Since we’ve been married, we’ve done 5 cross country road trips and shorter ones at least once a month. In our opinion, road tripping is the best way to see the beauty of the United States. There is so much this country has to offer. Here is a list of 21 American Road Trips that we think everyone needs to put on their bucket lists.
21 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIPS TO PUT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST
Distance: 123 miles
Enjoy the endless views of the ocean and drive through some of the best beach towns on California’s Route 1. Don’t forget to stop at Hearst Castle, spend some time in Big Sur (one of our favorite places in the US), and Glass Beach in Fort Bragg.
2. Historic Route 66
Location: Illinois to California
Distance: 2,451 miles
Route 66 is one of the most iconic drives in America. The best stretch of this highway runs from the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River. To dive into the history, visit the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac, Illinois.
Photo: Randy Heinitz / creative commons
3. Overseas Highway
Distance: 120 miles
Unlike any other drive in the country, this route takes you on bridges right over the ocean. It gives you the sensation of floating over the water, and if you love all things water, there is plenty to explore in the Florida Keys.
Photo: Peter Jakobs / creative commons
4. Million Dollar Highway (San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway)
Distance: 305 miles
Twist and turn through the winding roads between two historic gold-mining towns. Take in the amazing views and don’t forget to take deep breaths as you’ll be over two miles above sea level.
Photo: flamouroux / creative commons
Distance: 75 miles
See the amazing Columbia Gorge on a highway built purely for scenery. This drive gives you views of waterfalls and mountains, and there are plenty of pull-offs. Here are 21 best hikes in the Columbia River Gorge from short and easy day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.
6. Skyline Drive
Distance: 105 miles
This scenic drive takes you along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. Drive through the Appalachians and stop to enjoy any of the 75 overlooks.
Photo: Eric Ward / creative commons
7. Hana Highway
Location: Maui, Hawaii
Distance: 51.1 miles
Explore the coastlines of Maui along the Hana Highway. You’ll find black sand beaches, waterfalls, jungles, and roadside stands. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit!
Photo: Maik-T Sebenik / creative commons
8. Black River Scenic Byway
Distance: 11 miles
Tucked away in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Black River Scenic Byway has a lot to offer in a short distance. Pass by waterfalls and dense forests as you follow the river to the lakeshore.
Photo: James Marvin Phelps / creative commons
Distance: 408 miles
Named for the largely uninhabited region that you drive through, explore mining camps, cross mountain ranges, and stop in small cafes. Don’t forget to look up at the stars at night for some of the most spectacular views.
10. Route 12
Distance: 124 miles
11. Kancamagus Highway
Location: New Hampshire
Distance: 34.5 miles
Make a trip down this highway in the fall to get some of the best fall foliage views. Enjoy the crisp breeze with your windows down and take in all the colors of the leaves.
Photo: Christopher Chen / creative commons
12. The High Road to Taos
Location: New Mexico
Distance: 56 miles
This scenic, winding road takes you through deserts, mountains, forests, and ancient Indian pueblos. You’ll find beautiful wildflower meadows and there are art galleries scattered throughout the drive. You can also take the Low Road through the valleys on the way back.
Photo: Dave Hensley / creative commons
13. Beartooth Highway
Location: Montana and Wyoming
Distance: 68 miles
Drive through southwest Montana and northwest Wyoming with breathtaking views of the Absoroka and Beartooth Mountains. You’ll drive by glacial lakes, forest, waterfalls, and wildlife. To top it off, you end at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Photo: Alex1961 / creative commons
14. Highway 2
Distance: 200 miles
See the Great Plains of Nebraska and the rolling sandhills that make up nearly one-fourth of the state. You’ll also see huge farmlands, marshes, and winding rivers. Certain times of the year will bring huge numbers of migrating birds too.
15. Route 6
Distance: 117 miles
Explore the Cape Cod area on this scenic drive. Drive through forests, colonial villages, tidal pools, and explore the harbor.
Photo: Nicholas Tonelli / creative commons
16. Park Loop Road
Distance: 27 miles
This coastal drive gives you views of Acadia National Park and is one of the best places for spotting bald eagles and peregrine. You’ll get amazing views from above but also from the harbor below.
Photo: Dave Wilson / creative commons
Distance: 50 miles
This drive through Glacier National Park gives you views of mountain peaks and alpine lakes while having the least negative impact on the delicate environment. Note: It does close every winter because of snow, which can reach up to 80 feet in depth. When we went in late June, they had just opened the road the week before.
18. Tail of the Dragon
Location: Tennessee and North Carolina
Distance: 11 miles
This drive is more about the drive and less about the scenery. Known for its degree of difficulty and sheer excitement when driving, the Tail of the Dragon is full of sharp curves, twists, and turns that demand your full attention.
Photo: Robert Du Bois / creative commons
19. Route 100
Distance: 216 miles
Route 100 runs through almost the entirety of Vermont and takes you right through the center. See the fall foliage, stop for ice cream, and enjoy the views of the lush mountains.
Photo: Shiran Pasternak / creative commons
20. Cascade Loop
Distance: 400 miles
See rainforests, apple orchards, beautiful lakes, small towns, and more on this 400-mile loop that takes you through some of the best of what Washington has to offer.
21. Mount Washington Auto Road
Location: New Hampshire
Distance: 8 miles
This short drive climbs nearly 5,000 feet giving you the opportunity to stop at viewpoints, see waterfalls, and gaze out at sprawling meadows. The end offers a spectacular view from above.
Photo: ppdiaporama / creative commons
BONUS: Cross Country Road Trip
There’s no better way to see the country than to drive across it in its entirety. There are a lot of different options for routes to take, but if you’re really ambitious, check out this road trip plan that was computed to be the most optimal way across the United States.
Also, stay safe on the road by picking up a dash cam.