At nearly 3.8 million square miles with about four million miles of paved roads, the United States is a road tripper’s fantasy land.
I’ve driven several thousand of those millions of miles and barely scratched the surface of this country’s scenic drives. From coast to coast, from mountain to desert, from plains to forests, road trips are the arteries that connect this incredibly diverse landscape.
I’ve collaborated with other road trip enthusiasts to bring you the most beautiful road trips in the USA.
Whether you want to explore our National Parks, take an epic cross-country adventure, or experience a shorter scenic drive, we’ve got the perfect road trip for you.
I’ve provided the contributions and photos unless otherwise indicated.
Before you go, download these free road trip packing lists. From paper maps to snacks, from batteries to blankets, these checklists will keep you from running around wondering what you forgot – because you won’t forget anything.
There may be affiliate links in this post, which means we may get a small commission. It’s at no extra cost to you and helps keep TLT free. Everybody wins!
33 Most Beautiful Road Trips in the USA
Be sure to get your printable road trip planner to keep everything organized!
West Coast Beautiful Road Trips in the USA
Pacific Coast Road Trip from San Diego to Seattle
- Start: San Diego
- End: Seattle
- Number of miles: 1585 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 7-14 days
One of the most beautiful road trips in the USA is a drive up the Pacific Coast. It’s a bucket list experience, one filled with curving roads and basalt shores, with the might of the Pacific Ocean accompanying you the entire way.
You can begin in either San Diego or Seattle. I began my Pacific Coast road trip in San Diego, but if you choose to drive north to south, it’s easier to pull off at the overlooks (although I had no issues with it at all).
The drive includes such legendary spots as Big Sur, that rugged coastline between Carmel and San Simeon. That’s part of the officially designated Pacific Coast Highway, a twisting, breathtaking stretch that’s only 123 miles of California State Route 1.
You’ll drive through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll pass lighthouses that have been guiding sailors for more than a century. You’ll see giant redwoods and lollygagging elephant seals.
Oregon alone is worth taking several days to explore. With iconic sights like Heceta Head Lighthouse and Haystack Rock, you’ll definitely want to allow plenty of time.
The beauty continues in Washington. As soon as you cross the Columbia River, you’re greeted with stories of Lewis and Clark; it’s worth a visit to Cape Disappointment to learn more.
As you drive north to Seattle, stop to see the World’s Record Sitka Spruce, Big Cedar, and the World’s Largest Red Cedar.
In Olympic National Forest, take a quick detour to hike in a rain forest, then before you end your trip, explore Olympic National Park.
If you’re taking an epic road trip, make sure to check out these road trip planning tools before you go.
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway
- Start: Brookings, Oregon
- End: Astoria, Oregon
- Number of miles: 363 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 3-4 days
Not to be confused with the Pacific Coast Highway, which is in California, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway is an Oregon coast road trip.
The Oregon segment of US-101 is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the USA. It pretty much defines scenic route, with dunes, cliffs, picturesque towns, historic bridges, and iconic lighthouses.
The reason you’ll want to allow plenty of time for this road trip is because of the sheer number of scenic overlooks. With colorful names like Thor’s Well, Devil’s Churn, Seal Rocks, and Cape Foulweather, it’s an entertaining string of gorgeous views.
There are lots of scenic towns along the way where you can stop for a bite to eat and to rest. If you’re a New England clam chowder fan, don’t miss Mo’s in Newport. It’s the original location of what is now a popular chain.
A stop in Cannon Beach is a must so you can see one of the most recognizable landmarks along the coast, Haystack Rock.
If you want some Pacific coast beauty but don’t have time to drive the entire stretch, this Oregon scenic drive will definitely fill your bucket.
Olympic Peninsula Scenic Drive
- Start: Seattle, Washington
- End: Seatlle, Washington
- Number of miles: 360 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 4-5 days
When people dream about the natural beauties of Washington State, they often envision evergreen trees covered in moss, trails bordered by rich green ferns, and freshwater lakes and waterfalls.
The Olympic Peninsula offers the opportunity for visitors to see it all, including being home to one of the best National Parks in the USA, Olympic National Park.
You can plan to leave out of Seattle, Washington; I recommend taking a Washington State ferry across to Bainbridge Island to begin your road trip.
Make your way up to Port Angeles, WA, along the north coast of the peninsula. From Port Angeles you can visit some highlights of Olympic National Park such as Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc Falls, Lake Crescent, and Marymere Falls.
Then you’ll head west to Forks and visit the famous Hoh Rain Forest and some of the best sunset beaches in WA State.
Finally, make your way down the Pacific Ocean coast and consider a stop at Lake Quinault or Ocean Shores, Washington if you want a beach town experience.
You can then end your trip heading back east towards Olympia and make your way back north to Seattle.
Contributed by Kim Tate of Stuffed Suitcase
Alaska Road Trip to Denali and Seward: Two Perspectives
- Start: Anchorage
- End: Anchorage
- Number of miles: 1000 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 7 days
Alaska is a magical place with endless views, tons of wildlife and so many adventures. On a road trip between Denali and Seward, you will have no shortage of glacier, mountain and ocean views.
Begin in Anchorage and drive to Denali on Route 3 with a stop in Talkeetna along the way.
In Denali, enjoy hiking, take a scenic bus ride and visit the dog sled kennels. As you travel back south, take a side trip out to Matanuska Glacier to trek out on one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers.
From there, make your way to Seward on Alaska Route 1. In Seward, be sure to visit Kenai Fjords National Park and explore it via boat.
This Alaska road trip involves a lot of driving. It is best to spend at least 7 days in accommodations along the way.
Denali Bluffs Hotel is a beautiful, convenient place to stay right outside of Denali National Park, while Hotel Seward is a good budget option located in the heart of downtown Seward. This trip is best for the summer months.
Whether you enjoy hiking or just want to take in all of the views, an Alaskan road trip on Route 1 and 3 is a must for your bucket list.
Contributed by Lydia Weigel of Lost with Lydia
This Alaska road-trip itinerary takes you to some of the state’s top attractions. First, explore the famous Denali National Park wilderness for a chance to see grizzlies and wolves and, weather permitting, a lucky sighting of Mount Denali, North America’s highest mountain at 20,310 feet!
Spend a day in Anchorage, the central travel hub in Alaska, and visit the Anchorage Native Heritage Center to learn about the different Alaska Native traditions and languages.
Head to Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park to admire Alaskan glaciers by hiking along the Glacier Overlook Trail or kayaking one of the numerous fjords.
A trip to Whittier would see you board a whale-watching cruise in Prince William Sound.
Camping is the perfect way to explore Denali, though cabins around Healy and Cantwell are available everywhere for more comfort. Anchorage offers plenty of nice and clean accommodations like the Anchorage Downtown Hotel.
The best time to travel to Alaska is in the summer, though June and September can be good alternatives, even though you might still have snow.
Contributed by Patricia Pagenel of Ze Wandering Frogs
San Francisco to Joshua Tree Road Trip
- Start: San Francisco
- End: Joshua Tree National Park
- Number of miles: 580
- Recommended length of road trip: 4 days
You’ll love going on a San Francisco to Joshua Tree drive to enjoy the best of California outside the bustling city. Before going on a Joshua Tree road trip, you’ll explore charming seaside towns along the way.
Begin your trip in Monterey, where you can appreciate the scenic beauty of the 17-Mile Drive, visit the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, or take a stroll down Cannery Row.
Next, travel to Santa Barbara, another breathtaking oceanside city. There are plenty of activities here, such as surfing, sunbathing, or walking along the shoreline, in addition to dozens of restaurants to choose from.
While en route to Joshua Tree, take some time to unwind in Palm Springs, a luxurious desert resort city known for its hot springs, spas, and shopping. There are also plenty of museums when you need to escape the heat.
Finally, head to Joshua Tree National Park, where you can experience the unique Joshua trees and rock formations, hike through the breathtaking landscape, go on an adventurous rock climbing expedition, or gaze at the stars at night.
Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites Indio Coachella Valley is a great base for the night.
Contributed by Marissa of Road Trip Wanderers
Washington State Cascade Loop Scenic Drive
- Start: Seattle
- End: Seattle
- Number of miles: 440 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: Anywhere from 2 days to 5 days, depending on how many stops you want to make.
Washington state is known for its stunning natural beauty, and the Cascade Loop is the perfect way to take it all in. This 440-mile route takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.
The Cascade Loop begins at Stevens Pass, located east of Seattle. From here, you’ll head north through mountain passes, dense forests, and rolling hills until you reach Leavenworth, an adorable Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascades.
Next, up is Chelan and its wineries, followed by the historic town of Winthrop with its Western-themed main street.
After that comes North Cascades National Park where you can explore rugged peaks and glacier-fed lakes before heading south on Highway 20 toward Burlington and Anacortes.
Finally, your journey ends when you reach Seattle once again.
Visiting North Cascades National Park is high on everyone’s list as it offers breathtaking views and plentiful outdoor activities like hiking and fishing.
However, if you don’t have time to explore this vast park then be sure to make a stop at Diablo Lake overlook for an unforgettable photo opportunity!
Another great spot to check out is Snoqualmie Falls which has an impressive 268-foot drop into a deep pool below – not to mention its stunning surroundings.
And lastly, no trip along this route would be complete without a visit to Leavenworth for some delicious German food and shopping in its charming alpine-style shops.
Related: Leavenworth is considered one of the best Christmas towns in the USA.
The best places to stay along this scenic trip are Leavenworth, Chelan, or Burlington. You can also do this loop in reverse, or in bits and pieces!
Contributed by Chantelle, Flannels or FlipFlops
Beautiful Road Trips in the Western USA
Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
- Start: West Glacier, Montana
- End: St. Mary, Montana
- Number of miles: 50 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 1 day
When you drive Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, you’re not only taking one of America’s most scenic drives, you’re also driving a National Historic Landmark.
It’s one of the few roads in the country to receive that designation and is an engineering marvel which took more than a decade and two million dollars to build.
The scenic drive is designed to blend into the scenery. The original plan had fifteen switchbacks, but Tom Vint proposed a route that would have only one.
That route is what we have today, and that one switchback is called the Loop.
Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road offers some of the most awe-inspiring views in the country and is one of many unique things to do in Montana. It’s easy to see why more than three million people a year make their way to this remote part of the country.
An Idaho Road Trip: Thousand Springs State Park
- Start: Twin Falls, Idaho
- End: Twin Falls, Idaho
- Number of miles: 100 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 2 days
While there are no national parks in Idaho, there are many beautiful state parks. And Thousand Springs State Park is one of them.
It’s close enough to Twin Falls that you could make it a day trip, but there are so many things to do in the five units of the state park, it’s better to make it a 2-day road trip.
On your first day, leave Twin Falls early in the morning. If you haven’t seen them yet, head to Shoshone Falls to admire the “Niagara of the West”.
Then, make your way to the Niagara Springs Unit where you can have a picnic by the waterfalls or visit the Fish Hatchery.
In the afternoon, drive to Banbury Hot Springs where you can stay for the night. Rent kayaks or paddleboards and paddle to Blue Heart Box. On the way back, you can enjoy the hot springs.
The next morning, drive to the Box Canyon Unit and hike down to the water.
Then, head to Ritter Island. On Ritter Island, you can take a self-guided tour of the barn and walk to Minnie Miller Springs.
It’s also a great spot to paddle board around the island and to see Lemon Falls. When you are ready, slowly make your way to Billingsley Creek Lodging where you’ll stay overnight.
Contributed by Emilié Brillon, Love Life Abroad
Beartooth Highway: America’s Most Beautiful Drive
- Start: Red Lodge, Montana
- End: Cooke City, Montana
- Number of miles: 68.7 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 1 day
The late Charles Kuralt called Beartooth Highway “the most beautiful drive in America.” Once you’ve driven this scenic route, it’s easy to see why.
The drive begins in Red Lodge, Montana, a charming town at the base of the Beartooth Mountains. While you’re there, stock up on huckleberry caramels at Montana Candy Emporium.
This isn’t one of those scenic routes you can just hop onto. Because it winds through twenty peaks each exceeding 12,000 feet, this highway is only open a few months.
The best time of year to visit is July and August, although snow squalls have been known to kick up even then.
In fact, there’s even a place to stop and ski–in June.
There are several overlooks, and a great place to get out and stretch your legs is Rock Creek Vista Point.
The route ends in Cooke City, Montana, but keep going and you’ll enter Yellowstone National Park.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway
- Start: West Thumb, Yellowstone National Park
- End: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
- Number of miles: 27 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 1+ day
Talk about an embarrassment of riches. The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway begins in Yellowstone National Park and ends in Grand Teton National Park, connecting two of the country’s most beautiful treasures.
Named for the philanthropist and conservationist who was responsible for preserving several public lands, the parkway is only 27 miles.
It packs a lot into that short drive. It’s a transitional landscape between the lava beds and thermal activity to the north, and the granite mountains to the south.
In between are meadows, forests, and waterfalls. There are hiking trails and campgrounds along the way. If you prefer a bed, there’s lodging in both neighboring parks.
Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
- Start: Springdale, Utah
- End: Mount Carmel Junction
- Number of miles: 25 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 1+ day
Some of Utah’s most wonderful scenery can be found in Zion National Park, and one of the best ways to see it is by driving the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, which traverses the park!
Built in 1930, this highway has a tunnel that was a marvel of engineering at the time, and the highway also has amazing views of Zion on all sides, so you can enjoy some of the park’s best scenery without doing any hiking!
One of the many interesting sights on this road is the Checkerboard Mesa, an unusual rock formation with checkered sandstone patterns.
Along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, there are plenty of scenic viewpoints and pull-off spots as you go, as well as some trailheads if you want to do a bit of hiking.
The Canyon Overlook Trail, for example, is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park and it starts from this highway. All in all, it’s a scenic drive that you shouldn’t miss when traveling through Utah!
Contributed by David & Intan of The World Travel Guy
Zion National Park to Moab, Utah: Scenic Byway 12
- Start: Zion National Park
- End: Moab, Utah
- Number of miles: 375 miles
- Recommended length of trip: at least three days
Get ready to suspend your disbelief, because a road trip from Zion to Moab is filled with landscapes that can’t possibly be real–yet they are.
Start with David’s route through Zion National Park above (and don’t miss that Canyon Overlook Trail).
You’ll exit the park on UT-9, and at the Mount Carmel Junction, turn north on US-89 until you get to UT-12. This official All-American Road takes you to Bryce Canyon National Park, and on the way you’ll drive through hoodoos and red rock tunnels.
Allow time in Bryce Canyon to hike through the towering formations created by millennia of erosion.
For another surprising landscape, stop in Capitol Reef National Park and then continue to Goblin Valley State Park. Although it’s not one of the official Big 5 Utah National Parks, it’s a destination worth visiting.
From there, you’ll hit a quick stretch of I-70 before turning south for Moab. Before you get to the town, plan to do some hiking in Arches National Park.
The area’s sparsely populated, so accommodations can be hard to come by. There are a few motels and hotels near Bryce Canyon, and Canyon Country Lodge in Escalante is highly rated.
Moab to Page: a Utah to Arizona Road Trip
- Start: Moab, Utah
- End: Page, Arizona
- Number of miles: 275 miles
- Recommended length of trip: at least three days
A road trip from Moab, UT to Page, AZ will take you through some of the most iconic landscapes in the United States. The total distance is only about 275 miles but there is so much to see that you’ll want to give yourself a minimum of three days to complete it.
This part of southern Utah and northern Arizona is sparsely populated and magnificently beautiful. It is classified as a high desert ecosystem, meaning hot summers and surprising cold winters.
Assuming you’ve seen Arches National Park and the northern part of Canyonlands National Park, start the road trip with a stop at the far less-visited Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, about 2 hours southwest of Moab.
Here, funky, needle-like rocks dot the landscape and make for some awesome desert hikes.
From the Needles District, continue south to Valley of the Gods, where a dirt road forms a scenic loop around some fascinating rock formations. From there it’s a short drive to Goosenecks State Park, one of Utah’s best kept secrets.
But the crown jewel of this road trip is the breathtaking landscape of Monument Valley. Made famous by old western movies, Monument Valley is essentially a flat red desert floor with massive sandstone rock buttes.
Continue from there into Arizona where you’ll end in the town of Page. Page is known for being home to two famous landmarks: Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Antelope Canyon requires an organized tour while Horseshoe Bend is easy to see on your own in less than an hour.
The road trip from Moab to Page will give you a taste of what the American Southwest has to offer and show you why people have been drawn to this barren, inhospitable desert for generations.
Contributed by Chris Heckmann of Around the World With Me
Denver to Black Canyon Colorado Road Trip
- Start: Denver
- End: Telluride, Colorado
- Number of miles: 375 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 3 days
The Rocky Mountains stretch from western Canada all the way down to New Mexico, and their jagged peaks create picturesque backdrops for a beautiful USA road trip.
Driving through Colorado alongside the San Juan mountains section of the Rockies really showcases the steep cliffs and sheer drop-offs of mountains rising over 14,000 feet high.
Starting in Denver, travelers will pass through the breathtaking San Isabel, Gunnison, and Uncompahgre National Forests before reaching the first must-see stop on the road trip: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
This steep gorge contains the highest vertical cliff in Colorado, and visitors can drive through the park along the South Rim Road to admire the breathtaking views of the park.
After spending time in the Black Canyon, travel further south to the quaint mountain town of Telluride.
This former mining town is set inside a box canyon with amazing mountain views from downtown. Telluride is the perfect place to stay for a few nights, maybe hiking to Bridal Veil Falls or taking the Telluride Gondola to the neighboring Mountain Village.
The Hotel Telluride is a “mountain chic” resort right in the middle of downtown, within walking distance to shopping and local restaurants.
Contributed by Erin Moreland of Super Simple Salty Life
Rocky Mountain National Park Trail Ridge Road Scenic Drive
- Start: in Estes Park and winds through Rocky Mountain National Park
- End: Grand Lake, Colorado
- Number of miles: 48 miles
- Recommended length of trip: Around 2-3 hours but more if you want to do hikes in the park
If you’re searching for one of the most beautiful road trips in the USA then you can’t beat Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.
After all, this road is the highest continuous paved road in the country.
Therefore, it’s been nicknamed the “Highway to the Sky” since it crosses the Continental Divide at an astounding 12,183 feet in the air.
However, because of intense winter weather, the road is usually closed from mid-October through the end of May. You’ll also have to pay $30 per vehicle for a day pass or $35 for a 7 consecutive day pass if you want to visit.
Otherwise, just enjoy the amazing scenery all around you at places like Deer Ridge Junction (perfect in the fall), Hidden Valley, Rainbow Curve Overlook, Ute Trailhead, Gore Range Overlook, and more.
You can also stop by the Alpine Visitor Center and pick up some grub along the way since this is the only place to get food along the route.
Contributed by Meg of Fox in the Forest
Midwest USA Beautiful Road Trips
- Start: Chicago, Illinois
- End: Santa Monica, California
- Number of miles: 2,488 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 2 weeks
While some stretches of Route 66 may not be the most picturesque, you simply cannot have an article about the most beautiful road trips in the USA and not include the Mother Road.
Since it was cobbled together back in 1926 from various routes between Chicago and Santa Monica, Route 66 has been the symbol of freedom and the open road.
Begin your adventure in Chicago, then follow Route 66 in Illinois to the Mississippi River and keep going, through Missouri and a quick 13-mile jaunt into Kansas.
The drive continues through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you’ll see a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stand on a corner in Winslow, encounter a giant blue whale and paint buried Cadillacs.
There’s a reason that nearly a century later, this trip still captures the imaginations of millions of travelers around the world.
If you plan to drive Route 66, I highly recommend looking up Jim Hinkley. He’s written several books about the route and is an expert on its storied past.
Related: discover more amazing road trips from Chicago.
Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway
- Start: I-90, exit 131 in South Dakota
- End: Wall, South Dakota
- Number of miles: 38 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 1 day
You’ll feel like you’re entering another world when you’re driving through Badlands National Park.
This South Dakota scenic drive is a glimpse into a world of eons gone by. Erosion has whittled the former sea bed into a striated landscape of spires and bluffs.
You can drive straight through in about an hour or so, but you’ll definitely want to take the time for hiking the many trails. It’s also good to start at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center, which has interpretive displays and a well-stocked gift shop.
That’s also where you can get a bite to eat. The Cedar Pass Lodge is a sit-down restaurant and also offers snacks.
Be careful when you’re driving the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway. Bison roam free, as do bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and endangered black-footed ferrets.
Door County Coastal Byway
- Start: Sturgeon Bay
- End: Gills Rock
- Number of miles: 66 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: It is recommended to allow a full day to complete the route, but at least two to fully enjoy all of its attractions.
The Door County Coastal Byway is a stunning drive along the eastern coast of Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. You’ll experience breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and Green Bay, as well as charming coastal towns and villages.
The route takes you through scenic state parks, including Potawatomi and Newport, where you can hike, bike, or simply take in the natural beauty of the area.
Along the way, you’ll also find several lighthouses, including the iconic Cana Island Lighthouse, which is open for tours during the summer months. The towns of Egg Harbor, Sister Bay, and Fish Creek offer numerous shops, galleries, and restaurants for a taste of local culture.
The route ends in Gills Rock, where you can take a ferry to nearby Washington Island for a unique island experience.
What makes this road trip unique?
The Door County Coastal Byway is one of only a few designated scenic byways in Wisconsin, offering a truly special experience for those who appreciate natural beauty and historic charm.
The route is dotted with cultural and historical landmarks, including lighthouses, museums, and even an old-fashioned fish boil dinner experience.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to boating and fishing, making it a versatile destination for all types of travelers.
If you choose to make this a multi-day trip, there are several recommended accommodations along the route, including the Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor, which offers stunning views of Green Bay. Check out where to stay in Door County.
The Ashbrooke in downtown Egg Harbor is a charming boutique hotel within walking distance of shops and restaurants.
Contributed by Dannelle Gay of The Traveling Cheesehead
Want to experience a fictional Door County? Download Peril on the Peninsula, a fun cozy mystery featuring travel writer Alex Paige.
Flint Hills National Scenic Byway
- Start: Start at Council Grove in the north
- End: Cassoday in the south
- Number of miles: 47
- Recommended length of road trip: At least two days
Let peace soak into your soul along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway from Council Grove to Cassoday on Highway 177.
The region’s flint bedrock prevented widespread farming. Instead, the unrelenting rock preserved the last vestiges of unbroken tallgrass prairie.
In Council Grove, U.S. commissioners negotiated with the Great and Little Osage tribe to allow Santa Fe Trail wagons to pass.
The Allegawaho Heritage Memorial Park southeast of Council Grove surrounds the Unknown Indian Monument, a member of the Ka.ⁿze n.kashiⁿga (Kanza) tribe.
Experience early settlers’ interaction with the tallgrass prairie ecosystem at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County north of Strong City. The tallgrass reaches its considerable height in the fall.
Under the right conditions, the grasses can measure 6 feet high. Ride the tour bus from the visitors center to see the bison herd.
Stay at the AAA Four Diamond Grand Central Hotel & Grand Grill in Cottonwood Falls and attend Emma Chase Friday Night Music down the street.
Contributed by Roxie Yonkey of Roxie on the Road
Flint Hills National Scenic Byway is one of the many scenic drives featured in Midwest Road Trip Adventures.
North Shore of Lake Superior Road Trip in Minnesota
- Start: Duluth, Minnesota
- End: Grand Portage, Minnesota
- Number of miles: 145 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 2-3 days
Running for nearly 150 miles along Lake Superior’s shoreline, a drive up Minnesota’s North Shore makes for one of the best road trips in the Midwest.
With hikes galore, views around every corner, and plenty of delicious places to eat, this is a must-do. You’ll also get to experience the world’s largest freshwater lake!
Starting in Duluth, wander around Canal Park for a bit before heading up the shore. See the Aerial Lift Bridge, swim at Park Point Beach, and eat your way through Duluth.
Then, start making your way up Highway 61, following Lake Superior for the entire drive. Stop at the must-see spots such as Gooseberry Falls, Tettegouche State Park, Palisade Head, Black Beach, and Grand Marais.
A few of the top hikes include Bean and Bear Lake Loop, Shovel Point, and Eagle Mountain. Each providing some of the best views of the lake and Sawtooth Mountains.
By the time you reach Grand Portage, you’ll have almost made it to the Canadian border! It’s best to take a few days for this trip so you can really take it all in.
When you need to rest for the night, make a stop at Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay.
Contributed by Kassidy Olson of Kassidy’s Journey
Ohio River Scenic Byway
- Start: East Liverpool, Ohio
- End: Cairo, Illinois
- Number of miles: 953 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 5-7 days
The Ohio River Scenic Byway is an historic route that’s also one of the most beautiful road trips in the USA.
The river itself was a main thoroughfare for early settlers, and that history is reflected in the towns and museums that line the route. You’ll traverse the southern borders of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, from the river’s beginnings west of Pittsburgh until it ends at the Mississippi River in Cairo.
Because it follows a river that divided North from South, there are a lot of places that served as stops on the Underground Railroad. You can also visit Grant’s birthplace and Lincoln’s boyhood home.
Although Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery departed from St. Louis, they began to gather along the Ohio River. Before William Clark headed west, his older brother George Rogers was a hero of the Revolutionary War, and he’s honored in Illinois’ Fort Massac State Park.
This road trip can be done in a week, but if you really want to experience the history of this route, allow more time.
If you’re looking for a comfortable break, spend a couple days in Cincinnati with an overnight stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott.
West Michigan Pike (US 31)
- Start: New Buffalo near Michigan’s southern border
- End: Ludington, Michigan
- Number of miles: 184 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: While the total drive time is approximately four hours, you could easily spend a week exploring Michigan’s lakeshore towns.
West Michigan Pike is a beachy drive along the west coast of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The drive is full of charming small towns that are a draw for boating enthusiasts and nature lovers, art aficionados, and history buffs.
Some highlights include South Haven, Saugatuck, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, and Ludington.
The area boasts various wineries, including those on the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail, where you can experience award-winning wines. One example is the 12 Corners Tasting Room in South Haven.
What makes this Midwest road trip unique?
The West Michigan Pike (US 31) meanders along the Lake Michigan shoreline, taking you through many “best of” designations.
For example, Forbes called Holland, with its Dutch Heritage, one of the Prettiest Towns in America. During the annual festival Tulip Time, six million tulip blossoms explode in a riot of color.
You’ll find several unique accommodations along the byway if you want to make this more than a day trip. History enthusiasts will want to overnight on the USS Silversides Submarine in Muskegon.
Foodies will enjoy a luxurious stay in Saugatuck at the Wickwood Inn, a bed and breakfast owned by Julee Rosso, author of the Silver Palate Cookbook.
Contributed by Amy Piper of Follow the Piper
Hawaii Road Trips
Big Island Road Trip
- Start: Hilo
- End: Kona
- Number of Miles: 123 miles
- Recommended length of Road trip: At least 3 days.
This epic Big Island Road Trip needs to be on everyone’s USA Bucket List. There are not many places in the United States where you can see lava one day, waterfalls the next, and then end the trip by relaxing on a sunny beach.
This Big Island road trip starts in Hilo, otherwise known as the rainiest city in the United States, so be sure to pack your rain jacket.
While in Hilo, you’ll check out Akaka Falls State Park, Rainbow Falls, Kaumana Caves, and of course downtown Hilo (shopping, farmer’s market, restaurants, and a beach across the street).
The Grand Naniloa Hotel is a great option to catch some zzz’s on night one.
When you are ready to leave Hilo, you will drive 30 miles south to the amazing Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Here you can see more lava tubes, hike to the crater of a solidified lava lake (Kileau Iki Trail), and marvel at the glowing lava from the Kileau overlook. Find a cute B&B near the park’s entrance to stay tonight.
Finally, on the last day (or days) of your road trip, head to Kona. Kona is known for having much better weather than the first two locations, so you can take your swimsuit back out of your suitcase.
After arriving in Kona, head to the beach for a relaxing day in the sun! There are many beaches to choose from, but some popular options include Alula Beach, Kua Bay, and Mahai’ula Beach.
After your beach day, end this Big Island road trip with a bucket list activity by swimming with the giant manta rays.
From here, you can either fly out of Kona or head back to the airport in Hilo.
Contributed by Jordan Lindsay, The Homebody Tourist
Kauai Road Trip to Waimea Canyon
- Start: Lihue, Kauai
- End: Lihue, Kauai
- Number of miles: 200 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 3-4 days
Start your Kauai road trip itinerary by picking up your car at the Lihue airport and then start making your way to Waimea Canyon, nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific” for its stunning, Southwestern-looking landscape and dramatic scale.
Keep going up Route 550 to see some more beautiful Kauai highlights. Head to both Kalalau Lookout and Pu’u O Kila Lookout at the very end of the road for some of the most beautiful sweeping views over Kauai’s Na Pali Coast.
Head back to Lihue, stopping at Red Dirt Waterfall on the way back. Lihue makes a great home base between Kauai’s sites.
The next day, visit the historic town of Hanapepe and visit its historic swinging bridge, then head to Poipu Beach and Koloa for the rest of the day.
Next, spend at least one day exploring Kauai’s more isolated North Shore. Make your way to Hanalei Bay first and explore the charming town to Hanalei, which is a great spot to have a meal.
From there, visit Hā’ena State Park (reservations required) and Lumaha’i Beach, before heading back and stopping at Kilauea Lighthouse, ‘Opaeka’a Falls, and the rainbow eucalyptus trees of Keahua Arboretum on the way back to Lihue.
Contributed by Allison Green of Eternal Arrival
The Road to Hana: One of the most beautiful road trips in the USA
- Start: Town of Paia
- End: Oheo Pools past the town of Hana.
- Length: around 55 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: The Road to Hana drive without any stops takes around 3 hours due to the single-lane road, but the drive is about the stops and it can take a whole day to explore.
The Road to Hana is a scenic highway that winds through the lush rainforests and beautiful coastal landscapes of Maui, Hawaii. It is considered one of the most beautiful road trips in the USA.
The road is famous for its winding curves, narrow bridges, and stunning views of the ocean and coastline.
Along the way, visitors can stop at several scenic lookouts, rushing waterfalls, and gorgeous beaches.
Some of the most popular stops along the Road to Hana are Twin Falls, Garden of Eden, Ke’anae Pennisula, Wainapanapa State Park, and Oheo Gulch.
The Wainapanapa State Park is home to the famous black sand beach in Maui. The Town of Hana has some great food trucks for delicious meals after the long drive.
Road to Hana is mainly about the drive to Hana and not so much about the town Hana.
Road to Hana is mostly done as a road trip from the resort areas of West Maui, but there are accommodation options to stay overnight in Hana town.
Hana Maui Resort is one of the best accommodations in Hana with ocean views.
Contributed by Anu Agarwal of Destination Checkoff
New England Beautiful Road Trips
Connecticut and Massachusetts Road Trip
- Start: Mystic, CT
- End: Newburyport, MA
- Number of miles: 240 miles (one-way)
- Recommended length of trip: 7 days
For a gorgeous coastal road trip through New England, you’ll want to head straight to Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Filled with charming towns and quaint fishing villages, you’ll also get to experience some of the best cities on the East Coast, stunning beaches, and eat the freshest seafood.
Starting in Mystic, CT (yes, that famous Mystic!), the Mystic Seaport Museum and charming Main Street should be at the top of your list. And if you’re a fan of the movie, you can grab a slice of pizza from the iconic Mystic Pizza.
Making your way to Massachusetts, you’ll want to stop in Newport, RI, which is famous for the stunning Gilded Age mansions, before making your way to Cape Cod, MA.
This is where you’ll see the most beautiful beaches and have the best lobster rolls you’ll eat on your trip!
The last leg of this road trip includes Boston, and the North Shore. Some great towns to visit along the way are Salem and Rockport, before ending in the charming city of Newburyport.
Boston is an exciting city that is perfect for a 2-night stay. A great hotel option while here is The Revere Hotel, which is walkable to the Public Gardens, shopping, dining and the scenic Charles River Esplanade.
Contributed by Samantha Hamilton of New England Wanderlust
New England Fall Colors Road Trip
- Start: Boston
- End: Boston
- Number of Miles: 674
- Recommended Length of Road Trip: 3-5 days
A fall road trip through New England should definitely be on your bucket list, if it isn’t already!
You’ll start your road trip in Boston, the largest city in New England with an international airport convenient for flying in and out.
In Boston, be sure to walk Boston Common and the Boston Public Gardens, where you will see lots of fall color and fall blooms.
Next, head north to New Hampshire, where Lincoln makes a great base for many scenic drives.
Definitely do the Kancamagus Highway, considered one of the top fall foliage drives anywhere on the planet.
Franconia Notch State Park is also worth exploring, especially Flume Gorge. Drive up to the top of Mount Washington for epic views, or take the Cog Railway.
Then drive to Stowe, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Vermont. The colors here are incredible at peak, and there is a white church in town that’s a super popular fall photo spot. Be sure to drive Route 100, a scenic byway.
Burlington on Lake Champlain is another beautiful city to visit in Vermont before heading south to the charming village of Woodstock and Brattleboro on your way back to Boston.
In Lincoln, New Hampshire, stay at the Riverwalk Resort. In Stowe, you have to stay at the Trapp Family Lodge, run by the von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame!
Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
A Stunning Coastal Maine Road Trip
- Start: Portland, Maine
- End: Bar Harbor, Maine
- Number of miles: 177 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 2 days
This coastal Maine road trip combines stunning coastal views with charming towns and villages. You can explore the rocky coast, visit quaint fishing villages, and experience the unique culture of Maine’s maritime communities.
Portland is a great starting point for any Maine road trip with its historic Old Port District, bustling food scene, and picturesque harbor.
Afterward, you’ll take Route 1 and head north towards Bar Harbor. Your first stop along the coast is Freeport, home to world-renowned outlet stores and the historic L.L. Bean factory store.
Then, you’ll stop in Bath, a beautiful town full of charming houses and a bustling waterfront. Make sure to explore the Maine Maritime Museum while you’re there to learn more about Maine’s nautical history.
The next stop on your road trip is Wiscasset, a small town with an abundance of antique shops, with Castle Tucker being a local favorite.
You’ll keep driving and reach Damariscotta, where you can grab a delicious lobster roll at The Lobster Haul and walk along the beautiful harbor.
Your next two stops are Rockland and Rockport. In Rockland, make sure to visit the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse before heading to Rockport to explore its charming downtown.
Your stopping point for the day is Camden in the Mid-Coast region of Maine, known for its sailing and boating. You’ll spend the night at Lord Camden Inn in the town’s historic district.
The next day, you’ll continue your road trip along Route 1 and head toward Bar Harbor. You can make a few stops along the way, such as Northport and Belfast, before arriving in Bar Harbor.
There are so many incredible things to do in Bar Harbor, such as hiking the Acadia National Park trails or taking a harbor cruise around Frenchman Bay.
You can also explore the downtown area for some great seafood restaurants and unique shops.
Contributed by Disha Smith of Disha Discovers
Beautiful South USA Road Trips
An Historic Road Trip to Shenandoah National Park
- Start: Annapolis, MD
- End: Shenandoah National Park
- Number of miles: 210 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 3 days
A road trip from Annapolis, Maryland to Skyline Drive to the southern tip of Shenandoah National Park is a 210-mile drive but stretch it over three days.
Take strategic stops en route to tour Baltimore and Alexandria (two Revolutionary War cities) as well as the nation’s capital (Washington DC).
Visit Charm City’s Fells Point and Federal Hills neighborhoods in the morning. Order crab cakes for lunch at a café on Baltimore’s historic waterfront.
Then shoot down Baltimore Washington Parkway to spend the night in the nation’s capital.
Reserve a full day to take a DC neighborhood walking tour, ramble in the National Gallery of Art sculpture garden, visit the Smithsonian Museum complex, and tour the Library of Congress.
In the evening, rent an e-Bike and head for the Botanic Gardens.
Spend day two in Old Town Alexandria and tour Mount Vernon.
Eat lunch at a quaint café on the main shopping avenue (King Street Mile). Follow a self-guided architecture tour of historic homes.
In the morning, drive to Front Royal, Virginia to enter Shenandoah National Park. The final trip segment is the 105-mile Skyline Drive.
It follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It only takes three hours to drive it, but stop frequently to hike or watch for wildlife.
Contributed by Terri Markle of Female Solo Trek
The Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway
- Start: Shenandoah National Park
- End: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Number of miles: 469 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 2 nights+
When is a road more than just a road? When it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the 469-mile rural route connects Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, extending from Waynesboro, Va., to Cherokee, N.C.
While it is said to take less than 13 hours to drive through, many exploring the Parkway choose to do so in two- to five-day getaways during three out of four seasons since winter weather can be unpredictable and can cause road closures.
For first-time visitors, the Blue Ridge Parkway is easy to navigate, with points of interest marked by mileposts, starting with 0 and ending with 469.
From the Natural Bridge (milepost 61.6), with George Washington’s initials carved into it, to Flat Top Manor at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (milepost 294), home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild Shop, to Mount Mitchell State Park (milepost 355.4), the highest point east of the Mississippi, the scenic and historic varieties appeal to every type of traveler.
There are also many outdoor opportunities, such as hiking (all levels), mountain biking and fishing.
The Parkway experience isn’t just limited to views. But, while those are spectacular, don’t miss out on the nearby towns and cities, such as Hot Springs and Roanoke, Virginia, and Asheville and Boone, North Carolina.
Each has its own personality and flavor and offers a range of attractions, local restaurants and accommodations for every budget.
Contributed by Apryl Chapman Thomas of Southern Hospitality Magazine
Destin to Clearwater Florida Road Trip
- Start: Destin, Florida
- End: Clearwater, Florida
- Number of miles: 415 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 5 days
One of the most beautiful road trips in the USA is from Destin to Clearwater. Both of these cities and the route between them have some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, with great attractions and amazing views.
In Destin, you can visit the beach at Henderson Beach State Park and do some shopping along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
For overnight accommodations in Destin, be sure to check out the Sandestin Golf and Beach resort. It has a great location near the top attractions and fantastic views.
The drive from Destin to Clearwater takes about 6 hours and 45 minutes. There are some fun places to stay overnight if you want to split up the drive or visit other parts of Florida along the way.
Cedar Key is a beautiful coastal town, or you could visit Weeki Wachee. If you want to take a bit of a detour, Silver Springs in Ocala has a great glass-bottom boat tour going through the Springs.
Once you have made it to Clearwater, be sure to visit Pier 60 and the marina across the beach. This is a really fun area of town with lots of attractions and a beautiful beach.
You can also find lots of yummy downtown Clearwater restaurants in this area. There are lots of great dolphin and sunset cruises that depart out of Clearwater.
The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is a great place to stay in Clearwater with close beach access and tons of great hotel amenities.
Contributed by Candice of Exploring the Gulf
Florida Keys Road Trip
- Start: Miami, Florida
- End: Key West, Florida
- Number of miles: 160 miles (320 miles round trip)
- Recommended length of road trip: 2 nights+
In terms of road trips, a Florida Keys road trip is quite short. It is 160 miles and a straight through drive time of around 3hrs 30 between Miami and Key West.
There are a couple of options: either fly into Miami International Airport, pick up a rental car, drive to Key West and fly back out of Key West EYW airport at the end. Or drive back to Miami airport and do it as a round trip.
What makes this road trip along US Route 1 unique, is that the last 112 miles is known as the ‘Overseas Highway’. It crossed 29 islands connected by 42 bridges, with the longest bridge being 7 miles in length!
There are plenty of things to see and do along the route, especially between Marathon and Key West.
The Turtle Hospital in Marathon offers tours of their turtle rescue and rehabilitation facility and Big Pine Key is home to the smallest species of white-tailed deer in the USA.
It is worth spending at least 2 nights in Key West, the southernmost point of continental USA. The Ibis Bay Beachfront Resort has free parking, a shuttle to downtown and complimentary breakfast.
Contributed by Kylie of Between England and Everywhere
Talimena National Scenic Byway
- Start: Talihini, Oklahoma
- End: Mena, Arkansas
- Number of miles: 54 miles
- Recommended length of road trip: 1-3 days
The Talimena National Scenic Byway is a beautiful road trip from Talihina, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas. This route winds its way through the Ouachita Mountains.
The scenic drive includes 22 vistas and overlooks to pull over and enjoy the view, along with multiple historic sites and hiking trails.
You can finish the route in 3-5 hours if you want to just drive and get out to enjoy the overlooks, making it a great day trip from Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or even Dallas. Round out your day trip by spending time in either Talihina or Mena.
If you have a full day, you can enjoy one of the day hikes along the route, stop at the Kerr Arboretum, and visit all of the historic sites along the route like the Pioneer Cemetery.
There are two state parks along the Talimena: Talimena State Park in Oklahoma and Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas.
If you have two or three days, you can camp at the state parks, spend time enjoying both towns, hike more than one hike, or camp overnight on the route itself.
The drive is beautiful year-round; however, it’s even more popular in late October and early November as its one of the best places to enjoy fall foliage in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Contributed by Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl
I hope you enjoyed discovering these beautiful road trips in the USA. It’s incredible how much there is to see in this country.
Before you hit the road, be sure to download your road trip packing lists, for free!