Do you hear that sound? It’s the open road, and it is calling your name.
Like apple pie and the Statue of Liberty, few things are quite freeing and “American” as a good road trip. We explored Europe earlier this year, but when it comes to a continent as vast as North America, there are almost too many options! That’s where we come in. As dedicated “road warriors” who have found their way from sea to shiny sea, were are a few of our favorite routes that are just waiting for you to explore.
Let’s start with the classic: Route 66. This legendary highway is an impressive 2,448-miles long and spans 8 states and 3 time zones. That’s a lot of road no matter how long you have to travel, so don’t feel as though you have to see every inch of pavement to get a complete experience. Going from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, whatever portion of the highway you find yourself on will be perfect for the memory books. Just know, that since “the Main Street of America” was officially “retired” from the highway system in 1985, it can take a little planning to stay on track.
Side-trips and stop points: Santa Monica Pier, Grand Canyon National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, the Cadillac Ranch, World’s (Second) Largest Rocking Chair, the 66 Drive-in Theater, St. Louis Gateway Arch, the Murals of Pontiac, Illinois, Grant Park & the Route 66 start/end point!
Is there anything as ubiquitous with the Golden State as driving? Sure, there can be traffic here or there (sorry, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but you know it’s true) but with such a vast state, there is plenty to explore. Let’s stick to the coast and discover the Pacific Coast Highway. This roadway is just waiting for you to investigate it. Going from San Diego to the north of San Francisco, the beach-side road offers something for everyone. Want to surf? There are plenty of places to “hang ten.” Hoping to taste some food and wine? Prepare your tastebuds! Bringing the kids along? Who needs technology when there are tidepools and a world-class aquarium to discover.
Optimal Length of Trip: 1-2 weeks
Top hubs along the way: San Francisco, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Juan Capistrano.
Side-Trips and Stop Points: The Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Bixby Canyon Bridge, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Solvang, Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, and Disneyland.
Bonus tip: Want to experience a little more fun on the road? Add another week to your trip and head north and explore the gorgeous rocky coast of Oregon and the majestic rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Want to experience a little more fun on the road? Add another week to your trip and head north and explore the gorgeous rocky coast of Oregon and the majestic rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
No matter what time of year, there is something transportive about the rolling hills, sprawling forests and rocky coastline of history-soaked New England. Hit the mountains for skiing, grab a microbrew and lobster roll (or chowder) in exploding culinary scene, or explore a town that oozes with pride. Whichever direction you go, there is sure to be something fantastic for you to discover. That said, if you can schedule your adventure during the autumn months, your travels will become a kaleidoscope of colorful memories that are sure to stay with you for years to come.
Optimal Length of Trip: 2-3 weeks
Top hubs: Boston, Providence, Burlington, and Portland
Side-Trips and Stop Points: Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, Salem, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour, Mystic Seaport, Mount Washington, and Lake Champlain.
From the hospitality to the variety of experiences, traversing the southern states can be an all-encompassing exploit. Time spent on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Coast are coupled with a rowdy romp in “The Big Easy” and tempered with the easy down-home vibes of Savannah. Walk through the essential (though contentious) moments United States history while immersing yourself in the beautiful but complicated settings while the hum of the cicadas offer a soundtrack to your wonderings. Just remember – humidity is real and it can be intense, so plan accordingly.
Need a little extra help to prepare for your trip? We created a guide to help you plan your adventure.
With a land a vast and as varied as the United States, we know there are many other routes we could feature. What are some of your favorite destinations? Tell us in the comments below and we might explore them in an upcoming article.