Not that it ever really went away but road tripping is making a come back in the US. With all the uncertainty with air travel and the still loaming Covid-19 Pandemic. Hitting the road in the car is the next best thing when you want to escape.
Is there anything better than jumping in the car and heading off with the wind blowing in your hair and the music turned way up? For me, that is the way to go. While flying will get you to your destination quicker. You miss so many interesting and unique places in between.
Road trips don’t have to be long and boring like you might remember from your childhood. Road trips can be jammed packed with so many cool things. Plus for the next couple of years, those small towns along the way could really use our help. Everyone wants to travel to NYC, Vegas, Orlando, and so on. But who really plans a trip to Horse Cave or Cave City, Kentucky?
There are many great small towns throughout the US that you will discover when you hit the road on your next trip. These are some of the best road trips you can do in the United States. From East to West and North to South. We have you covered. Which one will you take this year?
Route 66 is arguably the most famous road in the world. This historic road spans over 2,400 miles and covers 8 states. It starts in the Windy City (Chicago) and ends in Santa Monica and the Pacific Coast. While Route 66 is no longer officially designated as a route since it was decommissioned in 1985, 80% of the original route is still around and can be driven.
Route 66 goes through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. It would take you a little over 2 days if you were to just drive and only stop for gas. For a lot of the route, the speed limit is 45. Some spots hit 55 and others hit 35. Much like any road trip, it is about taking in the scenery and attractions. Route 66 is no different.
Many people say you should take up to 4 weeks to really take everything in. Two weeks if you are a little pressed on time. You could even do it in a week and hit some of the major attractions.
Of course, you could even break down the route and do only small sections and in a couple of years complete the whole tour. It really is up to you and how much time you have and what you want to see and do.
Some of the notable things you will want to see would have to be the Original McDonald’s Museum in San Bernardino, CA, numerous “ghost” towns along the route, Cadillac Ranch in Texas, Gateway Arch in St. Louis, numerous “Muffler Men”, Route 66 Museums, and many of the diners, drive-ins, and dives. Don’t forget to stand on the corner in Winslow, AZ.
One thing to remember is to fill up on gas when you get below half a tank. Some stretches can go on and on without any gas stations in sight.
Pacific Coast Highway
If you love beaches, the ocean, and winding roads the Pacific Coast Highway in California is the road trip for you. Rent a convertible and drop the top while you twist and turn your way from Los Angeles to San Francisco. All you have to do is sit back and relax breathing in that salty fresh air as you travel along California State Route 1.
This trip will take you over 8 to 10 hours to drive if you are just stopping for gas and flooring it. But how much fun is that? You need to just take it all in. You will be amazed by the things you see while traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway.
A great way to start your trip is by staying at The Queen Mary in Long Beach. You can explore the local area the day before you start your trek towards San Fran. After a good night’s rest without any scares (fingers crossed), start making your way up the coast. Just plan on making many stops along the way.
If traveling between January through March you might see some grey whales as they migrate. No matter when you decide to travel to the PCH you are sure to see something amazing. Bixby Bridge is an iconic landmark on Highway One and you too should stop and snap a picture.
If you need some tips on improving your photography skills check out these 12 simple travel photography tips. Photography and travel go hand in hand and you don’t want to miss those epic photos you can get while traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Wine tasting can be found all around California and that remains true while driving the coast. Just remember not to drink and drive. Maybe plan on spending the night for those of you who really want to take in all this great road trip has to offer.
Some other stops you should make along the route include Hearst Castle, Pfeiffer State Beach, McWay Waterfall, Santa Cruz, and Monterey Bay Aquarium to name a few.
This is the shortest road trip on the list but just as epic as the others. Start your trip off in Homestead, Florida, and fill up on gas this way you can make it all the way to Key West without stopping for gas. You’ll be making plenty of other stops anyway. From Homestead to Key West will take you about 2 ½ hours if you drive straight through without making any stops and covering over 120 miles.
Your first stop of course should be in Key Largo and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. If exploring the local scenery isn’t first on your list and food is, check out Shipwrecks Bar & Grill for some fresh seafood and is also pretty kid-friendly if you are traveling with the family.
If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list, a Key West Road Trip is a must. From Largo to West you will find plenty of places that will help you mark that one off your list. Witnessing a Sunrise and Sunset over the ocean in a single day is easily accomplished here.
This may be the shortest road trip but you should take your time and embrace the island lifestyle and just sit back and relax. Go rent a kayak or grab a charter boat out for some big game fish. Explore the local shops and bars. Grab a slice of Key Lime Pie or breakfast at The Stuffed Pig in Marathon.
Speaking of Marathon. This is a great place to call it a night if you plan on doing the keys in at least 2 days. Sure you can make it to Key West and Back to Homestead in one day with little effort but why would you want to? Another thing to note that is REALLY important. If you don’t like driving over bridges. A road trip to Key West isn’t for you.
From the Canadian border in Maine all the way down to Miami this road trip covers over 1,800 miles and can explore a lot of early American history. From major cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Richmond, Savannah, and Miami. To smaller but just as important locations like Titusville, FL, Port Royal, SC, Williamsburg, VA, Washington Crossing, PA, and Concord, MA.
This trip would take you weeks to really experience it all and then you would still miss a ton of stuff. Each of the major cities would take you at least 3 days to explore and that’s not even counting the surrounding areas. If you are still trying to practice your social distancing skills check out these 40 plus places along I-95 that have lower crowds.
I personally like to consider the portion from Boston to DC as the best area and I like to call it the Road Trip to Freedom. However, the whole trip is enjoyable but it is at a much faster pace than the other trips on this list. While on the highway there is not much to see but speeding cars, skyscrapers in the North, and open spaces in the South. One thing I would suggest is to check out each state’s welcome center. Here you will find interesting information on the state. Places to stay and visit and a great place to stretch your legs.
East to West
This is the longest road trip you could take since it covers over 3,000 miles. This east to west road trip is one big endeavor and not for the faint of heart. You may have also heard people call this the Oregon trail since it ends in Oregon.
Starting on the East Coast of the US usually in New York or Massachusetts and traveling along the northern part of the country all the way to Oregon. Here you can encounter so many wonderful and amazing things. Places like Niagara Falls or Yellowstone. Mount Rushmore or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The best road to take is Highway 20 most of the way from east to west. Perhaps the best part of this road trip is seeing how diverse America can be. From the people to the food and the landscapes.
The east coast is heavily populated and you don’t travel many miles without running into the next town. As you get further west the towns start spacing out more and more. The rocky hills turn to plains back to massive mountains. Since you are traveling the northern portion of the United States it is best to do this trip from May to October. Even though you may run into snow in May or October in the higher elevations. It gives you the best chance to miss it and have one heck of an epic story to tell.
Any road trip can be an epic one. These are just the 5 most epic and iconic ones you can take in the US. However, I am willing to bet that you can take an epic road trip in your own state. Like anything, you just have to do a little planning.
I do suggest if it is a long trip not to book your stays in advance. You can book some hotels or campgrounds in major cities but you never know how long or short a particular leg of your road trip will take you. It’s best to just go with the flow. When road tripping just remember to relax and enjoy the ride. It’s just a part of the fun.
Have you ever done one of these road trips before or planning to do one this year? Let us know in the comments below. We would like any suggestions you might have as well. I feel for the next couple of years, taking a road trip is going to be the way to travel.
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