Pacific Coast Highway – California: The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Starting in San Francisco, the route follows the coastline south for over 600 miles, passing through some of California’s most scenic coastal areas, including the rugged cliffs of Big Sur, the charming towns of Carmel and Santa Barbara, and the sandy beaches of Malibu. Along the way, you can stop at iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Hearst Castle, hike in state parks like Point Lobos and Julia Pfeiffer Burns, and sample local wine and seafood. If you have time, consider extending your trip to include the Redwood National and State Parks, which are home to some of the world’s tallest trees and breathtaking coastal vistas.
Route 66 – Illinois to California: Route 66 was once the main route between Chicago and Santa Monica, but has since been largely replaced by interstate highways. However, many portions of the historic route still exist and offer a glimpse into a bygone era of American travel. Along the way, you can stop at quirky roadside attractions like the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Illinois, the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, and the Wigwam Motel in Arizona. You’ll also pass through iconic American cities like St. Louis, Tulsa, and Albuquerque, and see stunning desert landscapes in New Mexico and Arizona. If you have time, consider taking a detour to the Grand Canyon, one of America’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia and North Carolina: The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic drive through the Appalachian Mountains, covering 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the mountains, valleys, and forests, as well as charming mountain towns like Asheville and Roanoke. You can also hike some of the best trails on the East Coast, including the iconic Appalachian Trail and trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In the fall, the parkway is especially beautiful, as the leaves change color and the air turns crisp. Be sure to stop at some of the parkway’s many overlooks and picnic areas, and take a side trip to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello or the historic city of Williamsburg.
Great River Road – Minnesota to Louisiana: The Great River Road is a scenic drive that follows the Mississippi River for over 2,000 miles, passing through 10 states from Minnesota to Louisiana. Along the way, you’ll see charming river towns like Dubuque, St. Louis, and Natchez, as well as historic sites like the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. You’ll also have the opportunity to sample local cuisine, like Cajun and Creole in Louisiana and BBQ in Memphis. If you have time, consider taking a side trip to the Ozark Mountains in Missouri or the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky.
The Loneliest Road – Nevada: US Route 50 through Nevada is known as the “Loneliest Road in America,” but it’s also one of the most beautiful and unique drives in the country. Along the way, you’ll pass through starkly beautiful desert landscapes, ghost towns, and hot springs. You can also visit Great Basin National Park, which is home to some of the oldest trees in the world and stunning limestone caves. Be sure to stop in historic towns like Ely and Austin, and take a side trip to visit Lake Tahoe or the Black Rock Desert.
No matter which road trip route you choose, be sure to plan ahead and take safety precautions, especially if you’re traveling alone
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