Wandering Sunsets

13 Most Epic Summer Road Trips in the US

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All you need is wheels, wanderlust, and a list of the most epic summer road trips in the US!

Whether you want to tick off some bucketlist experiences or meander through charming US towns , there’s a road trip here with your name on it. Road trips are a fantastic way to explore the United States at your own pace, especially if you are traveling with kids. You are not limited with how much luggage to bring as long as it fits in your car (this is a great road trip packing list for families) and you don’t need to worry about toddler tantrums, or taking a lot of stops along the way. Here are the best summer road trips in the United States!

Best Summer Road Trips in the US

Here are some USA Road Trip routes to add to your list.

1. Alaska Road Trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks 

One of the best Summer road trips in the US is the Alaska Road Trip.

The route from Anchorage to Fairbanks is perfect for hikers and wildlife lovers. It’s 360 miles from Anchorage to Fairbanks. The drive takes more than 6 hours. But with stops along the way, the route can take up to a week. This is one of the most scenic routes to add to your Alaska Itinerary . 

Some of the best places to see along the way include Talkeetna – a small, charming mountain town, which is perfect for a stop. In this town, all expeditions for Denali starts. Town offers great adventure activities, as flights over the mountains, kayaking at the river, and hiking. There is also a lot of souvenir shops and great restaurants.

Denali National Park is the best place on the route. You can take a shuttle bus for a one day trip or stay for longer camping. Private cars are not allowed inside the park. If the weather is good, you can admire Denali, the highest peak in North America. On the way, you have the possibility to see deer, caribou, and grizzly bears.

In Healy, next to the local brewery, you can stop to see the Magic Bus 142 – replica from the movie Into the Wild. You can go inside the old bus, see the pictures and memories of Christopher McCandless.

When you get to Fairbanks, it is a great idea to go to Chena Hot Springs Resort after sightseeing in the city. It’s 60 miles from Fairbanks, but it’s worth your effort. Chena is one of Alaska’s best hot springs, and it’s amazing to soak in hot water after a long road trip.

By Agnes from The Van Escape

Summer Road Trips in the US

2. Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the best summer road trips you can take in the eastern US is the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

The Parkway runs 469 miles through Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by emerald-green mountains, late-season wildflowers, vibrant wild mushrooms, and rushing waterfalls.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an especially great road trip for hikers. Top hikes include Black Balsam Knob, Clingman’s Dome, Craggy Pinnacle, and the trail to the highest point east of the Mississippi at Mount Mitchell. 

Not a hiker? No worries! You can still get panoramic views at over a hundred scenic overlooks. Or go on short walks to waterfalls like Linville Falls and Graveyard Fields.

Be sure to pack layers for your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. You’ll need to prepare for temperatures that can fluctuate 20 degrees Fahrenheit or more in a matter of a few miles. Mount Mitchell has even gotten snow in July and August!

Additionally, the Blue Ridge Mountains see daily severe storms in the summer. Plan to be done with your outdoor activities by 2 pm and check the weather regularly. It’s extremely dangerous to hike on an exposed ridge in a thunderstorm. However, the rain and the elevation keeps temperatures down — daily highs are usually in the 70’s Fahrenheit in summer.

By Carrie  from Trains, Planes, and Tuk Tuks

Blue Ridge Parkway, usa

3. Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake, America’s deepest lake, with its rim drive and awesome sights is a popular US road trip destination.

At a reasonable 4 and half hour drive from Oregon, it is convenient to stop at a couple of interesting places along the way. Eugene, a pretty little University city, is the perfect mid-way point to stop for a night. Eugene is a town of parks, trees and waterways, and a hiking destination. 

Salem is another interesting place en route surrounded by gardens, flower fields, vineyards, and green pastures, located an hour from the ocean and an hour from the Cascade Mountains.

Crater Lake National Park is the dream destination for photographers, hikers, and cyclists. It lies within the crater of an extinct volcano, Mount Mazama, which is 7,000 feet above sea level. The popular thing to do is drive along the 33-mile rim and stop at the various vantage points of attraction. Many of these points offer hiking opportunities. Among the top attractions at Crater Lake are Phantom Ship Overlook, Pumice castle overlook, Wizard Island, the Pinnacles, and Cloud cap Overlook.

Stopping for a day or two at one of the many convenient B & Bs in the Klamath Fall area would make it easy to not only see the Crater Lake attractions but also admire the Klamath falls.

By Jan from Leisurely Drives

Summer Road Trips

4. Florida Keys: Miami to Key West

Beach lovers looking for a classic American adventure should take a Florida Keys Road Trip . This drive from Miami to Key West follows the Overseas Highway, which connects the Florida mainland to Key West with 42 bridges along 113 miles. It’s perfect for friends, couples, and families looking for an adventurous but laid-back getaway!

The one-way drive takes about 4 hours, but its many sights make for a fantastic vacation week. First, stop at classic kitschy restaurants in Key Largo. Sample some of the Keys’ best conch fritters at Alabama Joe’s tiki biker bar, then try the famous coconut shrimp and key lime pie at Mrs. Mac’s. Key Largo is also a world-famous snorkeling and diving destination, with many options for day trips including the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Next, spend a few days in the towns of Islamorada or Marathon to explore the Middle Keys. Both are popular fishing and watersports destinations with resorts, shopping, and beach restaurants for sunset views. Check out the History of Diving Museum, visit the Turtle Hospital to see rescued sea turtles, and spend a day at Sombrero Beach, one of the best in the Florida Keys.

On your way to Key West, stop for a picnic, hike, and swim at Bahia Honda State Park.  Then get ready for the amazing restaurants and nightlife of Duval Street and the sights of Old Town Key West. Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home, climb the Key West lighthouse, and snap a selfie at the Southernmost Point of the U.S.  If you have time, take a day trip to Dry Tortugas, one of the most remote National Parks, for spectacular snorkeling and pristine beaches.

By Adrienne from The Haphazard Traveler

Best Summer Road Trips in the US

5. New England

New England, the northeastern side of the US, is an amazing place for a road trip. Covering 6 states, you can spend weeks in this area to explore all of it. However, in one road trip, you can still get a good taste of what New England offers; hikes in woods and on mountains with gorgeous views; interesting cities and towns with both history and modern city life; beaches, water activities, and more.

Leaving from NYC, take the first 3 days of your road trip to New England to explore the state parks of Connecticut, drive through Massachusetts and Portland, Maine, and make the way up to Acadia National Park. The park offers amazing hikes with beautiful sceneries. For accommodation, you can camp in the park or book a hotel in the nearby town of Bar Harbor.

In the next 2 days, explore the small towns along the coast of Maine and drive down to Boston. Here you can explore the history of this city and the independence of the United States. Boston is fun and interesting, but expensive to stay in, so it is recommended to book a hotel outside of the city. 

From Boston, drive down to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Here you can hang out on the beaches, and if you have time, book a whale-watching cruise. In the last days of the trip travel through the towns and beaches of Connecticut, absorb a bit more nature and history, and head back to NYC.

By Moshe of The Top Ten Traveler

Massachusetts Road Trip

6. Northern California Coast

One of the best road trips you can do in California in summer is along its rugged north coast. Starting from San Francisco, you can make your way up the coast all the way to Crescent City, the final stop before you either drive into Oregon or return to your start point.

With spectacular scenery, quaint towns, great food and fine wine, and quaint little museums, there’s something on this trip for all types of travelers. It’s best, however, for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Along the route, stop at Point Reyes National Seashore, where you can photograph an old shipwreck, drive through a cypress tree tunnel, or hike to a tidefall. Next up is the scenic Sonoma Coast, dotted with little towns where you can enjoy fabulous seafood and choice wines. The scenery is beautiful as well.

Further north is the Mendocino Coast, where you will find lots of things to do in Mendocino , a pretty coastal village perched on scenic headlands, and Fort Bragg, where you can see the famous glass beach.

Still further north is the Lost Coast, so rugged that no road could be built through it. Adventurous hikers can explore it on backpacking trips.

Finally, you can take in the spectacular beauty of the Redwood National and State Parks. Walk among the towering redwoods, do scenic drives along the shore, and look for wildlife.

With temperatures in the 60s during the day in summer, this road trip makes for a fun adventure.

By Dhara from Roadtripping California

California - Summer Road Trips

7. Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is one of the most beautiful drives in America. The drive along the Oregon coast can take up 7-12 hours depending on how many stops you make. But don’t worry you do not have to drive the entire coast to get a fantastic experience!

Starting in the seaside town of Astoria, Oregon, Mile marker 0, you can check out the historical sites and see where many movies have been filmed. As you drive down the Oregon Coast make a stop at Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. From there, Tillamook Cheese Factory is a must-see. There is a free cheese tasting, which is incredible!  

Now, the first part of this road trip is fun but get ready because in the next few hours you will see one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.  There are so many spots where you feel an overwhelming desire to pull the car over and explore the coast on foot. The National Forest scenic area which includes Cape Perpetua (Thor’s well, Devils Churn, Cookes Chasm, and Cape Cove Beach) is the highlight of the road trip. Cape Perpetua is at Mile Marker 167.  On a clear day, you can see 37 miles out to sea and 70 miles of coastline.  

Thor’s Well is the top attraction. It is a massive blowhole. As the waves come in, the powerful pull of the ocean makes it the most magnificent sight to behold. We witnessed this at low tide but high tide is supposed to be even better. There are many seaside towns along the coast where you can deep-sea fish, go on a whale watching tour or see historic sites.  As you travel down the coast the views just get better and better! 

By Lisa from Planning Away

Oregon Coast - Summer US Road Trips

8. Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is well known for its unbeatable hiking, stunning scenery, and plenty of camping opportunities. The best way to experience all of this is with a road trip to Oregon and Washington through the National Parks! When planning your National Parks road trip , start in the North Cascades or Crater Lake National Park and continue up or down through Olympic and Mount Rainier National Park.

All of these parks are stunning in their own way! Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed from a collapsed volcano. As the name suggests, Mount Rainier National Park surrounds the iconic Washington landmark, Mount Rainier. It is full of hiking and gorgeous fire lookout towers you can even stay at!

Olympic National Park is on the coast and not only has beautiful beaches and mountains, but much of it is also a rainforest. North Cascades borders Canada, and while a bit less developed than most National Parks it is still worth the visit and is a great place for backpacking, camping, and it is a world-class photography destination!

This road trip is perfect for outdoors and natures lovers, but if you’re a city person, you can also fly into or make stops at Portland and Seattle! Portland is full of “weird” things to do, and a trip isn’t complete without a visit to Powell’s Books or Voodoo Doughnuts. In Seattle, take a drive to Snoqualmie Falls and visit the iconic Pikes Place Market and Space Needle. 

By Val from Voyages with Val

Pacific NorthWest Road Trip

9. Road to Hana in Maui

The island of Maui is mostly associated with waving palms and picture-perfect beaches. But did you know that this tropical paradise has much more to offer? The eastern coast is wild, lush, and home to a highway with no less than 59 one-lane bridges and 620 curves and hairpins over a distance of 52 miles. The Road to Hana connects the artistic town of Paia to rural Hana. 

The destination in itself is not that spectacular but it’s the journey that makes this road trip truly legendary. From majestic waterfalls to rainbow eucalyptus trees and from colored beaches to tropical arboretums, the winding Hana highway connects dozens of the Valley Isle’s natural highlights. Along the way, you’ll find the quaintest food stalls selling mouth-watering local delicacies such as banana bread or coconut candy. 

The Road to Hana counts as Hawaii’s most epic road trip so, especially on sunshiny days, there’ll be lots of people driving the same highway and stopping to see the same highlights (where there’s hardly any parking available). Therefore, leaving early is highly recommended. Also, pack plenty of water and snacks since there are no gas stations and no shops (other than the food stalls) along the Road to Hana. This is the ultimate road trip for adventurers who look forward to exploring Maui’s wild side.

By Sarah Vanheel from CosmopoliClan

Summer Road Trips - Hana to Maui

10. Route 66

Route 66 is a great summer road trip option for couples, families, and solo travelers alike. Known as the “Mother Road”, Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois, and ends in Santa Monica, California. At 2,448 miles, to drive the entire length would be quite a road trip, but even completing a section would make for a great summer vacation for those who love quirky roadside stops and vintage memorabilia. 

Some notable stops along the way are classic Route 66 diners such as the Midpoint Cafe in Texas, at the exact midpoint of Route 66, Pops in Oklahoma, a vintage diner and old school soda shop, and the Big Texan Steakhouse, known for its large portions. Some famous roadside attractions are Cadillac Ranch, the Standin on the Corner mural in Winslow, Arizona, and the donkeys that roam free in Oatman, Arizona. 

Other well-known cities and towns along Route 66 with many things to do are Williams and Flagstaff in Arizona, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oklahoma City and Tulsa in Oklahoma, and Springfield, and St. Louis, Missouri.

If you are looking for popular, nostalgic places to stay along Route 66, then check out the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona, which was used as inspiration for the Cars movie (as was much of Route 66) and La Posada Hotel in Winslow, home to a famous railroad hotel that celebrities used to frequent. In addition, this Route 66 summer road trip can be combined with plenty of other side trip options to visit national parks like the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest. 

By Margie from DQ Family Travel

Route 66 - Summer Road Trips in USA

11. San Francisco to Los Angeles

California’s Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles is 479 miles of killer coastal views, sandy beaches, hikes, and wineries. If you hurry, you can drive it in 10 hours, but what’s the rush? This classic summer road trip is meant to be savored.

Some of the best stops on the Pacific Coast Highway road trip , include Monterey Bay, This deep bay harbors some of California’s most diverse marine life. You can take an otter safari on the Elkhorn Slough, a whale watching boat, or see the eerie jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Big Sur. This narrow stretch of the road is bordered by steep forest on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Take a hike in the Point Lobos nature reserve or stop to see the lovely McWay waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer beach.

If you’re a wine lover, Paso Robles OR Cambria has over 200 wineries. If you are more into history, then stay on the coast and visit Hearst Castle, which is just north of Cambria.

Pismo Beach is one of the most gorgeous beaches in the US and the only one in California which allows you to drive right onto the beach. So, pack a picnic and stay awhile.

By Carol Guttery of California Crossings

summer 13 road trip

12. Southwest USA 

The American Southwest is one of the most memorable and unique regions of the United States. With numerous national parks, waterfalls, scenic hikes, and panoramic landscapes, the area is a nature lover’s paradise. The perfect Southwest USA road trip itinerary should ideally include portions of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Although you could spend months exploring the southwest US and barely scratch the surface, give yourself at least 2 weeks to road trip through the region. Start your road trip in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and head north into Southern Colorado to see two of the state’s best natural and cultural wonders: Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde National Parks. 

From there, you’ll head west to explore the Mighty 5 National Parks of Utah. Spend a few days in Moab and do some hiking in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Be sure to wake up early one morning and hike to Delicate Arch, one of the state’s most notable landmarks.

Your road trip should continue through Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and down to Bryce and Zion National Park. Zion is one of the country’s most visited national parks, and for good reason. The famed park is home to two of the most acclaimed hikes in the USA, Angel’s Landing and The Narrows.

Of course, no trip to the American southwest would be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon to take in the majestic, sweeping views. If planning a road trip to the southwest, be sure to pack plenty of hiking gear, as this area is best explored one trailhead at a time.

By Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

mesa verde national park

13. South Dakota

Most people look at South Dakota for a visit to Mount Rushmore National Monument, but there is so much more adventure throughout the western side of the state that makes the perfect road trip for any nature lover or history buff. Plan your route through 3 areas to experience all the best South Dakota has to offer: Spearfish Canyon, Badlands National Park, and Custer State Park. You can see a lot in just one day in each area, but they are all worthy of a bit more time if you have it.

It’s certainly no ordinary road trip when you travel through South Dakota on the scenic byways through Spearfish Canyon, Iron Mountain Road, Wildlife Loop Road (make sure to pack extra apples and carrots to feed the “begging burros” along the way), and Needles Highway.

Nature lovers and outdoor adventurers will love hiking the trails (don’t miss the Notch Trail in Badlands NP), some epic camping spots in the parks and in the Black Hills National Forest, and plenty of wildlife.

History buffs will enjoy touring the Delta-09 Missile Silo National Historic Site, Crazy Horse Memorial, and exploring Deadwood, SD, which offers unique sights such as the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center and Mount Moriah Cemetery.

And no road trip through South Dakota is complete without a stop at Wall Drug for some shopping and their famous hot roast beef sandwich!

By Kiersten from Hiking in My Flip Flops

Summer Road Trips - South Dakota

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The 10 best states for summer road trips, ranked

  • WalletHub released a report ranking the best US states for summer road trips.
  • States were ranked across 32 metrics including gas prices, safety, and number of attractions.
  • Texas was ranked the best state for summer road trips, followed by Minnesota and New York.

Insider Today

If you're determined to take a road trip this summer but aren't sure where to go, consider one of these 10 states ranked by WalletHub as the best summer road-trip destinations.

To determine the best states for summer road trips, WalletHub, a personal-finance website, measured 32 metrics in each state across three overall categories: costs, safety, and activities.

Each state's road trip potential was determined by examining factors such as gas prices, safety, and the number of attractions including amusement parks, historical sites, and national parks .

These 10 states earned the highest scores in WalletHub's ranking.

10. Pennsylvania

summer 13 road trip

Pennsylvania ranked 32nd in costs and 14th in both safety and activities, according to WalletHub.

Popular road-trip destinations include views of Amish country along Route 30 and historic sites such as Gettysburg and the Liberty Bell.

summer 13 road trip

In addition to numerous scenic byways, Maine is also home to Acadia National Park, one of the most-visited national parks in the US.

WalletHub found that Maine had the lowest average cost of car repairs out of any state. Maine was also the safest state, taking the top spot in WalletHub's safety ranking. It scored 29th in costs and 30th in activities.

summer 13 road trip

Camping prices in Wyoming are the second-lowest in the country — perfect for visiting hot spots like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Wyoming was also the fifth-safest state in WalletHub's ranking and placed 22nd in activities.

7. North Carolina

summer 13 road trip

North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway helped the state rank fourth for the most scenic byways and seventh in WalletHub's overall activities ranking. It was also 17th in costs and 34th in safety.

summer 13 road trip

Ohio features a mix of natural wonders like Cuyahoga Valley National Park, touristy spots like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, and quirky roadside attractions like the world's largest basket .

It's the second-cheapest state for car repairs behind Maine, contributing to its ranking of 21st in costs. WalletHub also ranked Ohio 24th in safety and 13th in activities.

summer 13 road trip

Florida is tied with Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Washington for the state with the highest percentage of total area designated as national parkland. It also has attractions like Disney World , placing it second in WalletHub's activities ranking (California, the home of Disneyland, snagged the top activities spot).

Florida ranked 23rd in costs, but last in safety.

4. Louisiana

summer 13 road trip

Louisiana has the third-lowest average gas prices, contributing to its first-place pick in WalletHub's costs ranking. It ranked ninth in activities and 46th in safety.

New Orleans offers a plethora of live music, Cajun restaurants, and lively festivals, but there's also plenty of wildlife to see in Louisiana's famous wetlands.

3. New York

summer 13 road trip

New York is full of fascinating tourist sites with the second-most National Historic Landmarks per capita, placing it third in WalletHub's activities ranking. It ranked 40th in costs and 12th in safety.

In addition to the densely packed streets of New York City, upstate New York offers hiking trails, historic mansions , and views of Niagara Falls.

2. Minnesota

summer 13 road trip

Minnesota ranked 12th in costs and 20th in activities. WalletHub found that the state has the third-fewest vehicle fatalities per million miles, contributing to its ranking of seventh in safety overall.

Minnesota also has the fourth-most fairs and festivals per capita in the summertime — the Minnesota State Fair in particular is legendary for its over-the-top culinary offerings.

summer 13 road trip

With over 9,500 miles of scenic byways, numerous famous attractions including The Alamo and the Space Center Houston, and affordable accommodations, WalletHub ranked Texas the No. 1 state for summer road trips in 2024. It topped WalletHub's list with rankings of 11th in costs, 39th in safety, and fifth in activities.

summer 13 road trip

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World of Wanderlust

15 Great Road Trips in the USA to take this Summer

Are you itching for a new adventure? I know I am! With isolation restrictions easing slowly, now is a great time to start planning a road trip. With international travel restrictions likely to be here for the remainder of 2020, there is no better time to start exploring your own backyard. What better time to plan one of these great road trips in the USA! These are our top picks for the best adventures around the country this summer.

summer 13 road trip

1. Phoenix to Page Arizona

One of my favourite memories in the United States was a road trip the length of Arizona. I started in Phoenix, slowly making my way to the top of the state and ending in Page. There are many great pit stops along the way, so this adventure needs at least a few days to complete (it would be better if you have a week).

Don’t miss out on Sedona , a beautiful town full of many great day hikes, climbing and mountain bike trails. Page is the last town before the border to Utah and it is here where you will find many of Arizona’s famous photographic points of interest. Horseshoe Bend, the slot canyons in Navajo country and The Wave are just a few!

Read more: The 13 Best Places to visit in Arizona

california road trip | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

2. Pacific Coast Highway

The West Coast is an adventure waiting to happen, especially if you like to escape the cities and explore the coastline. The Pacific Coast Highway is full of hidden gems, all situated between Los Angeles to San Francisco. You can do the drive in one day, though you will find it much more enjoyable by spending a night or two near the coast. Carmel-by-the-sea is a great base to stop for a few days and enjoy the slower pace of Californian coast life.

Guide to Joshua Tree | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

3. Joshua Tree National Park

If you live in Los Angeles, there’s no better escape than a mystical weekend away in Joshua Tree . The National Park aside, there are some great vintage thrift stores , swap meets on weekends, book stores and above all, the towns have a real quirky appeal.

If you plan to stay a few days, check in to the tiny cabin of Joshua Tree for a romantic escape, or there are plenty of great cabin rentals for larger groups. Of course, the National Park is the big drawcard for visitors and there are plenty of great short hikes to be discovered. However, be sure to spend a little more time discovering the small towns once you’ve seen the famous Joshua Trees as there’s a lot more to discover!

summer 13 road trip

4. San Antonio to Austin, Texas

There are many great reasons to visit Texas but my two favourites are San Antonio and Austin. Both of these cities have such great personalities, so a road trip between the two is a guaranteed good time. If you find yourself in San Antonio, one of my favourite hotels in the world is here – Hotel Emma . There’s a really great emerging scene of creative people in this area of the city and it is perfect for those in need of inspiration.

summer 13 road trip

5. New Orleans to Baton Rouge

The South is full of so many great adventures and I learned that first hand on a road trip through Louisiana about five years ago. There’s just so much culture and history waiting to be discovered! New Orleans is a melting pot of French, African, American and French-Canadian cultures is reflected in its Creole and Cajun cultures. This city is vibrant, bustling and most importantly: delicious! Make your way from New Orleans to Baton Rouge for a fun road trip discovering the culture of this southeastern state.

Guide to Newport Rhode Island | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

6. New York to Newport, RI

If you are based on the East Coast of the United States, road trips are part and parcel of the summer experience! One of my favourite destinations to visit is Newport in Rhode Island . This picturesque seaside town has enough charm to keep you coming back time and time again. The road trip to Newport from New York is especially beautiful, passing through Connecticut, one of the country’s most scenic states.

Weekend Guide to Upstate Neww York | WORLD OF WANDERLUST

7. Upstate New York

The East Coast of the USA is filled with beautiful small towns to discover. But you don’t even need to leave New York to have an idyllic escape! Upstate New York is full of beautiful hidden gems and some of them more known. Start your journey in Hudson – one of the most popular towns in the state. Then ask locals for recommendations as you go along.

summer 13 road trip

8. The Great Smoky Mountains

It was many years ago I drove through the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, but it is a trip I have certainly not forgotten. Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, this mountain range is one of the most beautiful drives to be had on this side of the country and summer is considered the best time to visit.

9. Route 66

Starting in Chicago, Route 66 takes you all the way to the Californian coast and finishes in Santa Monica. The route will take you across much of the American Midwest, Great Plains and Southwest. It is widely considered the classic American route across the country and one of the great road trips in the USA. However, you can’t *really* take the old original route, but you can still travel much of the same scenery on various highways.

arcadia national park

10. Park Loop Acadia National Park

The East Coast of the United States is bursting with endless road trips, each more beautiful than the next! Another top pick is the Park Loop in Acadia National Park in Maine. This is one of the most scenic parks in the entire country and not to be missed. This 26-mile route will show you all the highlights and introduce you to the lifestyle in Maine.

summer 13 road trip

11. Oregon Coast Highway

Driving the Oregon Coast is one of the surreal moments in life you probably think don’t actually happen anymore. While there are many more celebrated drives on the West Coast, this is one of those road trips flying under the radar. The best part about Oregon is the laidback lifestyle and no-rush attitude, making this one of the most soul-fulfilling journeys to take by road.

summer 13 road trip

12. Maine Lobster Trail

If you’re a seafood lover, you can’t pass up the opportunity to visit Maine and drive the lobster trail. Throughout Maine there are endless restaurants dedicated to seafood and specifically, lobster. This is the perfect weekend escape on the East Coast, filled with endless small villages and friendly locals. As far as road trips in the USA go, this is the quintessential east coast experience.

summer 13 road trip

13. The Alaskan Highway

A drive on the Alaska Highway can take anywhere from 60 hours to ten days. This is not only one of the best road trips in the USA, but also crosses Canada. Much of the journey takes place in the Yukon Territory and is indescribably beautiful! This is widely regarded as one of the most adventurous road trips in North America.

summer 13 road trip

14. Zion National Park, Utah

Utah is practically bursting at the seams with road trip opportunities. But if we had to pick just one journey, we’d opt for a road trip through Zion National Park. The park borders Arizona, with the closest town on that side of the border being Page. This is where you will find beautiful locations like Horseshoe Bend and the Slot Canyons. Therefore this is a great add-on after an adventure through Arizona!

summer 13 road trip

15. Black Hills Of South Dakota

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always wanted to visit South Dakota. Which basically just means you watched the film “Richie Rich” as a kid. South Dakota has some stunning scenery in the Black Hills. This underrated state was practically made for the great all American road trip!

Brooke Saward

Brooke Saward founded World of Wanderlust as a place to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to see our world. She now divides her time between adventures abroad and adventures in the kitchen, with a particular weakness for French pastries.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

A few snapshots from Island life in Koh Samui 🥹🌴 just shared my blog posts from this trip in Thailand and now craving mango sticky rice pudding, the kindness and hospitality of Thai people and those buffet breakfast spreads (the kinda ones that keep you full til dinner). My stay at @fskohsamui was like something out of a story book. Especially that last photo - that night was one to remember 🫶🏼 #kohsamui #thailand #travel #travelblog #thailandtravel

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15 Summer Road Trip Ideas in the United States

Are you looking for the perfect summer road trip? Here’s a list of 15 summer road trip ideas in the United States you should add to your bucket list!

If you’re looking for summer vacation ideas in the US, we recommend a road trip. Our favorite thing about road trips is we can stop anywhere along the way to check out or photograph a new place.

usa summer road trip ideas

The US is one of the best places to travel by car to explore the deserts, beaches, mountains, and plains in the country. There are many scenic routes in the US that are perfect for road trips.

Keep reading for a list of places to visit this summer, things to do, what to pack and where to stay!

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15 best summer road trip ideas in the u.s.  .

The US is full of exciting and unique destinations that are sure to make your summer vacation one to remember. From the sunny beaches of California to the majestic mountains of Colorado, there is something for everyone on a US road trip.

Check out these fun-filled USA Road Trip Bucket List Ideas to explore the US on your summer vacation!

summer 13 road trip

1. Route 66

Route 66 is the most famous road trip idea in America. Starting in Chicago, the entire length of Route 66 is 2,278 miles and runs through nine states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

For a one-way road trip, Route 66 requires about 14 days of travel time. Imagine all the scenic views Route 66 has to offer like these world-class roadside attractions: Cadillac Ranch, Catoosa Whale, and Twin Arrows.

summer 13 road trip

2. Scenic Byway 12, Utah

State Route 12 in Utah is an All-American Road and best known for its stunning red rock landscape. Here’s a list of the Best Stops Along Scenic Byway 12 .

Fun fact: Only one-third of America’s scenic byways get the designation of “All-American Road”. It’s only given to roads that offer unique features you can’t find anywhere else.

The road winds between Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park for a jaw-dropping 122 miles.

The drive can be completed in three hours, but if you plan to stop at any of the national parks, state parks, or museums or explore the scenic backways or hiking trails along Highway 12 then you’ll need to plan to spend a few days in the area!

summer 13 road trip

3. Blue Ridge Parkway 

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most famous road trip routes in the United States.

The Blue Ridge Parkway drive is 469 miles, and it connects two national parks, namely Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Here are the five regions and the drive time through each one:

  • Shenandoah: Afton to Roanoke – 3.5 hours
  • Ridge: Roanoke to Fancy Gap – 2.5 hours
  • Plateau: Fancy Gap to Blowing Rock – 3 hours
  • Highlands: Blowing Rock to Asheville – 3 hours
  • Pisgah: Asheville to Cherokee – 3 hours

The views you’ll see along the parkway are amazing – stop often to take pictures. And don’t forget to explore the area by taking in some hiking trails.

summer 13 road trip

4. The Outer Banks, North Carolina

Route 12 on the Outer Banks in North Carolina should be on your road trip bucket list!

This route starts at Bodie Lighthouse and passes through the narrow spits of land, making up the barrier islands protecting North Carolina’s mainland from the Atlantic Ocean.

There are many fun stops and things to do along Highway 12 like the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park, piers and lighthouses, Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum to name a few.

summer 13 road trip

5. Overseas Highway, Florida Keys

The Overseas Highway, Florida Keys is another well-known road trip destination.

It’s often referred to as the “highway that goes to the sea” since it crosses over 42 bridges and runs 113 miles.

Because the road offers unique features you can’t find anywhere else, it’s been named an All-American Road.

Here are the must-stop areas along the route: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine & Lower Keys and Key West.

summer 13 road trip

6. Kentucky Bourbon Trail

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a route that will take you to 18 different distilleries, each with its famous bourbon mix and the history behind each one of them.

There is no official route for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but you may want to start at the Welcome Center at the Frazier Museum on historic Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville.

You can enjoy this road trip in a weekend, or extend it out for a week to learn more about and visit Kentucky historic sites.

summer 13 road trip

7. Million Dollar Highway, Colorado 

The Million Dollar Highway section of US Highway 550 connects Ouray and Silverton, Colorado.

If you enjoy mountain views, and don’t mind a windy road with steep drops on one side, then you can’t beat this road trip adventure!

The road climbs up three very steep high mountain passes: Red Mountain Pass (over 11,000 feet!), Molas Pass and Coal Bank Pass. Take your time and be prepared to stop often to photograph the endless views!

There are cool things to see and do along the Million Dollar Highway: ghost towns, hot springs, hike, fish and more!

summer 13 road trip

8. Road to Hana, Hawai

The Road to Hana is the top attraction on the island of Maui, Hawaii. When taking this Hawaii scenic drive, remember it’s the journey, not the destination.

You’ll see vibrant green cliffs, stunning waterfalls, vast ocean views, colorful beaches with black, red and white sand, beautiful gardens and trails to explore.

Because this road is so popular, we recommend you start early – really early! When you start later in the morning, you’ll experience traffic and congestion which takes away from the beauty of the place.

You must do your research about this road trip before starting out to make sure it’s a drive you want to do. There are 620 curves, many one-lane narrow bridges, limited turnouts or parking, and it’s crowded. Pack your patience!

summer 13 road trip

9. The Parks Highway, Alaska

The Parks Highway , also known as the George Parks Highway, runs between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It’s the most direct highway access to Denali National Park and Preserve from either city. 

The entire route is 362 miles through Alaska’s untamed wilderness. Be on the lookout for wildlife like brown or black bear and maybe even moose!

During this road trip, if weather cooperates, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Denali mountain that stands at a staggering 20,310 feet! 

summer 13 road trip

10. Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway is a road trip that runs along the Pacific Coast in California for 550 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

You can start in the south, but we recommend you start in the north so you’re in the lane closest to the ocean.

Plan about 3 days to make the most of this route and all the stops along the way: Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Cambria, Morrow Bay, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Solvan, and Santa Barbara.

photograph canyonlands in the spring

11. Utah National Parks, The Mighty Five

The Mighty Five Utah National Parks are: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion. A road trip to explore each park should be on everyone’s US National Park bucket list!

In addition to the national parks, there are amazing Utah state parks , national monuments, hiking trails, offroad trails, scenic drives and more that you can explore along the route.

You’ll see stunning sunrises, sunsets, landscapes, starry skies, the Milky Way and so much more! Your camera will have a workout capturing the unique beauty on the road trip!

Here’s an amazing Utah National Park road trip itinerary to see all 5 parks in Utah!

summer 13 road trip

12. Hot Springs, Idaho

A road trip to enjoy the hot springs in Idaho is a fun and unique adventure.

Many of the hot springs are surrounded by fantastic landscapes which accentuates a relaxing atmosphere while soaking in the water.

We like this itinerary to enjoy the hot springs from Boise to Stanley .

Please follow these hot spring guidelines so they can be enjoyed by everyone for years to come!

  • Keep them clean
  • Pack it in and pack it out
  • Leave it better than you found it
  • Clothing may be option, so beware!
  • Be respectful of other visitors
  • Know the capacity in advance

summer 13 road trip

13. Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana

One of the best, and longest, scenic drives in America is along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

The Great River Road is another All-American Road due to the scenic route that traces the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles through 10 states!

This road trip will take about 36 hours, or 10 days, to drive. You’ll find river-related attractions, tiny riverside villages and large cities to experience the history of the region through music, culture and food!

summer 13 road trip

14. Oregon Road Trip  

Oregon is an incredible place with lush forests, sandy shores, deserts and more!

There are many  Oregon bucket list attractions  which may seem overwhelming, but we’ve put together an amazing 2-week One of the best ways for you to experience what’s on offer here is by taking an Oregon road trip itinerary for you!

You’ll start in Portland and visit attractions like the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood National Forest, Bend, Crater Lake, Brookings, Florence, Newport, Seaside and Astoria.

lighthouse along the coast of Connecticut

15. Coastal Drive, Connecticut

The Northeast has beautiful forests and coastlines to explore, making it perfect for summer vacations.

A road trip along the  Connecticut coast  from Stonington to Greenwich is more than 100 miles long. You’ll find villages and a quaint New England vibe.

There are beaches where adults and kids can stretch their legs from the car to enjoy the ocean views. You can stop at the shops and restaurants when you’re ready to take a break and just relax.

A few fun stops might also be New Haven to check out the beautiful grounds at Yale University or stop at Five Mile Point Lighthouse in Lighthouse Point Park and challenge yourself to climb to the top.

Where To Go For Summer Vacation in the USA

  • Summer Vacation Ideas
  • Summer Vacations in the Southwest
  • Summer Road Trip Destinations
  • Summer Road Trip Ideas
  • Summer Hiking Trails in the US
  • June Vacation Ideas in the US by Region
  • July Vacation Ideas in the US by Region
  • August Vacation Ideas in the US by Region

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Awesome list of road trips! I’m featuring you at the #HomeMattersParty tomorrow night. Hope to see you stop by to take a look!

Thank you for the feature of the summer road trips – we LOVE road trips!! The mindset quotes you shared are a great way to start my day!

It was fun looking at your list of road trips. We took a cross-country road trip last year so now have been on some of the roads you mentioned. We really loved the pacific coast highway and took it from the north!

Yes, the PCH is a fantastic road trip! Road tripping is the best!

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The 10 best road trips to take with your family this summer

Devorah Lev-Tov

The great American road trip is a tried-and-true family tradition.

Driving the country's scenic highways and stopping to explore anything that catches your eye — perhaps a stunning viewpoint, a side-of-the-road lobster shack or a historical marker — is a wonderful way to explore the U.S. with your family this summer.

It's also a great way to save money while exploring, whether you redeem points, rent an RV or find affordable hotels, motels or camping sites along the way.

Of course, road-tripping with kids brings a few challenges , including keeping them entertained and dealing with possible car sickness.

Try using one of the fun kid-friendly voices for the Waze app to give directions to keep everyone laughing. Think about bringing iPads that can attach to the back of headrests and make a list of car games to play. Old-school favorites such as I Spy, 20 Questions and license plate-spotting are as good as ever.

To reduce or avoid nausea, be careful what you feed children before getting in the car (no spicy or greasy food), make sure there's enough airflow in the car and consider Dramamine if your child is over 2 years old (but talk to your doctor first).

If an accident does happen, make sure you are prepared with extra clothing, plastic bags and paper towels or wipes.

Packing a good credit card for gas fill-ups is also a very smart move. Check out TPG's guide to the best cards for gas purchases here .

Now that we have the logistics out of the way, here are 10 classic summer road trips in the U.S.

Appalachia to Nashville

summer 13 road trip

Explore Appalachia with a big finish in Nashville on this route through West Virginia and Kentucky. Start in West Virginia's capital, Charleston, which is at the convergence of three major state highways — fly into West Virginia International Yeager Airport (CRW) if necessary.

Visit the state's picturesque Capitol building, which has a gold leaf-covered dome that's 5 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol's; the West Virginia State Museum, where you can learn about Appalachian history and culture; and the Avampato Discovery Museum, an interactive science museum for all ages.

Stroll down the tree-lined Capitol Street and stop into one of several restaurants there, or get tender barbecue with stellar sides from the acclaimed Dem 2 Brothers and a Grill.

All the major hotel chains are here. Use your Marriott Bonvoy points at the Charleston Marriott Town Center (from 15,500 points or $124 per night) or Four Points by Sheraton Charleston (15,500 points or $114 per night), or your Hilton Honors points at Embassy Suites Charleston Historic District (from 37,000 points or $140 per night).

From Charleston, head straight into Kentucky and the horse capital of Lexington. Visit the famous Keeneland Racecourse and tour the Kentucky Horse Park, then go to the revitalized Distillery District for pizza, ice cream, beer, live music and, of course, bourbon.

From there, it's a short drive to Louisville — stop at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House (yes, that Sanders ... Claudia was the Colonel's wife) for a classic Southern family-style meal.

Louisville is full of family-friendly attractions, including the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and the Kentucky Science Center, and kids will love cruising the Ohio River on the oldest river steamboat, the Belle of Louisville.

Stay at the original 21c Museum Hotel (rooms from $309), which has an attached contemporary art museum and is also home to the acclaimed Proof on Main restaurant. The architecturally stunning Seelbach Hilton (from 41,000 Hilton Honors points or $162 per night) dates to 1869 and has classically appointed rooms and lavish public spaces.

Finally, head south to Nashville for a big finish in Music City, where you can stay at Hotel Fraye, part of Hilton's independent Curio Collection (from $224 or 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night).

Guests can get a real taste of the city's eclectic style while checking out attractions like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Radnor Lake State Park, Nashville Zoo and the Grand Ole Opry.

Don't forget to get some made-in-Nashville chocolatey treats at the Goo Goo Clusters Shop before flying out of Nashville International Airport (BNA).

Related: Music City on the mind? These are the best new points hotels in Nashville

Lake Michigan highlights

summer 13 road trip

Hug the lake on this drive that starts in Milwaukee, heads south to Chicago and then back up through Michigan, ending in Traverse City.

Fly into Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) and explore the city's Lynden Sculpture Garden, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum and the hands-on Discovery World Science and Technology Center. Grab a frozen custard at the famous Kopp's . Kids are sure to love the spy-themed burger joint SafeHouse.

Hyatt loyalists can use points or their free night certificates to stay at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee (from $109 or 6,500 points). Or, redeem Marriott points at the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown (from $143 or 30,000 Bonvoy points per night).

Head south out of town, and in about two hours you'll hit Chicago, with its world-class family-friendly attractions like Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Park Zoo and Millennium Park, to name a few.

Related: Forget the ocean: 8 amazing lake vacations to take in the US this summer

From Chicago, curve around the lake shore, stopping at the stunning Indiana Dunes National Park for some outdoor lake time before driving up to charming Holland, Michigan. This Dutch-founded town on the shores of Lake Macatawa is home to a centuries-old windmill, a tulip festival and Dutch-inspired food, like the classic pastries from deBoer Bakkerij & Dutch Brothers Restaurant.

The beautiful lakeshore includes Holland State Park, Laketown Beach, Tunnel Park and an adorable red lighthouse.

Traverse City is 168 miles north, with numerous small towns and the Huron-Manistee National Forests to explore along the way.

Once in Traverse City, take advantage of some well-earned beach time. If you are visiting from July 1-8, don't miss the National Cherry Festival .

For some real family fun, stay at Great Wolf Lodge and enjoy its indoor water park, or redeem IHG One Rewards points at Hotel Indigo Traverse City (from $125 or 20,000 points per night).

Fly out of Cherry Capital Airport (TVC).

Related: TPG's 10 top family vacation destinations for 2023

Big Bend National Park in Texas

summer 13 road trip

This 150-mile-long national park along the Texas and Mexico border makes for a gorgeous and adventure-filled road trip.

Fly in and out of El Paso International Airport (ELP) and then drive about 300 miles east to enter the remote park, with a stop in the artsy enclave of Marfa along the way.

Another option is to take an Amtrak train to Alpine, or start from the San Antonio/Austin area. Either way, you'll likely enter the park at the town of Marathon, where you can stay at the historic Gage Hotel and eat at Brick Vault Brewery and Barbecue.

Once inside the 800,000-acre park, the epic drive is dotted with picturesque attractions at every turn.

Hugging the Rio Grande and comprising the stunning Chisos mountain range, much of the park is the Chihuahuan Desert.

Other highlights include traveling the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, discovering the Terlingua Ghost Town, walking the Santa Elena nature trail, zip lining at Lajitas and exploring Boquillas Canyon.

Best of all, there are plenty of kid-friendly hiking trails and boat rides up the Rio Grande.

Related: A beginners guide to visiting Big Bend National Park: Everything you need to know, see and do

If you don't want to camp, the family-owned Big Bend Holiday Hotel has vintage rooms and charming, beautifully appointed casitas in the area (from $160 per night). For more family-oriented amenities (including a golf course and swimming pool), stay at the sprawling Lajitas Golf Resort (from $399).

Central California coast

summer 13 road trip

California's epic coastline is ripe for adventure.

Kids will enjoy exploring the central part of California the best: tons of animals, history and, of course, crashing waves. You can fly in and out of Meadows Field Airport in Bakersfield (BFL).

First, drive to Pismo Beach. Check out the Monarch Butterfly Grove, walk the Pismo Pier and rent a multiperson surrey that you can pedal down the boardwalk. Eat at Splash Cafe and sample the goods at Old West Cinnamon Rolls.

Spend the night with your Hilton Honors points at the Hilton Garden Inn San Luis Obispo/Pismo Beach (from $115 or 23,000 points per night), or try the lovely and affordable SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel (from $206).

From there, get on the Pacific Coast Highway and head north along the coast to Morro Bay, where you can see the striking Morro Rock, the last of the Seven Sisters — a chain of ancient volcanoes that lie between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. Try to catch it at sunset.

Related: Planning your California road trip using Hyatt points

Then, drive up to Cambria for a bit of farm love. Cuddle some goats, see cows getting milked and, of course, eat some cheese at Stepladder Ranch and Creamery. Ride on a Clydesdale horse at Covell's Ranch, explore the beautiful Moonstone Beach and grab a bite to eat at Robin's.

Keep heading north to San Simeon, where you can't miss the adorable seals at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, just off the highway.

Then head inland a bit to visit the famous Hearst Castle and its 127 acres of gardens, pools and paths. If you're lucky, you may even spot some zebras (yes, really!) on the tram ride up to the castle.

Use 10,000 Choice Privileges points (or $83) to stay at the budget-friendly Quality Inn Near Hearst Castle or, for a more luxurious option, try the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort (from $369 per night).

Related: 43 real-world family travel tips that actually work

Drive coastal Maine 

summer 13 road trip

The eastern coast of Maine is full of rocky cliffs, swirling waves and quaint lobster shacks, making it ideal for a drive up the winding roads that overlook the Atlantic.

Start in Portland, a fun and walkable city with a great food scene. If you need to, fly in and out of Portland International Jetport (PWM) or Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), which is two hours south of Portland. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) in Manchester, New Hampshire, is a good Southwest Airlines destination as well.

Explore the city's Old Port district, where you can stop and buy the kids some fudge while you peruse pottery and jewelry. Then head to the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine and climb up the Portland Observatory for sweeping harbor views.

Portland also has a great food scene. Some family-friendly spots include Two Fat Cats Bakery, Duckfat, Silly's and Salvage BBQ.

Use your Marriott Bonvoy points to spend the night at the Residence Inn Portland Downtown/Waterfront (from $146 or 40,000 points per night), which has an indoor pool. Or you can choose the funky Press Hotel (from $165 or 50,000 points per night), which is part of the Autograph Collection .

Continue north through Freeport and stop at the L.L. Bean Outlet before heading on to Rockland. Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum and check out the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the Coastal Children's Museum.

Stop for hot dogs at Wasses or buy picnic supplies at local co-op the Good Tern and take them to Birch Point State Park. Rockland also hosts the Maine Lobster Festival every summer (Aug. 2-6 in 2023).

From Rockland, drive north to Bar Harbor and the adjacent Acadia National Park for a few days of incredible hiking and biking, sailing and kayaking, swimming in Echo Lake and the best popovers in the state at the famous Jordan Pond House. For your local lobster fix, try Beal's Lobster Pier.

Use your Hilton Honors points at the seasonal Hampton Inn Bar Harbor (open from May to October; from $175 or 33,000 points per night), which has panoramic ocean and mountain views as well as two pools.

Find natural fun in Florida

summer 13 road trip

Florida is so much more than theme parks, even if you're looking for family-friendly activities. And if you want to revel in nature, Florida has it covered. This 118-mile route dives into some of the state's best natural attractions, from Tampa to Fort Myers.

You can't go to Florida without enjoying its beaches, and you'll find some of the state's finest sugar-sand beaches along the Gulf coast.

From Tampa, take Highway 60 west to Clearwater Beach and then head south to Pass-a-Grille. The island road curves along a 20-mile-long strand of alluring beaches and restaurants where you can order grouper fresh from the Gulf.

As you head east back toward the mainland, follow signs for Fort De Soto Park, where there are 1,136 acres of beaches, mangroves, bike trails and remnants of a Spanish-American War fort. Then drive an hour south to Sarasota to spend the night.

Use your Marriott Bonvoy points at the Westin Sarasota downtown (from $254 or 31,000 points per night) or splurge on The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota (from $871 or 65,500 points per night) if you want to be on the beach.

Related: 13 of the best beaches in Florida

Sarasota is filled with natural attractions. Kids can frolic through a rainforest at the Children's Rainforest Garden, part of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on Sarasota's bayfront, which parents will also enjoy.

Across Sarasota Bay, discover Gulf of Mexico critters at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and set sail on one of Mote's marine biologist-led eco-boat tours of Sarasota Bay.

When hunger strikes, check out O'Leary's Tiki Bar and Grill adjacent to Bayfront Park, which has a playground and walking trails, or Old Salty Dog right on Sarasota Bay, where kids get their meals served on a frisbee.

The next day, head inland on Highway 72 to Myakka River State Park, where alligators are the star attraction, often sunning themselves along the river's banks. Walk along the boardwalks and canopy trails that drape over the wetlands and among the treetops. You can also rent kayaks to explore the waterways, or join a boat tour.

Continue south on Highway 41 to Fort Myers, where you can check out the gentle underwater giants at Manatee Park, explore more wetlands at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, and be among colorful winged creatures at the Butterfly Estates.

For a quick and tasty seafood lunch, hit up Shrimp Shack, and for dinner, try the award-winning pies at Fine Folk Pizza.

Use your Hilton Honors points at Hilton Garden Inn Fort Myers (from $174 or 50,000 points per night) or Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers-Colonial Blvd. (from $160 or 38,000 points per night).

Fun in the Finger Lakes

summer 13 road trip

Western New York's Finger Lakes region consists of 11 lakes between Syracuse, Rochester and Elmira-Corning, and while some lakes are larger than others, they're all surrounded by charming towns and wineries.

Start in the more eastern town of Skaneateles (pronounced SKINNY-atlas), stopping at Skaneateles Bakery for some of its freshly made doughnuts and blueberry muffins to munch on as you stroll down the pier and walk along the lake.

Go for a boat ride on the lake with Mid-Lakes Navigation — you can even help the Barbara S. Wiles mail boat deliver mail to lakeside homes.

In the evening, catch a movie at New York State's oldest drive-in, Finger Lakes Drive-In, and then spend the night at the cute bed-and-breakfast The Bond 1835 or Skaneateles Suites; points hotels are hard to come by here.

Drive 22 miles west to Seneca Falls to see Women's Rights National Historical Park, where the first women's rights convention was held in 1848.

Keep on Route 20 to Seneca Lake, which is great for kitesurfing and windsurfing, and enjoy a sail with Sail Seneca.

The town of Geneva, at the top of the lake, is home to lovely restaurants and shops like F.L.X. Fry Bird and Kindred Fare. Explore the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and sip some wines at vineyards like Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, Red Tail Ridge Winery, Barnstormer Winery and Fox Run Vineyards. At the bottom of the lake is Watkins Glen State Park, known for its incredible waterfalls, canyons and hiking.

Continue west to Canandaigua Lake, which is home to the chic Lake House Canandaigua (from $239 per night), which boasts a lakefront pool and hot tub, the Rose Tavern with farm-to-table dishes, and kayaks and a yacht for tooling around the lake, among other luxurious amenities.

But if you're looking to earn or redeem Hilton Honors points, the Hotel Canandaigua, Tapestry Collection by Hilton will do you right (from $390 or 60,000 points per night), with its lakefront location, pool and direct access to the Canandaigua Lady at Steamboat Landing. Drive to the bottom of the lake to Naples to sample its famous grape pie.

End your trip in Rochester, just 28 miles northwest from Canandaigua. Once there, check out the George Eastman Museum, a photography museum devoted to the founder of Kodak; the Strong National Museum of Play, an interactive museum dedicated to toys and games; the Susan B. Anthony House, the home of the suffragette that's now a museum; and Highland Park, a beautiful landscaped park that hosts annual flower festivals.

To try some regional foods, visit the Rochester City Public Market, a massive farmers market with vendors from across the region, and for the city's famous "garbage plate," head to the original: Nick Tahou Hots, who invented the one-plate meals with potatoes, meat and several other sides.

Use Hyatt points at the recently renovated Hyatt Regency Rochester (from $139 or 6,500 points per night) or book a night at the Courtyard by Marriott Rochester Downtown (from $193 or 17,000 points per night) for a centralized location.

The South Carolina coast

summer 13 road trip

Start in Hilton Head Island and catch some rays at the popular Coligny Beach Park, or if you like a quiet scene, try Alder Lane or Burkes Beach.

Learn about South Carolina's Lowcountry and Gullah history and culture at the Coastal Discovery Museum and enjoy the area's natural beauty at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and Sea Pines Forest Preserve.

Later, chow down on authentic Gullah cuisine at Ruby Lee's, or enjoy seafood at Skull Creek Boathouse. Book a night at an amenity-filled beach resort like Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort (from $280 per night), or if you have Marriott Bonvoy points to burn, check out the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (from $339 or 40,000 points per night).

Head north on Route 17 along the coast up to charming Charleston. Once there, you can explore Museum Mile, a walkable route that includes museums like the Charleston Museum and the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, along with some historic homes and buildings and green parks.

The Battery and White Point Gardens, at the southern end of the Charleston peninsula, features displays of Civil War artillery, views of Fort Sumter and picturesque live oak trees. Kids will love the South Carolina Aquarium, which houses a wonderful touch tank.

For more beach time, check out the 6-mile-long Folly Beach, and try Lowcountry favorite frogmore stew at Bowens Island Restaurant.

Related: 7 reasons why your next vacation should be on Hilton Head Island

The food scene in Charleston is legendary, and as long as you seek out authentic Southern food, you'll be happy; a few favorites include Rodney Scott's BBQ, The Ordinary and Bertha's Kitchen.

All the big hotel brands are here, so depending on your loyalty, you can book a night at a place like the Charleston Marriott (from $238 or 32,000 points per night) or Hyatt Place Charleston/Historic District.

But if you're looking for character, some of Charleston's best hotels are independent boutiques like The Loutrel, Planters Inn and The Dewberry. For the best of both worlds, try Mills House Charleston, Curio Collection by Hilton (from $312 or 65,000 points per night).

Just before you cross into North Carolina, you'll arrive in Myrtle Beach, one of South Carolina's most popular beaches. While it has some tackier attractions like water and amusement parks, chain restaurants and shopping malls, it's also home to 60 miles of gorgeous beach, known as the Grand Strand.

Check out the Golden Mile for a hotel-free zone, or hit the sand near 82nd Avenue for the gay beach. Beyond the beach, walk down the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk, stopping to hear live music and sip drinks along the way, or stroll down the lively Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. And save room for some authentic barbecue at True BBQ, owned by locals Joseph and Sheila Evans.

Redeem your Hilton Honors points at the all-suite Hilton Grand Vacations Club Ocean Enclave Myrtle Beach (from $169 or 84,000 points per night), just two blocks from the boardwalk with two pools, a kids activity center and an oceanfront restaurant.

Pacific Northwest parks trip

summer 13 road trip

Start in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park, which is home to the deepest lake in the country. Known for being extremely pristine, its purity is created by rain and snow filling in the deep caldera that was formed during a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Drive the park's 33-mile loop road around the crater, stopping off for spectacular views and hikes along the way. Camp at Farewell Bend Campground or use 20,000 Choice Privileges points at Sleep Inn & Suites in nearby Chiloquin.

The next day, drive 100 miles north to the adorable town of Bend, Oregon. Explore the Bend Ale Trail, home to 30 breweries, and if it's fall, visit Smith Rock Ranch for a corn maze and pumpkin patches. Explore the Old Mill District's shops and restaurants along the Deschutes River and visit the High Desert Museum to learn about the wildlife, history and art of the region.

Sleep over at Hampton Inn & Suites Bend (from $145 or 28,000 Hilton Honors points per night) or Residence Inn by Marriott Bend (from $156 or 32,000 points per night) if you have Bonvoy points to use.

Finally, head to the McKenzie River Valley and its centerpiece, the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. Don't miss the Sahalie and Koosah falls.

Exploring Missouri via Route 66

summer 13 road trip

This classic strip of highway has been mostly replaced by interstates, but this route will have you going over parts of it.

Start in St. Louis, the Gateway to the West. You'll want to check out Gateway Arch National Park, which includes the famous arch as well as the courthouse where the Black enslaved man Dred Scott sued for his right to freedom in the late 1840s.

Also worth visiting are the Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Art Museum and the super-interactive City Museum, made of repurposed industrial objects inside an old shoe factory.

If you have little ones, the Magic House children's museum is a great addition. For eats, consider the City Foundry Food Hall, Balkan Treat Box, Louie and the James Beard Award-winning Gioia's Deli. For authentic St. Louis barbecue, head to Pappy's Smokehouse.

Use your Hilton Honors points at Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Louis Downtown (from $148 or 40,000 points per night) or World of Hyatt points at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch (from $119 or 8,000 points per night), which overlooks the iconic arch. Marriott Bonvoy points can be spent at the Magnolia Hotel St. Louis, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel (from $213 or 30,000 points per night), a historic property inside a 1924 building that once hosted Cary Grant.

Related: Home is where the arch is: The best things to eat, see and do in St. Louis

Go west on Interstate 44, which replaced Route 66 in Missouri. You can stop at Route 66 State Park and some campy roadside attractions like Meramec Caverns and the Jesse James Wax Museum.

You'll also drive through the small town of Cuba, aka Route 66 Mural City, where you can see 14 murals painted on buildings along the route.

If you're craving barbecue, stop at Missouri Hick Bar-B-Que while you're there. Once back on the road, drive a portion of the original Route 66 through the beautiful Mark Twain National Forest and the Devil's Elbow bend of the Big Piney River. For an authentically vintage experience, stay in a Route 66-themed room at the vintage Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon.

The next day, drive to one of Missouri's largest caves, Fantastic Caverns, just outside Springfield. Then head to Springfield, where kids and grown-ups alike will have a blast at the Discovery Center, Wonders of Wildlife and the Dickerson Park Zoo. Grab burgers at Black Sheep, and for a sweet treat, head over to Askinosie Chocolate.

Sleep over at the Best Western Coach House (from $72 or 16,000 Best Western Rewards points per night) or Hilton Garden Inn Springfield, MO (from $116 or 40,000 Hilton Honors points per night).

Bottom line

Road trips do not have to mean burning rubber all day to cover as much ground as possible. In fact, some of the best trips look nothing like that at all. They focus on amazing sights and experiences along the route.

Windings to Unwind

summer 13 road trip

14 Summer Road Trip Ideas from Chicago (Updated For 2024)

From a quick 3-hour Chicago weekend getaway to 16 hours jaunt to the Rockies for seasoned road trip connoisseurs – use this Mega Chicago Road Trip thread to know more about 14 curated, off-beat Summer Road Trip ideas from Chicago – including nearest oceanfront beach from Chicago, dreamy Michigan coast towns, bridge walk under the…

“ We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – this anonymous quote succinctly captures the spirit of every family planning their next road trip adventure.

Whether you just want a quick 3-hour Weekend Chicago Getaway or have the tenacity for an epic 16-hour road trip to the Rockies as a seasoned road tripper – this mega road trip blog details 14 Road Trips from Chicago with itineraries, pictures and thoroughly researched Things-To-Do.


The ancient ‘New River’ – as seen from the Endless Wall Trail during Chicago to West Virginia road trip

Criteria for these road trips? Every one of these road trips: – has plenty of activities for both family and friends, whether it is family-friendly touristy spots, nature outings or adrenaline-pumping activities for thrill seekers. – has mine (and many other fellow travelers’) first-hand feedback . This is not one of those posts which is *aggregating* stuff already available from Google or your favorite AI search engine.

Without further ado, in order of the *least* travel time from Chicago –

1. Saugatuck and Douglas (Michigan)

Min Days Required: 2 days. Distance: 200 miles . ETA: 3 hours . Why visit? Saugatuck &Douglas are highly renowned Michigan coastal towns and a great destination for beachgoers, nature lovers and artists .

Find more details here at the official Saugatuck portal. PHOTOLOG


Root Beer Barrel Stand at Douglas


2. Door County (Wisconsin)

Min Days Required: 2 days. Distance: 280 miles . ETA: 4 hours . Why visit? Door County is not just a Fall Colors novelty, it is truly one of the best weekend getaways for Chicago residents – few hours of drive gets you to a series of tourist-friendly, charming coastal Wisconsin towns bordering Lake Michigan. Door Peninsula is juxtaposed with waters of Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other, leading to smashing waterfront views.


Touristy activities – Cherry and/or berry picking, golfing, local wineries and summer festivals. For Nature Lovers – Biking and hiking at Peninsula State Park (rentals available as well), many other picturesque hiking trails . Tip: Take a ferry to Washington Island and enjoy almost a day of touristy activities – Cherry Train Tour , Hiking around the island, Lavender farm .

Here is the great official website for list of all Door County activities on offer during summer.


3. St Louis (Missouri) and Springfield (Illinois)

Min Days Required: 3 days. Distance: 300 miles . ETA: 5 hours . Why visit?

Touristy spots – The iconic Gateway Arch (don’t miss the ride which takes you all the way to the top of the arch), Monstrocity play area with giant slinky tunnels (thrilling for kids and adults alike), Grant’s Farm. For Nature Lovers – Meramec Caverns, Lone Elk Park (famous for elk, bison and a lot of other wildlife). For Adventurists – Ziplines at Meramec caverns.


The Stalactite formations at Meramec Caverns

summer 13 road trip

The Meramec Caverns have rich human history as well

summer 13 road trip

Monstrocity , photo by Laurie Skriva, [email protected]

summer 13 road trip

The center dome at the Capitol of Illinois

4. Adventure Road Trip to Niagara, WI.

Minimum Days Required: 3 days . Distance: 300 miles . ETA: 5 hours with many breaks along the way. Why visit? Wide assortment of adventure activities for kids and adults, just 5 hours away. Best part is the simplified logistics since lodging, activities and even food is managed by Wildman itself. White-water Rafting – Wildman Resort is one of the nearest and well-managed white-water rafting spots from Chicago. Other adventure activities – zip-lining , paintball, kayaking, climbing. Camping by the Peshtigo River.

Check out the full blog with pictures and itinerary here .


5. Put-in Bay (Ohio)

Minimum Days Required: 3 Distance: 320 miles . ETA: 6 hours with couple of breaks. Why visit? Quaint Ohio island village on Lake Erie with a ton of family fun/adventure activities. You can also combine it with Cedar Point Amusement Park at Sandusky. Touristy spots – Benson Ford Ship House , Underground Perry Cave adventure , local wineries, tour train, butterfly house.

Tip: Also check out the official portal here with infodump on tons of activities.


6. Traverse City, Sleeping Bear Dunes, River Tubing (Michigan)

Minimum Days Required: 3 Distance: 360 miles . ETA: 7 hours with couple of leisurely breaks. Why visit? A perfect intermix of water, sand and urban activities. Touristy spots – Traverse City has something for everyone – vineyards and wineries, dozens of beaches, food and entertainment. For Nature Lovers – Sleeping Bear Dunes with its emblematic bluffs, dunes and the eponymous Dune Trail to Lake Michigan; canoeing, kayaking and floating at the natural lazy river – Platte River ; Biking, paddle-boarding, kayaking, sunset-sails as organized by The River Outfitters and finally, all the camping options. Tip: Try to merge your road trip with one of the many scenic drives MI has to offer.

IMG-20180902-WA0028 (1)

7. Cuyahoga National Park (Ohio)

Minimum Days Required: 3 Distance: 380 miles . ETA: 7 hours with couple of leisurely breaks. Why visit? A lesser known national park but with all the perks. Touristy spots – Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. For Nature Lovers – Brandywine falls, Biking across the historical Ohio/Erie canal Towpath trail and finally, The Ledges Trail , a moderate 1.8 mile hike abundant of vivid rock formations and cliffs, making it truly one of a kind.

Check out the detailed blog with itinerary and pictures here .


8. Red River Gorge (Kentucky)

Minimum Days Required: 4 Distance: 440 miles . ETA: 8 hours with couple of leisurely breaks. Why visit?

Rock Climbing /rappelling – Red River Gorge or The Red as it is called, is known for the best climbing crags in the nation, perfect for rock climbing/rappelling. Underground Kayaking – an exhilarating experience of Kayaking in almost pitch dark in a forgotten underground mine, accompanied by chilling temperatures even when its 90 degrees outside the cave.

Red River – A water fest for the kids: boasting of activities like Cliff jumping, Kayaking, River Tubing. Scenic Overlooks, trails, scenic drives, streams. Bonus: Cumberland falls (also known as Niagara of the South ) is couple of hours away from Red River Gorge area and the only place in the Western Hemisphere where you can see a moonbow in action.

Check out the full blog with detailed itinerary and pictures here .


9. Mackinac Island

Minimum Days Required: 3 Distance: 440 miles . ETA: 8 hours with couple of leisurely breaks. Why visit? Touristy spots – Mackinac Island is truly one of a kind – with no cars allowed inside, most of the island is preserved as the state park and offers a ton of historical, touristy and nature-friendly activities. No wonder it attracts a bazillion tourists each year. For Nature Lovers – The 8.2 mile bike trek around the island with serene Lake Michigan views, is as good as it gets . You can also visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park , known for hosting a series of waterfalls plunging into Lake Superior. For those looking a natural swimming holes, you can also take a dip in the Lower Falls at Tahquamenon, a family-friendly swimming site. Tip: Mackinac Island bifurcates Upper and Lower Peninsula, which gives you a unique opportunity to travel up north to places like Pictured Rock and Soo Locks. . If you want to savor Lower peninsula, you can visit Traverse City and some of other favorites – river tubing at the Platte River and the scenic M31 highway tracing through Elk Rapids, Charlevoix and Petoskey.

Screenshot 2022-06-05 180603

A monarch taking its flight, at Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory


10. New River Gorge at Fayetteville (West Virginia)

Min Days Required: 4 Distance: 570 miles . ETA: 9 hours . Why visit? Adventure activities – white-water rafting, bridge walking, ATV rides, rock climbing, rappelling and a lot more. A Nature Lover’s paradise – Trails, scenic drives, panoramic vistas, ancient forests, rivers. Endless Wall Trail is voted #1 trail in the nation in many polls – I have never seen such stunning views accessible via a gentle 2.3 mile out-and-back hike. And all this while, you would hike through the ancient Hemlock forest rich in local flora. Long Point trail comes a close second, another gentle hike with dazzling views of the symbolic New River Gorge bridge.

Check out the full blog detailing our road trip here .

Tip: The key to visit so many places in a short trip (3-4 days) and not rush through the things, is to simplify the logistics. I stayed and booked most of these adventure activities directly from Ace Adventure Resort whom I found very reliable and resourceful. Would highly recommend Ace Adventure for any of your visits near the area – their Wipeout style water park over an *actual* lake is a kids paradise.


11. Smokey Mountains National Park

Minimum Days Required: 4 Distance: 600 miles ETA: 11 hours with multiple breaks Why visit? Plenty of Touristy spots for family – Gatlinburg downtown including Skylift, the Little River Scenic Drive , Pigeon Forge’s amusement parks – huge hit with kids. For Nature Lovers – Plenty of hiking options, notably – Laurel Falls, Gretto Falls, Clingmans Dom – highest point at Smoky with stunning views, Cades Cove – your best chance at live bear sighting. For Adventurists – Rafting (we did it with kids as young as 8 at the Lower Pigeon River), Zip-Lining, River Tubing at The River Rat Main Outpost.

Check out the full blog with itinerary and pictures here .


Smokey 101 – The SkyLift Bridge (Don’t miss the night view)


12. Chattanooga and Nashville (Tennessee)

Distance: 630 miles . ETA: 11 hours with couple of leisurely breaks. Why visit?

Touristy spots – The Rock City which boasts a vantage point where you could see 7 states, Ruby Falls (underground waterfall), Lookout Mountain (known for the epic Civil War battle), Incline Railway (one of the steepest funicular railway incline in the world), Point Park . You can also visit Parthenon in Nashville on the way to Chattanooga. For Nature Lovers – We did the Cherokee Falls trail in Cloudland Canyon State Park. Detailed list of all trails is here. For Adventurists – Ziplines at Ruby Falls.


13. Pensacola (Florida) and Gulf Shores (Alabama)

Distance: 900 miles . ETA: 14 hours with a few short breaks. Why visit? One of the closest ocean fronts from Chicago, Pensacola/Gulf Shores area is renowned for its pristine white sand beaches rich in quartz.

Touristy spots – Fort Pickens , Scenic Highway 30A , Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier , Pensacola Naval Air Station – home of the Blue Angels , Crabs , Fort Morgan .

For Nature Lovers – Bayou Marcus Birding Trail , Northern Terminus of Florida National Scenic Trail , Tarkiln Bayou Trail (known for Pitcher plants ).

Water sports should definitely be on the menu as well. Tip: Nashville area would be a perfect pit stop for this road trip. You can also visit Parthenon on the way.

Pensacola beach

14. Rocky Mountains National Park

Distance: 1000 miles . ETA: 16 hours, best to span it across 2 days. Why visit? With 400+ miles of mountain environments, 300 miles of pristine hiking trails, sparkling alpine lakes, waterfalls, gushing rivers, meadows and towering mountain peaks, the Rockies tick all the boxes for an epic road trip!


Other Touristy activities – Camping, ATV rides, White-water rafting , driving up or taking a train to Pikes Peak (one of the highest motor-able roads in America), drive to Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, Lilly Lake and finally, Garden of the Gods.

Here is the super helpful NPS portal for list of all activities on offer.

Here is the full blog detailing our road trip. Tip: The weather at the Rockies could be quite shifty, it snowed heavily right before our Memorial Day trip. Please check the official weather updates here.


Vistas like above is a routine sight at the Rockies!


That’s all there is!

If you made it this far, hopefully you found your next road trip adventure from Chicago.

Like what you see? View our X or Reddit exploits.

Share this:

2 responses to “14 summer road trip ideas from chicago (updated for 2024)”.

wnctravel Avatar

Awesome post — I’ve been over that bridge and it is wild! If you go that way again, check out Middleboro, Ky— it’s just a mountain town, but it was build in an asteroid crater about ten miles wide.

Amit Sharma Avatar

Thanks for the suggestion for Middleboro, KY – will add it to the bucket list.

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Hiking And Camping Road Trip From Chicago To Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin

Hiking And Camping Road Trip From Chicago To Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin

How To Plan A Perfect Road Trip?

How To Plan A Perfect Road Trip?

Best Fall Color Road Trips From Chicago

Best Fall Color Road Trips From Chicago

Summer Picnic – Gilson Park Beach And Bahai Temple Combo At Wilmette

Summer Picnic – Gilson Park Beach And Bahai Temple Combo At Wilmette

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10 Best Summer Road Trips in the US

Even if it’s the dead of winter, it’s never too early to start planning a road trip with your family or friends this summer to create some lasting memories. During the trip, you can see exciting sights and find different activities, depending on the route you have chosen. We’ve compiled 10 of the best summer road trips in America so you can create great memories and have fun at the same time!

Pro tip: Be sure to check out our general road trip tips guide to help you prepare for your road trip.

  • High Road to Taos
  • Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway
  • Fort Collins to Las Vegas
  • Portland to Seattle
  • Moab to Lake Powell
  • Miami to Fernandina Beach
  • Pacific Coast Highway
  • LA to Chicago on Route 66
  • Turquoise Trail
  • Great River Road

1. High Road to Taos

A trip from High Road to Taos, New Mexico, a distance of 56 miles, is one of the best summer trips in the US because it offers great memories for any traveler. Driving from Taos from High Road will give you an opportunity to experience scenic desert and mountain views. Travelers can also find several art galleries along this route. During this road trip, you will also have a chance to see the numerous small towns and Pueblo villages located along this route. Renting an exotic car of your dream is a great idea so you can take a group on a tour of some of the city’s many attractions.

2. Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway

The 25-mile Million Dollar Highway, aka Highway 550, stretches from Silverton to Ouray, Colorado . Along the way you’ll find a range of sights to see and things to do. The Million Dollar Highway is mountainous, giving you a great sense of adventure and recreation. One of the popular stops you can make during this trip is at Molas Lake. You can also enjoy a great forest view by making a stop for some hiking in the San Juan National Forest. Your journey will be comfortable with a sturdy 4-wheel drive SUV for the mountain roads.

3. Fort Collins to Las Vegas

A summer trip to Las Vegas , Nevada, from Fort Collins, Colorado, is almost a rite of passage to the people who live in Colorado. You will begin your trip by driving through the Rocky Mountains and southwestern Colorado before reaching the desert of Nevada. There are several popular stops along this route, including Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, which is the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world.

4. Portland to Seattle

With plenty of exciting stops in between, the 3-hour trip from Portland to Seattle will give you an opportunity to see several natural and manmade features. You will enjoy seeing parks and natural vistas along the way. Depending on what route you take, you can explore cities, forests, mountains and coastline. For a hike or picnic, stop at Silver Lake, which is just off Interstate 5 on Highway 504. From the lake, you can get great views of Mount St. Helens volcano.

5. Moab to Lake Powell

Consider taking a road trip from Moab, Utah, to Lake Powell in Arizona this summer and have a chance to relax with some recreation and adventure. This road trip gives you access to Arches National Park in southeast Utah, which is popular for its serene environment. You will also be able to see the Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods. For those who love wine, you will have a chance to enjoy it at the Spanish Valley Vineyard and Winery.

6. Miami to Fernandina Beach on Florida’s A1A

The beach views along this route are reason to consider a drive from Miami to Fernandina Beach on Highway A1A this summer. This is particularly the case for beach enthusiasts who would like to spend some time or have some photography by the beach. One of the popular stops for travelers along Highway A1A is Fort Lauderdale’s Sea Turtle Oversight Protection Headquarters, where you have a chance to see some of the creatures. A stop at the J.M Stringer Gallery of Fine Art in Vero Beach will give you a chance to experience fine art. The historic city of St. Augustine is a great place to spend time during this trip on your way north to the last stop at the Georgia state line: Fernandina Beach, Florida.

7. Pacific Coast Highway

Your summer trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in California will start at Port Townsend and end at US 101 in Mendocino County. The 656 miles stretch has everything for everyone, making it a popular trip in the U.S. You will have a chance to see cities and towns, amazing views over the Pacific Ocean, beaches and parks. Make a stop at Big Sur for an opportunity to witness marine life and for amazing views. Another popular stop you can make along this route is Muir Woods, just north of San Francisco , where you will be able to see giant redwood trees.

8. Los Angeles to Chicago on Route 66

A road trip on historic Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago will give you an opportunity to explore a lot of the country. You can make a stop at the Grand Canyon and witness its grandeur. Another popular stop along this route is the Petrified Forest. In addition to these stops, the Meramec Caverns is a great place to explore with your family or friends.

9. Turquoise Trail

Your summer trip along the Turquoise Trail in New Mexico will begin at Santa Fe and ends in Albuquerque. There are several exciting stops along this route. For instance, you can stop at art galleries and see some unique New Mexican artwork. Your trip to the Southwest might also call for a stop at a cowboy boot shop along the way.

10. Great River Road

Starting at Itasca State Park in Minnesota and ending in New Orleans, Louisiana, the 36-hour journey along the Mississippi River on the Great River Road will give a chance to drive through 10 different states. You will have a lot of things to experience and see during this trip, including the culture of New Orleans and the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

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Iowa among best states for a road trip this summer. The reason may be due to your wallet

summer 13 road trip

Load up the car with snacks and have a playlist ready to go. Iowa is one of the best states in America for a road trip this summer, according to WalletHub .

The personal finance company ranked all 50 U.S. states to determine “the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations.” Rankings were based on factors such as average gas prices, hotel prices, number of attractions, traffic-related deaths and more.

The Hawkeye state was ranked 14, with neighboring state Illinois following. Its strong score may be attributed to it ranking high for the categories of cost and safety, coming in at No. 14 (again) and No. 3 overall respectively.

In fact, Iowa was fourth for the lowest average cost of car repairs, WalletHub found.

What is the best state for a road trip in 2024?

Texas nabbed the No. 1 spot on WalletHub’s ranking, scoring high in part thanks to its number of attractions, such as zoos and amusement parks, that those on a road trip may want to check out. Texas also offers motorists thousands of miles of scenic byways in addition to cheap hotel room prices and plenty of restaurants per capita, according to WalletHub.

Need a break? Play the USA TODAY Daily Crossword Puzzle.

The top 10 best states for a road trip this summer are:

  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania

What is the worst state for a road trip in 2024?

Delaware came in last, ranking especially low for activities and cost.

What was WalletHub’s methodology?

WalletHub looked at 32 metrics under the categories of costs, safety and activities to determine the best states for road trips, the personal finance company described. For cost, the lowest price of a three-star hotel room was considered among other measures. For safety, measures included the quality of roads to the number of violent crimes. Access to scenic byways and the number of historical sites per capita were just two of the measures for the category of activities. Data used is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Park Service, TripAdvisor and more.

What are some things to do on a road trip in Iowa?

Some things to do in Iowa? Try 113 things to do this summer in Iowa.

Highlights include:

  • Travelers in southeast Iowa will want to try the swinging bridge in Columbus Junction that spans 262 feet.
  • Up north, music lovers will want to stop by the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake, which welcomed musicians from Roy Orbison to Duke Ellington, according to the museum . Then, visit the nearby field where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “the Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson were killed in a plane crash in 1959. 

Those who have an appreciation for the outdoors may want to build in some extra time on the road trip to visit one of the best camping spots in the Midwest, according to Dyrt , located in southwestern Pottawattamie County. Or take a car tour through the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, voted the best national wildlife refuge to visit in America. There, you may spot bison, elk and other wildlife.

Fans of the supernatural will want to visit the Edinburgh Manor in Monticello for a chance to experience a haunting. It’s one of several destinations that travelers may want to take a detour for when they want something off the beaten path in Iowa.

Paris Barraza is a trending and general assignment reporter at the Des Moines Register. Reach her at  [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza .

Wallethub ranks Texas No. 1 state to take a road trip. See the rest of the state rankings

summer 13 road trip

Looking for a road trip this summer? Look no further than Texas. 

According to WalletHub , Texas is the best state for road trips.  

Some of their reasoning included available attractions such as zoos, botanical gardens, amusement parks and scenic byways. 

Here is a look at their list. 

Ranking the states as best summer road-trip destinations 

  • North Carolina 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • South Dakota 
  • North Dakota 
  • South Carolina 
  • New Hampshire 
  • Mississippi 
  • Massachusetts 
  • West Virginia 
  • New Mexico 
  • Washington 
  • New Jersey 
  • Connecticut
  • Rhode Island 

Texas Natural Attractions

Exploring the natural attractions in Texas offers a range of beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities. Here are some must-see natural destinations for a Texas road trip:

Big Bend National Park

  • Santa Elena Canyon: Hike along the Rio Grande and enjoy the stunning views of the canyon walls.
  • Chisos Basin: Explore the scenic trails and enjoy the panoramic vistas.
  • Hot Springs Historic District: Soak in the natural hot springs along the Rio Grande.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

  • Guadalupe Peak: Hike to the highest point in Texas for breathtaking views.
  • McKittrick Canyon: Explore the colorful foliage and crystal-clear streams, especially beautiful in the fall.
  • Salt Basin Dunes: Wander through the vast white gypsum dunes.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

  • Lighthouse Trail: Hike to the iconic Lighthouse rock formation.
  • Scenic drives: Enjoy the scenic drives through the second-largest canyon in the U.S.
  • Outdoor activities: Participate in horseback riding, mountain biking and camping.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

  • Enchanted Rock: Climb the massive pink granite dome for stunning views of the Texas Hill Country.
  • Hiking trails: Explore the various trails around the rock.
  • Stargazing: Experience excellent stargazing opportunities due to the minimal light pollution.

Texas gas prices

There's a lot to see in the state and you're going to stop a lot for gas. According to AAA , the average price of gas in Texas is $3.08. Compared to states like California ($4.81), Michigan ($3.67) and Florida ($3.44) people might save a little more with a Texas road trip.

Protect Your Trip »

10 epic east coast road trips to take this summer.

Spend a few days or even a week or two exploring these exciting East Coast destinations.

Epic east coast road trips to take this summer

(Getty Images) |

Grab the keys and hit the road for a summer vacation to remember.

East Coast road trip in Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington, DC

Baltimore, Annapolis, Md., and Washington, D.C.

East Coast road trip in Hudson Valley, New York

New York's Hudson Valley

East Coast road trip in Hilton Head, Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina

The lowcountry: Hilton Head, Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina

East Coast road trip from Boston to Portland, Maine

Courtesy of Robert A. Dennis |

Boston to Portland, Maine

East Coast road trip in Florida's first coast

Florida's First Coast: Amelia Island to St. Augustine

East Coast road trip in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

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Pennsylvania's Route 30

East coast road trip in the Virginia Shore

Virginia's Eastern Shore

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Miami to Key West, Florida

East Coast road trip from Connecticut to Rhode Island

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Road to Grand Tetons from Yellowstone with mountains visible in the distance, one of the best road trips in USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)

If there’s one travel bucket list experience that our home country of the United States is best for, it’s road trips.

From small towns to big cities, from mountain ranges to deserts, from forests to plains, and from sea to shining sea, there is no shortage of epic destinations for road trips in the USA.

We’ve taken USA road trips in about 30 of the 50 states ourselves (and hope to finish them all off one day!).

To help fill in the gaps, we asked fellow travel bloggers to share some of their favorites for this Great American road trips blog post.

They delivered an enormous variety of USA road trip itinerary ideas, from weekend trip options to weeks-long excursions!

Dreaming of taking a road trip in the United States and not sure where you want to go?

This list of exciting USA road trip itinerary ideas will help you decide where to hit the open road next! 

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Your USA Road Trip

Cross-country usa road trip ideas, southern road trips in the usa, united states road trip ideas in the west, east coast road trips in the usa, central usa road trip routes, non-continental usa road trips.

Kate Storm in a black dress walking away from the camera along Jones Steet in Savannah GA, with several American flags hanging from homes on the right side of the photo

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Before we dive into exploring the best USA road trips, there are a few tips to be aware of–especially if you’re visiting as an international tourist and haven’t explored the United States before!

If you’re renting a car, shop around.

The best company to rent a car from for your United States road trip will likely vary dramatically depending on where and when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits.

Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through  Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your USA road trip.

Browse rental cars for your American road trip today!

white hyundai accent parked on the million dollar highway in colorado

Read the rental requirements carefully.

Especially make sure you know how many miles you’ve been allotted (or ideally, if they’re unlimited), if you need to return the car empty or full of fuel, what to do if the car breaks down, and what damages you’re liable for in the event of an accident.

On the off chance that you’re planning on continuing your road trip into Canada or Mexico , be sure to check any requirements for crossing the border as well.

Book travel insurance.

We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen on the road, and an epic road trip is definitely a case of better safe than sorry.

Check prices and inclusions with Safety Wing for road trips in the USA!

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at craggy pinnacle on blue ridge parkway during 3 days in asheville nc

Don’t underestimate how sparsely populated parts of the USA are.

If this is your first time visiting the USA, you may be surprised to see just how long you can drive in the United States without coming across a town or even a gas station–especially out west.

Be sure to keep an eye on your directions, and fill up your gas tank before heading into any particularly unpopulated areas!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm taking a selfie in Spooky Canyon Utah

Make sure you pack the right gear.

From safety gear to snacks, a big USA road trip requires bringing the right tools along, whether you’re taking a short vacation, diving into van life , or somewhere in between.

We recommend taking a look at the suggestions in our road trip packing list before you go!

kate storm in front of emerald lake, one of the best hikes in rocky mountain national park colorado

Consider bringing your sleeping arrangements along with you.

It’s not right for everyone, but there’s a reason that using an RV or campervan is such a classic American road trip experience!

And, you don’t need to dive into the RV lifestyle and buy one for your next trip in order to try it out: you can try out the experience by renting RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy .

Browse RVs available to rent with Outdoorsy today!

Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

If possible, stop in at least one national park!

Our home country is filled with an enormous number of interesting and beautiful places, but perhaps none shine quite as brightly as our national park system.

Want to climb sand dunes? We have that.

Marvel at glaciers? Check.

Hike across mountains? Take your pick.

Go scuba diving? Definitely.

Admire the power of incredible geysers? Got that, too.

Whatever kind of outdoor wonder you have in mind, you can find it at one of the most beautiful national parks in America !

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

From Stephanie of Oklahoma Wonders

Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip, inspiring songs, movies, and novels.

Starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, Route 66 passes through nine states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Some of the best things to do on the route are enjoying the kitschy 1950s motels, gas stations, and restaurants that harken back to the days of the Great American Road Trip.

You’ll also find tons of quirky roadside attractions like the Catoosa Whale, Cadillac Ranch , and the Twin Arrows that are must-sees.

If you want to enjoy some nature along the way, you can visit the Grand Canyon or Petrified Forrest National Park.

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

The most typical way to explore Route 66 is to start in Chicago and drive all the way to Santa Monica, but there are many who drive smaller portions of it or go from west-to-east instead of east-to-west.

There’s no single “right” way to make the drive. Just make sure you enjoy yourself as you go!

Recommended Road Trip Length

Because the route is so long and there’s so much to see, it’s recommended you spend two weeks exploring it one way.

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

New York to Los Angeles

Driving across the United States from New York to Los Angeles is one of those classic American road trip routes that, quite honestly, is not suited to most USA vacations–you’ll be looking at a lot  of cornfields and open plains along the way and spend many days on the road.

… But that being said, the legend and myth of this USA road trip route endure because it does make for quite the adventure!

With nearly 3,000 miles of driving to do between NYC and LA, you have extreme flexibility to create your own USA road trip itinerary!

However, the most direct route (a mere 44 hours of drive time, not including stops and traffic!) will take you to Chicago, across the open fields of Iowa and Nebraska, through some stunning nature in Colorado and Utah, and right through Las Vegas before delivering you to the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

view of an rv driving through valley of fire state park, one of the best day trips during 3 days in las vegas nevada

If you’re open to detours, plenty of national parks will be within your reach on this USA road trip, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, and even the Grand Canyon!

If you’d like to enjoy a coast-to-coast road trip in the USA, we recommend setting aside at least two weeks to ensure you have enough time to experience the route along the way (and avoid spending too many days at a time looking at nothing but highways)!

Kate Storm standing on the beach next to Santa Monica Pier is Los Angeles, California, the final destination of some of the most classic USA road trip itinerary ideas

Blue Ridge Parkway

From Carl of NC Tripping

If you’re exploring the western parts of North Carolina or Virginia , the Blue Ridge Parkway is always lingering somewhere nearby.

It’s the most popular road trip between the two states and connects two of the United States’ most-visited national parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.

At 469 miles in length, this road will take some time to explore !

Narrowing things down to a few places you must visit is tough, but here are some “musts.” 

Moving north to south, highlights on the Virginia side include Humpback Rocks (Milepost 5), Mabry Mill (MP 176), Peaks of Otter (MP 85), and the Blue Ridge Music Center (MP 213).

Across the border in North Carolina, you at least need to see Linville Falls (316), Craggy Gardens (MP 364), Graveyard Fields (418), and Oconoluftee (MP 469) at the end of the line.

Blue Ridge Parkway USA shot from above during the fall, with fall foliage on either side of the road--one of the best weekend trips in the United States

Of course, there are more spots scattered throughout that are within a short drive of the Parkway , such as the ever-popular Asheville, NC , the Biltmore Estate , and more charming mountain towns than you can count.

That, along with its length, is why this is one USA road trip that will take some time, if ever, for you to complete. 

Please note that some areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway close during winter through parts of spring. The NPS is pretty good about keeping information up to date on their website .

While you can drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in less time, ideally, if you want to hike and explore along the route, a week is a great starting point for this USA road trip route.

kate storm and ranger storm at looking glass falls, one of the best stops on a 3 days in asheville itinerary

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

From Katie-Beth of Her Life in Ruins

Who doesn’t love a nice glass of bourbon?

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you tour 18 different distilleries, try multiple bourbons (and other treats) at each, and take in tons of bottled-up history throughout the gorgeous Bluegrass State. 

While there is no official route for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, stay in either Lexington or Louisville as a “home base” for the experience, as all of the distilleries are within a few hours’ drive of these cities (some are mere minutes!).

Each day, pick 4-5 distilleries to visit, starting when they open in the morning and touring until they close.

Try to do the distilleries that are closest together on the same days (less driving and easier to get from one place to another).

If you’re a serious drinker, there are some bus tours that will chauffeur you throughout the Trail!

You’re never given more than about 2 ounces of alcohol at each distillery, but you may want a designated driver just in case.

On the drive between distilleries, you’ll see the rolling hills of Kentucky, some of our famous horse farms, and, of course, rick houses holding millions of gallons of the delicious spirit. 

In order to visit all of the distilleries, I recommend spending 4-6 days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Flight of Bourbon--you'll see plenty of these if you take one of the best us road trips in the south, the kentucky bourbon trail

Southeast Coastal Road Trip

The stretch of coastline running from St. Augustine, Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina is packed with beautiful sights, historic cities, and laid-back beach towns.

We consider this area one of our personal favorites for road trips in the USA, and we’ve taken dozens of road trips in the region!

Start in St. Augustine, founded in 1565 by Spanish settlers and one of the most historic cities in the USA.

Explore its beautiful Castillo de San Marcos, check out the Fountain of Youth, relax on the beach, and explore the Colonial Quarter.

From there, head north to Savannah , where you can enjoy its incredible architecture and town squares, and then move on to Charleston , where you’ll find compelling American history and the lovely Folley Beach.

Kate Storm sitting in front of the pineapple fountain in Charleston SC--choosing whether to visit Savannah or Charleston is no easy task, but we wrote this guide to help!

As you move up the coast, consider detouring for brief stops in Beaufort, South Carolina and/or Hilton Head Island, before heading into North Carolina.

Historic Wilmington and New Bern are always worth a look as you pass by, and while you’ll need to head all the way up to Kitty Hawk and Nag’s Head to experience the classic Outer Banks destinations, the Crystal Coast ( Emerald Isle , Morehead City, Beaufort , Atlantic Beach , etc.) has been my family’s haunt for generations and is also well worth experiencing.

And, the Crystal Coast also happens to be closer geographically to the rest of the stops on this United States road trip itinerary!

ranger storm standing on the sand at atlantic beach nc at sunset

Want to continue north to the Outer Banks?

Ocracoke Island, Nags Head, Duck, Kitty Hawk (famously home to the Wright Brothers’ first-ever flight!) and more are all ready to welcome you.

We recommend spending about 10 days enjoying this USA road trip route.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse NC as seen from behind sand dunes

Orlando to New Orleans Road Trip

From Christine of Live Love Run Travel

Driving from Orlando to New Orleans  gives you plenty of options for stops along the way as well as enough to fill up an entire vacation at the starting point and ending point of the road trip.

From natural springs to beaches to caverns, there is plenty to see along this route to break up the trip.

Orlando is of course known for its iconic theme parks including Disney and Universal Studios.

However, Orlando and Florida also offer plenty of natural highlights including the natural springs.

On the way from Orlando to New Orleans , stop at Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs, or Ginnie Springs along I-75.

Once you get onto I-10, make sure to stop at Florida Caverns State Park for a unique Florida experience.

Plus, if you are taking this trip in the summer, you’ll appreciate the cooler air in the caverns!

clear waters of three sisters springs in florida with sup board, one of the best places to visit in summer in the united states

Along I-10, there are also plenty of opportunities to stop for some time at the beach.

Consider Pensacola, Florida, or the Gulf Shores, Alabama, or any of Mississippi’s beaches to avoid a long drive off the main road.

From there you are in New Orleans where you can enjoy the bayou, lots of amazing food and live music, and plenty of history and beautiful architecture in the various districts within the city.

The length of this road trip depends on a few factors including how long you want to spend in Orlando and New Orleans.

The drive itself only takes about 9 hours, but if you want to spend time at the springs, beaches, and caverns, stretch it out to a 2 or 3 day drive, with a few days on either end to explore Orlando and New Orleans.

close up shot of wrought iron balconies in the french quater of New Orleans--you'll see plenty of beautiful corners like this throughout your 3 days in New Orleans itinerary!

Washington State

From Katie of Two Wandering Soles

With rugged driftwood-strewn beaches, snowcapped peaks, small towns, and major cities, Washington State is a true gem.

Home to incredibly diverse landscapes and endless adventures to be had, this Pacific Northwest destination is one of the best places to take a road trip in the United States. 

Start by  exploring Seattle (if you have the time) because there is plenty to do in this PNW hub. But when you’re ready to get out of the city, head straight to the Olympic Peninsula .

With temperate rainforests, waterfalls, remote beaches, and a towering mountain range, Olympic National Park is arguably the most diverse swath of land in the state, if not one of the most unique places in the country, and is the perfect place to try out some hikes in Washington .

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

Another drive well worth your while is to head northeast toward the iconic Mount Baker.

If you have the time, continue north to Highway 20 which brings you into the breathtaking North Cascades National Park.

Make photo stops along the way (like at the spectacularly beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Diablo), set off on epic hikes, and refuel at the small towns along the way.

Eventually, you’ll reach Lake Chelan , which is a perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer day.

From Lake Chelan, you have a stunning drive on Highway 2 back to Seattle with many more opportunities for exploring small towns and hiking along the way, if time allows. 

If you want to cover this whole route, you should allow 1.5 – 2 weeks. If you have less time, shorten your USA road trip itinerary accordingly.

Lake Diablo in Washington State as seen from above--an excellent stop on a west coast road trip USA

Southwest Colorado Road Trip

From Tanya of Rad Family Travel

Exploring Southwest Colorado on a memorable summer road trip through the mountains offers adventure in every direction.

Sand-sled through Great Sand Dunes National Park, drive breath-taking mountain passes, soak and swim in hot springs, and climb ladders to ancient Puebloan dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.

From there, imagine taking a jeep ride to old mining towns, biking along scenic trails, and hiking among wildflowers.

Arrive in Telluride in style via a free gondola, go whitewater rafting or alpine sliding, sleep under the stars, and top it all off with local burgers and cold brews.

Gondola in southwest Colorado with mountains visible in the background

In other words: whatever kind of outdoor adventure you’re looking for, southwest Colorado has you covered.

A Southwest Colorado road trip highlights diverse outdoor fun in Great Sand Dunes National Park, Pagosa Springs, Durango, Mesa Verde National Park, Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista.

Choose from tent camping, cabins, or hotels, or a mixture thereof, for lodging along the way.

Allow at least nine to ten days for this epic southwest Colorado Road Trip , starting from Colorado Springs.

If you prefer slower travel and lots of outdoor adventure, consider making it a fourteen-day loop by staying longer in Ouray, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista — and really delve into these sweet mountain towns . 

great sand dunes national park colorado as seen from a distance

Utah’s Mighty Five

From Ali of Travel Made Simple

Utah is home to five amazing national parks, all close enough to each other to visit on one iconic national parks road trip .

These national parks are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Since they’re all in the southern half of the state, you can drive in a loop to get to them all.

This also works well as part of a bigger  southwestern US road trip .

If you’re short on time or not in great shape, you can see a lot by driving or taking park shuttles, where available.

Hop out at designated parking lots, lookout points, or shuttle stops, take pictures, and go for a short walk.

For more activity, each park has hiking trails for beginners to expert-level hikers.

You can see the highlights of each park in about a day, but allow more time at any park where you want to experience more hiking.

kate storm holding ranger storm at dead horse point state park

Start and end in Las Vegas and drive counterclockwise.

Since driving from Las Vegas to Moab , where Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are located, is quite long, consider stopping in Page, AZ (home of the famous Horseshoe Bend ), or Monument Valley on the AZ/UT border. Or both!

From Moab, drive to Capitol Reef National Park, then Bryce Canyon National Park , and lastly Zion National Park before heading back to Vegas.

If you prefer, you can also do this route in reverse!

Give yourself at least a week to do this road trip, or longer if you’re stopping in Page and/or Monument Valley.

View from Sunrise Point, which is one of the best places to visit in Bryce Canyon Utah

South Dakota

If you’re craving wide open spaces, plenty of buffalo and prairie dog sightings, gorgeous caves, and a quirky roadside stop or two, then South Dakota is the American road trip for you!

Driving from east to west (though you can easily reverse it), pay a quick visit to Sioux Falls and then The World’s Only Corn Palace (their words, not mine) before diving into Badlands National Park.

Drive the Badlands National Park scenic loop, do some hiking (the Notch Trail is not to be missed), and when you’re ready for a break, detour to Wall Drug for a heavy dose of kitsch.

landscape of badlands national park in south dakota, one of the best things to do usa

Head north to visit the Wild West town of Deadwood, and if you’re up for it, detour into Wyoming for a quick visit to Devil’s Tower, the first US national monument!

Back in South Dakota, base yourself in or around Keystone to explore Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and–if you have time–Spearfish Canyon.

Going inside Wind Cave National Park requires a guided tour, so be sure to book in advance!

Determined road-trippers can do justice to this South Dakota road trip route in about 5 days, though 7 allows for a bit more hiking and a chance to add on places like Rapid City.

South Dakota is also perfectly located for combining with road trips in Wyoming and beyond, so you can easily use this route as a building block for a bigger US road trip itinerary!

3 praire dogs in badlands national park, a great stop on a south dakota midwest road trip

Scenic I-90 from Portland to Yellowstone

From Catherine of Passports and Adventures

Visiting Yellowstone National Park from Portland, Oregon is easy and there is no better route to take than the scenic I-90.

This 812-mile trip starts from Portland and takes the I-84 along the very beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

As you get started, stop at Multnomah Falls to photograph the famous waterfall!

Continue to Richland where you could rest overnight before jumping onto the I-90, the longest interstate in the United States.

Multnomah Falls near Portland OR in the early fall

This interstate highway passes Spokane before trailing alongside the lake of Coeur d’Alene, a beautiful part of the country, and then snakes through the Nez Pearce-Clearwater National Forests.

Imagine a highway surrounded by forests on either side, and you have an idea of what this part of I-90 is like.

A great town to stop along the I-90 is Missoula, which sits along the Clark Fork River and has plenty on offer including a great park, Caras Park where families and visitors can unwind.

After Missoula, continue along the I-90 and join Highway 287 which will take you to West Yellowstone to start your visit to the first national park.

This route from Portland to Yellowstone is 812 miles via these interstates and highways and could be done in two days but is best enjoyed over a few days before your  Yellowstone vacation .

As you get close to the national park, you can also find some great camping near Yellowstone along this route.

herd of buffalo in yellowstone national park with geysers visible in the background. yellowstone is an unforgettable piece of some of the best road trips in usa

Northern New Mexico

From Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

Northern New Mexico is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to have a road trip.

The weather is gorgeous and sunny at almost any time of year, and many of the state’s most interesting places are just an hour’s drive away from each other!

Start the road trip in the state’s largest city, Albuquerque. Almost all people arriving in New Mexico start here because this is where the major airport is located.

Tourism in Albuquerque has really taken off since the show  Breaking Bad  was filmed here, but those who are not  Breaking Bad  fans will still love seeing Albuquerque’s charming Old Town.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan your trip around the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta , you won’t be sorry you did!

kate storm and jeremy storm smiling at the camera at the albuquerque international balloon fiesta

After a couple of days in Albuquerque, drive an hour up to Santa Fe and spend a couple of days here. This is New Mexico’s capital and its most beautiful city.

You can stop for a bath in the hot springs at Ten Thousand Waves and see the historic Spanish Colonial Palace of the Governors. 

Finally, check out some smaller towns like Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed, Chimayo, which is a popular pilgrimage site, and Taos, where you can visit a Native American pueblo that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You’ll be amazed at how much Northern New Mexico has to offer!

I recommend spending about a week on this USA road trip route.

Chimayo Pueblo Church in northern New Mexico, a popular pilgrimage site and a stop on one of the best road trips in America

Denver to Yellowstone Loop

Starting from Denver, you can easily craft a fantastic road trip plan.

USA national parks are in abundance in the west, but from Denver, you can hit three of the most legendary in short order: Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the ever-popular Yellowstone National Park.

For your first stop, base yourself in the beautiful mountain town of Estes Park , where you can access some of the best hikes in RMNP while also enjoying this idyllic mountain town.

From there, head up to Yellowstone to enjoy a few days of geysers, geothermal pools, wildlife spotting, and utterly unique views.

geothermal pool in yellowstone np, an amazing feature on a road trip plan usa

On your way back to Denver, head to Grand Teton National Park to visit highlights like Jenny Lake, enjoy some hiking, and soak in iconic views like those along Mormon Row.

Don’t miss the chance to spend a bit of time in Jackson Hole, one of the USA’s most iconic mountain towns, while you’re there!

We recommend setting aside at least a week for this all-American road trip–if you’d like to spend some time in Denver, a full two weeks is best.

kate storm standing in front of a barn at mormon row in grand teton national park, a feature on many of the best usa road trip itineraries

San Francisco to Yosemite Loop

From Julie of More Than Main Street

Typically, you think of the Pacific Coast Highway when you think of the best California road trips, right? Well…consider something a little different!

This 10 day California road trip , forming a loop from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park and back, is one of the best road trips in the USA.

You’ll get the best of big-city excitement, some time by the ocean, beautiful scenic vistas, and outdoor fun galore!

After spending a few days in San Francisco , hit up Monterey, Carmel, and part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Can’t-miss destinations include the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Big Sur, and the world-class Monterey Aquarium.

Next head east over to Yosemite National Park for some incredible hiking, followed by a little wine tasting in Sonoma or Napa Valley, a stop in Muir Woods to see the giant redwoods, then finally back to San Francisco.

This road trip is perfect for families, couples, or even solo travelers and is guaranteed to be one you won’t forget!

You’ll need at least 10 days to do justice to this epic California road trip.

Vineyard in Napa Valley CA with a wood barn visible in the background, one of the best honeymoon destinations in usa

The American Southwest from Las Vegas

Thanks to inexpensive flights, a convenient location in southern Nevada, and its widespread appeal, Las Vegas is a fantastic place to kick off a road trip through the southwest!

With Las Vegas as a starting point, head off to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada before making your way to the ultimate USA road trip destination: the Grand Canyon.

From there, loop up to Moab to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, head west to visit Bryce Canyon National Park , and then move onto Zion before circling back to Vegas.

Kate Storm wearing a blue tank top walking between two formations in Goblin Valley State Park Utah

With extra time, you can add on more exciting stops in Arizona and Utah like Monument Valley, Page (home of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend ), Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, and more.

Ten days is a good starting place for this American road trip, but you can do an abridged version in one week, and the sky is the limit as far as how long you can take to explore every nook, cranny, and slot canyon in the region!

South Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous national parks in USA

New York State Road Trip

From Melissa of Navigation Junkie

The route from Buffalo, NY to New York City is full of great attractions and small towns to explore, and the variety of stops along the way will be sure to entertain every member of the family!

To begin the journey, start at Niagara Falls in Buffalo, NY.

See the roaring power of the American and Canadian falls, and if you are up for it, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist to get up close and personal with the falls.

After visiting the falls continue on to Letchworth State Park, the Grand Canyon of the East, for a day of hiking and enjoying nature.

Continue on to   Rochester, NY , where you will find a variety of fun attractions, history, and nature experiences.

The next stop along the route is the Finger Lakes region, where you can enjoy the lakes, waterfalls, and some wine tasting.

rainbow falls in watkins glen new york, a fantastic usa road trip itinerary destination

From there, head to Saratoga Springs, known for horse racing and mineral baths.

After visiting Saratoga Springs, continue on to the Catskills Region, where you will find plenty of scenic views and hiking trails for hikers of all abilities.

Finish up your road trip in New York City, where you can visit the Statue of Liberty, The World Trade Center Memorial, Central Park, and Times Square, among many other iconic attractions!

We recommend taking a minimum of one week to fully experience all stops along this USA road trip route.

kate storm standing at a magnifying glass on liberty island overlooking financial district manhattan

Miami to Key West Road Trip

From Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz of Getting Stamped

If you’re looking for a tropical road trip, consider making the drive from Miami to Key West .

On this US road trip, you’ll travel through the islands that make up the Florida Keys on the “Overseas Highway.”

It’s said to be one of the best road trips in the country!

While the drive to Key West isn’t too far (165 miles), the stops and the scenic beauty along the way are what make it worthwhile. The road trip is full of fun and quirky things to do and see!

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Spiegel Grove Shipwreck are two great spots for exploring under the surface, where you’ll find coral reefs, sea life, and a sunken Navy ship.

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

For above the water, consider taking a cruise on The Africa Queen through the canals of Key Largo. 

There are great restaurants and bars along the way too.

Some popular stops include Plantation Key’s Mile Marker 88 Beach & Bar for all the tiki vibes, Islamorada Beer Company, and Robbie’s Restaurant, where you can feed tarpons from the dock. 

This road trip is best for a weekend (2-3 days).

Palm-tree lined path leading to Caribbean Sea beach in Key West Florida, one of the best southern weekend getaways

New England

Made up of some of the USA’s smallest states, the northeast region of New England is one of the best places for a road trip in the USA.

Featuring historic cities (hello Boston !), adorable small towns, a rugged coastline, gorgeous harbors, and plenty of lighthouses, New England spots a charm and culture all its own.

Consider starting and ending your New England road trip in Boston, the region’s largest city and airport hub, where you can walk the Freedom Trail, stroll cobblestone lanes, and visit some of the most impressive universities and museums in the country.

From there, make your way to beautiful Acadia National Park in Maine, stopping at charming coastal villages like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kennebunkport, Maine along the way–plus of course, a stop in the charming city of Portland.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

On your way back south, drop by the White Mountain National Forest, and beautiful towns like Stowe, Vermont (legendary for its fall foliage) and Woodstock.

If you have time, head south of Massachusetts before heading back to Boston, visiting the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, and the idyllic small town of Mystic, Connecticut.

To take a USA road trip through all six New England states, two weeks or more is best. 

However, with less time you can easily pick and choose a couple of states to visit and still have an amazing road trip experience!

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Texas Hill Country

Tucked into the central part of the Lone Star State, west of both Austin and San Antonio, lies an oasis of beauty.

Visit the Texas Hill Country for sparkling rivers, charming small towns, incredible hiking, beautiful waterfalls, excellent Texas barbecue , magnificent wildflowers, and more wineries and distilleries than you can count.

Some of the best things to do in the Texas Hill Country include visiting the town of Fredericksburg, which is known for its German heritage, enjoying a wine tasting, exploring beautiful Wimberley, climbing Enchanted Rock, exploring dramatic limestone caves, sampling barbecue, and visiting some of the best swimming holes near Austin , including the legendary Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well.

kate storm in a blue dress in front of the luckenbach post office

Be sure to save time for a couple of state parks, as well!

In addition to Enchanted Rock, popular state parks in the Hill Country include Garner State Park, Guadalupe River State Park, and Colorado Bend State Park (home to 70-foot Gorman Falls).

The lakes are also unforgettable: don’t miss a chance to admire the beauty of Canyon Lake or Lake Travis during this incredible US road trip!

Even if you only have one day, it’s worth taking a quick Texas Hill Country road trip–but ideally, we recommend setting aside a week to explore.

While you can visit year-round, bluebonnet season (roughly late March-April) is undoubtedly the most scenic time to visit!

cypress creek blue hole in wimberley texas, one of the best american small towns to visit

Northwest Arkansas

Packed with beautiful forests, idyllic hot springs, historic towns, and a lesser-known but beautiful national park, Northwest Arkansas is the perfect option for travelers looking for an interesting but off-the-beaten path US road trip destination.

Start your road trip at Hot Springs National Park, one of the only US national parks to be set in an urban (really, more like small-town) setting.

Nine historic bathhouses in the national park line Bathhouse Row, where visitors flocked to enjoy the local hot springs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You can still soak in two of them today!

small waterfall in hot springs national park arkansas

From there, head north all the way to Eureka Springs, which is known for its historic architecture, beautiful setting in the Ozark Mountains, and even more hot springs.

Along the way, consider detouring slightly to visit Hawksbill Crag (pictured below), one of the best viewpoints in Arkansas.

Whether you want to hike, soak, shop, or simply relax and enjoy the views, Northwest Arkansas is a delightful getaway.

This trip can be completed over a long weekend, but 5 days would be ideal.

hiker standing on hawksbill crag in northwest arkansas ozark mountains

From Carole of Travels With Carole

For one of the best road trips in Texas , begin in El Paso and head southeast. 

West Texas is filled with art, much of it BIG Texas art.

Before reaching the iconic West Texas art hub of Marfa , you’ll encounter some roadside art stops that include the “Giant” movie set installation featuring huge cutouts of stars Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson.

This is followed by stops at the Prada Marfa store that never opens, and at the railroad-side World’s Smallest Target Store that is complete with a shopping cart. 

kate storm in front of prada marfa in west texas, one of the best road trips in america

The tiny town of Marfa itself is home to the Chinati Foundation’s series of huge indoor and outdoor installations located on a former military base, as well as a plethora of art galleries–one of which displays Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.” 

In addition to art, Marfa has a viewing center where locals and visitors alike congregate at night hoping to see the area’s legendary and unexplained bouncing light orbs.

And if that’s not enough, you can also dine at the Stripes convenience store where Anthony Bourdain ate a fried burrito while filming what turned out to be his last episode of “Parts Unknown.” 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a fascinating visit to this area. 

Allow 3 nights to visit this area and another night or two for an excursion to Big Bend National Park.

fort davis drugstore hotel in west texas with a pink truck parked in front of it, part of one of the best road trips in us southwest

Northern Michigan

When considering the best road trips in America, the Great Lakes are often overlooked in favor of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts–but for a magnificent summer road trip through one of the USA’s hidden gems, head to northern Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior are located a mere five hours or so apart if you drive directly.

And, if you’ve never set eyes on the Great Lakes, this road trip will defy your expectations of what lakeshores look like!

view of fall foliage with lake in the foreground on michigan upper peninsula

Between them, be sure to take a step back in time at Mackinac Island, one of the best places to visit in Michigan.

Here’s the twist, though: no cars are allowed on the island, so you’ll need to leave yours on the mainland during your island escape!

Plan for about a week to make the most of this USA itinerary.

arch rock formation on mackinac island michigan

From Zach & Julie of Ruhls of the Road

Kauai is one of the most unique and beautiful destinations on earth.

However, when most people visit, they experience the inside of their resort and maybe a few beautiful places on day trips.

In truth, the best way to experience this incredible island is on a road trip to all of the best places on the island!

To start your Kauai road trip, go to the number one destination on the island: the Na Pali Coast.

The Na Pali Coast defies description, it is a place you have to see to believe.

The best way to see the area is on the Awa’awapuhi Trail, but make sure you hike the trail on a clear day for the best views!

Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii. Kauai is one of the best road trips in USA.

From here, check out the Alakai Swamp, a boardwalk that also boasts incredible views.

As you leave the Na Pali Coast area, head down towards Waimea and see the Waimea Black Sand Beach.

Moving along the coast, stop at the Poipu area and see one of Kauai’s famous Hula shows.

Continue this coastal route and head into Wailua State Park. In this beautiful area, you’ll want to see Wailua Falls, Opaeka’a Falls, and hike the Kuilau Ridge.

The Kuilau Ridge Hike offers a 360-degree view of the Kauai landscape that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Finish your road trip by heading up to the Princeville area and checking out Queen’s Bath.

This is a beautiful tide pool that will make for the perfect ending to your Kauai road trip.

Make sure to check tides and go at low tide, as this area isn’t safe at high tide.

We recommend completing this Kauai road trip in 3 days.

twin waterfalls in forest in kauai hawaii

Road to Hana, Maui

From Jess of I’m Jess Traveling

When you think of Hawaii you may not think of a road trip but prepare to have your mind altered.

When traveling on the island of Maui driving the Road to Hana is a must!

The scenic drive takes you from Kahului to the east side of the island to the town of Hana. 

The Road to Hana is 52 miles of one-lane bridges, hairpin turns, and curves.

This drive will take up an entire day so make sure you pack lots of snacks and fill up for gas beforehand.

black sand beach in Waianapanapa state park on road to hana maui, one of the best things to do in usa

The winding road takes you past jaw-dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls, and exotic flora.

Some highlights of this drive include Ho’okipa, Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Honomanu Bay, Wailua Falls, and the awe-inspiring Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Don’t forget to wear your bathing suit and pack a towel because pulling off the side of the road to take a dip in the ocean or swim under a waterfall is the name of the game.

Buckle up, enjoy the ride, and prepare for a trip of a lifetime.

You can drive the Road to Hana in a day, but if you’d like to savor the experience, consider camping or staying in Hana town for a few days to make sure you see all the best sights along this road trip in the USA.

Bright blue water as seen along the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best USA road trip itinerary ideas

Alaska Road Trip (Anchorage to Valdez)

From Wendy of Adventurous Retirement

Alaska is filled with excellent American road trip opportunities, especially in the summer.  

Start in Anchorage, when the museums are open.

Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about the indigenous people of the ‘last frontier’, and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center to learn about the history and culture of Alaska for free.

Take the Trolley tour for a fun overview of Anchorage, its history, and the earthquake of ‘64.

Ride the free shuttle to the Ulu factory, and check out the salmon runs at Ship Creek.

On day 2, head to Palmer and visit the Iditarod Museum before driving to Hatcher Pass.

Go to the high point for incredible views, hike the trails, and admire blue mountain lakes. 

Continue on this road to loop back to town.

Matanuska Glacier near Valdez Alaska. Alaska is home to some of the best road trips in USA

From there, head to Matanuska Glacier, located one hour from Palmer. Spend day 4 hiking to and on the glacier. 

After that, drive toward Valdez Alaska on the Scenic Richardson Highway. It’s about 3 hours to Valdez.

Stop at Worthington Glacier Recreation Area to see the glacier or hike it. Stop at the various pullouts to view the waterfalls along Thompson Pass and the Highway.

If the salmon are spawning, visit Crooked Creek and see if you can spot a bear fishing for dinner.

While in and around Valdez, also consider taking an all-day wildlife glacier cruise, visiting the Valdez Museum and Annex, and visiting the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum.

This is a 5-day, 6-night road trip that keeps visitors busy every day. 

3 photos of usa travel destinations: alaska glacier, havasu falls, portland maine. black and red text on a white background reads "25 bucket list usa road trips"

[convertkit form=3386343]

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

6 thoughts on “25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)”

Love all these ideas and inspiration for my next trip!

Thanks Jess! So hard to choose.

So many fantastic ideas – I can vouch for the awesomeness of WA, my home state! I am itching to get driving!

We are too! Hopefully we’ll all be able to soon. 🙂 We’d love to get back out west this year!

Everybody skips over Arkansas and Missouri when they suggest road trips, big mistake. Some of the best driving roads and scenery are located in the Ozarks and Quachita National Forests. Start in Springfield, Mo to the north. Stops could include Branson, Mo, Buffalo National River, Little Rock, Ar, Hot Springs, Ar, Talimena Scenic Drive from Mena, Ar then back north through the river valley of Fort Smith, Ar,, up Hwy 23 (Pig Trail) to Historic Victorian Eureka Springs, Ar. Then back to Springfield, Mo. You could easily spend 10-14 days on this road trip and see very diverse entertainment, scenery, hiking and waterfalls, mineral and hot springs, mountain and valley vistas. Best time to travel would be spring and/or fall. Scenery rivals anywhere in the country.

It is a beautiful part of the country! We actually visited Eureka Springs the weekend we got engaged, stayed at the Crescent. 🙂 We had someone signed up to contribute the Ozarks to this post but we haven’t heard back from them yet–maybe we’ll add it ourselves during a post update!

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15 Scenic Road Trips To Experience In The U.S. In 2023

summer 13 road trip

  • Destinations
  • Road Trips In The U.S.
  • Types of Travel
  • United States

With a country as large and culturally diverse as the United States, the road trip opportunities are endless. Whether you are looking to journey up or down the coast, take in the sights between the nation’s many national parks, or simply want to try a new path between two familiar places, our writers have done the legwork for you and provided unique and exciting itineraries to use as you plan your own road trips.

While we could have included many more options on this list as we worked our way from California to Maine, here are 16 of our readers’ favorites from 2022 that we hope will make planning your next trip a breeze. This is not a ranked list, but it is numbered for your convenience.

Estero Bluffs State Park

1. Pismo Beach To Pacific Grove, California

California route 1: pacific coast highway.

Enjoy 165 miles of California’s Central Coast as you slowly meander along the Pacific Coast Highway between Pismo Beach and Pacific Grove . This stretch is especially beautiful during springtime as wildflowers begin popping up all over the landscape. Temperatures are also ideal for enjoying the coast by car at this time of year, allowing you to turn off the AC and roll down the windows for fresh air. Views include such sights as Big Sur, Hearst Castle , and the many lovely towns that dot the central California coast. Road trippers are sure to indulge in many of the fruits of the region through delectable dining experiences and local wines.

Editor’s Note: Part of California Route 1 near Big Sur is closed due to rockslides. Check road conditions before heading out.

Read more about the beautiful stops on a California Central Coast road trip .

Picture-perfect coastline in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor with blooming blue lupines in the foreground

2. Eureka, California, To Bandon, Oregon

U.s. route 101: pacific coast highway.

The trip between Eureka and Bandon along the Pacific Coast Highway is not long — less than 200 miles of driving — but it is meant to be enjoyed at a slow pace, savoring the sights, smells, and tastes along the way. Begin your journey in the mighty redwoods before making your way up the coast. Along the way, enjoy the stunning landscapes, gorgeous ocean vistas, and charming small towns that make this region of the Pacific such a worthwhile destination any time of the year. This drive up U.S. 101 through Northern California and Southern Oregon is one not to be missed.

Discover why the trek from Eureka to Bandon is our writer Louisa’s favorite annual tradition .

Historic wagons, part of Keys Ranch in Joshua Tree National Park.

3. Joshua Tree To Death Valley, California

The journey between two of California’s most visited national parks is an experience of its own. Only 4 hours separate these sizzling destinations in the California desert, and they make a great road trip for those that desire to enjoy both. After experiencing Joshua Tree National Park’s namesake yucca plants and exploring its many scenic trails, head north through the Mojave Desert — making frequent stops for fuel, water, and food as a precaution against the sweltering heat —and you will eventually arrive at Death Valley : the United States’ hottest and driest national park.

Cindy Barks shares her favorite stops along the way and how to make the best use of your time at both of these great parks .

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

4. Kanab To Spring City, Utah

U.s. route 89.

U.S. Highway 89 runs parallel to, and just east of, Interstate 15 through the southern portion of Utah. This less-traveled route will put you within reach of many of southern Utah’s most memorable natural treasures: Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument , and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. In addition to these amazing natural wonders filled with astonishing canyons, stunning rock formations, and pristine sand dunes, you will find yourself in historic towns that will transport you back to the times of the Old West.

Read Cindy’s full article on her favorite stops along Utah’s beautiful Highway 89 .

Views along the Salt River Canyon scenic drive in Arizona.

5. Phoenix To Salt River Canyon, Arizona

Drive east from the outskirts of Phoenix for about an hour and you may find yourself in Salt River Canyon, if you are lucky. While not as “grand” as the Grand Canyon itself, Salt River Canyon provides a unique scenic drive that you won’t want to miss, including the chance to spot wild horses . The drive through the canyon itself can prove taxing for the faint of heart, with steep grades, tight turns, and an overall drop in elevation of around 2,000 feet. Don’t let this scare you away from the breathtaking views the route has in store for those that make the journey.

Discover how to enjoy our nine favorite stops driving the scenic Salt River Canyon . And if you’re looking for more to do in Arizona, here are seven other amazing scenic drives through the Grand Canyon State .

Vegetation and hills of southwest Texas.

6. San Antonio To Marfa, Texas

U.s. route 90.

Before Interstate 10 came into existence and created a faster path through West Texas, U.S. 90 was the route preferred by many. In fact, if you have the extra time and are looking for a more scenic and traditional road trip journey through the state, you may just want to set your sights on this more remote route. Explore Amistad National Recreation Area, Seminole Canyon State Park , and many other great natural areas along your way. Stop off for fuel and food in the historic and quirky old railroad towns, including Marfa , that you will find along the way.

Learn more about these six unique stops on an exciting road trip along U.S. 90 in Texas .

Downtown Eureka Springs

7. Eureka Springs, Arkansas, To Pawhuska, Oklahoma

This two-state journey will take you from the natural springs of northern Arkansas right to the doorstep of the Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond, in Pawhuska. Take in the beautiful trees and lakes of Arkansas as you make your way from Eureka Springs to Bentonville . Explore charming Vinita on historic Route 66 as you make your way west into the Oklahoma portion of your trip. Each stop on your journey will provide a reason to stop and explore.

Enjoy each of these five amazing stops between Eureka Springs and Pawhuska .

Melody and Sara enjoying a cool treat at Sweden Creme in Mankato, KS.

8. Seneca To St. Francis, Kansas

U.s. route 36.

Many motorists flock to interstates as a way to reduce travel time and avoid reduced speeds and stop lights. However, with only around 10 stoplights across the entire length of the state, the speed with which you can travel along U.S. Route 36 through northern Kansas might just surprise you. However, don’t go so fast that you miss the many great opportunities you will pass along the way. Find numerous endearing towns ready to welcome you, and explore the many parks and natural areas that you encounter during your journey.

Writer Sara Broers shares 10 reasons why you should take Route 36 through Kansas instead of I-70 .

Erick's oldest building, the Sandhills Curiosity Shop

9. Chicago, Illinois, To Santa Monica, California

U.s. route 66.

Historic Route 66 may in fact be no more, as it was officially decommissioned by the U.S. government in the ’80s, having been replaced by several new interstate highways along the way. However, several stretches of this nostalgic byway still exist along the original route, and you can jump on the interstate as needed when they run out. Retrace the path of so many before you who got their proverbial kicks along this classic road trip between Chicago and Los Angeles over its many decades in existence.

From tried-and-true favorites to lesser-known — but just as worthy — hidden gems, here are writer Bob Clinkingbeard’s nine favorite Route 66 experiences he had on a memorable trip with his wife on this famed stretch of highway.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Iona's Beach

10. Duluth To Grand Portage, Minnesota

Minnesota highway 61: north shore scenic drive.

Minnesota 61 along the coast of Lake Superior makes for a beautiful drive. Your journey will take you past great beaches, enchanting waterfalls, and stunning views out over the largest of the Great Lakes. With scores of interesting stops along the way, you will be sure to find a town or attraction of interest to you. Take the journey as fast — or as slow — as you would like as you make your way from Duluth north towards the Canadian border: Just make sure to stop from time to time to take it all in.

Writer Tim Trudell picked his nine favorite stops along Minnesota’s North Shore Drive .

Seven Mile Bridge in Florida.

11. Miami To Key West, Florida

U.s. route 1: overseas highway.

Just over 160 miles and 42 bridges is all that separates mainland Miami from the remote retreat of Key West. The sprawling city of Miami can keep you busy for days, so plan plenty of time to explore all that the region has to offer, including portions of nearby Everglades National Park . But once you are ready, hit the open road and cruise across the long stretches of bridge separating the 34 individual islands that make up the Florida Keys .

When planning your Overseas Highway trip, consider our favorite stops on an epic road trip between Miami and Key West .

Fenwick Island in Delaware.

12. North Ocean City, Maryland, To New Castle, Delaware

Delaware highway 1.

Highway 1 works its way north through the state of Delaware from its border with Maryland to Interstate 95. Along the way, you will be treated to sandy beaches, historic towns, and many unforgettable stops along the way. The southernmost leg of the journey will take you through numerous charming beach towns, including Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach . Then it turns inland and takes you through the capital of Dover and other great towns of Delaware’s interior. Finally, exit Highway 1 and make for historic New Castle along the Delaware River.

This small but exciting state is well worth your time; enjoy our picks for the best stops during a Delaware road trip the next time you are in the region.

Kinzua Bridge Skywalk

13. Erie, Pennsylvania, To The Poconos

U.s. route 6.

This less-traveled path more or less follows U.S. Route 6 and will take you from the shores of Lake Erie to the wooded mountains of the Poconos . The charming towns of northern Pennsylvania are rich in history and exciting attractions for all ages. Enjoy a stroll out on a former rail trestle bridge turned skywalk; learn more about the man who brought down the infamous Al Capone at a museum dedicated to him; or take a wagon ride through Pennsylvania’s own “Grand Canyon”. The Allegheny region is also chock-full of scenic vistas and natural areas to explore along your journey. This stretch of highway through northern Pennsylvania is sure to provide something for everyone.

Robin O’Neal Smith shares her favorite stops on a beautiful Allegheny road trip through northern Pennsylvania to inspire your next trip.

A bridge over the Hudson River in Hudson Valley.

14. New York City, New York, To Boston, Massachusetts

During your next trip between New York City and Boston , ditch the more crowded interstate route along the coast and opt for a leisurely road trip through New York State’s gorgeous Hudson Valley and Western Mass instead. With stops at both indoor and outdoor art exhibits, the Culinary Institute of America, and the infamous town of Salem , your journey to Boston will be sure to thrill art and history lovers alike.

Make sure to plan a trip that includes these must-stops during a New York City to Boston road trip through the Hudson Valley .

Boats resting in the harbor of Newburyport.

15. Boston, Massachusetts, To Bangor, Maine

This quintessential New England road trip will take you up the coast from Boston, through New Hampshire, and into Maine , the very heart of New England. Stop along at one of the many beaches you pass along the way and take a dip — or a brisk stroll through the sand, depending on the time of year. Each town you pass has its own unique history and charm to dig into upon arrival. Culinary treats await in Portland and Camden , with fresh lobster on the menu just about anywhere you stop. Finally, head inland to Bangor to experience the hometown of Stephen King.

Discover more about each of New England local Sandi Barrett’s picks for the 12 best stops on a road trip from Boston to Bangor .

Coldwater Covered Bridge

Bonus: Fabulous Drives Through Alabama Perfect For Every Interest

Regardless of your favorite hobbies and interests, there is likely a road trip through Alabama that will meet your specific entertainment desires. From nature to art and history to sports, the state has a trail for everyone. The state’s department of tourism has crafted 19 unique trails around the state to encourage road trippers to hit the road and explore their great state, all while focusing on the attractions that mean the most to them. Resident and Alabama enthusiast Joe Cuhaj shares 14 of his these fabulous drives through the great state of Alabama, perfect for every interest .

And once you have chosen your path, have all of your stops laid out, and fueled up your ride, ensure you are fully prepared for the journey with these road trip tips:

  • 20 Road Trip Essentials I’ve Learned To Never Hit The Road Without
  • 11 Audiobooks Perfect For Any Road Trip
  • 9 Essential Tips For Surviving A Road Trip With Your Spouse

Image of Clayton McKibbin

He has traveled to 44 states and has taken several trips outside of the U.S.; he experienced London as a tourist during college and took immersive trips to both Mexico City and Athens through a former career with a college student ministry. One of his favorite travel memories was serving a Christmas meal to refugees in Athens and hearing their stories of hope; Athens is truly the crossroads of European, Asian, African, and Middle Eastern cultures and shouldn't be missed!

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These are the best states for a summer trip

WalletHub ranks the places where the roads are scenic and the gas prices low

Erika Mailman

Three out of four of us are taking a road trip this summer, according to the personal finance website WalletHub . That’s a pretty high number. But it makes sense: with a road trip, you can blast your own music, bring your dog without trouble, stop whenever you want, and dash away even for just one night… or several weeks. You get to see a part of our country that you can’t see from the air or water, and although gas isn’t cheap (the national average is more than $3.45 a gallon), you can get away with an inexpensive road trip if you plan carefully. If you haven’t already embarked, you might want to hear some of these statistics to help guide your choices. WalletHub’s list of the 10 best-rated trips includes highlights of states that offer more to the driving traveler. The list takes into account the safety and condition of roads, congestion, the number of uninsured drivers, amusement spots per capita like zoos and nightlife, weather, miles of shoreline, and other factors that make a road trip more or less attractive.

First, a few takeaways. California has the highest number of scenic byways. That includes the beautiful Highway 1 that runs down the coast — but California pays the most for gas in the nation. It lands at No. 43 (out of 50 states) on the overall list. If you love camping and don’t want to pay much for your tent site, Mississippi has the lowest daily price for camping: nice! Mississippi is No. 36 overall. Looking for the lowest price for a three-star hotel room? That’s Arizona, which is No. 21 on the overall list. In New Hampshire, you won’t have to worry about leaving your car while you dine, sleep or hit the beach. It’s the state with the lowest percentage of car thefts. The overall safest state, according to the study? That’s Maine, with New Hampshire and Iowa on its heels. (Vermont is No. 4, which makes us think maybe a New England road trip is the way to go!) The state with the best ranking for activities is California, followed by Florida and New York. No surprises there; those are probably the three states you think of first when you think about a popular U.S. destination. For affordability, Louisiana is No. 1, with Mississippi and Oklahoma following. It’s great to travel and get a lot for your money. Eat some beignets in New Orleans , drive the Delta Blues Highway in Mississippi , and check out the food and art scene in Oklahoma City , all without breaking the bank.

Here are the top 10 states for summer road trips:

2. Minnesota

3. New York

4. Louisiana

7. North Carolina

10. Pennsylvania

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

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Texas coasts to No. 1 on new list of best states for summer road trips

CultureMap logo

HOUSTON, Texas -- Houston is already at the top of the list when it comes to the best summer travel destinations, but the expansive Lone Star State is leading the rest of the nation as the No. 1 state for summer road trips in 2024.

Texas' superior traveling potential was recognized in WalletHub's annual list of the best and worst states for summer road trips , which ranked all 50 states based on their road trip costs, safety, and activities. Over 32 metrics were considered for the study, including each state's average gas prices, road quality, and variety of attractions.

The top states are the ones that have plenty of fun things to do at relatively low costs, and provide "the best driving experience," according to WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe. Texas was also No. 1 in 2023 .

Continue reading this article from our ABC13 partners at Houston CultureMap .

SEE ALSO: Houston soars in Forbes' top 10 best cities for summer travel

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13 Road Trips To Take In The USA That Are Bucket-List Worthy

  • Stunning coastal views and charming towns make the Pacific Coast Highway a bucket-list-worthy road trip in California. (100 characters)
  • Route 66 is perfect for history buffs, connecting small towns and offering iconic landmarks along the way. (102 characters)
  • The Great River Road, spanning 10 states, provides a scenic route along the Mississippi River for an ultimate bucket list road trip. (129 characters)

There's something inherently alluring about the open road. The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the freedom to explore new destinations and experiences. From adventures on the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest to the stunning vistas of the Southwest, the United States is home to some of the most iconic and breathtaking road trip routes in the world. This article lists some of the best bucket-list-worthy road trips to take in the USA for a memorable adventure. So, grab those keys, buckle up, and get ready for an experience of a lifetime on one of America's most scenic roads .

UPDATE: 2023/12/07 11:27 EST BY AARON SPRAY

Even More Great Road Trips To Take In The United States

The United States is famous for being one of the best places for road tripping. There are plenty of potential road trips to take all through the United States (and not only in the Lower 48). This list was expanded to include even more excellent road trip ideas to explore the nation.

Related: 10 Of The Most Scenic Byways In The U.S. (Perfect For A Road Trip)

Pacific Coast Highway, California

Staggering sheer drops and coastal views are what make this pacific coast adventure stand out.

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous road trips in the US , stretching along the California coastline between Orange County and Mendocino County, covering a distance of approximately 655 miles. The highway is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world, offering breathtaking ocean views with stunning beaches, rugged cliffs, and charming coastal towns.

Some of the must-see spots along the Pacific Coast Highway include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Bixby Bridge, the Hearst Castle, the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Pfeiffer Beach, and McWay Falls. The drive also takes you through the spectacular Big Sur region, overlooking the coastline and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

  • Length: 655 miles
  • When To Go: September through October
  • Bucket List Stop: Pfeiffer Beach to see the falls

Route 66, Illinois to California

Perfect for history buffs, route 66 tells stories of america's midwestern glory days.

Stretching from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica in California, covering a distance of approximately 2,448 miles, Route 66 is one of the most iconic highways in the US and offers plenty of places to visit along the way. The highway is a popular route for travelers, as it connects many small towns and rural areas in the Midwest and the Southwest.

Some of the must-see attractions and landmarks along the highway include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri; the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and the Santa Monica Pier in California.

  • Length: 2,448 miles
  • When To Go: May and September
  • Bucket List Stop: Blue Whale of Catoosa to add a quirky, famed landmark to the trip

Great River Road, Mississippi River

This route covers 10 states in total, making it an ultimate bucket list road trip.

The Great River Road is a national scenic byway that follows the course of the Mississippi River from its headwaters in northern Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. The road passes through 10 states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, and Louisiana, covering a distance of approximately 3,000 miles.

Some of the highlights of the Great River Road include the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri; the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi; and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. The road also passes through several national and state parks, such as Itasca State Park, Effigy Mounds National Monument, and Natchez Trace State Park.

  • Length: 3,000 miles
  • When To Go: During the fall months , September through November
  • Bucket List Stop: The French Quarter in New Orleans for an authentic Crescent City experience

Related: 10 Bucket List Road Trips To Take In The US This Fall

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Known for being the most scenic mountain road in the south, the blue ridge scenery is unparalleled.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive, spanning 469 miles through the Appalachian Mountains, connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The road is among the best road trips US states have to offer, especially due to the fact it provides breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rolling hills, valleys, and various opportunities for hiking, biking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular scenic drives, offering visitors a variety of attractions, including overlooks with panoramic views, hiking trails, picnic areas, and historic sites. Some of the most popular stops along the parkway include the Peaks of Otter, Linville Falls, Craggy Gardens, and the Linn Cove Viaduct.

  • Length: 469 miles
  • When To Go: Mid-May through Mid-September
  • Bucket List Stop: Shenandoah National Park to take in the beauty of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

Discover the best stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway when planning a road trip adventure along this road.

Overseas Highway, Florida Keys

Seven mile bridge connects travelers to bahia honda state park, making it perfect for nature lovers.

The Overseas Highway is a 113-mile scenic road that connects mainland Florida with the Florida Keys , a chain of islands stretching southward into the Gulf of Mexico. The highway, which is easily among the best road trips in the US in terms of ocean scenery, offers stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean - thereby also providing opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and wildlife watching en route.

Some of the highlights of the Overseas Highway include the Seven Mile Bridge, Bahia Honda State Park, and the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which features hundreds of colorful butterflies and exotic birds. Other popular stops along the highway include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, the Dolphin Research Center, and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, home to the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States.

  • Length: 113 miles
  • When To Go: Between January and April
  • Bucket List Stop: Bahia Honda State Park to appreciate the untouched beauty of this Florida Keys landscape, and any spring season festivals

The Pacific Northwest

In stark contrast to other pacific roads, the northwest scenic byway offers dense woods, mountain views, and scenic waterways.

The Pacific Northwest Scenic Byway, also known as the Cascade Loop, is another one of the most beautiful road trips in the US. It's a 440-mile scenic route that winds through the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, offering stunning views of snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers, and lush forests, allowing travelers to enjoy various outdoor recreation and cultural exploration along the way.

The Scenic Byway is dotted with charming mountain towns such as Leavenworth, and Winthrop, offering a Wild West vibe with wooden sidewalks and historic buildings. Other highlights of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Byway include North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan, Methow Valley, and the Columbia River Gorge, a stunning river canyon, a popular spot for hiking, rock climbing, and waterfall viewing.

  • Length: 440 miles
  • When To Go: During the spring or summer months
  • Bucket List Stop: North Casades National park, where travelers can cross off bucket list hikes, wildflower viewing, and scenic waterfalls off their list

Related: A Road Trip To Remember: The 10 Most Scenic Drives For Your Spring Vacation In The U.S.

The Grand Circle, Southwest USA

This route takes travelers through scenic rocky canyons between utah, arizona, new mexico, colorado, and nevada.

The Grand Circle is a scenic route that takes visitors through some of the most iconic national parks and monuments in the American Southwest. The route includes the states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, stretching over 1,400 miles of stunning desert landscapes, ancient ruins, and geological wonders.

The Grand Circle route typically starts and ends in Las Vegas, Nevada, passing through iconic national parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands, known for their towering red rock formations, stunning canyons, and unique geological features. Other highlights of the Grand Circle route include Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, and the Hoover Dam.

  • Length: 1,400 miles
  • When To Go: April to May, or September to early November
  • Bucket List Stop: Monument Valley to explore hoodoos and other unique geological formations

The Great Lakes Circle Tour

Perfect for small town lovers and scenic lakeside views, this route promises all the beauty of the great lakes.

The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a scenic road trip taking visitors around the five Great Lakes. The route is approximately 6,500 miles long and passes through eight US states and the Canadian province of Ontario, allowing travelers to enjoy a variety of landscapes, from urban areas to small towns and rural countryside.

Along the way, visitors can explore national parks like Isle Royale, Pictured Rocks, and Niagara Falls, with various historic lighthouses, beaches, and scenic overlooks. One of the highlights of the tour is the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and the St. Lawrence River, offering stunning views of the Thousand Islands, known for its charming waterfront towns.

  • Length: 6,500 miles
  • When To Go: During the summer months , between June and August
  • Bucket List Stop: Niagara Falls for those who have never been, or Pictured Rocks for those who have

The Black Hills and Badlands, South Dakota

Early america can be seen on this route, in the form of several landmarks and even a former midwest mining town.

The Black Hills and Badlands route is a scenic driving route passing through some of the most iconic natural landmarks in South Dakota. The route covers approximately 150 miles, taking visitors through a variety of landscapes, including the rugged badlands, towering granite peaks, and pristine forests, including several iconic attractions, such as Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Badlands National Park.

Some other notable stops along the route include Custer State Park, Deadwood gold-mining town, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, which celebrates the history and culture of motorcycle enthusiasts.

  • Length: 150 miles
  • Bucket List Stop: Badlands National park to witness some of the most famous landmarks in American history

Related: Hit The Road: 10 Unforgettable Adventures Await With These U.S. Road Trip Ideas

The Texas Hill Country

Small towns and country that span for miles exude the true charm of the texas hill country route, offering the best views in the state.

The Texas Hill Country route offers picturesque views of beautiful rolling hills and charming small towns of central Texas. The route is approximately 200 miles long, extending between Austin and San Antonio. The region is known for its stunning landscapes, historic sites, and unique cultural attractions. The road through Texas Hill Country takes visitors through several scenic small towns, such as Fredericksburg, Gruene, and Luckenbach. These are some of the best towns in the Texas Hill Country , each particularly known for its charming shops, restaurants, and live music venues.

One of the highlights of the route is the scenic drive along the winding roads of the Hill Country. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the landscape from the many lookout points and scenic overlooks along the way.

  • Length: 200 miles
  • When To Go: During the months of April, May, and October
  • Bucket List Stop: Fredericksburg, which is a bucket list destination for small town lovers

The Dalton Highway, Alaska

With this route being the only one that crosses the arctic circle, the dalton highway is the definition of "bucket list".

The Dalton Highway is the northernmost highway in the United States and the only road trip in this list that crosses the Arctic Circle. The Dalton Highway is an all-weather road but also incredibly remote and one that requires extensive planning (be prepared for breaking down in the remote Alaskan wilderness).

The Dalton Highway runs from Fairbanks (the main city in Interior Alaska) and ends at Deadhorse in Prudhoe Bay (near the Arctic Ocean).

  • Length: 414 miles
  • When To Go: June to mid-July , when the highway is usually dry
  • Bucket List Stop: Finger Mountain Wayside, which also has an interpretive half-mile hiking trail for those seeking more scenic overlooks

Hawaii Big Island Circuit Drive

While hawaii might seem out of the way, the big island circuit drive is worth the flight to see active volcanoes and stunning coastal landscape views.

The Big Island of Hawaii is by far the largest island in the Hawaiian Island Chain and is home to some of the world's most active volcanoes and some of the most stunning landscapes. One of the epic drives to consider is to drive around the Big Island. The two main roads on the Big Island are Highways 11 and 19 and taken together they create one big loop around the whole island.

  • Length: 300 miles
  • When To Go: During the months of April, May, August, September, and October
  • Bucket List Stop: Pepe'ekeo Scenic Drive is at the start of Highway 19, just north of Hilo

Seattle To Fairbanks North American Drive

It wouldn't be a bucket list trip if it didn't have a unique route, and the drive from seattle to washington and fairbanks, alaska, also brings travelers through canada.

This suggested road trip from Seattle in Washington to Fairbanks in Alaska is the only American road trip to also pass through Canada. This is a mammoth 2,150-mile road trip passing through some of the remotest landscapes of North America (including British Columbia and the Yukon Territory). Alternatively, to keep it an all-American 'road trip', consider taking the Alaska Marine Highway - a ferry network that is part of the American highway system that bypasses Canada.

  • Length: 2,150 miles
  • When To Go: During summer months, preferably early June and July
  • Bucket List Stop: While Fairbanks is the ultimate bucket list stop, saving some time to explore Canada can also add a unique aspect to this road trip

13 Road Trips To Take In The USA That Are Bucket-List Worthy

Hit the Road: Discover the 5 Best U.S. Summer Road Trips

With road trip season in full swing, now’s the time to learn more about the top destinations in the United States. 

Market Watch recently released its list of the five best summer road trip destinations for 2023. No matter where you live, where you’re going, or what type of trip you want to take, you’re sure to find that one (or more) of these trips matches your wants and needs. 

Let’s take a closer look at the list!

California: Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway California

Whether you begin in Dana Point or Leggett, a journey along California’s State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), is a rewarding experience. The PCH unveils over 650 miles of breathtaking coastal landscapes and no shortage of attractions.

Route 1 traverses iconic locales like San Francisco , Santa Barbara, and Big Sur as America’s second-longest state highway. 

For example, in Santa Barbara, a visit to Stearns Wharf, the oldest active wharf in the state, is a must. It hosts an array of unique shops, seafood eateries, and the engaging Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. 

As your journey culminates in Humboldt County, take in the redwood forest, famously known as the Avenue of the Giants.

Florida Keys: Miami to Key West

7 mile bridge florida

Embarking on a summer road trip from Miami through the Florida Keys offers an unforgettable experience. As you navigate the Overseas Highway, you can take in hundreds of miles of awe-inspiring scenery. 

Despite the route’s short four-hour duration, you should still allocate several days to fully immerse yourself in the numerous pit stops.

Planning your journey in early summer ensures manageable humidity levels and attractive deals on accommodations and activities. For fishing enthusiasts, Key West provides experienced charter guides at affordable prices, offering a chance to catch snapper, grouper, tuna, and more.

Maine: Portland to Quebec City

Quebec City

Venturing north from Portland, Maine, to Quebec City, Canada, offers a unique blend of cultural enrichment and adventure. Highlights in Maine include the acclaimed Children’s Museum and Theatre and the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, renowned for its American and contemporary art collections.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, West Forks offers white water rafting tours and camping sites. A 40-minute drive later, you enter Quebec, Canada’s vibrant French-speaking province.

Upon reaching Quebec City , you’ll find plenty of historical sites alongside summer festivities. 

Note: Music enthusiasts will enjoy the Festival d’ete de Quebec, a July event showcasing prominent artists.

Nevada: Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada

Nevada is home to Lake Tahoe, known as the “Jewel of the Sierra Nevada.” En route to this natural wonder, consider visiting Reno and Virginia City. Here, you can enjoy rodeos, art exhibitions, and hiking trails — and that’s just the start. 

Upon reaching Lake Tahoe, you can engage in various water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, or a lake cruise. The region has hiking and biking paths and numerous campgrounds, making it an ideal RV road trip destination.

Washington State: Olympic Peninsula Loop

Hoh Rainforest Olympic Peninsula NP

From a large selection of wineries to urban adventures near Seattle, Washington State offers both locals and tourists a broad spectrum of experiences. The Olympic Peninsula is a highlight of the region, encircling the famous Olympic National Park.

As you journey along the U.S. 101 loop encircling the park, you’ll be greeted by an array of picturesque landscapes, winding past the charming locales of Port Townsend and Sequim, known for their aromatic lavender fields in summer.

And, of course, you want to take advantage of an opportunity to explore the Hoh rainforest, one of Earth’s most extensive temperate rainforest ecosystems. It offers year-round camping facilities, is situated less than an hour from Forks, and is easily reachable via Route 101.

Smart Road Trip Tips

friends on a road trip

As you can tell from the list above, road trips can be an exciting way to experience everything the country offers. However, a successful road trip requires careful planning and consideration. 

1. Experience Local Culture : Instead of just focusing on the end point of your journey, relish the beauty of the small towns you pass by. Every place has unique characteristics expressed through customs, traditions, and food. Explore local bazaars, engage in community activities, or converse with the people you meet. Such interactions often leave a lasting impression on your journey.

2. Mindful Music Selection : Music plays a crucial role in setting the mood during a road trip. Consider creating a collaborative playlist that everyone enjoys. Don’t forget to download your playlist for those out-of-service areas. Music can turn long drives into a sing-along adventure and make the journey as enjoyable as the destination.

3. Remain Flexible : While having a schedule is essential, don’t let it constrain you. Welcome the unexpected and make room for spontaneous choices. You might come across a captivating wildlife park or a local celebration that’s too good to miss. Being adaptable can unlock unexpected adventures.

4. Prepare for Everything : Before embarking on your journey, ensure your vehicle is ready for the trip ahead. Carry emergency supplies like a first-aid kit, essential tools, a backup tire, and important contact numbers. It’s also a good idea to know the basics of car maintenance.

5. Embrace a Digital Break : Try to keep your smartphone usage to a minimum. While taking photos is fine, remember to be present and truly experience your surroundings. A brief digital detox will allow you to immerse yourself in the experience and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Unforgettable Summer Road Trips

road trip

Summer road trips offer the perfect opportunity to break free from the mundane routine and immerse oneself in the thrill of exploration. Whether traversing winding coastal roads or navigating scenic mountain passes, the open road beckons with promises of adventure and discovery. Enjoy your summer!

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex . Study by MarketWatch .


Hit the Road: Discover the 5 Best U.S. Summer Road Trips

mobile phone for calling Stanton House Inn, a New England bed and breakfast in Greenwich, Connecticut

  • New England Travel Guide New York State Travel Guide

Summer Road Trips from NYC: Top 27 Most Unique Spots


  • December 28, 2023
  • New England Travel Guide , New York State Travel Guide

Feet out the window, past mountain ranges on a weekend road trip

NYC and its surrounding areas are some of the best places to visit in the US. Thanks to its prime location on the East Coast, New York offers pick of the litter as far as the best road trips from NYC , including beach retreats, fun-filled weekenders, epic drives, and chilled-out days. It’s an ideal base for exploring the Empire State, New England and the Northeast , and even a road trip through Canada . Locals that don’t travel extensively within their home state are missing out. Whether you’re looking to:

  • Entertain yourself in dazzling cities like Boston or Philadelphia
  • Enjoy the best wines in the Finger Lakes
  • Or experience world-famous attractions like Niagara Falls

There are plenty of options for summer road trips from NYC. With 25 epic road trip ideas, you’ll be eager to start your engines and explore the incredible destinations within reach of New York City.

Ready to explore the best summer road trips from NYC ? Let’s get into it:

  • Escape NYC for a weekend of luxury and adventure in the Hamptons.
  • Discover stunning Hudson Valley, explore coastal Montauk & Atlantic City’s casinos & boardwalks.
  • Visit Mystic CT, Adirondacks NY, Asbury Park NJ or Niagara Falls NY, all within road trip distance!

The Best Summer Road Trips from NYC

New York's Hudson Valley is one of the best weekend road trips

Ready for an adventure? Here are some of the best road trips in America to explore. For day trips, set your sights north. You could delve into the charm of Connecticut day trips or the scenic Hudson Valley. If city life draws you in, the bustling heart of Philadelphia awaits. For weekend getaways, consider two unique experiences. You could unravel the chocolate-covered mysteries of Hershey’s “Chocolatetown” or step back in time in Washington DC. If a long weekend is at your disposal, embark on a historic journey on the drive from New York City to Boston and Salem. For nature enthusiasts, the awe-inspiring spectacle of Niagara Falls is a must-see.

And if you’re a little late to the game, you can still plan a road trip or two to see the best spots to see fall foliage near New York City .

1) Hudson Valley, New York

Distance from nyc: about 35 minutes, with no traffic, to tarrytown, ny.

City center in Nyack, New York, in the lower Hudson Valley

Head north of the city and you’ll find the Hudson Valley. This picturesque region, a trove of charming towns and historic sites, is a perfect road trip destination from NYC. Its proximity makes it even more appealing.

The breathtaking views of the Hudson River are a sight to behold from any spot. That said, they’re especially impressive from any of the best Hudson Valley hikes . Art lovers can appreciate renowned artists’ work at Dia:Beacon. History buffs can explore the life of the 32nd President at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY.

For outdoorsy types, the 500-acre Storm King Art Center, Bear Mountain State Park, and the stunning Lake George are captivating. With so much to offer on its list of the best things to do, the Hudson Valley is an unmissable stop on any road trip from NYC.

2) Greenwich, Connecticut

Distance from nyc: about 40 minutes drive or express train.

Greenwich, Connecticut, is one of the easiest trips from New York City

Just a stone’s throw from NYC, Greenwich, Connecticut awaits. This affluent town boasts high-end shopping and top-rated restaurants. Greenwich also offers a stunning coastline. Visit the Bruce Museum to enjoy a blend of art and science exhibits. Take a leisurely stroll through Greenwich Point Park for breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound and one of the best beaches near Greenwich, CT . History enthusiasts should stop by Putnam Cottage and the Bush-Holley House , two sites dating back to the Revolutionary War. With its mix of culture, history, and natural beauty, Greenwich is a must-visit stop on any summer road trips from NYC.

3) Asbury Park, New Jersey

Distance from nyc: 1 hour.

Whiskey Bloody Mary with a plethora of toppings.

Asbury Park, NJ, is the closest Jersey Shore destination to New York City. It’s a place where music history and beautiful New Jersey beaches meet. The iconic Stone Pony venue is its heart, having hosted greats like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Southside Johnny.

The town also boasts stunning beaches. Ocean Grove Beach, Bradley Beach, and Asbury Park Beach are must-visits. Whether you’re a music lover, a beachgoer, or looking for a gay-friendly getaway near NYC , Asbury Park promises a memorable summer road trip.

4) The Delaware Water Gap

Distance from nyc: 1 hour, 21 minutes.

waterfall at the Delaware Water Gap

Behold the untamed beauty of the Delaware Water Gap. Nestled within the Pocono Mountains, it straddles Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This National Recreation Area beckons the adventurous spirit. A summer road trip from NYC to this spot promises an expedition into the wild.

Start at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Venture to The Historic Castle Inn, Bushkill Falls, Silverthread Falls, and Dingman’s Falls. You’ll traverse over 100 miles of hiking trails on one of the best New Jersey day trips . Head to the Lakota Wolf Preserve to see wildlife up-close. The Crystal Garden offers ethereal beauty, while Edge of the Woods Outfitters offers a thrilling adventure, wrapped-up in a summer road trip.

5) The Hamptons, NY

Distance from nyc: 1 hour, 40 minutes, with no traffic.

Lighthouse near the Hamptons

This eastern Long Island jewel offers a luxurious escape. Its beaches rival its beautiful inhabitants. The dining and shopping experiences are as upscale as you can imagine. It’s no surprise this coastal paradise is a perennially popular summer road trip destination from NYC.

The Hamptons isn’t just a place. It’s a lifestyle. It’s the perfect spot for weekend road trips that balance adventure and relaxation. Here, you can explore local wineries, visit museums, and wander through art galleries. If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, you can swim, fish, kayak, or hike. So, why not spoil yourself a little? Experience the East Coast luxury of the Hamptons.

Just make sure you book a place to stay well in advance, and be ready to pay through the nose!

6) Philadelphia, PA

Distance from nyc: 1 hour, 43 minutes, with no traffic.

Riverside city section of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, affectionately known as Philly, is one of the best road trips from NYC. It’s a city with a rich historical tapestry, home to historic buildings like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses the famed “Rocky” steps, a tribute to the city’s cinematic legacy.

Food enthusiasts will find their paradise at the Reading Terminal Market . This indoor farmer’s market is a cornucopia of local food. The city’s iconic dish, the Philly cheesesteak, is a must-try.

And Fairmount Park offers an urban oasis. It’s a sprawling green space perfect for hiking, biking, or leisurely walks.

With its lively neighborhoods, historical importance, and gastronomic delights, Philadelphia is a top choice for a summer road trip from NYC. You can always throw-in the nearby Amish Country on weekend getaways from Philadelphia , if you want a little more to do, too.

7) Montauk, New York

Distance from nyc: 2 hours, 9 minutes, with no traffic.

Promontory at Montauk

Montauk, a coastal gem on Long Island’s eastern tip, is a sight to behold. With stunning beaches and historical lighthouses, it’s a haven for a seaside weekend road trip.

Montauk Point Lighthouse offers grand views, while Camp Hero State Park and Montauk Point State Park boast pristine landscapes. When hunger strikes, local seafood is the answer. The Lobster Roll, Gosman’s Dock, and The Clam Bar are popular spots to indulge.

Montauk’s mix of natural beauty and coastal charm makes it a prime destination for New York road trips.

8) Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Distance from nyc: 2 hours, 12 minutes.

Scenic train in Jim Thorpe, PA

Set your compass towards Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Stunning landscapes surround this historic town. It offers a buffet of outdoor activities and unique attractions. The Asa Packer Mansion Museum and the thrilling Bear Mountain are among the highlights.

The town’s rich history is on display at the Old Jail Museum. The stunning Lehigh River and the majestic Pocono Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop. Jim Thorpe serves up a captivating blend of history and natural beauty. It’s an ideal pit stop for summer road trips from NYC.

9) Atlantic City, New Jersey

Distance from nyc: 2 hours, 18 minutes.

Nighttime on the boardwalk at Atlantic City

Atlantic City, NJ, is a haven for thrill-seekers. Nestled on the Atlantic Coast, this bustling city is famed for its casinos, boardwalks, and lively entertainment scene. Test your luck at renowned casinos like Borgata Casino, Harrah’s Resort, and Golden Nugget. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the four-mile-long Atlantic City Boardwalk. Packed with attractions, eateries, and stores, it’s an adventure in itself. For a little (yes, tacky) excitement on their road trips from NYC, Atlantic City is a sure bet.

10) Mystic, Connecticut

Distance from nyc: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Mystic River at dusk

Mystic, CT is a charming town rich in maritime treasures. Here, history buffs and nature lovers will find a unique road trip experience. The town boasts a beautiful waterfront and the fascinating Mystic Seaport Museum. The museum is a living testament to the town’s maritime history. The idyllic waterfront and historic downtown area are filled with great shops, restaurants, and attractions. Don’t miss the chance to experience Mystic, Connecticut , on your next road trip from NYC.

11) The Berkshires, Western Massachusetts

Distance from nyc: 2 hours, 27 minutes.

View of the surrounding countryside in Adams, MA

The Berkshires, Massachusetts, is a paradise for art lovers. This region is home to the esteemed Clark Art Institute, Mass MoCA , and the captivating Jacob’s Pillow. Yet, it’s not all about art. The Berkshires also invite you to the great outdoors. Venture into state parks for hiking trails, camping, and fishing. In essence, The Berkshires blend art, culture, and natural beauty, creating a memorable road trip experience from NYC.

12) Newport, Rhode Island

Distance from nyc: 3 hours, 16 minutes.

Following the road along the coastline of Newport

Newport, Rhode Island is a spectacle of grandeur, boasting stunning Newport mansions and cliff walks. These relics of a bygone era transport visitors back in time. The Breakers and Marble House are grand estates that showcase turn of the last century opulence.

The renowned Cliff Walk invites you for a leisurely stroll, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Newport offers up sites like the John Brown House Museum and the First Baptist Church in America to history buffs. A visit to Newport is a unique road trip experience, unlike any other.

13) Providence, Rhode Island

Distance from nyc: 3 hours, 18 minutes.

State capitol building in summertime

Providence, Rhode Island, is a small city with a big heart. It’s a delightful blend of art, history, and food that will charm any road trip enthusiast. The Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art is a visual feast. The Church Street Marketplace, on the other hand, is a literal feast. Historical landmarks like the John Brown House Museum and the First Baptist Church in America add a touch of antiquity. And the diverse food scene is simply mouthwatering. Providence is a must-visit destination on any New England summer road trip from NYC.

14) Green Mountains, Vermont

Distance from nyc: 3 hours, 43 minutes to manchester, vt.

Roadside attraction in Randolph, VT

Take in the raw allure of Vermont’s Green Mountains. This region of rugged beauty hosts quaint towns like Stowe, Woodstock, and Manchester, VT .

Outdoor activities abound here. You can hike, camp, fish, or ski. Attractions like the Hyde Collection, Art Museum and Historic House, and the Wild Center and Wild Walk are waiting to be discovered. The Green Mountains offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and adventure.

15) Adirondack Mountains, New York

Distance from nyc: 3 hours, 50 minutes to lake george.

Lake Placid from high up on an upstate New York road trip

The Adirondacks of upstate New York are paradise for nature enthusiasts. This region boasts a picturesque landscape teeming with outdoor activities. It’s an ideal destination for weekend road trips. Here, you can enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, and snowshoeing on an Adirondack Mountains vacation , no matter how short your visit.

The Hyde Collection, Art Museum and Historic House offer a glimpse into the area’s rich history and art. The Wild Center and Wild Walk, on the other hand, present an enchanting exploration of nature. Myriad sights and activities make the Adirondacks an unforgettable adventure.

16) Annapolis, Maryland

Distance from nyc: 3 hours, 50 minutes.

Harbor at Annapolis on one of the best road trips in the summer months

Annapolis, Maryland, is a city steeped in maritime tradition and adorned with a serene waterfront. It is home to the U.S. Naval Academy and the historic streets of Annapolis. The Maryland State House, the oldest state capitol still in use, adds to the city’s rich history. The William Paca House & Garden is a marvel of Georgian architecture.

17) Ithaca, New York

Distance from nyc: 4 hours.

Ithaca is a year round destination, in this writer's opinion

Feast your eyes on Ithaca, New York. Tucked away in the Finger Lakes region, this town is a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural gems. Ithaca is a perfect spot from which to explore the Finger Lakes waterfalls and vineyards sprawling across the landscape. Attractions abound, from the awe-inspiring Robert Treman State Park to the prestigious Cornell University. Don’t miss the Buttermilk Falls State Park, where water dances down the rocks. Or the Cornell Botanic Gardens, a verdant haven of tranquility. And winos, don’t forget the thriving wine scene.

18) Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Distance from nyc: 4 hours, 36 minutes.

This million dollar beach in Cape Cod rivals Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Steer towards Cape Cod, Massachusetts , for beautiful beaches, charming lighthouses, and quaint New England towns . Nauset Beach offers sandy shores. Chatham Light is as a picturesque beacon. Cape Cod could be a trove of road trip memories for you.

Explore Commercial Street’s bustle and the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown, MA. Or bask in the sun at Race Point Beach or any of the other Cape Cod beaches. Visit the Heritage Museums & Gardens or ride along the Shining Sea Bikeway. And join the many Bostonians who plan (and enjoy) regular weekend getaways from Boston here.

19) Seneca Falls, New York

Distance from nyc: 4 hours, 50 minutes.

The drive to Seneca Falls is also an opportunity to see gorgeous fall foliage

Seneca Falls, New York, may be a small dot on the map, but it leaves a big impression. It’s famous for being birthplace of the women’s rights movement.

The first Women’s Rights Convention site and the National Women’s Hall of Fame are here. Both are must-see destinations for history enthusiasts. Be sure to explore the tranquil Seneca River and the picturesque countryside while you’re in town.

The Women’s Rights National Historical Park offers a glimpse into the past. It’s a journey back to the birth of a movement.

20) Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Distance from nyc: 5 hours.

Downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Another picturesque New England town, this one boasts a beautiful harbor. From its historic landmarks to its vibrant arts scene, Portsmouth, NH, offers a unique road trip experience.

Discover the attractions of Portsmouth, including the Strawbery Banke Museum, USS Albacore Museum, Market Square, and Prescott Park. Indulge in the town’s culinary offerings, from seafood and farm-to-table fare to international cuisine, as you explore its bustling shops and restaurants.

21) Burlington, Vermont

Distance from nyc: 5 hours, 27 minutes to burlington, vt.

Burlington boathouse on a summer day

Set your compass north to Burlington, VT. It’s a delightful blend of city life, outdoor adventures, and picture-postcard views. Here, you’ll find the Church Street Marketplace, a bustling hub of activity. This is a road trip into the heart of summer in New England .

Explore Burlington’s hidden gems. The Burlington Bike Path, Waterfront Park, and Lake Champlain Ferries are worth a visit. With its Vermont charm and New England spirit, Burlington is a must-see.

22) Charlottesville, Virginia

Distance from nyc: 5 hours, 50 minutes.

Chess set at Monticello

Charlottesville, Virginia, boasts the stately Monticello estate and the picturesque vineyards of Blenheim. Visit the city’s historic landmarks, such as the University of Virginia. William & Mary alums like to say that Thomas Jefferson founded UVA because his kids couldn’t get into W&M. Then, indulge in the region’s delicious wines at King Family Vineyards and Veritas Vineyard & Winery. And if you missed the Skyline Drive, you’ll find easy access to Shenandoah National Park.

23) Portland, Maine

Distance from nyc: 6 hours.

Sailing out to sea from Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine is a haven for food enthusiasts, boasting a thriving culinary scene. This city features a beautiful waterfront and historic sites that narrate tales of the past. Congress Street hums with activity in the summer, and the scenic Eastern Promenade Trail offers lovely views for the adventurous road tripper.

The city’s myriad eateries range from upscale restaurants to homely food trucks, each serving mouthwatering cuisine. History echoes in every corner of the Portland Museum of Art and Old Port.

24) Skyline Drive, Virginia

Distance from nyc: 6 hours, 17 minutes.

Tunnel at Shenandoah National Park

Skyline Drive in Virginia is a scenic route par excellence. It takes you on a 105-mile journey through the heart of Shenandoah National Park. From numerous overlooks, you can gaze upon the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley below.

But don’t just drive. Step out and explore. The abundant hiking trails cater to all skill levels, including the Appalachian Trail. Each offers a unique view of the beautiful landscape. In the fall, the foliage is breathtaking. This drive is an unforgettable experience.

25) Niagara Falls, New York

Distance from nyc: 7 hours, 25 minutes.

Niagara Falls

Stand before Niagara Falls, New York, and marvel at nature’s raw power. The cascades thunder down, their roar echoing in your ears. The mist cools your cheeks. It’s an awe-inspiring spectacle.

But don’t stop at the falls. Explore the treasures of Niagara Falls State Park. Gaze at the Bridal Veil Falls. Ascend the Niagara Falls Observation Tower for a bird’s eye view of this wonder. Take a scenic drive along the park’s overlooks for a unique perspective.

Niagara Falls demands a visit. If you’re planning a bucket list road trip from NYC, add this to your list.

26) Acadia National Park, Maine

Distance from nyc: 8 hours, 48 minutes.

Rocky shoreline at Acadia National Park, one of the best road trips from the big city (and most ambitious)

Acadia National Park in Maine, is a sight to behold. It’s a landscape where towering mountains crash into the sea and wildlife roams freely. This beautiful spot can make you appreciate being alive to experience a place like this.

Start your adventure at Cadillac Mountain, a proud peak overlooking the park. Then, make your way to the rugged shoreline, bashed by the relentless power of the Atlantic Ocean.

Take a drive on the Park Loop Road or challenge yourself on the Champlain Mountain & Beehive Loop Trail. If you’re feeling brave, take a refreshing dip at Sand Beach.

Acadia National Park, with its dramatic landscapes and array of outdoor activities, is a must-visit. It’s an ideal destination for a summer road trip from NYC. Just remember to pack your sense of adventure!

27) Asheville, North Carolina

Distance from nyc: 12 hours, 30 minutes.

Looking Glass Rock in Brevard, NC

Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a road trip destination worth remembering. The grand Biltmore Estate is impressive, even if superfluous. Skip their vineyard, though. Galleries, museums, and performance venues are as abundant as the surrounding trees. And yet Asheville, NC, isn’t just an art lover’s paradise. The Pisgah National Forest calls to the wild at heart. Hiking, camping, fishing – all are available. Asheville blends art, culture, and natural beauty into a perfect road trip destination from NYC.

From the Hamptons’ luxury to Niagara Falls’ awe, the East Coast packs a punch for every traveler. Crave outdoor adventure? It’s here. Want to dive into arts and culture? Just pick a spot, and not just a city. Dream of relaxing on a stunning beach? Take your pick. All are just a drive away from New York City. So, pack up the car, hit the road, and get ready to explore. The East Coast and its hidden gems and iconic landmarks await your discovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where should i go on a road trip in new york.

When wanderlust strikes in the Empire State, you’ve got a variety of destinations to consider. Let’s start with five: Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Catskills , the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Long Island offers sea-scented gardens and sun-kissed beaches. Activities like swimming, fishing, and hiking are all on the menu. If romance is what you’re after, the Hudson Valley and Catskills are your perfect retreat.

For the explorers, the Finger Lakes region is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. If peace is your pursuit, the tranquil Upstate New York lakes of the Adirondacks beckon. Lastly, for those who love a good dose of history, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers a journey back in time. So, pick your poison, buckle up, and hit the road. Adventure is calling.

Is 2 days enough for NYC?

Two days is definitely not enough to experience all New York City has to offer, but it’s enough time to get a taste of the city. Read our itinerary and guide to New York in 2 days , if that’s all you have with which to work.

You could easily return to NYC many times and still find something new each visit!

Why is summer the best time to visit New York City?

Summer in NYC is like a non-stop party. The city buzzes with street festivals, outdoor concerts, and movie nights under the stars. Highlights include:

  • SummerStage concerts in Central Park
  • Shakespeare in the Park
  • Mermaid Parade

Yes, it gets hot, but the energy and endless activities make it worth it. There’s something special happening on every corner, hence why it’s one of the best times to go to New York City .

What are some must-see attractions in the Hudson Valley, NY?

The Hudson Valley is home to some truly remarkable attractions like the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, Dia:Beacon, and Storm King Art Center – all must-see spots for any traveller.

These attractions offer a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else. From the breathtaking views of the Hudson River to the fascinating history of the area, there is something for everyone.

Are there any good seafood restaurants in Montauk, NY?

Yes, Montauk is known for its delicious seafood, with popular spots like The Lobster Roll, Gosman’s Dock and The Clam Bar.

These restaurants offer a variety of dishes, from classic lobster rolls to fried clams and more. The seafood is always fresh and the atmosphere is always inviting. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner, Montauk has it all.

What outdoor activities can be enjoyed in the Adirondacks, NY?

The Adirondacks is a great place for outdoor activities, with offerings like hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, and snowshoeing.

Related posts:

Acadia National Park

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Are you ready for holiday traffic? Here's how to plan your road trip safely.

by Claire O'Neil

{p}With many people out and about for summer vacation, professionals are recommending some tips and tricks when traveling on the road.{/p}

With many people out and about for summer vacation, professionals are recommending some tips and tricks when traveling on the road.

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. — With many people out and about for summer vacation, professionals are recommending some tips and tricks when traveling on the road.

"Everybody’s ready to get out of town and go on trips,” Uniglobe travel agent Jenna Bickford said. “Go on vacation."

While airports may be busy, so are the highways.

Triple-A East Central spokesperson Tiffany Stanley said while June is a very busy month, the Fourth of July holiday will bring out even more drivers on the road, with many traveling 50 miles or more.

"We are expecting about 60.3 million Americans to be traveling by car and that is a 5% increase from last year,” Stanley said.

Bickford said they've been extremely busy compared to what they usually see, with people booking trips that require road or air travel.

"Myrtle Beach is popular,” Bickford said. “We love trips to Put-in-Bay, that’s a travelable distance, even New York.

"I think because more people are booking last minute, we have been so busy lately, which is great. Phones are ringing off the hook and people are excited to go again, which makes us excited, too.”

When it comes to heading out with your family or friends, whether it’s by bus or car, Stanley says plan ahead. This includes getting your car inspected, especially if you’re traveling far, follow road rules, and have a special kit for safety reasons.

"Make sure you pack an emergency road service kit,” Stanley said. “We really don’t want you to be stuck on the side of the road. If you are, it may help that you have that emergency road service kit, and it could help you get out of a sticky situation.”

This includes jumper cables and a first aid kit. Overall, they recommend giving yourself enough time and being patient as there will be a delay or traffic stop no matter the destination.

"Getting to a destination if you’re driving, build yourself enough time, make that a part of your vacation,” Bickford said. “Don’t stress yourself out by causing yourself delays or causing yourself panic. Plan for anything that could go wrong and it’s going to make your trip a lot smoother."

Ohio ranks among top 10 best states for summer road trips

by Trinity Langbein


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — Apparently Ohio has more to offer the road-tripping vacationer than meets the eye.

According to WalletHub, the top 10 best states for summer road trips include:

2.) Minnesota

3.) New York

4.) Louisiana

5.) Florida

7.) North Carolina

8.) Wyoming

10.) Pennsylvania

LIST | Every county fair in the state of Ohio this year

For a state that everyone tries so hard to leave during the summer months, Ohio actually ranks very well in categories like the overall costs, safety and available activities for travelers.

The 10 worst states for road trips, according to WalletHub, include:

1.) Delaware

2.) Rhode Island

3.) Connecticut

4.) Montana

5.) Vermont

6.) Arkansas

8.) California

9.) New Jersey

10.) Washington

WalletHub also shared in their article that 75% of American adults plan to take some sort of road trip in the summer of 2024, with around 33% planning to travel more than 250 miles from home.

summer 13 road trip

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Don’t Go on a Road Trip This Summer Without This $13 Aldi Find

It's also a must-have for picnics, barbecues, and beach days.

Dotdash Meredith / Janet Maples

Summer is officially here, along with all the outdoor fun it brings, from barbecues with friends to breezy beach hangouts , picnics in the park , and of course road trips to destinations near and far. 

Packing food for these excursions can be an adventure in and of itself, especially if you’re assembling a mix of items, from snacks that need to be kept cool to fragile bags of chips and accessories like picnic blankets, plates, and napkins.

Enter Aldi , with yet another genius find for the best summer ever. Like so many of its life-changing products, this one is located in the Aldi Finds section, otherwise lovingly known as the “ aisle of shame .” It’s only $13 and is guaranteed to make packing food for your summer excursions easier than ever.

Aldi Just Released a Must-Have Car Organizer With a Detachable Cooler


This week, Aldi launched its Auto XS Trunk Organizer with Cooler for an Aldi Find that is ideal for any summer road trip.

Starting today until June 25, you can grab one of these organizers for just $12.99. It’s made of durable polyester and is available in three colors: black, gray, or navy stripe. 

The organizer consists of three compartments, including a detachable cooler that can keep food cool for up to six hours. It also features exterior mesh pockets to hold smaller items, like utensils or snacks for on-the-go, along with easy-to-grip handles to carry it where you need to go. It can also be fastened directly to your trunk so everything stays put while traveling. 

Plus, when you’re not using it, the organizer folds up easily so you can stow it without it taking up too much space.

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Abbey's Road: Reliving the joy of the summer road trip

summer 13 road trip

Once upon a time, I was a kid in the single digits and it was sweet summertime, and the world was full of warm, empty days with no plans except backyard gymnastics, bike rides to the convenience mart for forbidden Lifesavers Gummies (my best friend had braces; this was frowned upon) and family vacation.

I come from a tent-camping, state park-visiting, sensible-but-with-concessions kind of family. We were never extravagant, but were blessed with opportunities to cover a lot of ground in the 18 years I spent at home, making it as far west as Oregon and as far east as Acadia National Park, also exploring parts of Canada. 

I can count on one hand the number of times our family flew to a destination. It wasn’t necessarily that we didn’t have the means or didn’t understand the practicality of walking down a concourse in Cleveland at 5 a.m. and stepping off in Orlando later that afternoon; it’s just that if you’re a road tripper, getting there is part of the fun. 

That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. And it’s largely proven true.

In those days — when seat belts were taken more seriously than in baby boomers’ childhoods but not as seriously as they are today — my dad would remove the middle bench seat in our 1991 Plymouth Voyager minivan and we’d spread a Snoopy blanket on the floor and play Uno and listen to Wee Sing cassette tapes and motion at semitrailers in hopes of getting them to honk at us.

Abbey's Road: Embracing the Dad Era

What do you do on an airplane, eat pretzels?

My younger brother and I went through a particularly slap-happy phase where we put pillows on our heads and made faces at passing cars to see what sorts of reactions we’d get, and then we got hangry and fought about whose foot was on whose side of the car and Dad had to do the thing where he looked at us really hard in the rearview mirror, and that merely inspired us to come up with more subtle ways of arguing.

There were Twizzlers to be eaten and license-plate games and “I’m going camping and I’m going to take an armadillo, some baked beans, a calzone and some dragron fruit…” and all the things that kids did in cars in the '90s before everyone in the world had personal electronic devices that brought them to their fingertips. Instead, the world was outside our minivan doors, and we just took in the pieces accessible to us.

This summer — three decades, multiple technological advancements and three kids later — our family, with me in the role of Mom (Twizzlers Hander Outer, Peacekeeper and Passenger Princess) rather than daughter and Mr. Roy starring as Dad, decided to take a road trip based on "Weird Al" Yankovic’s “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.”

Yes, it’s a thing.

Yes, we are going.

Abbey's Road: Building sisterly bonds and Lego creations as a respite in early summertime

I made a rhubarb pie to bring along, as the lyrics suggest, and Tiny made a sign that says “Twine Ball or Bust” (which in the song is supposed to be held by a hitchhiker named Bernie, but we decided we won’t be picking up any strays this time) and we piled into the family minivan — with seat belts, because we’re good millennial parents — and headed out. 

Three decades later, two of the three kids have access to technology that makes time pass a little more quickly (the third has a bad track record with looking at anything besides the scenery while traveling), but many of the carryovers from my childhood have remained: the license-plate game, appreciation of random roadside sights (water tower painted like a cow, "Hell is Real" billboard, a statue of a flying moose), stopping at random fast-food joints and, after eight hours in the same cramped space, getting into arguments about things that aren’t at all worth arguing about.

We haven’t made it to the Twine Ball yet, but the kids have already built so much character, I’m really proud of them. They’re great travelers, with or without technology, and I’m hoping that someday when they bring their own families on road trips in minivans — if minivans are still a thing — they work to instill the same sort of old-fashioned road-trip ethic that we ourselves have built up over time.

Until then, we’ll squeeze in as much fun as we can.

Abbey Roy is a mom of three girls who make every day an adventure. She writes to maintain her sanity. You can probably reach her at  [email protected] , but responses are structured around bedtimes and weekends.


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