25 Best Scenic Road Trips In the USA (Route, Things to Do, Drive Time)

  • By: Nikita
  • Date: June 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 10 min.

There’s nothing like cruising along an open road with the music blaring, a car full of snacks, and no idea where you’re going. That sense of adventure gave way to the classic American road trip. After all, there aren’t many other places where you can drive amidst tall pine trees, dart along the coast, or zig-zag over a mountain range — all while staying in the same country. No matter what’s your travel interests, here’s all the info you need to plan your next American road trip! 

Pacific Coast Highway

● Begin: San Francisco, California

● End: San Diego, California

● Distance: 655 miles

● Drive Time: 12 Hours

California is one of the best places to road trip in the USA! Its size and diversity provide so many options and the Pacific Coast Highway is just one. This iconic highway along the California coast covers 655 miles of awe-inspiring views of the Pacific Ocean, stretching from San Francisco to San Diego. You can visit attractive sites like the Golden Gate Bridge and Bixby Creek Bridge along the way. The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best summer road trips in the world!

Park Loop Acadia National Park

● Begin: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Acadia National Park, Maine

● End: Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Acadia National Park, Maine

● Distance: 27 miles

● Drive Time: 2 hours

This is one of the best east coast road trips you can ever take. This is a quick road trip but packed full of stunning views as you drive along the Park Loop in Acadia National Park. Forests, mountains, and rocky shores greet you on your drive along with plenty of wildlife. Be sure to spend some time in beautiful Bar Harbor, Maine, the town where you can base your Acadia trip from. All good road trips include some amazing scenery, and this one is no exception!

Washington-Oregon Coast

● Start: San Juan Islands

● End: Brookings, Oregon

● Distance: 600 miles

● Drive Time: 15 hours

The Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to go on a road trip due to its geographical diversity and stunning scenery. One of the most dramatic coastlines in the world, the Pacific Northwest offers rocky beaches, turbulent waters, thick forests, and great food. Begin in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington and continue down to the southern tip of Oregon for one of the best road trips in the USA.

Great River Road

● Starting point: Minnesota

● Ending point: Louisiana

● Distance: 3,000 miles

● Drive Time: 20 hours

Follow along the mighty Mississippi River from its beginning in Minnesota, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. This route is called the Great River Road and it cuts 3,000 miles down the center of our great nation, passing through 10 states, where you’ll see St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and everything in between. 

Big Island Loop Road

● Starting point: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

● Ending point: Mauna Kea, Hawaii

● Distance: 300 miles

● Drive Time: 7 hours

The Island Loop Road of the Big Island of Hawaii offers scenic views of beaches, mountains, lava fields, active volcanos, black sand beaches, and heated swimming pools. This may be the most diverse landscape you’ll ever see in one day.

Musical Road USA Trip

● Begin: Nashville, Tennessee

● End: New Orleans, Louisiana

● Distance: 600 miles

● Drive Time: 9 hours

If you’re a music fan, then Route 61 (also known as the Blues Highway) will be a perfect road trip for you, giving you the chance to hear live music, visit Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and see famous recording studios. Finish in New Orleans, where you’ll hear live jazz on the streets nightly!

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Northern National Parks Road Trip

● Begin: Jackson, Wyoming

● End: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

● Distance: 70 miles

● Drive Time: 1.5 hours

National Parks make for the best road trip destinations. Explore both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park with this road trip full of stunning mountainous scenery! It’s the perfect summer road trip. Although it is a short drive trip, the nature lover will have a perfect blast. 

Southwest National Parks Road Trip

● Begin: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona

● End: Moab, Utah

● Distance: 600 miles

● Drive Time: 11 hours

This nature-packed road trip will allow you to see five stunning national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zions’, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches. This road trip is full of outdoor adventures such as hiking, biking, caving, kayaking, etc. this is a fairly rustic and adventurous road trip that will really get you into nature and experience all that the wild has to offer. 

Hana Highway Road Trip

● Begin: Kahului, Hawaii

● End: Hana, Hawaii

● Distance: 52 miles

● Drive Time: 2.5 hours

This is possibly the most popular road trip in all of the Hawaiian Islands. The 60-mile road to Hana takes you along the eastern coast of Maui where you will be sandwiched by beautiful ocean views and jungles filled with waterfalls. The Hana highway will wind you around approximately 600 curves, crossing 59 bridges, but the ride is worth it! 

 New York City To Finger Lakes

● Begin: New York, New York

● End: Corning, New York

● Distance: 250 miles

● Drive Time: 4.5 hours 

This is the best Newyork road trip. After enjoying the busy city life, escape into the Fingerlakes region of upper state New York. Enjoy culture, scenery, great food, and wineries along the way. New York City road trip is so much fun, but it’s great to mix it with a more relaxing and nature-filled vacation. Don’t forget to visit the lavish cafes on your way! 

Williamsburg, VA To Charlottesville, VA To Washington D.C.

  • Begin: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • End: Washington, D.C
  • Distance: 240 miles
  • Drive Time: 4.5 hours

To brush up on your colonial history, begin your journey in southern Virginia where you can visit Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement, where you’ll witness historical reenactments and join in on living history. Next, head to Charlottesville and visit the homes of former presidents Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) and James Monroe (Highland). Head to Mount Vernon, just outside Washington DC to visit George Washington’s home (Mount Vernon) and finish off your trip in our nation’s capital. The distance from Williamsburg VA to Washington DC isn’t much, but the history that can be found on the side of the road is amazing!

Miami To The Overseas Highway To Key West

  • Begin: Miami, Florida
  • End: Key West, Florida
  • Distance: 170 miles
  • Drive Time: 3.5 hours

Take the 150-mile drive on Route 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, from Miami to the Florida Keys, crossing 42 bridges. Home to sandy beaches, plenty of fishing, family-friendly parks, this trip is full of chill and relaxation. This southern USA road trip is sure to be one of the most sun-filled, fun-filled drives ever!

The Grand Canyon To Las Vegas

  • Begin: Grand Canyon National Park
  • End: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Distance: 250 miles
  • Drive Time: 4.5 hours
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Start out with nature, and end in Sin City. This desert drive will take you through the majestic Grand Canyon, with a stop in St. George, Utah, and end with some fun in Las Vegas. The hiking and biking trails provide excellent outdoor opportunities for visitors. This road trip is full of big adventures. 

Black Hills Of South Dakota

  • Begin: Deadwood, South Dakota
  • End: Hot Springs, South Dakota
  • Distance: 100 miles
  • Drive Time: 2.5 hours

The Black Hills of South Dakota offers more than just Mount Rushmore. Drive along the Badlands Scenic Byway, making stops at Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and the infamous Wall Drug. National parks are some of the places to stop on a road trip. Stunning sunsets and sunrises in the Badlands will take your breath away. Keep an eye out for bison on the road. 

Maine Lobster Trail

  • Begin: Milbridge, Maine
  • End: Eastport, Maine
  • Distance: 125 miles
  • Drive Time: 6 hours

Explore the southeastern corner of Maine, also known as “Downeast Maine” as you drive along the Lobster Trail on Coastal Route 1. This colorful and delicious journey will take you through beautiful coastlines and forests while providing tasty and adventurous stops where you can find lobster and all kinds of local seafood. Try your hand at some local activities like clam digging or goat milking.

Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Begin: Shenandoah National Park
  • End: Asheville, North Carolina
  • Distance: 469 miles
  • Drive Time: 6 hours 

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular road trips in the US. Connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this 469-mile stretch of scenic road is the most visited road controlled by the U.S. National Parks system. Stops along the way include Skyline Drive (particularly beautiful in the fall), Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and Asheville.

Grand Teton National Park To Glacier National Park

  • Begin: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  • End: Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Distance: 500 miles
  • Drive Time: 9 hours

Explore two national parks in one road trip by driving from Grand Teton National Park to Glacier National Park. The drive along the way will provide some of the most diverse landscapes in the U.S. Enjoy the exotic natural view, visit the nearby lakes and watch the sunset. This road trip is best for bird watchers.

Outer Banks Scenic Byway

  • Begin: Carova, North Carolina
  • End: Ocracoke, North Carolina
  • Distance: 138 miles
  • Drive Time: 5 hours 

North Carolina’s Route 12, otherwise known as the Outer Banks Scenic Byway spans 21 coastal villages and 138 miles of paved road, and 25 ferry-traveling miles along the coast of North Carolina. Dotted with lighthouses, museums, houses, and hotels, the Outer Banks is a great beach road trip. 

Olympic Peninsula 

  • Begin: Seattle, Washington
  • End: Seattle, Washington
  • Distance: 300 miles
  • Drive Time: 10 hours

Explore Washington’s Olympic Peninsula on this scenic road trip which takes you through the Olympic National Park and Forest and the lush Hoh Rainforest. There are great spots along the way for hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting.

Route 66 

  • Begin: Santa Monica Pier, California
  • End: Chicago, Illinois
  • Distance: 2,500 miles
  • Drive Time: Several days

Follow in the path of your grandparents by taking a quintessential cross-country road trip along with one of the original highways in the U.S., Route 66. This road is not traveled very often now that the Interstate Highway system is established, but you can still visit many old towns that once thrived in the middle of the last century along The Mother Road. Route 66 crosses 8 states and dozens of historic sites along the way. It’s the ultimate US road trip, but with so many good road trip places around the country, this classic can be overlooked for bigger cities and National Parks. Don’t skip Route 66!

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Alaska Highway 

  • Begin: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada
  • End: Anchorage, Alaska
  • Distance: 2,500 miles
  • Drive Time: 27 hours

Stretching nearly 1,500 miles between Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada and ending in Anchorage, Alaska, the historic Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN) is not for the faint of heart. Though most of the road is paved, many sections are constantly under construction and parts of the road are only gravel.

It’s a road that should only be attempted in the best of weather, usually during the summer months, but the views and wildlife along the way are worth the adventure. An Alaska highway road trip should be well planned out in advance, with stops and accommodations mapped out at least six months in advance!  But it is worth the planning. Alaska is one of the most amazing places to take a road trip!

Florida Road Trip 

  • Begin: St. Augustine, Florida
  • End: Destin, Florida
  • Distance: 1,400 miles
  • Drive Time: 24 hours

See the majority of Florida by circling the entire state, starting in St. Augustine(America’s oldest town) then bring out your inner-child in Orlando, eat your way through Miami, and relax on the beach in Clearwater, then explore the panhandle in Destin. This route is long, but the stops and scenery are breathtaking.

The Great American Road Trip – Cross Country On The I-90

  • Begin: Boston, Massachusetts
  • End: Seattle, Washington
  • Distance: 3,000 miles
  • Drive Time: 45 hours

This is the best cross-country road trip! We’ve done this road trip across America many times out of necessity. It’s more exciting to do it when it’s just for fun. The I-90 spans 3,000 miles across the entire country from Boston to Seattle or vice versa, running along the northern part of the U.S. This route makes some incredible stops like Niagara Falls, Chicago, Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and Yellowstone. This is one of the best American road trips you will ever take!

Anchorage To Seward 

  • Begin: Anchorage, Alaska
  • End: Seward, Alaska
  • Distance: 125 miles
  • Drive Time: 2.5 hours 

This quick 125-mile drive along the Seward Highway takes you from Anchorage to Seward. While small, this strikingly beautiful route offers incredible stops like seeing the Bore Tide at the Turnagain Arm, glacier hiking, berry picking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, and more. Once in Seward, you can finish off your trip with a fishing excursion or a wildlife cruise in the Kenai Fjords National Park where you’ll sail among whales, puffins, seals, and more.

Canada To Mexico

  • Begin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • End: Tijuana, Mexico
  • Distance: 2,300 miles
  • Drive Time: 24 hours

This is one of the most exciting road trips ever! Hit three countries in one epic road trip by starting in British Columbia, Canada. Explore all the major cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver.  Spend your night at the Biosphere Reserve El Vizcaino and finally spend your day at any one of the beautiful beaches of Mexico!   

So, plan your ultimate pedal-to-the-metal getaway by perusing the list of 25 best U.S. road trips, which boast incredible views and amazing experiences. These road trips will cover a lot of ground, checking off boxes on your bucket list of adventures. Stay safe and Happy Journey!

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