With miles upon miles of highway, whittling down the best American road trips isn't as easy as throwing a pin at a map. A road trip is a classic American experience, with the highways sharing the United States' many stories and rich cultural history. Before you hit the road, don't forget to book USA travel insurance and read our guide to the world's best road trips for more inspiration. Here are five of the best road trips in America for you to embrace your inner pioneer and get out on the road.
Pacific Coast Highway
This breathtaking drive along much of California's Pacific coast on State Route 1 takes you from hip San Francisco through Monterey (a former state capital) and arty Carmel with its upmarket boho vibe and beach, Point Lobos State Reserve on to mighty Big Sur, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo with its famous farmers' market, into Los Angeles and finally San Diego. It's all about the dramatic mountain roads, crashing surf, towering redwoods and rugged coastline. Away from the ocean, you can get a taste of the good life in the up and coming wine region Paso Robles, and at Hearst Castle where media baron William Randolph Hearst hosted extravagant celebrity parties in the '20s and '30s. You could do it in a day, but what would be the point? Experiencing California's Highway 1 is definitely one of the best us road trips routes.
The first hard-surfaced road to cross the massive North American continent opened in 1913, enabling automobiles to cross the country from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco in the quickest possible time - the Lincoln Highway is the original American road trip. It was funded by industrialists and corporations and eventually led to the federal government building roads and creating the national route system in the 1920s. Taking in 12 states, from the East's New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, onto the Rocky Mountain region of Wyoming, Utah and Nevada and finally California in the west...Highway 30 is a taste of America in all its weird and wonderful beauty. Not all of the original road remains, but you can still drive the entire route.
For pure nostalgic Americana it's got to be Route 66, built in 1926 and one of the country's earliest numbered highways. The Mother Road begins in Chicago, Illinois and stretches across the American heartland (Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona) to Los Angeles in California. Like the song says, you'll see St Louis, Amarillo, Gallup, Flagstaff and a whole world of iconic American sights. Think classic diners, bizarre roadside attractions, crazy characters, weathered signs and vast empty landscapes. You won't find it marked on today's maps, so you'll need a good guide to follow the same route. Route 66 is one of the most famous road trips in America, a can't miss adventure.
Running vertically from New Orleans in the south to the city of Wyoming in Minnesota, this piece of road has become known as the Blues Highway. In the 1920s, black Americans began leaving the rural south and journeying along the Mississippi River in search of better lives in cities like Chicago, St Louis and Memphis. Their Delta blues music travelled with them, and you will feel the legacy of artists including Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, BB King and even Elvis on this trip. The food on this USA road trip is pretty great too.
Blue Ridge Parkway
This drive will give you a big healthy taste of the great American outdoors. Originally created to give jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression, the parkway was begun in 1935 and links the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. As the road weaves through the mountains and lush scenery you'll hear the very American stories of the communities that lived here between the early 19th century and early 20th century, from the Cherokees to European settlers on their farmsteads. There's no end of activities to enjoy including camping, hiking, cycling, fishing and swimming. Sounds like our kind of American road trip.
If you found this post on the best USA road trips helpful, you may want to read more of our Wanderlust articles. Also check out our travel blog for additional inspiration and travel tips to make your holidays hassle-free!Top