Add another collection of legendary road trip ideas to your collection with this article from one of our contributors…
Legendary US Road Trip Ideas
Happy road tripping! Don’t miss these other road tripping articles when you start to plan your trip:
- The Road Trip Planner and Toolkit© that will help you hit the road in no time
- Your road trip checklist: find the road trip essentials for any trip
- 101 fun road trip questions for your next drive
- Road trip quotes to inspire you along the way
- The best campervan accessories that you will actually use
- The best road trips in the US for couples
The U.S. is arguably the home of the road trip. This symbol of freedom is now enshrined in the culture and will likely remain a part of life for as long as people own cars.
The country is ideal for road trips because of its sheer size and the relative quality of its roads. There is no other developed country in the world that spans an entire continent, with the possible exception of Canada. And that means that road trippers here can enjoy a type of experience that just isn’t possible elsewhere.
With that said, where should you go on your U.S. road trip? Here are some legendary routes you might want to check out.
Outer Banks, NC
The Outer Banks in North Carolina is a short, 100-mile section along Highway 12 that has been popular among East Coast road trippers for decades. The route offers a unique mixture of coastal resorts for you to stop along the way, including historical fishing villages, tourist hot spots, white sand beaches, and plenty of summer homes.
There are also plenty of nature reserves along the route, owing to the area’s natural beauty. Be sure to check out Cape Hatteras National Seashore for its historic lighthouses, or the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge during your trip.
Route 66, Chicago To California
Route 66 is one of the most iconic roads in America because it shows you what the country is all about. The road, which is more than 2,400 miles long, is part of the country’s interstate highway system and, when first built, was the biggest freeway project in the world.
The scale of the project is remarkable. Chicago is a midwestern metropolis, sitting on the banks of Lake Michigan. California is part of America’s Pacific Coast. The two destinations are separated by continental distances. Even so, that didn’t deter builders determined to connect the two regions.
Along the route, you’ll find old highway towns, beautiful desert plains, mountain views, and plenty of campsites to stop off at. You’ll also find multiple heart restaurants along the route, catering to all tastes, and ensuring that your belly is full during your travels. Thanks to its popularity as a road trip destination, you can find full Route 66 itineraries online.
Red Rock Country, AZ
Red Rock Country is perhaps the most beautiful part of Arizona. Road trippers usually begin their journey at Interstate 17. Then take a small detour into the brush on Route 179, also called Red Rock Scenic Byway, before heading onwards to Flagstaff of Phoenix.
The road trip is perfect for people who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the state and experience the peace and quiet of the Arizona wilderness. However, the trip has a completely different character from those in other parts of the country. There are no lush green forests or green fields to be seen. Instead, you’ll spend most of the time driving through brush and red canyons.
For the trip to be a roaring success, you’ll also need to take the right vehicle. Small city cars are not ideal because of the fact that you’ll go off-road regularly. Instead, you’ll want to drive a quality 4X4, particularly if you decide to take byway detours.
It’s also nice to have a vehicle that provides shelter when you stop off at the side of the road. The Arizona sun can be remarkably intense, particularly during the middle of the day. And temperatures regularly exceed 100°F, making quality air conditioning a must. Don’t take your dog on this trip.
Columbia River Highway, OR
The Columbia River Highway is one of the oldest highways in the world. The 23-mile strip, built in 1917, is widely hailed as being one of America’s greatest feats of engineering. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark.
As you drive along the road, you’ll be treated to a host of stunning views. As you make your way along the road, you’ll enjoy a range of wonderful attractions, including Vista House, which is perched more than 700 feet above the Columbia river below and looks out over the open ocean.
As you drive along the route, it’ll also treat you to a series of enormous waterfalls, including some that are more than 620 feet tall. There are also architectural marvels, too, such as incredible bridges and stopping points that offer spectacular views.
Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod is famous all over the U.S. for its unique character and architecture. Thanks to relatively low temperatures year-round, it’s also a pleasant road trip destination.
Most road trippers avoid congested routes, like SH 6 when touring New England. Traveling along them isn’t enjoyable, and the risk of having to visit a car crash lawyer is high. Instead, most head on out along Route 6a which is much quieter and brings you into contact with the region’s most beautiful lighthouses and towns. The settlements here are among the oldest in the U.S., with many dating back to the early 1600s. Because of this, you’ll find centuries-old buildings and businesses that have been operating for more than 200 years.
On your way to Orleans, you’ll want to check out some of the fine beaches along the way. You can also take some time out to explore one of the many pine forests that carpet the area. Next, you’ll head to Nickerson State Park before arriving at Route 6a. This leg of your journey will take you past beautiful bays before depositing you at Provincetown.
Brandywine Valley, PA
Lastly, you might want to check out the Brandywine Valley which runs through both Pennsylvania and Delaware. This unique region takes you back in time, allowing you to visit some of the most historic parts of the country.
Along the way, be sure to stop off at the Longwood Gardens. Here you’ll find an outdoor topiary, and 20 indoor gardens, all fed by local lakes. You can also check out the local wineries, called chateaus, and the natural wildflowers that grow in the area.
How to Put Together the Perfect Road Trip
You’re in road trip heaven here. We love road trips and have everything for them. Check out…
- The road trip essentials you need to know about
- The Ultimate Road Trip Planner with printables and handbook
- 101 fun road trip questions for your next drive
- Inspiring road trip quotes for your instagram caption ideas.
And for other fly drive holidays in North America, check out our New England route and west coast Florida routes. Road trips are among my favourite kind of holiday types and navigating car rental in the States is pretty straightforward. You can buy a fly drive package from a tour operator or arrange the flights and car rental independently. Both options are just as good as each other, but if opting for a package, make sure to check the booking conditions as to whether they are including flights.