and need to rent a car, check out RentalCars.com for car rental comparisons in the destination of your choice.

1. Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is one of the most iconic and best road trips in the US and for good reason. Stretching from just north of San Francisco to Capistrano Beach between Los Angeles and San Diego , this drive offers incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and gives you an unmatched taste of the California coastline.

The most scenic stretch begins as you drive south from San Francisco. Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, the city is left behind and you start to see the real beauty of this drive. A little further down the road is Santa Cruz, known for its laid-back surf culture and the vibrant Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Continue on to Monterey, where you can Kayak with sea lions as we did or just stroll along Cannery Row, made famous by novelist John Steinbeck. Then comes the piece de resistance, Big Sur. This is a great place to stop and do some camping and it will allow you to take some time to stop at McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that cascades directly into the Pacific Ocean, and Pfieffer Beach which is an incredible place for sunset.

Pass through the opulent town of Santa Barbara, known as the “American Riviera”, before ending your journey in Los Angeles or continuing on to San Diego. The entire route is known for its beautiful beaches and family-friendly attractions.

After doing this drive we understood why the PCH is a standout among American road trips. Its imposing coastline, intriguing attractions, and diverse landscapes provide a truly unforgettable journey.

  • Location : California
  • Distance : Approximately 600 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 5 to 7 days
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring and fall for milder weather and less crowded tourist spots

Plan Your Pacific Coast Highway Trip With these Resources

  • 16 Best Cities in California
  • The Ultimate Big Sur Road Trip Itinerary and The Best Viewpoints
  • The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary
  • 20 Best Things to Do in Carmel by the Sea, California
  • 27 Best Beaches in California
  • Big Sur Camping – 15 Campgrounds in Big Sur for Your Next Trip

2. Route 66: Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California

One of the most iconic and historic highways in the United States, Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America, is a road trip steeped in the culture and history of the nation. Stretching from Chicago, Illinois, all the way to Santa Monica, California, this epic 2,448-mile journey takes you through a broad cross-section of American landscapes and landmarks.

Starting in Chicago, you’ll pass through the cornfields of Illinois, the plains of Kansas, the desert landscapes of Arizona, and finally, the sandy beaches of California. This varied journey is an immersive experience that gives you a sense of the vastness and diversity of the country.

Along the way, you’ll encounter many iconic landmarks and sights. These include the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge, the Cadillac Ranch public art installation in Texas, and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. Every stop on Route 66 holds a piece of American history, whether it’s a vintage gas station, a classic diner, or a quirky roadside attraction.

Route 66 isn’t just a highway—it’s a slice of Americana. It embodies a spirit of freedom, discovery, and nostalgia that resonates with road-trippers. Traveling along Route 66 is a journey back in time, offering a glimpse into a significant era of American history.

Whether you’re keen on exploring the cultural heritage of America, interested in its architectural landmarks, or simply in search of diverse experiences, Route 66 offers an unforgettable road trip. As you traverse this historic highway, you’ll not only witness the changing landscapes but also the evolution of America itself.

See all of the top attractions on Route 66 here.

  • Location : Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California
  • Distance : Approximately 2,448 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 2 to 4 weeks
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring and fall for milder weather

Plan Your Route 66 Trip With these Resources

The Ultimate Route 66 Road Trip Guide

  • 33 Best Things to Do in Arizona
  • 27 Best Things to Do at The Grand Canyon
  • 21 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago
  • Where to stay in Chicago: Best Areas and Hotels

3. Scenic Byway 12: Red Canyon to Torrey, Utah

Scenic Byway 12 is a 123-mile-long road located in Utah. This magnificent stretch of road is known for its diverse geological features and jagged formations and red rock landscapes. It is one of the most scenic highways in the country.

Starting at Red Canyon, you’ll traverse landscapes that shift from rust-red cliffs to sprawling alpine forests. The drive takes you through several state parks and national parks, including Bryce Canyon National Park which is renowned for its distinctive spire-shaped rock formations that everyone knows so well from old Westerns. You’ll be dazzled by the slot canyons and sandstone cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

A highlight of the drive is the stretch known as the Hogback, where the road is bordered by steep cliffs dropping off into the valley below, offering exhilarating views. Other notable stops along the route include the Anasazi State Park Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the Anasazi People, and the town of Boulder, which holds the distinction of being one of the last communities in the U.S. to receive mail by mule.

End your journey in the town of Torrey, the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park. Here you can further explore Utah’s unique geological landscapes, characterized by layered sandstone, canyons, and striking rock formations.

If you are looking for a great National Parks Road Trip, Scenic Byway 12 offers a rewarding journey through some of the most picturesque and diverse landscapes in the United States.

  • Location : Red Canyon to Torrey, Utah
  • Distance : Approximately 123 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 1 to 2 days
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring and fall for milder weather and fewer crowds

Plan Your Utah Trip With these Resources

  • 12 Best Hikes in Zion National Park, Utah
  • Utah National Parks: How to visit The Mighty 5
  • 22 Best Things to do in Moab, Utah
  • 15 Best Hikes In Arches National Park
  • 11 Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park

4. Hana Highway: Paia to Hana, Maui, Hawaii

The world-famous Hana Highway is one of the top road trips in America. This 45-mile (72 km) stretch of road runs from Hana to Paia on Maui in Hawaii. It may be short, but this single-lane highway running along the north shore of Maui is an awe-inspiring drive with a twisting coastal road clinging to the rocky shores containing 600 hairpin turns and crossing 59 bridges.

If you’re up for an exotic and tropical road trip, the Hana Highway on the island of Maui, Hawaii, is the one for you. This 64.4-mile stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 is known for its lush landscapes, waterfalls, and ocean vistas.

Beginning in Paia, the Hana Highway winds along Maui’s northeastern coast, traversing 59 bridges (many of which are one-lane) and more than 600 curves. The drive is renowned for its breathtaking views of pristine rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Stop by the Garden of Eden Arboretum, home to a diverse range of tropical plants, or visit the historic Keanae Peninsula for a glimpse of old Hawaii. Another must-see is the Wai’anapanapa State Park, where you can explore a black sand beach, a seabird colony, lava tubes, blowholes, and freshwater caves.

Your journey concludes in the small, isolated town of Hana, a place that feels worlds away from the bustling resorts of Maui. Here, you can explore Hana Beach Park, the Hasegawa General Store, and the Hana Cultural Center and Museum.

The Hana Highway offers an unforgettable tropical road trip, allowing you to explore the natural wonders and cultural heritage of Maui at a leisurely pace. With 18 waterfalls, the Haleakala National Park, bamboo forests, and Banyan trees, this is the drive of a lifetime. See the complete guide to Road to Hana: Highway Map, Things to Do, And Tips

  • Location : Paia to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
  • Distance : Approximately 64.4 miles
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Year-round, although winter can be rainier

Plan Your Maui Trip With these Resources

  • Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Maui
  • 44 Best Things to Do on Maui
  • Road to Hana: Highway Map, Things to Do, And Tips
  • Best Island to Visit in Hawaii: How To Choose
  • Top 12 Hikes in Maui to Take Your Breath Away

5. Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West, Florida

It is truly one of our favorite road trips in America. Driving from Miami to Key West transforms from mainland USA to a little slice of the Caribbean. Once you hop on the Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys you feel as if you have entered a different country.

If you’re dreaming of an idyllic coastal drive, then the Overseas Highway will certainly deliver. This 113-mile highway, part of U.S. Route 1, begins in Miami and ends in Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States. The route traverses the stunning archipelago of the Florida Keys, offering striking views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the surrounding islands.

Your journey will start amidst the bustle of Miami. As you proceed, the urban landscape gradually gives way to the serene tropical beauty of the Keys. The highway, sometimes referred to as the Highway That Goes to Sea, is a marvel of modern engineering. It includes 42 bridges, the most iconic of which is the Seven Mile Bridge at Marathon.

Along the route, there are many opportunities for recreational activities such as fishing, snorkeling, and kayaking. You can also visit the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the United States, or the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key.

Upon reaching Key West, enjoy the laid-back vibe of this small but lively island city. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, enjoy the sunset at Mallory Square, or just relax at one of the many sandy beaches . Now that’s a road trip!

The Overseas Highway offers an exceptional blend of beautiful coastal views, recreational activities, and cultural experiences. It’s a road trip that combines adventure, relaxation, and the unique charm of the Florida Keys.

  • Location : Miami to Key West, Florida
  • Distance : Approximately 113 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 2 to 3 days
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Winter and spring, when the weather is mild and dry

Plan Your Road Trip to Florida the Florida Keys with these other Florida guides

  • Best Stops on a Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary
  • 23 Best Things to Do in Key Largo, Florida
  • 30 Fun Things to Do in Miami, Florida
  • Where to Stay in The Florida Keys
  • 34 Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida

6. Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia to North Carolina

Connecting two national parks – Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina – the Blue Ridge Parkway is a serene and scenic route known for its stunning mountain vistas, diverse plant and animal life, and historical and cultural treasures.

Starting in Virginia, the Parkway meanders through the Appalachian Mountains, offering unparalleled views of the Blue Ridge mountain range. The route’s many overlooks provide countless opportunities to stop, take in the views, and snap a memorable photo.

Attractions along the way include the Humpback Rocks, which offer insight into the life of the region’s early settlers, and the Peaks of Otter with its abundant recreational activities. Don’t miss the iconic Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed sites on the Parkway, and a great place to learn about the early grist and sawmilling processes.

Upon reaching North Carolina, you’ll come across the highest point of the Parkway at Richland Balsam Overlook, standing at an elevation of 6,053 feet. Further along, the Parkway concludes near the southern entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a road; it’s a beautiful journey that intertwines with the cultural and natural history of the Appalachian Mountains.

  • Location : Shenandoah National Park, Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
  • Distance : Approximately 469 miles
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring for flowering shrubs and trees, fall for vibrant foliage

7. Going-to-the-Sun Road: Glacier National Park, Montana

For a truly spectacular mountain driving experience, Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park is a must-do. This 50-mile route, known for its outstanding natural beauty, dramatic cliffs, and awe-inspiring vistas, is a testament to human engineering ability.

Your journey begins at the park’s west entrance and winds through mountainous terrain, offering breathtaking views of glaciers, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. A highlight of the drive is Logan Pass, the highest point on the road, with an elevation of 6,646 feet. Here, you can stop at the visitor center or explore the nearby hiking trails.

Along the way, there are numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. You can hike along the park’s extensive trail system, go wildlife spotting, or simply enjoy a picnic amidst the stunning landscape. The road is also a gateway to many of the park’s top attractions, including Lake McDonald, the Garden Wall, and the St. Mary Valley.

Going-to-the-Sun Road offers an unforgettable journey through some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes. This drive is not just about reaching your destination—it’s about soaking in the grandeur of nature along the way.

  • Location : Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Distance : Approximately 50 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 1 day
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Summer, when the entire route is open. Note that certain sections of the road may be closed in other seasons due to snow.

8. Olympic Peninsula Loop, Washington

If you’re looking to explore a breathtaking blend of coastal, rainforest, and mountainous landscapes, the Olympic Peninsula Loop in Washington State is the road trip for you. Encircling the Olympic National Park, the Loop is a veritable showcase of the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

Starting from Seattle, the 330-mile journey brings you onto scenic Highway 101. Your first stop could be the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend, known for its well-preserved Victorian buildings and vibrant arts scene.

As you continue west, make sure to explore the magnificent Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. Walk the Hall of Mosses Trail, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into another world, where every surface is covered in a lush blanket of moss.

Further along the coast, the striking sea stacks and driftwood-covered beaches of Ruby Beach offer a perfect spot for photography. Stop by the coastal Native American village of La Push to soak in the sights and learn about the local Quileute culture.

The town of Forks is a must-visit for Twilight fans, while the Sol Duc Hot Springs is the place to relax in mineral-rich thermal pools. As you complete the Loop, don’t miss the panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canada from Hurricane Ridge.

The Olympic Peninsula Loop offers an immersive exploration of the Pacific Northwest’s diverse ecosystems and charming communities. It’s a road trip that lingers in your memory long after the journey’s end.

  • Location : Olympic Peninsula, Washington
  • Distance : Approximately 330 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 2 to 4 days
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring to fall; summer offers the best weather, while fall presents spectacular autumn colors.

Plan Your Washington State Trip With these Resources

  • 24 Beautiful Cabins in Washington State
  • 27 Best National Parks in the USA To Visit
  • 22 Amazing Things to Do in Olympic National Park
  • Where to stay in Seattle – Best Neighborhoods
  • 19 Best Hikes in Olympic National Park

9. Trail Ridge Road, Colorado

Trail Ridge Road in Colorado, a part of Rocky Mountain National Park, is an awe-inspiring journey through one of America’s most iconic landscapes. Known as the “Highway to the Sky,” Trail Ridge Road holds the distinction of being the highest continuously paved road in the United States, reaching elevations of over 12,000 feet.

Your trip begins in the charming town of Estes Park, a destination in its own right, famed for its unique shops, restaurants, and the historic Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.”

As you ascend on Trail Ridge Road, you transition from verdant forests into the subalpine region, where wildflowers color the landscape in the warmer months. Eventually, you reach the alpine world above the tree line. This tundra-like environment, sparse yet hauntingly beautiful, offers panoramic views that stretch to Wyoming in the north and the heart of Colorado in the south.

Don’t miss the Alpine Visitor Center, located near the highest point of the road. It offers exhibits on the alpine tundra ecosystem, a gift shop, and a café. Take a stroll along the adjacent Alpine Ridge Trail for even more breathtaking vistas.

Descending the western slope, you arrive at Grand Lake, a serene mountain town on the shores of Colorado’s largest natural lake. Here, you can relax, dine, and recreate before continuing your Colorado adventure .

Driving Trail Ridge Road is a mesmerizing experience, filled with natural grandeur and endless views. It’s a testament to the wild, rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

  • Location : Estes Park to Grand Lake, Colorado
  • Distance : Approximately 48 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : 2 to 3 hours, but allow extra time for stops and exploration
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Late May to October, depending on snow conditions; the road is closed in winter due to heavy snowfall.

Plan Your Colorado Trip With these Resources

  • 18 Best Hikes in Colorado
  • 12 Best Colorado National Parks & Monuments To Visit
  • 29 Best Places to Visit in Colorado
  • 24 Best Things to do in Denver, Colorado
  • 15 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • 17 Cozy Cabins in Colorado For Your Next Getaway

10. Alaska Highway: Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska

For the adventurous road-tripper seeking the grandeur of untouched wilderness, the Alaska Highway, also known as the ALCAN, is a trip of a lifetime. Starting in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and ending in Delta Junction, Alaska, the highway traverses through some of the most remote and rugged landscapes in North America.

Experience unparalleled vistas of snow-capped mountains, vast forests, and crystal-clear lakes. Along the route, keep an eye out for an array of wildlife, including moose, bears, and eagles. Attractions include Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, one of Canada’s largest natural hot springs, and Kluane National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its glaciers and high peaks.

  • Location : Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska
  • Distance : Approximately 1,387 miles
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Summer, for the best weather and road conditions

Plan Your Alaska Trip With these Resources

  • 19 Best Things To Do in Skagway, Alaska
  • 22 Best Things to Do in Ketchikan, Alaska
  • 45 Best Things to Do in Alaska
  • 25 Best Places to Visit in Alaska
  • 28 Amazing Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska

11. Million Dollar Highway: Silverton to Ouray, Colorado

The Million Dollar Highway, part of U.S. Route 550, is a short but unforgettable route in Colorado. Known for its jaw-dropping mountainous views, the drive from Silverton to Ouray is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

As you traverse this route, you’ll be treated to staggering views of the Uncompahgre Gorge, the San Juan Mountains, and numerous waterfalls. The road is especially beautiful in the fall when the surrounding aspen trees turn a brilliant gold. Note that this drive isn’t for the faint-hearted—it features steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and no guardrails.

  • Location : Silverton to Ouray, Colorado
  • Distance : Approximately 25 miles
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Summer and fall, when the road is free of snow

12. Natchez Trace Parkway: Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. Used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” settlers, and future presidents, the Old Trace played an important role in American history. Today, visitors can enjoy not only a scenic drive but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.

Beginning in Natchez, Mississippi, the Parkway takes you through a myriad of changing landscapes: from the deep forests of Mississippi, the rolling farmland of Alabama, to the hills of Tennessee. It’s not uncommon to see a variety of wildlife from the comfort of your car, including deer, turkeys, and numerous bird species.

Historical highlights along the way include the Emerald Mound, one of the largest Native American mounds in the United States, and the Meriwether Lewis Monument, dedicated to the famed explorer of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Near the Tennessee end of the Parkway, you can explore the Old Trace Drive, one of the last remaining segments of the original Natchez Trace.

Upon reaching the vibrant city of Nashville, you’ll find a contrast to the tranquil journey along the Parkway, but with its own historical and cultural attractions, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the historic Ryman Auditorium.

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a journey of beauty, history, and culture, that truly has something for everyone.

  • Location : Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee
  • Distance : Approximately 444 miles
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring for blooming wildflowers, fall for colorful foliage

13. Park Loop Road, Maine

Nestled in the heart of Acadia National Park, the Park Loop Road in Maine presents a captivating journey through a diverse array of landscapes including mountains, forests, and the rugged Atlantic coastline. This 27-mile loop showcases the park’s highlights, making it a must-visit road trip for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Your adventure begins at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, where you can gather maps and information about the park. As you venture onto Park Loop Road, you’ll first encounter the Sieur de Monts Spring, home to the Wild Gardens of Acadia and the Abbe Museum, which highlights the culture and history of Maine’s Native American tribes.

Further along, you can marvel at the sheer cliffs and crashing waves at Thunder Hole, a natural rock inlet where the ocean often creates thunderous sounds and spectacular splashes. The nearby Sand Beach, although usually too chilly for swimming, is perfect for a scenic stroll or a picnic.

Don’t miss the opportunity to drive up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard. Arrive at sunrise or sunset for a truly unforgettable spectacle.

Continuing on, you’ll find several pullouts with views of picturesque harbors, off-shore islands, and mountain vistas. Explore Jordan Pond Path, a leisurely trail around a crystal-clear glacial lake with the North and South Bubble Mountains framing the scene.

A drive along Park Loop Road provides a diverse and enriching experience of Acadia National Park’s natural treasures. It’s a road trip that encapsulates the beauty and allure of coastal Maine.

  • Location : Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Distance : Approximately 27 miles
  • Suggested Time to Complete : Half to a full day, depending on stops and activities
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring through fall; the road is typically closed in winter due to snow conditions.

14. Arizona Road Trip

Arizona is one of the greatest states for road-tripping in the United States. From Tucson to The Grand Canyon, this drive takes you through the most beautiful desert and rocky landscape in the country. Explore the Wild West Town of Tombstone Arizona and be awed by the cactus forests of Saguaro National Park West. See the cosmically spiritual city of Sedona for some Native history and marvel at the Montezuma Castle monument.

This road trip route pops onto Route 66 where you’ll get to stand on the corner of Winslow, Arizona before witnessing the incredible monument valley.

There are so many things to see and before the trip is over you’ll witness Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon prior to reaching the Grand Canyon National Park. Could this be better? Read the entire Arizona Road Trip, Itinerary to start planning.

  • Recommended Arizona Road Trip Length: 10 Days
  • Where to Stay: L’Auberge de Sedona / View Hotel  in Monument Valley / Courtyard Page at Lake Powell
  • Read the entire Arizona Road Trip, Itinerary

15. California’s Interior – LA to Yosemite

Most people think of the Pacific Coast Highway 1 through Big Sur on a California road trip, but driving the interior of California is where all the iconic scenery comes to life.

California Route 95 is a classic drive stretching from the Mexico border in Arizona all the way to Canada. While this road trip doesn’t spend a lot of time on that highway, it does stop at incredible road trip destinations unto itself.

From Los Angeles drive west to see Joshua Tree National Park and marvel at these strange old twisted trees before driving on to the Mojave National Preserve before popping into the hottest, lowest and driest place you’ll ever encounter. Death Valley National Park is a stark landscape that reaches temperatures of 120 degrees.

At 282 feet below sea level, it is also the lowest point in all of North America but it captures a beauty beyond imagination. The trip continues to beautiful Mammoth Lakes and finally ends at Yosemite National Park . Read more at our: California road trip .

  • Recommended Trip Length: 7 days to 2 weeks
  • Where to Stay: Yosemite Valley Lodge There’s free parking, free Internet and a pool.
  • Check out: Where to Stay in Yosemite National Park

16. Scenic Route 100: Wilmington to Stowe, Vermont

Crossing into Vermont is our “Go-To” destination for skiing outside of Quebec. But in the summer, this is a gorgeous road trip that is also famous for its fall colours. Vermont’s longest highway takes you through the New England Villages of the Green Mountains. While this can be driven any time of year, we suggest in autumn when the fall colours are in full swing.

Pop into Lake Whitingham for some paddling before heading to West Dover to do some hiking or mountain biking up the mountain of Mount Snow.

Don’t forget to pop into Plymouth Notch to see the birthplace of President Calvin Coolage before driving on to Waterbury to tour the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Mmm, I love ice cream on a road trip.

The trip ends at Stowe, our favorite ski resort in Vermont where you can go to the top of Mt. Mansfield for epic views. (you don’t even have to hike this one, you can drive straight to the top! This is definitely one of the best east coast road trips in the US.

17. Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon (and Beyond)

We spent one summer driving all around the interior of California, Nevada, and Utah, and the place that surprised us the most was Las Vegas. Not the city itself, but the beautiful landscape surrounding it. Make sure to do some hiking at Red Rocks before you leave town.

As you leave the city, stop to see Valley of Fire State Park , Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead. It’s only a four-hour drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon but there is a lot going on in this little circle tour through Nevada and Arizona.

For something unique stop at the Grand Canyon West Skywalk Glass Bridge that takes you 4,000 feet above the canyon. Spend a few days going hiking or whitewater rafting. Make sure to head a little farther south to Flagstaff to hop on  Route 66 for a bit.

From here you can head back to Vegas, or go north to see the famous Antelope Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument before heading to Zion National Park to do some epic hiking. That can be a lot, but there is so much to see and do in this part of the United States. You may want an entire summer!

18. Loneliest Road in America

Stretching from Sacramento to Maryland, Route 50 has been dubbed the Loneliest Road in America. But how can it be lonely when it passes through so many great destinations? I’ll admit we haven’t driven the entire route, but we have popped on it and we’ve witnessed many of its popular attractions.

If you are looking to drive one of the most epic road trips in the US, route 50 is the way to go. This 3,000-mile drive takes you through 11 states.

After leaving San Francisco (where you will start your long drive) spend a day or two in Sacramento before heading to Lake Tahoe for a few nights before crossing into Nevada. With National parks along the way, you’ll see some of America’s most iconic scenery at Arches National Park and Canyonlands NP.

Take your time going through the Colorado Rockies and then enjoy the midwest hospitality of Kansas City. You’ll even get to explore the monuments of Washington DC . This capital city totally surprised us. Celebrate the end of your drive at Ocean City in Maryland.

And there you have it, you’ve pretty much crossed America from Coast to Coast and from Canada to Mexico. Alaska didn’t make our USA road trips list only because we took a train through the state, but it’s high on our list to drive, especially after we drove the Dempster Highway in the Neighbouring Yukon Territories. Northern North America is spectacular!

19. Cross Country Road Trip: East Coast to West Coast

If you’re up for the ultimate American road trip adventure, why not traverse the entire width of the United States? A cross-country road trip from the East Coast to the West Coast allows you to experience the vast diversity of landscapes, cultures, and attractions that the United States has to offer.

Begin your journey in New York City, where you can explore iconic landmarks like Times Square, Central Park, and the Statue of Liberty. From there, you could take Interstate 80 through the heart of Pennsylvania and Ohio, where you’ll find charming small towns and bustling cities alike.

In Illinois, a detour to Chicago offers a taste of deep-dish pizza and views from the Willis Tower Skydeck. As you head west into Iowa and Nebraska, you’ll be treated to the sight of America’s heartland, with its lush farmlands and open skies.

The mountains start to appear as you reach Colorado. Take a pause in Denver for some Rocky Mountain exploration before continuing westward into Utah, where the stunning natural beauty of its national parks awaits.

Nevada will greet you with the bright lights of Las Vegas, a stark contrast to the tranquility of the desert. Finally, as you reach the Pacific Ocean in California, you could either drive up to San Francisco or down to Los Angeles depending on your preference.

A cross-country road trip is an epic adventure that showcases the country’s vastness and diversity. It’s a journey that creates memories to last a lifetime.

  • Location : New York City, New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco, California
  • Distance : Approximately 2,800 to 3,000 miles
  • Best Time of Year to Travel : Spring and fall for milder weather and less traffic

Best Road Trips in the US FAQs :

What is the most scenic road trip in america.

While beauty is subjective and each road trip offers its unique scenic charm, many travelers consider the Pacific Coast Highway in California and the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana among the most scenic in America.

Which month is best for a USA road trip?

The best month for a road trip in the USA can depend on the specific route. Generally, spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) offer milder weather and less crowded attractions.

How do I plan a good American road trip?

Planning a good American road trip involves researching your desired route, planning your stops and overnight stays, preparing your vehicle, packing appropriately, and ensuring you have entertainment and snacks for the journey.

How many days do you need for an American road trip?

The number of days needed for an American road trip can vary greatly depending on the route and how much time you want to spend at each stop. For example, a road trip along Route 66 might take 2-4 weeks, while the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway might take 3-7 days.

Our American Road Trips – Final Thoughts

I know what you are thinking, there are fifty states in America and we only scratched the surface. There are plenty of amazing road trips that we missed! We admit it, we haven’t seen them all yet, but with our new truck and a roof tent on the way, we’re planning on hitting the road when the borders open. Who knows, we may love road-tripping America so much, we’ll swap in our truck for an RV! Nah we love staying in hotels too much, but a bit of camping along the way is a must.

Check out More Great Road Trips Around The World

  • 13 of the Best Road Trips in Canada
  • 25 Best Road Trips in the World – That We’ve Taken
  • Ultimate One Week Yucatan Road Trip Itinerary
  • The Ultimate Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary
  • Best British Columbia Road Trip – Vancouver – Kelowna – Revelstoke
  • Dempster Highway Road Trip – Yes You Can Drive to the Arctic

The Essential Guide to the North Coast 500 Scotland

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine , the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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2 thoughts on “19 Best Road Trips in The US in 2024”

I just discover your blog which is really inspiring. This article is really good for me who is looking for a road trip! Which itinerary to choose!!!!!

Planet D – Great article about road trips. We have traveled on all of these trips, with only sections of Rt 50. I encourage you to give in to that urge to purchase a gently used travel trailer and discover some of the experiences and readers, particularly with children, that you miss by limiting your reviews to hotels. Those hotels in the Keys can run from over $200 to over $500 per night during the winter months. With the recommended stay of multiple nights, a 7 night trip cold cost several thousand dollars. Another recommendation is to explore those fantastic drives in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Washington. All of these states offer you a fantastic camping experience, vice hotel experience. With your millions of followers, I am sure the trailer manufactures would sponsor you to minimize your costs. Morton’s on the move, were provided a brand new cabover camper and a new Diesel Super Duty truck for a few months to explore the drive to Alaska, and Western Canada. How about bringing along a young relative, who can provide the kids perspective on your many travels?

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The 25 best road trips in the usa.

Best Road Trips USA

 If you’re looking for the best road trips in the USA, look no further! These great road trips will have you driving for the rest of your life.

This post was written in partnership and paid for by Hum by Verizon . All opinions are my own.

Best Road Trips USA

There’s probably nothing more American than packing up your car and hitting the open road with family or friends, some good snacks, and great tunes… and for good reason. With more than 3.7 million square miles to discover and 4,071,000 miles of road , the United States has so many hidden gems accessible by car.

Although I’ve got about 194 countries on my bucket list right now, I’m grateful to live in the great US of A and think it’s one of the most amazing countries to explore from the road. There are so many fun road trips that you can take all over the country!

Here's a Short Cut

The Best USA Road Trip Safety Tips

Get ready for the best road trips in the usa, 1. pacific coast highway, 2. park loop acadia national park, 3. washington-oregon coast, 4. great river road, 5. big island loop road, 6. musical road usa trip, 7. northern national parks road trip, 8. southwest national parks road trip, 9. hana highway road trip, 10. new york city to finger lakes, 11. williamsburg, va to charlottesville, va to washington d.c., 12. miami to the overseas highway to key west, fl: 160 miles from miami, 13. the grand canyon to las vegas, 14. black hills of south dakota, 15. maine lobster trail, 16. blue ridge parkway, 17. grand teton national park to glacier national park, 18. outer banks scenic byway, 19. olympic peninsula, 20. route 66, 21. alaska highway, 22. ultimate florida road trip, 23. the great american road trip – cross country on the i-90, 24. anchorage to seward, 25. canada to mexico.

If you’re planning to take a road trip this year, I’ve compiled the best American road trip routes in the country.  These are 25 of the best road trips in the USA that everyone should take in their lifetime. We’ve been lucky enough to drive almost every inch of this country and there is some beautiful land to see out there.

Before you leave on any road trip, be sure your car is road trip ready.  If you’re traveling the US by car, it’s important to know how to prepare.

Prepare Your Car for the Best Road Trips in the USA

Before heading out on your USA road trip, be sure your car has been serviced, and everything is working properly. When you road trip around the US, anything could go wrong! It’s best to be prepared.

Use Hum by Verizon  to Prepare for Road Trip Vacations I’ve talked about my love of Hum by Verizon before, but it’s because I love my HumX and think anyone taking a road trip should have one!

Hum by Verizon is campaigning to make the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Safer Days of Summer.” During these 100 Days, you can find helpful tips for safer driving on their Facebook page.

According to a study from Hum by Verizon and Wakefield Research that surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult drivers ages 20 and older, 80% of participants think that drivers are more likely to speed during the summer months. The survey also found that 61% of millennial drivers struggle to focus while driving during the summer, and one in five drivers have received at least one speeding ticket within the past five years.

Hum by Verizon wants to change that, by helping us practice important road safety with “100 Safer Days of Summer.”

With so many great summer road trip destinations around the country, and so many more Americans traveling these days, safety has never been more important! The best summer trips are safe summer trips!

Best Road Trips USA

We use HumX in our car. HumX is a little device that is easily installed in your car and takes the guesswork out of driving by using connected car technology. It allows you to have quick access to emergency services and loved ones while on a road trip, or any time on the road.

If you have an accident or emergency, HumX can send assistance to help you get back on the road.

Hum X car also runs diagnostics on your vehicle to make sure that things are running smoothly so you can take these cool road trips worry-free.

I love that HumX helps you keep track of general maintenance like oil changes and tire rotation, and you can set up alerts to remind you when it’s time for service.

Best Road Trips USA

All the Hum by Verizon services can be accessed on your smartphone from the Hum App which you can find in the App Store or Google Play . HumX also comes with a Bluetooth speaker that clips to your visor. This will give you access to roadside assistance with the touch of a button and can also be used as a speaker for your phone and be connected to your contacts.

I’m also really excited to have this service when my kids start driving, which is only in 3 more years (HELP)! It provides a safety score, boundary alerts, and records speed, so you can monitor your teen’s driving.

You can also track your fuel and mileage using HumX, which is great if you’re taking road trips that are for work and need to track mileage for expenses or tax purposes.

To prepare for your American road trip of choice, be sure to follow these tips that I’ve shared in How to Plan a Road Trip . If you don’t know what to do on a road trip, these tips will help you prepare and also help you have the best time! Learn a lot and have fun along the way while you road trip USA style!

Best Road Trips USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA

● Begin: San Francisco, California ● End: San Diego, California ● Distance: 655 miles ● Drive Time: 12 Hours

California is one of the best places to road trip in the USA! Its size and diversity provide so many options and the Pacific Coast Highway is just one. This iconic highway along the California coast covers 655 miles of awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from San Francisco to San Diego. See classic sites like the Golden Gate Bridge and Bixby Creek Bridge along the way. The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best summer road trips in the world!

Read more about our detailed West Coast Road Trip.

● Begin: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Acadia National Park, Maine ● End: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Acadia National Park, Maine ● Distance: 27 miles ● Drive Time: 2 hours This is one of the best east coast road trips I’ve ever taken. This is a quick road trip but packed full of stunning views as you drive along the Park Loop in Acadia National Park. Forests, mountains, and rocky shores greet you on your drive along with plenty of wildlife. Be sure to spend some time in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine , the town where you can base your Acadia trip from. All good road trips include some amazing scenery, and this one is no exception!

If you’re looking for a great guide to the park, check out this Acadia National Park Guide.

● Start: San Juan Islands ● End: Brookings, Oregon ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 15 hours

The Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to go on a road trip due to its geographical diversity and stunning scenery. One of the most dramatic coastlines in the world, the Pacific Northwest offers rocky beaches, turbulent waters, thick forests, and great food. Begin in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington and continue down to the southern tip of Oregon for one of the best road trips in the USA.

● Starting point: Minnesota ● Ending point: Louisiana ● Distance: 3,000 miles ● Drive Time: 20 hours Follow along the mighty Mississippi River from its beginning in Minnesota, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. This route is called the Great River Road and it cuts 3,000 miles down the center of our great nation, passing through 10 states, where you’ll see St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and everything in between. This United States road trip is one of my all-time favorites as it explores some lesser-known destinations in the “fly over” states!

● Starting point: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii ● Ending point: Mauna Kea, Hawaii ● Distance: 300 miles ● Drive Time: 7 hours The Island Loop Road of the Big Island of Hawaii offers scenic views of beaches, mountains, lava fields, active volcanos, black sand beaches, and heated swimming pools. This may be the most diversity in landscape you’ll ever see in one day.

● Begin: Nashville, Tennessee ● End: New Orleans, Louisiana ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 9 hours If you’re a music fan, then Route 61 (also known as the Blues Highway) will be a perfect road trip for you, giving you the chance to hear live music, visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and see famous recording studios. Finish in New Orleans, where you’ll hear live jazz on the streets nightly!

If you want to continue on farther, you can do this amazing gulf coast road trip !

● Begin: Jackson, Wyoming ● End: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming ● Distance: 70 miles ● Drive Time: 1.5 hours National Parks make for the best road trip destinations. Explore both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with this road trip full of stunning mountainous scenery! It’s the perfect summer road trip.

● Begin: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona ● End: Moab, Utah (one of the most amazing things to do in Utah !) ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 11 hours This nature-packed road trip will allow you to see five stunning Utah national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zions’, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches. This is a great Utah road trip itinerary if you’re interested in exploring even more of this beautiful state.

Check out this Utah Road Trip Itinerary

● Begin: Kahului, Hawaii ● End: Hana, Hawaii ● Distance: 52 miles ● Drive Time: 2.5 hours This is possibly the most popular road trip in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The 60-mile Road to Hana takes you along the eastern coast of Maui where you will be sandwiched by beautiful ocean views and jungles filled with waterfalls. The Hana highway will wind you around approximately 600 curves, crossing 59 bridges, but the ride is worth it!

● Begin: New York, New York ● End: Corning, New York ● Distance: 250 miles ● Drive Time: 4.5 hours I love this New York road trip! After enjoying the busy city life, escape into the Fingerlakes region of upper state New York. Enjoy culture, scenery, great food and wineries along the way. New York City with kids is so much fun, but it’s great to mix it with a more relaxing and nature-filled vacation.

  • Begin: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • End: Washington, D.C
  • Distance: 240 miles
  • Drive Time: 4.5 hours

Brush up on your colonial history and visit the homes of some of our founding fathers while reliving the past. Begin your journey in southern Virginia where you can visit Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement, where you’ll witness historical reenactments and join in on living history.

Next, head to Charlottesville and visit the homes of former presidents Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) and James Monroe (Highland). Head to Mount Vernon, just outside Washington DC to visit George Washington’s home (Mount Vernon) and finish off your trip in our nation’s capital. The distance from Williamsburg VA to Washington DC isn’t much, but the history that can be found on the side of the road is amazing!

You can also do this trip in reverse. It’s one of the best road trips from DC I’ve ever taken.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Miami, Florida End: Key West, Florida Distance: 170 miles Drive Time: 3.5 hours Take the 150-mile drive on Route 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, from Miami to the Florida Keys, crossing 42 bridges. These sandy islands are full of history, sun, and relaxation. This southern USA Florida road trip is sure to be one of the most sun-filled, fun-filled drives ever!

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Canyon National Park End: Las Vegas, Nevada Distance: 250 miles Drive Time: 4.5 hours Start out with nature, and end in Sin City. This desert drive will take you through the majestic Grand Canyon, with a stop in St. George, Utah and end with some fun in Las Vegas.

Check out this awesome Utah road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Deadwood, South Dakota End: Hot Springs, South Dakota Distance: 100 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours The Black Hills of South Dakota offer more than just Mount Rushmore. Drive along the Badlands Scenic Byway, making stops at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park and the infamous Wall Drug. National parks are some of the places to stop on a road trip. Stunning sunsets and sunrises in the Badlands will take your breath away. Keep an eye out for bison on the road. Check out this South Dakota road trip planner for more information.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Milbridge, Maine End: Eastport, Maine Distance: 125 miles Drive Time: 6 hours Explore the southeastern corner of Maine, also known as “Downeast Maine” as you drive along the Lobster Trail on Coastal Route 1. This colorful and delicious journey will take you through beautiful coastlines and forests while providing tasty and adventurous stops where you can find lobster and all kinds of local seafood. Try your hand at some local activities like clam digging or goat milking. There are so many more incredible east coast road trips .

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Shenandoah National Park End: Asheville, North Carolina Distance: 469 miles Drive Time: 6 hours The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular road trips in the US. Connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this 469-mile stretch of scenic road is the most visited road controlled by the U.S. National Parks system. Stops along the way include Skyline Drive (particularly beautiful in the fall), Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and Asheville.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming End: Glacier National Park, Montana Distance: 500 miles Drive Time: 9 hours Explore two national parks in one road trip by driving from Grand Teton National Park to Glacier National Park . The drive along the way will provide some of the most diverse landscapes in the U.S.

Begin: Carova, North Carolina End: Ocracoke, North Carolina Distance: 138 miles Drive Time: 5 hours North Carolina’s Route 12, otherwise known as the Outer Banks Scenic Byway spans 21 coastal villages and 138 miles of paved road and 25 ferry-traveling miles along the coast of North Carolina. Dotted with lighthouses, museums, houses and hotels, the Outer Banks is a great beach road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Seattle, Washington End: Seattle, Washington Distance: 300 miles Drive Time: 10 hours Explore Washington’s Olympic Peninsula on this scenic road trip which takes you through the Olympic National Park and Forest and the lush Hoh Rainforest. There are great spots along the way for hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Santa Monica Pier, California End: Chicago, Illinois Distance: 2,500 miles Drive Time: Several days Follow in the path of your grandparents by taking a quintessential cross-country road trip along one of the original highways in the U.S., Route 66. This road is not traveled very often now that the Interstate Highway system is established, but you can still visit many old towns that once thrived in the middle of the last century along The Mother Road. Route 66 crosses 8 states and dozens of historic sites along the way. It’s the ultimate US road trip, but with so many good road trip places around the country, this classic can be overlooked for bigger cities and National Parks. Don’t skip Route 66!

Begin: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada End: Anchorage, Alaska Distance: 2,500 miles Drive Time: 27 hours Stretching nearly 1,500 miles between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, the historic Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN) is not for the faint of heart. Though most of the road is paved, many sections are constantly under construction and parts of the road are only gravel.

It’s a road that should only be attempted in the best of weather, usually during the summer months, but the views and wildlife along the way are worth the adventure. An Alaska highway road trip should be well planned out in advance, with stops and accommodations mapped out at least six months in advance!  But it is worth the planning. Alaska is one of the most amazing places to take a road trip! Learn more about planning a trip to Alaska.

Begin: St. Augustine, Florida End: Destin, Florida Distance: 1,400 miles Drive Time: 24 hours See the majority of Florida by circling the entire state, starting in St. Augustine(America’s oldest town) then bring out your inner-child in Orlando, eat your way through Miami, and relax on the beach in Clearwater, then explore the panhandle in Destin. This route is long, but the stops and scenery are breathtaking. Learn more about the best things to do in Destin, Florida .

Best Road Trips USA

Begin : Boston, Massachusetts End : Seattle, Washington Distance : 3,000 miles Drive Time: 45 hours This is the best cross country road trip! We’ve done this road trip across America many times out of necessity. It’s more exciting to do it when it’s just for fun. The I-90 spans 3,000 miles across the entire country from Boston to Seattle or vice versa, running along the northern part of the U.S. This route makes some incredible stops like Niagara Falls, Chicago, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and Yellowstone. This is one of the best American road trips you will ever take! A US cross country road trip can seem a little daunting. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time and map out your stops ahead of time, breaking up the long drive.

Begin: Anchorage, Alaska End: Seward, Alaska Distance: 125 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours This quick 125-mile drive along the Seward Highway takes you from Anchorage to Seward. While small, this strikingly beautiful route offers incredible stops like seeing the Bore Tide at the Turnagain Arm, glacier hiking, berry picking, fishing, rafting, kayaking and more. Once in Seward you can finish off your trip with a fishing excursion or a wildlife cruise in the Kenai Fjords National Park where you’ll sail among whales, puffins, seals and more.

Begin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada End: Tijuana, Mexico Distance: 2,300 miles Drive Time: 24 hours Hit three countries in one epic road trip by starting in British Columbia, Canada and using this itinerary all the way down to the border of U.S. and Mexico into Tijuana.

Whatever road trip you choose this summer, be sure to prepare your car for an epic road trip and install a HumX in your vehicle to take the worry out of your journey and to get you on the road!

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Wanderlust Crew

6 thoughts on “ the 25 best road trips in the usa ”.

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thanks for all the info and pictures! would love to do some of these one day I’ve done a lot of road trips in Europe but none in the US yet! route 66 and the grand canyon is definitely on the bucket list!

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America certainly has some awesome road trips! I’ve done a lot in Europe, but would definitely love to do more!!

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I love that some of these road trip destinations are kid friendly. The kids and us could really use some time off from the house after all that’s happening. But we ‘d like to go once things get better. or rather, safer.

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Cross country trips and most of the iconic rides like Route 66 are the best! Gotta love having the countries (and even the continents) so close to us that we can travel by land all we want.

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Photo of Miami skyline with a US flag in the right corner and a causeway built over the water. Miami is easily one of the best weekend getaways in the USA!

15 Cool Cities Perfect for Weekend Getaways in the USA

Looking to get away for a weekend? Well, you’re in luck: there are so many incredible weekend getaways in the USA!

The more we travel in our home country, the more we appreciate how its enormous size and incredible diversity mean that city breaks in the United States can cover just about any interest.

Want to lay out on one of the best urban beaches in the world, drink craft beer, attend an unforgettable festival, go hiking, hit a casino, or simply experience some of the most iconic tourist sites in the world in quick succession?

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Fanieul Hall

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Or, maybe you want to dig into a unique and delicious food scene, learn a bit of American history, or engross yourself in a walkable area and leave driving behind for your whole weekend trip?

No matter what you like to do, there’s an American city (or six) for that.

Here are 15 of the best cities for weekend getaways in the USA.

Table of Contents

Southern Weekend Getaways in the USA

Western weekend getaways in the usa, eastern weekend getaways in the usa, central weekend getaways in the usa.

Top of the Rock or Empire State Building: Photo of Girl in a Dress at Top of the Rock

New Orleans

It’s often said that there’s nowhere like New Orleans–and that is completely true.

Spending a weekend in New Orleans ( or even a single day ) means lots of jazz, lots of delicious food (gumbo, beignets, po’ boys, muffulettas, and more–oh my!), and lots of good times.

Be sure to make time for a ghost tour to take a look at the more mystical part of the city (even if you’re not the superstitious type, I promise a ghost tour is worth it in NOLA!), and a bayou tour to check out southern Louisiana’s incredible landscape.

And, while it’s easy to have nothing but good times in New Orleans, you can (and arguably should) add more depth to your trip as well: consider a day trip out to somewhere like the Whitney Plantation to learn a bit about NOLA’s dark past, or even a Katrina-themed tour discussing the serious impacts of the 2005 hurricane.

Where to Stay in New Orleans

  • Best Western Plus French Quarter Landmark Hotel : The hotel itself is beautiful in that classic New Orleans way, and the (included) breakfast is varied and tasty. Best of all, this hotel is situated right on the edge of the French Quarter, meaning that all of the French Quarter and some areas beyond are within easy walking distance.
  • Omni Royal Orleans Hotel : Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this beautiful hotel is known for its gorgeous building, attentive service, and lovely ambiance–plus its ghosts. Yeah, that attentive service? It just may come in the form of the ghost maid who likes to tuck guests in at night!

Romantic Getaways in USA: Jackson Square New Orleans

If you’re hoping to soak up some fun in the sun during your USA weekend getaway, look no further than Miami.

South Beach is often considered one of the best urban beaches on the planet, and we’d have to agree! 

Don’t limit yourself just to the beach, though: be sure to explore Miami Beach’s impressive Art Deco architecture, eat your way through Little Havana, admire street art in Wynwood, and check out the views from Biscayne Bay.

For those who want to experience some unique nature in south Florida during their trip, consider also planning a trip out to the Everglades–or if you have a few extra days, road-tripping your way all the way to Key West , the southernmost point in the USA!

Where to Stay in Miami

  • Hotel Impala : We love staying here! The room was clean, the shower divine, the customer service lovely, and–most importantly–the location on Collins Ave. was absolutely  perfect.  Located in the heart of the Art Deco district and a five-minute walk from South Beach while still offering a quiet place to sleep at night, Hotel Impala had a location you just can’t beat in Miami Beach.
  • The Marlin Hotel : This hotel offers the chance to stay in one of Miami Beach’s historic art deco buildings! Boasting a fantastic location on Collins Avenue, impeccable customer service, incredible reviews, and spacious suites, the Marlin Hotel is the perfect hotel for those looking for a luxury experience while also seeing a side of Miami Beach’s Art Deco history that not every visitor to the city gets to.

Kate in a pink dress standing in front of a blue art deco lifeguard stand on South Beach in Miami Beach.

Dripping with Spanish moss and home to one of the most stunningly beautiful historic centers of any city in the United States, Savannah is the perfect place to head for a weekend trip : not too big, not too small, and positively packed with some of the best southern food you could ever hope to find.

Come here to wander through all 22 of Savannah’s remaining town squares, tour a house museum or two, pay a visit to Forsyth Park, and to wander along gorgeous Jones Street.

Shoppers will love all the boutiques on Broughton Street, River Street, and in City Market, and those looking to indulge their taste buds will find limitless incredible food in Savannah , from classic southern meals at the Olde Pink House to tasty ice cream at Leopold’s.

If you’re a former Girl Scout like me, or just interested in their history, be sure to also pay a visit to the home of the organization’s founder, Juliette Gordon Low.

Where to Stay in Savannah

  • The Marshall House : Featuring a popular included breakfast, a fantastic location in the heart of Savannah’s historic district, and phenomenal reviews, you can’t go wrong with a stay at The Marshall House!
  • Foley House Inn : Easily my favorite hotel that I’ve stayed in while in Savannah, the Foley House Inn is absolutely beautiful inside and out, and has a perfect location right on Chippewa Square.

The Best Things to Do in Savannah: Fountain in Square

Of all of the weekend getaways in the USA covered here, Asheville is one of the best options for a group divided on whether to visit a city or the great outdoors.

Home to an epic craft beer scene, the incredible Biltmore Estate, plenty of street art, and delicious food options, there’s no doubt that Asheville appeals to the city lovers among us.

Its location right next door to the Pisgah National Forest and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, however, make it a fabulous US weekend destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as well, and there are plenty of easy hikes near Asheville that allow travelers of all skill levels to enjoy the beautiful mountain setting.

No matter what your interests are, try to make time during your trip to Asheville to drive a small piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway–especially if you’re visiting in the fall and can enjoy the changing colors. Often considered one of the most beautiful road trips in the United States, it’s a sight not to be missed.

Where to Stay in Asheville

  • Cedar Crest Inn: This pink 1891 mansion house is a perfect place to base yourself in Asheville. Packed with historical details and stunning architecture you can imagine it as a mini Biltmore.
  • The Applewood Manor : Located within walking distance of downtown via a greenbelt trail, The Applewood Manor feels like it’s in a peaceful, quiet location–but it’s still in a perfect location to make the most of Asheville.

kate storm in a blue dress in front of the biltmore house asheville north carolina

Home to country music, hot chicken, street art, and plenty of barbecue, there’s no doubt that Nashville, Tennessee is an excellent place to let the good times roll on your weekend away.

While Nashville is extremely popular as a bachelorette party destination and for other girls’ getaways, large groups are far from the only types of travelers who will enjoy a weekend in Music City, USA.

The best places to visit in Nashville include visiting the Grand Ole Opry (both for the show and for the backstage tour!), checking out the Johnny Cash Museum, seeing the Country Music Hall of Fame, and exploring Gulch, the street art neighborhood home to, among many other things, the #instagramfamous Nashville wings.

Be sure to save some time to enjoy the city’s famous nightlife when exploring the best things to do in Nashville . Its tasty food is also an important ingredient on any Nashville bucket list –be sure to try the hot chicken at least once, but be aware of your heat tolerance before ordering!

Where to Stay in Nashville

  • Hutton Hotel: Book into this stylish hotel for your romantic trip, relax on the hotel balcony, or stroll 10 minutes to Music Row.
  • Virgin Hotels: Part of the Virgin Group and with all the luxury details you might expect, with plenty of red and white details.

Skyline of Nashville Tennessee at sunset overlooking the river, one of the most romantic getaways in the United States

Located just a couple of hours north of Savannah, Charleston shares a lot of similarities with its neighbor to the south: fantastic southern food, Spanish moss dripping from the trees, beautiful architecture, lots of history to uncover–but it absolutely has its own distinct personality as well.

Be sure to visit the beautiful and photogenic Rainbow Row, check out the tea-making process at the Charleston Tea Plantation, visit the gorgeous and interesting Angel Oak Tree, stroll through Waterfront Park and Battery Park, and check out City Market.

Those interested in US military history will no doubt want to visit Patriots Point to tour the former US naval ships docked there and Fort Sumter for its history (and views).

Even for non-military-history buffs like us, these sights can still be an interesting way to spend some time!

Beach lovers, don’t miss the chance to check out nearby Folly Beach!

Where to Stay in Charleston

  • Market Pavillion Hotel : This hotel is a stunning choice in the heart of the historical district. Rooms feature four poster beds and charming classic decor, but the hotel amenities are really special with a mosaic pool and even its own Executive Pastry Chef whipping up delicious pastries for breakfast.
  • French Quarter Inn : Another fabulous historical hotel is this one in the french quarter overlooking Charleston City Market. You are welcomed with champagne on arrival, there is also a port wine and cheese reception and freshly baked cookies with milk are served every evening. The perfect treats for your trip! Rooms are vintage inspired and really beautiful. This is the loveliest spot in Charleston.

Rainbow Row in as seen during 3 days in Charleston SC

Set right on the water with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Rainier, it’s no wonder that busy and beautiful Seattle is one of the most popular west coast weekend getaways in the USA.

A weekend trip is the perfect amount of time to eat your way through Pike Place Market, head to the top of the Space Needle, visit the famous Chihuly Museum, and  check out the fun and interesting Museum of Pop Culture.

Looking for interesting neighborhoods? Head to Fremont, where the self-proclaimed unofficial motto is “des libertas quirkas”, aka “the freedom to be quirky”.

Hoping to spend some time outside? Nestled in the heart of the magnificent Pacific Northwest, endless waterfalls, trails, and mountains–even Mount Rainier itself–are located within day-tripping distance from Seattle.

Where to Stay in Seattle

  • Gaslight Inn : Located on Capitol Hill this historic building is a great option for Seattle. Recognized as a historic landmark and beautifully preserved but with all the modern luxuries.
  • MarQueen Hotel: Another historic hotel, built in 1918 in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Rooms all have hardwood floors and period features, as well as huge beds perfect for your romantic trip.

Seattle Waterfront with space needle visible through the ferris wheel

Much like Austin, Portland proudly embraces its weirdness, celebrating the eclectic and bizarre in all possible ways–and that makes it endlessly fun to visit!

Bookworms like me will immediately head to Powell’s City of Books–I still think it’s the biggest bookstore I’ve ever visited–while foodies will want to head directly to the local ice cream obsession, Salt & Straw. 

Voodoo Doughnuts, now with a few locations nationally, also originated here and remains popular with tourists (though depending on who you ask, not locals–for what it’s worth, we’d rate the doughnuts 7/10).

During your weekend trip to Portland, make time to visit the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Garden, especially if you visit when everything is in bloom.

Plenty of incredible parts of the Columbia River Gorge, including famous Multnomah Falls, are also within easy reach of Portland and deserve to feature on your list of things to do in Portland !

Where to Stay in Portland

  • Portland Regency Hotel & Spa : This historic hotel offers a hot tub, steam room, full-service spa, and other luxurious amenities that will truly make your vacation to Portland one to remember!
  • Portland Harbor Hotel: Located on Portland Waterfront is this luxury and stylish hotel. With beautifully designed rooms and a great restaurant, you are also well located to explore more of Portland.

Photo of steal sign stating "portland oregon" in front of a blue sky, a must-see during 3 days in portland or

Possibly the most iconic of all these weekend getaways in the USA, Las Vegas is a prime destination for short trips.

First-time visitors will certainly want to hit the Strip, even if only to check out the hotels, fountains, malls, and generally see what all the fuss is about–but there’s more to Vegas than the Strip (if you want there to be, that is).

Whether you want to hit the casinos to gamble and soak in some shows, check out Las Vega’s interesting (and far less touristed) downtown area, or get out and experience the fantastic natural highlights of the Southwest, Las Vegas has something to offer.

While the more-famous southern rim of the Grand Canyon is really too far away from Las Vegas to make a practical day trip, options like Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon, and the Hoover Dam are all possibilities.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

  • The Venetian: As one of the most iconic hotels on the Las Vegas strip this is a fabulous choice for your romantic trip. Everything about this resort is luxurious and huge, from the 1.2-acre pool deck to the in house shopping mall. Book a suite and feel like a real star.
  • Bellagio: Fans of the Ocean franchise will know this hotel and its fountains, although almost any Las Vegas fans know the fountain show of the Bellagio! Stay in this famous hotel for the ultimate treat.

Welcome to Las Vegas sign, one of the most popular weekend getaways in the USA

San Francisco

The city of hills, ocean views, and the famous Golden Gate Bridge is at the top of many people’s lists of best USA weekend getaways–and with an endless list of things to do that cater to all interests, why not?

Be sure to pay a visit to the touristed highlights that most interest you–Fisherman’s Wharf (and its adorable sea lions!), Alcatraz, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, visiting the Painted Ladies (of Full House fame), and checking out Lombard Street.

Once you cross those highlights off your list, though, make time for a few less-obvious attractions, like San Francisco’s Japanese Garden, the Land’s End Labyrinth, and Fort Point.

And, of course, you can’t forget to go for a walk in the woods while visiting San Francisco: the Muir Woods are an unforgettable experience worthy of your time on any weekend trip to the area!

Where to Stay in San Francisco

  • Petit Auberge: This adorable hotel in Nob Hill is the perfect place to base yourself for a romantic trip. Styled like a French Auberge with cozy furnishings and fireplaces in the rooms, opening onto pretty terraces, the hotel also has private parking. Essential in the city.
  • Beacon Grand: Opened in 1928 as a hotel for the creators of San Francisco society and recently reopened after restoration preserving architectural details and artisan crafts. Stay in a stunning piece of history and feel like a star.

Man standing in front of enormous Redwood trees with a sunflare in the top left corner of the photo

New York City

How much of New York can you see on just a USA weekend getaway? Enough that you’ll want to come back immediately.

New York certainly can’t be “done” in a weekend–nor can it be done in a lifetime–but the great thing about New York City is that no matter who you are or what your interests are, whether you want to track down iconic spots, explore the best food in New York , see a show (or three), or discover offbeat NYC , you can find something to captivate you.

For tourists hoping for the classic NYC experience like we were on our first few visits, a weekend in New York is certainly long enough to see all those sights we’ve seen in movies and shows throughout our lives!

Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Grand Central, Times Square, the Public Library, a Broadway show or two, a visit to Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge–in a weekend, you can see all of that and more.

If you’re into museums, we also recommend hitting just one (no more–too much else to do!) during your weekend in New York: the Met, MOMA, and the Natural History Museum are all great, classic choices.

Where to Stay in New York

  • The Plaza Hotel : For a memorable place to stay, this is one of the most classic and luxurious hotels in New York. It is located right by Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, and some of NYC’s most popular museums.
  • The Renwick: Offering stylish residential style accommodation, this beautiful hotel is equipped with plenty of amenities and high class comfort. It is also a short walk to the Empire State Building and Bryant Park for exploring.

4 Day New York Itinerary: Manhattan Skyline with Brooklyn Bridge

Incredibly beautiful and steeped in both American history and its own distinct, modern culture, Boston is one of those cities you visit for a weekend and fall in love with for a lifetime (we would know–we’ve been crazy about it ever since our brief 3-month stint of living there!).

While you’re there, be sure to visit the picturesque North End, fashionable Back Bay, and grand Beacon Hill–three Boston neighborhoods you absolutely can’t miss.

Also consider strolling through the Boston Public Garden (one of our favorite spots in the city) and the Boston Common, visiting the penguins at New England Aquarium, meandering along the Freedom Trail, and hitting the water with a whale-watching cruise .

Bibliophiles like us shouldn’t miss the Boston Public Library (check out the Reading Room on the second floor!), nor Brattle Bookshop.

Sports fans, head directly to Fenway Park for a tour and/or a game.

Where to Stay in Boston

  • Found Hotel Boston Common: This boutique hotel in the Theatre District is perfect for exploring Boston. Rooms are bright and comfortable, and there is access to public transport a short walk from the hotel.
  • Revere Hotel Boston Common: Also in the Theatre District and close to Boston Common is this stylish hotel with a stunning rooftop terrace and bar, perfect for afternoon drinks. Rooms are spacious and have a coffee machine for those of you who need coffee the moment you wake up.

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Washington DC

Our country’s capital city is not only the seat of our national government, it’s also a fabulous place for a weekend trip in the United States, and an incredibly popular stop for visitors from other countries who are planning a trip to the USA !

Museum-goers will be delighted with the enormous array of impressive options to choose from in Washington DC–everything from the many Smithsonian Museums, to quirky options like the International Spy Museum, to meaningful stops like the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, are available–far more than you can visit in a single weekend.

Those interested in US History and government will also have plenty to keep them busy along the National Mall, including iconic stops like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and those looking to enjoy the city’s magnificent food scene will love taking a DC food tour .

Touring the US Capitol is always an interesting experience, and if you plan ahead, you may even be able to tour the White House!

While DC has plenty to offer year-round, there’s no doubt that cherry blossom season in Washington DC is one of the best (and most popular) times to visit.

As a bonus, many of the things to do in Washington DC , including all of the Smithsonian museums, are free to enter.

Where to Stay in Washington DC

  • CitizenM Capitol : Another stunning example of CitizenM hotels is this location in Washington DC Capitol. Expect all the style and comfort these hotels are known for.
  • Riggs Washington DC : Located in the former home of Riggs National Bank this iconic building is now home to a classic and beautiful hotel. Rooms are huge and comfortable and offer views of Penn Quarter.

Washington Monument in Washington DC framed by cherry blossoms in the foreground. Washington DC is one of the best places to visit in the United States

The self-proclaimed live music capital of the world, the home of the world-famous SXSW festival, and a city full of classic American charm with a country flair: when you’re looking for the best weekend getaways in the USA, it would be a shame to leave off the gem that is Austin, TX.

I have lived in Austin as both a child and an adult, and when I wasn’t living there, returned at least 1-2 times a year for most of my life due to family living in the area–and I never, ever get tired of visiting to tuck into a plate a delicious breakfast tacos, general TexMex, or barbecue.

During your weekend trip to Austin , head down to South Congress for fabulous food, eclectic boutiques, and incredible street art, and “Dirty Sixth” for some unforgettable nightlife (or alternatively, Rainey Street or Guadalupe Street for a different vibe).

Of course, this is the capital of Texas, so save some time during your weekend trip to Austin for some more typical cultural highlights, like visiting the Texas State Capitol and the historic (and possibly haunted) Driskill Hotel.

Plus, as Austin is surrounded by the stunning Texas Hill Country, no trip there is complete without going for at least one hike in Austin and taking a day trip to beloved nearby towns and wineries– Wimberley and Fredericksburg are both favorites.

Where to Stay in Austin

  • The Driskill: Originally built in 1886, The Driskill elegantly combines old-world charm with all of today’s modern luxuries. Dine at the award-winning on-site restaurant and enjoy the luxury of this iconic Austin landmark.
  • Hotel Saint Cecilia: This hotel set in pretty gardens is a great oasis in the city. There is an onsite pool with private bungalows, perfect for relaxing.

south congress austin texas looking toward the capitol

Visiting Chicago means it’s time for pizza, pizza, and more pizza… and okay, probably some sightseeing as well.

The sprawling city of Chicago, set right up against beautiful Lake Michigan, is certainly worthy of being included on any list of the best weekend getaways in the USA–and there are definitely plenty of fun things to do in Chicago to keep you busy while you’re there, including plenty of opportunities to explore the culture, enjoy delicious food, and even get outside in Chicago .

Come to Chicago for the weekend to snap selfies at The Bean, test your fear of heights on the famous Chicago Skydeck, pay a visit to Navy Pier, and of course, to eat a lot of deep dish.

Art lovers will find plenty of museums to devour in Chicago, including the incredible Art Institute of Chicago, and baseball fans will enjoy seeing the Cubs play a game at the famous Wrigley Field. 

For animal lovers and family travelers, head directly to Shedd Aquarium (and for family travelers, make note of the American Girl Place as well–the highlight of my first visit to Chicago long, long ago!).

Where to Stay in Chicago

  • Warwick Allerton: Situated on the Magnificent Mile in Downtown Chicago, the hotel is perfect for shopping and discovering iconic architecture.
  • Staypineapple: This oddly named hotel was designed by a world renowned architect and features stylish details such as mosaic floors and marble ceilings. No detail is spared and rooms are a testament to the thought that has gone into each part of the hotel.

Set of 4 photos, from top left: life guard stand in Miami, Acorn Street in Boston, Jones Street in Savannah, Manhattan Skyline in NYC. There's white text on a red background in the center of the image that reads "15 Epic Cities Perfect for USA Weekend Getaways"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

18 thoughts on “15 Cool Cities Perfect for Weekend Getaways in the USA”

Safely, Detroit is not on your list. Detroit is a fabulous city and Michiganders are very friendly and likeable.

Austin is not the country music capital — it’s the live music capital.

Well isn’t that an embarrassing typo for someone who has owned a Keep Austin Weird shirt for 20 years! Lol. I’ll get it fixed.

Very interesting

Or Madison… both have their own unique quirks that can keep a weekend enjoyable

You forgot Richmond Virginia, which would probably run circles around half of these cities on your list.

Not even close Tony!

absolutely incorrect

Umm Philly????

Will go on the list when we expand it! We love Philly. 🙂

Boise is an awesome city in the west too!

Love what you do, just curious, how do you make ends meet?

Thanks, Priti!

We’re professional travel bloggers, so this website is our job.

We earn money through the display ads that you see while scrolling and sometimes get a commission (at no cost to you) if a reader books a tour/hotel/attraction through a link on our website. 🙂

How did Dallas not make the list

Cause it sucks.

Great ideas, thank you!

Personally, I absolutely loved San Antonio what a great little weekend get away!

We love it too–one of our former homes and one of our favorite places to eat in the country!

Leave a Comment Cancel reply

8 great rail journeys to take across the USA

Jan 29, 2024 • 7 min read

great trips in usa

Considerably more relaxing than driving or flying, the best train rides in the US offer a leisurely sightseeing experience.© Alex Potemkin/Getty Images

There’s no getting around the sheer size and scale of the USA – it’s an absolute, supersized whopper – and the best way to see it all is via train.

The US has close to 3.8 million sq miles (10 million sq km) of sublime mountain ranges, parched desert, entire states engulfed in deep snow, you-gotta-go-see-it-to-believe-it cities, endless prairie land, six whole time zones and lakes so large you could lose whole countries down there. So while traveling around by plane might make sense from a convenience point of view – it’s not quite six hours to dart directly from New York to LA – there really is no better way to experience the sheer grandeur of the country than by taking one of these train vacations.

Considerably more relaxing than driving or flying, the best train rides in the US offer a leisurely, nostalgic sightseeing experience, often passing through pristine landscapes inaccessible by other means. The US is rich with amazing train journeys, but the routes listed below are the cream of the crop. From California to New England ,  here are eight epic US train trips our editors have selected, taken from Lonely Planet's  Amazing Train Journeys .

A white male passenger takes in the New Mexico desert landscape at sunset from the Amtrak train.

1. The Sunset Limited

Route: New Orleans – San Antonio – Tucson – Phoenix – Los Angeles Distance and duration: 1995 miles (3211 km); 2 days

Amtrak's Sunset Limited is the ultimate American railroad ride and one of its most famous train journeys: east to west, coast to coast, clean through from the bars of New Orleans to the breakers of the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve always dreamed of taking a journey across the USA, but don’t much relish the prospect of two weeks spent cooped up in an automobile, then a ride on the Sunset Limited is the answer.

Sit back and let America’s landscapes buzz by: from Louisiana ’s bayous, past the high-rises of Houston , across the deserts of Texas and Arizona , over the Californian hills all the way to LA’s golden beaches. Saddle up, pardner: it’s gonna be quite a ride.

The Amtrak Coast Starlight Train passes along a track through hilly terrain en route to Los Angeles

2. The Coast Starlight

Route: Seattle – Portland – Sacramento – Los Angeles Distance and duration: 1377 miles (2216 km); 35 hours

Trace America’s “left coast” in all its varied splendor. The 35-hour (OK, it’s Amtrak, so maybe more) trip between Seattle and Los Angeles curves alongside crashing Pacific waves, cuts through America’s lushest agricultural land and passes below snowcapped mountains and towering redwoods. Of all the Amtrak routes, the Coast Starlight offers the most scenic variety in the fewest hours.

It’s also the only Amtrak service with a dedicated parlor car, open only to passengers who book sleepers. The parlor conjures old-time rail romance, with wood paneling and soft lighting, plus a special menu and wine-and-cheese tastings. Highlights of this train ride include dramatic sunrise perspectives on 14,179ft (4322m)  Mt Shasta , and a gorgeous midday traverse of Oregon's Cascade Range.

A train coming into a station in an idyllic leafy setting

3. Metro-North Hudson Line

Route: New York City – Poughkeepsie Distance and duration: 69 miles (111 km); 1½ hours

Depart from New York City ’s iconic beaux arts Grand Central Terminal , stopping to admire the ornate astronomical ceiling painting in the vaulted main concourse and to slurp up oysters and a martini at the famous Oyster Bar.

Then roll through Manhattan and the Bronx and into the glorious green Hudson River Valley. Hugging the eastern banks of the river, New York’s Metro-North's Hudson line travels deep into American history. The names of the stops along the way speak to the area’s origins: Native American (Ossining, Poughkeepsie); Dutch (Spuyten Duyvil, Yonkers, Cortlandt, Peekskill); English (Hastings-on-Hudson, Scarborough). It’s a land so famously beautiful an entire art movement – the Hudson River School – was once dedicated to capturing its glory. For the cost of a burger and a beer, this view can be yours for almost two hours.

A train passing through a green landscape with blue skies

4. The California Zephyr

Route: Chicago – Omaha – Denver – Salt Lake City – San Francisco Distance and duration: 2438 miles (3924km), 51 hours 20 minutes

For soaking up the scenic grandeur of the North American continent, nothing compares with Amtrak’s California Zephyr train. This classic three-day journey travels nearly 2500 miles (4000km) across prairies, deserts, the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada on its way from Chicago to San Francisco. The scenery is magnificent throughout – especially when seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the lounge car – but if you can only do one section, opt for the riveting 185-mile (298km) stretch between Denver and Glenwood Springs, where the train travels through an often roadless wilderness of deep, narrow gorges near the Colorado River’s headwaters.

Near sunset, the train emerges into the majestic red rock desert of eastern Utah , then crosses overnight into the forbidding vastness of Nevada's sagebrush country, with salt flats and stark, arid mountains as far as the eye can see. Sunrise on day three reveals an entirely different desert: the blinding-white alkali flats and ghostly grey mountains near Winnemucca, Nevada. Just beyond the gambling-happy little city of Reno, the Zephyr climbs into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, then enters California’s imposing granite high country beyond the photogenic frontier town of Truckee.

The northbound Amtrak Downeaster at the train station in Brunswick as seen from the front

5. Amtrak Downeaster

Route: Boston – Portland – Brunswick Distance and duration: 145 miles (233 km); 3 hours 25 minutes

As car-free city breaks go, this train escape is hard to beat, chugging from the downtown main streets of urban Boston to Maine ’s rural greens in under four hours. That’s from the seventh most densely populated city in the US to the state with the highest percentage of forest coverage, all in less time than it takes to cook an old-style Yankee plum pudding.

Even better, every stop on the Amtrak Downeaster features historic New England cities and towns, parks and seascapes, cottage arts and crafts, world-class shopping and stellar foods fashioned from farm-and-sea-fresh ingredients.

A locomotive decorated with the image of the road runner

6. The New Mexico Rail Runner

Route: Albuquerque – Santa Fe Distance and duration: 97 miles (156 km); 90 minutes

One of America’s great unsung commuter railways, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a regional train that runs down the Rio Grande Valley , connecting the state’s largest city, Albuquerque, with its cultural and political capital, Santa Fe.

On the way it crosses the wide, high desert, giving views of arid mountains in all directions, and even passes through several of the state’s Native American tribal lands. A no-nonsense, clean and quick journey, its highlights are the sweeping views from the upper seats of the double-decker carriages. Taken as a day trip or a scenic but practical form of intra-state transport, the Rail Runner is a wonderful introduction to New Mexico ’s epic landscapes.

Empire Builder AMTRAK passenger train rolls into Whitefish, Montana, USA

7. The Empire Builder

Route: Chicago – St Paul or Minneapolis – Spokane – Portland or Seattle Distance and duration: 2764 miles (4448 km); 46 hours

The Amtrak Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle glides through Wisconsin 's woodlands, Minnesota's lake country and the North Dakota prairies en route to a western horizon swarming with snow-capped Rocky Mountain peaks.

From Browning , Montana, an unforgettable 60-mile run along the southern edge of Glacier National Park leads to the park entrance at West Glacier, where nature lovers will want to break their journey before continuing to Seattle.

The Jefferson Memorial at sunset seen through some trees during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC

8. The Vermonter

Route: Washington, DC – New York City– Springfield – Essex Junction ( Burlington ) – St Albans Distance and duration: 611 miles (983 km); 13 hours 45 minutes

The Amtrak Vermonter runs once daily from Washington, DC to St Albans, VT. This is the most scenic route east of the Mississippi, especially in its northern reaches, where it snakes for four hours through the bucolic green hills and photogenic villages of rural Vermont.

Starting from the nation's capital, Washington, DC, the train runs north through one of the USA's greatest metropolises, New York City, before bowling out through Connecticut , Massachusetts and New Hampshire en route to the bucolic Vermont countryside and St Albans.

This article was first published December 2020 and updated January 2024

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A total solar eclipse in April will cross 13 US states: Which ones are on the path?

great trips in usa

On April 8, skygazers along the wide-sweeping arc of the Great North American Eclipse's path will step outside to catch a rare glimpse of the sun while the Earth becomes shrouded in darkness.

For just the second time in seven years , day will suddenly become night for a few brief, wondrous minutes as the orbiting moon blocks the sun's light along a southwest-to-northeast path across the continent.

Millions of people already reside along the path of totality stretching from Texas to Maine in the U.S. And in the months ahead, countless tourists eager to witness the spectacular event are expected to make a journey to one of the many cities that will experience the eclipse.

Here's what to know about the total solar eclipse's path of totality, and how you can prepare to see it as it passes over Mexico, the United States and Canada:

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What is a total solar eclipse?

Any celestial object like a moon or a planet that passes between two other bodies can create  an eclipse  by obscuring the view of objects like the sun.

A total eclipse occurs when the moon appears as the same size as the sun and blocks the entire disk, leading to a period of darkness lasting several minutes. The resulting "totality," whereby observers can see the outmost layer of the sun's atmosphere known as the corona, confuses animals – causing nocturnal creatures to stir and bird and insects to fall silent.

When a solar eclipse reaches totality, scientists are also presented with an uncommon opportunity  to study the corona that is usually shielded by the sun's bright surface.

You may remember that only last October, something call  an annular solar eclipse  passed over the United States.

At the time, the moon wasn't close enough in its orbit of our planet to completely block out the sunlight when it passed between the sun and Earth. Instead, the eclipse resulted in a "ring of fire" effect when the moon appeared as a smaller disk in front of the sun, creating a bright halo of light .

What is the eclipse's path of totality?

The 115-mile-wide path of totality will cross North America, passing over Mexico, a wide swath of the the United States and Canada. 

Mexico's pacific coast will be the first location in continental North America to experience totality, which will occur at about 11:07 a.m. PDT,  according to NASA .

The longest duration will be near Torreon in Mexico at 4 minutes and 27 seconds, almost double that of 2017, according to estimates from eclipse cartographer Michael Zeiler at GreatAmericanEclipse.com .

2024 Total Eclipse: Where & When - NASA Science

To see the exact path of totality, check out an interactive map created by French eclipse expert Xavier Jubier.

Where can I see the eclipse in the U.S.?

In the United States alone, 31 million people already live inside the path of totality, according to the Great American Eclipse. Of course, that figure doesn't even account for the tourists sure to flock from all over for a chance to be there when darkness falls.

As the moon's shadow travels northeast, totality in the U.S. will begin in Texas as it cuts diagonally across the country and eventually enters the maritime provinces of Canada.

The Great North American Eclipse, as it's known, will trace a narrow path of totality across 13 U.S. states. Small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also experience the eclipse, NASA says .

Here are the major cities in each state where you can expect to experience totality in the United States (note that the included times do not account for when the partial eclipse begins and ends):

  • Dallas, Texas: 1:40-1:44 p.m. CDT
  • Idabel, Oklahoma: 1:45-1:49 p.m. CDT
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: 1:51-1:54 p.m. CDT
  • Poplar Bluff, Missouri: 1:56-2:00 p.m. CDT
  • Paducah, Kentucky: 2-2:02 p.m. CDT
  • Carbondale, Illinois: 1:59-2:03 p.m. CDT
  • Evansville, Indiana: 2:02-2:05 p.m. CDT
  • Cleveland, Ohio: 3:13-3:17 p.m. EDT
  • Erie, Pennsylvania: 3:16-3:20 p.m. EDT
  • Buffalo, New York: 3:18-3:22 p.m. EDT
  • Burlington, Vermont: 3:26-3:29 p.m. EDT
  • Lancaster, New Hampshire: 3:27-3:30 p.m. EDT
  • Caribou, Maine: 3:32-3:34 p.m. EDT

Other major cities along the eclipse's path of totality include San Antonio and Austin, Texas; Indianapolis; and Rochester and Syracuse, New York.

You may want to see it while you can: For North America, the next total solar eclipse won't be until 2033, according to NASA .

How to safely view the eclipse

Unlike other solar eclipses, a total eclipse offers spectators a chance to gaze upon the spectacular sight with the naked eye.

However, you'll have to wait for the proper moment before removing your protective eyewear to avoid exposing yourself to the sun's powerful retina-damaging rays. You'll know its safe to fully take in the display when the moon blocks the sun's face and the sky turns dark, leaving only the solar corona visible.

But until that moment, NASA still  advises spectators  to ensure they have the safe – and simple – equipment  needed for solar viewing .

Certified eyewear is held to an international safety standard and is 100,000 times darker than most sunglasses to block nearly all visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. To make it easy, the American Astronomical Society maintains  a curated list of approved vendors .

Another simple method is to create your own pinhole projector to project the sun onto a nearby surface. The American Astronomical Society helpfully offers  instructions  to set them up.

Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at [email protected]

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2024 is the best time to see the Northern Lights in decades: How to plan your trip

If you’ve always wanted to see the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, 2024 could be your year.

According to Erica Grow Cei, a public affairs specialist and meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the aurora is expected to be especially strong through 2025.

“We are entering a period of expected increased activity on the sun. Some types of space weather, called Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs, can cause the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, to reach farther south and look more spectacular,” she said in a statement. “This period of higher activity is likely to last through this year into 2025, but the technology doesn't yet exist to predict precisely when a strong geomagnetic storm will happen.”

USA TODAY had a chance to witness the phenomenon firsthand on a trip to Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, organized for journalists by Expedia, and the wispy green light in the sky did not disappoint.

But the aurora can also be unpredictable and hard to spot. Seeing it is not always a matter of just going somewhere northerly and cold and staring up at the sky, so if you’re planning a Northern Lights trip, you’ll want to go somewhere that has other activities you’re equally excited to do.

Tips for seeing the aurora

▶ Get expert help: Tracy Therrien, owner of Bucket List Tours in Yellowknife, hosted one of the viewings USA TODAY attended and said in an interview that it’s always better to go with a professional.

“When the aurora first comes out, most times she’s actually white in color to the naked eye, and for some people, it’s hard to distinguish the aurora from a cloud, which is why we encourage you to go with aurora guides,” she said. “They need to know in the beginning it may be just white in color, but as she gets stronger and stronger, that’s when we see the color to the naked eye, but we can always see the color through the camera.”

▶ Avoid the full moon: Therrien also said it’s best to avoid a full moon when you’re planning your trip because even that celestial bright light can wash the aurora out, and to stay in the location for at least four or five days, not including travel, to maximize your chance of seeing the lights.

▶ Stay a while: “The longer the stay, the better the chances, but more than anything to take a day or two of rest,” she said. “The five-night stay guarantees that much more of a chance of seeing her, just staying those couple of days.”

Expedia’s Northern Lights viewing guide also includes tips like going somewhere remote, away from the light pollution of cities, wearing the right winter clothes for extended periods in below-zero temperatures, and using a tripod to best capture your photos.

▶ Get the right gear: Different tour companies rent out the needed gear to withstand the cold temperatures. During USA TODAY’s trip in late January, temperatures in Yellowknife reached below 30 degrees Fahrenheit – which locals called “warm,” compared to the week prior – but with a set of insulated snow boots, snow pants, parka, mittens, neck gaiters and headgear, the group was able to explore the outdoors for extended periods comfortably.

Therrien said renting gear can be a way to help travel more economically – not having to pack bulky winter clothes will save space in your luggage for souvenirs.

Why Yellowknife is a great place to see the Northern Lights

There are plenty of places on Earth where the aurora is visible, but according to the Canadian Space Agency, Yellowknife is an especially good place for viewing.

"The city is located under the auroral oval, a huge oval centered on the Earth’s north magnetic pole where the northern lights (aurora borealis) often occur," an agency spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY. "Yellowknife has experienced more frequent and stronger aurora recently because the Earth’s magnetic field is being buffeted by more frequent and stronger storms in the solar wind, storms that begin at the Sun. Like the Earth, the Sun has seasons and the Sun is currently in its stormy season, with the peak forecasted to occur later this year."

Joe Buffalo Child of indigenous-owned North Star Adventure added: "We also have no mountains or oceans near Yellowknife, which gives us a stable weather system that provides plenty of clear nights. In the Dene language, we say 'yaké nagas,' which means 'the sky is stirrin' - there’s nothing else on Earth like it."

Other things to do in Yellowknife

While you’ll likely be able to see the aurora on a trip to Yellowknife, it’s always possible the weather won’t cooperate. Cloudy skies can block your view, so you should take advantage of the city's other activities.

USA TODAY had a chance to go snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling and dogsledding during our two-day visit, and we got to sample local restaurants as well.

Aurora Village, a popular Northern Lights viewing site just outside of downtown Yellowknife, also hosts activities and local speakers to help you better understand your surroundings.

Therrien said another operator recently opened a polar plunge and sauna. Located by the frozen shore of Great Slave Lake, Jake Olson of Arctic Duchess Adventures offers a relaxed atmosphere for travelers to lounge in the warm sauna – with a clear view of the sky and often the aurora – and the opportunity to do a polar plunge safely. Unlike other plunges, Olson installed a pool right off the lake to ensure no one would go below the ice and installed lights at the bottom for a visual sense of security.

Yellowknife is also the capital of the Northwest Territories, and there are daily tours of the legislative assembly. A wildlife museum also recently opened in the city, and there’s a glassworks downtown where you can create a memento of your visit.

How to plan your trip

Expedia has a Northern Lights booking guide, not just for Yellowknife but for other global destinations, including those in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Alaska.

Some cruise lines also offer Northern Lights expeditions, so it’s best to research and determine which destination or option best suits your travel needs.

Wherever you go, be sure not just to do it for Instagram.

“Patience is key, and experimenting with your camera settings is the secret sauce to capturing the Northern Lights,” professional nature photographer Dave Sandford said in a statement. “That said, don’t forget to savor the moment. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been fortunate to see them in person. I always make a point to put the camera down and lose myself in the extraordinary experience of the Northern Lights.”

Contributing: Josh Rivera, USA TODAY

Editor’s note: The reporter on this story received access to this trip from Expedia. USA TODAY maintains editorial control of reviews.

Zach Wichter is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in New York. You can reach him at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why you should plan a Northern Lights trip in 2024

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Best romantic getaways in the u.s. for 2024.

Sometimes it's necessary to take a break from the stresses of real life and spend quality time with the person you love. And what better way to do that than to travel? To help you and your sweetheart plan the ideal romantic retreat, whether it's for an anniversary or just because, U.S. News considered ambiance, privacy and access to couple-friendly activities to rank the best romantic getaways in the USA. Use this list to pick your next one-on-one vacation, and vote for your favorite locales below. Looking to stay even closer to home? Check out these romantic weekend getaways by state .

Kaua'i

Napa valley, charleston, sc, big sky, mt, amelia island, adirondacks, martha's vineyard, jackson hole.

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Kaua'i offers many distinct ways for both thrill-seeking and sun-worshipping couples to up the romance factor. You and your sweetheart can lounge on secluded beaches , relax in a private luxury villa or go on a kayaking adventure along the picture-perfect Napali Coast. For even more opportunities to marvel at nature, check out Kaua'i's scenic state parks like Koke'e and Waimea Canyon. Once you've tackled the Hawaiian island's trails hand in hand, consider booking a private helicopter tour for a bird's-eye view you and your better half will never forget.

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Few things are more romantic than sharing a remote island with your beau. Lanai's exclusivity can make it feel like the two of you are alone with the Hawaiian island breeze. Head to a luxury hotel or resort to indulge in high-end cuisine and soak up some sun by the pool before exploring the tiny island's landscape side by side. For a memorable hike that requires little effort, follow the short trail from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai to the Pu'upehe overlook. Also known as "Sweetheart Rock," this landmark offers stunning views of Hulopo'e Bay, especially at sunset.

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Brimming with rolling vineyards , cozy wine caverns, chic restaurants and top-notch hotels, this wine lover's paradise 60 miles north of San Francisco is the ultimate romantic getaway. Wine enthusiasts can sip Napa's award-winning reds at intimate venues like O'Brien Estate and Jarvis Estate or while savoring gourmet cuisine on the Napa Valley Wine Train. When couples need a break from being wined and dined, they can explore the scenic Napa River via kayak, take to the skies on a hot air balloon ride, or visit the town of Calistoga in northern Napa Valley for its spas and hot springs.

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Another ideal retreat for wine connoisseurs , Sonoma is known to be more laid back than its neighbor, Napa, and boasts more than 425 wineries. However, strolling through vineyard vines isn't the only must-do activity for twosomes. Outdoor lovers will want to explore regional parks such as Taylor Mountain (for its trails) and North Sonoma Mountain (to enjoy a picnic surrounded by the peaks of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley). Plenty of Sonoma's hotels offer spa treatments, but what could be more memorable than a massage in a 22-foot wine barrel? Book side-by-side treatments at Magical Massage for a one-of-a-kind experience.

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A low-key getaway, Charleston, South Carolina, is filled with pastel-hued historic homes, art galleries and tasty Lowcountry cuisine (perfect for foodie couples). To dial up the romance, take in the sights from a horse-drawn carriage or sign up for a sunset harbor cruise just for two. For a quiet shoreside escape free from crowds, head to one of the nearby beaches like Sullivan's Island. Accommodations range from beachfront resorts to charming bed-and-breakfasts but keep in mind you'll likely have to pay a pretty penny for a stay in the historic district.

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It's easy to proclaim your love when you're suspended atop red rocks and looking out upon miles of colorful Arizona landscape. After working up a sweat hiking Sedona's sandstone buttes, bring those romantic vibes indoors for a couples massage at one of the city's world-renowned wellness retreats . Or, if you and your amour prefer relaxing with a glass of vino, save time for a self-guided tour of the Verde Valley Wine Trail, which boasts 15 venues ranging from small tasting rooms to vast wineries sprawling along the banks of Oak Creek. At night, hold your loved one close and gaze at the star-filled sky.

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Travel to Big Sur for its windswept coastline and rugged mystique. This peaceful destination carved out of the California coast offers a couple of luxurious hotels, but nature is the real star in Big Sur. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the area's redwood-lined trails and admire picturesque Pfeiffer Beach before setting up a tent and roughing it beneath the stars. For an atmospheric picnic, head to Sand Dollar Beach, where couples can admire the scenery sans the crowds. For a more upscale outing, take a day trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea for its art galleries and fairy tale cottages.

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Let Big Sky's vast terrain, fresh air and rustic romance carry you and your loved one away from the ins and outs of everyday life. Every winter, couples flock to this Montana destination for its top-notch ski resort (complete with a heated chairlift), though the offseason has its charms, too (think: fly fishing on scenic rivers, hiking under an endless blue sky or taking a road trip to Yellowstone National Park.) For a curated Montana experience, spring for an all-inclusive ranch, where you'll find private cabins, homegrown cuisine and personalized service.

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What could be more romantic than a sunrise beachfront horseback ride for two? Or a private sunset cruise aboard a 40-foot catamaran? You and your love can experience this and more on Amelia Island, one of Florida's Atlantic coast barrier islands. Hop on bikes and explore the scenic Amelia Island Trail, or pedal to downtown Fernandina Beach for its Victorian-style architecture, antique shops and galleries. After a day spent sightseeing, pamper weary muscles with a couples massage at one of the luxury resorts that call the island home.

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This tiny Massachusetts island exudes New England charm. Stroll arm in arm with your sweetheart down cobblestone streets, unwind on white sand beaches and snap selfies in front of iconic lighthouses, such as Brant Point Lighthouse and Great Point Lighthouse. Then, grab a lobster roll to share from one of the island's premier seafood restaurants, and revel in the extraordinary Atlantic Ocean views from the Sconset Bluff Walk. When you're ready to retire for the night, you'll have your pick of quaint Nantucket inns.

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Whether you time your trip for summer boating, fall leaf peeping or snow season, upstate New York makes for an intimate setting. Depending on when you visit, you can bond with your beloved on a sleigh ride, a paddling trip or a scenic hike, where you'll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the Adirondacks' forests, lakes and mountains. When you're adventured out, bop between some of New York's most iconic small towns, including Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, for local dining and shopping. What's more, you can choose from accommodations ranging from luxe lodges packed with amenities to secluded wooden cabins for two.

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Savannah, Georgia, is tailor-made for a weekend getaway. Spanish moss hangs over sidewalks that lead past hundreds of historic homes. The lively River Street area features a bevy of shopping, dining and nightlife options, while nearby islands provide a relaxing respite. Meanwhile, Forsyth Park provides the ultimate romantic backdrop for memorable couples photos, and if you're feeling brave, you can hold each other tight during a ghost tour at the hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery. For charming digs in the heart of the city, hang your hat at one of Savannah's charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations, or rent a snug carriage house.

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If your ideal romantic escape entails a lazy agenda, shingle-covered beach houses and quaint towns, Martha's Vineyard is just the place. On this Massachusetts island, you can relax on quiet beaches, sample decadent fare at upscale restaurants and explore the historic Edgartown Lighthouse, which offers incredible views of the harbor and neighboring Chappaquiddick Island. On a warm, sunny day, venture to Oak Bluffs, where you'll find charming gingerbread cottages at The Campground. For the ultimate romantic retreat, book a stay at one of the island's top hotels, some of which offer complimentary bike rentals, beach chairs and continental breakfast to guests.

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Reconnect with your sweetie during a getaway to Jackson Hole. This piece of Wyoming paradise is ideal for all kinds of outdoor pursuits, including hiking and skiing. Should you need to soothe your aching muscles after an active day, go for a dip in the Granite Hot Springs, Astoria Hot Springs or your high-end resort's outdoor hot tub. Whether your dream romantic vacation includes horseback riding through the majestic Grand Teton National Park, sipping wine by a crackling fireplace or unwinding at a world-class spa, Jackson Hole is the perfect place for you and your other half.

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For lovebirds who enjoy skiing and cuddling up by a fireplace, Aspen is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Spend your days sharing ski lifts in the snow-capped mountains before partaking in the highly touted après ski scene. If you arrive during the warmer months, take advantage of superb hiking and scenic gondola rides. Then, retreat to one of the many hotels and resorts that offer glitzy accommodations for two – not to mention some must-visit spas . If you're not ready to turn in just yet, Aspen's nightlife options include plenty of live music venues, clubs and cocktail lounges.

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With 40 miles of protected seashore, this region of Massachusetts offers plenty of space for that long walk on the beach. And the slow pace of Cape Cod means you don't have to focus on the hustle and bustle of daily life – you can spend quality time together swimming, biking and eating fresh seafood instead. Cape Cod is also home to a handful of breweries and wineries, so you can toast to your special someone during a tasting. Splurge on one of the Cape's five-star accommodations for spectacular ocean views and sumptuous amenities like soaking tubs for two, in-room fireplaces and private balconies.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

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Willamette Valley

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Santa Barbara

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Fredericksburg, TX

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San Luis Obispo

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Newport, RI

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Where to See 2024’s Magnificent Total Solar Eclipse

By Nicole Kliest

Where to See 2024s Magnificent Total Solar Eclipse

Over many millennia, the narrative of the total solar eclipse was surrounded by mythology. Derived from the Greek ekleipsis, translating roughly to disappear or abandon, the word eclipse has struck awe (and sometimes fear) in the hearts of many civilizations. The ancient Chinese believed a celestial dragon was swallowing the sun, and that it predicted the future of the emperor. Native Americans of the Chippewa tribe shot burning arrows toward the sky to replenish the sun’s supposed extinguished flames. The phenomena commanded such reverence that Greek historian Herodotus cited a total solar eclipse as bringing an end to a years-long war between the Lydians and the Medes (“when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on”). In Homer’s Odyssey, the poet wrote of a total solar eclipse: “The sun has perished out of heaven and an evil mist hovers over all.”

In more recent years, it’s lost much of that mystical, fascinating lore, but still presents boundless opportunities for scientific research. In 1919, a total solar eclipse helped to prove Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity by measuring how images of stars shift when the sun is close. Even now, this astronomical event has allowed scientists to observe a great deal, gleaning insights about our universe, and of space and time. (According to NASA, a team of researchers once chased an eclipse’s path in a high-speed jet.)

If your knowledge of a total solar eclipse extends about as far as a DIY pinhole projector, a brief refresher: When the moon passes between the sun and earth and blocks the view of the sun, that’s when a total solar eclipse takes place. The ‘path of totality’ is the track where the moon’s shadow falls on Earth, resulting in a dark sky for a brief period throughout the day depending on where you are. It’s in this path that you also have the opportunity to witness the sun’s outer atmosphere (called the corona). The next total solar eclipse will be on April 8 and won’t be visible in the United States again until 2044.

Basking in the eerie glow of a total solar eclipse has been described as what pure astonishment feels like. The sun is engulfed, the sky dips into darkness, and the frenetic sounds of confused crickets, katydids, and cicadas come into focus. It’s unlike any other experience you’ll ever have.

So, in the spirit of adventure and transformative experiences, continue ahead for our travel guide to witnessing this year’s total solar eclipse. Before you go, don’t forget to brush up on eye safety guidelines , like using a special-purpose solar filter secured over your optics until the total phase of the eclipse begins—that’s when you can take them off for a few minutes to take it all in.

Click here for a map of the 2024 total solar eclipse’s path of totality.

The first location to experience totality in continental North America will be Mexico’s Pacific coast (at around 11:07 a.m. PDT). The Griffith Observatory Foundation in partnership with Insider Expeditions is hosting an eight-day adventure through the country that culminates in an eclipse viewing in Mazatlán with a celebratory dinner to follow. (Totality arrives at 12:07 p.m. and lasts for almost four-and-a-half minutes.) Participants will also have the opportunity to tour Aztec pyramids, ancient ruins, and ride a scenic cable car overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Dallas and Austin, Texas

Next up on the path is the Lone Star state. If you gravitate toward Austin, luxury travel company Black Tomato has curated an itinerary themed to the celestial occasion, beginning with a stay at Commodore Perry Estate and a stargazing party on the property’s lawn attended by astronomers and eclipse-chasers alike. Clients will experience unobstructed views of the eclipse at the 300-acre Mirasol Springs Ranch with astronomical activities, live music, and a “Texas ranch meets Moroccan style desert camp lunch.” This area of Texas is also known for its vineyards, so if you prefer your astronomy with a side of wine, take note of Essentialist’s itinerary , which includes several tasting room stops along the way.

For those heading to Dallas, you’ll enjoy nearly four minutes of totality in downtown, beginning at 1:40 p.m. CDT. At Hôtel Swexan complimentary glasses will be provided for safely viewing the eclipse and a curation of planetary films will be available. For those who prefer a rustic approach, nearby Samuell Farm is hosting an eclipse party at its 609-acre park with overnight camping passes available.

Niagara Falls, New York

Among the more picturesque settings for the total solar eclipse, Niagara Falls is the epitome of prime viewing. Enjoy programming from NASA astronauts and scientists throughout the area and book a ticket for one of many experiences to celebrate the occasion. (This eclipse event at Marjim Manor sounds particularly appealing: enjoy lunch and a glass of wine on the large lawn as totality approaches.)

Quebec, Canada

Set on the shore of Lake Massawippi, Manoir Hovey is a historic estate in southwestern Quebec, Canada. It’s set in the path of totality and will be hosting a viewing event from its lakefront gardens. Expect special glasses sourced from Mont-Megantic—the world’s first international Dark Sky Reserve. Guests can take in the eclipse by land or by lake, there are complimentary kayaks, paddle boats, and even a pontoon boat for rent.

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Travel Disruptors: Capturing B2B growth

In 1996, Expedia—then under the auspices of Microsoft—debuted as one of the internet’s first online travel agencies (OTAs). Expedia Group is now a publicly held company encompassing brands such as Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo. It sees more than six million average daily visitors and more than one billion average monthly searches across its sites and apps.

Ariane Gorin joined Expedia Group in 2013 and is now president of Expedia for Business. She oversees the company’s fast-growing global B2B ecosystem, which counts Walmart and United Airlines among its partners. Gorin’s advice to young people who are thinking of entering the travel industry? “Go for it,” she says, “because once you get in, you’ll never want to leave. What we do as an industry is help people create memories, and that’s incredibly meaningful.”

In this installment of Travel Disruptors , Gorin spoke with McKinsey’s Emma Loxton about the industry’s postpandemic recovery, Expedia Group’s B2B offerings, and how generative AI (gen AI) might change the business of travel. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

McKinsey: As the travel industry continues to bounce back from the pandemic, we see people traveling and interacting with travel companies in slightly altered ways. How has Expedia Group responded? Where have you invested to deliver for customers?

Ariane Gorin: It’s been an interesting few years. One thing that’s certain is that people need to travel, want to travel, and—no matter what barriers are put up—will find a way to travel.

At Expedia Group, when COVID-19 arrived in 2020 and borders closed, we saw consumers shifting to Vrbo, which is our vacation rentals brand. People were concerned with health and safety and wanted to be in their own bubbles, so they started renting whole homes. This meant that, while the air and hotel businesses didn’t do as well, the Vrbo business thrived.

Then, as vaccinations began and international borders opened, we saw people returning to international travel, hotels, and airlines. At Expedia Group, we have a diversified business, both geographically and in terms of brands and lines of business, so that as travel patterns changed, we always had an answer.

In terms of investments, I think we’ve led the way in having a focus on self-service and automation. When the pandemic began, we needed to handle a sudden onslaught of requests for cancellations, refunds, and credits. We were prepared because we’d already made a lot of investments in self-service technology. We quickly developed the ability, for example, for people to self-service airline credits, which was important for travelers but also really important for our airline partners. We let consumers make modifications using chats on our platform, instead of having them spend time on the phone with an airline trying to cancel or modify a ticket.

We also took advantage of the past couple of years to replatform our entire company. We have a number of brands—Expedia, Hotels.com, Vrbo, and others—that were each running on different technology stacks. In a world where having access to data and scale can be an advantage, the idea that we had these separate stacks and couldn’t innovate on them all at the same time was a problem for us. We found we had an opportunity, during a period of depressed demand, to do a lot of technology work under the covers and to then reemerge with a great platform that had scale and modern infrastructure and that allowed us to use modern data science to innovate faster for our travelers.

McKinsey: Countries have taken different paths back from 2020, and travel markets are developing at varied paces. How do you see the industry evolving in different markets?

Ariane Gorin: There are parts of the industry that have grown past where they were prepandemic, but other parts haven’t fully recovered yet. For example, air capacity in the United States is above prepandemic levels, but airlift between the United States and China is still only a fraction of what it was. Corporate travel is expected to recover, at a dollar value, in 2024 to where it was prepandemic, but when you factor in inflation, it means that from a volume perspective it still won’t have fully recovered.

There remain a lot of areas where there could be waves of growth. When you look at the middle-class population in Asia, it was about 2.0 billion people in 2020, but it’s expected to be 3.5 billion people by 2030. India, over the past decade, has issued 100 million passports, but still only 7 percent of the Indian population has a passport—compared with more than 40 percent in the US.

McKinsey: You’ve been instrumental in developing B2B offerings for Expedia Group. What was the genesis of that effort, where does it stand now, and what’s your value proposition for the different organizations that you work with?

Ariane Gorin: I started working on B2B initiatives in 2014. At the time, B2B was a small part of our business—basically using our hotel inventory to power other travel companies—and it wasn’t growing much. I think there was a perspective that the B2B business was sort of a sideshow.

What my team and I realized was that the travel industry was immense and that the major OTAs, at that time, were only a small portion of it. There was still a ton of business being done through corporate travel, OTAs in emerging markets, offline retail, and loyalty programs. Those were huge pockets of demand that our brands weren’t going after and that our hotel and airline partners wanted to be able to access.

We thought about how we could power all these other companies by bringing to them our technology and, especially, our supply of high-quality inventory. In recent results, B2B was at a record $995 million and growing at a 26 percent increase year over year for us. And there’s still a big runway for helping to power other companies.

The first thing in any B2B effort is understanding what your client or partner needs. For example, we work with an online travel agency in Indonesia. They already understand travel, and they are experts at knowing what their local traveler wants—how to market to that traveler, what payment types that traveler wants to use, and so forth. They know all of that. What they’re looking for from us is mainly access to great hotel inventory in Europe and in the US.

On the other extreme, earlier this year we announced a partnership with Walmart in which we are powering the travel component of its loyalty program. Walmart is not a travel company, so it is looking to Expedia Group to bring in a turnkey travel solution. And that includes not only the hotel inventory and the like but also the front-end technology. It’s our content and it’s our customer support. Similarly, if you go to United Airlines online and you look at the hotel tab, that’s us. They’ll be the first to say they’re not the experts in hotels, so they want our hotel inventory and also the great e-commerce experience that we can bring.

It’s really about listening to your partner and then having modular blocks of solutions—from technology to inventory and all of the support around them—that you can then fit to what the partner needs.

One of the things that’s helped our B2B business succeed is that we are part of a company that also has a B2C business. So we know what kinds of photos, content, and descriptions travelers want, and we are constantly making sure that our technology has the best uptime possible because we’ve got millions of people shopping on our own brands. When a B2B partner decides to come to us for their inventory or their technology, they know that it’s going to be backed by what’s working for these massive consumer brands.

McKinsey: Expedia Group is a very large company in the travel industry. How do you think about working with smaller organizations and entrepreneurs to create value for the traveling public?

Ariane Gorin: We’ve realized there are a lot of small companies or even individuals that want to participate in the travel industry, and we work with them in a number of ways.

One is that we have a program that allows an individual at home to become a travel agent. You can sign up for the Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program, which we call TAAP, and we’ll put all the tools at your fingertips to start to sell travel. For example, one woman who lost her job at the beginning of the pandemic decided to start her own travel business through TAAP, and that helped her build back her income.

For start-ups that are trying to make their way in the travel industry, we recently created an accelerator program. Its theme was around making travel more inclusive and accessible, so we chose a handful of start-ups that were working on accessibility. We gave them technical expertise, marketing expertise, access to coaches and mentors in our company, and stipends. It’s a six-month program. And in some cases, we actually looked at whether we could integrate their services into our products. It’s really fun to see how all of those start-ups are evolving.

And, of course, there are the individual property owners using Vrbo. What these entrepreneurs are primarily looking to us for is distribution. And our promise to them is that we’re going to develop a great platform with great marketing that’s going to attract travelers, but we’ll also provide advice about photos, descriptions, and other things they can do to help themselves get in front of the travelers who interest them. We have a lot of intelligence about what makes a property successful that we can share with them.

McKinsey: What’s your view on the biggest use cases for gen AI in the travel industry?

Ariane Gorin: I think smart players are going to benefit from it. We have often talked about how to “put the travel agent back in the OTA”—how to create a personalized experience for people, so they feel that Expedia Group knows them, is recommending things that make sense for them, and is helping them discover new things. I think within that realm of personalization, we can use gen AI to respond more easily to people’s queries and make proposals for them. We’ve already integrated ChatGPT on the front end of the Expedia app and into the shopping flow for our travelers. For example, if you’re looking at a particular property, you can ask questions about amenities, and you’ll have more conversational customer service experiences.

But I think there are also a lot of internal use cases. I have a fairly large team of commercial people who are out talking to partners every day. How can we use gen AI to make them more effective when they’re speaking to a partner? Can we use gen AI to create a summary after a call? Can we off-load some of the less value-add work for them so they can spend their time on more value-add things?

I suspect that in every boardroom, management teams are talking about this. What can you do to make your product better, but also what can you do internally for your company? At Expedia Group, we’re asking what we can do for travelers and for our internal teams, but also what we can do for our partners. We have a lot of information and data about what’s happening in the industry, so we’re wondering to what extent we can provide insights to our partners to help them make better decisions.

McKinsey: What’s one thing you wish you could change about the travel industry?

Ariane Gorin: There’s no denying that, like many industries, we have a big impact on the environment—even though, over the past few years, the growth of the industry has been faster than the growth of our environmental impact. Simply because we’re moving people around the world, sustainability is a real issue. So if I had a magic wand, the first thing I’d do is help us reach our sustainability targets much faster.

Ariane Gorin is the president of Expedia for Business. Emma Loxton is a partner in McKinsey’s London office.

Comments and opinions expressed by interviewees are their own and do not represent or reflect the opinions, policies, or positions of McKinsey & Company or have its endorsement.

This interview was edited by Seth Stevenson, a senior editor in the New York office.

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