Home DestinationsAmerica 7 Best USA Road Trips : Experience the Iconic Route 66 to Breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway

7 Best USA Road Trips : Experience the Iconic Route 66 to Breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway

by Ethan

7 Best USA Road Trips : The USA is a dream holiday destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. With its stunning cityscapes, including the iconic Big Apple, breathtaking National Parks like the majestic Grand Canyon, and the world’s first Disneyland, there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re up for a road trip adventure, here are some tips for driving in the USA and a few suggestions for the most picturesque drives the country has to offer.

Driving in the United States Guide for Foreign Drivers

In the United States, it is important to note that the driver’s seat is located on the right side of the vehicle, and traffic flows on the right side of the road. To ensure a safe driving experience, it is recommended for foreign drivers to familiarize themselves with the traffic regulations, understand the different traffic signs, and gain a comprehensive understanding of driving in America by referring to this guide.

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Best USA Road Trips : 1. Route 66 (1-2 weeks)

route 66 usa vacations

Photo by marioschmidtphoto

What is the duration? The entire route can take up to two weeks, but it is possible to complete it in a minimum of a week or so, depending on your preferred stopping points.

Route 66, also referred to as the “Mother Road,” is an iconic USA road trip and one of the original routes of the U.S. Highway System. Stretching across eight states and covering a distance of over 3,940 kilometers, this historic route begins in downtown Chicago and concludes at the Santa Monica pier in California. Embark on this picturesque journey and immerse yourself in an abundance of American kitsch and retro charm.

Read More : Route 66 Road Trip : A Historic American Adventure

– Maremac Caves

Maremac Caves

Photo By Maremac Caves

Join a guided tour to visit Missouri’s largest cave, which stretches higher than a 7-story building! Explore the cave complex and witness the formation of the ancient Wine Table, the rarest cave structure in the world, and much more.

– Wigwam Motel

Wigwam Motel

Photo By Wigwam Motel

The ‘Wigwam Villages’, also referred to as the Wigwam Motels, were established in the 1930s and 1940s as a motel chain in the United States. As you embark on your Route 66 journey, you have the opportunity to lodge in a tipi tent, commonly known as a wigwam. These iconic motels are a rare find, with only three remaining in the United States, two of which can be found along Route 66 in Arizona and California.

– Santa Monica Pier​​

santa monica pier

Photo By Santa Monica Pier​​

Once you reach the end of Route 66, you will find yourself at the Santa Monica Pier, so make sure to capture a photo with the famous ‘end of the trail’ signboard before embarking on a fun-filled day at the pier. With numerous activities and attractions, you won’t be disappointed. Indulge in corndogs and take endless rides on the Ferris wheel at Pacific Park. Don’t forget to experience the Santa Monica Pier Carousel, a historical gem that dates back to 1939. This carousel, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the few remaining structures from the original Santa Monica Pier.

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Best USA Road Trips : 2. Highway 1 to Big Sur ( 1 – 2 days)

brown suspension bridge beside body of water

Photo by Zetong Li

How long does it take? It can take either one or two days, depending on the number of stops you make. If you enjoy a road trip with breathtaking ocean views at every corner, Highway 1 in California is the perfect drive for you! This iconic 114-kilometer highway follows the coastline, stretching from Dana Point to Leggett. The most picturesque section is undoubtedly the stretch from Santa Barbara to Monterey, where you’ll witness the unspoiled beauty of Big Sur’s coastline.

Read More : California’s Highway 1 Road Trip : Your Ultimate Guide

– Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Photo By California Tourism

Some of the most breathtaking sights on this drive can be found at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Here, you will encounter historic redwood trees that have stood for over 2,500 years, as well as the renowned McWay Falls. For an optimal experience, we suggest hiking the Waterfall Overlook Trail, which grants you a panoramic view of the falls. Keep an eye out for seals basking on the rocks below, as you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of them!

– Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge

Photo By Visit California Tourism

The Bixby Bridge, often called Big Sur’s Golden Gate Bridge, is an essential stop on a Highway 1 journey. Capturing a photo of this impressive man-made structure is evidence of your adventure. Standing nearly 80 meters tall above a steep canyon, the bridge is a marvel to behold. While breathtaking views are guaranteed at any time, the true enchantment occurs during the golden hour when the setting sun bathes the magnificent bridge in a captivating glow.

– Carmel-by-the-Sea

brown and white concrete house

Photo by mana5280

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a delightful destination that boasts a vibrant array of beachfront shops, enchanting cobblestone lanes, and picturesque historic and cultural landmarks. It is an ideal spot to spend a night or two, with an abundance of attractions to discover. Take a leisurely walk along the renowned Carmel Beach, pay a visit to the active church known as ‘Carmel Mission’ that dates back to 1770, and indulge in wine tasting at the numerous tasting rooms available (approximately 20 in total).

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Best USA Road Trips : 3. Beartooth Highway (1 day)

Beartooth Highway

Photo By kmagaraci

How many days are needed for a road trip? 1-day.  The Beartooth Highway, one of the most scenic drives in the United States, spans approximately 110 kilometers, connecting Red Lodge in Montana to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Along this route, travelers will encounter breathtaking mountain landscapes that extend as far as the eye can see. The picturesque journey concludes at the awe-inspiring Yellowstone National Park, offering opportunities for hiking and immersing oneself in the incredible vistas.

– Yellowstone National Park

The Famous Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone National Park

Photo by Mark Ingraham

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or not, Yellowstone National Park will undoubtedly leave you in awe with its breathtaking scenery. Prepare to be amazed by the majestic canyons, pristine alpine rivers, vibrant forests, and iconic hot springs and geysers, such as the renowned ‘Old Faithful’ cone geyser. In addition to its stunning landscapes, this park is also a haven for numerous wildlife species, including bears, wolves, bison, elk, and many others.

Best things to see at Yellowstone:
  • Old Faithful
  • Fairy Falls
  • Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Lamar Valley
  • Geyser Hill

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Best USA Road Trips : 4. Overseas Highway (1 day)

Overseas Highway Florida

Photo By Klook

How long does it take for a road trip to Key West? 1-day. The Overseas Highway, spanning 182 kilometers in Florida, is a scenic route along the Florida Keys, leading to Key West via 42 bridges. This captivating “floating highway” offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. While there are no designated stopping areas on the highway, there are opportunities to take breaks before or after embarking on this route. Additionally, the duration of your trip can be extended based on the number of nights you wish to spend in Key West.

– John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Photo By John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

The world’s first underwater park, The John Pemmekamp Coral Reef State Park, was founded in 1960 with the aim of tackling spearfishing and unregulated marine animal poaching. To experience this remarkable preserve, choose to explore through a glass-bottom boat or, for a more immersive encounter, engage in snorkelling or scuba diving. Witness up to 550 coral varieties and a diverse range of fish species in this captivating sanctuary.

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Best USA Road Trips : 5. Skyline Drive (1 day)

Skyline Drive

Photo By National Park Service website

How many days does it take for a road trip along the Skyline Drive? 1-day . Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the Skyline Drive stretches for 169 kilometers and runs the entire length of Shenandoah National Park. It offers breathtaking views of the mountains and is particularly stunning during the autumn season when vibrant fall colors adorn the landscape. For those with extra time, it is possible to extend the trip by camping overnight at Shenandoah National Park, as it provides campgrounds. Alternatively, there is also a resort available for those who prefer not to camp.

– The Blue Ridge Mountains

Photo By Thomas R. Fletcher

If you find yourself in the Blue Ridge Mountains, make sure to experience the renowned Appalachian Trail. With numerous trails to choose from, there is something for everyone. For those seeking a hike with breathtaking views and a moderate difficulty, consider trekking The Pinnacle to Marys Rock. On the other hand, if you prefer a challenging yet immensely rewarding hike, the Old Hag Trail awaits you. For those who desire an easy hike without compromising on spectacular views, the Hawksbill Summit Trail is an excellent choice. Additionally, if you decide to spend the night and set up camp, you will be treated to the National Park’s remarkable stargazing opportunities.

Best USA Road Trips : 6. Road Trip to the Grand Canyon (5 – 7 days)

Grand Canyon

Photo by Gert Boers

Depending on the route and desired stops, a road trip to the Grand Canyon typically lasts between 5 to 7 days. This renowned natural wonder is undeniably one of the United States’ most iconic landmarks. Its awe-inspiring features, such as breathtaking cliffs, winding rivers, and extraordinary rock formations, make every step of a hike through Grand Canyon National Park a jaw-dropping experience.

There are multiple road trip options available to reach Grand Canyon National Park. Some suggested routes include:

  • Las Vegas to Grand Canyon (Las Vegas is a popular point of origin for a Grand Canyon road trip. You can reach all four rims and stop by places like Hoover Dam, and Sedona on the eastern edge)
  • California to the Grand Canyon (Will go past Phoenix where you can climb Camelback Mountain, and go through the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff to South Rim)
  • Route 66 (Start in Grants to New Mexico to Flagstaff and to the Grand Canyon. Stop by the Grand Canyon Railway for an unforgettable train ride!)

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Best USA Road Trips : 7. Oregon Coast Highway (5 – 7 days)

Olympic Coast Highway

Photo By Travel Oregon

The duration of the road trip on the Olympic Coast Highway, also referred to as the Olympic Peninsula, can range from 5 to 7 days, depending on your chosen route and desired stops. This scenic byway offers stunning coastal views and numerous opportunities to explore hidden tide pools, sea caves, hike to lighthouses, and leisurely stroll along secluded beaches.

– Cannon Beach

people on beach during daytime

Photo by Leon Wu

Cannon Beach, located in northwest Oregon, is a charming coastal city renowned for its expansive sandy shore and the famous Haystack Rock. If you’re fortunate, you might catch a glimpse of tufted puffins perched on the rocks. Continuing northward, you’ll discover Ecola State Park, offering breathtaking vistas of the ocean, secluded coves, and a majestic lighthouse. For a more relaxed experience, head south to Arcadia Beach, where you can explore tide pools and enjoy a picnic in the designated area. Downtown Cannon Beach boasts an array of shops, restaurants, and hotels, making it an ideal destination for a delightful 1 or 2-night getaway.

– Olympic National Park

landscape photography of river with trees

Photo by Jachan DeVol

When you visit the Olympic National Park, prepare to be captivated by the awe-inspiring sights. Explore vibrant wildflower meadows and traverse through lush, verdant forests, all while immersing yourself in the serene melodies of pure, flowing streams.
Must-dos in Olympic National Park
  • Hoh Rainforest
  • Hurricane Ridge
  • Lake Crescent
  • Kalaloch and Ruby Beach

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