Let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as a bad time to plan a road trip and enjoy the alluring beauty of nature. No matter the state you’re currently living in, there’s something fun and adventurous you can do, as the country offers many great options for a successful road trip.
There are some obvious choices, like Florida’s Overseas Highway and Hawaii’s Road to Hana, but the country has many lesser-known destinations. Are you excited? Go ahead, pack your road trip gear and essentials, prepare the car, and map out a cross-country adventure you’re going to remember because we made you a list of the 12 best road trip routes in the United States!
Seward Highway – Alaska
Don’t be tricked by this name, because Seward Highway is like a Chili’s appetizer sampler platter of every little thing that makes Alaska’s stunning landscape so loved. We’re talking here about a two-hour drive between Anchorage and the seaside village of Seward.
Your eyes will bathe in the shoreline views in Turnagain Arm, or in the jagged peaks of the Chugach Mountains while making your way through the Kenai Peninsula.
The last one is extremely famous for its fun activities, like sea kayaking, glacier hiking, rafting, and fishing. If you don’t want to take your car, it’s worth mentioning that the train ride along the route is just as beautiful, and it’s a more vintage way of enjoying the view!
Pacific Coast Highway – California
There’s no road to capture the essence of Californian spirit like the Pacific Coast Highway. This route stretches for more than 650 miles, between Leggett in Mendocino County to Dana Point in Orange County along the Pacific Ocean.
It has everything you could possibly ask for: it’s dramatic, sunny for most of the days, and every mile of it promises another eye-popping view. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gasp at the state’s most iconic sights, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Mendocino Headlands, Malibu, Big Sur, and San Luis Obispo. You might do it on one long day, or you can plan this road trip for at least a couple of weeks, which would be totally worth it!
The Overseas Highway – South Florida
This is a 150-mile drive, which is somewhat short, from Miami to Key West. But while it’s short, its eye-popping tropical views will take your breath away! In fact, you’re never going to see so many things in such a short distance. In total, it will take you a little over four hours from one end to the other.
But in that amount of time, you’ll see enough amazing beaches, oceanfront campgrounds, and world-class snorkeling with diving spots, to make your trip even more memorable! And if you want to spoil yourself, go ahead and visit any Hertz car rental counter, to upgrade your trip.
You have a range of options, from high-performance cars like Chevy Camaro SS Convertible, Corvette Z06, or Porsche 911!
Route 395 – California
While Route 395 doesn’t have the same iconic, brand-name cache as other roads on the list, it’s extremely suited for those nature lovers who appreciate solitude. The road is wide open, enriched with mountain views and fresh air. Even more, this 557-mile inland route traces a north-south line through California, connecting briefly with Nevada as well.
Plus, it connects some of the most must-see watching points of interest not only from California but from the entire country, such as Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley National Park, Mammoth Lakes, and Ancient Bristlecone Forest (which is, by the way, the home of the oldest living trees in the world).
The Road to Hana – Maui, Hawaii
Wanna talk about the most undisputedly popular scenic drive in Hawaii? Then buckle your seatbelt, because we’re gonna talk about the Road to Hana! This coastal route is crossing some of the most breathtaking drives in one of the most beloved states in the country.
By deciding to go on a road trip here, you’re going to cross 59 bridges in less than 60 miles. Not only that, but you’ll also pass some of Maui’s most famous spots, such as ‘Ohe’o Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools), Hana Lava Tube, Haleakala National Park, and Ho’okipa, which is one of the best surf spots in Maui.
Route 66 – Cross-Country
It would’ve been funny NOT to include Route 66, right? But how could we not? Route 66 falls in that category of road trips that while they may be a bit of an obvious choice, you MUST see it. It’s mandatory! It’s also called “Mother Road”, and it debuted during the Great Depression, being one of the country’s first highways.
Also, it would start to define a full generation of cross-country road tripping. And even after all this time, this route from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, still has its vintage motels, cheap roadside attractions, souvenir shops, and retro chrome diners like we’ve seen in the movies.
Million Dollar Highway – Colorado
This is technically U.S. Route 550, also known as “Million Dollar Highway. It goes a short distance, as it’s only a 25-mile path between Silverton and Ouray. But if you’re looking for breathtaking views of the western landscape, you’ll love this road.
The weather here is a bit unpredictable, and during winter, there are record snowfalls that are frequently forcing authorities to close the road entirely. So, while this isn’t exactly an all-seasons road, it’s worth visiting. As a fun fact, this road got stuck with this name due to the countless travelers who emerged at the end of it just to say, “You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to drive that again!”
State Route 12- Utah
We all know by now that Utah is the land with the most breathtaking national parks. Oh, and it gets better! If you connect the dots between all these parks, it will reveal one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
While its name isn’t so alluring, Scenic Byway 12 is a 120-mile stretch between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon. And it’s a highlight of one of the most incredible natural landscapes. And if you love a little bit of wilderness, you’ll love to know that there are few traditional services or signs of civilization along the way.
Going to the Sun Road – Montana
The Sun Road is the only road that crosses Montana’s amazing Glacier National Park. It was completed in 1932, and ever since then, the 53-mile route has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and for good reasons!
The narrow road might give you one or two extra heartbeats, but the panoramic mountain views will definitely be worth the effort. Located along the Continental Divide, the weather can be a bit bleak and unpredictable, especially in winter. Because of that, the road doesn’t open until June or July in most years, which only gives a four-month window to its visitors.
Skyline Drive – Virginia
Did you know that one of the most beautiful national parks in the country lies only 75 miles away from the center of Washington, D.C.? It’s called Shenandoah National Park and it’s definitely the crown jewel when it comes to green space in Virginia.
It has 75 scenic overlooks and over 500 miles of trails (101 of which are crossing the Appalachian Trail), that are stretched across 200,000 acres. Its landscape is extremely diverse, with wetlands, rocky cliffs, and, of course, waterfalls. Its views are stunning, but if you have a day off, just hop in the car and visit it!
Acadia All-American Road – Maine
Minutes away from the tiny town of Bar Harbor, the Acadia All-American Road will give you one of the most special and diverse drives in the United States. The two-lane road hugs the Maine coastline close to sea level.
And at the highest point of Cadillac Mountain (we’re talking about 1,530 feet here), there’s a scenic lookout that lets you peep some views of the state’s rugged Atlantic coast. The landscape is marvelous, and it gives lots of opportunities for hiking (for example, the harrowing Precipice Trail), bird-watching (the park is the home to some nesting falcons), and experiencing a traditional popover at a popular waterfront, Jordan Pond House.
Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway – New Mexico
If you feel the need to see some old West towns, ancient cliff dwellings, and some copper mine ruins, then pack your bags and go on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway. It’s a 93-mile scenic drive located in southwestern New Mexico that crisscrosses 6 climatic zones and crosses the Continental Divide in the country’s first-ever national wild area.
It’s so vast, and dramatic, that you’re certainly gonna love it! There are few roads where the drive itself is the main star, but this is one of them. Plus, the history of this area is incredibly interesting, so it’s definitely worth visiting.
Are you ready for your next adventure? Yes?! Here’s our suggestion: 10 Amazing Gems Along Route 66 You Will Regret Missing