Road Trips

Road Trips That Highlight the Best of the USA

On our recent trip o San Diego, we were sitting outside by one night by one of the hotel’s five firepits. Another couple sat down across from us on the other side of the fire pit. As we chatted with the couple, we started talking about what it is we do for a living. When mentioning that I specialized in travel, I was asked what type of travel was popular right now. I mentioned how popular road trips are right now…and how they highlight the best of the USA.

Like my family, this couple had spent most of the late spring and summer taking short little local road trips. As they were beginning to venture out a little more, they wondered what were some of the best destinations. I get this question a lot lately. So I thought I’d put together a list.

Below is a short list of road trip itineraries that highlight the greatest adventures and sights the USA has to offer.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is a part of coastal Main where the north woods meander down to meet the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first National Park east of the Mississippi River.

But, honestly, winter on the eastern seaboard may not make for the most ideal road trip. A much better time to drive to Acadia National Park would be during the summer months. You will have plenty of time to explore these islands that are along the rocky seashores of the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Bayou Back Country

The Disney Movie The Princess and the Frog has a delightful little song titled Gonna Take You There which talks about a taking a trip down the bayou. The bayou are the swamplands located in southern Louisiana. A trip through the bayou offers a very unique mix of cultures like African American, Creole, French Canadian, and Native American.

A road trip through Bayou country is the perfect way to see the southern USA.
Photo by Henning Roettger on Pexels.com

A road trip through the Bayou highlight the offerings of southern USA…like roadside shacks that offer delicious indulgences like a crawfish boil with the freshest of ingredients. While exploring bayou territory, take the time to find some live zydeco music. Zydeco is a mix of Creole, Cajun, gospel and the blues.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is known for its scenic beauty. It passes through Appalachian countryside from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains. The Blue Ride Parkway is the nation’s most driven National Parkway.

Annually, over 15 million people take this drive visiting historic battlegrounds as they enjoy the spectacular scenery of hills, valleys, and pastures. Listening to Bluegrass music along the way helps set the mood for this special drive.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was cut out by the Colorado River. The colors of the canyon are spectacular and showcase the different strata of rock in the canyon. The scenery will take your breath away. Thankfully, the Grand Canyon is protected as a National Park as well as being located on Native American tribal lands.

The highlights of a road trip through this part of the USA are many. You will find waterfall springs…and buttes that reach up towards the sky…and naturally chiseled cliffs. The beauty of the the area changes as the sun moves through the sky and as the seasons flow through the year.

The Grand Canyon is will leave you totally amazed and in reverence at Mother Nature.

Great Lakes

Michigan’s Gold Coast is known for its miles of golden sandy beaches. A road trip along Michigan’s Gold Coast will have you discovering all the gems along the dazzling Great Lakes. You will discover huge inland seas. Explore the lighthouses located on rocky shores. Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the best sky is in “Northern Michigan in the fall.”

Are you ready to see all the highlights of the Great Lakes on this USA road trip?

Slowly roam southward down by the Mississippi River. Then drive west to experience a retro piece of Route 66 and all the delights you can find there. Or maybe take some time to head on up to the Canadian border. The views will not disappoint.

Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park entertains more visitors very year than any of the other National Parks. The Smokies cover an 800-square-mile area of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Here you will find ridges of the mountains covered with beautiful trees. Wildlife abounds here where you just might spot a wild turkey, black bear, or a white-tailed doe. This destination is the perfect refuge with over 1,600 different species of wildflowers.

If you choose to highlight the USA with this road trip, consider taking it during the fall when the weather is more temperate and the leaves are turning gorgeous with fiery hues of red, orange, and gold.

National Mall

Okay, okay, the National Mall is not a road trip. But it does make for a fantastic place to start a road trip (or finish one).

The National Mall is the perfect place to start a road trip that highlights the best of the best of the USA.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The National Mall is found in Washington, DC. It is at the heart of the capital of the USA.

Along the National Mall you’ll find historical monuments. Many of them are styled after ancient Greek and Roman architecture. You’ll find memorials honoring both civic as well as war heroes. And don’t forget to visit one of the numerous Smithsonian galleries and museums.

This place is one like no other. It is a place with a rich history of both protests and celebrations along the elongated grassy lawn.

From the National Mall you can begin a road trip highlighting Maryland’s historic road or a tour of the USA’s Civil War history.

Pacific Coast Highways

The highways of the Pacific span from north to south…from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico. The view along the way is filled with bewildering beach cliffs. And scattered throughout are little beach communities each with their own quirky charm.

If you take a trip along the USA’s Pacific Coast Highway via road trip, you’ll come across some real hidden treasures. See the timeworn forests of redwood trees. If you enjoy seafood, you’ll find an abundance of fresh seafood…along with many local fishing tales. And never miss the opportunity to watch a sunset on an old wooden pier.

Rocky Mountains

The Rocky Mountains really call to those who enjoy the great outdoors. It runs along the North American Continental Divide. Driving through the Rocky Mountains during the spring or summer you’ll discover myriads of wildflowers and serene lakes.

The Rocky Mountains offer a rare mix of experiences that speak to many different interests. It has an abundance of wildlife, a rich history of pioneer heritage, as well as the opportunity to get a glimpse into Native American traditions. Many say that the Rocky Mountains highlight the American frontier spirit…perfect of a road trip wanting to experience the USA.

Fun side trips can have you visiting ghost towns of the Old West.

Route 66

Route 66 is the mother-of-all road trips. It is THE classic of all road trips. The personality of this delightful road trip can be seen in the original Cars movie by Pixar/Disney.

A road trip via Route 66 can highlight a retro vision of the USA.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Route 66 is over 2,400 miles long. It starts out in Chicago, the Windy City, and takes you all the way to the west coast and sunny Los Angeles, California. I’d like to think if I am able to ever do a Route 66 road trip, that I’ll end with a day at Disney California Adventure theme park and spend the day in Carsland re-living my adventure.

This journey takes place along a mostly two-lane highway. Along the way, you’ll pass through small towns with tiny little old motor hotels (motels), neon signs, lots of greasy spoon diners with some of the best pie that tastes just like mom used to make. And, occasionally, you’ll pass by a drive-in theater.

One of the highlights of this road trip is that you get to meet such diverse set of small-town folk…who always seem to eager to have a friendly conversation with those passing through.

Southern Beaches

If you want to take a road trip during the winter months, nothing highlights the USA like the beaches of the south. They are fortunate to have warm sunshine almost the entire year.

The state of Florida is a peninsula that is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the western side and the Atlantic Ocean on the east side. It’s gorgeous with its semitropical weather and white-sand beaches. The turquoise waters allow for stunning sunrises on the east coast and sunsets on the western coast.

There are so many beaches in the south, that it would be easy to visit a new, distinct one every…single…day.

Yellowstone National Park

A road trip to Yellowstone National Park highlights the some of the best that the USA has to offer. It is the oldest National Park. Its natural rainbow-colored hot springs and geysers that shoot up into the air can’t be found anywhere else. But one of its most dazzling features is the USA’s largest ecosystem that is still intact. The ecosystem features an abundance of animals such as bison, elk, grizzly bears, moose, and wolves.

In addition, you can combine a road trip that includes a visit to the Grand Tetons, and you’ve experience the best of the western wilderness.

Going with the Trend of the Great-American Road Trip

Like the couple we met in San Diego, I see a lot more road trips in my family’s future. As I have researched how a road trip can highlight the best of the best in the USA, I realized how much of the country I still haven’t seen…but plan to see in the near future.

The great-American road trip continues to be a large and growing trend in the travel industry. I am committed to writing about each of the above itineraries in much greater detail in the coming months to help out my readers. As you plan your trips for the coming year(s), I hope you will find plenty of resources to help you in your planning.

If you have any specific questions, please let me know below as it helps me when I am doing my research and creating articles.

Please share this article freely with anyone you might know thinking about or talking about taking a road trip or two or three or more. I will continue to get update it as new information is added.

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    Road Trips

    Experience the USA Via the Great American Road Trip

    A road trip in the USA is an experience like no other. Don’t let the opportunity to see America in the family car pass you by because you are waiting for the perfect time. There is no better time than the present.

    This past summer my hubby and I have been on more short road trips than ever before as we have tried to travel responsibly during a pandemic. It has been so much fun and we have been able to discover some real hidden gems and enjoy some new experiences.

    Buckle Up, Buttercup

    Pack your bags. Grab some snacks. Jump in the car. Gas up and get going on your adventure!

    Buckle up to experience the USA via road trips.

    The fact is that the USA is an amazing country and a road trip is the best way to get a taste and appreciation for that it offers. The USA is so expansive and there are so many regions and cities each with their own sub-culture and history. I am fascinated when I arrive someplace new and get learn their unique history, wildlife critters, and pop culture. No two places are alike if you stop to experience them.

    Weekend Getaways for the Win!

    For example, late last spring my hubby and I decided to do a long weekend in Richland, Washington. Although it’s a fairly small city, it is becoming a real up-and-coming place to visit. It is surrounded by wineries and has lots of outdoor activities like fishing, boating, paddleboarding, biking, and a 7-mile walking path along the Columbia River.

    We stayed at The Lodge at Columbia Point. It was located right at the beginning of the 7-mile Riverfront Trail along the Columbia River. It was within easy walking distance of some fantastic restaurants like LuLu Craft Bar and Kitchen. (I highly recommend the fish ‘n chips.) It was a beautiful hotel, the staff were very friendly and attentive, and we had a view of the river from our room. An added bonus was the fact that they had free bikes for hotel guests to use if they wanted to take a ride. We enjoyed it so much we went back just six weeks later to see more of the area.

    The walking path along the Columbia River had markers that gave tidbits of information about the area. You can learn about native species of animals in the area as well as some local history. For instance, did you know that during the Cold War Russian submarines would cruise up the Columbia River hidden from plain view?

    Driving Around the Bend…

    Road trips can take you north to south, east to west, kitty-corner from Washington to Florida…or any route in between. Does your bucket list include visiting each state in the USA? A road trip is the perfect way to knock out those bucket list destinations.

    There are tons of books, magazines, websites, and blogs to offer advice on how to experience a road trip in the USA. No excuses not to get started. We will be offering our own articles on planning, itineraries, snacks, and lots of other great advice for road trips.

    Is there anything specific you want to know? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below so we can be sure to include content you’ll find helpful.

    Wanna take a foodie road trip with your sisters? Visit all the National Parks with the kiddos? How about a New England Fall Foliage with the parents? Surfboarding on a river (yep, that’s a real thing)? We have you covered!

    Connecting the Dots on the Map

    The opportunities and itineraries are pretty much endless. Wanna take your kids on a walk, bike, or drive through a tunnel cut into a giant sequoia tree? We’ll be discussing lots of options, so simply pick and choose the ones that speak to you! No two people or families are alike. That’s okay! That’s one of the things that makes this country so awesome!

    If you only have time for a day visit, there are lots of little getaways near you to check out.

    A perfect little day trip from our house is the little Bavarian village of Leavenworth. As you drive Highway 2 through the Cascade Mountains in Washington, you just might miss it. This little town used to be a lumber town. However, when the local lumber industry looked like it might be in trouble after the cross-continental railway threatened to take it out, the town had a German makeover.

    Leavenworth, Washington, is the perfect little Bavarian town nestled in the Cascade mountain range.  See it via a USA road trip.

    There are lots of great little restaurants serving bratwursts and wienerschnitzel. On a nice summer afternoon you can see polka performances, browse art outdoors, and visit all the cute little shops. During the summer, you can see an outdoor performance The Sound of Music set against backdrop of the alps of the Pacific Northwest.

    If you enjoy the outdoors, take a whitewater rafting trip down the river. If you enjoy hiking, enjoy a short hike in the nearby Alpine Lakes Wilderness area or the Wenatchee National Forest. With all the available activities, Leavenworth makes for a great road trip destination in the USA.

    Are Road Trips Good for Families?

    I would say a resounding yes! How you approach a road trip like the length of time and the activities you choose will help you create the road trip perfect for your family. Similarly, awesome trends in the travel industry are making travel so much more family-friendly.

    Read More: Trends in Travel Making Family Friendly Travel All the Rage

    And if you have concerns about traveling with little ones, you can determine the best type of trip (and destination) for your family. With a little planning ahead of time, there is no need to worry about traveling with the kids.

    Read More: What is the Best Type of Trip for Your Family? and Conquer the Top 4 Worries of Traveling with Kids

    And always remember: The family that plays together, stays together!

    Meet the USA via the great-American road trip! Create an itinerary that speaks to you. Sign up below to keep informed of all the latest activities and news in family travel.