This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
Going on an epic road trip is an adventure everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. Without the stress of airports or the structure of flight schedules, you finally get to have a travel experience where the journey matters just as much as the destination—and is just as enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a flexible, fun, emotionally-fulfilling vacation, it’s time to take a road trip. Exploring America by car is easier and cheaper than most travel plans. All you have to do is fill up your tank, pack all your road trip essentials, and hit the open road. Plus, it gets you out in nature and opens up your mind to other ways of life right outside your backdoor.
So, what are you waiting for? Keep reading to discover some of the best road trip ideas.
What Is the Best Road Trip in the USA?
The best routes and road trip ideas depend on whether you’re looking for a shorter, scenic vacation or a full-blown cross-country experience. If you’re looking for travel plans that only require a weekender and a few days on the road, here are three gorgeous road trips to consider.
#1 Pacific Coast Highway
Live out your silver screen road trip dreams in a top-down convertible. With the sun on your skin and wind in your hair, you can drive along the famous PCH. This scenic drive could take you from California to Oregon, but if you’re looking for a quick summer getaway, find your way to quiet California beaches like Santa Barbara, in the south, and Big Sur, up north.
#2 Overseas Highway
This bucket-list worthy Florida drive extends from Miami to Key West and can easily be done in one day, but it’s worth it to explore the area on island time. If you want to live like a local, go to the Middle and Lower Keys—make sure to get a slice of authentic Key Lime Pie and a Cuban-inspired cocktail. The Overseas Highway is a scenic route that is perfect for exploring Florida’s coast during your Florida road trip.
#3 Interstate 5
The I-5 connects southern California and Montana, but most people consider the most beautiful part of the drive to be the stretch between Utah and Nevada. With some of the most picturesque deserts in the US, you can visit Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, Antelope Canyon in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah—and cool off at Lake Powell.
What is the Best Route to Drive Cross Country?
It’s hard to say what the best road trip in America would be, but the most famous is Route 66, and the longest is Route 20.
#4 Route 66
Whether you’ve heard of historic Route 66 because of the iconic rhythm and blues song or because you’re a history buff, America’s first all-weather highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles is popular for a reason.
Route 66 offers a chance to explore “flyover states,” the geographic center of the country that most coastal Americans only ever see from cruising altitudes. The road isn’t driveable from beginning to end like it used to be back in the day, but almost all of the original drive is still intact—and it’s still the quintessential USA road trip that thousands of international tourists1 do every year.
#5 Route 20
Route 20 is the longest road in America, passing through 12 states and making it the perfect choice for a cross-country road trip. Stretching from the Oregon Coast to the heart of Boston, this journey is one you’ll never forget.
If you’re looking for a crazy-long road trip, here’s an idea:
- Take the classic PCH route (Highway 1) from California to Oregon
- When you get to Newport, Oregon, start your journey on Route 20
- Drive until your heart’s content!
How Long Does it Take to Road Trip Around America?
It’s time to pack your overnight bags because Route 66 is 2,448 miles long and Route 20 is a whopping 3,365 miles, so it’s safe to say a cross-country road trip won’t be a short vacation.
You could drive Route 66 in around four days each way, and Route 20 in around six days each way, but it’s worth it to block out a good two or three weeks for road trips like these—that way you can drive safely and have enough energy to explore all the states you’ll pass through.
How to Plan a Cross Country Road Trip?
If you have specific cities, states, historic sites, and landmarks you want to visit, planning a road trip of your own might be an easier way to hit everything on your list. Create your own itinerary, pack your overnight bags, and make sure to do your research so you can get the most out of your long car ride.
Some of the most popular places to visit in the US during a friend or family road trip that are not on our list include , , , , , , Salt Lake City, , and .
Looking for the best travel apps to help you plan your next road trip? A great app for planning your own route is the site Roadtrippers. You can build a personalized road trip itinerary based on your desired stopping points and discover the hidden gems you’ll pass along the way, whether it’s hiking trails, a winery, or camping spot. Plus, you can create plans together with friends and family and get easy navigation within the Roadtrippers app.
How Much Does an American Road Trip Cost?
A good gauge on how much a road trip will cost depends on a few factors:
- The total distance of your total trip—not just your destinations, but every stop along the way
- Your car’s mileage, and whether it runs on gas or electricity
- Whether you’re camping (keep in mind that not all campsites are free) or staying in hotels
By planning out your accommodation ahead of time, you’ll be able to find the best deals on where to stay. If your car isn’t a plug-in or hybrid, you can use an online tool to calculate how much gas will cost you based on your car’s year, make, and model, and your road trip route.
Pack Up and Hit the Road
The beauty of road trips is hidden in the word: spontaneity. So don’t dwell too much on the planning before hitting the open road. With stylish luggage, 2 & 3 piece luggage sets, multi-purpose travel accessories, and even pet travel carriers from BÈIS, everything has its place, keeping you organized on your next adventure… Whenever that adventure happens.
Whether you're doing a weekend road trip, cross country road trip across America, or exploring the west coast or the east coast, don’t forget to stay present in the moment—these experiences and will be ones you don't want to forget.
Looking for more ideas for places to go on a road trip in the United States? Check out the popular list below:
- North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway
- New Mexico: White Sands National Park or Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- California: Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lake, Kings Canyon National Park or Joshua Tree National Park
- Washington: Olympic National Park
- Montana: Glacier National Park
- Louisiana: New Orleans
- Utah: Capitol Reef National Park or Arches National Park
- Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone National Park
- Oregon: Crater Lake National Park
- Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park
- Maine: Acadia National Park
- Route 66 News. Is Route 66 immune from the international travel slump? https://www.route66news.com/2017/09/21/route-66-immune-international-travel-slump/
- US Department of Energy. Trip Calculator. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/trip/