Road trips are a great way to spend a vacation. Instead of focusing on a single destination or even a few destinations, you can plan a road trip that focuses on the route, then spend your vacation seeing what it has to offer along the way.
Focusing on the journey helps you slow down and stay present. You might get the chance to see things you never would have noticed otherwise, and you could find a new favorite spot for future trips!
The United States is so big, and there are lots of road trips to take right here that offer you the chance to see lots of beauty, take amazing pictures, and make wonderful memories.
From the Pacific Northwest to the Florida Keys — and everything in between — there’s something for everyone who wants to hop in a car and see where the American roads take them. Here are a few of the best vacation spots in the U.S. to help you plan a road trip.
1) Historic Route 66
Route 66 is an iconic part of America and among the most common recommendations for road trips. Winding its way all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles, this stretch of road was once a big draw for road trippers all over the country. And if you’re like me and didn’t know the history behind it, here’s a cool guide that explains why Route 66 is so special.
Though some parts of Route 66 have been updated with new names, you can still trace the historic route through seven states. There are so many things to discover in those states! You can stop in big cities like Flagstaff or St. Louis if you need a break from natural beauty.
Many parts of the route are even still marked with the iconic Route 66 emblem, giving you ample opportunities for photos while you drive.
2) U.S. Route 1
Located along the East coast, Route 1 stretches from Maine to the southern tip of Florida, ending at the famous Mile 0 marker in Key West.
By tracing the nation from North to South, you get to see how much the geography and weather changes along the way. And since the route is so long, there are lots of fun places to go at every stage of the trip! You’ll start with the history of New England, head down to the political center of the United States in D.C., experience the down-home culture of the South, and end with the paradise of Florida’s coastline.
There are big cities and small towns all the way along U.S. Route 1, so you’ll have plenty to see and do and explore.
3) State Route 1
California’s State Route 1 is the West Coast alternative of the East Coast’s, well, Route 1. The road begins in the northern part of Cali and winds all the way to the south.
SR 1 was built piecemeal in various stages, with the first section opening in the Big Sur region in the 1930s, although some portions of the route had several names and numbers over the years as more segments began to be opened.
If your time is limited, focus on a small stretch of 24 miles between Monterey and Big Sur, which gives you an amazing sample of California and is one of the best vacation spots in the U.S. If that’s all you have time for on your next road trip, we’re willing to bet you’ll find your way back there to see more in the future!
4) Route 100
Route 100 is a well-known tourist destination for road trips in Vermont. Along the way, you get the chance to visit many of the state’s skiing locations — but don’t limit yourself to winter visits.
Route 100 has plenty to offer all year long, especially for people who love to see the beauty of nature in New England. New England is full of American history, and taking a trip along Route 100 from Massachusetts to Memphremagog gives you the chance to see a small part of it.
You might find your new favorite spot by taking a road trip along Route 100… and be prepared to fall head over heels in love with New England.
5) Outer Banks
A road trip along Highway 12 in Outer Banks, North Carolina is a wonderful way to combine a lot of experiences in a single getaway. From little fishing villages to big tourist centers to sparkling coastal waters, this 100-mile drive makes for a great road trip, especially if your travel buddies have a wide range of interests and needs.
The trip will take you to Kitty Hawk — where aviation was born! — the duck beaches of Corolla, and the historic lighthouses of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. If you visit in the summer, you’ll get the chance to end your time with a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
For more great things to do in the Outer Banks, check out these trip ideas from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.
6) Going-to-the-Sun Road
This 50-mile journey spans Glacier National Park in the northwest part of Montana. You’ll see beautiful, deep valleys and climb stunning mountains all the way to Saint Mary Lake.
Even though the drive is only fifty miles, there are a lot of fun things to do and see along the way (and see for yourself in the video below). Plan to spend at least two days so you can experience as much as possible!
As one of the best vacation spots in the U.S., this road trip is a great way to see the wilderness that still exists in the United States. Maybe you’ll just build a cabin and stay forever.
7) Badlands Scenic Byway
Located in the Badlands of South Dakota, this byway is another one of the top road trips to take. It explores the vast wilds of the United States.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can even enjoy the Badlands scenic drive in one afternoon. Although, we recommend a little longer stay.
Taking you through the Black Hills where you can pick up Black Hills gold jewelry as souvenirs, the road trip gives you the opportunity to stop at Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore.
These sights alone make the trip worth it, and the Badlands are among the best vacation spots in the U.S. If that’s not enough to tempt you, you’ll also be able to stop at the 76,000-square foot Wall Drug Store, a cowboy-themed shopping center that has become a major tourist attraction.
8) Red Rock Country
The Southwestern United States is unlike anywhere else in the world, and driving along Interstate 17 is one of the best ways to see it.
The desert views you’ll get on this road trip will be just as breathtaking as the mountains of Montana, but in a very different way. Along the path, you can take a detour to Flagstaff, Arizona to take in some local culture and find fun things to do. In addition to the deserts, this road trip boasts the Montezuma Castle and Rock State Park, where you can make memories and take amazing pictures.
The peaceful surroundings on this road trip also offer the perfect backdrop to do some outdoor working out, or even streaming online yoga classes. It only makes sense with those beautiful natural views.
*BONUS* Hana Highway
Looking to plan a road trip a little further from home?
Hana Highway in Hawaii needs to go on your travel bucket list! This highway is on the island of Maui and takes you through gorgeous rainforests and to the beautiful Haleakala National Park.
The route itself will probably only take you a day or two, so it’s a great road trip to add to a bigger Hawaiian vacation, or a way to sample the natural beauty of this tropical state before taking more time to explore the rest of the islands.
Now Start Planning That Big Road Trip
If you’re looking for road trips to take, whether you want to stay close to home or see something brand new and far away, the United States has lots of amazing options for fun places to go.
In addition, some of the best vacation spots in the U.S. are the ones that focus on the journey instead of the destination! Road trips can help you slow down and enjoy everything around you instead of rushing to get to the next destination.And with all the fun things to do and see throughout the nation, finding the best vacation spots in the U.S. will be easy (obviously).
Choose who you’d like to do it with and maybe start up that group text. That way you can start picking a destination but be sure to keep our list in mind.
Tell us your favorite road trip destination!
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