A US roadtrip is always a good idea. Whether you’re looking for mountain summits, vast ocean views, small towns or big cities, you can find it on the roads of America. A roadtrip is the best way to appreciate the diversity of terrain, climate, and culture that the US has to offer, and here are six of the best routes you can take.
1. Historic Route 66
Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the world, so without question, it is an essential US roadtrip to take. It spans over 2400 miles, from Illinois to California. Your official starting point is Jackson Boulevard at Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. The route runs East to West, taking you through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, before ending in Santa Monica. Route 66 will take you through quite a variety of terrain, from deserts and mountains to large cities. You’ll find quintessential small-town America along this route, where you can eat at diners, stroll along Main Street, and stay in small, family-run motels in between long drives.
You can take deviations from Route 66 if you want to visit some popular tourist attractions like the Grand Canyon or Disneyland, which will lengthen your trip. However, if you’re just sticking to the main route, three weeks will allow you a leisurely trip that hits all the best spots. You’ll spend a lot of time on the road for this trip; Route 66 is more about the classic American roadtrip experience than getting to destinations and visiting attractions. This trip will show you some incredible views, really showcasing the all varying landscapes that the US has to offer.
2. Deep South
Defining exactly which states are classed as Deep South can vary, but will predominantly include Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. A roadtrip covering these six states will immerse you into this part of the US, showing you both small towns and big cities, all brimming with culture and history. You can tailor this roadtrip to the time that you have, and the spots that you most want to see. The main destinations that you can visit will include Nashville, Memphis, Charleston, Atlanta, Savannah, Montgomery, Biloxi, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Explore the music history of Tennessee with a trip to Graceland in Memphis and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. In Charleston, you can take a carriage ride through the vibrant downtown area, before visiting Charleston Museum (the oldest museum in the US). Follow the Great Mississippi River Road, where you can stop and visit historic plantations and antebellum mansions. This is just a small handful of things to do on your Deep South roadtrip, but there is so much more.
Make sure to try gumbo, jambalaya and, of course, BBQ whilst you’re travelling the Deep South to get a taste of the famous Southern cooking. Spring or fall are the best times to do this trip to avoid the weather extremities that characterise the summers and winters in this part of the country, and you’ll also miss the tourist crowds at these times of the year.
3. Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are one of the most beautiful landscapes that the US has to offer. The dark green wilderness and open road against the backdrop of the incredible Rocky Mountains make for the perfect US roadtrip.
There are a lot of routes that you can take, even starting from outside of Colorado to get a vaster glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, but one of the most popular routes begins and ends in Colorado’s capital, Denver. Drive up to Eldorado State Canyon, just outside Boulder, which is quieter than the more popular national parks, allowing you to start your Rockies trip enjoying the solitude and calm of the mountain views.
From Eldorado, you can head up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. You will travel across Trail Ridge Road, winding around 12,000-foot peaks, looking out on the unbelievable mountain views. On your trip, you can also visit Walden, the Colorado National Monument, encountering more great views and even hot springs on your way. Your route back to Denver is filled with countless national parks, so you can take your pick. Finish your Rockies roadtrip in Colorado Springs before heading back to the capital to see the Garden of the Gods and allegedly, Bigfoot.
4. Utah National Parks
Spend a week visiting Utah’s national parks, and you will never want to leave. These parks are one of the most incredible parts of the world, so you absolutely cannot miss this roadtrip. To get the best of Utah, try and visit what is known as ‘The Mighty 5’ – Utah’s five best national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands.
Zion offers some great hiking routes, such as Angels Landing, which is a tough walk but absolutely worth it for the views you’ll get. Your next stop is Bryce Canyon, where you should try to visit as many observation points as you can, such as Bryce Point and Inspiration Point. About three hours away, you’ll reach Capitol Reef which is much less crowded but just as beautiful as the other parks.
To finish your trip, stop at Canyonlands on your way to Arches, which is the most famous (and rightly so) of the Utah National Parks. Start your day as early as possible at Arches, arriving before the sun so you can sit up on the rocks and watch the sun as it spills over the orange rock. You’ll find quite a few people up on the rocks, but it stays strangely quiet as everyone watches the sunrise together. If there is one thing that you absolutely cannot miss on your Utah roadtrip, this is it.
5. Florida Overseas Highway
Drive between Key West and Miami on Florida’s overseas highway to appreciate some epic ocean views of the US. The distance is only about 125 miles, but there are a lot of stops to make on the way. This is the perfect trip to explore Florida’s Keys, such as Key Largo – home to two national parks as well as a marine sanctuary. Visit the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where you can go on a glass-bottomed boat tour to explore the ocean wildlife. The views across the Overseas Highway are amazing at any time, but make sure to catch as many Floridian sunsets as you can to really appreciate the beauty that this roadtrip has to offer.
6. Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway covers about 600 miles of California’s coast, the most popular road trip following the route from San Francisco to San Diego. Start on the Golden Gate Bridge and glimpse the city through the thick fog (whatever the season) to get the perfect San Fran experience. Drive through San Jose and Santa Cruz before making your way to Monterey Bay to relax and unwind on the peaceful beaches and stroll around Carmel. The PCH will take you through all the essential Californian destinations: Santa Barbara, Malibu, and Los Angeles, before heading into San Diego to finish your trip.