American Road Trips: Ideas For Driving Trips Across the USA

usa road trips planner

From the gorgeous coastline of the Pacific Coast Highway to the classic vintage elements of Route 66, the United States has so many Great American Road Trip options.

We’ve written more than 30 road trip articles covering everything from the sweltering deserts of Arizona to the lush rainforests of Washington to the swamps of the Everglades.

This USA Road Trip Guide will introduce the most iconic road trips in the country. We’ll share links to every road trip article ever published on the site, ranging from massive cross-country road trips to small treks in off-the-beaten-path places like North Dakota and Montana. Then, we’ll share some planning tips for making your road trip a success.

Grab those keys and let’s get moving!

great american road trips

PRO TIP: Before setting off, make sure to have an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle. This kit includes jumper cables, a flashlight with batteries, first-aid bandages, a poncho, and more. You can never be too careful when you’re far from home!

USA Road Trip Ideas: All the Trips We’ve Written About So Far

Here’s the complete archive of every road trip featured on the site. Dig in to the journeys that sound appealing!

miami to key west road trip usa road trip suggestions loop switchback hairpin turn capitol austin los angeles road trip

Route 20 Cross-Country Road Trip: Boston to Newport, Oregon
Revolutionary War Road Trip: Boston to Philadelphia
Six-Week Summer Road Trip Through the Northern USA & Canadian Prairies
The Perfect Alaska Road Trip for 7-10 Days
The 25 Most Awesome Road Trips From Chicago
Miami to Key West Drive Guide: Florida Keys Road Trip
Los Angeles to Austin, Texas Road Trip Driving Guide
Four Incredible Washington State Road Trips
Driving Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
Mile By Mile Guide to Rim Drive in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park
Oklahoma Route 66 Road Trip
Visiting the Toxic Ghost Town of Picher, Oklahoma
Driving Above 12,000 Feet at Forest Canyon Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park
Kansas Road Trip Day 1: Topeka, Brown vs Board of Education
Kansas Road Trip Day 2: Wichita Highlights
North Dakota Road Trip on the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway

usa road trip signs

The 7 Most Iconic Great American Road Trips

Here are our choices for the best Great American Road Trips. We’re not including some of the longest cross-country roads in America, such as Interstates 80 and 90, because those are mostly four-lane highways that don’t have much to offer in terms of scenery and points of interest.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway

Known as one of America’s most scenic drives, Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. The road essentially connects Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks. The parkway is especially known for its gorgeous views in the fall when the leaves in the forest change colors.

2. Route 66

route 66 mural - road trip ideas

A mural on Route 66 in the town of Chandler, Oklahoma.

 

Everyone who’s into road tripping knows U.S. Route 66! The classic road that runs for 2448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles was established back in 1926 and became part of American folklore due to its inclusion in popular books, songs, and movies.

Today, Route 66 isn’t as popular due to the abundance of interstate alternatives. But you can still follow the basic path of Route 66 as it passes through several small towns. It’s a great way to see the real heartland of America!

3. Pacific Coast Highway

Officially, the Pacific Coast Highway includes parts of California State Route 1, which follows the coast from Los Angeles to north of San Francisco. You can continue on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, which includes Highway 101 up through the Redwoods and into Oregon and Washington.

pacific coast highway

Such gorgeous ocean views on the Pacific Coast Highway!

 

This is some of the most beautiful scenery in America! One of my favorite road trips moments ever was an early-morning drive on the PCH just north of L.A., listening to Sigur Ros while feeling the cool, crisp ocean air coming into my open windows. There are so many spots to pull over for cool views of the ocean and coastline.

4. Overseas Highway

Driving from Miami to Key West via the Florida Keys is a unique road trip. One of the strangest driving experiences I’ve ever had came while crossing Seven Mile Bridge. It’s so strange to be surrounded by water on all sides for a full seven miles!

The Overseas Highway is about 112 miles long and provides access to three Florida national parks: Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas, before ending in Key West.

5. Route 20 Coast to Coast

lewis clark road trip planner

Meet the longest road in America! Route 20 runs for more than 3300 miles from Boston to Newport, Oregon, cutting across the country in nearly a straight line.

The highlights are many: Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, the cities of Chicago and Cleveland, and remote stretches of Iowa and Nebraska where explorers Lewis & Clark spent a lot of time. If you’re looking for a fascinating two- to three-week road trip across the country, Route 20 might be the best option.

6. Going-to-the-Sun Road

Glacier National Park in Montana holds one of the true gems of American road trips: Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile road was an engineering landmark when it opened in 1933. The road winds its way through the mountains of Glacier National Park.

In some places, tunnels were blasted through the side of the mountain. In other places, bridges were somehow stuck into the rocky hillside as the road reaches an elevation of 6646 feet at Logan Pass.

great american road trips - glacier national park

This road is truly a must-drive for anyone who loves natural beauty such as forested valleys, glaciers, and wildlife. Because the road passes through such high elevations, it’s only open for a few months a year during the summer. We’ve created a mile-by-mile sightseeing guide for driving this epic road trip.

7. Great River Road

Great River Road is cool because, unlike most Great American road trips, this one follows a north-south route. It hugs the Mississippi River as it runs for 2069 miles from Minnesota down to Louisiana. Many people who think about USA road trip ideas don’t consider places like Arkansas, Mississippi, and Missouri, so this is a cool way to see some different parts of the country.

Road Trip Planner: Tips and Advice

southwest road trip desert

A lonely stretch of desert road in New Mexico.

 

Looking for an awesome road trip playlist or advice on which snacks and necessities to bring along on your adventure? Consider this section a road trip planner with these articles featuring road trip tips:

The Best Driving Songs: 18 Songs About Road Trips and Travel
Road Trip Necessities: Things to Pack When You Hit the Road
Road Trip Food List: Snacks to Take With You While Traveling
Road Trip Vehicle Organization: How to Maximize Your Car Space
Tips for Sleeping in Your Car While Traveling

PRO TIP: Have a good dash cam in your vehicle so that you can record and store video of your journey, and to provide video evidence in case of an accident.

elk route 101 redwoods

See Also Our Non-USA Road Trips Articles:
The Most Amazing Things I Saw During 10 Days on Iceland’s Ring Road
48 Hours in Banff National Park, Canada
Taking an Overland Safari Truck Tour Through 9 African Countries
The Complete Driving Guide to Creuse, the Countryside of Central France

My Four-Month, 46-State Cross-Country Road Trip

cross-country road trip ideas

If you’re looking to spend an entire summer on the road in an RV or campervan, you might want to follow the path of the incredible 46-state road trip I took several years ago. Starting in Pittsburgh, I headed south and spent four months visiting all of the lower 48 states except the Dakotas (don’t worry, I visited the Dakotas the following year.)

Most nights, I slept in the van, which saved a lot of money on lodging. Use my road trip planning tips listed in the previous section for advice on how to pull off a similar journey.

I’ve written separate articles about most of the places I visited on this massive road trip. See the State By State page to view the content for each state. AAA is always a good resource for more suggestions.

What are your favorite Great American Road Trips? Leave a comment to share your favorite road trip ideas!

 

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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