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Travel the U.S. for $30 A Day: The Ultimate Budget USA Road Trip

This post may contain affiliate links. This just means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you for helping them promote their product or service. I don’t endorse any services I don’t personally use or recommend.

Budgeting for a road trip can be difficult. Food, gas, parking, groceries, restaurants, much-needed coffee stops, all adds up. Especially if you’re planning to take on a route as large as the entire United States. But traveling in a van is the perfect way to do a budget USA road trip.

We traveled the United States for three months in our converted camper van Phoebe. She’s nothing fancy–Just a 1994 Dodge Ram Van that we laboriously dismantled and converted one summer. She has a massive bed, kitchenette, and a table with a u-shaped bench. We set out to explore America’s National Parks and also to sample all the best (& underrated) American food .

& we spent more than we had originally planned.

I recorded every single transaction. From the $0.44 water refills to the $75 gas tank fill-ups so that you can have an educated guess on your own cross-country road trip expenses.

& so that you can understand exactly what van life costs before you make the leap and begin converting your own vehicle. Because there are tons of benefits to van life but it may not be as cheap as you think.

The Ultimate Budget USA Road Trip

Let’s talk logistics.

Where are you headed? Whether your planning to live in your van full time & just want a look at the average expenses of van life or you’re planning an epic cross-country road trip & want to know how much to have in the bank before you go…this post will shed some light on the subject.

But be aware that traveling in cities tends to be more expensive than exploring the more rural areas of the USA. We did a bit of both on this trip.

Best Way to Travel America on a Budget? Van life.

Okay. I might be biased. But van life has changed the road trip game. It’s made it cheaper. More comfortable. & helped me to travel more off-the-beaten-path. But van life isn’t always as glamorous as it’s made out to be. & if you’re on the fence you should test out van/RV travel before you invest in your own rig.


My favorite RV rental company is RVShare. They have rentals all over the U.S. & are a very affordable option ( Van rentals can be so overpriced ). Another perk…they are locally owned RVs which means they are cozier than a generic rental and you’re supporting small businesses.

3-Month USA Road Trip

This specific road trip budget breakdown is from our 3-month USA road trip where we visited every single National Park in the U.S.

If you’re looking for route specifics be sure to check out my blog post on our Great American Foodie Road Trip where I talk about every single place we ate on the road or our Ultimate USA National Park Road Trip Route outlining how we hit every single national park in the United States.

If you want access to our massive master Google Map with 400+ destinations –food stops, roadside attractions, state parks, etc. you can sign up for my email list below & I’ll send you a copy. You won’t even need to plan for your next cross-country road trip.

Our USA Road Trip Budget

We’ve been full-time traveling on a budget for quite some time now. I actually wrote a blog post all about how we traveled the world on a budget of $50 a day . But the U.S. is an expensive place to travel. & we wanted to get the full American Foodie Road Trip experience which meant we would be eating many meals in restaurants.

Our goal for the cross country road was to spend around $50 a day for the both of us.

Spoiler: We missed our mark a little bit. It was a lofty goal. Considering we drove over 18,000 in a vehicle that only got 13ish miles to the gallon.

But honestly, we were pretty damn close. & considering all the amazing food we got to try along the way…100% worth it.

What We Actually Spent on Our Cross Country Road Trip

Let’s break it down item by item. This is where our money went on our 3-month USA road trip.

USA budget Road trip breakdown

That comes to a grand total of around $29 per person. About $720 over our total intended budget.

Food & gas were the bulk of our spending since we spent most of our free time exploring National Parks or people-watching in cities.

How We Saved Money on Our Cross Country Road Trip

First, let’s talk about the things we did well.

We NEVER stopped for coffee on the road . Which was painfully difficult sometimes. But I did the calculations and we saved around $500 simply by using our French press every morning instead of hitting the coffee stands.

We cooked the majority of our meals ( despite what our restaurant costs say ) inside the van . A major perk of van living. Groceries are just so much cheaper than eating out.

We used GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas available. When you’re living life on the road gas is a major expense. Especially when your “home” is a gas-guzzling 13mpg (if you’re lucky) tank. We saved on average $10 a fill-up just by choosing gas strategically.

We got a great credit card. Specifically, with gas rewards. We use the Bank of America card Cash Rewards Card and it gave us 3% cashback on gas. Which ended up being about $70 in earnings!

We got the A merica the Beautiful Pass. For $80 it gives you access to every single National Park and Monument in the United States. If you plan on visiting even just 3 of the major national parks it’s worth the money.

van sitting in the roadway with bright colorful fall foliage behind it. Budget USA Road trip

We also refused to pay for parking unless ABSOLUTELY necessary and Stealth camped all across the United States. If you’re looking for tips on Stealth Camping you’ll find them here.

& now let’s look at the ways you can spend less money on your road trip across America.

Tips For Spending Less on your Budget-Friendly USA Road Trip

We did a fairly good job at keeping our costs low. But there are a few things we could have done differently on our cross-country road trip to save us even more money!

1. Pick Grocery Stores Strategically

We just shopped wherever was convenient. We didn’t bother learning the budget chains across America & definitely spent more money at fancy organic places like Sprouts and Publix.

2. Eat Out Less Often

Obviously, our restaurant costs were huge. If you want to save more money on the road just cook more meals inside the van. It has a kitchen after all!!

I don’t regret spending the money we did on food across America because I discovered my love for Southern Food. Seriously. If you splurge anywhere…make it the south.

3. Cut out Alcohol

You don’t see it on the budget breakdown but hidden in those grocery and restaurant bills are copious amounts of local beer and cocktails. Post-hiking beers, nightcaps, and brewery stops after a long day of driving. We spent about $775 on alcohol. Pretty much the exact amount we went over-budget.

Cut out ( or cut down ) on alcohol consumption to save a considerable chunk of change.

Planning your budget for a USA road trip is difficult without seeing a budget-breakdown from other travelers. We spent $60 a day or $30 per person per day on our cross-country road trip.

Let me know in the comments if you managed to spend more or less on your last road trip!!

Save This Post For Later!

usa road trip budjetti

Further Reading...

usa road trip budjetti

Why You Should Road Trip Beautiful Vermont In Fall

usa road trip budjetti

Road Tripping Utah’s Big 5 National Parks? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.

usa road trip budjetti

What Did Our Van Conversion Really Cost? Less Than You Might Think. (+Budget Build Tips)

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How to Survive Living the Van Life with Your Partner

What is cultural travel & how to travel the world immersively., beyond_the_bucketlist.

Geena Truman | Travel Blogger

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27 Budget Tips To Save Up On Your USA Road Trip

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Traveling in the United States can be very expensive and you might end up changing your plan when you run out of your budget. Well, I can tell you it’s not gonna be cheap for sure but if you’re smart enough and you don’t mind putting yourself out of your comfort zone, you can do it for a very reasonable cost.

We’ve done our US road trip recently. Before/during the trip we wanted to find out the best saving tips and share all the ideas with other fellow travelers out there!

Table of contents

Cost of our 25-day long usa road trip, a. car rental – discount websites, b. usaa.com – discount (social security n. required), car insurance – if possible avoid the rental company, rental summary / other rental fees, turo – rent a car from people nearby, buying a car, travel in group/rideshare, gas – look for cheaper stations, parking – look for free parking, navigation – use your smartphone, toll roads – check the list, aaa membership, get some inexpensive car gear, build caravan by yourself, get some useful travel gadgets, go camping (cheapest option + it’s a lot of fun), stay in cheap motels, hotel tonight – last minute hotel deals, hostels – shared dorm rooms, airbnb.com – get an apartment or room, free hosting – couchsurfing, food – cook at your campsite, grocery discount cards, national parks fees – get annual pass, city tourism fees – get city pass, recommended books (plan your routes), keep track of your spendings with apps.

So you wonder, how much would it cost to travel across America? Here is our cost:

  • CAR RENTAL – $950 (we did not reach the monthly discount)
  • GAS – $750
  • CAMPING – $350 
  • FOOD – $550 (we cooked a lot)
  • FEES (parking & entrances) – $200
  • OTHER (camping gear, car gear, etc.) – $250
  • TOTAL: $3050 (2 people)
  • TOTAL per PERSON: $1525
  • DAILY TOTAL: $60/person

* *NOTE: these prices apply to our costs in 2015, so the prices now can differ.

Renting a car in the United States

IMPORTANT NOTE:   Before we start, I have to point this out!!!  Make sure you bring your credit/debit card with a sufficient amount of funds! You might be able to pay cash for your rental but for security (deposit) reasons they always require valid credit/debit card!

Some of the rental companies don’t accept debit cards , so I strongly suggest checking it out before you make a reservation!

Getting a car trough rental company is usually very expensive, especially when you’re buying full insurance,  returning back in a  different location or under age of 25 . That’s why you should definitely look for some websites with discount offers.

NOTE: This is not a 100% option according to online ratings / but worth to risk!

You can easily find rental websites that compare the prices for you and when you book your car through them, you can get pretty cool discounts and save up to 200 – 500 USD . Usually, you’ll get booking only with basic insurance and the total cost can be much higher (but you can ensure the car with cheaper insurance companies).

For example   hotwire.com  or   rentalcars.com (booking.com partner)

HOT Tip –  Register on  USAA , a website for military members and their families where you can get discounts without ever being somehow involved, not even being US citizen.

Example: You can rent an intermediate car/month / approx. 600 USD

While registering you’ll need basic info, social security number  and for the question about military members be honest you answer “none”. This will allow you to avoid paying fees for additional driver, under 25 years and it gives you also a discount of the total rental price. After you’re done with registration go for “car rental discounts” and from there you can choose from 4 different rental companies (for example Hertz ). When you get there have this document https://images.hertz.com/pdfs/USAA_FAQ.pdf ready, in case they will try to charge some extra fees.

NOTE: Obtaining a social security number might be a problem for noncitizens! You need to have a work permit (work visa) in USA. Find more information here .

Rental companies charge very high prices for full insurance which you can avoid by ensuring your car by an external company, for example, insuremyrentalcar.com .

For example,  You pay only 30USD for a period of a maximum of 1 month!

Make sure you check out policies of your rental car provider! You might not be able to rent by an external company. 

So let’s see what fees you should keep in mind if you would like to estimate your price for rental:

  • Car Rental Price – final price of the vehicle.
  • Damage Waiver – Insurance of rented vehicle / this is obligatory!
  • Liability Protection – Insurance of other vehicles and people injured in an accident caused by you. Make sure that bodily injury liability is also included.    Check out your travel insurance, it might be included (cheaper).
  • Personal Accident Insurance – Insurance of you and people in the car. Should be part of your travel insurance.
  • Side Road Assistance – You can choose to add this to your insurance. It covers all expenses of assistance, such as, flat tire, lookout, towing, fuel delivery, winching service, etc.
  • Young Drive Fee (21-24) – If you have a chance, rent car on somebody who is at least 25 years old. Fee can vary from 10 – 25 USD per day.
  • Additional Driver Fee – an additional driver can cost you 10 – 25 USD per day. Insurance doesn’t cover for the driver who’s not added on the contract.
  • Airport Rental Fee – some companies charge if you rent straight from the airport. Try to avoid that!
  • Different Location Return Fee – almost every company charges you returning fee. They are some exceptions between some locations, such as LA – Las Vegas.

GET 25USD discount on your first rental with our link

usa road trip budjetti

This popular concept of Airbnb is now available for cars as well! On websites like getaround.com and turo.com ,  you can rent car for your road trip from people (owners). It’s definitely more affordable and more attractive when it comes to the choice. Imagine, road trippin’ in Mini Cooper, BMW, or Tesla car? Yes! Option are pretty creative and unique.

Buying a car is can be a  very economical option when you’re good in the industry and you can recognize what’s a good deal or not. Buying a used car involves risks, such as repairs, scams but on the other side, you might make money out of it. If you buy cheaper than you sell, you’re the winner! One of the best websites for this purpose is craigslist.com .

Getting a car involves some necessary paperwork that can take quite some time! Read more details about this topic on tripadvisor .

This is pretty straight forward! Best way is to split most of the expenses when you travel in a group of (2-4). If you can’t find anybody, don’t worry there are websites where you can find other fellow solo travelers who you can share ride with. Check out couchsurfing.com , ridester.com or carpoolworld.com .

When road tripping in the US, you will do thousands of kilometers and you might end up spending 600 USD just on the gas! We did 8000 kms, for example. We noticed quite big differences between the prices in states. There might be a 1$ / per gallon just within the state and $2 differences between different states.

We recommend planning your trip according to  gas price map  which is very detailed and helpful. You can also get an app for your smartphone!

TIP: some of the gas stations give a better price for gas when you pay by CASH, it’s very individual and again, depends on the state! But I definitely saw it in California. Watch out for the signs on price stands in front.

Parking in national parks is usually included in the entrance fee or in some small cities is for FREE but in bigger cities, it can be more complicated and much more expensive.

Here are a few tips:

  • Wallmart is in most cases free + WIFI. Note that not every single Wallmart parking lot allows you to park, so it might be illegal! Check out parking locator where you can find the exact information about this topic.
  • Residential areas are for FREE (sometimes depending on hours)
  • Overnight RV / camping parking (affordable)

Don’t pay for GPS! Get free apps into your smartphone or buy a map for 6 bucks (like we did).

You can also get GPS in the shop with a good returning policy ! For example in Wallmart, where you can buy your navigation, use it for few weeks and then return it! See point 6. of this article for more information.

Have your “ paper map backup ” ready as well! Some of the remote places in USA won’t have any signal coverage and you might end up lost in the middle of nowhere!

Some of the toll roads can surprise in unexpected locations and prices might also very high. Make sure you always carry some cash in your car to avoid any fines! Check out this full list of toll roads in the USA .

AAA is another interesting website that can be very useful in North America! It’s American Automobile Association which has over 50 million members. It’s a non-profit organization offering road services to their members in all over the United States and Canada.

If you visit their office they can provide you with FREE maps, guidebooks or routing maps. You can also take advantage of great discounts for accommodation, food and road assistance.

If you’re from the US or you’re planning to stay longer, there are options for building your own caravan from the van! You can get cheap/good/spacious vans in the USA quite easily.

Vandogtraveller sells an amazing ebook (276 pages) on his website for only 10 bucks which guides you through the whole process of conversion. His story is really cool, check out his website vandogtraveller.com .

usa road trip budjetti

You would be surprised how helpful could be simple travel gadgets for backpacking when it comes to road-tripping.

Here is the full list of our best travel gadgets but let me point out some of my favorite which you will definitely appreciate on your road trip:

  • Compressing packing cubes – helps you organize your clothes
  • Supporting travel pillows – get comfort on a long-drive day
  • Portable travel hammocks – easy to attach in parks and takes almost no space

rv hacks

Campsites in the United States are usually in great condition and come with BBQ grill, fire pits, showers, restrooms, wifi access, etc. Price is depending on location, season and facilities.

FREE camping sites you can find on  freecampsites.net  or you can camp basically anywhere in “National Forest”. BLM sites are also sometimes for FREE.

Paid camping sites  have usually more facilities and they are much more affordable than motels. (Costs is between 10 USD – 40 USD). Most of the campsites are in google maps and you can find reviews or the official website.

Camp in my garden  is another cool site where you can find camp spots in people’s backyard for only a couple of bucks. Check out here . These options can be actually pretty fancy and friendly experience since some of the people have really nice gardens.

usa road trip budjetti

Motels are almost on every corner in the US. They are not a very economical option but it’s definitely not expensive when you travel in a group of 4 people.

One of the most popular motel budget networks is “Motel 6”   or “ Super 8 ” hotels network. which offers rooms for 4 people between (40 – 70 USD). These rooms usually have desk, small TV, small fridge, AC, closet etc. nothing too special but more than for enough for travelers/backpackers.

cheap motels - usa road trip

Tip: If you travel in a group of 2.. you can go and say that room is for one person only, then you end up paying less, and of course more people can stay.

Tip: if there is options to collect hotel points, definitely go for it. It can save you money as well, just apply for a hotel credit card. You can get straight away 70,000 points when you sign-up and those can cover a couple of nights for you.

USE CODE “VVINCEJ” to get your 25USD discount (minimum spent 150USD)

usa road trip budjetti

The way it works is by offering vacant rooms of different hotels that didn’t manage to get their rooms fully booked in time so they offer them on the app for a steep discount just to fill them up. Because of the nature of the app, you can’t book the rooms too far in advance (The maximum is 1 week) so you cannot really rely on it but if you are flexible with your accommodation options then this might be the perfect option for you.

usa road trip budjetti

For example check OUR ARTICLEs about: Best Hostels in New York City Best Hostels in San Francisco Best hostels in Miami Beach

In bigger cities, you can find hostels and take advantage of shared (dorm) rooms which can some costs $15 / night. 

In case you’re a picky person and you wanna make sure your place meets your requirements/need, make sure you visit tripadvisor.com to read reviews! You can find every single hotel/hostel there with a lot of customer reviews.


Airbnb is an amazing website where you easily find cheaper accommodation in somebody’s house, flat or kind of private hotels or hostels. There are plenty of options and you can find accommodation as low as $20-40 per night for single room or bed in a dorm room.

It’s becoming a very popular option these days, not just in USA. They have an amazing interactive search/filtering system which helps a lot to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Yes, you can also sleep for FREE! One of the most popular websites offering hosting is couchsurfing.com where you can create your profile and send requests to random people all around the world. It’s all based on references from other so-called couch surfers!

You know what they say, travel often & eat well! The food you can find on every corner and basically everything that you wish! But sometimes it might kick-off your budget if you don’t eat smart.

Get good food from restaurants and do not try to save up on food but we recommend some of the tips:

  • FAST foods are everywhere (not the most economical option)
  • get some snacks and breakfast stuff from cheap stores like dollar tree .
  • do your shopping in Wallmart (cheaper prices)
  • get the member cards
  • cook at your camping site! here are some camping recipes !
  • get your cooking tools (for one-time use) from dollar tree or Wallmart.
  • be creative! 😉

When you camp during your whole trip and you eat in camp you can squeeze your budget to ( $10 / day ).

Most of the big supermarket chains have free loyalty cards that give you massive discounts every time you purchase at their store. The reason they do this is that by you having a loyalty card they can collect data on your purchases which helps them run their business more efficiently. In exchange for giving them some data on consumer behavior, you are rewarded with pretty neat discounts.

When you are traveling on a budget this is the perfect opportunity to save loads of money on your basic necessities. As you know most of your basic expenses fall into 3 categories: logistics, accommodation, and food. And if you minimize the expenses in the food column then you are on a good path to make your trip budget-friendly. You should definitely make use of this hack!

usa road trip budjetti

If you’re planning to visit more than 4 national parks you should definitely get annual pass which cost only $80 per vehicle and it allows you to visit 90% of the parks in US.

usa road trip budjetti

City Pass  cards can be really handy while road tripping in USA, especially if you’re planning a lot of sightseeing. They usually contain various city attractions and public transport and helps you to save up to $100 sometimes.

You can also get plenty of information at your hotel’s reception desk and they sometimes give away various discounts (especially in Las Vegas).

usa road trip budjetti

Check the video from our USA road trip or our travel quotes for some inspiration!

I hope you’ve found great tips in this article and you learned how to save money on the USA road trip! Make sure you double-check tips you find here (before you make booking or payment) just because you never know when it can change.

We simply can’t say everything will work 100%. We’re continuously trying to update this article to keep it fresh and information up to date but we don’t receive any updates from companies, orgs or websites mentioned above!

Feel FREE to contact us if you have any questions or advice on what to add to the article. Simply post a comment at the end of the article.

We would be super happy if you share these amazing USA road trip tips with your friends on social media. Thank you 🙂

Disclaimer: This article about USA road trip tips contains various affiliate links. When a purchase is made via those links we might earn a commission from the sale. This little income helps us to run our website Traveling Lifestyle and keep publishing more content such as this article.

Great article! So around how much did you end up spending those 20 days?

Hi, thanks for the question. I think it was around 1500USD per person, we were 2.

Awesome tips . Thanks.

thank you Cheryl.. 😉

What is that place in your video with white sand? I would like to see that! Amazing 😊

it’s great salt lake desert in Utah, really cool thing to see! 🙂

Hi Guys, great article- I have few questiongs and wondered if you had any insight? – For the USAA you said one would need social insurance nr- is there a way to go around this? (since neither of us is a US citizen) – Do you think October is still ok for road tripping and camping in the northern states (minesotta, montana washington etc) – Do you think that a small campervan might be better than tent? (having to build it up every night etc)- And if we had a small campervan, do you think we could just part at the wallmart parking and stay there? Isnt this illegal in the US?

1. You don’t have to US citizen to get SSN but you need working permit (work visa) to get it, it’s probably not possible to go around. Maybe through some other person who can register and get it for you! 2. For example: Montana (Yellowstone) was quite cold already in September during the night… depends also on quality of sleeping bags etc… but I think it’s still doable! 3. There is locator for Wallmart parking, there are plenty of places where you can do it! Check our locators http://www.walmartlocator.com/rv-parking-at-walmart/

Enjoy your trip!

i read so many articles abt road trips in USA but this one is the most usuful to me! Really good job guys 🙂 Im doing my trip this year so when i will be back with new tips im gonna share them here too

oh and i found your page during looking up for some cool videos on youtube.

thank you Pati! Enjoy your trip… it would be amazing if you could pass some more tips for US road trip!

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and also the rest of the site is extremely good.

It is good to hear Dennis… more articles are coming… Thanks

These are truly great saving tips! I almost book the car for crazy money, but then I found you tips for renting and saved 500 bucks straight away. We’re planning our trip very soon, hopefully it’s not gonna be too cold for camping these days.

Thanks for sharing… this is definitely ALL in article with the most useful budget tips..

thanks Walt! Enjoy your road trip in USA 😉

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How to Plan a Budget USA Road Trip: The Complete Guide

There’s nothing quite like traveling the open road. This is especially true in the United States, where national parks (state parks, too) are plentiful and magnificent. The best part about the US is how easy and budget-friendly it is to road trip.

Road in Arizona

Of course, planning a road trip depends heavily on your route. Regardless of whether you’re hitting the big cities along the way or seeking out the peace and quiet of nature, we believe driving is the best way to experience the splendor of the United States. In this post, we share our tips on how to plan a US road trip on a budget without missing out on the fun!

But there’s more to a road trip than just planning and budgeting. Check out some road trip essentials to bring with you on your adventure!

How to Save Money on Transportation

Transportation adds up to be a pretty big chunk of any road trip budget. You can thank gas for that one, but the US is actually one of the cheapest countries when talking about gas. Although gas prices aren’t too high right now, o ne of the easiest ways to save money on your US road trip is to have a fuel-efficient car .

If you own one, great! If not, it’s a good idea to research the cost of renting one. We think 35-40 mpg (miles per gallon) is a good minimum to aim for when road-tripping on a budget.

Granted, if you don’t already own a fuel-efficient car, you’ll have to do a little math here. The cost of the rental plus an estimate of gas costs vs. no rental cost and gas.

Helpful Apps for Gas

Gas is one of the key elements of a road trip. Without it, you’re going nowhere. Luckily there are apps out there that help you find the cheapest gas prices near you so you’re always getting the best bang for your buck.

GasBuddy is a handy-dandy app for finding gas prices near you. You can use the app to search for the specific gas your car needs as well as the prices. If you really want to plan ahead, you can search along your route to see all available stations and prices.

Gas prices seen on the GasBuddy App

Waze is a navigation app that gives you the option to search for gas stations along your route and it’ll show you the most recently recorded prices.

Screenshot of Waze gas station finder

Both of these apps use crowdsourcing for their information so prices shown on the apps are uploaded by fellow users;  they could be outdated or inaccurate. Both apps tell you when the price for that station was last updated.

Renting a Car

If renting a car is the route you choose then there are some things to keep in mind. Roundtrip rentals tend to be much cheaper than having a different drop-off destination than your pick-up.

Screenshot of rental car prices for a round trip rental

For example, the above screenshot shows a 13 day rental with Houston being the pick-up and drop-off point. The screenshot below shows only 6 days with a pick-up in Houston and a drop-off in Los Angeles. But it’s at least $250 more expensive! Plus you have to pay for transport home.

Screenshot of rental cars from kayak.com

If you plan on dropping off the rental car in a different location than where you picked it up, verify that your reservation price includes the one-way fee. Depending on where you’re going, the fee can differ greatly and cause some financial headache.

Make sure your reservation includes unlimited mileage. There’s nothing worse than planning a 2000 mile trip only to find out you’re rental has a 300 mile limit and you have to pay for each additional mile over.

What about rideshares?

While an Uber or Lyft would get pricey for passengers at long distances, what about advertising your journey to people you meet in a hostel or hotel? This is definitely a great option for those who love to meet fellow travelers! Offering others a ride and splitting gas/general costs would help cut down on transportation!

Budget Accommodation

From free (yes, free!) to really cheap, let’s talk about where to lay your head at night when going on a budget road trip.

A fun, free option is to Couchsurf . This service allows you to contact hosts (all over the world) and stay with them for free. In exchange for free housing, they may want to get to know you and hang out a little bit. It’s widely used in the US so if meeting locals and free housing sounds fun to you then be sure and give it a try! It’s a good way to step outside of that introvert box!

For those on a very tight budget: if comfort isn’t important then sleeping in your car is a great budget option. We think a good night’s rest in a bed would be best but there’s nothing wrong with catching some zzz’s in the car.

Make sure you’re parked in an area where you’re allowed to be overnight (24 hour rest stops, for example), crack the windows so you have airflow and make sure you take the keys out of the ignition. In some areas, you can get a ticket for leaving keys in the ignition.

If the free options aren’t your thing then you can find cheap options for your accommodation elsewhere.

Our go-to accommodation is Airbnb, especially in cities. We’ve found that most Airbnb’s are significantly cheaper and more flexible (in some ways) than hotels. Since you’ll have a car (it’s a road trip, duh) be sure to filter the Airbnb results by choosing free parking (and a kitchen!).

Screenshot showing Airbnb Filters

Be mindful of what your Airbnb check-in process is like. If you plan on a late arrival then you need to communicate with your host beforehand. If you’re new to Airbnb or a little leery then read up on the pros and cons of using Airbnb while traveling .

Campsites are very cheap places to sleep if you have the right supplies and the weather is nice. Don’t just think about camping at national parks. The US is full of RV parks and campsites (check KOA ).

Tent and cooler at a campground

If this sounds fun but you don’t have camping gear, it’s easy to get the basic supplies you need for cheap. A decent 2 person tent can be as low as $20 and if you don’t already have sleeping bags, then blankets from home (always bring extra) will suffice. For added comfort, bring a thick yoga mat or blow up mattress to lie on.

If none of the above have solved your budget trip woes there’s always Motel 6 or Super 8! These are budget-friendly hotels and you’ll find them everywhere while road tripping across the US. Motel 6 and Super 8 are well-known hotel chains in the States, but always be on the lookout for the unknown cheap accommodation.

For example, on a road trip through New Mexico and Colorado, we found a last-minute hotel on Booking.com in Raton, New Mexico. While we didn’t do much other than sleep in Raton, the accommodation was perfect for our budget and a great place to begin driving the next day.

National Parks

One of the biggest perks of a road trip in the US?

National parks!

usa road trip budjetti

We are spoiled in the US, especially the western half, with a lot of natural beauty. There are more than 60 national parks in the United States! From hiking, camping, outdoor sports, stargazing, you can find a ton of things to keep you entertained in nature.

If your road trip is just a few days or a few weeks, we hope you can stop by at least one national park. In addition to being very budget-friendly, you’ll find it’s one of the most memorable stops on your trip!

For those road-tripping the southwest, you might want to look into Big Bend National Park . We feel it doesn’t get as much talk as it should, which is probably why we found it to be so peaceful compared to other parks. It’s an accredited dark sky park (great for stargazing) and offers nature lovers some hot desert, cooler mountains, and the Rio Grande.

Night sky at Big Bend National Park

Don’t forget about state parks too. There are many of these as well and some are just as beautiful (and less crowded) than national parks!

Limit Time in Major Cities and Use Attraction Passes

Major cities mean more money.

But let’s be real. A road trip across the Midwest isn’t complete without a stop in Chicago .

Even though bigger cities come with a bigger price tag (food, housing, things to do), some of America’s best attractions can be found there. Whether it’s Chicago or New York , a good place to start your budget and itinerary is with Go City cards . These will save you a lot of money on popular attractions and they’ll give you a good idea of how long you need to spend in town.

As we mentioned earlier when talking about accommodation, you’ll find some great deals on Airbnb when staying in large cities; the ones that come with parking are the best option!

However, in places like New York City where Airbnb is a grey area of legal/illegal (when staying under 30 days) you may want to look at other means of accommodation through booking.com or Couchsurfing. Then again, you may want to stay outside of New York City (and train in) to avoid the traffic!

How to Save on Food

Eating is one of the highlights of a road trip in the USA. From mom and pop diners on Historic Route 66 to fast food, there are so many temptations while on the road. While indulging occasionally is mandatory, eating out too often can ruin your budget.

In-N-Out Burgers

That’s where road trip snacks come in!

Our biggest word of advice? Stock up a cooler with snacks, sandwiches and drinks before setting off. Filling up at your local grocery store will be cheaper than grabbing snacks at gas stations on the road.

If you don’t have a cooler, odds are you know someone who does (borrow it!) or you can purchase a cheap styrofoam cooler (but this is not the environmentally-friendly option).

Cook as many meals as possible. This can be difficult at times, especially if you’re staying in a hotel or don’t have access to a kitchen. But you can buy sandwich fixings, cereal and other dry goods that will serve as a good meal replacement.

If you’re craving a hot meal, then a cheap camping stove might be in order; or you can reserve campsites with grills (which you should totally do). You can find single-burner camping stoves for under $30 and double burner camping stoves for under $50.

Cheeseburger dinner while camping in Big Bend National Park

Again, we really like Airbnbs because cooking is much easier. When searching for accommodations on Airbnb be sure to check the filter option for kitchens so you can book a place with a kitchen and basic cooking supplies. Even some shared apartments (cheap cheap!) allow guests to use the kitchen so that’s an awesome budget idea.

Summary of How to Plan a US Road Trip on a Budget

There are lots of ways to save while traveling the US on the open road. It’s a mix and match of what suits your wants and needs and how it all adds up into the road trip budget. We wish you an awesome time on the road!

Happy travels!

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Where Food Takes Us

We’re Darah and Garrett. Our life has been an adventure ever since we eloped in a pink Cadillac in Las Vegas. Now we’re running around the world, working online, and eating everything we can.

Read more about us!

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The Ultimate Budget Road Trip Leads To 8 Incredible And Affordable Wonders Across America

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Lysa Allman-Baldwin

For over 25 years Lysa Allman-Baldwin has fed her wanderlust for “everything the world has to offer” by passionately writing travel and feature articles for numerous global print and online publications. A Digital Nomad, Lysa is also a professional speaker, workshop facilitator, and author.

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Pack up your clothes, the kids, and your sense of adventure because it’s time for some of our favorite USA budget road trips! There are so many wonderful places to explore across this beautiful country of ours and doing it by car is noted by many as the preferred method of travel.  So whether you have a hankering to explore national parks, foodie cities, historic sites, or anything in between, this budget sojourn promises a wealth of truly bucket-list-worthy destinations.

Want to discover more USA road trips? You’ll love OnlyInYourState’s newest series, On The Road , which explores magnificent routes across America catered to nature lovers, foodies, budget travelers, adventurers, and more.

usa road trip budjetti

1. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, North Dakota

usa road trip budjetti

2. Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota

usa road trip budjetti

3. Toadstool Geological Park, Nebraska

usa road trip budjetti

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4. winnewissa falls at pipestone national monument, minnesota.

usa road trip budjetti

5. Granddad Bluff, Wisconsin

usa road trip budjetti

6. Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

usa road trip budjetti

7. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

usa road trip budjetti

8. Kankakee Sands, Indiana

usa road trip budjetti

Didn’t you just love these budget road trips in the US? Have you ever been to any of these fantastic places? If so, which were your favorites? We’d love to read about your experience in the comments section. One of our favorite ways to travel in style is by renting an RV from RVShare because you don’t need to spend a fortune on your own.

If you’re still in the mood for more road trip adventures, take a look at this video about the Gunflint Trail & Scenic Byway in Minnesota:

To help you make sure you have everything you need, check out this Ultimate Road Trip Packing List.

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

More to Explore

Budget road trips.

What are some affordable road trips in the US? A road trip doesn't have to be an expensive ordeal. There are plenty of beautiful and interesting places across the US you can get to within a relatively short drive from your current location. Here are a few affordable road trips in the US to give you some ideas for your next getaway:

  • A waterfall road trip : Just about every state has at least one waterfall. Some states are blessed with quite a few. Even if you are living in a waterfall-starved state, we bet there are some amazing trips you can take within a few hundred miles. One of our favorite waterfall road trips is in Oregon.
  • State parks road trip : Some of our favorite places on Earth are our beautiful state parks. Each state has them, so you are only a quick trip away from pure natural bliss. Take this Lake Superior road trip in Michigan for an epic state park tour.
  • Unique restaurant road trip : If you want a fun and easy road trip near you, try looking up some interesting restaurants in your state. We like to find a cute coffee shop or bakery in the morning, a cool lunch spot around noon, an interesting dinnertime restaurant, and a scenic sunset spot for drinks or dessert. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in Hawaii, we think you'll love this restaurant road trip along the coast of Maui .
  • Charming small-town road trip : Every state has its hidden gem small towns -  Minnesota, for example. If you are looking for a fun budget road trip that can be tailored to your interests try a small town getaway. Love cute shops, unique restaurants, natural wonders, historic tours, and brew pubs? Any interest you can imagine can be found in our small towns all across America. And the best part is that small-town attractions are often more affordable than those in our big cities.

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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer

The Great American Road Trip: A 4-Month Itinerary Around the USA

A car driving an open road in Death Valley, USA

The Great American Road Trip — it’s the kind of multimonth adventure most dream about but few actually do.

While many of us have bucket-list goals of exploring this vast and diverse landscape, more often than not, we end up heading abroad instead. International travel just seems more alluring, exotic, and exciting.

But this country has more than enough eclectic cities, small towns, regional culinary traditions, historic sites, fascinating museums, and natural wonders to keep any intrepid traveler busy.

I’ve done five big US road trips (two that completely crisscrossed the country and three in various regions) that cumulatively add up to a year on the road (and that doesn’t count all the “regular” trips, vacations, and weekend getaways). I’ve seen a lot of the United States.

As COVID-19 has caused us to consider our backyard more and more , many Americans are turning to domestic travel. We’re finally exploring all the wonders our own country has to offer.

So, because of that, I’ve created an epic four-month itinerary for traveling around the States. I think it balances time in cities with that spent relaxing in nature.

It may seem like a lot but four months just scratches the surface. And, since I don’t expect most of you to have four months, you can easily break this trip into smaller portions. It’s much better to concentrate your focus rather than try to see a lot in a short amount of time.

One note before we begin: There are so many routes you could take that it’s impossible to have one “best” route. The US is just too big. The route below is just one of my favorites. Use it as a starting point for creating your own itinerary that mixes realistic drive times, national parks, and fabulous cities.

Table of Contents

Month 1: East Coast, Southern US

Month 2: south, southwestern us, west coast, month 3: pacific northwest, western us, month 4: midwest, northeast us, days 1-3: boston, ma.

The skyline of Boston lit up at night by the water

  • Walk the Freedom Trail – This 2.5-mile (4km) route links many historic sites, including the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the State House, and Bunker Hill. To get the most of your experience, take a guided tour with Get Your Guide . You’ll be able to ask questions to an expert local guide have a much more in-depth experience.
  • Relax in Boston Common – This is one of America’s oldest parks and was once used as communal pasture land by Puritan settlers. Today, it’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and picnic.
  • See the Bunker Hill Monument – The Battle of Bunker Hill (1775) was one of the first major battles of the Revolutionary War. While the British won it, the Americans wore British forces down more than was expected. The monument stands 221 feet tall; you can climb to the top to enjoy the best view of Boston.
  • Visit the Museum of Fine Arts – This museum has over 450,000 pieces of fine art, covering everything from the pre-Columbian era to Italian Impressionists. It’s one of the biggest collections in the country. It’s free after 4pm on Wednesdays.

For more things to do, check out my free guide to Boston . And, for places to stay, here are my hostel recommendations.

Days 4-8: New York City, NY

The iconic New York skyline during a bright summer day

  • Take a walking tour – To get a feel for the city, take a walking tour. There are myriad free and paid tours on a variety of subjects. Nothing is too obscure. Here’s a list of suggested walking tour companies in NYC .
  • Wander Central Park – This massive, 51-block-long, 843-acre park is the best free attraction in town. There are plenty of places to bike, walk, jog, read, picnic, and people-watch. During the summer, there are free concerts and theater productions too. Free tours are run by the parks service on Saturdays at 11am from the spring to the fall.
  • See the Statue of Liberty – You can pay to visit Ellis Island if you want to see the statue up close . However, you can also take a free ferry to Staten Island instead if you just want to see it while passing by.
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum – At the base of the Freedom Tower is a park commemorating the victims of 9/11. Inside the museum, there are over 14,000 artifacts from that day, as well as 3,500 recordings from survivors, first responders, and family members of those killed. It’s a sobering, eye-opening exhibit.
  • Walk the High Line – The High Line is an elevated urban walking park on the west side of NYC. Made from a converted train track, it runs for 22 blocks and is lined with overlooks, gardens, public art, food stalls, and greenery.
  • Cross the Brooklyn Bridge – For a view of the Manhattan skyline, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a long walk (around 40 minutes if you stop for photos), but the view is worth it — especially at night. It’s free too!
  • Explore the Met – The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the foremost fine art collections in the world. You can easily spend an entire day here if you wanted to see it all.

If you want more ideas for things to see and do in NYC, here’s a detailed suggested itinerary that can come.

For accommodation suggestions, here is my comprehensive list of hostels in NYC , as well as a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to the city .  

Days 9-11: Philadelphia, PA

Downdown Philly during the day as people go about their day

  • See the Liberty Bell – This bell, which dates to 1752, is an iconic symbol of American freedom. It’s said to have been rung when the Declaration of Independence was read in July 1776. Today, the bell is located in Independence National Historical Park, which you can visit for free.
  • Wander around Independence Hall – Learn about the founding of the United States at Independence Hall, and wander around the area’s historic colonial buildings.
  • Exlpore Franklin Court – This is where Benjamin Franklin lived while serving in the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention. While his house was torn down after his death in 1790, a hollow structure stands where it was located, and there’s a museum nearby with information about his life and works.
  • Climb the Rocky stairs – The stairs from Rocky , the classic boxing film, are located at the Museum of Art. You can’t visit Philadelphia without running up them and doing your best Stallone impression.
  • Visit the Magic Gardens – This quirky art gallery is one of the most unique attractions in town: a collection of indoor and outdoor art and mosaics made from broken tiles, glass, and all kinds of odds and ends. Indoors, there’s a more conventional art gallery and space for events and concerts.

Days 12-14: Washington, DC

The White House surrounded by an empty green lawn

  • Visit the Holocaust Museum – The Holocaust Museum is informative and heart-wrenching. Its permanent exhibit takes up three entire levels and tells the story of the Holocaust through films, photos, artifacts, and first-person stories. Admission is free.
  • Tour the Smithsonian – The Smithsonian Institution is a group of world-class museums and research centers. All of them are free to enter. Some of the best museums are: the Air and Space Museum, the African American Museum, the Smithsonian Castle, and the American Art Museum.
  • See the Lincoln Memorial – This iconic 19-foot statue is located on the National Mall and pays tribute to America’s 16th president. Built in 1914, it’s surrounded by 36 columns, each of which represents a state in the union at the time of his death in 1865.

For tons more ideas on what to see, here’s my free detailed guide to DC!  

Days 15-16: Shenandoah National Park, VA

The rolling hills and mountains of Shenandoah National Park at dusk in Virginia

Days 17-19: Asheville, NC

The famous Biltmore Mansion and its spacious gardens

  • The Biltmore Estate – This is America’s largest house. It’s a whopping 178,926-square-foot mansion surrounded by 8,000 acres of land. The massive estate has over 250 rooms (including 33 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms). I love it!
  • Enjoying craft beer – Asheville has over 25 breweries (and there are another 50+ outside town too). Take a brewery tour, or just hop around and sample some local offerings. My two favorites are Bhramari and Wicked Weed.
  • Hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains – Parts of the Appalachian Trail can be found here, and there are lots of day or multiday hikes. You can also climb Mount Mitchell, the highest summit east of the Mississippi River.

Days 20-22: Atlanta, GA

The skyline of Atlanta, GA lit up at night over the highway

  • See the Center for Civil and Human Rights – Opened in 2014, this museum highlights the struggles and accomplishments of the civil rights movement as well as human rights around the globe.
  • Wander the Atlanta Botanical Garden – Escape the urban hustle and bustle with a getaway to this 30-acre oasis in the heart of the city. In addition to its orchids and tropical plants, there’s a 600-foot canopy walk that lets you enjoy the gardens from 40 feet in the air.
  • Take a street art tour – Atlanta is one of the best destinations for street art. There are tons of murals along the Krog Street Tunnel and the Belt Line. Take a guided tour or use the website streetartmap.org for self-guided suggestions.

Days 23-27: Nashville, TN

The Nashville stadium and skyline during a soft, pastel sunlight

  • Attend the Grand Ole Opry – Opened in 1925, this is one of the most famous country music venues in the world. Today, the Opry hosts regular live performances, TV broadcasts, and radio shows. You can buy tickets here .
  • See the Parthenon – This full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was built in 1897. It was created to celebrate Nashville’s 100th anniversary and chosen because Nashville is called “the Athens of the South” (due to its historic focus on higher education).
  • Explore the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – This museum has one of the largest music collections in the entire world. There are over 200,000 recordings here, including 98% of music released before World War II.
  • Visit Franklin – Located just 25 minutes outside of Nashville, most people assume Franklin is just another suburb. However, it has a lot going for it: it’s bursting with small-town charm, has stellar food and drink (it’s where I discovered my favorite Bourbon, HC Clark), is full of history (there was a major Civil War battle here), and has one of the best-preserved historic main streets in the country. I’d spend two nights here.

Days 28-30: Memphis, TN

One of the many parks in downtown Memphis, TN, USA

  • Visit the National Civil Rights Museum – This museum traces the history of civil rights from the 17th century to today. It’s housed in the former motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It’s powerful and poignant. Don’t miss it.
  • See the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum – This museum highlights the musical pioneers of blues, rock, and soul music from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are costumes and recordings, interactive media, and exhibitions on famous musicians from Memphis.
  • Stroll down Beale Street – Known as “America’s most iconic street,” Beale Street features many bars where you’ll find Memphis’s best live music. There are also numerous street buskers. If you’re going out at night, start here.
  • Day-trip to Graceland – The home of Elvis Presley, Graceland is located a few miles south of town. Even if you’re not a huge Elvis fan, it’s worth a visit to see just how impactful his life and music have been. You’ll see loads of lookalikes and die-hard fans making the pilgrimage to see the King.

Days 31-32: Natchez, MS

plantation house in Natchez

  • Visit antebellum homes – Built in the early to mid-19th century, these historic homes are Natchez’s main draw. Longwood, Rosalie Mansion, and Stanton Hall were my favorites. Admission is $20-25 USD at each.
  • Attend the Natchez Pilgrimage – During the Natchez Pilgrimage in the spring, all of the private historical homes open up to the public. The costumed guides explain the history of the home, their owners, and the region. It’s the city’s biggest annual event, and there are some 20 homes on display.
  • See the Emerald Mount – Constructed sometime between the 13th and 17th centuries, this was an elevated place of worship for the Plaquemine Native Americans. All kinds of animal bones have been found nearby, leading researchers to believe it was the site of religious or sacred activity.

Days 33-36: New Orleans, LA

Locals playing music downtown in New Orleans, USA

  • Visit the National World War II Museum – This is the largest World War II museum in America. It’s also one of the best museums in the world. You can listen to firsthand accounts of the war, which make it all feel that much more intimate and impactful.
  • Listen to music on Frenchmen Street – Live music is available every night of the week, and there are innumerable venues to listen to blues and jazz. My personal favorite is the Spotted Cat.
  • Wander the French Quarter and Garden District – These are two of NOLA’s most iconic and historic districts, full of old French-influenced buildings and grand mansions. You can either do a self-guided tour or go with Take Walks , which runs the best walking tours in town!
  • Take a ghost or voodoo tour – “The Big Easy” has a creepy past. The best way to learn about it is to take a voodoo or ghost tour . You’ll get to see cemeteries, explore haunted buildings, and hear all sorts of unsettling anecdotes and ghostly tales.

For more things to see and do in NOLA, check out this detailed itinerary I created .  

Days 37-39: Houston, TX

A large green park near downtown Houston, Texas, USA

Houston is home to the Space Center and NASA’s astronaut training complex, as well as countless breweries and museums and a killer ethnic food scene (definitely go out for Viet BBQ).

These are some things you can do while you’re in town:

  • Visit Space Center Houston – This is Houston’s top attraction, bringing in over a million visitors each year. There are over 400 items in the collection, including moon rocks and three spacecraft that were used during missions.
  • Explore the Museum of Natural Science – Opened in 1909, this museum has four floors of exhibitions (as well as a planetarium and an IMAX theatre). There are displays on wildlife, ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, minerals, and much more!
  • Wander Buffalo Bayou Park – This 124-acre park has all kinds of walking trails and is a nice spot for a picnic, to relax with a book, or to people-watch. There are also lots of concerts and events here too, so check the local tourism office to see what’s coming up.

Days 40-44: Austin, TX

People kayaking and paddling in Austin, Texas, USA

  • Relax at Barton Springs – Barton Springs is a pool/creek that locals flock to in warm weather. It’s fed by a natural cold-water spring in Zilker Park and has manicured lawns that are great for lounging on and relaxing when it’s too hot to do much else. You can also rent kayaks here .
  • Go two-stepping – Two-stepping is a popular country dance — and country dancing is one of Austin’s favorite pastimes. To see it in action (and try it yourself), head to the White Horse, where there are free lessons so you can then dance your way around town.
  • Enjoy world-class barbecue — Some of the best BBQ joints in the US are here in Austin. If you’re looking to treat your taste buds (and don’t mind waiting, usually a couple of hours), head to Franklin’s or La Barbecue. For something faster, check out Micklethwait Craft Meats.

For way more activities, check out my free guide to Austin ! Since I call this city home, I have a lot of suggestions on how to spend your time here.  

Days 45-47: Truth or Consequences, NM

A road sign on an old road near Truth of Consequences, NM, USA

Try to explore some of the nearby ghost towns. Winston and Chloride, located north of T and C, are two mining towns that were abandoned in the early 1900s; some of the original buildings still remain.  

Days 48-49: Phoenix, AZ

The view overlooking Phoenix from a rocky mountain above the city

  • See the Desert Botanical Garden – This 140-acre garden is home to over 50,000 plants, including over 14,000 cacti. It’s super interesting!
  • Visit the Heard Museum – This museum focuses on Native American art. There are permanent and rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as cultural artifacts that highlight the history and traditions of the region’s native cultures.
  • Hike Camelback Mountain – With an elevation of 2,700 feet, this 2-3-hour hike is a fun way to see Arizona’s stunning and arid landscapes. There are two trails, both of which are challenging but rewarding.

Days 50-51: Joshua Tree National Park, CA

The rugged terrain brimming with Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park

A seven-day vehicle pass is $30 USD. It allows multiple entries in case you stay in one of the nearby towns.  

Days 52-54: San Diego, CA

The skyline of San Diego as seen from above overlooking the coast

  • See the USS Midway Museum – This aircraft carrier was commissioned after World War II and was the largest ship in the world until 1955. It saw action in numerous conflicts, including Vietnam. After it was decommissioned, it became a museum open to the public.
  • Visit wildlife at the San Diego Zoo – Located in Balboa Park, this zoo is home to over 3,500 animals and 700,000 plant species. It’s a massive 1,800-acre park, and you could easily spend an entire day here. It’s a fun place to visit with kids.
  • Go whale watching – California gray whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico between December and April. They are spectacular to see up close, as they grow up to 49 feet long and live for over 70 years. Tours cost $35 USD.

Days 55-58: Los Angeles, CA

The view of LA at sunset from the Hollywood sign

  • Wander Hollywood Boulevard – Play tourist and visit the Walk of Fame (where stars have their names engraved in the sidewalk) and Grauman’s (now TCL) Chinese Theatre (featuring celebrities’ handprints and footprints).
  • Relax on the beach – At iconic Venice Beach, you’ll find all kinds of street performers, surfers, roller-skaters, and locals and tourists alike soaking up the sun. Some other beaches worth checking out are Carbon Beach, Santa Monica State Beach, Huntington City Beach, and El Matador.
  • Visit to the Hollywood sign – Don’t just settle for a photo of the sign — go see it up close. The three trails that you can take (from easiest to hardest) are the Mt. Hollywood Trail, the Brush Canyon Trail, and the Cahuenga Peak Trail. Bring water and sunscreen, as the hike will take a few hours. If you don’t want to go solo, guided hikes to the Hollywood sign cost $25 USD.
  • Go hiking – LA is an active city, and locals love escaping the hustle and bustle as often as they can. Some trails worth checking out are the Charlie Turner Trail (90 minutes), Runyon Canyon (45 minutes), Portuguese Bend Reserve (3 hours), and Echo Mountain (3–3.5 hours).

For a even more detailed list on what else you can see and do while in LA, check out my Los Angeles travel guide . For accommodation suggestions, here are my favorite hostels in Los Angeles .  

Days 59-61: Las Vegas, NV

The Vegas Strip lit up at night

  • Explore Fremont Street – Old Vegas is full of sketchy bars, vintage casinos, and a Bourbon Street vibe. It makes for an interesting contrast to the sleek and polished Strip. There are lots of cover bands, buskers, and celeb lookalikes pandering for paid photos, as well as people-watching, cheap slots, and cheap drinks. There’s also an hourly light show on the ceiling above the street.
  • Hike Red Rock – Just 30 minutes outside town, Red Rock Canyon offers plenty of hiking and biking trails. Just make sure to arrive early in the morning before it gets too hot.
  • Visit the Neon Museum – This is essentially an eclectic graveyard for the huge lights and signs that once beckoned to tourists from casinos like the Silver Slipper, Stardust, and El Cortez. It spans three acres and gives you a glimpse into the city’s shining and sinful past.
  • See the Grand Canyon – Rent a car and drive the four hours to the South or North Rim of the Grand Canyon . It’s one of the most epic, iconic sights in the country and absolutely worth the drive. If you can, hike down to the bottom and stay the night. It’s an amazing experience! And if you want to dive deeper into this beautiful area, check out HoneyTrek’s Grand Circle Road Trip .

For more activities (and there’s plenty to choose from that don’t involve gambling), here is my comprehensive guide to Las Vegas .  

Days 62-64: Yosemite National Park, CA

Half Dome as seen from a winding road in Yosemite National Park

Days 65-67: San Francisco, CA

Colorful rowhouses in San Francisco, California, USA

  • Walk the Golden Gate Bridge – When it opened in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the world’s longest and tallest suspension bridge. Spend some time walking across to enjoy the view of the bay and the ships coming and going.
  • Tour Alcatraz – One of the most infamous prisons in the country, Alcatraz housed some of the nation’s worst criminals (renowned gangster Al “Scarface” Capone spent four years here). Today, it’s a national landmark where you can take tours, step foot in the cells, and learn about its grim history.
  • Relax at Golden Gate Park – This gigantic park features a Japanese garden, museums, an arboretum, a carousel, and many hiking and walking trails. It’s a whopping 20% bigger than New York City’s Central Park, so you easily could spend an entire day here relaxing, walking, and lounging.

Again, for even ways to spend your time in SF, here’s my guide to the city . And, for suggested places to stay, here’s a list of my favorite hostels in San Francisco .  

Days 68-69: Redwood National Park, CA

A massive Redwood tree in Redwood National Park, California

Given the drive time from SF, spend two nights here to make sure you get some good hiking in.  

Days 70-73: The Oregon Coast

A lone lighthouse on the coast of Oregon, USA

  • Binge on oysters – I’ve grown to love oysters in recent years and some of the best in the country can be found in Oregon. Some of my favorite places I stopped at were from Shucker’s Oyster Bar (Lincoln City), Oregon Oyster Farm and Mo’s Seafood & Chowder (both in Newport), and Clausen Oysters (North Bend).
  • See Thor’s Well – This coastal sinkhole near Cape Perpetua is known as the Drainpipe of the Pacific. While it can be dangerous to get too close (it’s very easy to get swept away into the water or rocks), you’ll nevertheless see tons of tourists posing for pictures near the well. It’s worth a stop to snap some quick pics.
  • Relax at Cannon Beach – This iconic beach is long and sandy and is best known for its photogenic Haystack Rock, a giant rock jutting out of the ocean just offshore. There are plenty of tide pools and places to picnic here, and the town itself (also called Cannon Beach) is full of all kinds of cafés and artisanal shops.

Here’s a list of my favorite things to see and do along the Oregon coast to help you make the most of your drive.  

Days 74-76: Portland

The view overlooking the city of Portland, Oregon

  • See Pittock Mansion – Built in 1914, this 46-room French Renaissance-style mansion was originally owned by a wealthy couple from England. Today, it’s part of the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, you’ll find beautiful artwork and furniture collected by the original owners.
  • Devour some donuts – Portland is known for its donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts put Portland on the map with its weird and wonderful combinations, such as Cap’n Crunch and maple bacon. Some argue that Voodoo is for tourists and that actually Blue Star makes better donuts. Try both and see for yourself! You can also take a donut food tour with Underground Donut Tours for $30 USD.
  • Hike the Columbia River Gorge – Located east of town, here you’ll find waterfalls (including Oregon’s tallest, Multnomah Falls), scenic vistas, and hiking trails. Some suggested hikes are Dry Creek Falls (easy, 2 hours), Wahkenna Falls Loop (moderate, 3 hours), and Starvation Ridge and Warren Lake (hard, 8 hours). Guided hikes with Wildwood Tours cost $79 USD (transportation included).

For more suggestions on how to spend your time in Portland, here’s a list of the best things to see and do in the city!  

Days 77-79: Seattle, WA

The view of Seattle and the Space Needle with a looming mountain in the distance

  • Explore the Seattle Center – Seattle Center is home to the Space Needle as well as a complex of entertainment venues: the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Music Project), the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, the Pacific Science Center, and the outdoor Mural Amphitheater, as well as the International Fountain and the Armory food court. Don’t miss the views from the top of the Space Needle!
  • Wander Pike Place Market – Pike Place Market is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the US. It’s a nine-acre, four-floor sprawl of shops, stalls, galleries, and cafés (including the original Starbucks location) selling everything from crafts to flowers to fresh produce. Wander, eat, shop, and enjoy the ambiance.
  • See the Boeing Museum of Flight – This museum highlights planes and spacecraft through the ages, offering insight into how flight has evolved over the decades. You’ll also get a chance to see the original Boeing “factory.” The original Air Force One is here too.

For more things to see and do, here’s my in-depth guide to Seattle . And here are some budget-friendly accommodation suggestions for your visit.  

Days 80-82: Missoula, MT

The view overlooking Missoula, Montana during the summer

  • Take a brewery tour – For such a small city, there are breweries and bars everywhere (Montana has the second-highest number of breweries in the country). Montana Brewery Tours includes stops at three breweries. You can also do a self-guided tour or pub crawl.
  • Hike the M – Mount Sentinel is a small mountain nearby that offers some stunning views. The trail is just 1.2 miles, so it’s not particularly challenging, though you can extend the route for an all-day hike by continuing along the Crazy Canyon Trail at the summit.
  • Ski Snowball Mountain – In the winter you’ll find upwards of a thousand acres of skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, the area is open for zip-lining, hiking, and mountain biking. It’s just twenty minutes from downtown,

NOTE: While not here, if you have time, you can drive north to spend a few days in Glacier National Park.  

Days 83-86: Yellowstone National Park, WY

The stunning fields and forests of Yellowstone National Park, USA

Yellowstone is home to the largest volcanic system in North America, which is why geysers like Old Faithful (and the largest active geyser in the world, Steamboat) can be found here. Wolves, bears, lynx, cougars, and bison all call the park home as well. Spend some time here hiking, camping, and basking in the park’s magnificent landscapes.  

Days 87-90: Denver, CO

The downtown Denver skyline on a bright summer day

  • Visit the Air & Space Museum – The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is housed on an old air base and has a collection of over 50 aircraft on display. Some of the highlights include a supersonic Rockwell Lancer and the massive B-52 Stratofortress.
  • Hike Mount Evans – This 14,265-foot peak can actually be summited in under 30 minutes (though there are longer trails too). You’ll see sweeping panoramic views of the region without having to hike for hours. Be sure to visit Like Echo and Mount Goliath on the way here.
  • Catch a show at Red Rocks – The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a 9,000-seat outdoor venue that regularly hosts concerts and other events. It’s one of the most beautiful concert venues in the US. Try to catch a show here if you can.

Days 91-93: Kansas City, MO

The skyline of Kansas City lit up at night

  • Indulge in BBQ – KC is one of America’s best hubs for delicious barbecue. You can find pretty much any kind of meat barbecued here, from brisket to turkey to fish. Kansas City’s barbecue dates back to the 1920s, and the city takes this tradition seriously. Harp Barbecue and Fiorella’s Jack Stack are two of the best in town.
  • Wander the Jazz District – The historic 18th and Vine area is known as the Jazz District, owing to the popularity of jazz music from the 1920s to the ’40s and performances here by the likes of Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louie Armstrong. Wander the district and bar-hop to catch some stellar live music.
  • See the World War I Museum – The award-winning National World War I Museum and Memorial of the United States sheds light on the history and horrors of the Great War.

Days 94-97: Chicago, IL

A long-exposure shot of the famous silver bean in Chicago surrounded by people

  • Relax in Grant & Millennium Parks – Located downtown, these two parks provide a relaxing place to hang out, have a picnic, or go for a run. You’ll find people playing chess, and during the summer, there are a lot of free concerts. The famous “Chicago Bean” sculpture is located in Millennium Park.
  • Try the pizza – Deep-dish pizza and stuffed-crust pizza were developed in Chicago, and no trip is complete without trying at least one. Deep-dish pizza was invented by Pizzeria Uno, which is now a national restaurant chain. But for something more local, Chicagoans swear by Lou Malnati’s.
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago – Founded in 1879, this is one of the oldest art museums in the country. It has everything from photography to architecture to textiles, and its permanent collection includes works by Eva Hesse, David Hockney, and Ellsworth Kelly.

If you want additional things to see and do (as well as some money-saving tips), consult my comprehensive guide to Chicago!

And here is my list of the best hostels in Chicago for budget-friendly accommodation .  

Days 98-100: Detroit, MI

The downtown skyline of Detroit, Michigan during the summer

  • Explore the Detroit Institute of Art – This 130-year-old museum is located in the heart of Midtown and has something to offer every visitor. There are more than 65,000 works of art here, ranging from classic to more modern and contemporary pieces, spread out over 100 different galleries. It’s one of the best art museums in the country. Admission is $14 USD.
  • Walk the Dequindre Cut – The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a two-mile urban recreational path that offers a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront, the Eastern Market, and several residential neighborhoods in between. Along the path, you’ll find all kinds of street art, as well as buskers in the summer. It’s a nice place to walk or jog and take in the city.
  • Shop at the Eastern Market – The Eastern Market is a huge marketplace with local foods, art, jewelry, artisan crafts, and more. It covers 43 acres and is the largest historic public market district in the United States, dating back over 150 years. It is particularly busy on Saturdays, when farmers bring in their fresh produce.

Days 101-103: Cleveland, OH

The Cleveland skyline as seen from the outskirts of the city near the train tracks

  • See the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – This is one of the largest collections of musical memorabilia in the entire world. John Lennon’s guitar, Elvis Presley’s military uniform, and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfits are just some of the items in the massive collection.
  • Tour the Museum of Natural History – Founded in 1920, this massive museum is home to over four million specimens. There are exhibits on dinosaurs, minerals, primates, animals, and more. It’s super educational, and there are lots of interactive exhibits too.
  • Hike the Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Located on the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron, this is the only national park in Ohio. Encompassing 32,000 acres, the park has all kinds of hiking and biking trails (camping is no longer permitted).

Days 104-106: Pittsburgh, PA

A baseball game in a huge stadium in Pittsburgh, PA

  • Ride the Duquesne Incline – This 140-year-old funicular used to transport workers up Pittsburgh’s steep hills before cars became commonplace. Hop on, ride to the top, and enjoy the view! Tickets are $2.50 USD.
  • Visit the Warhol Museum – Dedicated to Andy Warhol, Pittsburgh’s best-known artist, this is the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single person. While much of his art is unusual, it’s still worth a visit, as Warhol has had a profound and lasting impact on modern art.
  • See Randyland – Created by a local artist, here you’ll find a section of the north end completely painted in all kinds of bright colors and murals. Buildings, fences, driveways — it’s a massive, bright, and fun spot to visit and unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere!
  • Tour Carrie Furnace – Built in 1884, these former blast furnaces were part of the Homestead Steel Works and produced over 1,000 tons of iron per day. It’s one of the only pre–World War II blast furnaces in existence. Tours are $21 USD.

Days 107-110: Finger Lakes, NY

The picturesque Finger Lakes region of New York, USA

  • Visit the wineries – There are tons of wineries all around the Finger Lakes, most of which offer tours and tastings (some also have live music and serve food). To guide your way, follow the Seneca Wine Trail or the Keuka Wine Trail, which link some of the best wineries in the region.
  • See Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen State Park gorge trail is home to 19 picturesque waterfalls spread out over a two-hour hike. It’s not particularly strenuous, and there are lots of spots to relax and snap photos.
  • Visit Ithaca – This photogenic small town has over 150 waterfalls within 10 miles of the town. There’s also a charming downtown, the beautiful Cornell campus (one of the prettiest in the country), and Cayuga Lake.

Days 111-113: Albany, NY

The view of Albany, NY as seen from the water

  • Hike in John Boyd Thacher State Park – Located 30 minutes outside of town, this state park has over 25 miles of trails, as well as panoramic views from the Helderberg Escarpment. It’s a beautiful place for a day hike.
  • Visit New York State Museum – This museum has a wide range of interesting exhibitions, including on local birds and wildlife, colonial history, and the ice age, among other topics. Admission is free (though a $5 USD donation is suggested).
  • Tour the Capitol – The NY State Capitol building offers free daily tours. They’re the perfect way to learn more about the state, the city, and the building (including some ghost stories about the capitol’s haunting). Tours last one hour.

Days 114-120: Buffer Days

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo in Acadia National Park, Maine

Having some padding in your itinerary will let you explore them, have serendipitous travel experiences, and dig a little deeper into the regions and cultures you’ll be passing through.

While this is a solid itinerary, please mix it up. Skip some cities and spend more time in nature — or vice versa!

At the end of the day, America is an amazing and diverse country. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it. Delicious food, adventure activities, hiking, museums, history — we’ve got it all. You just need to hit the road and see it for yourself.

Need a rental car for your epic adventure? use the widget below to find the best deals!

Book Your Trip to the United States: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)

Looking for the best companies to save money with? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money — and I think they will help you too!

Want more information on the United States? Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on the USA for even more planning tips!

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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How to Road Trip on a Budget in the USA (Real-Life 45 Day Trip Cost)

Wondering how to road trip on a budget through the US?

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – the cost of road trips. It can be an expensive endeavor, which is why I’d like to share a detailed breakdown of the expenses on my journey and how to road trip on a budget.

Gas prices vary significantly from state to state. Accommodation sucks up a pretty penny. Furthermore, the cost of food, entertainment, and other miscellaneous expenses can add up quickly.

I’ve been traveling through the entire West Coast of the USA for over two years in search of adventure, and I can attest that America is a paradise for road trippers. But let me tell you, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve experienced freezing temperatures in Santa Fe, sweltering heat in Arizona, and a strange (potentially alien) happening in between.

Overall, with some planning and budgeting, road-tripping can be a cost-effective way to experience some of the country’s best sights. Read on as I’ll share some tips and tricks for how to road trip on a budget, especially through the Southwest.

How Much Does a Southwest USA Road Trip Cost?

While there are so many routes and methods to explore the states, I couldn’t imagine doing it in anything other than a version of a campervan. So even though I’ll be going through the general budget of a Southwest road trip, my budget reflects that of a rubber tramp (aka vandweller).

A Look into my Total Budget – ~4200$ in 6 weeks

I am cheating a bit because I own my own van, but the total cost of Vander was $8500. This cost includes buying the vehicle and renovating it. It did take two months to DIY him, too.

I approximately spend ~45 days on the road, which my total comes out to $3800 plus $450 in maintenance after my trip for a general tune-up and minor fixes. With this total, my average road trip cost is ~ $94/day.

Cost of Road Trip Expense Breakdown of 45 Days

How much does the average person spend on a road trip.

If you’re used to backpacking through places like Thailand or Egypt, you’ll quickly realize that road-tripping through the United States is a more expensive undertaking. However, there are ways to make your journey more affordable.

Your estimated budget for a US road trip depends on your travel style. In my case, with a daily average of ~$94, I’m definitely not living the high life. Even with the crazy inflation in recent years, this is achievable if you’re willing to prioritize saving money where possible. I totally recognize that I could further cut down food expenses while on the road.

Easiest Ways to Lower your Budget on a Road Trip

Finding cheap accommodation and lowering food costs are the two big cost categories on a road trip that you can actually do something about.

Food Budget on a Road Trip

I have a major sweet tooth, so more than 50% of my food costs are spent on dessert alone totaling $353. Of which my bubble tea obsession ended up being a whopping $195! No regrets. Well, only kinda.

Eating on a road trip can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, sampling local cuisine is one of the most enjoyable parts of any journey, while on the other hand, dining out day in and day out can take a toll on your wallet and your waist. Fortunately, I have discovered a few ways to enjoy fantastic food while keeping my expenses in check.

Firstly, research low-budget grocery stores in the areas you’re visiting. Places like Aldi, 99 Cent Store, Grocery Outlet, Lidl, and Walmart offer excellent deals on groceries . Walmart is certainly the most prevalent of them, especially in rural areas.

Secondly, prep your own food. If you’ve got a vehicle with no stove, Coleman Burners and propane are cheap and sold in Walmarts and Home Depots. The United States is not well known for having cheap food options, and in the middle of nowhere, your options are reduced to fast food joints.

I used this Coleman 2 Burner Stove for two years while Vanlifing and would recommend it any day!

Accommodation Budget on a Road Trip

Whether you boondock, use campgrounds, or stay in hotels, where to sleep ends up taking a significant portion of your road trip cost and research time.

One of the most significant advantages of vanlife is that it significantly reduces accommodation expenses. By having a mobile ‘home,’ you can sleep almost anywhere, including free camping locations such as Walmart parking lots or Bureau of Land Management sites.


As a budget-conscious traveler, I often opt for boondocking – legally camping for free – as a cost-saving measure. Boondocking is amazing, but it usually means you won’t have access to any amenities.

Thankfully, there are plenty of places where you can legally boondock, such as BLM land and National Forests. Before setting up camp, be sure to check for any Day Use Only signs or rules posted at the park entrance.

To find the best spots to boondock, I rely on apps and websites like freecampsites.net to source user-generated locations. These resources are lifesavers and offer reliable information on potential spots.

I have also stayed at many not-so-glamorous nights in: rest stops, parking lots of Walmart’s, Casinos, Planet Fitness, Applebee’s, or city street parking. I try my best not to park illegally and will check the laws of cities about sleeping in cars overnight.

Travel Tip! Due to the West’s raging wildfire problems, many places have a strict burn ban for a few months of the year.


Paid campgrounds come with the advantage of having restrooms and other amenities, but they often have camp rules, such as check-in and check-out times. Additionally, you might not get wide-open spaces with stunning views.

On the low end, campgrounds can go for as low as $15 per night, while more luxurious options with amenities like hookups and swimming pools can cost as much as $70+.

I usually only use campgrounds in National Parks, as you cannot boondock within the park boundary lines. I’ve already paid a hefty fine once and learned my lesson. These can get booked out weeks to months in advance, especially in popular national parks, so pre-book!

Related Post: Unsure what to bring camping? Find out here.

Motels & Hotels

For me, in rare cases of feeling too dirty, too cold, or running out of electricity, I turn to Couchsurfing or Hipcamp before turning to booking.com.

The cheapest motels in America start at around $60 per night. However, I came across Page, Arizona, which had some of the most affordable motels I’ve seen in the entire country at $35 per night. In major cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco , $60 will mostly get you a sketchy neighborhood or a long commute from attractions.

For short-term rentals for 1-2 people, Airbnb or VRBO might not be worth considering as they charge high fees. But for a family, they would give you a lot more spacious options.

Fixed Costs of a Road Trip

Unfortunately, many big-cost categories on a road trip are fixed, so it can be hard to save money on these categories.

Transportation Budget on a Road Trip

If you hope to use public transportation in the Wild West of America, you will surely miss almost everything super cool. Most of these attractions are located far outside towns, and even the towns are often spread out.

What is the cheapest way to travel long distance?

While driving or renting a car is an option, accommodation costs can still be pretty steep. That’s why I highly recommend exploring the US via campervan or RV.

Traveling in a campervan or RV gives you the freedom to move around and the flexibility to stay wherever you like without breaking the bank. You won’t have to worry about booking accommodation or sticking to a strict itinerary.

Renting a Campervan: The Best Way to Road Trip on a Budget

Of course, you do not need hotels and campgrounds if you have a vehicle you can sleep in. However, most rental companies tend to be on the pricey side. Here are a few of the more affordable options that I have come across in the Western states:

  • Jucy Cars ($45 – $110)
  • Escape Camper Vans ($37-$260)
  • Travellers Autobarn ($45 – $83)
  • More $$$: Cruise America RVs ($115-$180)

It’s hard to compare the apples-to-apples price because each company prices its extra services, vehicle sizes, and amenities differently. You can choose between a large RV or a compact minivan, and even your mileage per day can affect your rental fee.

All in all, you can expect prices per night to end up being between $37-$260, which I know is a world’s apart difference and can be too much money if you are planning a more extended trip.

If you prefer another option, you can rent an RV from someone on a rental platform like Outdoorsy . Or, if you are going on an extended USA road trip and have the funds, just flat out buy a van yourself. I sold my van to a European couple after just one week of trying!

Maintenance Costs

You never know what you’ll run into, whether running into a deer in headlights or encountering a thief sawing off your catalytic converter, both of which have happened to me! Unfortunately, in these moments, you just have to eat the cost and hope for the best.

In case of any mishaps on the road, it’s always best to be prepared. Double-check your car insurance policy, pack a first-aid kit , and keep some emergency tools, like snow chains and a portable battery jump starter.

Before it went kaput, I had to jump my battery at least once a week. Even in the middle of nowhere, I could with this portable jump starter and charge my phone at the same time!

While unexpected events can be stressful, taking a proactive approach can help minimize the impact.

Tip: You should get an oil change every 3k-5k miles. Some Walmart Supercenters also have automotive care, which does cheap oil changes.

Gas Cost on a Road Trip

Unless you are driving an electric car, gas is an inevitable and costly factor. Most RVs have a fuel economy of around 6-14mpg, making the gas expense one of the most significant costs of a road trip.

In some places, like California, gas prices can skyrocket, with a single 30-gallon fuel tank costing over $150 to travel just 420 miles.

Sadly, gas prices in California may be the worst in the continental US. They are about $2+ more expensive than states on the east coast and $3+ more expensive than cheaper gas states like Texas. The highest gas price I have ever seen can be found at a station in Death Valley, costing $2 more per gallon than even the highest gas prices in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.

To save on gas expenses, consider renting a car with better fuel efficiency or try limiting your fuel consumption by:

  • Driving at a moderate speed
  • Avoiding rapid acceleration and sudden braking
  • Use sites like GetUpside , which can give you cash back on gas
  • Gas Buddy app for finding the cheapest gas stations en route.

Tours and Entrance Fees on a Road Trip

When budgeting a road trip, tourist activities and entrance fees can quickly add up. Instead of opting for expensive activities like a day tour to Antelope Canyon or Grand Canyon ($200), a Yellowstone wildlife tour ($250), or a Vegas food tour (120$+), try to find more affordable attractions.

The two most expensive activities I spent on this trip were $85 for backhauling service for kayaking Horseshoe Bend, and a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas for $90.

Consider exploring free art districts in Dallas and galleries in Sedona, or checking out smaller museums and Route 66-like attractions with admission fees of just $5. If you’re interested in larger collections or museums like the Houston Space Center , expect to pay about $25-$35 per ticket. One popular art installation to check out is Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart , which can be $50 per ticket.

Always check for Groupon discounts, and research and compare prices and packages on aggregate sites like Viator before booking an activity.

Check for the best rates and tour availability on Viator

Save Money on National Parks with the “America the Beautiful” Pass

Planning on visiting multiple national parks within the next year? Consider purchasing America the Beautiful Interagency National Park Pass for $80.

This pass grants free entry to all National Park Service managed areas, including National Parks, National Monuments, and more. The pass is good for one year, starting the first time you use it. There are various discounts for military, disability, and senior citizens.

Note: State parks are not part of the National Park System, and fees can range from $10-$25 per vehicle for a day pass.

Save Money on City Attractions with CityPass

Are you planning to explore major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago as a tourist? Buying a CityPass may save you money on entrance fees and admissions to popular attractions.

CityPass is a bundled ticket that provides access to various attractions, including museums, zoos, amusement parks, observation decks, and more. The pass is valid for a specific range of days (typically 9 days).

By purchasing a CityPass, you can save up to 50% on the cost of the admissions when compared to buying each ticket individually. Additionally, you’ll enjoy the convenience of bypassing long lines at most attractions with this pass.

Best Travel Tips for Cheap Road Trips in the US

  • Use apps to find the cheapest gas
  • Use apps to find free places to live
  • Get the National Park pass
  • Don’t illegally park (and get caught). Tickets cost a lot. Beware the signs and colored curbs
  • Use apps and websites for the best deal on things to do (ie. Groupon)
  • Pick up a gym membership to Planet Fitness for ~$26 for their showers. Two birds with one stone.
  • Pick up credit cards that are best suited for travel and/or gas (I Use Chase Freedom for Travel and Venmo card specifically for gas)

Helpful Apps & Websites to Save Time & Money on a Road Trip​

Save money and time with the following apps. I promise you; these are well-worth downloading or checking during any road trip in America.

Final Thoughts: How to Budget for a Road trip

Thanks for sticking with me through all these tips on how to budget for a road trip! I hope you gained some insight into the cost of road trips in America and some inspiration to inspire you to hit the highway on your next Southwest USA road trip .

The time has now come for me to say a bittersweet goodbye to Vander and see you later to my life and friends in LA and the West Coast. But a hello to the next chapter in Asia!

See you there, fellow Nomads!

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The post How to Road Trip on a Budget in the USA (Real-Life 45 Day Trip Cost) appeared first on Nomadicated .

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31 USA Road Trip Ideas + Tips

Home » Blog » U.S.A. » 31 USA Road Trip Ideas + Tips

Heading out on a USA road trip this summer? This MASSIVE list is packed with routes recommended by travel bloggers all around the US sharing tips about their favorite American road trips. From the West Coast to Key West, this article has the best routes for your next open road adventure!

USA Road Trips Campervan

Imagine this: The windows are down and the wind blows through your hair as your favorite playlist blasts through your car’s speakers. You sing along and soak up the feeling of freedom that only comes with driving on the open road.

The United States is one of the best countries in the world for road tripping. And we’re not just saying that… With mountains, deserts, beaches, forests and lakes, you can’t argue the natural beauty and diversity the U.S. has to offer.

On top of the sheer amount of places to see around the country, the U.S. is also very well-suited for road trips. 

With clean drinking water accessible in most parts of the country, roadside rest stops (ahem, public toilets!), well-maintained roads, relatively affordable gas prices, and lots of camping options, it’s hard to find any other country that comes close to the ease and accessibility that the USA offers when it comes to road tripping.

Article contents

  • Getting started
  • Tips for planning your road trip
  • USA road trip routes

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Ultimate Road Trip Packing List!

Whether you are staying in a hotel, living in a campervan or RV, or you’re trekking in the backcountry, here is everything you’ll want to pack on a road trip . Plus tips and advice on making your next road trip go as smoothly as possible!

Start planning your perfect USA road trip

USA Road Trip

Make your way along famous highways, like Route 66 through the heartlands of the country, or California’s iconic Highway 1. Venture on lesser-known backroads and escape the crowds and get lost along the way. 

Drive through charming small towns and big, lively cities. Explore National Parks or get off the beaten path in State Forests and protected lands.

There are literally endless road trip routes you could take, and choosing the best one for you depends on what exactly you’re looking for.

  • Do you want to explore any National Parks on your trip?
  • Do you want to see iconic sites or get off the beaten path?
  • Do you plan to camp or stay in hotels? (If you plan on camping, our advice is to download The Dyrt, an app that’ll take your campervan game to the next level. Use this link to get 30 days of the Pro Membership totally free – no strings attached).
  • Are you more into nature or cities? (Or maybe you want a combination of both!)
  • How long do you have? Maybe you have the entire summer to do as you wish and you’re planning an epic 3-month road trip. Or maybe you just have a few days to spare between work weeks.

Whatever type of getaway you’re craving, there is a perfect USA road trip out there waiting for you!

Tips for planning your USA Road Trip

Road Trip Quotes

Use these helpful tips to start planning your USA road trip. If you want a more detailed breakdown, we have an entire guide that walks you through how to plan a road trip , packed with hacks and expert advice.

1. Research your destination

Find out what the weather will be like in your destination during the time of year you plan to travel. Check average temperatures in the area to know what to expect and how to pack. 

Consult city guides and other travel resources to figure out which highlights to stop at and which tourist traps to avoid. You can get a lot of information simply from typing “things to do in…” and then entering your destination into Google. 

Buying a guidebook will give you tons of insider advice and helpful information at your fingertips. 

Having a physical guidebook allows you to have all the info you need in one place; plus, you can make notes and highlights (anyone else love being able to do this?!). And you won’t have to worry about losing signal on your phone while exploring — this happens a lot in the mountains! — because you’ll have all the tips you need with a turn of a page.

If you plan on visiting any National Parks during your trip, listen up… 

Moon USA National Parks is one of the best guidebooks we’ve found for exploring the United States. 

This 700-page guide goes through each of America’s 62 National Parks and explains the history, best hikes, iconic viewpoints, and places to stay. Plus, it includes maps of each park so you can plan your itinerary accordingly. This guidebook will be a super handy tool while on the road.

Bonus: The Moon guidebook has super beautiful photography, making it a fun coffee table book after your trip (and possibly to inspire future travels).

2. Choose your method of transportation


Consider your options for transportation on your USA road trip…

  • Your own car: No need to pay for a rental vehicle if you have your own—just be sure it can handle the conditions and terrain you plan to traverse on your road trip.
  • Campervan or RV: Our personal favorite way to go on a road trip and for so many reasons ! It gives you the ultimate freedom, you save money on hotels and can get off the grid, to name just a few. 
  • For example, we rented a small SUV for a road trip in Washington state and paid less than $30 per day!

Wanna test out #VanLife?

It’s no secret we are big fans of #vanlife. If you don’t have the time (or interest!) in building your own conversion but you still want to give van life a test drive on your USA road trip, we’ve tons of ideas for you! Check out our list of top companies for USA Campervan Rentals , from budget to bougie, including exclusive discounts for our readers!

One company we’d recommend looking into is Escape Campervans . They have 12 different locations across North America and come fully loaded with all the gear you need for an epic road trip. Plus, their rates are fair and affordable.

BONUS: We’ve partnered with them to give you a 10% off discount when you use our link !

3. Set a budget and plot out your accommodation

Campervan Lyle River Campground

A road trip budget will vary from person to person, but having an idea in mind of how much you plan to spend beforehand is always a good idea. 

You can find out exactly how much money we spent on our first vanlife experience in the US in our 3 month road trip budget breakdown . If you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll want to check out these money-saving tips for a cheap road trip . 

Once you have a good idea of the costs to factor in a road trip budget and a reasonable idea of how much you’re able to spend, it’s time to start booking accommodation!

Since we are usually traveling in our campervan on road trips, we tend to seek out campsites as accommodation, but you can choose to stay in hotels or Airbnbs as well. 

Psst! Read our tips for booking an Airbnb if you’re not familiar with the site.

If you’re traveling in a campervan or on a tight budget, camping is the way to go! We have some great tips for finding free campsites along the way. Another suggestion is to get familiar with campsite apps—a great resource for finding campsites along your route and filtering for your specific needs.

TWS The Dyrt banner (30)

Our recommendation: Our favorite camping app is The Dyrt because it has the largest network of campsites in the USA (and has some other really cool features). It has both free and paid versions, but we’ve got a special link just for our readers which will give you 30 days of the Pro membership totally FREE!

4. Save money with the America the Beautiful Park Pass

National Park Pass

You’ll notice many of these epic USA road trips include stops at some of our National Parks. Entrance fees to the US National Parks can run you upwards of $30+ per vehicle for each park, which can really add up. 

If you’re planning to stop at more than one National Parks on your road trip, you may want to think about getting the America the Beautiful Park Pass to save money. 

At just $80 for a full year, the pass grants you free access to over 2,000 Federal recreation areas in the United States, including all 62 National Parks. We put together an article detailing the America the Beautiful Park Pass and answering the question, is it truly worthwhile?

5. Download maps and entertainment offline

Best Japan Travel Apps

You don’t want to be ripping through your data plan while on the road. In order to avoid those pesky overage fees, you can download your navigation (hello Google maps offline feature!) and entertainment like Spotify playlists, podcasts and audiobooks to your device so you can listen offline. 

Downloading Google Maps offline is super simple and you will be able to get real-time GPS coordinates, search the map for nearby establishments and turn on directions from point to point, all without using any data. 

Follow these steps to download Google Maps offline:

  • Download and sign into the Google Maps application (it’s connected with your Gmail account).
  • Search for a destination in the search bar. (Example: “San Francisco” or “Idaho”)
  • The top half of your screen should populate with a map of your destination while the bottom half shares details about the place. Swipe up so the details fill your screen. Then just under the Location, toggle to the right past the labels for “Directions,” “Save,” “Label,” etc. until you see “Download”. 
  • Make sure you’re on WiFi, center the map in the area you will be driving, and click the “download” button.

The map data from this region will now be on your phone, and can be accessed even when you have no cell signal! You’ll even be able to see your current GPS location as long as you have it authorized. (Settings > Google Maps > Location > select “Always”)

Best USA Road Trips

USA Road Trip

We’ve called on some travel bloggers to share their top American Road Trips. We’re even adding a few of our own favorite road trips in there!

All the road trips below are broken down by region in the United States, and each route includes how many days you should plan to be on the road, best time of year to travel, and the top things to do along the way.

If you know which region you’re interested in, click on the link below to jump straight to that section. Otherwise, keep scrolling down for ALL the inspiration you can handle!

  • West Coast USA
  • Western USA
  • Hawaii & Alaska
  • Midwest USA
  • Southern USA
  • Eastern USA
Psst! Get motivated to plan your next adventure with this list of inspiring road trip quotes (+ graphics!).

West Coast USA Road Trips

With the Pacific Ocean to the west and mountains and deserts to the east, this part of the country is one of the best places to take a road trip. 

You’ll be able to explore some of the most exciting cities in the United States, like San Francisco , Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. Plus, the West Coast boasts some of the best sunsets in the nation.

Road Trips:

  • Pacific Coast Highway
  • Oregon Coast & Forests Road Trip
  • San Francisco to Seattle: Coastal Drive
  • Seattle to San Francisco: Inland Route
  • Washington State Road Trip
  • Olympic Peninsula
  • Yosemite to Sequoia National Park
  • Lake Tahoe to Eastern Sierra
  • Eastern Oregon Road Trip

1. Pacific Coast Highway in California

This gorgeous USA road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway will lead you across one of the most beautiful regions in the country. With mesmerizing beaches, ample palm trees, and perfect weather, the journey is an ideal two-week getaway.


  • Route: Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip
  • At a glance: San Francisco – Yosemite National Park – Santa Barbara – LA – San Diego
  • Distance: 731 miles
  • Duration: 12 days
  • When to go: June-August; summer is the perfect time for this road trip since the water will be warm enough for a quick dip along the way!

Begin your road trip in San Francisco. Catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge before all the tourists wake up in the morning, then head to Fisherman’s Wharf. Grab some lunch at one of the many restaurants and visit a few historical ships along the way. Rent a bike and spend some time touring the streets, including one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country and Union Square, a modern plaza.

Spend the next day exploring the Google Campus in Mountain View before jumping back into your car and heading east, where you can spend a day or two hiking in Yosemite National Park amongst the breath-taking landscape.

Next, head south towards Santa Barbara, where you can enjoy some delicious seafood and a more laid-back vibe. There are many things to do in Santa Barbara , including visits to wineries, a walk along the shoreline, and a short hike at Lizard’s Mouth, which is a beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the entire city. 

Spend two days relaxing along the coast before making your way down to Los Angeles.

Located two hours south of Santa Barbara, L.A. can keep you busy for days. A walk along Hollywood Blvd will prepare you for the glam and glitz of the city. Check out the Hollywood Sign and catch a movie at the TCL Chinese Theater before grabbing some dinner at the Hollywood and Highland Center. 

Spend the following day at Universal Studio Hollywood, before heading south to Orange County.

Orange County has a few beautiful beaches, including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Huntington Beach. A day can be spent beach-hopping before heading to Disneyland in Anaheim the following day.

The last two days will be spent in San Diego visiting the Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. Hike and scuba dive at La Jolla Cove and end your Pacific Highway road trip with one last dip in the ocean!

  • Ride in a street trolley in San Francisco
  • Hike Yosemite and catch a sunrise!
  • Grab a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer Viewpoint
  • Go winery hopping in Santa Barbara
  • Have some fresh oysters right by the Santa Barbara Harbor
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign in L.A.

Contributed by: Daisy Li from Beyond My Border

2. Oregon Coast & Forests Road Trip

This road trip takes you through quirky Portland and charming oceanside towns. You’ll adventure in the mountains, find hot springs, and explore one of the coolest National Parks in the US. Let’s go! 

Tamolitch Blue Pools Oregon

  • Route: Oregon Coast & Forests road trip
  • At a glance: Portland – Hood River – Bend – Crater Lake – Samuel H. Boardman State Corridor – Cannon Beach – Portland
  • Distance: 1,100 miles
  • Duration: 10 – 12 days
  • When to go: May – October will give you the best weather, and the earlier and later end of the spectrum will help you avoid the summertime crowds. Enjoy fall foliage in mid-October!

After exploring the quirky sights of Portland , head east along the Columbia River Gorge. Make a day of it and see as many waterfalls as you can before stopping for the night in charming Hood River where you can see people windsurfing on the Columbia River.

Heading south, you’ll enter Mount Hood National Forest, which offers lots of hiking if you have the time. Stop at Trillium Lake for a picnic with unrivaled views of the volcanic mountain.

Heading even further south, you’ll reach the beautiful town of Bend , which is a fun place to explore for a day. For a fun little side trip, head past the small town of Sisters and into the Willamette National Forest where you can find waterfalls and the incredibly vibrant Tamolitch Blue Pools.

Continuing further south, spend a couple days taking in the sights and hikes in Crater Lake National Park , and hunting for hot springs in Umpqua National Forest .

Short on time? If you’re short on time, you can cut over to the coast and head back to Portland along the ocean.

But if you have the time, there are more adventures to be had. Explore the cute little town of Ashland, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch one of their famous Shakespeare Festival, which happens all summer long.

You’ll actually need to cross into California briefly before returning into Oregon to see the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The name of this park is long, but the ocean views are some of the best in the state! 

After you’ve explored to your heart’s content, make your way north through all sorts of cute coastal towns, stopping whenever you get the urge. (We liked the town of Bandon, and enjoyed seafood and sunset here!)

On your way back to Portland, stop at the Tillamook Creamery for some of their famous cheese and ice cream, and spend the night in Cannon Beach so you can see the iconic sea stacks at sunset.

  • Sample all the craft beer you can in Portland
  • Go chasing waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Picnic with views of Mount Hood at Trillium Lake
  • Explore the fun towns of Bend, Hood River and Ashland
  • Hike to Tamolitch Blue Pools for some of the bluest water you’ll ever see!
  • Explore Samuel H. Boardman State Park for some of the most epic ocean views in the state 
  • Eat clams and seafood in one of the many small towns along the coast. We loved Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon.
  • See the sea stacks on Cannon Beach at sunset
  • Stop at the Tillamook Creamery for the famous cheese and ice cream

Helpful resources for your Oregon road trip:

  • If the coast is calling your name and you’d rather spend all your time near the ocean, we have a huge Oregon coast road trip guide to help you customize your itinerary and plan your trip.
  • If you’re interested in traveling by campervan (highly recommend!), be sure to check out the best campervan rentals in Portland .

Recommended by Katie and Ben from Two Wandering Soles

3. San Francisco to Seattle: Coastal Drive

This San Francisco to Seattle drive is a scenic route that includes the dramatic California and Oregon coastlines and stops at a few national and state parks. Since most of this USA road trip follows the Pacific Coast Highway, the views from the drive alone will be stunning.

San Fransisco to Seattle USA Road Trip

  • Route: San Francisco, CA to Seattle, WA (coastal drive)
  • At a glance: San Francisco – Mendocino – Florence – Redwood National Park – Cannon Beach – Olympic National Forest – Seattle
  • Distance: 920 miles
  • Duration: 2 weeks 
  • When to go: June – October. Summer months bring pleasant temperatures and mostly sunny skies. Visiting in the early Fall is great because there are fewer tourists and the weather is still mild.

The drive begins in San Francisco. Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, riding the trolley, and hopping over to Sausalito, there is plenty to do and eat in a couple of days.

After taking in the sights in San Fran, begin driving north to Mendocino. This charming coastal northern California town has scenic kayaking and biking opportunities, as well as hiking trails nearby. 

The last stop in northern California is to explore the majestic redwoods. In addition to Redwood National Park, there are many state parks that have redwood forests. 

Continue your route along the coast until the next stop in Florence, Oregon. Florence is where you can hop on an ATV and explore the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. 

Then continue along the Pacific Coast Highway making stops along Oregon’s gorgeous and charming coast line. A highlight is a stop in Cannon Beach , one of the cutest towns on the Oregon Coast, where the famed Haystack Rock is just a few feet offshore. 

The final leg of the journey is the drive towards Seattle, with a stop at Olympic National Park . After admiring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastline, this park showcases even more of Washington’s untouched nature. 

Seattle is the last stop on the road trip. Visiting the classic attractions such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market are some of the top things to do in Seattle . 

  • Walk along the Golden Gate Bridge, stroll Fisherman’s Wharf, take a ferry to Alcatraz Island and take a ride on a trolley in San Francisco
  • Kayak sea caves and go biking along the Big River in Mendocino, California
  • Hike along trails in Redwood National Park
  • Ride an ATV on the Oregon Sand Dunes
  • Take a walk on the beach during low tide to Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach and have some coffee at the Sleepy Monk
  • Hike some scenic trails in Olympic National Park
  • Grab some lunch at Pike Place Chowder and witness the views from the Space Needle in Seattle

Contributed by: Margie from DQ Family Travel

4. Seattle to San Francisco: Inland Route

This lesser explored route between the two major cities takes you inland to national and state parks you’ve probably never heard of, chasing waterfalls and hiking mountains.

Seattle to San Fran USA Road Trip

  • Route: West Coast Inland Road Trip – Adventures and Waterfall Hikes
  • At a glance: Washington – Oregon – California
  • Distance: 807 miles
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • When to go: Fall – So you can see those incredible fall colors and the crowds have left.

Your first day will be spent just outside Seattle exploring some of the waterfall hikes like Snoqualmie, Franklin and Twin Falls. 

Meander your way down into Mount Rainier National Park for the next day or two and take it all in, there’s a lot going on there.

Then make your way to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, where you’ll see some of the most beautiful Oregon waterfalls . Multnomah Falls is famous and absolutely worth a gander, but there are other falls worth a visit. We also recommend the underrated Dry Creek Falls, which is actually way better than it sounds.

Wrap up your first week on the road by riding through Bend, Oregon, the adventure capital of the state! Smith Rock State Park is a must and treat yourself to as many craft beers as you’d like.

As you make your way to California, you can stop off to do some hiking in Crater Lake National ,  before you bid adieu to Oregon. Lassen National Park and Lava Beds National Monuments aren’t as well-known, but have some great hikes and incredible views. Kings Creek Falls hike is known for bear sightings!

As you wrap up your inland Seattle to San Francisco road trip , take time to visit Burney Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls you’ll probably ever see, Big Trees National Park and Muir Woods National Monument.


  • Mount Rainier National Park is a playground for hikes, exploring, and seeing those epic fall colors!
  • Find out all the fun things to do in Bend, Oregon — hands down the best city in the area. (I’m only sort of biased)—a visit to Smith Rock State Park, the craft beer scene, lots of hikes , waterfalls, floating down the river… There’s so much to do and the area is gorgeous.
  • Burney Falls is STUNNING.
  • The Columbia River Gorge in its entirety and getting the less popular spots like Dry Creek Falls all to yourselves will be epic—not many wander up there.
  • Seeing Crater Lake at sunset is incredibly majestic.

Contributed by: Nina Ragusa from Where in the World is Nina?

Psst! We have a guide to the best campervan rentals in Seattle that will be super helpful if you’re thinking about this route!

5. Washington State Road Trip

Washington State is packed with some of the most stunning natural landscapes you’ll find in the United States. There is so much more to this PNW state than Seattle, and if you get out of the city limits, you’ll find adventure and beauty abound. This route will bring you through some of the most beautiful places in this state.

Washington State Road Trip

  • Route: Best of Washington State
  • At a glance: Seattle – San Juan Islands – North Cascades National Park – Winthrop – Lake Chelan & Stehekin – Leavenworth – Seattle
  • Distance: 500 miles
  • Duration: 10 – 12 days, with options to add on 2 – 4 days for the Olympic Peninsula (find the itinerary below)
  • When to go: May – October

Start your road trip in Seattle, and spend a day or two exploring the city if you’ve never been. Once you leave the city limits, the real adventure begins! 

Heading north, you’ll come to the seaside town of Anacortes, from which you can take a ferry to the San Juan Islands. Explore the cute island towns, and if your budget allows, splurge on a whale watching tour – it’s one of the best places in North America to do it!

Once you’re back on the mainland, head into the mountains. North Cascades National Park is home to the most epic scenery you’ll see on this trip, so stop often and take lots of photos along the way. Mount Baker National Forest is a great place for hiking, and you’ll get stunning views at Diablo Lake and Ross Lake.

Continue east on Highway 20 and you’ll come to Washington Pass, where you’ll definitely want to get out of your car and bring your camera! The next stop is the Western style town of Winthrop, which is a fun stop for a beer before heading on to Lake Chelan.

This narrow, 50.5-mile lake almost looks like a river from the map, but it’s possible to take a ferry to the opposite end of the lake, where the tiny town of Stehekin lies. With fewer than 80 permanent residents, Stehekin is a great place to get away from it all, go hiking, stay in a cozy cabin, and eat at the town’s famous bakery. 

Now it’s time to make your way to the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth . Home to lots of cute shops and breweries, it’s a nice place to relax. 

If you have the time, try to get out and explore the nature surrounding the town, as it is absolutely magnificent (Colchuck Lake is one of our favorite hikes!). If you want an extra adventure, book a trip with our friends at Wildwater Rafting for a fun time on the Wenatchee River!

Your drive back on Highway 2 is beautiful and passes by a couple waterfalls and viewpoints. If you’re hungry, stop at a local favorite, Sultan Bakery, for donuts and famous sandwiches before arriving back in Seattle.

Tip: Be sure to stay at some of Washington’s best campsites along the way!
  • Visit Seattle’s famous sites : Pike’s Place Market, the Post Alley Gum Wall, and the Space Needle, then explore the Fremont neighborhood where you can sample the city’s best craft beer and seek out the famous Fremont Troll.
  • Go whale watching in the San Juan Islands
  • Hike as much as you can in North Cascades National Park: Diablo Lake and Mount Baker are highlights
  • Take a ferry on Lake Chelan to the tiny town of Stehekin. Don’t forget to eat at the town bakery!
  • Sample German pretzels and beer in the Bavarian town of Leavenworth

6. Olympic Peninsula Washington

With driftwood-strewn beaches, temperate rainforests, mountains and waterfalls, Olympic National Park is packed full of beauty and adventure. This short but sweet route brings you through the best of the Olympic Peninsula .


  • Route: Olympic National Park and Beaches  
  • At a glance: Seattle – ferry to Bainbridge Island – Port Angeles – La Push – Olympia – Seattle
  • Distance: 550 miles
  • Duration: 2-4 days

The Olympic Peninsula is just a short drive from Seattle, making it a great weekend camping trip, or a good addition to a longer PNW road trip. The quickest way to get to the OP is by taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island. You can find the schedule here .

Once you’re back on the road, make your way to Hurricane Ridge where you can enjoy epic mountain views and explore the trails in Olympic National Park . On a clear day, you can even see the ocean! 

Spend the night at Lyre River Campground, which is free and absolutely beautiful. Try to arrive early, as it is first come, first served. In the morning, head inland to explore Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls before making your way back to the coast and preparing for a hike. 

Walking out to Shi Shi Beach will likely be a highlight of your time in the OP (especially if you’re a photographer). If you have the time and camping equipment, plan to spend the night at Shi Shi and enjoy an epic sunset with few other people around.   

The next morning, hike out and get back on the road. You’ll pass through Forks, the small town made famous by the Twilight series, and you can explore the beaches near La Push. This is a nice place to spend the night. 

Wander through the Hoh Rainforest and stop for a picnic lunch near Ruby Beach on the following day before making the drive back to Seattle. 

  • See mountains and ocean at the same time at Hurricane Ridge
  • Explore the lush Hoh Rainforest
  • Imagine fairies are real on a walk around stunning Sol Duc Falls
  • Camp on a beach in the Olympic Peninsula

Go Wander Wild Banner

7. California National Parks

One of the most picturesque drives in California through some of the most famous National Parks in the United States.

California National Parks

  • Route: Yosemite to Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park
  • At a glance: Yosemite – Kings Canyon – Sequoia
  • Distance: 186 miles
  • Duration: 5-8 days 
  • When to go: April- October; Spring and Fall are the best time of year to travel to the National Parks, since the weather will not be too hot or too cold, and the crowds should be fewer than in the Summer.

​​Yosemite is one of the busiest national parks in the country. For this reason, you might want to book your spot in advance, if you plan to hike the famous Half Dome. Otherwise you can enjoy the hikes around like Vernal Falls or Taft Point and view Half Dome from a distance. 

Be sure to be on the lookout for bears and other wildlife hanging around as well. For a nice easy stroll, take the trail down to Mirror Lake for a one-of-a-kind view.

Continue your road trip south towards Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The two adjacent parks are jointly managed by the National Parks Service and with a single entrance fee. 

Spend a day exploring Kings Canyon and then make your way to Sequoia National Park. Its in both of these parks where you’ll find yourself among some of the largest redwood trees in the world.

In fact, the General Sherman tree in Sequoia, stands as the largest tree in the world by volume. And don’t forget to drive through the downed Redwood, as it’s one of the last drive thru trees around.

  • Enjoy all the waterfalls you find along the route 
  • Hike Half Dome, or many of the other hikes around Yosemite
  • Drive through the giant Redwood trees in Kings Canyon & Sequoia
  • Take a picture in front of the largest tree in the world

Contributed by: Sara from Our Kind of Crazy

8. Lake Tahoe to Eastern Sierra California Road Trip

This beautiful road trip may not cover a lot of distance, but it’s so crammed with epic scenery and things to do that seven days will seem too short! The road travels along the stunning Eastern Sierra, and side trips include the scenic Tioga Pass Road and other short roads leading to points of interest along the route.

Fall colors at Conway Summiton CA Route 395

  • Route: California State Route 395 from South Lake Tahoe to Bishop
  • At a glance: South Lake Tahoe – Bridgeport – Lee Vining – Mammoth Lakes – Bishop
  • Distance: 175 miles
  • Duration: 7 days
  • When to go: Hands down, Autumn is the best time of year to do this spectacular road trip through the Eastern Sierra . The next best is late spring, when wildflowers are in bloom. In late spring, summer, and fall, you can enjoy hiking trails all along the route! 

Start this USA road trip in scenic South Lake Tahoe, where you can spend a couple of days enjoying the beauty of the large alpine lake. Make sure to take the short drive to Hope Valley and the nearby mountain passes to see leaf colors in the fall.

Next, take California SR395 South to the Bridgeport area, where you can take the short detour to see the ghost town of Brodie (it’s now a state park). 

Further south, you can make a stop at Conway Summit, the highest point along the route, and Mono Lake, a large saltwater lake famous for its tufa towers and thousands of birds. Arrive at Mammoth Lakes, which will be your base for the next three days.

Spend the next three days exploring the areas north and south of the resort town of Mammoth Lakes. From lakes to waterfalls and mountains to creeks, you will find lots to see here. The town of Mammoth Lakes is a well-known winter sports resort, and offers lots of accommodation and dining options.

Spend the last two days of your trip in Bishop, where again you can explore side roads to scenic lakes and an abundance of color in the fall.

  • Try SUP boarding on the crystal clear waters of beautiful Lake Tahoe 
  • Explore the ghost town of Brodie, preserved exactly as the occupants left when they fled
  • Visit the Devil’s Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes
  • Marvel at the tufa towers at Mono Lake: an excellent sunset photography spot!
  • Enjoy the stunning beauty of the lakes of the Eastern Sierra all along the route

Contributed by: Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

9. Eastern Oregon Road Trip

This off-the-beaten path adventure offers wide open roads, rustic hot springs, mesmerizing desert and unparalleled stargazing.

Wildhorse Steens Eastern Oregon

  • Route: Steens Mountain Scenic Byway in Eastern Oregon
  • As an alternative to Boise, you can drive the Steen’s Mountain Scenic Byway from Bend, Oregon. The distance and timing is approximately the same.
  • Distance: 600-650 miles
  • Duration: 4-5 days
  • When to go: Soaring heat in summer and the closure of the Steen’s Mountain Loop in winter, mean Spring and Fall are the best times of year to drive the Steen’s Mountain Scenic Byway.

Drive four hours west from Boise (or four hours east from Bend) and enter one of the most remote areas of the United States. 

Your first stop is at the Alvord Hot Springs, where you can soak in the rustic thermal pools at the edge of a large dried-out lake known as the Playa. For optimal stargazing, head to the middle of the cracked-earth Playa and camp in complete solitude under the milky way.

In the morning, spend a few hours zooming around the Alvord Playa in your 4×4 vehicle and marvel at the vastness of your surroundings. Fill up with gas in the small town of Fields (population 14), before driving up the west side of Steen’s Mountain to the historic town of Frenchglen.

Frenchglen is the gateway to the Steen’s Mountain Loop and the surprisingly lush Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy one or two days of hiking or bird-watching. Before heading back to Boise or Bend, spend the night soaking under the stars at the Crystal Crane Hot Spring.

  • Soak in the Alvord Hot Springs at any hour of the day or night
  • Drive your vehicle onto the cracked-earth Playa and chase mirages across the desert.
  • Camp out on the Playa and enjoy opportunities for perspective photography
  • Drive the Steen’s Mountain Loop and soak in views of glacial valleys
  • Hike to Wildhorse Lake
  • Admire birdlife at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge
  • Take a sunrise soak in the warm lake waters of Crystal Crane Hot Springs

Contributed by: Erika Bisbocci from Erika’s Travels

Western USA Road Trips

The mountains are calling! And the deserts too! Drive through the Rocky Mountains over snowy mile-high passes. Explore the unique rock formations of the deserts that has taken millions of years to create.

This is also where you’ll find some of the nation’s most prized National Parks, and some of the best preserved Native American sites. You can really get out in the wild in the Western States.

  • American Southwest National Parks
  • Las Vegas to Grand Canyon
  • Utah’s National Parks
  • Colorado Road Trip
  • Idaho Wilderness & Small Towns
  • Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

10. American Southwest National Parks

This epic road trip with both popular and off-the-beaten-path stops is one of the finest adventures the wild west can offer.

Horseshoe Bend American Southwest Road Trip

  • Route: American Southwest Road Trip
  • At a glance: Nevada – Utah – Arizona
  • Distance: about 1,000 miles
  • Duration: 1 week 
  • When to go: May is a very popular month, and it was when I did the trip, though the locals said fall is the best time of the year. 

This American Southwest Road Trip begins in Los Angeles, California. Take your car or campervan to Nevada, and make a stop at the Seven Magic Mountains, followed by a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon (the best way to see it if you are short on time!), and be sure to make a stop at the Valley of Fire State Park.

Recommended sights at the Valley of Fire include Seven Sisters, Elephant Rock, Beehives, and Fire Wave Trail, some of the best hikes near Las Vegas . 

Next, move on to Utah and get ready for the gorgeous views at Zion National Park , Bryce Canyon National Park , Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and more.

Finally, make your way to Arizona, which is famous for some more incredible canyons, like the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and The Wave.

  • Helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon
  • Coyote Gulch trail in one day via the sneaker route, which involve using a rope to climb down a 250-foot vertical rock and navigating by GPS
  • Sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park
  • The gorgeous rock formations at Valley of the Gods

Contributed by: Kristin Addis from Be My Travel Muse 

11. Utah’s National Parks

If Utah is on your bucket list, you should bookmark this road trip route. It takes you through the state’s 5 National Parks plus some other hidden gems and cool towns—basically all the best places to visit in Utah .  

Zion National Park | Two Wandering Soles

  • Route: Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks    
  • At a glance: Moab (Arches & Canyonlands National Parks) – Capitol Reef National Park – Grand Staircase Escalante – Bryce Canyon National Park – Zion National Park – St. George
  • Distance: 550 Miles
  • When to go: March – May and September – November; avoid the summer months as it is very crowded and hot at this time of year. Spring and fall bring much more comfortable temperatures and fewer people.

Begin by exploring the town of Moab for a day or two. If you like mountain biking, this is the place to get out on two wheels! 

Make stops at both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park , as they offer very different experiences. You can also stop at Dead Horse Point State Park if you have the time.

On your way westward, make a stop at the House on Fire, ancient ruins located near a river bend of Mule Canyon. And like the name implies, they look just like a house on fire. When we visited there were only a handful of other people, and it was a super interesting place many travelers miss. 

Capitol Reef is the next park on the route, and it is the least visited of Utah’s National Parks, but certainly worth the stop. 

Spend the night near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and if it’s open, Kiva Koffeehouse makes a perfect place for food, coffee and views. 

Now you’re almost to Bryce Canyon National Park which is your next stop before heading to your final park: the famous Zion. St. George is a cute town to spend the final days of your trip, or to relax before continuing on.

Depending on your time frame and flights, you can either:

  • end your trip in St. George
  • continue onto Las Vegas (lots of cheap flights leave from here)
  • extend your trip to include stops at Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley before circling back up to Moab 
  • Sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park
  • Photographing House on Fire Ruins
  • Picking apricots from the orchards in Capitol Reef National Park
  • Coffee with a view at Kiva Koffeehouse near Escalante
  • Peek a Boo Loop hike at Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Angel’s Landing Hike at Zion National Park
  • Stargazing on clear nights in the desert

12. Las Vegas to Grand Canyon

This epic road trip brings you from the craziest city to 3 amazing canyons, a beautiful forest and back to Las Vegas, all along the famous Route 66.

Grand Canyon Arizona USA

  • Route: Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon
  • At a glance: Las Vegas – Antelope Canyon – Horseshoe Bend – Coconino National Forest – Flagstaff – Grand Canyon – Las Vegas
  • Distance: 800 miles
  • Duration: 1 week
  • When to go:  All year long, but remember July – August will be quite hot.

Begin your journey in Las Vegas and spend the day driving through Utah and Arizona to the Antelope Canyons. Explore both the Upper and Lower Canyon, each a wonderland for photographers as lights, sand and shadows play beautifully together.

Spend a night in Page and also visit Horseshoe Bend the next day. The Colorado River writing poems into the landscape should not be missed.

Next, head south towards Flagstaff. You will pass the Coconino National Forest. Be sure to stop and take a left into the forest. The flower fields are breathtaking and there is also an interesting crater to visit.

Once in Flagstaff, enjoy the rustic wild west atmosphere (and if you have more time in Arizona try checking out Tucson ). 

The next day make your way towards the Grand Canyon. Drive back up the road to Cameron and take a left there to make the most of your time in the park. Several Native shops will offer nice handicrafts as a souvenir.

To end the journey, find your way towards the setting sun again, West, and take a little detour from the main new interstate to end up on the famous Route 66.

  • Gamble but don’t lose all your money in Las Vegas
  • Explore and take a photographers tour in the Antelope Canyons
  • Hike around Horseshoe Bend
  • Just breath and relax in the Coconino National Forest
  • Feel like a cowboy in Flagstaff
  • Finally visit the most majestic canyon of them all: Grand Canyon. Several hikes are available in the area
  • Head back to Las Vegas via Route 66 and crank up the radio

Contributed by: Theo from Tripcrafting

13. Colorado Road Trip

Take in the snow-capped mountains, breathtaking landscapes, and soak in natural hot springs on this epic Colorado road trip. 

Hanging Lake Colorado

  • Route: Colorado Road Trip: Cities and Nature
  • At a glance: Denver – Boulder – Glenwood Springs – Grand Junction – Ouray – Mesa Verde National Park – Buena Vista – Colorado Springs – Denver
  • Distance: 900 miles
  • Duration: 1-2 weeks
  • When to go: June – August; Spring is nice too, but a summer Colorado road trip does allow you to see more and enjoy the outdoors that makes Colorado so awesome.

Kick start your Colorado road trip with 2-3 days in the ‘Mile High City’ of Denver exploring its vibrant arts scene. Stop two is a day trip to Boulder, stroll along Pearl Street, the pedestrian walkway downtown, or head to the foothills to hike any of the 45,000 acres of designated trails.

From there, head to Glenwood Springs, but make a stop on the way to hike to Hanging Lake to take in the stunning turquoise lake suspended on the edge of Glenwood Canyon.

After a few days chilling in the laid back vibe of Glenwood Springs, pick up the pace with 1-2 days in Grand Junction. The area has a number of sightseeing hotspots such as the vineyards of Palisade and the Colorado National Monument.

Continue south to the charming town of Ouray before heading onto Mesa Verde National Park which you can easily explore in 1 day.

Your next stop is Buena Vista, a must for all adventure lovers. Get ready for stunning scenery as you head to the penultimate stop on your itinerary, at Colorado Springs. 

There you can marvel at the red sandstone formations in the Garden of the Gods or spend the day at the North Cheyenne Canon Park before heading back to Denver to complete your epic Colorado road trip.

  • A scenic drive to Lookout Mountain for spectacular views of Denver
  • Explore the hiking and riding trails around Boulder, especially the Hanging Lake Trailhead
  • Whitewater rafting along the Colorado River.
  • Have a picnic after hiking the nature trails at the beautiful Rifle Falls State Park
  • Take in the grandness of the Colorado National Monument, its spectacular canyons, red rocks, and sandstone towers.
  • Explore Pike’s Peak by Cog Train to view the beautiful vistas of Colorado Springs from above

Contributed by: Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel

14. Idaho Wilderness & Small Towns

We’ve said time and time again that Idaho is one of the most underrated states in the US, and we’re going to preach its epic-ness once again. With incredible hot springs , the rugged Sawtooth Mountain Wilderness, and charming towns, a road trip through Idaho is perfect if you want to have epic adventures without the crowds of many other Western states.

Goldbug Hotsprings Idaho Hike Katie and Ben

  • Route: Best of Idaho Road Trip
  • At a glance: Boise – Twin Falls – Ketchum – Stanley – Salmon
  • Distance: 915 miles
  • When to go: June – September, outside of these months, you will likely find some roads closed due to snow, so it’s best to travel during the summertime. Compared to other states in Western USA, you won’t find nearly as many crowds even during the peak summer season.

Begin your journey in Boise and spend a day exploring Idaho’s largest city by bicycle. Your next stop is the town of Twin Falls where you can watch BASE jumpers and make the detour to the nearby sand dunes.

Next, head up towards the Sawtooth Wilderness, where you can stop off for hikes along the way. Ketchum is a small town with lots of charm and outdoor activities all year long.

Stanley is not far from here, and this tiny town of 63 people looks like it’s straight out of a Western movie set. Enjoy the scenery and do a little hiking if you’re keen. 

From here, make a stop at the stunning Goldbug Hot Springs before ending your trip in the Western-themed town of Salmon.

  • Explore Boise by bicycle and stop at a few of the (many!) breweries along the way
  • Watch BASE jumpers at the bridge in Twin Falls
  • See Ernest Hemingway’s grave in Ketchum, and enjoy the many cute shops and cafes in town 
  • Go for a hike (or two!) in the Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness Area. Alice’s Lake is a good one!
  • See the cute little town of Stanley, and be sure to grab a bite to eat at the Stanley Bakery. You can’t miss it! Tip: The cinnamon rolls are to die for!
  • Soak in Goldbug Hot Springs — likely the most scenic hot springs you’ll ever see! If you have a tent, you can spend the night here beneath the stars!

Recommended by Katie & Ben from Two Wandering Soles

15. Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Take an incredible road trip through some of the most epic scenery in the northwestern United States. This road trip has you stopping in Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as you make your way through Montana and Wyoming. 

Grand Teton National Park | Two Wandering Soles

  • Route: Glacier Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks
  • At a glance: Glacier – Yellowstone – Grand Teton
  • Distance: 450 miles
  • Duration: 1 week or longer depending on the time you want to spend in each park
  • When to go: April to September

This route brings you through three of the best National Parks in the U.S. beginning in Montana, and heading south into Wyoming. Give yourself a minimum of 2 full days to explore each of these famous National Parks and allow an extra day in between each for driving time. 

Start your road trip at Glacier National Park in Montana where the highlights include driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, wildlife spotting and plenty of incredible hiking. If you’re up for an overnight backpacking adventure, hike the Highline Trail to get off the beaten tourist path and see some of the best views in the park.  

From Glacier you can reach the west entrance of Yellowstone in just 6 hours and 30 minutes. 

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the U.S. and probably one of the most well-known, next to the Grand Canyon. The park is home to some of the most unique ecosystems in the world.

Don’t miss the drive down Yellowstone’s scenic loop road where you’ll pass by geysers, encounter wildlife, and witness geologic sites like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 

Finally, make your way south for just about 30 miles to reach Grand Tetons National Park and your third stop on this incredible USA road trip. 

Famous for the snow-capped jagged peaks of the Tetons Mountain Range, excellent chances for spotting wildlife, alpine lakes in brilliant shades of blue, and plenty of opportunities for adventure, Grand Teton National Park isn’t overrated in the slightest. 

Be sure to check out some of the best Grand Teton hikes while you’re there to really experience the beauty of this place. 

  • Get the best views of Glacier National Park while driving the Going-the-Sun-Road
  • Spot a moose or some buffalo in the wild
  • Take a chilly dip in a glacial lake
  • Drive Yellowstone’s Scenic Loop Road, circumnavigating the entire park
  • Photograph the rainbow colors of Grand Prismatic Spring
  • Watch Old Faithful erupt on time
  • Hit the trails in Grand Teton National Park

Hawaii & Alaska Road Trips

Get out of the continental USA for a road trip of your dreams!

In Hawaii, your road trip will have shorter distances, but with stops for fresh poke and shave ice plus epic sunset views, this small state packs in a ton of adventure!

And up in Alaska you’ll drive some of the most remote roads in the USA. This is the perfect state for a road trip through epic wilderness without the crowds.

  • The Dalton Highway
  • Denali to Kenai
  • Hawaii’s Big Island Road Trip
  • Road to Hana, Maui

16. The Dalton Highway

Take a drive into the Arctic wilderness as you follow the famed Ice Road from Fairbanks to the Deadhorse, Alaska.

The Dalton "Ice Road" Highway Alaska

  • Route: The Dalton Highway – The Ice Road
  • At a glance: Fairbanks – Yukon River – Arctic Circle – Coldfoot – Deadhorse
  • Distance: 828 miles
  • Duration: 4 Days 
  • When to go: June to August – The summer provides the most daylight and the conditions are most favorable for driving the road. 

Before heading up the Dalton Highway, one of Alaska’s most remote roads, you need to be prepared. The Dalton is a remote grave 2-lane highway. The primary use of this road is to haul oil drilling supplies from Fairbanks to the oilfields of the Northern Slope of Alaska . The speed limit is 50 m.p.h.

The weather here is unpredictable, so you need to be ready for snow at any time. There are four gas stations on the road and NO CELL SERVICE. If this hasn’t scared you off yet, get ready for an adventure…

Your trip up the Dalton Highway starts in Fairbanks, Alaska. First learn about Alaska’s gold mining history at Gold Dredge 8 and view the Alaskan Pipeline exhibit. 

Upon departing Fairbanks, follow the Elliot Highway until Livengood. From here you will be on the haul road. 

Your first big stop will be at the famed Yukon River. The river bank has thick mud that really likes to eat shoes. Depending on the salmon run, you may see locals harvesting salmon. Across the road from the camp is a small overlook with great views of the bridge.

Up next is Milepost 115 and the Arctic Circle. Be sure to take a picture with the sign. There is a campground and restrooms here. You will pass several scenic lakes and stops as you reach Coldfoot Camp and the halfway point of the Dalton. 

Next, get ready to cross the Brooks Mountain range through Atigun Pass. This is the highest point on the road and the most dangerous spot. 

The landscape will start to open up and you will start being able to see for miles. Keep an eye out for Musk Ox. There are several small herds on the way to Deadhorse. 

Once at Deadhorse, you are at the end of the road. You will need to arrange a tour if you would like to get to the shore of the Arctic Ocean. 

From here, turn around and head back the way you came.

  • Gold Dredge 8 and the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline to learn about the mining and drilling history of Alaska
  • Walk down to the edge of the Yukon River and watch the water flow
  • Check out the unique rock formations at Finger Mountain
  • Get your photograph taken at the Arctic Circle
  • Have lunch at Coldfood Café which is seen on Ice Road Truckers
  • Tour Weisman and learn what life above the Arctic Circle is life
  • Take a tour to Prudhoe Bay and learn about the oilfield and see the Arctic Ocean

Contributed by: Jennifer Melroy from National Park Obsessed

17. Denali to Kenai

This scenic road trip itinerary takes you through some of the most stunning landscape of Alaska, from the snow-covered peaks of Denali National Park to the glaciers and fjords of Kenai.

Denali National Park Alaska

  • Route: 7 Days in Alaska: Denali to Kenai
  • At a glance: Anchorage – Denali – Anchorage – Seward – Kenai
  • Distance: Around 800 miles
  • Duration: 7 Days
  • When to go: Mid-May to mid-September is the best time to visit Alaska, with July and August as the “warmest” months (and the busiest) when temperatures reach 60°F to 80°F. 

Your road trip starts with a drive 4 hours north from Anchorage to Denali National Park where you can admire the majestic Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), the highest mountain peak in North America.

At visit the park offers a chance to spot grizzlies, moose and other wildlife. Other opportunities for epic adventures include hiking, white water rafting, off-roading, zipline tours, and aerial tours of Denali.

Head back to Anchorage and learn about Alaska Native traditions at the Anchorage Native Heritage Center . 

Finally, drive straight south past Anchorage for 2.5 hours to the Kenai Peninsula for a chance to visit Kenai Fjords National Park. Don’t miss a hike to the Exit Glacier, and take a cruise through the Kenai Fjords.

Return to Anchorage when you’re ready for your road trip to come to an end. 

  • Join a ranger-guided tour at the Denali National Park and learn about the fantastic wildlife
  • Go on a flightseeing tour to admire Denali from up close
  • Take a heli-hiking tour to explore the Alaskan backcountry
  • Visit the Anchorage Native Heritage Center
  • Try salmon jerky or jams made of local berries like salmonberries, lingonberries, or cloudberries
  • Catch dinner by salmon fishing on the Kenai Peninsula
  • Hike on the Glacier Overlook Trail of Exit Glacier
  • Board a cruise to see whales, seals, and sea lions on Resurrection Bay

Contributed by: Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs

18. Hawaii’s Big Island Road Trip

This road trip takes you through every single landscape you can imagine: From the rough volcanic rocks at Hawai’i Volcano National Park to the stunning beaches of Captain Cook and right up to a stargazing oasis at the volcano Mauna Kea.

Hawaii Big Island

  • Route: Big Island & Volcano National Park
  • At a glance: Hilo – Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park – Captain Cook – Kona – Mauna Kea
  • Distance: 187 miles
  • Duration: 2 Days
  • When to go: All year around: Big Island has a climate that works from January till December. 

Start in the cute little village of Hilo, where you can stock up on your food supplies before you head right into the Hawai’i Volcano National Park. 

The park is easy to drive through and it’s up to you how long you want to stay here. You could definitely easily spend an entire week here, hiking and exploring, but if you only have a couple of days on Big Island you can squeeze the highlights into half a day. 

Once the day ends, you will have reached Kona, where you can chill at the beach the next day. Don’t forget to get ready for sunset at the most epic spot ever: Mauna Kea. The volcano not only has the perfect sunset setting, but also a free stargazing event that takes place several days a week. Do check their website for the most accurate information. 

  • Have a burger at the Hilo Burger Joint
  • Attend the stargazing event at Mauna Kea
  • Go for a helicopter flight above Big Island’s volcanoes and opt-in for the open door flight 
  • Make sure to go on at least a short hike at Hawai’i Volcano National Park
  • Look out for turtles at the beaches around Kona

Contributed by: Anne Steinbach & Clemens Sehi from Travellers Archive

19. Road to Hana, Maui

This tropical road trip through winds around the east side of Maui, Hawaii, taking you through quaint surf towns and showing off the gorgeous coastline with ample hiking opportunities.

Black Sand Beach at Wainapanapa State Park

  • Route: The Road to Hana, Maui
  • At a glance: Paia – Haiku – Hana – Kaupo  
  • Distance: 64.4 miles
  • Duration: 1 day travel time
  • When to go: It’s Hawaii so the weather is generally perfect year round. During the summer months, it is much busier than other times of the year. 

Start your drive in Paia, a cute surfer town on Maui’s north shore. Get breakfast at Charley’s to start the day. They have monster pancakes and some of the cajun Ono eggs benedict on the island. 

If you have time, do some shopping. Paia has lots of funky boutiques with surf gear and clothing. Don’t forget to grab some snacks from Mana Foods before you head out.  

Next, take a break at Twin Falls just up the road from Paia. They have some really nice and easy hiking trails and waterfalls. With fresh coconut water, smoothies, and homemade banana bread, the snack stand there is also quite popular. 

Waianapanapa State Park is another great stopping point along the way and not far from Hana. This 122-acre state park is known for its beautiful black sand beach but don’t miss the lava tubes or freshwater caves. 

Once in Hana, relax for a bit. Go to the spa at Travaasa Hana , check out the Hana Beach Park or enjoy shopping at the local art galleries.

The drive is long and I’d highly recommend spending the night in Hana before making your way back. There is one major hotel, Travaasa Hana, vacation rentals, and places to camp overnight.

  • An easy but beautiful waterfall hike at Twin Falls 
  • Take your time and pull over at overlooks to take in the incredible views
  • Stop at Nahiku Marketplace (Mile Marker 29) if you get hungry. There are lots of different food trucks serving everything from Thai food to shave ice.  
  • Kīpahulu District of Haleakala National Park is just 12 miles past Hana and a must visit. Hike the Pīpīwai Trail (4 miles) to see gorgeous waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and a giant banyan tree
  • The White Pocket, which is an awesome alternative to The Wave

Contributed by: Emily Hines from Em’s on the Road

Midwest USA Roadtrips

Don’t skip over the Midwest, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. 

From the shores of the Great Lakes to the historic Route 66, when road tripping through the Midwest you’ll meet some of the nicest people in the US. 

Summer and autumn are the best times to take a trip, but they are also the most popular.

  • Route 66 Road Trip
  • North Shore Lake Superior, Minnesota
  • Amish Country Byway, Ohio

20. Route 66 Road Trip

One of the world’s most famous driving routes, this USA road trip takes you through small town America and the former Wild West.

Route 66 California

  • Route: Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles
  • At a glance: Chicago – St. Louis – Carthage – Clinton – Tucumcari – Gallup – Seligman – San Bernardino – Los Angeles
  • Distance: 2400 miles
  • Duration: 8 days
  • When to go: Spring and Fall – the route will be less busy and not so hot, but pleasant for sightseeing and driving

Route 66 starts in Chicago, and you’ll want to get going early as you have a long way to drive in a week. Your first day has you driving through Illinois, with highlights including the Rabbit Ranch in Staunton and the Cozy Dogs in Springfield.

Stay overnight in St. Louis where you’ll want to at least visit the arch, before heading on to the world famous Meramec Caverns. We’d also recommend a stop at the Mule Trading Post and Route 66 Car Museum. Spend your second night in Carthage, MO.

On day 3, follow the Route from Carthage with a stop in Galena, Kansas, to see the tow truck that inspired Mater in the movie “Cars”. Continue on into Oklahoma to see one of our favorite stops, the Blue Whale, then overnight in Clinton.

From Clinton, you’ll drive across a sliver of Texas and into New Mexico. You can spend the night at Tucumcari, home to some of the best preserved Route 66 motels. 

On day 5, be sure to stop in Albuquerque where Route 66 crosses itself. We also recommend a stop at the Continental Divide, before overnighting in Gallup.

Day 6 has you crossing through Arizona, with stops at Petrified Forest National Park, the “Here it is!” sign and the town of Flagstaff. Spend the night in Seligman.

The following day you’ll enter your final state: California. Make sure to stop in the town of Oatman for a Wild West show before spending the night in San Bernardino.

On your final day, you’ll be arriving at the end of the road in Los Angeles. Well done! If you want a more detailed version of this route, check out our complete 8 day Route 66 itinerary .

  • See The Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Illinois
  • Visit the Blue Whale in Catoosa
  • See the “Here it Is!” sign near Holbrook, AZ
  • Eat all kinds of incredible food
  • Visit one of the many Route 66 museums along the Route

Contributed by: Laurence from Finding The Universe

21. North Shore Lake Superior, Minnesota

Minnesota’s scenic Highway 61 follows the shoreline of the Great Lake from Duluth, Minnesota all the way into Ontario, Canada. Dubbed simply “the North Shore,” this region of Lake Superior is known for scenic trails, historic sites and untouched wilderness.

North Shore Lake Superior Minnesota

  • Route: North Shore of Lake Superior: Minneapolis to Grand Marais
  • At a glance: Minneapolis – Duluth – Two Harbors – Grand Marais
  • Distance: 264 miles
  • Duration: 3 – 4 days, you can make the drive in 4.5 hours but you’ll want to stay a few days.
  • When to go: May – October. Summertime is nice because you’ll have long days, but the fall is the best because it’s the peak season for fall foliage and leaves changing colors.

While there are so many things to do in Minneapolis , head north out of the city and make the quick 2 hour drive up to Duluth, MN, the farest west port city of the Great Lakes.

Duluth is a fun college town with some serious character. Explore the brick downtown or head down to Canal Park to watch the historic Lift Bridge operate, allowing cargo ships to pass underneath. 

Grab a burger and beer at Grandma’s Saloon or Fitger’s Brewhouse for dinner. Then stay the night, or continue up the north shore taking in the coastal view of Lake Superior until the town of Two Harbors. 

Pop into the Northshore Pizza cafe for a bite to eat or visit Castle Danger Brewery (one of our favorite brews in MN).

Be sure to stop at Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls (very easy 0.5 mile hike to the lower falls) on your way up to Grand Marais.

Spend a night or two in Grand Marais. Get a donut at the World’s Best Donut Shop and a slice of pizza from the iconic Sven and Ole’s (get a sticker while you’re there!). For a nicer meal, the seasonally-open Angry Trout is a good choice, and if you want a morning Bloody Mary, you won’t find any better than at the Gunflint Tavern .

  • Watch as cargo ships come into Duluth harbor and see the iconic Lift Bridge rise to let them in
  • Get smoked fish from a local market along the way
  • Stop at Split Rock Lighthouse
  • Skip rocks into Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake in the world!)
  • See Gooseberry Falls
  • Grab a beer at Castle Danger Brewing near Two Harbors, and Voyager Brewing in Grand Marais
  • Take a gondola ride at Lutsen Ski Resort (in the summer or fall months), or go skiing in the winter months
  • If you’re not camping, we highly recommend staying at The Hungry Hippie Farm & Hostel !

22. Amish Country Byway, Ohio

This Northeast Ohio road trip travels over rolling hills and past Amish farms. The Amish Country Byway is a designated federal Scenic Byway.  The roads of the Amish Country Byway share the story of the simple life of the Amish and Mennonites and allow visitors to explore this quiet part of Ohio.

Amish Country Byway Ohio

  • Route: Amish Country Byway
  • At a glance: Various routes throughout Holmes County, Ohio make up the Amish Country Byway (Map)
  • Distance: 160 miles
  • Duration: At least 2 days
  • When to go: May – November; May and November are considered the shoulder-season and travelers will find smaller crowds and less traffic. Due to the religious nature of this area, most attractions are closed on Sunday.

Begin your journey near Berlin, Ohio at Behalt. This cyclorama, known as the Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center, shares the history of the Amish culture and their journey from Europe to NE Ohio.

Continue north on County Rd 77 to Heini’s Cheese. Weekday visitors will have a chance to see cheese being produced and sample numerous flavors of this local delicacy.

Next, take US 62 North to Ohio 515 South. Stop and taste Trail Bologna, owned by the same family since 1912. Locals send this bologna to friends and family all over the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Amish, make sure to stop at Yoder’s Amish Home. Tours include a typical Amish home, an Amish school, and a horse and buggy ride. This is a great place to apply what was learned at Behalt!

  • Looking to sample more cheese? Don’t miss the world-famous baby swiss at Guggisberg Cheese, located near Charm.
  • Interested in glass collection? Millersburg Glass was crafted in Millersburg, Ohio for only 3 years, and its carnival glass is known for its brilliant coloring. The Millersburg Glass Museum has a full collection of the glass, plus tells the story of founder, John Fenton. This is one of the few attractions open on Sundays during the high season.
  • Historic downtown Millersburg is home to antique shops, small eateries, and a brewery.  
  • If visiting during the fall, the Hershberger Farm and Market offers a pumpkin patch.  

Contributed by: Leah Yoder from Yoder Toter Blog

Southern USA Road Trips

Welcome to southern hospitality at its finest. Cruise through lands where the sky is big and so are the BBQ’s! 

If you’re into having a beverage or two, take your pick of distilleries, breweries and moonshine-ries. Travel here in the springtime to enjoy the blooming flowers and avoid the heat of the summer.

  • Dallas to San Antonio
  • Louisiana to Florida
  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • Kentucky Bourbon Trail

23. Dallas to San Antonio, Texas Road Trip

This Texas road trip takes you to Enchanted Rock State Park, through the pseudo-German town of Fredericksburg, San Antonio, often called the “Venice” of Texas, and Austin.

Austin, Texas

  • Route: A Texas Road trip
  • At a glance: Dallas – Enchanted Rock – Fredericksburg – San Antonio – Austin
  • Distance: 415 miles
  • When to go: March to June; Spring is the best time for this road trip as the medians along the highways are covered with wildflowers and the Texas state flower bluebonnets are in bloom.  It is a great time for hiking on the Enchanted Rock.

Begin your journey in Dallas. Spend a day exploring the metroplex and enjoying some BBQ. In the evening head out towards Enchanted Rock in the Hill Country, 250 miles Southwest of Dallas. 

Enchanted Rock State Park’s massive pink granite dome has drawn hikers and rock climbers to climb the magical rock formations for years. The following morning is a great time to attempt this hike. 

Next, drive to Fredericksburg which is home to more than 20 wineries, second only to Napa in the United States. Sample some German beer and bratwurst and peruse the many quaint shops.  

Afterwards you’ll want to head up towards San Antonio. 

Just North of the city, stop by the Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest known commercial caverns in the state of Texas.  Within the city limits you have The Riverwalk, Fiesta Texas, the Alamo, San Antonio Zoo, Six Flags and The Pearl. You can spend an entire week here, but plan for at least 2 days.

Austin, the capital of Texas, is an hour and 30 minutes away and there is so much to do here . From shopping on funky South Congress Avenue to stand-up paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake and seeing live music, not to mention the best tacos in Texas.

Once you’ve had your fill, make your way down to Austin from San Antonio. Be sure to make time on the drive between the cities for a shopping spree at The San Marcos Outlets, which feature some designer stores.

If you have more time, explore the Texas Hill Country which is home to over 45 wineries, vineyards and lavender fields. 

  • Taste the best BBQ in Dallas
  • Scale the massive pink granite dome in Enchanted Rock State Park
  • Sample some German beer and bratwurst in Fredericksburg
  • Enjoy the Riverwalk and a boat ride in the canals in San Antonio 
  • Designer Outlet shopping in San Marcos
  • Explore the Texas State Capitol Complex at the Texas Capitol Visitors Center in Austin

Contributed by: Priya from Outside Suburbia

24. Louisiana to Florida Road Trip

This cultural road trip along the US Gulf Coast brings you through the heart and southern soul of coastal Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, some of the lesser explored areas of the United States.

Wakulla Springs Florida Gulf Coast Travlinmad

  • Route: Gulf Coast Road Trip from Louisiana to Florida
  • At a glance: Lafayette, LA – New Orleans, LA – Mobile, AL – Gulf Shores, AL – Tallahassee, FL – Wakulla Springs, FL – Crystal River, FL
  • Distance: 685 miles
  • Duration: 10-15 days
  • When to go: May through October with summer shoulder months of May and September being ideal with less traffic.

The Gulf Coast of the southern United States from Louisiana to central Florida has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Not only is there interesting American history, the distinct culture along the Gulf Coast is like nowhere else in the world.

If you love local food, you’ll love the fresh seafood in this region, just one of the reasons a Gulf Coast road trip is always a great idea.  

Start your trip in Lafayette, Louisiana, where you’ll find Louisiana’s original good time town. The Acadiana (Cajun) culture is evident here in everything from the local food to the dance halls where any night of the week you’ll find welcoming crowds who will happily teach you the local zydeco moves! 

Just an hour away in nearby New Orleans is where the party really starts…and lasts for days.

Spend a day tasting the local flavor then drive out into the country and explore the River Road plantations, some of which offer interesting and poignant tours of the Antebellum history of New Orleans. 

Psst! Read this ethical guide to plantation tours to gain a better understanding and find the tours that combat racism through education. 

An hour east of the Big Easy (aka New Orleans) is the gracious southern city of Mobile, Alabama. A trip through here deserves a few days of boat tours, vintage thrift shopping, and eating their famous Alabama shrimp and oysters. 

Afterwards, head for the beach in nearby Gulf Shores, Alabama, just an hour away. Alabama truly has some of the most beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast, and natural wildlife you can enjoy from a boat or kayak. The white sand beaches here are spectacular. 

From here, head to Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee and explore the Spanish history the state was founded on. Just 20 miles south of Tallahassee is Wakulla Springs, a natural warm crystal spring where you can swim and relax, and even stay a night or two.

Next, head further down the Gulf Coast to the town of Crystal River, where summertime is scallop season. Grab your snorkel and fins and head out on a scalloping tour to gather up your own scallop feast for dinner!

  • Lafayette, Louisiana is a foodie’s dream and there’s always a fun festival to attend. A visit to Avery Island and the TABASCO factory is a must. Plus, if you haven’t tried a drive-thru daiquiri, here’s your chance!
  • New Orleans is a must-see along this trip, whether you have a day or more. Spend the day in the French Quarter, grab some beignets and pralines and stroll to your heart’s content.
  • Tallahassee, Florida is a hip University town with great farm-to-table restaurants, awesome vintage stores, and a thriving art scene. Don’t miss the fun and funky Railroad Square Art Park!
  • Wakulla Springs, Florida offers a great chance to cool off from the heat in one of Florida’s most beautiful natural crystal springs.
  • Crystal River, Florida is home to the Florida manatee, but summertime is scallop season and a must-eat when you’re in town!

Contributed by: Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad

25. Great Smoky Mountains Road Trip

This epic road trip through the Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains takes you through one of the most gorgeous national parks and best roads in the country. 

Great Smoky Mountains view from Craggy Gardens

  • Route: Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip
  • At a glance: Gatlinburg – Cataloochee Valley – Asheville – Mount Mitchell – Linville Falls
  • Distance: 130 miles
  • When to go: Spring for Wildlife; Fall for Foliage

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans between Tennessee and North Carolina and has always been one of my favorite places in the world. The perfect one-week road trip starts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, traveling to Asheville, North Carolina through the Smoky Mountains before hopping on the Blue Ridge Parkway and heading North to Linville Falls.

Gatlinburg is a great starting point for this road trip because it has a little something for everybody: moonshine distilleries, restaurants, themed attractions, beautiful wildlife, and scenery. I would spend two days here.

For the first day, check out the town of Gatlinburg, the trails near town including the ghost town of Elkmont, Roaring Fork Motor Trail and more. 

On the second day, I would spend exploring Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an 11-mile paved loop where you can drive or bike the loop while making stops along the way and exploring the trails. Here is your best chance of seeing black bears!

There are so many beautiful spots between Gatlinburg and Asheville. See the elk in Cataloochee Valley, visit Soco Falls (right off the road), and several other gorgeous locations. Next stop is Asheville – one of the best cities in the South in my opinion. Don’t miss checking out local breweries, touring Biltmore Estate, the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar.

On the way to Linville Falls, North Carolina, you’ll pretty much be on the Blue Ridge Parkway the entire way and you’ll find yourself stopping often for the views. A few of my favorite spots included Mount Mitchell and Little Switzerland. 

Once in Linville Falls, the Falls, Gorge, and Caverns are all absolutely breathtaking and worth checking out. Using Linville Falls as a base, take your second day here to explore Grandfather Mountain, Boone, and Blowing Rock.

  • See black bears in Cades Cove 
  • Visit the abandoned ghost town of Elkmont
  • See elk in Cataloochee Valley
  • Visit a unique bookstore in Asheville that also doubles as a champagne bar
  • Visit Little Switzerland to fill your Bavarian-themed town quota
  • Hike the Craggy Gardens Overlook at sunrise but be prepared to be brought to tears 

Contributed by: Ashley Hubbard from Wild Hearted

26. Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Who doesn’t love a nice glass of bourbon? On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you tour 16 different distilleries, try multiple bourbons (and other treats) at each, and take in tons of bottled up history throughout the gorgeous Bluegrass state. 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

  • Route: The Kentucky Bourbon Trail 
  • At a glance: Lexington – Frankfort – Louisville – Owensboro (with some smaller towns in between) 
  • Distance: 250ish miles (depending on order of distilleries)
  • When to go: Late spring or early fall, as many of the distilleries shut down during the hot summer months. 

While there is no official route for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, I recommend picking either Lexington or Louisville as a “home base” for the experience, as all of the distilleries are within a few hours drive of these cities (some are mere minutes!). 

Each day, pick 4-5 distilleries to visit, starting when they open in the morning and touring until they close.

I usually try to do the distilleries that are closest together on the same days (less driving and easier to get from one place to another). If you’re a serious drinker, there are some bus tours that will chauffeur you throughout the Trail so you don’t have to worry about driving. 

You’re never given more than about 2 ounces of alcohol at each distillery, but you may want a designated driver just in case.

On the drive between distilleries, you’ll see the rolling hills of Kentucky, some of our famous horse farms, and, of course, brick houses holding millions of gallons of the delicious spirit. 

  • Dip your very own bottle of Maker’s Mark at Maker’s Mark Distillery
  • Drink bourbon barrel aged beer at Town Branch Distillery in Lexington 
  • Pose with a giant Louisville Slugger near Angels Envy in Louisville 
  • Experience what it was like to access a Prohibition Era speakeasy at the Evan Williams Experience
  • Live like Matthew McConaughey at Wild Turkey Distillery
  • Visit the stone warehouses at Woodford Reserve 

Contributed by: KB Gamblin from Her Life in Ruins

Eastern USA Road Trips

Cute oceanside towns and major metropolises alike dot the East Coast. This is where you’ll find some of the country’s oldest buildings and most historic neighborhoods. 

Eat all the seafood you can handle, and soak up the quaint fishing village vibes.

And you won’t have to drive too far from any major city to get into the beautiful countryside. Visiting this region in the autumn months will reward you with stunning fall foliage.

  • Southern Florida Road Trip
  • Miami to Savannah
  • Golden Isles of Georgia
  • New York State Road Trip
  • New England Coast

27. Southern Florida Road Trip

This road trip will take you all over South Florida, from cities to small towns and swamps to beaches.  It’s the best of Florida with plenty of time off the beaten path.

Southern Florida Road Trip

  • Route: South Florida National Parks and Outdoors
  • At a glance: Miami – Everglades City – Homestead – Key Largo – Key West – Miami
  • Distance: 465(ish) miles
  • Duration: 10 days
  • When to go: January to mid-March; the weather is coolest then, but still hot, and the bugs are minimal, but still around.

Flying in and out Miami will be easiest for this South Florida road trip . Start here before heading over to Everglades City on Alligator Alley.  Spend the night camping in Big Cypress National Preserve or in a hotel in Everglades city if you’re not a camper.  Make sure to book far in advance for that.

With Everglades City as your base, visit Fakahatchee Strand State Park, Florida Panther Preserve, 10,000 Islands, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Spend a few days exploring the area before heading back to the east in Homestead.  

From Homestead, visit the main area of Everglades National Park. Look for wildlife on the Anhinga Trail, stop at the boardwalks, and take a boat or kayak tour at the Flamingo area. This is a great base for visiting Biscayne National Park, too.  

Next up is the Keys. Spend a night on Key Largo and take a day to drive down to Key West making stops along the way at beaches and John Pennekamp State Park. Make sure to do some snorkeling. 

And you can’t forget about the food scene in the Keys because it is delicious! The flavors of the Caribbean are added to the freshly caught fish, you really can’t go wrong!

Finally, before heading back to Miami, spend a couple of days in Key West and go to Dry Tortugas National Park for a day.  

  • Hike to the Fakahatchee Hilton and admire the gator pond out back
  • Explore Big Cypress National Preserve and sleep under the stars (if that’s your thing)
  • Look for wildlife on the Anhinga Trail and a boat trip in Everglades National Park
  • Take a boat tour to the islands in Biscayne National Park
  • Visit the John Pennekamp State Park on your way to Key West
  • Take the ferry or seaplane to Dry Tortugas National Park for a day 
  • Explore Miami and see the Wynwood Walls

Contributed by: Megan Johnson from Red Around The World

28. Miami to Savannah, Georgia East Coast Road Trip

This beautiful road trip takes you through the East coast of Florida and in to Georgia via some of the region’s most iconic cities, charming small towns and gorgeous islands.

Driftwood Beach on Georgia coast

  • Route: Miami to Savannah via the big cities, small towns and beautiful islands
  • At a glance: Miami – Orlando – New Smyrna Beach – Amelia Island – Jekyll Island – Saint Simons Island – Savannah
  • Distance: 600 miles
  • When to go: Autumn. Go when the summer crowds have left the sunshine state but the weather is still balmy and you can enjoy the beaches and coastline.

Start your road trip in Miami for some beautiful beaches and stunning art deco buildings. However long you spend here it won’t be long enough but enjoy the buzz of the city and the vibrant experiences on offer.

Head up the coastline to Orlando for some theme park fun or to take in some of the amusements of the area. There’s something here for everyone whether you’re into roller coasters or some of the natural springs you can view from glass-bottomed boats. 

For an extra bit of adventure, head toward the ocean where you will find the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which is known as one of the best places to go bioluminescent kayaking in Florida . This is a pretty spectacular phenomenon that’s well worth a spot on your itinerary.

From there, it’s only a short hop to New Smyrna Beach on the coastline. Stop off at Kennedy Space Center to get your fix of rockets and space shuttles before small town America beckons. 

New Smyrna Beach will feel a world away from the bright lights of Miami and Orlando. Enjoy the windswept beaches which have turtles nesting on them if you’re there in the right season. It’s also a great location from which to see dolphins in the wild.

Further up the coastline Amelia Island is a beautiful final Floridian stop off with the longest stretch of beach and a lovely old school feel. There’s a simplicity to life here which is refreshing and uplifting.

It’s just around the final edge of Florida and into Georgia for the next island stop off of Jekyll Island. Once the playground of the rich and famous it fell out of favor for a time. Now it’s a lovely retreat and with beaches including the stunning Driftwood Beach it’s a lovely place to cycle around with Spanish Moss-covered trees creating the perfect shade. 

Saint Simons Island has a real feel-good factor with shopping arcades and a wonderful playground that spills out onto the sand if you’re traveling with kids. There’s more going on here and it’s the perfect contrast to Jekyll Island.

Finish off in Savannah where the antebellum houses sit grandly and wide streets and gorgeous public parks call for impromptu picnics. 

  • Don’t miss Little Havana, the Cuban district of Miami, known for bright colors and cool vibes
  • Silver Springs just outside of Orlando is a great place to get some retro USA vibes going
  • Visit Indian River Lagoon to try and spot bottlenose dolphins at New Smyrna Beach
  • Stop off in the Georgia State Railroad Museum in Savannah to clamber aboard historic carriages
  • Eat great Asian fusion food in Vault, Savannah

Contributed by: Nichola West from Globalmouse Travels

29. Golden Isles of Georgia

This peaceful coastal road trip through Georgia’s Sea Islands brings you to a quaint beach town, 5-star resort, massive state park, and National Seashore.  

Golden Isles of Georgia

  • Route: Georgia Sea Islands
  • At a glance: St. Simons Island – Sea Island – Jekyll Island – Cumberland Island
  • When to go: Late spring or early fall. Avoid summer to save cash and steer clear of crowds. April-May is a beautiful time to visit this area because the spring blooms will be in full force and the brunt of the summer heat won’t have hit yet. Early fall is great too because it is still warm enough to hit the beaches and the bugs won’t be as bad.

Begin your journey in St. Simons Island and spend your time biking on the island-wide bike paths covered by the shade of an incredible live oak canopy. 

Grab award-winning BBQ at Southern Soul before hitting the beach. As one of the first colonial outposts in the United States, the island is the perfect mix of coastal scenery, great local restaurants, cool boutiques, and history. 

If you’re looking for some luxurious R&R head to Sea Island and the fabulous Cloister Resort, the only Forbes Five Diamond Resort in Georgia. Book a room at the hotel, visit their incredible spa and dine like royalty.  

Jekyll Island is the next stop on this road trip and the next island south of St. Simons and Sea Island. Once a winter escape for New England’s elite, Jekyll is now a state park so it is far less developed than St. Simons and Sea Island.

Bike around the island and take a picnic to the famous Driftwood Beach. Tour the historic Jekyll Island Club resort and neighboring historic district before grabbing some Wild Georgia Shrimp at The Wharf on the waterfront.

The last stop on the trip is Cumberland Island, Georgia, one of the nation’s National Seashores. The largest barrier island on Georgia’s coast has acres of untouched maritime forests, beaches, and marshes. 

Camp beneath the live oak canopy or stay at the exquisite all-inclusive Greyfield Inn, once home to the Carnegie family. 

  • Sample some of Georgia’s best BBQ at Southern Soul in St. Simons Island, Georgia  
  • Climb the 129 stairs of the St. Simons Island Lighthouse for an incredible view 
  • Dine like royalty with a multi-course tasting menu in the Forbes Five Star Georgian Room at Sea Island’s Cloister Resort 
  • See the eerie Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island
  • Visit the church where JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy married on Cumberland Island, Georgia 
  • Explore the Carnegie’s Dungeness Mansion ruins on Cumberland Island   

30. New York State Road Trip

This road trip through the Lower and Mid-Hudson Valley of New York is not only beautiful but showcases the history of the Hudson Valley through architecture, tradition and art. It inspires and educates through the most breathtaking area in the North East of the United States.

Hudson River GW Headquarters

  • Route: Lower to Mid-Hudson Valley, NY from Tarrytown to Highland
  • At a glance: Tarrytown – Tuxedo – New Windsor – Newburgh – Highland
  • Distance: 73.6 miles
  • Duration: 3-4 days
  • When to go: September (weekends); Late summer/Early Autumn is the best time for this road trip, as that is when the Annual NY Renaissance Fair takes place and the weather is more agreeable for outdoor exploration.

Begin your journey at Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY and spend a few hours taking a tour of the mansion and exploring the grounds. Visit the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse and take in the views of the Majestic Hudson River. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are wonderful places to have dinner.

Next, head North over the ‘Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge’ or the “New Tappan Zee Bridge” towards Rockland County, where you can stop off to shop at the famous Palisades Mall or Spend the Day at the NY Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY.

The next stop is the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY. This massive open-air Museum and Sculpture Park is a must see when in the area. After exploring the grounds of Storm King, a quick drive to Newburgh is in order for a view of the Hudson River from Washington’s Headquarters.

Lastly, for those interested in a one-of-a-kind experience, a visit to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Park is in order. This is the World’s Longest Pedestrian Bridge.

  • Take a tour of Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, NY
  • Eat and enjoy a day full of Entertainment at the NY Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, NY
  • Explore enormous sculptures at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY.
  • Learn all about the area’s history at the Washington’s Headquarters Historic Site in Newburgh, NY
  • Walk over the Hudson River at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Park.

Contributed by: Jackie Ramirez from Hudson Valley Exposed

Psst! If you’re going to be passing through the Big Apple on your way to upstate New York, be sure to read our article with the best things to do in NYC .

31. New England Coast Road Trip

Thanks to its scenic beauty and rich history, New England is the perfect road trip destination – as long as you wait until after the snow melts. 

Driving straight from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine, the town adjacent to Acadia National Park, takes about 6 hours. However, to do this trip right, you’ll probably want to take at least a week (and eat a lot of lobster along the way!).

Acadia National Park Maine, USA

  • Route: Scenic New England – from Boston, Massachusetts to Acadia National Park in Maine
  • At a glance: Boston – Salem – Portsmouth – Bar Harbor (You’ll follow Route 1 north for most of the trip.)
  • Distance: 269 miles
  • Duration: 7-10 days
  • When to go: April to October; this is a great route to see some fall foliage

Once the snow and ice melt, I love nothing more than getting out of Boston for a few days and exploring New England’s beautiful beaches and charming towns. Driving straight from Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine (my favorite route) usually takes about 6 hours.

First up along the coast is the North Shore of Massachusetts, which is jam-packed with things to do. 

Historic Salem is definitely worth a stop for its kitschy witch-themed attractions, and so is Gloucester for its Fisherman’s Memorial. The streets of both Rockport and Newburyport are lined with galleries, restaurants and shops, and if you’re looking for beaches, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Crane Beach are two of the best.

Passing briefly through New Hampshire, you should spend at least a few hours strolling around Portsmouth. There are lots of great craft breweries in and around the city.

Crossing into Maine, Kennebunkport and Old Orchard Beach are popular vacation destinations in the summer, and if you’re an L.L. Bean fan, then you can’t miss the flagship store in Freeport. 

Portland has the region’s hottest restaurant scene, so you’ll want to plan at least a meal or two there.

Once you arrive in Bar Harbor, you’ll need a few days to relax and see the sights in and around Acadia National Park. If you’re feeling ambitious, head up to Cadillac Mountain and watch the spectacular sunrise!

  • Stop by the witch-themed attractions in Salem
  • Check out Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester
  • Enjoy the beach at Crane Beach and Manchester-by-the-Sea
  • Stroll around Portsmouth and drink a craft beer or two
  • Watch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain

Contributed by: Brianne Miers from A Traveling Life

A special Thank You to Moon Travel Guides for sponsoring this article.

You may also like…

  • How to Plan an Epic USA Road Trip
  • Tips for an Eco-Friendly Road Trip
  • Money-Saving Tips for a Cheap Road Trip Across the USA
  • Ultimate Road Trip Packing List

Are you planning an epic road trip? Save this article on Pinterest for later!

Best USA Road Trips | Two Wandering Soles

We want to hear from you!

Where has your favorite road trip taken you? Do you have any of these USA road trips planned out soon? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (33) on “ 31 USA Road Trip Ideas + Tips ”

Love these road trip ideas! Can’t wait to try out the Pacific Coast Highway route. The photography tips are especially helpful. Great post! 🚗📸

I love road trips! I’m so excited to try out some of these ideas!

It’s really important to be ready all the time when doing a road trip and totally agree with all the guide you shared. Thanks for sharing.

Next December we will go out on the road with a group, and that’s why I am doing research. I found your post and just read it. I really learned a lot. Many thanks.

Oh neat! I wonder if I can get my friends to go on the NYS roadtrip with me. I’ve been wanting to do a roadtrip for a whileeee

That would be such a fun trip with friends! I don’t think it’ll take much to convince them to go on a road trip once it’s safe again!

So many of these have been on my bucket list for a couple of years now. I think if our current lock down situation has taught me anything, it’s that I should just plan them and get out there once it’s safe.

Oh we know what you mean! We’ve had to cancel some trips, so I can’t wait until it’s safe to travel again and we can reschedule! SO many places I’m excited to go, and I won’t be taking the freedom to spontaneously plan a trip for granted anymore!

These look so amazing!! I’m a non-driver, but I’ve always wanted to do a USA road trip – I’m not sure if I’d be able to choose between these! Maybe one day… Thanks for sharing!

I know what you mean – Ben does most of the driving! Road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel though because it lets you go at your own pace and allows you to stop in places you otherwise never would. Happy you enjoyed this article!

I would absolutely love to do an Alaska road trip! Those wild landscapes are something I’ve always wanted to see. Was meant to be on a west coast road trip now but sadly it got pushed back. Maybe when I do get round to doing it I’ll combine it with an Alaska road trip! Thanks for sharing, such beautiful suggestions! 🙂

That is one of our dreams too! We were planning to travel to Alaska this summer, but sadly, that’ll probably be put on hold. Just happy to know all these places will still be there when it is safe to travel again!

This is a great list and this is all I needed.during my visit to USA last year we took a road trip from Vegas to Grand canyon n horse shoe bend.looking forward to more

That’s a great plan! You’ll get to see lots of incredible sights, city and nature; plus, they’re all located relatively close together (in USA terms of "close"! haha). Best of luck planning!

What an impressive list! Ive always dreamed about doing a road trip through the states and I’d love to start in the Pacific Northwest! USA has so many beautiful national parks with such diverse scenery so I can’t wait to get home and explore more!

Oh, what a good place you’ve picked to start: our absolute favorite part of the country! I hope you get to plan your road trip soon!

Wow, what a list! I love that you included Wakulla on your Florida list!

Thanks! I lived in Florida for a couple of years, so it was fun hearing others’ favorites and gathering road trips from all around the country!

I’ve never been to Yosemite but I’ve been dying to go! This is such an extensive guide and so helpful!

Thanks! Yosemite is amazing! If you like getting off the beaten path, we’d definitely recommend getting a backcountry permit because it is absolutely incredible. We were there on a weekend in July (busiest possible time!), but in the backcountry, we only saw one other person camping!

I am really keen to do the Pacific Coast drive but also think the drive north to Seattle looks fantastic. Which would you recommend if I only have time for one?

Ohh a tough choice for sure! Highway 1 (in California) is stunning, but it is a bit more crowded, whereas some of the drives around Seattle and north are more rugged and have fewer people.

Temperatures for lounging at the beach are going to be more comfortable in California though (so it depends on what you’re most looking forward to!). Either choice will be a good one 🙂

What an extensive list! I’ve done many of the West Coast ones, but haven’t made it to the Southwest/ much of the East Coast! Pinning this for later!!

Thanks! Yeah, we’d love to got out to the East Coast in time for the fall colors someday!

I’ve done most of these, but you’ve done a great disservice skipping Arkansas. The Pig Trail is not to be missed, especially by motorcycle. Boston and Ozark Mountains are beautiful, especially in the fall.

These are great options! I would love to do a road trip but sadly I can’t drive. I just need to find that right person to do the trip with me to tick it off my bucket list! I’m looking forward to visiting San Francisco too.

I love all the road trip suggestions! I am planning to get a campervan with my boyfriend next year to do USA, and we need all the tips we can find!! Thanks for sharing!!

If you have time, the Boston to Acadia trip should extend down to NYC! There’s a lot of amazing stops in CT to see.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSS I love a good USA roadtrip!!

Great guide!! I’ve been wanting to do another USA road trip! There are sooo many to choose from 🙂

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The 25 best road trips in the usa.

Best Road Trips USA

 If you’re looking for the best road trips in the USA, look no further! These great road trips will have you driving for the rest of your life.

This post was written in partnership and paid for by Hum by Verizon . All opinions are my own.

Best Road Trips USA

There’s probably nothing more American than packing up your car and hitting the open road with family or friends, some good snacks, and great tunes… and for good reason. With more than 3.7 million square miles to discover and 4,071,000 miles of road , the United States has so many hidden gems accessible by car.

Although I’ve got about 194 countries on my bucket list right now, I’m grateful to live in the great US of A and think it’s one of the most amazing countries to explore from the road. There are so many fun road trips that you can take all over the country!

Here's a Short Cut

The Best USA Road Trip Safety Tips

Get ready for the best road trips in the usa, 1. pacific coast highway, 2. park loop acadia national park, 3. washington-oregon coast, 4. great river road, 5. big island loop road, 6. musical road usa trip, 7. northern national parks road trip, 8. southwest national parks road trip, 9. hana highway road trip, 10. new york city to finger lakes, 11. williamsburg, va to charlottesville, va to washington d.c., 12. miami to the overseas highway to key west, fl: 160 miles from miami, 13. the grand canyon to las vegas, 14. black hills of south dakota, 15. maine lobster trail, 16. blue ridge parkway, 17. grand teton national park to glacier national park, 18. outer banks scenic byway, 19. olympic peninsula, 20. route 66, 21. alaska highway, 22. ultimate florida road trip, 23. the great american road trip – cross country on the i-90, 24. anchorage to seward, 25. canada to mexico.

If you’re planning to take a road trip this year, I’ve compiled the best American road trip routes in the country.  These are 25 of the best road trips in the USA that everyone should take in their lifetime. We’ve been lucky enough to drive almost every inch of this country and there is some beautiful land to see out there.

Before you leave on any road trip, be sure your car is road trip ready.  If you’re traveling the US by car, it’s important to know how to prepare.

Prepare Your Car for the Best Road Trips in the USA

Before heading out on your USA road trip, be sure your car has been serviced, and everything is working properly. When you road trip around the US, anything could go wrong! It’s best to be prepared.

Use Hum by Verizon  to Prepare for Road Trip Vacations I’ve talked about my love of Hum by Verizon before, but it’s because I love my HumX and think anyone taking a road trip should have one!

Hum by Verizon is campaigning to make the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Safer Days of Summer.” During these 100 Days, you can find helpful tips for safer driving on their Facebook page.

According to a study from Hum by Verizon and Wakefield Research that surveyed 1,000 U.S. adult drivers ages 20 and older, 80% of participants think that drivers are more likely to speed during the summer months. The survey also found that 61% of millennial drivers struggle to focus while driving during the summer, and one in five drivers have received at least one speeding ticket within the past five years.

Hum by Verizon wants to change that, by helping us practice important road safety with “100 Safer Days of Summer.”

With so many great summer road trip destinations around the country, and so many more Americans traveling these days, safety has never been more important! The best summer trips are safe summer trips!

Best Road Trips USA

We use HumX in our car. HumX is a little device that is easily installed in your car and takes the guesswork out of driving by using connected car technology. It allows you to have quick access to emergency services and loved ones while on a road trip, or any time on the road.

If you have an accident or emergency, HumX can send assistance to help you get back on the road.

Hum X car also runs diagnostics on your vehicle to make sure that things are running smoothly so you can take these cool road trips worry-free.

I love that HumX helps you keep track of general maintenance like oil changes and tire rotation, and you can set up alerts to remind you when it’s time for service.

Best Road Trips USA

All the Hum by Verizon services can be accessed on your smartphone from the Hum App which you can find in the App Store or Google Play . HumX also comes with a Bluetooth speaker that clips to your visor. This will give you access to roadside assistance with the touch of a button and can also be used as a speaker for your phone and be connected to your contacts.

I’m also really excited to have this service when my kids start driving, which is only in 3 more years (HELP)! It provides a safety score, boundary alerts, and records speed, so you can monitor your teen’s driving.

You can also track your fuel and mileage using HumX, which is great if you’re taking road trips that are for work and need to track mileage for expenses or tax purposes.

To prepare for your American road trip of choice, be sure to follow these tips that I’ve shared in How to Plan a Road Trip . If you don’t know what to do on a road trip, these tips will help you prepare and also help you have the best time! Learn a lot and have fun along the way while you road trip USA style!

Best Road Trips USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA

● 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. See classic 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!

Read more about our detailed West Coast Road Trip.

● 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 I’ve ever taken. 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!

If you’re looking for a great guide to the park, check out this Acadia National Park Guide.

● 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.

● 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. This United States road trip is one of my all-time favorites as it explores some lesser-known destinations in the “fly over” states!

● 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 diversity in landscape you’ll ever see in one day.

● 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!

If you want to continue on farther, you can do this amazing gulf coast 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.

● Begin: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona ● End: Moab, Utah (one of the most amazing things to do in Utah !) ● Distance: 600 miles ● Drive Time: 11 hours This nature-packed road trip will allow you to see five stunning Utah national parks including the Grand Canyon, Zions’, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches. This is a great Utah road trip itinerary if you’re interested in exploring even more of this beautiful state.

Check out this Utah Road Trip Itinerary

● 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!

● Begin: New York, New York ● End: Corning, New York ● Distance: 250 miles ● Drive Time: 4.5 hours I love this New York 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 with kids is so much fun, but it’s great to mix it with a more relaxing and nature-filled vacation.

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

Brush up on your colonial history and visit the homes of some of our founding fathers while reliving the past. 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!

You can also do this trip in reverse. It’s one of the best road trips from DC I’ve ever taken.

Best Road Trips USA

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. These sandy islands are full of history, sun, and relaxation. This southern USA Florida road trip is sure to be one of the most sun-filled, fun-filled drives ever!

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Grand Canyon National Park End: Las Vegas, Nevada Distance: 250 miles Drive Time: 4.5 hours 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.

Check out this awesome Utah road trip.

Best Road Trips USA

Begin: Deadwood, South Dakota End: Hot Springs, South Dakota Distance: 100 miles Drive Time: 2.5 hours The Black Hills of South Dakota offer 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. Check out this South Dakota road trip planner for more information.

Best Road Trips USA

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. There are so many more incredible east coast road trips .

Best Road Trips USA

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.

Best Road Trips USA

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.

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.

Best Road Trips USA

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.

Best Road Trips USA

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 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!

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! Learn more about planning a trip to Alaska.

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. Learn more about the best things to do in Destin, Florida .

Best Road Trips USA

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! A US cross country road trip can seem a little daunting. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time and map out your stops ahead of time, breaking up the long drive.

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.

Begin: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada End: Tijuana, Mexico Distance: 2,300 miles Drive Time: 24 hours Hit three countries in one epic road trip by starting in British Columbia, Canada and using this itinerary all the way down to the border of U.S. and Mexico into Tijuana.

Whatever road trip you choose this summer, be sure to prepare your car for an epic road trip and install a HumX in your vehicle to take the worry out of your journey and to get you on the road!

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Wanderlust Crew

6 thoughts on “ the 25 best road trips in the usa ”.

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thanks for all the info and pictures! would love to do some of these one day I’ve done a lot of road trips in Europe but none in the US yet! route 66 and the grand canyon is definitely on the bucket list!

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America certainly has some awesome road trips! I’ve done a lot in Europe, but would definitely love to do more!!

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I love that some of these road trip destinations are kid friendly. The kids and us could really use some time off from the house after all that’s happening. But we ‘d like to go once things get better. or rather, safer.

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Cross country trips and most of the iconic rides like Route 66 are the best! Gotta love having the countries (and even the continents) so close to us that we can travel by land all we want.

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The ultimate guide to budget-friendly road trips

Easy ways to lessen the financial burden of traveling and still have a fun and memorable trip

By Amanda Adler

With inflation forcing the cost of gas, food, and entertainment skyward, travelers looking to hit the road may feel overwhelmed trying to stay on budget. But whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an extended family vacation, you can find low-cost fun no matter where you venture. 

Follow these tips to help you get the most bang for your buck.

Economical accommodations

It’s easy for nightly hotel rates to get out of hand. Rather than choosing a big city hotel, consider one of these money-saving options.

Get comfy camping

two cars are parked on a scenic mountain overlook next to a popped tent

Camping can be a great way to save money and truly connect with the place you’re visiting. Car camping is an economical choice that requires very little gear. Pop the hatch of your station wagon or SUV, set up a sleeping bag, and enjoy nights of peaceful relaxation under the stars. It’s an ideal option for solo travelers or couples.

For those looking for a little extra sleeping space, consider investing in a tent. While there’s a wide range of options, you don’t need to break the bank to find something comfortable enough for a twosome to enjoy.

Families traveling with children don’t necessarily need a large RV with all the bells and whistles to get out on the road. A small pop-up camper is a great solution that can be easily pulled by most vehicles and folds down for garage storage.

When it comes to selecting where to stay, options range from free off-grid camping on public lands, to state and national parks, to full-service campgrounds. To make the most of your budget, consider alternating between free and paid sites to save whenever possible.

glamping tents lit up at night under a sky full of stars

Insider Tip: If you’ve never camped and want to give it a try before investing in gear, try booking a glamping stay. Many campgrounds, such as KOA resorts, offer cabins and other accommodations for rent, and many have robust amenities, such as pools, playgrounds, on-site activities, nightly campfires, and more. 

Related How to create your own budget-friendly glamping experience

Make it a family affair

Interested in planning a trip to visit family or friends? Couch surfing at a loved one’s house can save you big bucks and helps bring you closer (literally and figuratively) to those you hold most dear. Experience your host’s city through their eyes as you let them play tour guide and show off their favorite haunts.

If you like the idea of visiting with friends and family but have your heart set on another vacation locale, invite the whole gang to join you on the road. Pool your resources to travel together, booking larger suites or multi-family cottages that are less expensive when the cost is split between several parties.

Related The ultimate guide to family road trips

Seek out unique lodging

If you still want all the luxury of staying in a swanky hotel, think outside the box and look for accommodations with unique features to keep your budget in check.

Fans of the TV show Schitt’s Creek fell in love with the small-town antics that took place at the Rosebud Motel. But just as the Rose family worked to bring the well-loved motel up to modern standards, many motels across the nation have recently received a similar glow-up. Retro-chic offerings in cities such as Santa Barbara, Savannah, and beyond offer a trendy place to stay and often boast a relatively budget-friendly price tag compared to hotel options in these sought-after destinations.

Related Welcome to Sharon Springs, a real life Schitt’s Creek in upstate New York

Or, why not make the hotel the main attraction? Booking a stay somewhere with an on-site water park, live shows, or kids club may mean you’re paying a pricier fee up front, but a staycation at this type of resort means you won’t have to pony up even more cash for outside entertainment. 

two hands cheers two cans of beer on a dock

Frugal food

Eating cheap on the road doesn’t have to mean gas station hot dogs and fast-food dollar menu picks. Be kind to your stomach and your wallet with these tips for eating well on a budget.

Pack a picnic 

Stock a cooler with snacks and drinks, which you can replenish throughout your travels. Include sandwiches, fruits, and healthy fare, or get fancy with a charcuterie board and grown-up beverages to enjoy as you watch the sunset. Seek out scenic spots to enjoy a quiet picnic, such as mountain overlooks, national park pavilions, or lush city parks.

Pick your own produce 

An amazing and inexpensive activity to enjoy is picking fruit. Many blueberry, cherry, apple, and other orchards offer the chance to pluck product straight off the vine, often at a fraction of the price you’d pay in the store. Roadside produce stands and local farmer’s markets also offer the opportunity to get a taste of a region and support local growers.

Eat with locals 

Rather than heading for trendy restaurants or dining on upscale fare, ask locals for suggestions. Some of the best and most authentic eats can be found in dive bars and hidden hole-in-the-wall diners. 

an oversized rocking chair

Budget boredom busters

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can quickly go broke on entertainment expenses. But you don’t have to spend a lot to have a great getaway.

Fee-free activities

There are plenty of ways to have free fun in almost any destination. Here are a few ideas:

  • Enjoy hours of fun at local parks and playgrounds.
  • Hit the trails for scenic hikes to waterfalls, rock formations, and other natural wonders.
  • Savor historic architecture in charming destinations like New Orleans, Louisiana; Charleston, South Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas.
  • Stroll among statues, decorative fountains, and iconic landmarks.
  • Hit the beach for days of play or much-needed relaxation.
  • Take in public art displays in Brooklyn, New York; Miami, Florida; or another hip metropolis.
  • Travel during holidays to enjoy small-town Independence Day parades or charming seasonal decor in quaint downtowns.
  • Bring bikes, skateboards, fishing gear, card games, and other activities that you can enjoy once at your destinations.
  • Break for roadside attractions along your way, snapping photos with the world’s largest pistachio or larger-than-life dinosaur dioramas.

Insider Tip: Do you have a 4th grader in your family? If so, you’re eligible for a free national park pass .

Related Everything you need to know to plan a national park road trip

a baseball stadium full of people watching the game at sunset

Cheap thrills

When it comes time to break out your wallet, think about how to make the most of your spending cash.

  • Skip Broadway and take in a community theater performance instead.
  • Enjoy a night out at the minor league baseball park or snag tickets for a minor league hockey game to cheer on up-and-coming players.
  • Buy tickets online in advance to save money, and don’t be afraid to look for coupons or ask the local visitor center about discounted attractions.
  • Savor the simplicity of an open-air drive-in movie theater and pack your own popcorn and candy.

More tips for saving money on a road trip

When finding ways to pinch pennies on the road, here are a few additional questions to keep in mind.

What can I get for free?

a boy holds a junior ranger badge outside

Curb expenses by seeking out included freebies. Look for hotels that offer complimentary breakfast or a nighttime reception with drinks. Pass on pricey souvenirs and instead get creative with your keepsakes. Turn cardboard bar coasters or stickers from local establishments into a fun scrapbook, while your kids can take part in free Junior Ranger programs to collect commemorative badges.

How else can I sleep cheap on a road trip?

The general rule for booking accommodations is to either book very early or seek out last-minute deals. Price check lodging in multiple destinations to find the best deal and don’t be afraid to book a room farther outside the city to save even more (including on parking fees, which are generally higher in the city center). 

Many campgrounds, hotels, credit cards, and third-party booking sites will also reward you for your loyalty. Stock up on points by joining various rewards programs to earn deals on future stays. 

How much will my road trip cost?

Many factors determine how much you’re going to spend, but a few tips for stretching your budget include:

  • Stay longer at each destination versus hopping from place to place to lock in the best lodging prices.
  • Consider destinations close to home to maximize your vacation time and cut down on fuel expenditures.
  • Travel during off-peak times and shoulder seasons. Even if you’re restricted when you can travel, you can always visit a summertime hotspot in winter or find a long weekend to enjoy a short getaway to a pricier locale.
  • Make sure you’re being realistic about costs. As with any trip, there will be some costs that you can control and others you can’t, so do your best to budget for controlled expenses like gas, meals, admission prices, and nightly rates.

Meet the Author

usa road trip budjetti

Amanda Adler

Amanda Adler is a writer who splits her time between traveling the U.S. in her RV and soaking up the air conditioning in her home in Orlando, Florida. While on the road she seeks out national parks, theme parks, kid- and dog-friendly hiking trails, and local businesses that tout their wares as being “craft,” “artisanal” or “bespoke.”

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Road to Grand Tetons from Yellowstone with mountains visible in the distance, one of the best road trips in USA

25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)

If there’s one travel bucket list experience that our home country of the United States is best for, it’s road trips.

From small towns to big cities, from mountain ranges to deserts, from forests to plains, and from sea to shining sea, there is no shortage of epic destinations for road trips in the USA.

We’ve taken USA road trips in about 30 of the 50 states ourselves (and hope to finish them all off one day!).

To help fill in the gaps, we asked fellow travel bloggers to share some of their favorites for this Great American road trips blog post.

They delivered an enormous variety of USA road trip itinerary ideas, from weekend trip options to weeks-long excursions!

Dreaming of taking a road trip in the United States and not sure where you want to go?

This list of exciting USA road trip itinerary ideas will help you decide where to hit the open road next! 

Table of Contents

Quick Tips for Your USA Road Trip

Cross-country usa road trip ideas, southern road trips in the usa, united states road trip ideas in the west, east coast road trips in the usa, central usa road trip routes, non-continental usa road trips.

Kate Storm in a black dress walking away from the camera along Jones Steet in Savannah GA, with several American flags hanging from homes on the right side of the photo

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Before we dive into exploring the best USA road trips, there are a few tips to be aware of–especially if you’re visiting as an international tourist and haven’t explored the United States before!

If you’re renting a car, shop around.

The best company to rent a car from for your United States road trip will likely vary dramatically depending on where and when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits.

Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through  Discover Cars , which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your USA road trip.

Browse rental cars for your American road trip today!

white hyundai accent parked on the million dollar highway in colorado

Read the rental requirements carefully.

Especially make sure you know how many miles you’ve been allotted (or ideally, if they’re unlimited), if you need to return the car empty or full of fuel, what to do if the car breaks down, and what damages you’re liable for in the event of an accident.

On the off chance that you’re planning on continuing your road trip into Canada or Mexico , be sure to check any requirements for crossing the border as well.

Book travel insurance.

We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen on the road, and an epic road trip is definitely a case of better safe than sorry.

Check prices and inclusions with Safety Wing for road trips in the USA!

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at craggy pinnacle on blue ridge parkway during 3 days in asheville nc

Don’t underestimate how sparsely populated parts of the USA are.

If this is your first time visiting the USA, you may be surprised to see just how long you can drive in the United States without coming across a town or even a gas station–especially out west.

Be sure to keep an eye on your directions, and fill up your gas tank before heading into any particularly unpopulated areas!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm taking a selfie in Spooky Canyon Utah

Make sure you pack the right gear.

From safety gear to snacks, a big USA road trip requires bringing the right tools along, whether you’re taking a short vacation, diving into van life , or somewhere in between.

We recommend taking a look at the suggestions in our road trip packing list before you go!

kate storm in front of emerald lake, one of the best hikes in rocky mountain national park colorado

Consider bringing your sleeping arrangements along with you.

It’s not right for everyone, but there’s a reason that using an RV or campervan is such a classic American road trip experience!

And, you don’t need to dive into the RV lifestyle and buy one for your next trip in order to try it out: you can try out the experience by renting RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy .

Browse RVs available to rent with Outdoorsy today!

Pacific Coast Highway California shot from above, one of the best romantic vacations for couples in the United States

If possible, stop in at least one national park!

Our home country is filled with an enormous number of interesting and beautiful places, but perhaps none shine quite as brightly as our national park system.

Want to climb sand dunes? We have that.

Marvel at glaciers? Check.

Hike across mountains? Take your pick.

Go scuba diving? Definitely.

Admire the power of incredible geysers? Got that, too.

Whatever kind of outdoor wonder you have in mind, you can find it at one of the most beautiful national parks in America !

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

From Stephanie of Oklahoma Wonders

Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip, inspiring songs, movies, and novels.

Starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, Route 66 passes through nine states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Some of the best things to do on the route are enjoying the kitschy 1950s motels, gas stations, and restaurants that harken back to the days of the Great American Road Trip.

You’ll also find tons of quirky roadside attractions like the Catoosa Whale, Cadillac Ranch , and the Twin Arrows that are must-sees.

If you want to enjoy some nature along the way, you can visit the Grand Canyon or Petrified Forrest National Park.

jeremy storm sitting on top of a car at cadillac ranch in amarillo

The most typical way to explore Route 66 is to start in Chicago and drive all the way to Santa Monica, but there are many who drive smaller portions of it or go from west-to-east instead of east-to-west.

There’s no single “right” way to make the drive. Just make sure you enjoy yourself as you go!

Recommended Road Trip Length

Because the route is so long and there’s so much to see, it’s recommended you spend two weeks exploring it one way.

Route 66 in California with Joshua trees on either side. Route 66 is one of the absolute best road trips in USA

New York to Los Angeles

Driving across the United States from New York to Los Angeles is one of those classic American road trip routes that, quite honestly, is not suited to most USA vacations–you’ll be looking at a lot  of cornfields and open plains along the way and spend many days on the road.

… But that being said, the legend and myth of this USA road trip route endure because it does make for quite the adventure!

With nearly 3,000 miles of driving to do between NYC and LA, you have extreme flexibility to create your own USA road trip itinerary!

However, the most direct route (a mere 44 hours of drive time, not including stops and traffic!) will take you to Chicago, across the open fields of Iowa and Nebraska, through some stunning nature in Colorado and Utah, and right through Las Vegas before delivering you to the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.

view of an rv driving through valley of fire state park, one of the best day trips during 3 days in las vegas nevada

If you’re open to detours, plenty of national parks will be within your reach on this USA road trip, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, and even the Grand Canyon!

If you’d like to enjoy a coast-to-coast road trip in the USA, we recommend setting aside at least two weeks to ensure you have enough time to experience the route along the way (and avoid spending too many days at a time looking at nothing but highways)!

Kate Storm standing on the beach next to Santa Monica Pier is Los Angeles, California, the final destination of some of the most classic USA road trip itinerary ideas

Blue Ridge Parkway

From Carl of NC Tripping

If you’re exploring the western parts of North Carolina or Virginia , the Blue Ridge Parkway is always lingering somewhere nearby.

It’s the most popular road trip between the two states and connects two of the United States’ most-visited national parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.

At 469 miles in length, this road will take some time to explore !

Narrowing things down to a few places you must visit is tough, but here are some “musts.” 

Moving north to south, highlights on the Virginia side include Humpback Rocks (Milepost 5), Mabry Mill (MP 176), Peaks of Otter (MP 85), and the Blue Ridge Music Center (MP 213).

Across the border in North Carolina, you at least need to see Linville Falls (316), Craggy Gardens (MP 364), Graveyard Fields (418), and Oconoluftee (MP 469) at the end of the line.

Blue Ridge Parkway USA shot from above during the fall, with fall foliage on either side of the road--one of the best weekend trips in the United States

Of course, there are more spots scattered throughout that are within a short drive of the Parkway , such as the ever-popular Asheville, NC , the Biltmore Estate , and more charming mountain towns than you can count.

That, along with its length, is why this is one USA road trip that will take some time, if ever, for you to complete. 

Please note that some areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway close during winter through parts of spring. The NPS is pretty good about keeping information up to date on their website .

While you can drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in less time, ideally, if you want to hike and explore along the route, a week is a great starting point for this USA road trip route.

kate storm and ranger storm at looking glass falls, one of the best stops on a 3 days in asheville itinerary

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

From Katie-Beth of Her Life in Ruins

Who doesn’t love a nice glass of bourbon?

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you tour 18 different distilleries, try multiple bourbons (and other treats) at each, and take in tons of bottled-up history throughout the gorgeous Bluegrass State. 

While there is no official route for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, stay in either Lexington or Louisville as a “home base” for the experience, as all of the distilleries are within a few hours’ drive of these cities (some are mere minutes!).

Each day, pick 4-5 distilleries to visit, starting when they open in the morning and touring until they close.

Try to do the distilleries that are closest together on the same days (less driving and easier to get from one place to another).

If you’re a serious drinker, there are some bus tours that will chauffeur you throughout the Trail!

You’re never given more than about 2 ounces of alcohol at each distillery, but you may want a designated driver just in case.

On the drive between distilleries, you’ll see the rolling hills of Kentucky, some of our famous horse farms, and, of course, rick houses holding millions of gallons of the delicious spirit. 

In order to visit all of the distilleries, I recommend spending 4-6 days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Flight of Bourbon--you'll see plenty of these if you take one of the best us road trips in the south, the kentucky bourbon trail

Southeast Coastal Road Trip

The stretch of coastline running from St. Augustine, Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina is packed with beautiful sights, historic cities, and laid-back beach towns.

We consider this area one of our personal favorites for road trips in the USA, and we’ve taken dozens of road trips in the region!

Start in St. Augustine, founded in 1565 by Spanish settlers and one of the most historic cities in the USA.

Explore its beautiful Castillo de San Marcos, check out the Fountain of Youth, relax on the beach, and explore the Colonial Quarter.

From there, head north to Savannah , where you can enjoy its incredible architecture and town squares, and then move on to Charleston , where you’ll find compelling American history and the lovely Folley Beach.

Kate Storm sitting in front of the pineapple fountain in Charleston SC--choosing whether to visit Savannah or Charleston is no easy task, but we wrote this guide to help!

As you move up the coast, consider detouring for brief stops in Beaufort, South Carolina and/or Hilton Head Island, before heading into North Carolina.

Historic Wilmington and New Bern are always worth a look as you pass by, and while you’ll need to head all the way up to Kitty Hawk and Nag’s Head to experience the classic Outer Banks destinations, the Crystal Coast ( Emerald Isle , Morehead City, Beaufort , Atlantic Beach , etc.) has been my family’s haunt for generations and is also well worth experiencing.

And, the Crystal Coast also happens to be closer geographically to the rest of the stops on this United States road trip itinerary!

ranger storm standing on the sand at atlantic beach nc at sunset

Want to continue north to the Outer Banks?

Ocracoke Island, Nags Head, Duck, Kitty Hawk (famously home to the Wright Brothers’ first-ever flight!) and more are all ready to welcome you.

We recommend spending about 10 days enjoying this USA road trip route.

Cape Lookout Lighthouse NC as seen from behind sand dunes

Orlando to New Orleans Road Trip

From Christine of Live Love Run Travel

Driving from Orlando to New Orleans  gives you plenty of options for stops along the way as well as enough to fill up an entire vacation at the starting point and ending point of the road trip.

From natural springs to beaches to caverns, there is plenty to see along this route to break up the trip.

Orlando is of course known for its iconic theme parks including Disney and Universal Studios.

However, Orlando and Florida also offer plenty of natural highlights including the natural springs.

On the way from Orlando to New Orleans , stop at Rainbow Springs, Silver Springs, or Ginnie Springs along I-75.

Once you get onto I-10, make sure to stop at Florida Caverns State Park for a unique Florida experience.

Plus, if you are taking this trip in the summer, you’ll appreciate the cooler air in the caverns!

clear waters of three sisters springs in florida with sup board, one of the best places to visit in summer in the united states

Along I-10, there are also plenty of opportunities to stop for some time at the beach.

Consider Pensacola, Florida, or the Gulf Shores, Alabama, or any of Mississippi’s beaches to avoid a long drive off the main road.

From there you are in New Orleans where you can enjoy the bayou, lots of amazing food and live music, and plenty of history and beautiful architecture in the various districts within the city.

The length of this road trip depends on a few factors including how long you want to spend in Orlando and New Orleans.

The drive itself only takes about 9 hours, but if you want to spend time at the springs, beaches, and caverns, stretch it out to a 2 or 3 day drive, with a few days on either end to explore Orlando and New Orleans.

close up shot of wrought iron balconies in the french quater of New Orleans--you'll see plenty of beautiful corners like this throughout your 3 days in New Orleans itinerary!

Washington State

From Katie of Two Wandering Soles

With rugged driftwood-strewn beaches, snowcapped peaks, small towns, and major cities, Washington State is a true gem.

Home to incredibly diverse landscapes and endless adventures to be had, this Pacific Northwest destination is one of the best places to take a road trip in the United States. 

Start by  exploring Seattle (if you have the time) because there is plenty to do in this PNW hub. But when you’re ready to get out of the city, head straight to the Olympic Peninsula .

With temperate rainforests, waterfalls, remote beaches, and a towering mountain range, Olympic National Park is arguably the most diverse swath of land in the state, if not one of the most unique places in the country, and is the perfect place to try out some hikes in Washington .

Rocky Beach in Olympic National Park washington at sunset, a fantastic view along a west coast usa road trip destination

Another drive well worth your while is to head northeast toward the iconic Mount Baker.

If you have the time, continue north to Highway 20 which brings you into the breathtaking North Cascades National Park.

Make photo stops along the way (like at the spectacularly beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Diablo), set off on epic hikes, and refuel at the small towns along the way.

Eventually, you’ll reach Lake Chelan , which is a perfect spot to cool off on a hot summer day.

From Lake Chelan, you have a stunning drive on Highway 2 back to Seattle with many more opportunities for exploring small towns and hiking along the way, if time allows. 

If you want to cover this whole route, you should allow 1.5 – 2 weeks. If you have less time, shorten your USA road trip itinerary accordingly.

Lake Diablo in Washington State as seen from above--an excellent stop on a west coast road trip USA

Southwest Colorado Road Trip

From Tanya of Rad Family Travel

Exploring Southwest Colorado on a memorable summer road trip through the mountains offers adventure in every direction.

Sand-sled through Great Sand Dunes National Park, drive breath-taking mountain passes, soak and swim in hot springs, and climb ladders to ancient Puebloan dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.

From there, imagine taking a jeep ride to old mining towns, biking along scenic trails, and hiking among wildflowers.

Arrive in Telluride in style via a free gondola, go whitewater rafting or alpine sliding, sleep under the stars, and top it all off with local burgers and cold brews.

Gondola in southwest Colorado with mountains visible in the background

In other words: whatever kind of outdoor adventure you’re looking for, southwest Colorado has you covered.

A Southwest Colorado road trip highlights diverse outdoor fun in Great Sand Dunes National Park, Pagosa Springs, Durango, Mesa Verde National Park, Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista.

Choose from tent camping, cabins, or hotels, or a mixture thereof, for lodging along the way.

Allow at least nine to ten days for this epic southwest Colorado Road Trip , starting from Colorado Springs.

If you prefer slower travel and lots of outdoor adventure, consider making it a fourteen-day loop by staying longer in Ouray, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista — and really delve into these sweet mountain towns . 

great sand dunes national park colorado as seen from a distance

Utah’s Mighty Five

From Ali of Travel Made Simple

Utah is home to five amazing national parks, all close enough to each other to visit on one iconic national parks road trip .

These national parks are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Since they’re all in the southern half of the state, you can drive in a loop to get to them all.

This also works well as part of a bigger  southwestern US road trip .

If you’re short on time or not in great shape, you can see a lot by driving or taking park shuttles, where available.

Hop out at designated parking lots, lookout points, or shuttle stops, take pictures, and go for a short walk.

For more activity, each park has hiking trails for beginners to expert-level hikers.

You can see the highlights of each park in about a day, but allow more time at any park where you want to experience more hiking.

kate storm holding ranger storm at dead horse point state park

Start and end in Las Vegas and drive counterclockwise.

Since driving from Las Vegas to Moab , where Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are located, is quite long, consider stopping in Page, AZ (home of the famous Horseshoe Bend ), or Monument Valley on the AZ/UT border. Or both!

From Moab, drive to Capitol Reef National Park, then Bryce Canyon National Park , and lastly Zion National Park before heading back to Vegas.

If you prefer, you can also do this route in reverse!

Give yourself at least a week to do this road trip, or longer if you’re stopping in Page and/or Monument Valley.

View from Sunrise Point, which is one of the best places to visit in Bryce Canyon Utah

South Dakota

If you’re craving wide open spaces, plenty of buffalo and prairie dog sightings, gorgeous caves, and a quirky roadside stop or two, then South Dakota is the American road trip for you!

Driving from east to west (though you can easily reverse it), pay a quick visit to Sioux Falls and then The World’s Only Corn Palace (their words, not mine) before diving into Badlands National Park.

Drive the Badlands National Park scenic loop, do some hiking (the Notch Trail is not to be missed), and when you’re ready for a break, detour to Wall Drug for a heavy dose of kitsch.

landscape of badlands national park in south dakota, one of the best things to do usa

Head north to visit the Wild West town of Deadwood, and if you’re up for it, detour into Wyoming for a quick visit to Devil’s Tower, the first US national monument!

Back in South Dakota, base yourself in or around Keystone to explore Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and–if you have time–Spearfish Canyon.

Going inside Wind Cave National Park requires a guided tour, so be sure to book in advance!

Determined road-trippers can do justice to this South Dakota road trip route in about 5 days, though 7 allows for a bit more hiking and a chance to add on places like Rapid City.

South Dakota is also perfectly located for combining with road trips in Wyoming and beyond, so you can easily use this route as a building block for a bigger US road trip itinerary!

3 praire dogs in badlands national park, a great stop on a south dakota midwest road trip

Scenic I-90 from Portland to Yellowstone

From Catherine of Passports and Adventures

Visiting Yellowstone National Park from Portland, Oregon is easy and there is no better route to take than the scenic I-90.

This 812-mile trip starts from Portland and takes the I-84 along the very beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

As you get started, stop at Multnomah Falls to photograph the famous waterfall!

Continue to Richland where you could rest overnight before jumping onto the I-90, the longest interstate in the United States.

Multnomah Falls near Portland OR in the early fall

This interstate highway passes Spokane before trailing alongside the lake of Coeur d’Alene, a beautiful part of the country, and then snakes through the Nez Pearce-Clearwater National Forests.

Imagine a highway surrounded by forests on either side, and you have an idea of what this part of I-90 is like.

A great town to stop along the I-90 is Missoula, which sits along the Clark Fork River and has plenty on offer including a great park, Caras Park where families and visitors can unwind.

After Missoula, continue along the I-90 and join Highway 287 which will take you to West Yellowstone to start your visit to the first national park.

This route from Portland to Yellowstone is 812 miles via these interstates and highways and could be done in two days but is best enjoyed over a few days before your  Yellowstone vacation .

As you get close to the national park, you can also find some great camping near Yellowstone along this route.

herd of buffalo in yellowstone national park with geysers visible in the background. yellowstone is an unforgettable piece of some of the best road trips in usa

Northern New Mexico

From Stella Jane of Around the World in 24 Hours

Northern New Mexico is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to have a road trip.

The weather is gorgeous and sunny at almost any time of year, and many of the state’s most interesting places are just an hour’s drive away from each other!

Start the road trip in the state’s largest city, Albuquerque. Almost all people arriving in New Mexico start here because this is where the major airport is located.

Tourism in Albuquerque has really taken off since the show  Breaking Bad  was filmed here, but those who are not  Breaking Bad  fans will still love seeing Albuquerque’s charming Old Town.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan your trip around the famous Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta , you won’t be sorry you did!

kate storm and jeremy storm smiling at the camera at the albuquerque international balloon fiesta

After a couple of days in Albuquerque, drive an hour up to Santa Fe and spend a couple of days here. This is New Mexico’s capital and its most beautiful city.

You can stop for a bath in the hot springs at Ten Thousand Waves and see the historic Spanish Colonial Palace of the Governors. 

Finally, check out some smaller towns like Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed, Chimayo, which is a popular pilgrimage site, and Taos, where you can visit a Native American pueblo that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You’ll be amazed at how much Northern New Mexico has to offer!

I recommend spending about a week on this USA road trip route.

Chimayo Pueblo Church in northern New Mexico, a popular pilgrimage site and a stop on one of the best road trips in America

Denver to Yellowstone Loop

Starting from Denver, you can easily craft a fantastic road trip plan.

USA national parks are in abundance in the west, but from Denver, you can hit three of the most legendary in short order: Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the ever-popular Yellowstone National Park.

For your first stop, base yourself in the beautiful mountain town of Estes Park , where you can access some of the best hikes in RMNP while also enjoying this idyllic mountain town.

From there, head up to Yellowstone to enjoy a few days of geysers, geothermal pools, wildlife spotting, and utterly unique views.

geothermal pool in yellowstone np, an amazing feature on a road trip plan usa

On your way back to Denver, head to Grand Teton National Park to visit highlights like Jenny Lake, enjoy some hiking, and soak in iconic views like those along Mormon Row.

Don’t miss the chance to spend a bit of time in Jackson Hole, one of the USA’s most iconic mountain towns, while you’re there!

We recommend setting aside at least a week for this all-American road trip–if you’d like to spend some time in Denver, a full two weeks is best.

kate storm standing in front of a barn at mormon row in grand teton national park, a feature on many of the best usa road trip itineraries

San Francisco to Yosemite Loop

From Julie of More Than Main Street

Typically, you think of the Pacific Coast Highway when you think of the best California road trips, right? Well…consider something a little different!

This 10 day California road trip , forming a loop from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park and back, is one of the best road trips in the USA.

You’ll get the best of big-city excitement, some time by the ocean, beautiful scenic vistas, and outdoor fun galore!

After spending a few days in San Francisco , hit up Monterey, Carmel, and part of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA shot from above on a clear day

Can’t-miss destinations include the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, Big Sur, and the world-class Monterey Aquarium.

Next head east over to Yosemite National Park for some incredible hiking, followed by a little wine tasting in Sonoma or Napa Valley, a stop in Muir Woods to see the giant redwoods, then finally back to San Francisco.

This road trip is perfect for families, couples, or even solo travelers and is guaranteed to be one you won’t forget!

You’ll need at least 10 days to do justice to this epic California road trip.

Vineyard in Napa Valley CA with a wood barn visible in the background, one of the best honeymoon destinations in usa

The American Southwest from Las Vegas

Thanks to inexpensive flights, a convenient location in southern Nevada, and its widespread appeal, Las Vegas is a fantastic place to kick off a road trip through the southwest!

With Las Vegas as a starting point, head off to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada before making your way to the ultimate USA road trip destination: the Grand Canyon.

From there, loop up to Moab to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, head west to visit Bryce Canyon National Park , and then move onto Zion before circling back to Vegas.

Kate Storm wearing a blue tank top walking between two formations in Goblin Valley State Park Utah

With extra time, you can add on more exciting stops in Arizona and Utah like Monument Valley, Page (home of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend ), Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, and more.

Ten days is a good starting place for this American road trip, but you can do an abridged version in one week, and the sky is the limit as far as how long you can take to explore every nook, cranny, and slot canyon in the region!

South Kaibab trail into the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous national parks in USA

New York State Road Trip

From Melissa of Navigation Junkie

The route from Buffalo, NY to New York City is full of great attractions and small towns to explore, and the variety of stops along the way will be sure to entertain every member of the family!

To begin the journey, start at Niagara Falls in Buffalo, NY.

See the roaring power of the American and Canadian falls, and if you are up for it, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist to get up close and personal with the falls.

After visiting the falls continue on to Letchworth State Park, the Grand Canyon of the East, for a day of hiking and enjoying nature.

Continue on to   Rochester, NY , where you will find a variety of fun attractions, history, and nature experiences.

The next stop along the route is the Finger Lakes region, where you can enjoy the lakes, waterfalls, and some wine tasting.

rainbow falls in watkins glen new york, a fantastic usa road trip itinerary destination

From there, head to Saratoga Springs, known for horse racing and mineral baths.

After visiting Saratoga Springs, continue on to the Catskills Region, where you will find plenty of scenic views and hiking trails for hikers of all abilities.

Finish up your road trip in New York City, where you can visit the Statue of Liberty, The World Trade Center Memorial, Central Park, and Times Square, among many other iconic attractions!

We recommend taking a minimum of one week to fully experience all stops along this USA road trip route.

kate storm standing at a magnifying glass on liberty island overlooking financial district manhattan

Miami to Key West Road Trip

From Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz of Getting Stamped

If you’re looking for a tropical road trip, consider making the drive from Miami to Key West .

On this US road trip, you’ll travel through the islands that make up the Florida Keys on the “Overseas Highway.”

It’s said to be one of the best road trips in the country!

While the drive to Key West isn’t too far (165 miles), the stops and the scenic beauty along the way are what make it worthwhile. The road trip is full of fun and quirky things to do and see!

The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and the Spiegel Grove Shipwreck are two great spots for exploring under the surface, where you’ll find coral reefs, sea life, and a sunken Navy ship.

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

For above the water, consider taking a cruise on The Africa Queen through the canals of Key Largo. 

There are great restaurants and bars along the way too.

Some popular stops include Plantation Key’s Mile Marker 88 Beach & Bar for all the tiki vibes, Islamorada Beer Company, and Robbie’s Restaurant, where you can feed tarpons from the dock. 

This road trip is best for a weekend (2-3 days).

Palm-tree lined path leading to Caribbean Sea beach in Key West Florida, one of the best southern weekend getaways

New England

Made up of some of the USA’s smallest states, the northeast region of New England is one of the best places for a road trip in the USA.

Featuring historic cities (hello Boston !), adorable small towns, a rugged coastline, gorgeous harbors, and plenty of lighthouses, New England spots a charm and culture all its own.

Consider starting and ending your New England road trip in Boston, the region’s largest city and airport hub, where you can walk the Freedom Trail, stroll cobblestone lanes, and visit some of the most impressive universities and museums in the country.

From there, make your way to beautiful Acadia National Park in Maine, stopping at charming coastal villages like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kennebunkport, Maine along the way–plus of course, a stop in the charming city of Portland.

Things to Do in Acadia National Park

On your way back south, drop by the White Mountain National Forest, and beautiful towns like Stowe, Vermont (legendary for its fall foliage) and Woodstock.

If you have time, head south of Massachusetts before heading back to Boston, visiting the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, and the idyllic small town of Mystic, Connecticut.

To take a USA road trip through all six New England states, two weeks or more is best. 

However, with less time you can easily pick and choose a couple of states to visit and still have an amazing road trip experience!

2 Days in Boston Itinerary: Beacon Hill

Texas Hill Country

Tucked into the central part of the Lone Star State, west of both Austin and San Antonio, lies an oasis of beauty.

Visit the Texas Hill Country for sparkling rivers, charming small towns, incredible hiking, beautiful waterfalls, excellent Texas barbecue , magnificent wildflowers, and more wineries and distilleries than you can count.

Some of the best things to do in the Texas Hill Country include visiting the town of Fredericksburg, which is known for its German heritage, enjoying a wine tasting, exploring beautiful Wimberley, climbing Enchanted Rock, exploring dramatic limestone caves, sampling barbecue, and visiting some of the best swimming holes near Austin , including the legendary Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well.

kate storm in a blue dress in front of the luckenbach post office

Be sure to save time for a couple of state parks, as well!

In addition to Enchanted Rock, popular state parks in the Hill Country include Garner State Park, Guadalupe River State Park, and Colorado Bend State Park (home to 70-foot Gorman Falls).

The lakes are also unforgettable: don’t miss a chance to admire the beauty of Canyon Lake or Lake Travis during this incredible US road trip!

Even if you only have one day, it’s worth taking a quick Texas Hill Country road trip–but ideally, we recommend setting aside a week to explore.

While you can visit year-round, bluebonnet season (roughly late March-April) is undoubtedly the most scenic time to visit!

cypress creek blue hole in wimberley texas, one of the best american small towns to visit

Northwest Arkansas

Packed with beautiful forests, idyllic hot springs, historic towns, and a lesser-known but beautiful national park, Northwest Arkansas is the perfect option for travelers looking for an interesting but off-the-beaten path US road trip destination.

Start your road trip at Hot Springs National Park, one of the only US national parks to be set in an urban (really, more like small-town) setting.

Nine historic bathhouses in the national park line Bathhouse Row, where visitors flocked to enjoy the local hot springs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

You can still soak in two of them today!

small waterfall in hot springs national park arkansas

From there, head north all the way to Eureka Springs, which is known for its historic architecture, beautiful setting in the Ozark Mountains, and even more hot springs.

Along the way, consider detouring slightly to visit Hawksbill Crag (pictured below), one of the best viewpoints in Arkansas.

Whether you want to hike, soak, shop, or simply relax and enjoy the views, Northwest Arkansas is a delightful getaway.

This trip can be completed over a long weekend, but 5 days would be ideal.

hiker standing on hawksbill crag in northwest arkansas ozark mountains

From Carole of Travels With Carole

For one of the best road trips in Texas , begin in El Paso and head southeast. 

West Texas is filled with art, much of it BIG Texas art.

Before reaching the iconic West Texas art hub of Marfa , you’ll encounter some roadside art stops that include the “Giant” movie set installation featuring huge cutouts of stars Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson.

This is followed by stops at the Prada Marfa store that never opens, and at the railroad-side World’s Smallest Target Store that is complete with a shopping cart. 

kate storm in front of prada marfa in west texas, one of the best road trips in america

The tiny town of Marfa itself is home to the Chinati Foundation’s series of huge indoor and outdoor installations located on a former military base, as well as a plethora of art galleries–one of which displays Andy Warhol’s “The Last Supper.” 

In addition to art, Marfa has a viewing center where locals and visitors alike congregate at night hoping to see the area’s legendary and unexplained bouncing light orbs.

And if that’s not enough, you can also dine at the Stripes convenience store where Anthony Bourdain ate a fried burrito while filming what turned out to be his last episode of “Parts Unknown.” 

This is just the tip of the iceberg of a fascinating visit to this area. 

Allow 3 nights to visit this area and another night or two for an excursion to Big Bend National Park.

fort davis drugstore hotel in west texas with a pink truck parked in front of it, part of one of the best road trips in us southwest

Northern Michigan

When considering the best road trips in America, the Great Lakes are often overlooked in favor of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts–but for a magnificent summer road trip through one of the USA’s hidden gems, head to northern Michigan.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior are located a mere five hours or so apart if you drive directly.

And, if you’ve never set eyes on the Great Lakes, this road trip will defy your expectations of what lakeshores look like!

view of fall foliage with lake in the foreground on michigan upper peninsula

Between them, be sure to take a step back in time at Mackinac Island, one of the best places to visit in Michigan.

Here’s the twist, though: no cars are allowed on the island, so you’ll need to leave yours on the mainland during your island escape!

Plan for about a week to make the most of this USA itinerary.

arch rock formation on mackinac island michigan

From Zach & Julie of Ruhls of the Road

Kauai is one of the most unique and beautiful destinations on earth.

However, when most people visit, they experience the inside of their resort and maybe a few beautiful places on day trips.

In truth, the best way to experience this incredible island is on a road trip to all of the best places on the island!

To start your Kauai road trip, go to the number one destination on the island: the Na Pali Coast.

The Na Pali Coast defies description, it is a place you have to see to believe.

The best way to see the area is on the Awa’awapuhi Trail, but make sure you hike the trail on a clear day for the best views!

Na Pali Coast of Kauai Hawaii. Kauai is one of the best road trips in USA.

From here, check out the Alakai Swamp, a boardwalk that also boasts incredible views.

As you leave the Na Pali Coast area, head down towards Waimea and see the Waimea Black Sand Beach.

Moving along the coast, stop at the Poipu area and see one of Kauai’s famous Hula shows.

Continue this coastal route and head into Wailua State Park. In this beautiful area, you’ll want to see Wailua Falls, Opaeka’a Falls, and hike the Kuilau Ridge.

The Kuilau Ridge Hike offers a 360-degree view of the Kauai landscape that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Finish your road trip by heading up to the Princeville area and checking out Queen’s Bath.

This is a beautiful tide pool that will make for the perfect ending to your Kauai road trip.

Make sure to check tides and go at low tide, as this area isn’t safe at high tide.

We recommend completing this Kauai road trip in 3 days.

twin waterfalls in forest in kauai hawaii

Road to Hana, Maui

From Jess of I’m Jess Traveling

When you think of Hawaii you may not think of a road trip but prepare to have your mind altered.

When traveling on the island of Maui driving the Road to Hana is a must!

The scenic drive takes you from Kahului to the east side of the island to the town of Hana. 

The Road to Hana is 52 miles of one-lane bridges, hairpin turns, and curves.

This drive will take up an entire day so make sure you pack lots of snacks and fill up for gas beforehand.

black sand beach in Waianapanapa state park on road to hana maui, one of the best things to do in usa

The winding road takes you past jaw-dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls, and exotic flora.

Some highlights of this drive include Ho’okipa, Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Honomanu Bay, Wailua Falls, and the awe-inspiring Wai’anapanapa State Park.

Don’t forget to wear your bathing suit and pack a towel because pulling off the side of the road to take a dip in the ocean or swim under a waterfall is the name of the game.

Buckle up, enjoy the ride, and prepare for a trip of a lifetime.

You can drive the Road to Hana in a day, but if you’d like to savor the experience, consider camping or staying in Hana town for a few days to make sure you see all the best sights along this road trip in the USA.

Bright blue water as seen along the Road to Hana in Maui, one of the best USA road trip itinerary ideas

Alaska Road Trip (Anchorage to Valdez)

From Wendy of Adventurous Retirement

Alaska is filled with excellent American road trip opportunities, especially in the summer.  

Start in Anchorage, when the museums are open.

Visit the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn about the indigenous people of the ‘last frontier’, and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center to learn about the history and culture of Alaska for free.

Take the Trolley tour for a fun overview of Anchorage, its history, and the earthquake of ‘64.

Ride the free shuttle to the Ulu factory, and check out the salmon runs at Ship Creek.

On day 2, head to Palmer and visit the Iditarod Museum before driving to Hatcher Pass.

Go to the high point for incredible views, hike the trails, and admire blue mountain lakes. 

Continue on this road to loop back to town.

Matanuska Glacier near Valdez Alaska. Alaska is home to some of the best road trips in USA

From there, head to Matanuska Glacier, located one hour from Palmer. Spend day 4 hiking to and on the glacier. 

After that, drive toward Valdez Alaska on the Scenic Richardson Highway. It’s about 3 hours to Valdez.

Stop at Worthington Glacier Recreation Area to see the glacier or hike it. Stop at the various pullouts to view the waterfalls along Thompson Pass and the Highway.

If the salmon are spawning, visit Crooked Creek and see if you can spot a bear fishing for dinner.

While in and around Valdez, also consider taking an all-day wildlife glacier cruise, visiting the Valdez Museum and Annex, and visiting the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum.

This is a 5-day, 6-night road trip that keeps visitors busy every day. 

3 photos of usa travel destinations: alaska glacier, havasu falls, portland maine. black and red text on a white background reads "25 bucket list usa road trips"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

6 thoughts on “25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)”

Love all these ideas and inspiration for my next trip!

Thanks Jess! So hard to choose.

So many fantastic ideas – I can vouch for the awesomeness of WA, my home state! I am itching to get driving!

We are too! Hopefully we’ll all be able to soon. 🙂 We’d love to get back out west this year!

Everybody skips over Arkansas and Missouri when they suggest road trips, big mistake. Some of the best driving roads and scenery are located in the Ozarks and Quachita National Forests. Start in Springfield, Mo to the north. Stops could include Branson, Mo, Buffalo National River, Little Rock, Ar, Hot Springs, Ar, Talimena Scenic Drive from Mena, Ar then back north through the river valley of Fort Smith, Ar,, up Hwy 23 (Pig Trail) to Historic Victorian Eureka Springs, Ar. Then back to Springfield, Mo. You could easily spend 10-14 days on this road trip and see very diverse entertainment, scenery, hiking and waterfalls, mineral and hot springs, mountain and valley vistas. Best time to travel would be spring and/or fall. Scenery rivals anywhere in the country.

It is a beautiful part of the country! We actually visited Eureka Springs the weekend we got engaged, stayed at the Crescent. 🙂 We had someone signed up to contribute the Ozarks to this post but we haven’t heard back from them yet–maybe we’ll add it ourselves during a post update!

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The Ultimate Guide to USA Road Trip

Although it’s tempting to head overseas every time you get a bit of vacation time, taking a road trip around America can be just as eye-opening and exciting! A USA road trip can help you see parts of the country you may not have considered visiting before and will give you a better understanding and appreciation of the beauty of landscapes within the United States. 

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Renting a vehicle for a drive across America (or using your own) and heading out to discover what many consider to be their own backyard can be just as fun as heading to exotic locations. 

A cross country road trip is the perfect holiday option when flights are expensive or if you are looking for a more eco-conscious way to explore the country. Whether you only have a few days or want to take a 2-week road trip, USA destinations can really surprise you! There are plenty of road trip ideas and itineraries to explore.

Check out our latest Road Trip

USA Colorado road trip car RV campervan 6104 1

Traveling Soon?  Here is a list of our favourite travel providers and accessories to help get you ready for your upcoming trip! Book Your Accommodation HERE Search for Great Tours HERE Get a Car Rental HERE Buy Travel Insurance HERE See our Favourite Camera Bag HERE Grab a Reusable Water Bottle HERE or a Filtration Straw HERE Order an eSim HERE

Best 2 Week Road Trip – USA Routes

You don’t need to cram a whole 48-state road trip into 2 weeks. These 2 week road trip ideas highlight the best of different parts of the USA.   

West Coast America Road Trip: California, Highway 101

This west coast USA road trip is definitely a classic road trip option as the Californian highway is peppered with lovely towns with views of the Pacific Coast. Typically planning a California 2 week road trip, USA, along Highway 101 calls for driving from San Francisco to San Diego (or the reverse) and has several stops along the way.

Top eco-friendly destinations: san-francisco-fishermans-wharf

Of course, it’s your 2 week US road trip so hit whatever stops interest you, but here are a few destinations suggestions for your west coast of USA road trip.

  • Start your road trip adventures in San Francisco and take a tour of the city highlights along with a stop at Alcatraz . 
  • Head to Santa Cruz and stop at the amusement park, Beach Boardwalk . 
  • Don’t miss Monterey , which has boutiques, bars, and restaurants in converted factories. The area also has Monterey Bay Aquarium , which is actively involved in conservation efforts. 
  • Next, the coast highway will take you to Big Sur a mountainous area, national park, and one of the most famed places on a 2 week road trip across America. Slightly below is San Simeon , where you can view migrating elephant seals. 
  • Pismo Beach is known for its wineries and beaches, and Monarchs migrate south to this area in the cooler weather. 
  • See the architecture in Santa Barbara , California.
  • Include Malibu in your USA road trip planner to see the beach.
  • Experience Hollywood in Los Angeles
  • Finish your trip at the galleries and museums in San Diego.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA road trip

A California Highway 1 USA road trip, west coast, offers a huge variety of experiences . There really is a little something for everyone along this route. If you like Pacific coast scenes, this is the best US road trip for you.


Chicago to Los Angeles Road Trip, Route 66

This stretch is a historic route and one of the most famous trips around America. Route 66 deserves a try if you want to drive part way across the country on a 2 week cross country RV trip.

Chicago, IL, USA road trip. Photo by Bert Kaufmann via Flickr CC

  • Start your USA road trip planning in Chicago (or you could end here if you choose). It allows you to visit one of the many museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago . 
  • Next on your US trip head to see the arch in St. Louis
  • Drive through the heartlands of Oklahoma with stops in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City, both of which are known for their architecture. 
  • Route 66 also passes through the upper tip of Texas , which takes you through Amarillo and also through Jericho Gap , where many cars once got stranded in the mud on old Route 66 on their road trips of America. 
  • The beautiful views and varied landscapes of the Midwest continue through New Mexico (be sure to stop in Albuquerque and Santa Fe , New Mexico).
  • Travel America via Route 66 to Arizona, with Flagstaff and Sedona taking center stage as points along the two week road trip, USA.
  • Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard are good points to visit while you are in Los Angeles, California. 

Route 66 is one of the most iconic road trips in the US and often listed as one of the best US road trips. If you have more time then consider extending your trip into a 3 week road trip across America. However, if you do extend ensure you consider the additional cost to drive across country.

East Coast Road Trip: New York City to Miami, Route 95

An east coast USA road trip has a lot to do, and being able to take it at your own pace is a good way to go . Add the following places to your US road trip planner to make the most of your America trip.

Cityscape of New York city with Empire State Building

  • Start your America road trips in New York City, where you can visit the Statue of Liberty , attend a Broadway show, or hit all the major sites in New York with a guided tour . 
  • From there, head south through Baltimore (which is worth a stop!) 
  • Continue down to the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, where you can view many of the sites on a “hop on hop off” bus tour . 
  • This route will also take you through the beautiful states of Virginia (possibly stop in Richmond ) and North Carolina before you hit Savannah on your roadtrip. America is full of history and lovely architecture in this area.
  • Once you hit Florida , you will head through Jacksonville , West Palm Beach , and Fort Lauderdale.
  • If you want to veer off of Route 95 just a bit, you can visit the oldest town in the US, which is St. Augustine. It’s filled with museums, lovely buildings, and a Spanish fort from the 1500s.
  • Once you end your journey in Miami , you can head to South Beach, visit the Art Deco district, or take an airboat ride to view alligators in their natural habitat.

If you are an American road trip planner who wants a taste of a little bit of everything or if you are history buff then you might consider Route 95 one of the best road trips in USA.

: Road trip around America stop: Miami Beach, Florida

This 2 week road trip across America takes you between two of the nation’s biggest cities , gives you a chance to explore the past, and will win you over with the charm of the people you meet along the way. However, if you are going to be indulging in the big cities ensure you include that in your road trip USA budget.

Colorado Road Trip

If you want to experience the beauty of inland United States, Colorado definitely delivers. For this route, consider starting your road trip USA planning in Denver

  • Visit the Lookout Mountain and take a tour of the Rocky Mountains . 
  • S pend a day in Boulder and take a tour of Rocky Mountain National Park and experience the trails. 
  • The Glenwood Springs area offers some of the most gorgeous views of any American road trips, so have your camera ready! 
  • Grand Junction is next, which is home to parks, trails, and the Colorado National Monument . 
  • You can also stop in Ouray , which has lots of hiking options and then be sure to stop for a day in Mesa Verde National Park , which is full of history from the Ancestral Pueblo people.
  • Other stops along the way include Buena Vista – home of the Rio Grande National Park Forest – and Colorado Springs – where you can take a segway tour of the Garden of the Gods .

We think this is one of the USA best road trips for getting close to natural destinations and exploring national parks. If you are self-contained and stay in free camping spots along the way you can really reduce your road trip across America cost too.


Southern USA Road Trip: Savannah to San Diego

Heading from coast to coast can be one of the USA best road trips as you get a glimpse of what each state offers.

Sunny day in Atlanta in the winter. USA

  • Start your road trip routes in Savannah , Georgia, a quintessential southern town with beautiful architecture and trees dripping with Spanish moss. 
  • Then stop Atlanta for a 1.5-hour highlight tour of this capital city .
  • The route also passes through popular US towns such as Birmingham , Alabama ; Jackson , Mississippi ; and Shreveport , Louisiana . These towns all showcase America’s southern history and sites that were significant in the civil rights movement. 
  • Then you will arrive in Dallas , Texas , where you can take a tour to learn about this historic city .
  • Continue on to El, Paso, Texas on your road trip USA before you get to beautiful Tuscon, Arizona , where you can add a bit of adventure to your trip by exploring history on a scavenger hunt .
  • End your trip in San Diego by exploring the historic old town on a narrated trolley tour .

Downtown Atlanta. USA

Road trip routes through the Southern United States will give you a taste of Southern charm and will give you a chance to learn about the civil rights movement – exactly where it took place. However, keep in mind that big-city travel can really cut into your cross country road trip cost so be wary of your spending there if you are trying to keep your road trip America cost low. 

Road Trip Across America: Cost Considerations

If you have ever considered a road trip across America, you’ll have asked yourself “how much does it cost to drive cross country?” and considered the cross country road trip cost .

If you don’t have a vehicle at your disposal, you’ll need to rent one. It’s practically impossible to rent a car in the US for less than $40/day and it’s really hard to find a deal for an RV for under $100/night. So this will affect your road trip America cost – but it is a necessary expense.

Beautiful road ahead. Colorado. US

Add in spending on gas, accommodation, food, etc and your cost of cross country road trip will quickly add up , making what seemed like a great vacation idea seem like a rather expensive getaway.

We’re always crunching numbers and asking ourselves, “how much does it cost to travel around the world?” But we really had no idea of the road trip across America cost!

Planning for our trip, we knew that sticking to a small daily budget was going to be tough, but we wanted to see if we could keep our road trip across America cost to $125/day for two people (Spoiler: we almost did!).

How Long Does it Take to Drive Across America?

It is totally up to you to decide how long does it take to drive across the US. Each of the road trip routes we have suggested can be completed comfortably in two weeks . However, there are innumerable things to do along the way and the States is a big country so you can take as long as you like.

Road trip america cost

We met people who had been on the road for years, making their way slowly across the country. So, as you can imagine, there are no hard and fast rules to answering how long does it take to drive across America – the decision is up to you!

But how long does it take to drive across America non-stop anyway? If you weren’t in it for the journey and were just trying to zoom from coast to coast as quickly as possible, you could do it in 35-45 hours. Some people even take it a step further and take on the 48 states in 10 days route . This is a surefire way to check off tons of states on your list but we much prefer to enjoy the journey as much as the end destination.

Is it Safe to Drive Across America?

Of course! Always be sure to educate yourself on state driving laws while following the speed limit and being aware of your surroundings. There are A LOT of large transport trucks on American highways so be mindful of passing etiquette and you’ll be good to go.

Cross-Country Road Trip Cost

Here is a detailed breakdown of our cross-country road trip cost to help you answer the question of “how much does it cost to drive across the country?” It is based on our 16 days 3,000 mile/4,500kms road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles .

If you are wondering “How much does it cost to drive across the country?” the first thing to consider is the cost of driving itself. 

The cost of driving from Chicago to Los Angeles was by far the biggest percentage of our overall USA road trip budget . We knew that we had to find a cheap way to get around or this USA road trip ideas would quickly be thrown out the window.

Beautiful roadside views! Roadtrip USA

RV Rental – $610 ($38/day)

Luckily, we were able to use some of the tips and tricks we learned while traveling around Australia to determine how much it would cost to travel across America. Then apply them to help our 2 week cross country RV trip cost in the US.  

We were lucky to have been able to find a GREAT DEAL for a campervan rental at just $39/night.

While it wasn’t as good as $1/day, the deal offered us a longer rental, giving us more time on the road , and a brand new (hence the factory relocation) massive RV for our cross-country road trip. It was big enough for 7 people, so having all the space for just 2 of us felt like absolute luxury. 

The total for 16 days/15 nights added up to $610 of our cross country road trip cost.

The interior of our Cruise America RV. Road trip planner

READ NEXT: 12 Best Van Conversion Companies That Will Build Your Van for You

Fuel – $682 ($42/day)

Gas ended up costing a bit more than we would’ve liked on our 2 week road trip across America, adding up to almost 30% of our total travel budget . With 3,000 miles (around 4,500 km) ahead of us on our 2-week road trip, we knew that we’d need around 6 tanks of gas to get us from Chicago to Los Angeles , but we underestimated the cost of gas across the country and our RV’s efficiency on the road. How much does a cross country road trip cost? More than we thought as far as fuel was concerned.

Cruise America RV on the road in Iowa. 2 week cross country rv trip

Propane = $60 ($4/day)

When budgeting for our trip, we completely forgot to account for the cost of propane . It didn’t add up to a lot, which was surprising considering that the stove, fridge, furnace, and water heater in our RV were all powered by propane. All things considered, it was a small drop in a big bucket but should be accounted for if you’re the designated road trip USA planner.

Accommodation Costs = $179 ($12/day)

Despite the fact that our RV was completely self-sustainable (it was equipped with a shower, toilet, and a full-size kitchen), we weren’t able to spend more than 2-3 days away from an RV park during our trip.

America RV road trip

To our greatest surprise, RV parks in the US weren’t as cheap as we expected. We planned on spending $10-15/night for a powered site, but in reality, we never found anything for less than $30/night. It was yet another thing that added more than we thought to our United States road trip cost.

On nights when we didn’t need to be plugged in, we followed seasoned RV’ers advice and parked in Walmart parking lots or enjoyed being away from it all by finding an isolated spot in the middle of a forest road just off of our trip routes.

Road trip USA

Food Costs = $339 ($21/day)

To keep our cross country road trip cost down, we choose not to eat out on this trip and cooked most of our meals in the RV . But we didn’t deprive ourselves.

We stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies, good quality meats, and nutrient-rich ingredients. Let’s face it, American groceries tend to be a bit more expensive than what we had been used to in Costa Rica so we had to keep our food expenses in check. Since our American road trip budget didn’t allow for daily meals out, we made sure to cook up a storm and make a big deal out of our meals.

We drank wine, enjoyed some beers, and even splurged on desserts! Needless to say, we weren’t starving throughout our trip and our food and drinks expenses reflected that.

Road trip USA On our long-term travel

Cost of Supplies

Rv supplies – $292 ($18/day).

It cost us a few hundred dollars to stock up on various supplies for the RV . There were a few road trip accessories that we can’t believe we didn’t think of before our trip and some bedding and kitchen supplies.  

Cruise America offers to rent bedding and crockery to guests for their USA road trips but we figured that we could find much better quality stuff if we were to buy it ourselves for our 2 week cross country RV trip. And we did!

Cruise America RV inside bedroom. Road trip USA

At the end of the trip, we took all the supplies up to Oksana’s parent’s house in Canada. One day, we’ll dig them up from storage in the basement and use them for another drive across America! 

How much does a road trip cost? A lot less when you already have the supplies from a previous trip!


Mobile Phone – $60 ($4/day)

To stay connected on the road we purchased a 30-day 10GB mobile data plan from T-Mobile for $60 . It was a pricey investment and one that we completely forgot to account for at the beginning of planning a road trip across the States, but being able to stay connected and keep up with our work while on the road warranted the expense. 

Oksana working in the Cruise America RV. Road Trip USA

A great alternative, which we didn’t know about it at the time, would have been a Solis Hotspot . Solis Hotspot offers flexible data plans , including Unlimited Data plans for heavy users or a Pay Per Use plan at just $9/1GB ideal for someone who just wants to stay connected and keep up with emails/messages or spends hours on social media while on this trip.

Cost of Activities – $160 ($10/day)

We didn’t spend a ton of money on activities throughout our road trip across America . Cost was factored into many of the things we did. 

We splurged on a Cog Railway ticket to the top of Pikes Peak, because hiking up the mountain wasn’t an option in my condition , and our 30 foot RV wouldn’t have made it up the winding roads either. Luckily, it was a great journey and money well spent.

Road trip USA: Max & Oksana peaking out of Cog Railway en route to the top of Pikes Peak. Rocky Mountains. Colorado. USA Road trip

National Parks Pass – $80

Another expense that we incurred on the trip was the cost of a yearly National Parks Pass ($80) . We got lucky with our timing as the first week of our trip coincided with the Annual National Parks Week , which gave us access to all National Parks across the country for free.

But by the time we got down to Arizona and California, the deal was off and the steep price at the Grand Canyon and at the Joshua Tree National Park made the $80 we paid for the pass completely worth it.

Under the stars in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Road Trip USA

We think that $80 for an annual park’s pass was very reasonable. Especially considering they were some of the highlights of our American road trip. You can pre-purchase your National Park’s Pass here .

2 Week Road Trip USA – Total Cost – $2,382 ($149/day)

Our road trip across America cost us $2,382, or an average of $149/day between both of us for a 16-day road trip across the US. 

It’s more than the $125/day that we planned on for our USA road trip budget, but we’re not kicking ourselves for it. Our estimate for how much would it cost to travel across America was a bit off, but we had a great experience despite a bit of increased road trip cost.

RV Camp site, part of the road trip USA budget

Looking back on our spending patterns, we realized that the biggest cost drivers were RV rental and gas . And while it might be possible to reduce the daily gas costs by staying on the road for longer and spreading the cost of gas over more days, the increase in daily RV rental would probably offset that.


How to Save on USA Road Trips

Looking ahead, we are not giving up on our mission to find more cost-effective ways to enjoy USA road trips . Next time, we plan USA road trips we will cover shorter distances (and save on gas in the process), look for even better relocation deals, and use some of our existing supplies to help us save on USA road trips costs. 

Road trip USA: Beautiful views on our American road trip

We are confident that we can make it happen on future road trips, USA! Of course, having now put together this handy cross country road trip cost calculator it will be helpful in estimating all travel costs ahead of the trip. 

We hope that this info can also aid you in determining how much your road trips USA may cost.

Road Trips USA – Eco-Friendly Tips

American road trips USA can take its toll on the environment but there are ways to minimize its effects. Not to mention, we tend to find that the more eco-friendly a trip is the more cost-effective trip too!

  • Choose a hybrid model or energy-efficient vehicle whenever possible.
  • If you’re driving your own car or an RV get it serviced prior to your USA road trip. Your RV or car rental agency will do this for you but you can still check your oil and tire pressure regularly while you’re on the road for better fuel efficiency.

Road trip USA: A road in Colorado

  • When it’s hot out roll down the windows instead of using A/C for better fuel economy.
  • Choose eco-friendly accommodation options , and restaurants while on the road. Try camping or staying in national parks like we did, and shopping for food at local farmers markets.  
  • Avoid single-use plastics and minimize packaging by using reusable grocery bags and collapsible containers when you need to restock food and refreshments. 
  • Don’t forget to invest in a good reusable water bottle.
  • Bring your friends! It’s always better to travel with a full car or RV. A five-person vehicle is so much more eco-friendly and cost-effective than traveling with a couple of two-seaters.

Your USA Best Road Trips Await

No matter what USA road trip routes you take, one thing reigns true – the United States is filled with variety! From mountainous regions and oceans to historic cities and untouched land, there are so many things to do on a two-week road trip for a variety of tastes.

Hanging Lake, Colorado. road trip USA

We hope this article will give you the USA road trip ideas and tools you need to plan your trip. See you on the road

Do you have any questions about an American road trip? Itinerary planning? Road trip suggestions are always welcome!

Read Next: Road Trip Essentials: 50 Things To Bring On A Road Trip

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Oksana & Max St John

34 thoughts on “the ultimate guide to usa road trip”.

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Excellent article. I was wondering what it was costing you to travel around. I know in New Zealand I got a great deal on Toyota Space Wagon and it was very cheap. Obviously your RV was much larger and better equipped but it’s still fairly expensive it would seem.

We never paid for RV parks or stuff either, we used to sneak into hostels and use their showers (I was young and on a budget so forgive me)!

But I remember the freedom of travelling around in the car and the complete freedom was an amazing feeling. I have been wondering how a road trip across America would compare to my recent trips to Uzbekistan and other more average priced destinations. It seems that the price is comparable if there are two people travelling.

Thanks for information.

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We know we didn’t get the best deal on the campervan itself, so that’s a cost we can improve on, but the rest of it really just comes down to the price of gas and groceries. That’s really where the bulk of the costs comes from. Also, if you don’t have a large RV with a toilet and/or shower and don’t need to dump gray/black water, then there is really no need to stay in RV parks in the US either. There are tons of truck stops along the highways where you can actually shower and use the toilet for free or for next to nothing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for us. At least not with this RV.

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Your pictures are beautiful! 🙂 My dad always wanted to take RV trips, but they can definitely be more expensive than you would expect.

Julia http://www.thephillyphotoblog.com/

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Thanks for sharing! I would love to do a road trip across the US in the next few years, and may look at doing an RV. My husband and I are doing a short RV trip from Darwin, Australia in a few weeks, and we learnt that it’s definitely not cheap – especially when we didn’t want to use Wicked, plus needed a guaranteed Auto. (Luckily as a travel blogger I managed to get a good discount!)

We found Apollo to be great in that part of Australia. They had some great $1/day deals from Darwin to Perth when we looked into it. If you end up doing more road trips in US or in Australia, look into Imoova – great rates on relocations in both Australia and the US.

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My friend told me about how RV’ing is a huge culture down in the United States, and that it is quite common to park at Walmart parking lots overnight to reduce costs. I thought he was just kidding about that, but you have confirmed that it is not the case. I would have assumed you would get ticketed or towed if you did that.

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Also, you can overnight at some large truck stops, some casinos, and our state parks and national parks are very reasonably priced, but some of the more popular ones are reserved up to a year ahead. For self-contained (no hook up)/boondock/’dispersed’ camp sites, there are many free places in the western part of the country–BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and COE (Corps of Engineers). Campendium is a good resource to find these.There are also apps where you can find pump outs and potable water to refill your tanks, without staying in an expensive RV park.

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Nice post. So its cost you close to 2400US dollars for the travel. You guys really have a huge budget for the journey.

We usually travel on a budget of $100/day between both of us, which isn’t that high at all! On this trip, we went a bit over budget, which sometimes happens. Luckily, we are able to offset more expensive trips like this one with cheaper destinations and make sure that we stick to our $100/day budget on average for the year!

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Sounds wonderful! We have recently retired and are really wanting to travel west, being from Illinois, but we always thought the RV would be way out of our budget. But, when you consider hotel rooms and restaurants in a car(even a fuel efficient one like ours), the RV rental makes a lot of sense. I always see them parked at Wal-Mart’s and truck stops. One question? Can we make it to Los Angeles, up the Pacific Coast Highway, Yosemite and back to Illinois on Hwy 80 in 2 weeks?

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@SALLY Miller : I don’t see why not ,but here’s the thing , why would you want to put yourself in time constraints ? Taking you on that trip is about 5300 miles dividing that into 14 days is about 350 miles a day, taking you to Portland Or. and back. I’d try to take more time if it were me .

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Did you ever drive and stay in the cities at that RV? Is that possible to go through Chicago by the way?

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We mostly stayed in National Parks or in designated RV sites. There were some in the cities, but we did not stay in Chicago. We started our trip just outside of Chicago, so we did not need to drive through the city. But, there is no reason why you would not be able to go on the highway with your RV.

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I am amazed and excited to read about your journey. It would help me a lot in planning my trips. You missed my country Pakistan. I suggest that you should explore the cultural city of Lahore and Northern Pakistan. Let me know if I can be on any help.

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Thank you soooo much for posting all this detail! Our family of 4 (maybe 5 if the niece comes along) is going to do about a 3k R/T Eastern Canada trip and I can actually apply so much of your budget to our trip. And your resources. You’re legends – the both of you!

You seriously don’t know how much I appreciate this!!!

Happy to hear that you have found the post helpful. Enjoy your adventure 🙂

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Thanks for all the great information, sounds like you had a wonderful time. My family and friends are planning a USA trip from Australia next September 2020. I was wondering who you went with for the hire of the RV? Thanks Tracey

We hired our RV through Cruise America. They had a great relocation deal that helped us save tons on the rental.

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How did you rent your camper so cheap? Cruise America is quoting me over $5,000 for a two weeks. Thanks Nathan

We scored a great relocator deal! You have to be flexible with your dates and your route and you can find some great budget-friendly options.

For those who don’t know, a “relocator deal” is when they need the rig moved to where you are going. You are actually transporting the vehicle for them, and using it along the way.

Thanks for all the tips!

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I enjoyed visiting your webiste. I rarely leave comments, but you definately deserve a thumbs up!

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Just read your post on your drive across America from Chicago to LA. I have been wanting to take my family on a cross country trip for along time. I was just looking at RV rentals and chose Cruise America like the one you used. What am I missing? A standard RV rental for cross country trip both ways from GA to CA is over $4000 even with a 50% off promo code. You don’t just have to pay for the rental, you have to pay for mileage also. I was expecting a cross country budget for my family of 6 (me, my wife, and 4 daughters all under 9 years) to be around $5K-6K . The cost of RV rental would almost double that budget estimate and puts this trip out of reach. How did you rent an RV for 16 days for $600+?

Hi Will, we mention our “trick” in the article a bit. We found a great relocation deal for our road trip. These are quite common and are offered by many RV providers, but they do require you to be somewhat flexible with your dates and sometimes even destinations. A relocation deal is a special discount offered on one-way rentals when the rental company really needs to get an RV from one destination to another. Instead of hiring a worker to drive the RV to the desired destination, they put the vehicle up for rent, specifying the dates and route that needs to be taken. It’s worth looking through the deals if you have flexibility. Good luck with your search!

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I just checked RV price on Cruiseamerica.com and the price is far more expensive from what You presented.

Estimate (All Prices USD $) 15 Nights $1270.05 1500 Estimated miles: $525.00 Supplemental Liability Insurance: No Charge Environment Fee: $7.00 Subtotal: $1802.05 State Tax: $108.12 Damage Deposit: $500.00 Total Charge: $2410.17

Hi Dario, yes regular price for an RV will be much higher. We got ours through a relocation deal. It was a one-way rental deal with a particular route and for specific dates. Check their relocation deals and see what they might have on offer right now. Keep in mind that you will need to stay flexible with dates and route if you want to score a deal like we did.

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I have an interesting situation. Our leased car has 7000 miles left over due to lock down. So only gas cost is there. It is a suv large size very comfortable but gas consumption will be high. Your suggestion of national park tickets in membership is a good one.. thanks for your tips. If you had included Things not to miss would have been great.

Glad you found the tips useful. Hope you find a fun way to use up those extra miles on your car. Sounds like a road trip is a must!

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I’m planning a cross country road trip from NY to California and need suggestions on itinerary and best sightseeing routes, places to stay etc. I found your article very informative, thanks

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Such a fascinating read. It’s amazing to see a full break down of what you paid for your road trip! Thank you for the amazing tips, and info, this really helps!

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Hi dear Oksana&Max I’m Dariush from Iran. I enjoyed this text.thanks for excellent description about your trip. I hope could make program to travel to the us in close future. I invite you to come Iran. I can be your free host. Hope to see you

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Thank you for sharing your incredible travel journal. Amazing Mind Blowing Video.

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Good you explained everything in detail it has been a great help. Thanks for sharing the Useful and Informative Blog. Wonderful travel blog along with beautiful pics. This is the amazing Travel Plan.

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Are you ready for a Road Trip? Explore these eleven incredible cross-country road trip routes across the U.S.!

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Pacific Coast

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Border to Border

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The Road to Nowhere

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The Great River Road

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Appalachian Trail

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Atlantic Coast

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The Great Northern

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The Oregon Trail

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The Loneliest Road

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Southern Pacific

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Classic American Road Trips

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Pacific Coast Highway

Starting at the northwest tip of the United States at Washington’s Olympic National Park and remaining within sight of the ocean all the way south to sunny San Diego, this 1,650-mile, mostly two-lane road trip takes in everything from temperate rainforest to near-desert.

Highlights along the Pacific Coast Route: Olympic National Park (WA), Three Capes Loop (OR), Redwood National Park (CA)

mountain landscape with overlaid text reading Route 66 Road Trip

Historic Route 66

The romance of traveling along historic Route 66 from where it starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles continues to captivate people around the world. If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, rusty middle-of-nowhere truck stops, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Highlights along Route 66: Chicago (IL), Meramec Caverns (MO), Tucumcari (NM), Painted Desert (AZ), Santa Monica (CA)

usa road trip budjetti

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Books-A-Million
  • Indigo (Canada)
  • Powell's Books
  • Apple Books

big sky and water adjacent to a road with overlaid text reading the loneliest road trip

Running coast-to-coast from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland, “The Loneliest Road in America” is a 3,200-mile odyssey from sea to shining sea. US-50 passes through a dozen different states, four state capitals, and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

Highlights along the Loneliest Road: South Lake Tahoe (CA), Moab (UT), The Million Dollar Highway (CO), Washington D.C.

suspension bridge backed by forest with overlaid text reading The Oregon Trail Road Trip

Following in the footsteps of pilgrims and pioneers, US‑20 takes in a little of everything during its two-lane trek from Oregon’s rugged coast to the glorious sea and sand of Cape Cod.

Highlights along the Oregon Trail: Cannon Beach (OR), Fort Boise (ID), Yellowstone National Park (WY), Mt Rushmore & Carhenge (NE)

trees with vivid fall color with overlaid text reading The Great Northern US-2 Road Trip

Dubbed the Great Northern in memory of the pioneer railroad that parallels the western half of the route, US‑2 is truly the most stunning and unforgettable, not to mention longest, of all the great transcontinental road trips.

Highlights along the Great Northern: Tumwater Canyon (WA), Glacier National Park (MT), Lake Michigan (MI), Acadia National Park (ME)

The Open Road

The Appalachian Trail

This driving route of the Appalachian Trail parallels the epic hike. From the top of New England to the heart of Dixie, it takes you through continuous natural beauty—without the sweat, bugs, or blisters.

Highlights along the Appalachian Trail: Mt. Washington (NH), The Poconos (PA), Shenandoah National Park (VA), Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC)

lakes and green landscape with overlaid text reading the Great River Road Trip

Old Man River, Father of Waters, “body of a nation,” Big Muddy: By any name, the mighty Mississippi River cuts a mythic figure across the American landscape. Tag along from its headwaters in Minnesota to where it meets the sea in Louisiana via the GRR.

Highlights along the Great River Road: Main Street USA (WI), St. Louis (MO), Natchez Trace Parkway (MS), New Orleans (LA)

dense city on a peninsula with overlaid text reading the Atlantic Coast Road Trip

Starting at the Statue of Liberty and ending with a drive across the Overseas Highway to free-wheeling Key West, these almost 2,000 miles of roadway run within earshot—if not sight—of the Atlantic Ocean.

Highlights along the Atlantic Coast: The Statue of Liberty (NJ), Assateague Island National Seashore (MD), Savannah (GA), Cocoa Beach (FL)

old Spanish-style church with overlaid text reading the Border to Border Road Trip

Starting at Canada’s Jasper National Park, and winding down in the Sonora Desert, this route traverses some of the wildest and most rugged lands imaginable: mighty mountains, glaciated valleys, raging rivers, and two very different deserts.

Highlights along the Border to Border Route: Columbia Icefield (AB), Bitterroot Mountains (MT), The Extraterrestrial Highway (NV), Joshua Forest Parkway (AZ)

dunes with overlaid text reading tThe Road to Nowhere US-83 Road Trip

Once the only entirely paved route from Canada to “Old Mexico,” US‑83 cuts across America’s heartland and remains a must-do long-distance byway—transnavigating this broad, odd nation without once grazing a conventional tourist destination.

Highlights along the Road to Nowhere: Sitting Bull Memorial (SD), Nebraska Sand Hills (NE), Monument Rocks (KS), Paint Rock Pictographs (TX)

trees draped with moss with overlaid text reading the Southern Pacific US-80 Road Trip

Following old US-80 and its contemporary equivalents takes you through more varied cultural and physical landscapes than you’ll find along any other cross-country route. From deserts to bayou swamps and Tex-Mex to barbecue, this route offers a full-flavored taste of America.

Highlights along Southern Pacific: The Desert View Tower (CA), Tombstone (AZ), Roswell (NM), Civil Rights Movement National Historic Trail (AL)

US map showing the 11 cross-country road trips on roadtripusa.com

Two Drifters

25 Best Road Trips in the USA for an Epic Adventure

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Travel in America is synonymous with the open road, with taking a road trip to see some of the nation’s most beautiful sites. But which routes make for the best road trips in the USA?

If you don’t have months to spend road tripping the whole of the US, what should you prioritize?

We haven’t been everywhere, but like the quote says, “it’s on our list!” To help us create this ultimate guide to the best American road trips, we asked some of the most well-traveled people we know: our fellow bloggers.

Together, we’ve come up with a collection of fantastic USA road trip routes, spanning all parts of the country. 

Craving a sunny Southern adventure? We’ve got it. Want to see the best fall foliage in New England? We know the perfect road trip. Whatever your desires (and however long you have) consider this article your essential USA road trip planner. 

So, where will you go first?

The Ultimate Guide to the Best USA Road Trips

We’ve divided these great American road trips by region. Some of that, like the famous Route 66 for instance, could fit in multiple categories since they cover more than one area of the country. 

For each road trip route, we’ve included the approximate distance you would travel from start to finish. Keep in mind that this does not account for stops, detours, or any additional mileage, but refers to the rough distance you would expect to cover along the entire route.

We’ve also included recommended time frames for when to take these terrific United States road trips (the slower you can go, the better), plus suggestions for the best time of year to travel. But no matter what, you’ll definitely be visiting some of the top destinations in the USA !

Western USA Road Trips

Some might argue that the best USA road trip is one taken through the American West. It would be hard to dispute this, given the spectacular scenery and vast, open roads in the Western states. Here are some of the best road trip routes to follow in the Western US.

California US-395: Joshua Tree –> Yosemite 

  • Distance: 375 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 1 week
  • Recommended for: mid-September to mid-October

US-395 is a beautiful back road that stretches from southern California all the way north to the Canadian border.  Though the route encompasses over 1300 miles, we’re going to focus on the most scenic and attraction-filled stretch between Joshua Tree and Yosemite National Parks.   

Joshua Tree National Park is a dynamic desert paradise in southern California.  Situated 150 miles south of Las Vegas and 100 miles east of Los Angeles, this under-appreciated park is a great place to start a California road trip.  After spending a day or two exploring everything Joshua Tree has to offer, head north on CA-247 to the junction with Historic Route 66 in Barstow.  

Desert landscape with prickly trees and hills in the background as the sun sets.

After a kitsch-filled pit stop in Barstow, head east on CA-58 to pick up US-395.  Traveling the length of California via 395 is a great way to experience the highly diverse natural scenery of the state.  From Joshua Tree, the vast lonely expanse of desert slowly morphs into the dry mountainous terrain of the Eastern Sierras.  

With Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park to the east and Sequoia National Forest and National Park to the west, this first leg of 395 offers plenty of options for places to stop and explore, or even camp, if you’re feeling adventurous.  

Heading further north envelopes you in mountains on both sides – desert crags to the east and snow-capped shrubby peaks to the west.  You’ll pass Kings Canyon National Park, North Palisade Peak, the thick towering woods of Inyo National Forest, and the utterly breath-taking Mammoth Lakes ski region.

Hook a left onto CA-120 at Mono Lake, and carve your way up the switchbacks and over the mountains guarding the world-famous Yosemite Valley. And if you have a couple of days to spare, jump back on 395 and head another 110 miles north to Lake Tahoe !

(Submitted by Scott, Take Back Roads )

  • Distance: 2400 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 1-2 weeks
  • Recommended for: Spring and fall

Known as The Mother Road, Route 66 stretches from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean. Beginning in downtown Chicago and ending at Santa Monica Pier, this epic road trip covers more than 2,400 miles through eight states. It’s one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System, and driving it is to travel America’s past.

Much of the original alignment has been replaced by interstates, but there are still many miles of two lanes where you can see some of the country’s quirkiest roadside attractions. You’ll want to allow at least one week, and preferably two, to make sure you can stop frequently.

And you will want to stop often.

Route 66 sign on the road in the desert.

There are giant Muffler Men in Illinois, the Wagon Wheel Motel in Missouri, a giant blue whale in Oklahoma, and Cadillac Ranch in Texas. There’s even a Singing Road in Albuquerque; drive exactly 45 MPH and that stretch of Route 66 plays America, the Beautiful. Other stops include an abandoned mountain lion zoo, a corner in Winslow, Arizona, and a mining town populated with roaming donkeys. It’s a string of ingenuity and Americana.

The best times of year to drive Route 66 are Spring and Fall. During the milder seasons, you’ll avoid snow in Northern Illinois and through Arizona’s and California’s mountain passages. You’ll also miss some of the blazing heat in the Mojave Desert.

Of course, the best part of driving Route 66 is the people you’ll meet along the way. When you drive through these small towns and historic landmarks, take a moment to meet those who are keeping this piece of America alive.

(submitted by Theresa, The Local Tourist )

San Francisco, California –> Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

  • Distance: 524 miles
  • Recommended for: Summer and early fall

A road trip from San Francisco to Crater Lake National Park is full of surprises. It goes along HW 101 (with small detours) and features a variety of volcanic activity en route that will capture your imagination.

You should allocate one week for this trip. The first stop on this trip is at the town of Redding which is a great place to explore attractions within 40 minutes’ drive radius from town, which includes Lassen Volcanic National Park and Mc Arthur Burney Falls State Park.

Lassen Peak at the center of the Lassen National Park is an active volcano which results in a variety of unique geological activity like steam vents and sputtering hot mud. There are a lot of beautiful hiking trails in the park featuring mountain streams, lakes and the aforesaid volcanic activity.

A clear road leads through a mountainous landscape.

Mc Arthur Burney Falls State Park is centered around an amazing waterfall that is absolutely worth a side trip. Plan to spend a couple of nights in Redding.

The next stop of this road trip is Mt. Shasta, which is an active volcano as well. There are lots of hiking trails on the mountains at different elevations and the higher up you are the views are amazing. There are also a couple of lakes in the area that are worth exploring, including Lake Shasta and Lake Siskiyou. Plan to spend a couple of days here as well.

The final destination is Crater Lake National Park which was created by a volcano explosion over 7000 years ago. This trip is best for July- September because in other months there is a risk that a lot of trails on Mt. Shasta and in Lassen National Park may be closed because of snow.

(Submitted by Tatiana, Family Road Trip Guru )

Southwest Road Trip: Las Vegas, Nevada –> Page, Arizona

  • Distance: 272 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 5-7 days
  • Recommended for: All seasons (check for latest conditions)

A wide open road surrounded by red desert formations as the sun glows.

Utah National Parks Road Trip

  • Distance: 533 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 2 weeks
  • Recommended for: Summer and fall

From Las Vegas, the first stop would be Zion National Park (2-3 days), followed by Bryce Canyon (1-2 days), Capitol Reef (2-3 days), Arches (1-2 days), and Canyonlands (1-3 days). 

Cars drive on a road through a rocky landscape.

There is so much to see at each park, but some of the best include Angels Landing, The Narrows, Hidden Canyon, and Canyon Overlook at Zion; Mossy Cave Trail and Navajo Loop/Queen Gardens Trail at Bryce Canyon; Hickman Bridge, Cohab Canyon, Cassidy Arch, Headquarters Canyon, and the overlooks at Capitol Reef; Delicate Arch, Devil’s Garden, Fiery Furnace, and Park Avenue at Arches; and finally Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome, Whale Rock, The Needles Overlook, and Newspaper Rock at Canyonlands.

Some awesome side trips if you have time, or trips for along the drive, include Snow Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kodachrome Basin, Goblin Valley, Edge of the Cedars, and Deadhorse Point State Parks.  Lake Powell, Grand Staircase Escalante, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Natural Bridges are all great options, too.

(submitted by Megan, Red Around the World )

Southwest Texas Road Trip

  • Distance: 720 miles
  • Recommended for: Spring or fall, any time of year

When most people think of visiting Texas, it’s usually the big cities that come to mind: Austin, Dallas , Houston . But if you truly want to get off the beaten path on a U.S. road trip, then you need to head waaayyy west in Texas for an epic one-week road trip that will see you exploring quirky small towns, marveling at the expansive desert and skirting the Mexican border.

This is a road trip where you may go hundreds of miles without seeing another vehicle. You can do this trip at any time of the year, but the weather is more temperate during spring and fall.

Start this trip in El Paso, which sits right on the border of Texas and Mexico. Spend a day here, exploring museums and street art, or tackling one of the great hikes in the area. Alternatively, hit the road straight away, bound for Fort Davis. The outdoors rules here: there are plenty of hikes to choose from, or join a Star Party to explore the skies at the McDonald Observatory.

Your Instagram account will love Marfa, a small, arty town that’s high on the cool factor. Pose in front of the Prada Marfa art installation, visit unique galleries like Ballroom Marfa and see if you can spot the Marfa Lights – are they UFOs? You be the judge. Make sure you time your trip to spend a weekend in Marfa – much of the town shuts down during the week.

An empty road leads through a mountainous landscape.

Next, you’re heading to one of the U.S.’s most underrated national parks: Big Bend. There are two ways to get there, but I recommend taking the far more scenic Texas River Road, a 120-mile route that begins west of the small town of Presidio. Along the way, you’ll have gorgeous views of the Rio Grande, splitting the U.S. and Mexico with its winding waters.

In Big Bend, there are plenty of hikes for all fitness levels. A must is the Santa Elena Canyon, an easy hike which ends with stunning views from inside the millions-of-years- old canyon.

To explore Big Bend, base yourself in Terlingua, a town of 60 people, most of whom you’ll find sitting on the porch of the Terlingua Trading Store, sipping beers, telling tales and strumming a guitar or two. Wander the Terlingua Ghost Town to see the cemetery, old jail and church and learn about the town’s mining history.

Stop in at Marathon for a peek inside the historic Gage Hotel. In Alpine, check out the tiny Target “store” (yep, yet another art installation) before heading back to El Paso, where this unique U.S. road trip ends.

(Submitted by Rebecca, Rebecca and the World )

Read Next: Omni La Mansión del Rio Review: A San Antonio Getaway

The Pacific Coast Highway: California Highway 1

  • Distance: 650+ miles
  • Suggested itinerary: one week, ideally 10-14 days
  • Recommended for: late spring-early fall

California’s HWY 1 runs nearly the entire length of the state and is one of the best road trips in the county. This ribbon of road follows the dramatic coastline filled steep cliffs falling sharply into the sea. 

Some of the best bits of this 650+ mile-long stretch of pavement are along the central coast. One of our favorite sections of the drive starts in Pismo Beach in the south up through just after the Bixby Creek Bridge near Monterey in the north. 

A big bridge goes over a cliff near the water.

If you plan to tackle just this section you should give yourself about three days to truly experience it. While physically driving this piece of pavement can be done in a little over a half a day – once you are there, you’ll realize quickly that there is a lot to pull over for. If you wanted to do the entire length of HWY 1, we’d suggest to allow for at least a week, but 10-14 days would be better. 

The are so many great stops along the central section of HWY 1 but a few you should not miss are: the Elephant seals of Piedras Blancas, the Hearst Castle, McWay Waterfall, Bixby Creek Bridge, Monterey Aquarium, and Morro Rock of Morro Bay. It would also be a sin not to linger in the Paso Robles Wine Region along the way and make sure to catch the sunset at Ragged Point. These are just a few highlights to add as waypoints, but there are countless vista and memories to be made with a  road trip along California’s Highway 1 .

(Submitted by Adam & Hannah, Getting Stamped )

Badlands to Yellowstone to Grand Tetons to Rocky Mountain National Park Tour

  • Distance: 857 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 10 days
  • Recommended for: July-September

Roughly 1,000 miles will take you through a diverse range of climates, 3 states, and four beautiful national parks. The best time to take this 10 day road trip depends on your comfort level with driving in the snow! July-September is the safest range; June and October will have less traffic but also a higher risk of snow road closures. 

Be prepared for minimal cell coverage while in the national parks. Making advance reservations ahead of time for lodging & dinner is highly recommended!

Day 1:  Badlands National Park,  take a hike and drive the main park road, look for bison, prairie dogs & bighorn sheep.

Day 2: Drive from Badlands National Park on 90W, stopping to gawk at the extremely touristy Wall Drug shopping plaza. Continue on for some nature at Devil’s Tower National Monument. 

A group of bison stand in a field under a blue sky.

Day 3: Drive into the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Explore Lake Yellowstone with a hike or a boat ride and walk along the eerie geysers of the Mud Volcano area.

Day 4: Drive towards the north side in YNP, stopping by to see the petrified tree, Yellowstone Falls, and then touring around Mammoth Hot Springs.

Day 5: Head south in YNP, looping to hike the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook (see more details in this list of top ten yellowstone hikes for families ), and then head over to see the Old Faithful area.

Day 6: Drive south into the Grand Tetons National Park; stopping by the small but engaging National Museum of Wildlife Art. Once you’re in the park, walk around Coulter Bay and drive the Teton Park Road.

Day 7: Take a boat ride across Jenny Lake and hike to the famous Hidden Falls. Drive over to Mormon Row, finishing in nearby Jackson Hole for shops & breweries.

Day 8: Drive on 26 S down to Rocky Mountain National Park. To break up the drive, stop by Wind River Hotel & Casino in Riverton, WY, where you can dig for fossils or visit wild horses.

Day 9: Enter through the Grand Lake side of Rocky Mountain National Park and take the famous Trail Ridge Road, stopping to visit the alpine visitor’s center and pick a hike to round out your day.

Day 10: Get up early and visit Bear Lake, taking an easy stroll around the picturesque water or extend your hike up to Emerald Lake. Add on an easy waterfall hike like Alberta Falls or Chasm Falls, and visit the Sheep Lakes area to spot wildlife.

(submitted by Stephanie, Explore More, Clean Less )

Northern Colorado Road Trip: Denver –> Boulder

  • Distance: 236 miles
  • Recommended for: early May-late September

A northern Colorado road trip packs in a little bit of everything from urban adventure and Rocky Mountain trails to small-town Americana and Dude Ranch fun. Head out to Colorado any time between early May to late September to get the best of the weather.

Your ten-day road trip starts in Denver , the mile-high city where you’ll spend two days exploring the city’s museums, craft beer scene, cool neighborhoods, and epic street art.  

Next head north to Loveland where the Devil’s Backbone makes for epic hiking. Loveland is the sculpture capital of the US so be sure to drop by one of the town’s three sculpture parks before checking in at Sweetheart Winery for a glass or two of Loveland wine. Before you leave, lock in your love by fixing an engraved padlock at the big red Loveland sign.

A view of an alpine meadow with mountains in the background.

After your night in Loveland head north to Red Feather Lakes and saddle up at Sundance Trail Guest Ranch. Spend two days enjoying horseback rides in Roosevelt National Forest, campfires and s’mores and good home-cooked ranch food.

Small town Americana is next with a one-night stop at Fort Collins. Get stuck into Farm to table dining with some of the state’s freshest and best food. Take a bike ride around the town’s cycle path and check out the art trail. Stay at the gorgeous Armstrong Hotel.

The mountains are calling and it’s time to head to the Rocky Mountains and stay in a cabin at Estes Park for three nights. You’ll have easy access to the park’s trails and scenic walks around beautiful lakes and trails with stunning vistas. In the evenings explore the town’s lively restaurant and bar scene.

Boulder beckons for your final night. Check out the lively town and the bars, restaurants and shops. Buy some souvenirs,  and pop into the Museum of Contemporary Art before heading home.

(submitted by Suzanne, The Travel Bunny )

The Cascade Loop – Northwest Washington

  • Distance: 440 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 4 days-one week+
  • Recommended for: Spring-Fall 

The Cascade Loop Scenic Highway is a 440-mile scenic road trip through  northwestern Washington. The journey begins just north of Seattle in the town of Everett.

Highlights along this route include charming small  towns such as Snohomish, the antique capital of the Northwest and Wenatchee, the apple capital of the world!

Feel like you’ve been transported to Germany as you stop by the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, complete with beer gardens, alpine-style lodging, and plenty of festivities throughout the year like their annual Oktoberfest. 

Not too far from Leavenworth is Lake Chelan, the 3rd deepest lake in the US. The towns of Chelan and Manson are 2 gems along the 50+ miles of the lake’s shoreline.

Though the real highlight of this road trip is the unbelievably scenic drive through the North Cascades mountains. You’ll want to be sure to do this drive in a counter-clockwise direction, as the eastern approach on the North Cascades Highway is not nearly as impressive when driving west to east.

A clear road leads through a mountains landscape surrounded by tall trees.

Also, it is important to note that the North Cascades National Park is one of the snowiest regions in the world, getting up to 600 inches in some parts of the park. As a result, the North Cascades Scenic Highway (a portion of the Cascade Loop) closes from mid-November/December to usually around April. So, if you want to do the Cascade Loop in its entirety, you’ll want to avoid these months.

The route closes out on Whidbey Island, which honestly is a destination in and of itself! From nature reserves to wineries to farm-to-table dining experiences, Whidbey has so much to do! One could easily spend more than a week on the Cascade Loop and not see it all. It is recommended to spend no less than 4 days driving the route for that reason.

The towns of Leavenworth, Manson, Mazama, and somewhere within the Methow Valley are great resting spots. There are way too many highlights to cover in this brief introduction, so be sure to check out Forget Someday’s detailed write-up about the Cascade Loop Scenic Loop and start planning your own epic road trip through Washington’s most stunning scenery.

(submitted by Toccara, Forget Someday )

Southern USA Road Trips

The American South is an enchanting place, and it is home to some of the best road trips the USA has to offer. From the coastal beaches to the Deep South up to Tennessee and Virginia, here’s where to embark on some of the Great American road trips. 

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

  • Distance: 469 miles
  • The BRP runs from Rockfish Gap, VA to Swain County, NC
  • Suggested itinerary: 4 days
  • Recommended for: Spring-Fall (Many sections closed in Winter)

Deep South Road Trip: Mobile, Alabama –> New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Distance: 144 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: one week
  • Recommended for: Mardi Gras (February)

Historic Southern USA Road Trip

  • Distance: 565 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 2 weeks (1 Day in Charlotte, 1 day in Myrtle Beach, 4 days in Charleston, 2 days in Savannah and 4 days in Atlanta.)
  • Recommended for: Early spring or early fall

The South of the United States is full of hidden gems and rich history. Our favorite southern road trip is from Charlotte, NC to Atlanta, GA. To see the most beautiful spots along this route you need at least two weeks to fully immerse yourself in the welcoming southern culture.

The best time to do the Southern Historic Road Trip is either in early Spring or early Fall as the temperatures are not as warm as in the Summer and it is less crowded. During Saint Patricks Day week several of the destinations are packed as they are known for their epic celebrations.

It is important to reserve accommodations beforehand for Savannah and Charleston to avoid inflated prices.

A clear walkway surrounded by thick trees leads to a fountain with water.

Start your road trip in Charlotte as the airport has good flight deals. While you are in Charlotte make sure to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and take a stroll along The Green or the Romare Bearden Park for the best skyline view of Charlotte.

The next day on your way to Charleston, stop at the beach to enjoy some relaxing time on the water. Our favorite beaches are in Myrtle, SC.

In Charleston, you will want to stay longer because it is a beautiful city, used as the backdrop for countless romantic movies. The city is so rich in history with many museums and plantations to explore. Our favorite things to do in Charleston are: Walk around the historic district and take photos at the Rainbow Row, visit the Magnolia Plantation and visit the Nathaniel Russell House.

After experiencing Charleston the next stop is only a 2-hour drive away; Savannah. Just like Charleston, Savannah is a magical city that will bring you back in time and make you feel special. It is a beautiful city known for its 22 squares around the city. The best things to do in Savannah are walk along the River, take a stroll at the Forsyth Park and enjoy a delicious ice cream at Leopold’s.

The best way to finish your historic road trip in the South is in Atlanta. Atlanta is a growing city that is becoming more popular among travelers, due to its airport connecting the whole world. Our favorite things to do in Atlanta are to visit The Coca Cola World, The Georgia Aquarium and of course a free tour of the Martin Luther King Jr house.

(Submitted by Steven + Jazmin, Travel to Blank )

Southern East Coast: Charleston, Savannah, Orlando

  • Distance: 387 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 1 week+
  • Recommended for: October-April

Charleston and Savannah are two popular road trip stops in the southeastern United States for good reasons. Both have a long history, rich culture, and amazing food. Driving from Central Florida, plan to spend at least a week, splitting it into about three days in each city. While you can visit in either order, we chose to go from Orlando to Charleston and then back to Savannah before returning to Orlando.

Since this road trip takes you along the east coast, the best weather falls between November and March with October and April only slightly warmer in Savannah. Avoid July and August if possible as the heat and humidity are at the highest. Keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June to the end of October, but peak season is in August and September.

(Two Drifters note: Amy grew up in Ormond Beach, Florida which falls along this route. Stop there for some nice beaches and try to make a stop at St. Augustine too, the oldest city in America).

In Charleston, history fans won’t want to miss Fort Sumter. Take a ferry and explore the fort, learning the history behind it while you are there. Make sure to take a walk along the Battery in Charleston as well to enjoy the beautiful homes along the waterfront.

There are many plantations in the area, and Boone Hall is the best for photos with its oak-lined driveway. Several of the original slave cabins are still standing which is rare. Drayton Hall is another plantation in the area and still stands because of a yellow ribbon. The yellow ribbon during the Civil War warned of smallpox. Because of the yellow ribbon outside, the troops continued by instead of burning it to avoid catching the deadly disease.

As far as Savannah goes, come hungry and leave full. One of Savannah’s most popular restaurants is Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. Make sure to arrive very early as the line can sometimes grow to be hours long and plan to make friends as the food fills the tables of 10. Originally built in the mid-1700s, The Pirate House is a unique dining experience thanks to the architecture of the historical building. Don’t forget dessert – stop by Savannah Sweets to finish off your meal with delicious chocolates and fudge.

Once you are full, make sure to walk around and enjoy the beautiful architecture. Several homes in the area offer tours if you want to see the inside and learn the history of the home. If you are too full to walk, take one of the trolley tours and enjoy seeing what the city has to offer that way.

For the perfect week-long southern road trip, put Savannah and Charleston on your list! 

(submitted by Christine, Live Love Run Travel )

Tail of the Dragon, Cherohala Skyway, and the Smoky Mountains 

  • Distance: 226 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 3-5 days
  • Recommended for: May

Deep in the heavily wooded mountains of the American southeast is an unexpected paradise for driving and riding enthusiasts.  Straddling the Tennessee-North Carolina border, the Smoky Mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park are home to some of America’s best and most challenging roads to drive.  

Motorcyclists and sports car collectors in particular flock to this region nearly year-round, and with good reason.  Sweeping curves and hairpin turns wind their way up and down all across the region, with interchanging mountain and lake vistas constantly threatening to pull your eyes off the road.  The twists are often sharp and the dropoffs often steep, so long glances at the passing landscapes are very dangerous indeed – at least for the driver!

When we traveled to the region, we started at our campsite near the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg TN.  Spend a day exploring the distillery and adjacent historical village. I also recommend checking out the adorable town square in nearby Winchester TN .   Driving the loop around the Franklin County courthouse is to step back in time to the 1950s. 

After we took a swing south through Chattanooga, we headed back north and picked up the Cherohala Skyway in Tellico Plains, TN .  Similar to the more widely known Blue Ridge Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway winds its way through the peaks and valleys of the Smoky Mountains.  It offers incredible sweeping panoramas with pull-off parking areas for safe viewing. The road switches frequently between tight curves and long, arcing bends, making for a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable drive.  

View of mountains as far as the eye can see in the fall.

The Tail of the Dragon, conversely, is chock full of narrow, tight turns and switchbacks.  From the Skyway, take County Roads 1127 and 1134 around picturesque Santeetlah Lake to the intersection with US-129.  Turn left onto 129 and head north into Deal’s Gap, the proverbial start of the Tail.  

From Deal’s Gap, you will engage in one of America’s most challenging roads.  Home to 318 curves in an 11-mile stretch, the Tail of the Dragon will push all skill levels of motorists to new limits.  There isn’t much to see along the route, but it doesn’t matter – it’s unlike any road I’ve ever driven before. It twists and winds and rips in ways I’ve never experienced, and will challenge even the most experienced driver/rider.  It’s an absolute thrill to drive, and is one of many must-see experiences in the beautiful Smoky Mountain region!

(submitted by Scott, Take Back Roads )

Midwest Road Trips

Could it be that the best America road trips are found in the central part of the country? Perhaps! These travelers share some awesome road trip itineraries for road trips in the Midwest. 

Omaha, Nebraska –> Kansas City 

  • Suggested itinerary: one day or more
  • Recommended for: spring-fall

We recommend doing a day trip from Omaha, Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri which will take you through four states, a detour to visit the Amish Country and plenty of cornfields to discover along the way. You can take this 3-hour road trip any time of the year except during winter might be a bit too cold.

Start the day right with an acai bowl at The Grove Juicers in Omaha before you head off on your road trip. As you cross over from Nebraska into Iowa, before coming back into Nebraska, you’ll pass by loads of cornfields. Stop by and explore the fields like you’re in the movie, Field Of Dreams.

About an hour and a half into the trip, you’ll come to Pawnee City, Nebraska which is home to around 15 Amish families. We recommend popping by the tourist center to learn more about them and if you’re lucky, one of their Kountry Shop s might be open so you could purchase some of their carpentry masterpieces.

Another two-hour drive away and you’ll come to the vibrant Kansas City. We recommend starting your trip at the Union Station which is a beautiful art deco building you’ll want to spend some time walking around. Make sure you go up to the balcony to see some amazing views of the building and learn all about the history of it.

Colorful city skyline at night with neon lights.

Then head over the road to the World War 1 memorial and take in the views of Kansas City. There’s also a museum there that you’ll want to check out. We also recommend driving 15 minutes out of the city to the Community of Christ temple. It might sound a bit random but it’s an incredible temple that you probably won’t have seen anything like it before. It has Wizard Of Oz vibes going on which is spot on for considering you’re in Kansas.

End the day at Knuckleheads Bar which is on the outskirts of Kansas City. This famous bar is located in an industrial area which will make you wonder if you’ve arrived at the wrong place. Harley Davidson bikes will line up outside the bar and as you wonder whether it’s safe to go inside, you’ll embrace a biker and tourist bar that is like no other. With amazing bands playing throughout the day and night and if you’re lucky some Elvis impersonators might be performing. You’ll be dancing the night away with the bikers to finish off a memorable road trip.

(submitted by Annie, Londoner in Sydney )

Michigan Road Trip to the Upper Peninsula: Kalamazoo –> St.Ignace, Michigan

  • Distance: 293 miles
  • Recommended for: mid-May through September

From the southern cities in our Lower Peninsula, it can take 4-6 hours to the top of the state….before you enter the Upper Peninsula.  Allow a week for driving time and unexpected pleasures along the way.

From southwest Michigan, it’s a 4-hour drive up 131 to M88 to Bellaire…small-town America at its best! My granddaughter and I spent two nights in a cozy B & B to ensure plenty of beach time. Torch Lake has boat rentals, Barnes Beach on Lake Michigan in Eastport has a campground as well. Both places were within a 40-minute drive from the Inn. 

The third day we headed west to Sleeping Bear National Park…it took an hour and 1/2 driving through Traverse City’s festival traffic to Empire. Well worth car time to experience the Dune Climb with great views of Glenn Lake on one side and Lake Michigan on the other.  It took 30 minutes to get back to Traverse City where we boarded a tall ship for the night.  

A weathered wooden walkway is empty and goes around a beach landscape.

Fourth day, the scenic drive up Hwy31 to I 75 took about two hours…and another fifteen minutes driving across the Mackinac Bridge. We took the ferry from St Ignace and spent three days on the island.

POINTS OF INTEREST: Shoe Tree north of Kalkaska on Hwy 131, Barnes Beach in Eastport, Dockside beach and restaurant on Torch Lake, Dune Climb near Empire, scenic drive on M 31 north along Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan, Island bike rentals, horseback riding, shopping.

HELPFUL TIPS: Book lodging and Tall Ship cruise and/or Bed and Breakfast package in advance. Check maps, GPS doesn’t work in some remote areas. Stop at the Visitor center in Empire …very helpful in finding your way around the massive park! Whether a day trip or a couple nights stay on the island… you can do it all! Bikes and horses priced by hour.

ITINERARY: Can be flexible…this worked for us: 2 days in Bellaire area, 1 day in Empire/Park, 1 day in Traverse City, 2 days/3nights on island before heading home.

(Submitted by Joan, Gramcracker Crumbs )

The Great River Road

  • Distance: 3,000 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 4-10 days
  • Recommended for: Any time of year, especially fall 

The Great River Road follows the Mississippi River through ten states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

The 3,000-mile journey takes around 36 hours and between four to ten days, depending on how many stops you make. You can start in Minnesota and work your way down, work your way up from Louisiana, or hop on anywhere to explore the road by section or state.  Just follow the green pilot wheel signs that mark the way.

On the road trip route, there are small towns, welcome centers, museums, breweries, wineries, locks, and roadside attractions to stop at, along with plenty of scenic overlooks to admire the “father of waters.”

A father and sun point while looking out at the water.

You won’t want to miss seeing the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Illinois, the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Missouri, Nelson Dewey State Park in Wisconsin, or the Delta Blues Museum in Mississippi.

The drive, marked by impressive greenery and panoramic river views, is beautiful any time of year, but especially so in autumn when the leaves change crisp shades of orange. Consider taking your road trip in September, known as Drive the Great River Road Month, to join the annual celebration of America’s oldest National Scenic Byway

(Submitted by Val, Silly America )

Southern Indiana Road Trip: Chicago –> Southern Indiana (Santa Claus, IN)

  • Distance: 381 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: at least one week
  • Recommended for: late spring through the end of summer

For our latest fantastically fun road trip, we started out from our hometown of Chicago and meandered through the countryside to the rolling hills of Southern Indiana with stops at Santa Claus, French Lick, and Bloomington. What a great time!

We told Santa our wishlists for Christmas, visited a theme park (and ate all the food), visited the “8th wonder of the world” while playing a game of chess, gave the sweetest elephant a bath, learned about Tibetan culture, and so much more! We had such wonderful memories visiting the Hoosier State! .   

Christmas is celebrated year-round at Santa Claus, Indiana. Head to the Santa Claus Museum  to learn about the town’s interesting history as well as to write Santa a letter (he replies back!)

For thrills and chills, head to  Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari  where holidays are celebrated every day with coasters, rides, and visits with Santa. Cool off with a frozen hot chocolate at  Santa’s Candy Castle.  Although you find reindeer at  Santa’s Stables , you’ll find some of the friendliest horses that will take you around the private trail.

An empty country road is lined by trees under a purple sky.

The resort community of French Lick  and  West Baden is steeped in history. You’ll never need to leave the French Lick Resort with two hotels, a free historic trolley between hotels, pools, a horse carriage, footgolf, bowling, and more!

While here, you’ll need to see the breathtaking 200-ft atrium at West Baden Springs Hotel which was once considered the 8th wonder of the world. If you do venture out you must make it your mission to visit  Wilstem Ranch  where they offer one on one special encounters with animals. How about giving an elephant a spa bath?

Bloomington, the home of the beautiful Indiana University, not only offers college cool, but also plenty of family fun. Learning is always fun at  WonderLab Museum.  Plus, they can lie down on a bed of nails! Really! 

Take a serene walk strolling through the grounds of the  Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center.  You can’t leave without walking through the iconic sample gates through Indiana University. Afterwards, grab an ice cream at  Hartzell’s, the neighborhood ice cream shop that dishes homemade ice cream with unique flavors.

(submitted by Cheryl, Oh the Places We Go )

The Ohio Art Corridor

  • Distance: 230 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 1-2days
  • Recommended for: Anytime, especially fall

The Ohio Art Corridor winds its way through the small, Appalachian communities of Southeastern Ohio. Launched in 2018, the art trail is designed to bring awareness to areas that are often overlooked while providing an affordable outing that families of all ages can enjoy together.

While Circleville, home of the annual Circleville Pumpkin Show, is the official gateway to the art trail, there is no one way to travel the corridor, but rather is best viewed by picking the attractions and small towns that interest you. 

It’s important to note that the trail does not follow one specific road so it may be hard to pinpoint a start and stop destination but I suggest that a stop at McConnellsville to see the “School of Fish” piece is somewhere on your list. The towering trio of fish can be viewed in a park along the Muskingum River and is the first art installation made specifically for The Ohio Art Corridor. The park provides plenty of parking with a nice pavilion where you can enjoy a picnic lunch.

Large red fish statues stand in a field.

The outdoor gallery spans over 230 miles across Ohio, making it impractical for most people as a one day trip but can ideally be broken up over a weekend or spread out over a week to allow plenty of time to explore the hidden gems in the small towns and communities it passes through.

The art pieces can be viewed at any time of the year but fall would provide amazing views with the changing leaves.

Other notable pieces include: The Flight of the Hawk in Lancaster ( a great spot for little ones to run around) The Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio and Gallery in Zanesville The Human Rights Garden in Portsmouth

(submitted by Tonya, Travel Inspired Living )

Amish Country Byway, Ohio

  • Distance: 160 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: 2 days or more
  • Recommended for: April-October (best in May or early September)

One of my favorite Ohio road trips is a drive along the Amish Country Byway.  The 160-miles of Byway allow visitors to enjoy scenic vistas and cultural stops, as well as many dining options.  

The best time to visit Ohio’s Amish Country is during the warmer months of April through October, however, summer and fall foliage times are the busiest, so visiting in May or early September allows for a more leisurely visit. Allow at least 2 days for your visit, but don’t visit on a Sunday, as most attractions are closed.

Amish buggies drive on a paved road in fall.

Begin your journey near Berlin, Ohio at the Behalt! Amish and Mennonite Center.  This 30-minute tour gives visitors the history of the Amish and Mennonite movement through the interpretation of a large cyclorama.  Next, drive State Route 39 to Walnut Creek, Ohio and have lunch at Rebecca’s Bistro. This local cafe is known for fresh ingredients and daily specials!

Continue on SR 515 North and marvel across the many hills and valleys of farmland.  Watch for pony carts and buggies, as they frequent this area and can be hard to see while coming over a hilltop.

On your right is Yoder’s Amish Farm. Stop here for a tour of the farmhouse and one-room schoolhouse, and then take a buggy ride!  If you are ready for dinner, a drive back to Walnut Creek to dine at Der Dutchman will give you a taste of typical Amish fare.

On your second day, either enjoy shopping in downtown Berlin or head to historic downtown Millersburg to look for antiques!  A stop at the Victorian House Museum or Millersburg Glass Museum just north of town on SR 83 will give you a better understanding of this village’s roots.  Enjoy lunch in downtown Millerburg’s Olde World Bakery & Cafe, or grab a beer at Millersburg Brewing Company. 

(submitted by Leah, Yoder Toter Blog )

Kansas I-70

  • Distance:  405 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: a few days-a week
  • Recommended for: June & July

Many people think that Kansas is a boring, flat state. I can tell you that it is not. One of the best road trips in the USA, is Kansas I-70. June and July are beautiful months to make the trek, as the wheat fields will be glowing and the Flint Hills will be gorgeous.

Start your road trip on the East side of Kansas. You will observe that the rolling hills on the East side of the state gradually give way to some of the most beautiful rock formations in America, as you travel West.

Kansas City, Kansas is a great starting point on the East side of the state, as you begin the 400+ mile road trip. After dining on BBQ in Kansas City, you will quickly want to embrace the rolling hills that this part of the state has to offer.

A stop in Manhattan warrants a ticket to zip through all 7 ziplines at Wildwood Adventure Park. As you continue West, be sure to stop in Abilene to experience the community pride that lives here. Hint: It’s all about America’s 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

As you continue West, swing through Lucas. Here you will experience the world-famous Garden of Eden. This is a work of art unlike anything you will find elsewhere. In fact, you can view the deceased body of the gentleman that created this masterpiece. Often referred to as the Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas, the town wears its name well.

Continue West where Oakley brings Monument Rocks. The rock formations are stunning, large and memorable. You can hike around them and take many pictures. Upon departing Monument Rocks, observe the wide-open skies and the cows that roam freely.

Exit 17 awaits you at Goodland, Kansas. Here you will want to take a photo of the Giant Van Gogh Painting and reflect on your fun road trip across Kansas I-70. You will quickly realize that Kansas is a state of wonder and majestic beauty.

(submitted by Sara, Travel With Sara )

Northeast Road Trips

We think that some of the best places to road trip in the US are in the Northeast! Particularly when the fall season arrives, the leaves change and the air is crisp and cool. It’s a great time to jump in the car and go for a drive. Here are some of the must-do Northeast USA road trips:

Route 6 in Pennsylvania

  • Distance: 400 miles
  • Suggested itinerary: several days – one week

Route 6 is a cross-country road that passes from Massachusetts to California, but one of the most beautiful stretches is the 400-mile drive through Pennsylvania. The road cuts across the primarily rural northern tier of the state passing near many of PA’s best outdoor gems. It enters the state from New York at Matamoras and runs into Ohio just west of Meadville.

While the trip can be done in just a few days, taking a week to complete the journey allows you to visit all the major stops including places like the Poconos, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, Cherry Springs State Park, and Kinzua Lake. Despite the trip being mostly rural, there’s also a lot of fascinating transportation and industrial history to explore in the city of Scranton.

A gorge runs through deep green hills under a blue sky.

The best time to complete this road trip is in either the summer or the fall. The summer has the advantage of all of the attractions, even those in the small towns, being open. On the other hand, while a few spots might be closed in the fall, the heavily forested hillsides are incredibly vibrant in the middle of October.

Having visited every corner of the state, I can say for sure that there is no better trip in PA than Route 6.

(Submitted by Jim, Uncovering PA )

The Adirondacks and Finger Lakes, New York

  • Distance: 380 miles
  • Recommended for: Fall

A road trip from Plattsburgh to Corning takes you through some of New York’s most beautiful scenery in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes. With an airport, car rental agencies, and lots of shops and services, the small city of Plattsburgh makes a good starting point.

About 50 miles southwest of Plattsburgh, Lake Placid is home to all sorts of Olympic sites. After spending at least a day there, reserve another half-day for The Wild Centre, a fascinating wildlife interpretation complex in Tupper Lake (30 miles west).

From Tupper Lake, drive roughly 170 miles southwest to Syracuse, where you can check out the Erie Canal Museum, the MOST science museum and the seriously good ribs at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

Twenty-two miles west, you’ll find the cute lakefront town of Skaneateles (pronounced Skinny-Atlas). Browse in gift shops, enjoy a wine tasting or take a boat cruise around Skaneateles Lake.

Another 22-mile drive west brings you to Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the American women’s rights movement and (some believe) the model for Bedford Falls in the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life .

A tall waterfall crashes down into a pool of water in a moody forest.

Next, point your car south and drive 41 miles along the shore of Cayuga Lake to Ithaca. Perhaps best known as the home of Cornell University, it’s also surrounded by at least 150 waterfalls.

The next stop is Watkins Glen, 24 miles west at the southern tip of Seneca Lake. Its claims to fame are yet more waterfalls (head to Watkins Glen State Park) and the Watkins Glen International racetrack.

Your final destination is Corning, 21 miles from Watkins Glen and best known for the fascinating Corning Museum of Glass.

This 380-mile route is spectacular in early October, when you can enjoy both the fall colors and the harvest season. Allot at least a week.

(submitted by Laura, Ottawa Road Trips )

New England Road Trip: Boston –> Burlington, Vermont –> Portland, Maine via New Hampshire

  • Recommended for: late spring through fall

(submitted by Two Drifters! )

New England is such a gorgeous part of the country, and it is perfect for a road trip. It is perhaps most prime for a fall road trip, when the foliage colors the landscape. 

There are six states in the New England region, and we absolutely recommend visiting them all, but if you want a great New England road trip that includes some of the highlights (especially in the Autumn) this is the route we recommend.

For a complete road trip of New England covering all six states, check out our full itinerary, which also includes options for Northern New England and Southern New England.

Colorful fall trees line an empty paved road.

This great drive takes you from Boston, MA up to the hip city of Burlington, VT. From there, you travel east through some of the prettiest parts of Vermont and New Hampshire all the way to Portland, Maine. On this route, you’ll see three of New England’s best cities, plus drive through many lovely country spots. It’s a nice balance. 

On your way from Boston to Burlington, enjoy the Vermont scenery. The Green Mountains are gorgeous. Along the way, consider stops at Manchester, known for its great shopping or Woodstock , an absolutely classic small Vermont town.

Plan to spend a few days in Burlington , the state’s biggest city. Perched on the shores of Lake Champlain, this is a great area for outdoor adventures, plus lots of great dining and craft beer.

Portland is similar to Burlington, with more beer (yay!) and lots of great shops and attractions. On your way to the coast, you’ll pass through the striking White Mountains of New Hampshire. If you have time, stop in these areas for some excellent hiking, camping, and sightseeing. More details in our full New England road trip guide.

What is your favorite American road trip?

Before you go .

Whether you’re in the planning or packing stages, we recommend these resources and travel essentials:

  • – Reliable Travel Insurance (don’t travel without it!)
  • – Amy’s favorite suitcase – this shiny hard-side Samsonite
  • – The backpack that everyone’s obsessed with
  • – Our go-to sites for booking hotels and finding cheap flights
  • – A backup battery pack for your phone (vital for us!) 
  • – A trusty water bottle that will keep you hydrated 

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Amy Hartle   is the author of Do You Love Me? How To Stop Seeking Reassurance in Relationships , a book on reassurance seeking and relationship anxiety. Both her book and this blog are born of personal experience; Amy shares expert relationship advice from the lessons learned during her own 10+ years with her husband, as well as couples travel tips and romantic getaway recommendations, all gleaned while traveling the world together.

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The Wanderful Me

  • North America , Road Trip , Things To Do

Looking for an incredible adventure? Consider going on an 1-month West Coast road trip. You’ll love the stunning scenery, breathtaking views, magical landscapes, bustling wildlife, and — of course — incredible memories! And to help you out, I’ve put together this ultimate 1-month USA West Coast road trip itinerary that’ll blow your mind!

The ultimate 1-month USA West Coast road trip itinerary that'll blow your freakin' mind.

Psst. This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure .

There’s nothing better than the big open road, a car with a full tank of gas, good company, and the opportunity for endless adventures.

That’s exactly what Dan and I experienced when we embarked on our incredible 1-month USA road trip across the West Coast earlier this year. In just 30 days, we visited 14 different states, nearly hit 8,000 miles in our little van, and made incredible memories. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Within these 14 days, we experienced a good number of things — both good and bad…

✓ Camped out in numerous Wal-Mart parking lots, only to be woken up by late-night truckers and visitors.

✓ Ate one of the best vegan donuts  ever , as well as my first vegan sausage McMuffin.

✓ Viewed the Mexico/US border from our car while driving to New Mexico from Dallas.

✓ Hiked in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix .

✓ Drove through the darkness to find a good FREE camping spot and star gazed in the middle of nowhere near Sedona, AZ .

✓ Explored the nooks and crannies of Zion National Park.

✓ Experienced strange things on the Las Vegas strip (completely sober BTW).

✓ Got locked out of our van in Yosemite National Park (yep — we were  those people!).

✓ Unlocked the van with a piece of string, a stick, and sheer willpower.

✓ Walked with the giants (Giant Sequoia’s that is) in Sequoia National Park.

✓ Camped on a desolate beach on the California Coast (only to be  almost caught by the DNR when we woke up!).

✓ Saw endless ocean views along the stunning Oregon Coast .

✓ Drove through blizzard-like weather in Montana .

✓ Made a few Buffalo friends while in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

✓ Safely made it back home to good ol’ Minnesota .

No doubt, it was an incredible adventure! In the end, this unbelievable west coast trip just made me realize  how much the United States really has to offer in terms of amazing natural beauty and fantastic places to explore.

So, with that in mind, are you ready to explore the United States with this awesome 1-month West Coast drive that’ll completely blow your mind? I thought so.

Side Note: This itinerary can also be used as just a general outline and inspiration! Bend it to your will and use it for West Coast road trip ideas; tailor it to find the perfect adventure for you!

Psst, ever thought about renting an RV for your US road trip adventure? Click HERE to read my post on 5 reasons why you need to rent one. (Hint: these reasons are pretty awesome!)

Table of Contents


Since Dan and I nearly drove straight from Minnesota to Dallas, TX in the span of a day and a half, I definitely don’t expect you to start there.

So, because Arizona is damn near my favorite state ever, this mind-blowing west coast USA road trip starts in Phoenix and takes you through incredible national parks, breathtaking landscapes, and along spectacular coastal roads.

You’ll end in Seattle, Washington, where you can easily hop on another flight to get back to where you need to be!


  • Day 1-3 : Phoenix, Arizona
  • Day 4-5 : Sedona, Arizona
  • Day 6-7 : Grand Canyon National Park
  • Day 8-10 : Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Day 11-13 : Death Valley National Park
  • Day 14-16 : Sedona National Park
  • Day 17-20 : Yosemite National Park
  • Day 21-22 : Sacramento, California
  • Day 23-27 : California/Oregon Coast
  • Day 28-29 : Portland, Oregon
  • Day 30-31 : Seattle, Washington

Additionally, keep in mind that this is just a general itinerary! You can pick and choose how you’d like to go about it. Like one destination more than you thought? Stay a bit longer! Not feeling the vibe of another destination? Peace out!

**One great thing about using Booking.com (which the accommodations are linked to) is that you can usually cancel last minute without being charged — which means you can be more flexible with your road trip!

Psst, before you pack up and head out, don’t forget to take a peek at my handy dandy list of 55+ essentials to pack for a long-term road trip !

Day 1: Phoenix, Arizona

Depending on how you arrive in Phoenix, whether it be by car or plane, the first day on your epic road trip adventure will no doubt be filled with fatigue and jet lag. Although, if you have the energy, it’s a great place to get out and explore.

If not, take that nap! You deserve it. We all deserve the naps.

If you’re looking for a great restaurant to eat in the day, depending on what time you arrive, check out my list on 10 fantastic vegan restaurants in Phoenix !

Vegan burrito, Phoenix. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Day 2-3: Phoenix, Arizona

Once you’ve rested and you’re reading to go, head out into the bustling city, as well as the city surroundings. Phoenix is a fantastic base for those who love to hike and those who love to shop. Whatever you’re choice, there’s options for everyone!

I recommend researching some awesome hikes in the nearby mountains; Superstition Mountains, Camelback Mountain, and the Phoenix Mountains. You can find some really great hiking trail suggestions here !

Additionally, if you’re not into hiking, the city of Phoenix offers a plethora of things to do.

Things to do in Phoenix:

  • Head into Scottsdale Old Town and explore the Wild West-looking buildings.
  • Check out the incredible Desert Botanical Garden and view adorable succulents, beautiful flowers, towering cacti, and gorgeous greenery!
  • Ready to view beautiful Phoenix from above? Go on a Sunrise Phoenix Hot Air Balloon Ride !
  • Depending on how hot it is, have a picnic in one of the many city parks.
  • Visit the Heard Museum, which is devoted to Native American civilizations.
  • Check out the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.
  • Admire the Pueblo Grande Ruin.
  • Spend time outside at the Tempe Beach Park.
  • Explore the the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Ro Ho En.
  • Ultimately, get outside because the weather is usually spot-on and there are  so many things to do in parks, greenery, and mountains of Phoenix, AZ!

P.S. Check out these day tours and excursions from Phoenix  if you aren’t into planning activities yourself!

Downtown Scottsdale • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Where to stay in Phoenix:

As in many cities, there are various neighborhoods which are better than others! A few of my favorite suburbs of Phoenix are Scottsdale, Chandler, and Mesa.

  • The Gainey Suites Hotel is a highly-rated hotel located in Scottsdale — and it’s surprisingly affordable!
  • The Comfort Suites Old Town is a more affordable option in Scottsdale that’s in an awesome location — right in Old Town!
  • In Chandler, the Cambria Hotel Phoenix Chandler – Fashion Center is an affordable, highly-rated option and is a guest favorite.
  • Mesa, Arizona is a nice suburb of Phoenix closest to some of the best hiking in the Superstition Mountains. You can find a list of great hotels here !

Hiking near Phoenix. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Day 4-5: Sedona, Arizona

Out of all the destinations, I think Sedona, Arizona might be Dan and I’s favorite place.

The gorgeous red rock, non-existent light pollution, beautiful landscapes, and unbelievable star gazing won over our hearts. We spent one awesome night camping just outside Sedona’s city limits before heading up to the Grand Canyon and it was totally worth it!

Seriously, I can’t even tell you how many shooting stars we spotted. We spent  hours outside looking at the crystal clear skies and crazy cool stars. It was an awesome night!

Plus, if you get to Sedona early, you can go on a tour through the awesome Red Rock State Park . Sedona is also a pretty cool town to check out, with its cute cafes, gift shops, and nice locals.

Things to do in Sedona, Arizona:

  • Hike one of the many different trails (like the Broken Arrow Trail — highly rated!).
  • Check out Oak Creek Canyon.
  • Visit Cathedral Rock.
  • Explore the Red Rock Scenic Byway.
  • Make your heart skip a beat by hiking the Devil’s Bridge Trail.
  • Check out one (or a few) of the many gift and specialty shops — the crystal shops are amazing here!
  • Visit the Palatki Ruins ( super   cool! ).
  • Take a look at the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
  • View Sedona from above and watch the sunset from the Airport Mesa.
  • Marvel at the Palatki Ruins (Palatki Heritage Site), just outside of Sedona in the Coconino National Forest.

And if you want to stay in Sedona for a bit longer and make it your base, check out these awesome day tours and excursions which go from the city.

Psst, if you want a more detailed itinerary, click here to read a full guide on how to spend one day in Sedona !

Palatki Ruins. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Where to Stay in Sedona:

  • The A Sunset Chateau is a great place for a relaxing and above-average stay.
  • The Bell Rock Inn By Diamond Resorts is highly-rated mid-range accommodation.
  • And the Sedona Village Lodge is for those on a budget but who still want to stay at a nicely-rated place!

Psst, want to camp out under the stars? Check out this post on how to find free RV camping around the US !

Also, if you want to spend more time in Arizona, don’t forget to check out my post on the ultimate 7-day Arizona road trip itinerary that explores Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona !

Starlit sky outside of Sedona. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Day 6-7: Grand Canyon National Park

No matter which route you take while traveling the west coast of America, you cannot — I repeat, you cannot! — miss out on the Grand Canyon!

Full of wonder and beauty, Grand Canyon National Park is a spectacular site in Northern Arizona which attracts hundreds and thousands of visitors each year. And when you first see it with your own eyes, it’s no wonder why.

Seriously, you may think you understand the enormity of it when you view the Grand Canyon in pictures, but they don’t do it justice! Its vast valley, mile deep ridges, and huge walls filled with the colors of red, orange, purple, and yellow is unbelievable.

Things to do in the Grand Canyon:

  • 45 minutes helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon from Tuyasan, AZ (the town right next to the Grand Canyon National Park).
  • Drive to one of the many viewpoints throughout the park.
  • Go on a Grand Canyon East Rim jeep tour .
  • Check out the Grand Canyon Village (surprisingly, a LOT of vegan options in the grocery store!).
  • Grand Canyon Hermit Road Bicycle Tour .

Sophie sitting in front of the Grand Canyon. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Have you ever heard of Minnesota? Here are 15 reasons why summers are better in MN !

Grand Canyon National Park. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Where to stay near or within Grand Canyon National Park:

Dan and I camped in one of the many National Park’s campgrounds — which I highly recommend! — but if you aren’t planning to camp, many accommodations are available.

  • For those on a budget: Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel
  • Mid-range hotel, yet high ratings: The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon
  • Great location, good ratings: Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn

Dan and Sophie in the Grand Canyon. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Day 8-10: Las Vegas, Nevada

The drive from the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim entrance to Las Vegas, Nevada takes about 4-5 hours, depending on how many stops you make to take photos of the surroundings!

When you get to Las Vegas and check-in to your accommodations, get your butt out onto the strip and people watch!

Depending on how much time you have, you can spend 2-3 nights in Las Vegas. Dan and I didn’t drink while exploring Las Vegas but we had such a fun time just walking the strip, seeing what different places had to offer, and watching all the craziness!

Things to do in Las Vegas:

  • Walk the strip and people watch.
  • Admire the water fountain show at the Bellagio .
  • View Las Vegas from above at the Stratosphere.
  • Win (or lose) some money at the slot machines.
  • Go on a night flight to view Las Vegas from above and have an incredible dinner for two.
  • See one of the many, many entertaining shows.
  • Go crazy at the Adventuredome Theme Park.
  • Check out the Mob Museum.
  • Go on a Las Vegas brewery tour !
  • See some (fake) celebrities at Madame Tussauds !

Las Vegas sign. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Where to stay in Las Vegas:

As you can imagine, there are numerous places to stay in Las Vegas! You can spend your top dollar at one of the many high-class hotels right on the strip or go for a budget accommodation somewhere on the outskirts.

Here are my recommendations:

  • If you want to go upscale and splurge, the Bellagio is the place to do it. With its beautiful interior, amazing fountain show, and excellent reviews, there’s no other hotel like it in LV.
  • A more affordable, yet just as great option is The Carriage House .
  • Into more of a condo style hotel? Try the Jet Luxury at The Vdara .
  • At just $60 per night,  The LINQ Hotel and Casino  is a super affordable option with pretty good reviews.

Las Vegas skyline. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Day 11-13: Death Valley National Park, California

Okay, okay, this might have been my most favorite part on Dan and I’s west coast road trip!

Death Valley National Park looks and feels like another freakin’ planet and it’s the coolest thing ever. As the biggest national park in the continental US, Death Valley has a lot to offer.

No doubt, the best to see it all (or at least see part of it), is to rent a car and simply drive around. You’ll be blown away by the red rock, vast views, endless landscapes, and Mars-looking mountains.

Although, if you want to do a tour around Death Valley, there are a few that go from Las Vegas!

Things to do in Death Valley National Park:

  • Visit Zabriskie Point.
  • Check out the Artists Palette.
  • Lookout at the landscape at Dante’s View.
  • Visit the wondrous Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
  • Explore the Mosaic Canyon.
  • If you prefer to do tours, this Death Valley Day Trip tour goes from Las Vegas and is a full-day adventure filled with excitement.

Standing in Death Valley National Park. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Looking to be a more sustainable traveler? Check out these  20 helpful tips to get started .

Death Valley camping. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Where to stay in Death Valley National Park:

Unfortunately, there’s not many place to stay  within Death Valley National Park, but there’s a few nice places on the outskirts.

If possible, I highly recommend camping in the National Park. You can find a few great free campsites from this website .

  • A nice hotel in the middle of Death Valley and Sequoia National Park: Panamint Springs Hotel .
  • The  Amargosa Opera House & Hotel is located in Death Valley Junction, near the California/Nevada border.
  • The Longstreet Inn & Casino is the nicest out of the three, but it’s actually in Nevada, near the border. If you decide to leave Las Vegas early, this is a nice spot in between LV and Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley views. • The Ultimate 1-Month USA West Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Day 14-16: Sequoia National Park, California

Ready to see some giants? Giant trees, that is.

Sequoia National Park is one of the most popular national parks in California and after visiting, it’s easy to see why.

The Giant Sequoia and Redwoods, gorgeous views, breathtaking mountains, and incredible hikes are all worthy of the hype!

Things to do in Sequoia National Park:

  • Visit the General Sherman Tree.
  • Explore Grant Grove.
  • Stroll the General Grant Tree Trail.
  • Drive the Crescent Meadow Loop.
  • Simply drive through this spectacular national park and take in the beautiful scenery!

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Where to stay in Sequoia National Park:

Similar to other national parks on the list, there’s no real places to stay within Sequoia National Park unless you decide to camp.

The best places to find accommodations near Sequoia NP is in Three Rivers, Badger, or Pinehurst.

  • Stony Creek Lodge is the only accommodation actually within Sequoia National Park. It has a fantastic location (obvi) and good reviews.
  • The Rio Sierra Riverhouse has raving reviews and is a mid-range hotel.
  • The Sierra Lodge Three Rivers is a budget accommodations with good reviews.
  • In Badger, The Hummingbird House has incredible reviews and is a mid-range hotel with lots to offer.

Tip: If you’re visiting Sequoia National Park in the summer or in its busy season, make sure to book well in advance. Accommodations book up quickly and you don’t want to miss out on this place!

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Day 17-20: Yosemite National Park, California

Even if you’re not from the United States, you might have heard of a magical not-so-little national park in America: Yosemite National Park .

One of my favorite stops on this West Coast America trip, Yosemite boasts breathtaking views, incredible mountains, lush forests, awesome hiking, magical wildlife, and overall an unbelievable atmosphere.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park:

  • Go hiking! One of the best things to do here, no doubt. You’ll find hundreds of trails; some are hard, some are easy but you’ll easily find one you’ll love!
  • Visit one of the many waterfalls. Some of the best include Bridalveil Falls, Vernal Fall, Yosemite Falls, and Chilnualna Falls.
  • Just sit back and enjoy the views! Yosemite National Park is incredible so don’t miss out on just taking everything in.
  • Go on a hiking adventure with a knowledgable guide! Cross the Half Dome, El Capitan, and Glacier Point off your bucket list with this Yosemite Hiking Excursion .

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Vegan travel isn’t hard! Especially with these  10+ life-changing vegan travel tips .

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Where to stay in Yosemite National Park:

Yosemite National Park is one of the best national parks where you can actually stay  within the national park itself.

While camping here is also great, the accommodations are in abundance — and all are relatively wonderful.

  • The Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite has excellent reviews and is in the heart of the national park.
  • Yosemite View Lodge is one of the nearest accommodations near Yosemite Village and has some raving reviews. It’s also relatively affordable!
  • Located on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park, the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort is the budget accommodation on this list. At under $100 a night, it’s definitely affordable. Although, it’s not located in Yosemite itself.

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Day 21-22: Sacramento, California

Even though Sacramento is the state capital of California, it’s not very big! And totally doable in one day.

Additionally, this city is totally optional. Dan and I didn’t spend much time here, only going to the California Automobile Museum because Dan is totes into cool cars.

So, if you need a little stop between Yosemite National Park and driving to the coast (because yes, the coast is next up on the list), Sacramento is a great place to have it.

No doubt, this west coast road trip itinerary is packed full of things to do and awesome adventures, so if you need a little chill day, have it here.

Things to do in Sacramento, California:

  • Like old and new cars? Check out the California Automobile Museum . (Dan LOVED this place!)
  • Visit the California State Railroad Museum.
  • Take a stroll through Old Sacramento.
  • Marvel at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Admire the California State Capitol Museum.
  • Walk through one of the many city parks (William Land Park is particularly nice).
  • Wander about the Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park.

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Where to stay in Sacramento, California:

  • Love staying in hostels? You’ll like the HI Sacramento Hostel ! Affordable AND awesome reviews.
  • The Inn at Parkside is in an excellent location and has wonderful reviews at a great price.
  • One of the higher-range hotels on the list, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Sacramento Riverfront Promenade is beautiful, has fantastic reviews, and is in the perfect location.

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Day 23-27: California/Oregon Coast

One of my favorite destinations/regions on this USA road trip itinerary.

The California and Oregon Coast is filled with endless ocean views, heart-stopping cliffs, beautiful wildlife, captivating scenery, and incredible adventures!

(Check out this photo diary of the Oregon Coast if you don’t believe me!)

Even though Dan and I had to rush through the California and Oregon Coast, as we were running out of time, this particular road trip itinerary for the American West Coast focuses on spending 4 days meandering through the region.

Because, as one of the most beautiful parts of this itinerary, you need to spend time relaxing and admiring, rather than rushing!

Sample Itinerary for the California and Oregon Coast:

  • Pull up Google Maps and find a route from Sacramento to Fort Bragg. (This will take about 4 hours, depending on how much you stop.)
  • Fort Bragg has a beautiful glass sand that’s wonderful to explore. If you’d like, you can stay in Fort Bragg. There’s a good amount of affordable, nice hotels .
  • P.S. Make sure to venture off the 101 and go onto the Avenue of the Giants. A gorgeous drive through the massive redwoods! Stop off at one of the pull-offs and just walk around to feel the magic of this state park for yourself.
  • (This will take about 2 hours to arrive at the Avenue of the Giants from Fort Bragg.)
  •  Throughout this drive, there will be a number of pull-offs to stop at. The beaches are beautiful to walk amongst and the cliffside viewing areas are especially breathtaking.
  • Lastly, you’ll want to make your way towards Lincoln City, OR, to stay on the 101. After Lincoln City, you’ll make your way inland towards Portland.

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Psst, ever thought about visiting Glacier National Park? Check out this post 32 photos of Glacier National Park that’ll blow your mind!

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Where to stay along the California and Oregon Coast:

  • In Fort Bragg, the Ocean View Lodge has awesome reviews and is in a great location.
  • Crescent City is another nice stop along the California Coast. There are a number of fantastic hotels to suit your preference . The Lighthouse Inn has good reviews and breakfast is included!
  • Go a little further than Crescent Bay and you’ll come to Newport, OR. A nice little coastal town with lots of hotels.  The Landing at Newport Condominium Hotel is in an incredible location and is a guest favorite!

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Day 28-29: Portland, Oregon

Another one of my favorite cities in the United States, Portland is full of fantastic things to do and is a must-see stop on this US west coast itinerary.

And even better?

It’s  chock full of incredible vegan eateries, restaurants, cafes, and shops. As a vegan food fanatic, I love it! In fact, this city kind of reminds of Berlin, Germany; it’s hip, trendy, totally vegan-friendly, and packed with cool things to do.

Things to do in Portland, Oregon:

  • Wander through the most magical book store — Powell’s City of Books! One of my favorite things to do in Portland.
  • Visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden.
  • Walk through the Portland Saturday Market, the nation’s largest weekly open-air arts and crafts market.
  • Take a stroll through the Pittock Mansion, a century-old symbol of Portland’s dramatic transformation from a small lumber town to a bustling city.
  • Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, one of the nation’s leading science museums.
  • Grab a vegan donut at Voodoo Donuts (you won’t be disappointed!).
  • Explore the International Rose Test Garden and take in all the gorgeous sights and smells of the place.
  • Do a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls and MT Hood .
  • Avid wine drinker? Check out this  Willamette Valley Wine-Tasting Tour !

I recommend checking out this 2-day Portland itinerary for a more detailed guide on how to spend your time in this vibrant, hip city!

usa road trip budjetti

Where to stay in Portland, Oregon:

  • Want to stay right in the heart of downtown Portland? The Hyatt House Portland/Downtown is perfect!
  • At $85 a night, the HI – Portland Northwest Hostel is an affordable option with great reviews!
  • The Oxford Suites Portland – Jantzen Beach is a mid-range option in a great location with awesome reviews.

usa road trip budjetti

Are you a Harry Potter fan like me? Take a look at this post on the  best Harry Potter sites and attractions in Edinburgh, Scotland (the birthplace of HP!).

Day 30-31: Seattle, Washington

One of the more iconic destinations on this west coast itinerary, Seattle, Washington, is a cool city just begging to be explored.

With its gum wall, Pike Place Market, Space Needle, and Museum of Pop Culture, it’s an incredible place to have an adventure.

Alas, I cannot tell lies… Dan and I didn’t actually visit Seattle . We bi-passed it completely to drive from Portland, OR, to Spokane, WA, to visit my sister. Although, it’s not logical to have you end in Spokane, am I right?

Thus, Seattle makes more sense, as it has a bigger airport if you’re planning to fly out.

Additionally, it has much, much more to do than Spokane. Overall, it just works out better as an ending point! Anyhow, without further rambling…

Things to do in Seattle, Washington:

  • Take a ride up the Space Needle to see Seattle from above.
  • Wander through the Pike Place Market.
  • Stroll along the Seattle Waterfront and relax on some of the nice beaches (yes, they do exist in Seattle!).
  • Explore Downtown Seattle and check out the restaurants, shops, eateries, theaters, and more.
  • Take a photo in front of the infamous Seattle Gum Wall (just down the road from the Pike Place Market!).
  • Venture down under and go on an Underground Tour !
  • Relax in one of Seattle’s many parks.
  • Get out on the water and admire Seattle from the sea on a boat tour .
  • Head out to the field and go to a baseball game.
  • Take a walk along one of the many trails surrounding the city.

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Where to stay in Seattle:

  • Looking to splurge on your last city? Check out the Paramount Hotel . Located in the heart of Downtown Seattle, it has raving reviews and excellent customer service.
  • A more budget-friendly option is the Motif Seattle . At $197, it’s definitely one of the cheaper options throughout the city and has awesome reviews, as well as a great location.
  • One of the most affordable accommodations throughout Seattle is the HI – Seattle at the American Hotel Hostel ; great reviews, $99 per night, and in Downtown Seattle.

usa road trip budjetti

What’s the Budget for a One-Month USA West Coast Road Trip?

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to properly budget for this 1 month USA road trip. While everyone’s budget is going to be slightly different, as people generally like to spend their time differently, here’s a rough idea of what you can expect to spend.

  • Accommodation : $50-200 per night
  • Food & Drinks : $20-70 per day
  • Fuel : $250-300 total (roughly $.11 per mile)
  • Attractions : $0-100 per day
  • Insurance : $100-200 total (I highly recommend World Nomads travel insurance )
  • Car Maintenance : $50-150 total
  • Miscellaneous : $100-200

Since everyone likes to stay in different accommodations, eats different food, likes to go to different attractions, and do other miscellaneous activities, this budget is going to vary drastically.

To save on accommodation and eating at restaurants everyday, I couldn’t recommend renting an RV more. Use RVShare to explore your options!

Dan and I spent almost every night in our van, so we saved a ton on accommodation. Additionally, while we didn’t have a kitchen, we did use a Coleman camping stove to cook the majority of our meals, saving us loads of money.

usa road trip budjetti

Can I just say one word… wowza .

What a monster of a blog post, amirite?!

Although, no doubt, this American West Coast road trip itinerary is packed with helpful information, an easy to follow route, and — of course — awesome experiences!

If you want to discover what the best of the USA west coast has to offer, this itinerary delivers.

Have you visited the United States West Coast? Or have traveled around it? Additionally, let me know what you think of this itinerary in the comments! 

Not sure what to check out next? Readers love these posts:

  • 10 best places to visit in Wales, UK (#7 is a must!)
  • Your guide to hiking Devil’s Bridge from Mescal Trailhead — Sedona, Arizona
  • Road trip packing list – 55+ essentials you can’t forget (2020 edition)
  • Best places for vegan food in Minneapolis & St. Paul
  • Destinations along Minnesota’s North Shore

Like this post on the ultimate USA west coast road trip itinerary? Pin it!

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Article comments.

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Kevin McCarthy

Hi Sophie, What a joyful month that seems to have been for you and Dan. Great commentary on the places I’ve seen, from a different spin. I loved it. Since I’m a retired HS English teacher I’m versed in good writing and that was good. One sticking point I had was your use of “Dan and I’s favorite place” several times., where “Dan and my favorite place” would be more precise. Just a niggling thing, I know, but retirement doesn’t shut down the linguist in me. Thanks for such a great look at our fabulous West. Kevin McCarthy

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Bucket list material, that Grand Canyon: if you re just after an impression, you can visit the bad boy in one day. But since it was quite the drive to get there (6 hours), we decided to stay a bit longer. The first day we mainly checked out the east side, the second day the west side. If you re there, try to watch a sunset as well: the sun gives the canyon a truly magical color.

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Would love it if you could provide a budget for this trip!

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Hey Paige, that’s a great idea! Thank you for the suggestion. I will be sure to update the post with an estimated budget and an exact budget of what my partner and I spent on this road trip! Stay tuned. 🙂

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Solar eclipse 2024: Follow the path of totality

Thinking of taking a last-minute drive to see the eclipse here's what to know.

Geoff Brumfiel, photographed for NPR, 17 January 2019, in Washington DC.

Geoff Brumfiel

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RV traffic sits at a standstill along a two-lane road near Madras, Ore., a few days before the 2017 total solar eclipse. Experts say traffic could be heavy, but eclipse watchers shouldn't necessarily be deterred. AFP Contributor/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

RV traffic sits at a standstill along a two-lane road near Madras, Ore., a few days before the 2017 total solar eclipse. Experts say traffic could be heavy, but eclipse watchers shouldn't necessarily be deterred.

NASA says that roughly 31.6 million people live in the path of this year's total solar eclipse, and a little under half of the U.S. population lives within 200 miles driving distance of the path of totality .

That could mean many millions of Americans will hit the road to get a better view on April 8. If you're still pondering whether or not you want to make the journey, here's what to consider.

Have some destinations in mind, and check the weather and cloud cover forecasts in advance

It's a good idea to scout out one or more locations within driving distance, so that you have some flexibility if traffic or weather is threatening your plans, says Jonathan Upchurch, a professor emeritus of civil engineering at Arizona State University who has studied travel around solar eclipses.

There are several interactive tools that show the path of totality, including Eclipse2024.org and the National Solar Observatory . You can use them to figure out what sites might work best for you.

In terms of weather, check not just the weather forecast, but also the cloud cover forecast. Some websites, such as Windy.com will predict cloud cover ahead of time, giving you a sense of whether you'll actually be able to see the eclipse in all its glory.

Everything you need to know about solar eclipse glasses before April 8

Everything you need to know about solar eclipse glasses before April 8

During the total solar eclipse in 2017, Upchurch says he chose to go to Idaho "because there were some great chances of having sunny skies, and I had the opportunity to be nimble and relocate if I wanted to."

Before driving into the path of totality, make sure your gas tank is full and that you've got everything you need

During the last total solar eclipse in 2017, it's estimated some 5 million people took to the roads, and those numbers will potentially be much higher this year.

Given all that, Upchurch says it's important to make sure you're taking what you need into the path of totality. You should make sure your car is gassed or charged up, and that you have plenty of snacks and water with you in case you get stranded for a while, especially when trying to leave.

Simple tips to safely photograph the eclipse with your cellphone

Solar Eclipse 2024: Totality stretches from Texas to Maine

Simple tips to safely photograph the eclipse with your cellphone.

Also don't forget to bring eclipse glasses, which must be worn anytime you're looking at the sun, except for the few minutes when it is completely blocked by the moon.

Some state emergency planners also recommend bringing a paper map or road atlas in case cellular networks become overloaded with visitors seeking directions from their phones.

usa road trip budjetti

Don't forget your eclipse glasses everyone! Erika Goldring/FilmMagic hide caption

Don't forget your eclipse glasses everyone!

Arrive early and stay late

Once you figure out where you're going to watch the eclipse, and you've got your supplies, try to get there early. Although traffic is likely to be heavier than normal on the morning of eclipse day, it still should be possible to reach many destinations without too much hassle, says Upchurch.

"Leaving is definitely going to be more of a problem," he says. As the eclipse concludes, people will take to the roads all at once to try and get home as fast as they can. In 2017, that led to traffic jams that lasted many hours in some areas. If possible, Upchurch says, people should stay put for a while to try and avoid the worst of the post-eclipse rush, which in 2017 stretched even into the following day in some parts of the country.

Here's what time the eclipse will be visible in your region

Here's what time the eclipse will be visible in your region

And one more thing: If you do find yourself on the move near the time of the eclipse, state officials stress that you should not simply pull over to the side of the road or highway you're driving on. It's important to be parked legally and safely at the moment of totality.

If you're already in the path of totality: Relax and enjoy!

Several major metropolitan areas including Dallas, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo are already inside the path of totality, so there's no need to seek a better view, Upchurch says. You'll probably have the most fun simply staying where you are.

Watching a solar eclipse without the right filters can cause eye damage. Here's why

Shots - Health News

Watching a solar eclipse without the right filters can cause eye damage. here's why.

If you're on the edge of the path of totality, however, you might consider making a short trip to get closer to the center of the eclipse's path.

"If you're within about 40 miles of the center line, you'll have two-and-a-half minutes or more" of complete totality, Upchurch says. It's up to you to decide whether it's worth making the trip to a more central location.

Despite studying the potential hassles of traveling extensively, Upchurch says he's still looking forward to seeing the 2024 eclipse, which he plans to watch from Texas.

"Totality is absolutely spectacular," he says. "If you have a chance to witness it, I would do it."

  • 2024 solar eclipse
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  • 2024 eclipse
  • Traffic patterns
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MLB power rankings: Red Sox come home with best pitching staff in baseball

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Yeah, so maybe the Boston Red Sox didn’t need Jordan Montgomery or Blake Snell or any other bold-faced name to augment their roster.

They’re coming home with the best pitching staff in baseball.

The Red Sox, consensus picks to finish last in the American League East, won seven of 10 games on a West Coast road trip and return to Boston for their Tuesday home opener with the hopeful feeling their young pitchers all took a step forward in 2024.

They certainly made the biggest leap in USA TODAY Sports ’ MLB power rankings, rising nine spots to No. 10.

Boston easily leads the majors with a 1.49 ERA (Cleveland is second at 2.28), with the starting staff of Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock, Kutter Crawford, Nick Pivetta and Tanner Houck combining for a 1.53 ERA, an apparently rousing endorsement of new pitching coach Andrew Bailey.

MLB SALARIES: Baseball's top 25 highest-paid players in 2024

They’ll now enjoy a 10-game homestand to build upon the early success.

A look at this week's rankings:

1. Atlanta Braves (-)

  • Spencer Strider elbow woes an absolute gut punch.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (-)

  • Yoshinobu Yamamoto has yet to give up a run in the United States of America.

3. Texas Rangers (+3)

  • Quietly outscoring opponents by more than two runs a game.

4. Baltimore Orioles (-1)

  • Would help to borrow a run or two from Jackson Holliday's Class AAA Norfolk squad, which has scored in double digits in four of six games.

5. New York Yankees (+2)

  • Marcus Stroman hasn't given up an earned run in 12 innings.

6. Philadelphia Phillies (-2)

  • By their usual April standards, 4-5 ain't bad.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks (-)

  • Geraldo Perdomo tears meniscus, Jordan Lawlar has thumb surgery, so it's Kevin Newman and Blaze Alexander at shortstop.

8. Cincinnati Reds (+5)

  • Spencer Steer ranks third in OPS (1.313) and second with 12 RBIs.

9. Chicago Cubs (+8)

  • Take a series off Dodgers and Shota Imanaga looks like the real deal.

10. Boston Red Sox (+9)

Tyler O'Neill's five homers tie Mookie Betts atop leaderboard.

11. Seattle Mariners (-2)

  • Andres Munoz's ninth-inning meltdown not what the bullpen needed.

12. Milwaukee Brewers (+4)

  • Colin Rea is basically Corbin Burnes, as we all assumed.

13. Cleveland Guardians (+5)

  • For now, they have the pitching depth to overcome loss of Shane Bieber.

14. Toronto Blue Jays (-9)

  • It's early, but ranking 22nd in runs, 24th in OPS confirming worst fears.

15. Tampa Bay Rays (-4)

  • Ryan Pepiot strikes out 11, walks none in Coors Field tour de force.

16. Houston Astros (-4)

  • Josh Hader has given up a run in four consecutive outings.

17. Pittsburgh Pirates (+5)

  • Another awesome April. So what's next?

18. Minnesota Twins (-8)

  • Looks like they finally have company up and down the AL Central.

19. San Diego Padres (-5)

  • Jackson Merrill enjoys a four-hit game a couple weeks before 21st birthday.

20. Detroit Tigers (+1)

Offense looking a little suspect, once again.

21. San Francisco Giants (-6)

  • After 10 games against Padres, Dodgers, schedule should provide opportunity.

22. Los Angeles Angels (-)

  • Catcher Logan O'Hoppe batting .417 with 1.167 OPS.

23. Kansas City Royals (+4)

  • Is this pitching staff for real?

24. St. Louis Cardinals (-4)

  • Sonny Gray set for St. Louis debut Tuesday.

25. New York Mets (-2)

  • 3-6 doesn't look so bad when you start 0-5.

26. Washington Nationals (-2)

  • They run with wise abandon: 16 steals in 17 attempts, second in majors.

27. Miami Marlins (-1)

  • 1-9 start, Eury Perez surgery looks like the prelude to a summer of misery.

28. Chicago White Sox (-)

  • "We need to turn the corner soon," says Garrett Crochet. Grim words for early April.

29. Colorado Rockies (-)

  • Not sure why fans would boo Kris Bryant, who simply accepted the money he was offered.

30. Oakland Athletics (-)

  • Turns out John Fisher does have one friend - Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé.

Victor Wembanyama, Spurs open final road trip vs. ailing Grizzlies

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Two Central Division rivals face off for the last time in the regular season on Friday when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Indiana Pacers in a game with major postseason seeding implications.

Devin Booker scored 16 of his 37 points in the first quarter, Bradley Beal added 26 points and the visiting Phoenix Suns ended a two-game skid with a 124-108 victory over the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Nikola Jokic scored 24 of his game-high 41 points in the second half as the host Denver Nuggets took sole possession of first place in the Western Conference with a 116-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

The New Orleans Pelicans get to sample possible play-in opponents when they wrap up the regular season with three straight games against Western Conference foes, beginning with a visit to Sacramento to take on the Kings on Thursday night.

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Premier League clubs have agreed in principle to introduce new financial rules next season, voting on Thursday to go ahead with squad cost ratio rules to replace the current Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR), a source said.

The Detroit Tigers and visiting Minnesota Twins are still scheduled to play a four-game series this weekend. The format for the early showdown among American League Central rivals, however, had to be altered due to a postponement.

Premier League - Liverpool v Manchester United


Rockets at jazz, april 11: lineups, how to watch, injury reports, uniforms, share this article.

With 2024 postseason contention off the table , the Houston Rockets have a new goal as the NBA’s 2023-24 regular season winds down, and it’s to finish with a winning record .

The good news is that the schedule is manageable. The Rockets play at Utah (29-50) on Thursday and in Portland (21-58) on Friday, two teams that are clearly worse by record. With nothing to play for, and the possible incentive of higher draft lottery odds from losing, each team also has several rotation regulars sitting out due to injuries.

Moreover, Sunday’s finale at the Los Angeles Clippers (51-29) could be easier than it appears on paper, since the Clippers will likely have secured their Western Conference playoff seed and could rest starters as they prepare for next weekend’s start of the 2024 playoffs.

But for the Rockets to finish with a winning record, they need to win all three of those games, so there’s no room for error. The road back-to-back, with travel in between, further complicates matters.

When and how to watch

  • Date: Thursday, April 11
  • Time: 8 p.m. Central
  • TV Channel:   Space City Home Network , NBA League Pass
  • Live Stream:  fuboTV ( watch for free  in Houston markets)

Probable starting lineups

Houston Rockets (39-40)

  • Guard: Fred VanVleet
  • Guard: Jalen Green
  • Forward: Dillon Brooks
  • Forward: Amen Thompson
  • Center: Jabari Smith Jr.

Utah Jazz (29-51)

  • Guard: Keyonte George
  • Guard: Johnny Juzang
  • Forward: Luka Samanic
  • Forward: Taylor Hendricks
  • Center: Omer Yurtseven

Injury reports

Houston’s  injury report lists Steven Adams (right knee PCL surgery), Tari Eason (left tibia surgery), Alperen Sengun (right ankle sprain) and Jae’Sean Tate (right ankle sprain) as out for Thursday’s game.

On the other side, Utah will be without Lauri Markkanen (right shoulder impingement), John Collins (back spasms), Jordan Clarkson (left SI inflammation), Kris Dunn (left foot inflammation), Walker Kessler (nasal fracture), and Collin Sexton (illness).

Latest interviews

April 11 uniform choices

  • Rockets : White Association Edition
  • Jazz : Purple Classic Edition

( via LockerVision )

Remaining schedule

  • Houston’s monthly schedule for 2023-24 regular season

Recent injury news updates

Rockets expect Alperen Sengun, Jae’Sean Tate to miss rest of season with ankle sprains https://t.co/19Fm9YQeJp pic.twitter.com/ejLpSpkUze — The Rockets Wire (@TheRocketsWire) April 9, 2024

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