The Best Road Trip Routes in the USA
There’s no country more fit for road tripping than the United States.
Between its massive scale and an array of cultural and geographical diversity, there is no shortage of options when it comes to American road trips. There is one downfall, though: the options can be overwhelming.
How are you supposed to commit to one road trip when there are hundreds of gorgeous and interesting places to visit? On top of that, it can be difficult to choose a route if you’ve never planned a road trip before. Lucky for you, Autio has got your back!
Road tripping is one of our favorite pastimes, so if you’re looking to take a highway adventure, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve curated this list of our favorite road trip routes in America, so you can hit the road.
The Pacific Coast Highway
California’s State Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, runs 600 miles along the Sunshine State’s stunning coastline. From Northern to Southern California, this jaw-dropping scenic byway weaves between jagged coastline, redwood forests, and white sand beaches.
One of the marquee stops along the way is the central coast’s Big Sur. One of the most iconic natural sites in the entire country, Big Sur is a section of the coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains dramatically rise from the Pacific Ocean.
This spectacle is so noteworthy that the Washington Times called it “one of the most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world, an isolated stretch of road, mythic in reputation.”
Other can’t miss stops include San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Monterey, San Diego, Los Angeles’s Santa Monica Pier, and Cambria, where William Randolph Hearst built his 56 bedroom mansion-turned-museum.
Florida Keys Overseas Highway
You may be surprised to learn the East Coast has a beachside highway that gives the Pacific Coast Highway a run for its money. If you can’t make it to Hawaii or California, let the Overseas Highway fulfill your wildest tropical dreams.
What makes Florida’s U.S. Highway 1 so special is that it spans 165 miles between Miami and Key West. This means that you are literally driving across the ocean from key to key. How often can you replace a boat with a car?
Along this route, you will traverse 42 bridges, including the iconic Seven Mile Bridge. As you can probably guess, this bridge runs seven miles across the glimmery ocean. It’s among the longest bridges in the world.
One of the best stops along this route is Key Largo, dubbed the “dive capital of the world.”
Here, you can explore John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater state park and one of the country’s few living coral reefs. Even if diving isn’t your thing, you can still catch a glimpse of the marine life on a glass-bottom boat.
At the end of your trip, you will be rewarded with the vibrant beach community of Key West. Historical figures including Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Ulysses S. Grant, and John F. Kennedy have called Key West home.
The Great Northern
If you’re a real road trip aficionado, you might be looking for a little more of a challenge.
When you’re looking to do a serious cross-country road trip, look no further thanU.S. Highway 2, colloquially known as The Great Northern.
Starting in Maine’s Acadia National Park, this epic route will take you over 2,500 miles west to the Olympic Peninsula in Seattle. If this entices you, keep in mind that you will have to set aside two to three weeks to accomplish this feat.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re prepared for the behemoth of a journey ahead of you. Check out our guide to road trip packing so you can be prepared for whatever the road throws at you.
Once you’re ready for this beast, you will be rewarded with an onslaught of incredible cities, sites, and views. Just a few of the possible stops include:
- The Cascade Mountains in Washington
- Pend Oreille in Idaho
- Going to the Sun Road at Glacier National Park in Montana
- Fort Union Trading Post in North Dakota
- The Apostle Islands in Michigan
- The White Mountains in Vermont
Keep in mind, though, that this route runs through Canada. If you decide to take the leap, be sure to have your passport on hand.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most revered routes in the entire country is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Running 384 miles between Charlottesville, Virginia, and Asheville, North Carolina, you will experience Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge mountain range, and the Great Smoky Mountains. If you haven’t witnessed the beauty of Appalachia before, this is the road trip for you.
While the pit stops along this route are incredible, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers one of the best driving experiences out of all these entries.
As you drive along this winding route, you will be completely surrounded by dense forests of trees that change to brilliant hues of red and orange as fall comes into fruition. For the changing of the leaves alone, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a perfect choice for a fall excursion.
The trip will leave you in Asheville, where you can tour the 178,926-square-foot Biltmore Estate, built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895. In fact, you can explore all that Asheville has to offer while staying at one of the three hotels on the estate’s grounds.
Zion to the Grand Canyon
The beauty of the Southwest is a sight to behold, and these two national parks are the pinnacle of what this wondrous region has to offer. In fact, both Zion and Grand Canyon landed spots on our list of top national parks.
Lucky for you, this route is the shortest trip on this list, so you won’t have to choose between these two natural marvels if you’ve only got one day to explore. You can complete this drive in under three hours.
Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park needs no introduction, as it hosts one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the titular Grand Canyon. Over six million years in the making, this spectacle runs 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide.
Trust us—you need to see it in person to fully comprehend its beauty. In addition to the endless hikes in the park, you can explore the canyon via river rafting and mule rides.
Zion National Park is also an incredible experience. Praised for its pink Navajo sandstone cliffs and orange slot canyons, this park offers some of the best hiking in the world. Nearly 2,000 feet deep, The Narrows is a canyoneer’s dream.
To make this route a proper road trip, though, make an additional pit stop at Arches National Park. This park is landmarked by over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Plus, its thinner crowds and unparalleled stargazing make it perfect for camping.
San Juan Scenic Skyway
While it has a lot of competition, we would be so bold to say that the San Juan Scenic Skyway is Colorado’s premier road trip route. Traversing the heart of the San Juan Mountains, this 233-mile loop tours the best of Southwest Colorado.
Due to its narrow traverses along cliffside roads, this drive is not for the faint of heart. However, travelers will be rewarded with mountainous views only seen on postcards and calendars.
In addition to towering alpine forests and craggy peaks, you will also get the chance to stop at historic mining towns and some of the best breweries in Colorado.
One of the most famous stops along this route is the mining town-turned-ski village of Telluride. Home to one of the best ski resorts in the world, this town offers alpine fun year-round.
If you find yourself in Telluride before ski season, you can still enjoy mountain biking, hiking, fall foliage, the gondola, and the many eateries and boutique shops in the town.
Autio, There, and Everywhere!
No matter how you choose to road trip, you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience. At Autio, we are determined to make sure that your road trip is as unforgettable as possible.
Of course, these aren’t all of the options the USA has to offer. From Louisiana’s Great River Road to Texas’s Hill Country to Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, there’s no shortage of places to roam.
From point A to point B, and all the points in between, you deserve forever-lasting memories and nonstop entertainment. With Autio’s collection of bite-sized stories, you’ll be sure to stay entertained and informed throughout your trip.
Download Autio, and explore the memories that are waiting to be made.