Planning US road trips can be daunting. With so many states and so many fantastic routes, there’s a lot to choose from, but to make your job easier we’ve put together the best road trips in the USA that we feel you shouldn’t miss!
I have road tripped throughout the US for as long as I can remember and growing up, it was a frequent activity.
I have been to 49 of the 50 states and would travel for 5 months at a time in the summers during my childhood. I have even driven from Florida to Alaska twice.
I hope you’ll get the same thrill road tripping around this magnificent country as I got each time I piled into the car for a new adventure.
From the ancient saguaros lining the deserts of Arizona and the magical waterfalls of the Colombia River Gorge in Oregon to “America’s Last Frontier” of Alaska and the erupting geyser Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, the landscapes are vastly different throughout the country.
Remarkably though, they are not just different from state to state but can have wildly contrasting landscapes within a single state.
You truly can’t go wrong when choosing an American road trip. Each one will leave you stunned in the best ways for entirely different reasons.
So pack your car, load your USA road trip planner apps and let the adventures begin!
15 Best Road Trips In The USA
Northern California Road Trip Highlights
- San Francisco
- Point Reyes National Seashore
- Redwood National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
Northern California is incredibly diverse, offering a variety of stunning natural landscapes all along your route, ranking it among the best road trips in the USA. If you are planning a California road trip, consider heading to Northern California to escape the crowds and heat often found in the southern part of the state.
A Northern California road trip along Highway 101 and down through the Cascades is the perfect way to see some of the best that California has to offer while making memories that last a lifetime.
This road trip will take you to the magical Cypress Tree Tunnel at the Point Reyes National Seashore, it will have you laughing at the wildly loud sea lions at San Francisco’s Pier 39, then find you wandering the Jurassic Park landscape of Fern Canyon in Redwoods National Park. You’ll marvel at volcanoes and waterfalls and find marine life in tide pools at low tide.
And after all that, we have no doubt you’ll be booking your next American road trip to come back for more.
Oregon Road Trip Highlights
- Columbia River Gorge
- Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- Cannon Beach
We have explored Oregon from top to bottom and have yet to be disappointed by a single location.
Its greenery and waterfalls tend to remind us of Iceland in the summer. The natural beauty is stunning.
Our Oregon road trip is written in a clockwise manner around the state, beginning and ending in the Portland area. Feel free to adapt the road trip route however to fit your needs.
From the funky, colorful city of Portland you’ll leave the city streets for the marvelous outdoors starting your road trip off right with some of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ve ever seen. The magical waterfalls alone are enough to land this among the best road trips in the USA.
You might be surprised to find your road trip route then ventures away from the forests and lacy waterfalls that are synonymous with the state, to the unique Oregon desert landscape of the Painted Hills and Smith Rock State Park. But don’t fret, the trip continues with more vibrant blue natural pools, more waterfalls of course, sandy beaches along the coast, and more cities full of life.
The beauty of Oregon’s natural landscape is enough to make anyone swoon. We’re in love with Oregon and know you will be too.
From the coastal waters to the relaxing hot springs you’re in for a marvelous road trip USA adventure.
Arizona Road Trip Highlights
- Grand Canyon
Arizona is dry desert with ancient saguaro cacti, prickly pear with enticing red fruit, and jumping cholla which appear as if the intense sunlight is passing through them and illuminating their prickly appendages.
But Arizona is also vibrant red rock, stunning waterfalls, refreshing swimming holes, and lush forests of pine and aspen. And it’s the Grand Canyon with its awe-inspiring views and challenging trails.
An Arizona road trip is the best way to experience a slice of each of these remarkably unique landscapes that will have you at a loss for words.
Arizona is perfect for hiking, swimming, and enjoying the true beauty and artistry of nature.
Though the state is certainly known for its heat, particularly in Phoenix in the summer, the winter could not be more ideal with highs in the upper 60’s. And if the summer heat is particularly fiery you can always spend more time up North in Flagstaff, Sedona or at the Grand Canyon where summer temperatures are pleasant. These are some of the best stops on any Southwest Road Trip!
With sunshine all year long and an abundance of outdoor activities, how can you not include this among the best road trips in the USA? So grab your hiking poles, boots and sunscreen and soak up the diverse landscapes of Arizona.
Utah Road Trip Highlights
- Arches National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
There’s no better way to experience a handful of the country’s most breathtaking national parks in one trip than embarking on a Utah road trip.
The combination of Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks are referred to as the Big 5. And we can assure you they’ll occupy a big place in your heart after you return from your great American road trip.
You’ll start your Utah road trip with the stunning arches and vast landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands National Park. They’ll leave you in awe at the ability of nature to create masterpieces.
In between hopping from one impressive national park to the next you’ll visit state parks and national monuments that easily hold their own among the Big 5. You’ll finish up your journey in the most famous of all the stops, Zion National Park.
The views from Zion’s abundance of fantastic hikes are the stuff of dreams. It’s time to make those dreams reality and hop in your car to begin one of the best road trips in the USA.
Alaska Road Trip Highlights
- Denali National Park
There’s nothing quite like visiting “America’s Last Frontier.” We suggest setting aside at least a week for your Alaska road trip, though two weeks would be ideal.
We’ve visited Alaska multiple times and can assure you that you’re in for an incredibly unique experience when visiting the rugged 49th state.
It’s one of the best road trips in the USA for lovers of the outdoors. There are plenty of adventures to be had, mountains to explore, and the occasional moose or bear to happen upon.
The highlight of your trip will likely be the unmatched beauty of Denali. With stunning backcountry hikes, glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife, it offers a dream landscape for nature lovers.
When you’re not exploring the national park you’ll be visiting charming towns, walking along the beaches, fishing and enjoying every moment of your drive through the undisturbed natural landscape. Check the weather, drive safely, respect the animals and bask in Alaska’s wild beauty.
Colorado Road Trip Highlights
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
Your Colorado road trip will feature the state’s finest, from stunning landscapes and bucket list hikes to delicious food and city vibes. National parks are also plentiful giving you more than enough opportunities to immerse yourself in Colorado’s natural beauty.
You can pick and choose from the stops and activities depending on how much time you have to spend in each place. Colorado is a playground for adventurers, hikers, and lovers of the great outdoors, a true paradise.
The landscape will continue to change throughout your drive taking you from one spectacular scene to the next. It is one of the best road trips in the USA because it has a little bit of everything including thriving cities, mountains, lakes, snowshoeing, backpacking, skiing, fishing, sand sledding, ruins and rock art.
It’s hard to go wrong exploring this wonderful state. Bring your hiking shoes and an adventurous spirit and prepare for the American road trip of a lifetime.
West Coast Road Trip Highlights
- Yosemite National Park
- San Francisco
- Redwood National and State Parks
You are spoiled for choice when visiting the west coast of the United States.
The scenery is stunning. There are redwoods, beaches, beautiful gardens and towering rock formations.
Our suggested west coast road trip route will begin in San Diego and take you up the California coast through Oregon and up to Washington where you will finish this wild ride and fly out of Seattle.
With all that it has to offer, you could spend a lifetime exploring the west coast and still not see and experience everything. Yosemite’s imposing rock domes, San Francisco’s iconic bridges, the magic redwood forests, and the funky Portland vibe help make this one of the best road trips in the USA.
There’s no shortage of incredible stops that will stay in your memory for a lifetime.
This road trip only brushes the surface of all the spectacular things you can do, but we’ve chosen stops that will leave you in awe and hungry for the next adventure.
So pack up your bags and start the car because you’re about to embark on one of the most unforgettable US road trips.
Oregon Coast Road Trip Highlights
- Samuel H Boardman State Scenic Corridor
- Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area
- Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
- Cannon Beach
The Oregon coast is made of charming coastal towns, the famous haystack rock of Cannon Beach, constantly shifting sand dunes, natural rock bridges, secluded beaches, crashing waves, and historic lighthouses.
You can walk in the footsteps of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, explore sea caves at low tide, witness the tempestuous ocean seemingly sucking water into its depths, and learn the history behind the historic lighthouses.
An Oregon coast road trip is the perfect getaway to calming natural landscapes where you’ll be met with impressive ocean views and refreshing salty air. There’s nothing like a good walk along the beach to keep spirits high as you road trip the USA.
From scenic viewpoints to an abundance of hiking trails, there’s no shortage of things to do along the coast. We guarantee you won’t regret basking in the beautiful natural landscapes of the Oregon coast on one of the best USA road trip routes.
Texas Road Trip Highlights
- Hamilton Pool
- San Antonio
- Big Bend National Park
The Lone Star state is just waiting to be explored. You’re in for a fun-filled American road trip with delicious food, natural beauty, and major cities you won’t want to miss.
A Texas road trip is perfect for anyone interested in history, art and culture. There’s also a healthy selection of national and state parks among other attractions unique to Texas.
From dinosaur themed stops geared towards children to romantic sunsets from the top of a mountain peak, there’s something for everyone on your Texas road trip.
This huge state is larger than many countries. As a result there’s plenty to keep you entertained throughout your trip.
You’ll begin in Austin and end in Houston stopping along the way for a refreshing swim at the Hamilton Pool Preserve, a peaceful stroll along the River Walk in San Antonio, and a soak in a hot spring at Big Bend National Park.
In between all the outdoor fun, you’ll visit museums, aquariums, perhaps enjoy a concert, or walk through the remains of the Alamo. And when it’s over, you too will be including it among the best road trips in the USA.
Yellowstone Road Trip Highlights
- Old Faithful
- Boiling River Hot Springs And Lamar Valley
- Tower Fall And Dunraven Pass
Yellowstone National Park is found on many a bucket list and is a dream destination for many. It has an abundance of jaw-dropping sights, and our Yellowstone road trip has all the best ones.
Taking a trip to Yellowstone is the ultimate summer activity. Along the way to the famous national park you’ll stop in Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, and Grand Teton National Park where you can hike, camp, drive scenic routes and watch the magical landscapes reflect on the water of some incredibly picturesque lakes.
But the highlight of this trip that lands it among the best road trips in the USA is of course Yellowstone National Park.
If you’re planning a Yellowstone road trip, you’ve no doubt heard of Old Faithful, the famous geyser charming crowds with its powerful eruptions. But the spectacular national park has so much to offer besides its iconic geyser.
From flowing waterfalls and hikes through pine forests to glorious meadows and relaxing hot springs you can’t help but be swept up in the beauty of this natural wonderland.
It’s time for you to road trip the USA and check off one of America’s top national parks from your bucket list.
Florida Road Trip Highlights
- Ginnie Springs
- Everglades National Park
- Key West
- Dry Tortugas National Park
Florida has always been a vacation hot spot and for good reason. Millions of people flock to Florida each year to enjoy the tropical weather and beaches as well as the many amusement parks, fun cities, and national parks.
Florida is one of the best road trips in the USA if you’re looking to combine plenty of rest and relaxation with the chance to release your inner adventurer. There are plenty of activities for families and nature lovers alike.
Though your Florida road trip begins in the large city of Jacksonville, you’ll quickly find yourself heading for less populated territory as you venture to the coastal city of Saint Augustine and on to Ginnie Springs, your first dose of the beautiful outdoors where you can snorkel, kayak, or just relax in an inner tube while the water gently carries you along.
Perhaps you’ve always had an urge to swim with manatees. That can be done at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.
Or maybe you’re looking forward to taking the kids to Disney World in Orlando. The incredibly scenic hiking trails at Everglades National Park await you as well.
There’s no shortage of adventures to be had during your Florida road trip. So pack your bags because it’s time to make some memories in the Sunshine State!
East Coast Road Trip Highlights
- Acadia National Park And Bar Harbor
- New York City
- Washington DC
- St. Augustine And Key West
Our east coast road trip has you starting in Maine, passing through New York, then down to the Carolinas and Florida. You’re in for a real treat exploring the wide variety of sites and attractions that the east coast has to offer.
From the mountain peaks and pristine beaches of Acadia National Park and the rich history of Boston to the vibrant lights and hustle and bustle of Times Square and the Smithsonian Museums of our nation’s capital, there’s more to do along the coast than you can possibly see in one trip.
The 13 stops we’ve laid out for you make for the perfect introduction to one of the best road trips in the USA.
Though the west coast is more widely known for its stunning natural beauty, the east coast has plenty of gems of its own and should not be counted out when contemplating which USA road trip routes are worth your time.
So pack up your bags and head to Maine where you’ll begin this truly wild American road trip ride and prepare for your belly to be filled with the most delicious food, your eyes to feast on the most mesmerizing landscapes, and your heart to fall in love with the east coast.
Montana Road Trip Highlights
- Glacier National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
Montana is among the best road trips in the USA because of its captivating wilderness, national parks, and wildlife. It’s the ultimate location for those who love the outdoors and hiking.
Your Montana road trip will take you from Glacier National Park to Missoula with irresistible stops in between such as the famous geyser Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park and the beautiful freshwater spring of Giant Springs State Park.
The landscape will continue to change throughout your drive as you pass from one spectacular location to the next.
The state has a little bit of everything including charming cities with interesting local shops and cozy small-town vibes, miles upon miles of great hiking trails, and fantastic places to eat, stay and relax.
If you’re ready to road trip the USA and explore the great outdoors of Montana, pick your favorite road trip playlist and hop in the car. Montana’s natural beauty awaits!
New Mexico Road Trip Highlights
- Santa Fe
- Chaco Canyon
- White Sands National Monument
- Carlsbad Caverns
This New Mexico Road Trip is among the best road trips in the USA with an impressive three UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the route.
You’ll start your road trip in Albuquerque where you’ll want to visit Old Town and grab a margarita at Monroe’s. From there you’ll be cruising down desert roads, admiring artwork at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, check out the turquoise jewelry in Madrid, stargazing at the Very Large Array, hiking the dramatic dunes at White Sands National Monument, exploring the caves at Carlsbad Caverns and so much more.
There’s even a place called Pie Town! There’s nothing better than loading up on delicious pies before heading to the Gila National Forest.
Chaco Canyon, home to a remarkably large collection of ancient ruins including Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, and the Fajada Butte to name a few, is just one example of the rich history of New Mexico.
Beyond that, the state is incredibly unique. For starters, there’s an International UFO Museum and Research Center dedicated to the famous Roswell crash of 1947.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities, outdoor adventures, or fascinating small towns, New Mexico has something for everyone.
Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip Highlights
- Skyline Drive And Shenandoah National Park
- Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain
- Great Smokey Mountains National Park
Looking for one of the best road trips in the USA for scenic views and vibrant fall foliage? The 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway might just be the perfect adventure for you.
Mile markers will make it easy for you to identify stops along the way.
From Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and everything in between, you’re in for some of the most idyllic views you’ve ever seen. It’s every perfect Bob Ross landscape painting times ten and in real life.
This is the kind of trip where you’ll enjoy your time spent in the car soaking everything in with your eyes just as much as the time spent exploring at each destination. To really savor every moment we suggest taking a week to complete your trip, but the route can easily be enjoyed with fewer days as well.
Though this road trip passes through the occasional town or city, its highlights are the natural beauty leading you onwards from cascading waterfalls and endless mountain ranges, to mist that hangs over the mountain peaks and forests and encounters with wildlife.
There is an abundance of fantastic hiking opportunities showcasing the landscape along the route in addition to picturesque camping spots.
This Blue Ridge Parkway road trip is peaceful and soul-stirring, and we suspect it might make its way to the top of your US road trips list.
Tools To Use For Planning Your USA Road Trip
Planning USA road trip routes is always made easier when you have planning apps at your disposal. We’ve used each of these USA road trip planner apps when planning our own trips throughout the country and absolutely love them.
Some of our favorites include GasBuddy, which is perfect when you’re trying to locate a nearby gas station and its prices. Save money and never be stranded! Splitwise will allow you to easily keep track of and split expenses with friends.
Airbnb will be your ultimate friend when searching for accommodations as it gives you a wide variety of wonderful options offered by locals that are often cheaper than a hotel.
Weatherbug as you might guess allows you to drop a pin where you’re going and check back for remarkably accurate weather updates. Amazon Kindle will be a lifesaver to keep you occupied with audiobooks during the many hours in the car on your US road trips.
Photopills is one of our favorites as it gives photographers the precise information they need for shooting in a location such as the location of the Milky Way, or where the sun will rise.
These USA road trip planner apps among others will send you on your way feeling confident you’ve done all you can to ensure the trip runs smoothly.
How To Use Google Maps To Plan Your US Road Trips
The Google Maps Trip Planner is the road trip planning tool you’ll be thankful you knew about. To maximize your road trip experience you’ll want to plan your route and map it out in one place.
Planning a USA road trip can be chaotic and stressful, and this tool will be integral in making your job easier.
Along with the breathtaking landscapes and iconic landmarks you’ll be adding to your map, you can also include restaurants, hotels and airports so you can easily see where everything is located in relation to each other.
Another great feature of the Google Maps Trip Planner is the ability to color-code the map. You can use a new color for each day indicating the new daily itinerary; you can use one color for activities, one for hotels and one for restaurants, or you can plan a group trip where each person contributes their stop suggestions in a different color.
For your convenience, you can access your planned trip through Google Maps on any device, which is perfect if you plan your US road trips on your computer, but want to use your phone while you’re driving.
Here’s hoping the Google Maps Trip Planner will decrease your trip planning stress as it has ours.
We’re thrilled you’ve chosen to road trip the USA and experience the rich cultures, powerful history, and jaw-dropping landscapes the make the country so wonderful.
These are the best road trips in the USA for a reason, and we have no doubt that as you wind your way through the country with your favorite road trip playlist blasting from the speakers, you’ll see why. If you have any questions or would like to tell us about your own American road trip experiences, feel free to comment below.