Here in America, it’s not uncommon to feel compelled to take to the open road. With so many different cultural sites and natural wonders to see, Americans are lucky to have such an environmentally diverse and expansive country to explore. If you’re thinking about hopping in the car for an adventure, there are countless options for where to go. Here, we’ve gathered a list of five of the most interesting and inspiring road trips you can take right here in the United States.
1. Pacific Coast Highway
It wouldn’t be a “top road trips” list without this iconic route included. The Pacific Coast Highway (often abbreviated as the PCH) includes a number of rolling hills and winding roads along the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. The views of the Pacific Ocean from this route are nothing short of majestic. Plus, there are plenty of seaside stops to explore along the way. Though the complete road trip takes you through three states, you can still enjoy a wonderful experience even if you only cover a portion of the route.
- Route: Highway 1 from Southern California to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
- Points of Interest: Monterey, Big Sur, San Francisco (including the Golden Gate Bridge), Redwood National Park, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Olympic National Park
- Length: Approximately 1,700 miles
2. Red Rock Country
Looking to explore the desert area of the southwest? Take Interstate 17 north from Phoenix to see some of the most stunning natural wonders in this part of the country. You’ll see ancient rock formations and other amazing sites. Be aware that temperatures can vary widely during warmer parts of the year – it may be sweltering by day, then quite chilly by night. Look up campgrounds along the route for inexpensive accommodations.
- Route: Interstate 17 north to State Route 179 north (also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway)
- Points of Interest: Montezuma Castle National Monument, Slide Rock State Park
- Length: Approximately 100 miles
3. Route 66
Another iconic America drive, Route 66 spans from Chicago to Arizona. This road trip is certainly a massive undertaking at over 2,400 miles, but it’s well worth it for the historical value and many interesting sites along the way. As you travel along Route 66, it’s fascinating to recall how many Americans migrated west along this very road, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. In addition to some bustling cities and towns, you’ll also see a number of abandoned stops from the route’s heyday in America.
- Route: Historic Route 66 from Chicago to Williams, Arizona
- Points of Interest: Chicago, St. Louis, Lake of the Ozarks, World’s Largest Rocking Chair, Marsh Arch Bridge, Route 66 Museum, Grand Canyon, Cadillac Ranch
- Length: Approximately 2,440 miles
4. Blue Ridge Parkway
If mountains and forests are your favorite type of scenery, check out the Blue Ridge Parkway. Extending nearly 500 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, this picturesque road trip covers national parks, mountain ranges and a number of valleys and overlooks that will take your breath away. Though the drive is relatively short, you may want to break it up over the course of two or three days since there are plenty of fun places to visit along the route, especially if you enjoy outdoor activities.
- Route: Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina
- Points of Interest: Shenandoah National Park, Shenandoah Valley, Roanoke Valley, Mabry Mil, Blue Ridge Music Center, Mount Mitchell State Park, Glassmine Falls, Shining Rock Wilderness, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Length: Approximately 470 miles
5. U.S. Route 2
If you’re thinking about road tripping for a week or more, try U.S. Route 2. This highway spans the country along the northern border, splitting up into two segments that can be connected by traveling through Canada. While traveling along this route, you’ll get a little taste of nearly everything the north has to offer – mountains towards the west, the Great Plains in the middle and rocky coasts at the eastern edge. Cut through Canada to meet up with the route again on the east end.
- Route: U.S. Route 2 from Everett, Washington to St. Ignace, Michigan and from Rouses Point, New York to Houlton, Maine.
- Points of Interest: North Cascades National Park, Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park, Lake Superior, Soo Locks, Acadia National Park (in Canada, visit Ottawa and/or Montreal)
- Length: Approximately 2,570 miles
Whether you prefer mountains, ocean views, deserts or plains, these all-American road trips have a unique and exciting experience waiting for you. Add one of these scenic routes to your travel itinerary to see the U.S. from a new perspective.