One question I get a lot when people are asking advice on where to plan a road trip in the U.S. is, “What’s the greatest road or route?” They ask about famous roads, like Route 66, and they wonder whether they should focus on the road or on the destination.
My answer? You can go either way – either plan a trip focused on a destination, or plan a trip focused on a route. Some of these great routes are so spectacular that the journey itself becomes the destination, and what’s really great is that there are so many fantastic routes all over the U.S. that you can spend your life just finding them and passing on the word.
At first, I thought I’d try to create a “top ten” list for routes in the U.S. What a joke! There are many more than ten and picking one to be the best is like picking your favorite food – what are you in the mood for? Steak? Pizza? Salad? My moods change and seasons change – there are always different things that appeal depending on a lot of factors.
I can’t tell you that if you plan a road trip centered around the number one route, that it’s going to be your number one pick! You might think my #4 pick is the winner. Mountains appeal sometimes, the seashore appeals at other times. Sometimes you want to ride through New England on a leaf-peeping road trip and sometimes you want to tear off into the desert, Thelma-and-Louise-style.
What sets all of these routes apart they’re almost all smaller routes that are off the beaten path of the highway system. Each is a perfect road to plan a road trip around because there are no ugly areas or dull roads with little other than trees to look at as you speed along. They all have spell-binding views and plenty to stop and see along the way. These are not roads for a high-speed haul, so if you’re in a rush, don’t bother.
Let’s start with my all-time favorite route: the Pacific Coast Highway! Ah, what can I say? Plan a road trip on this gorgeous route’s pinnacle of beauty between Cambria, CA and Monterey, CA and you’ll have a road trip you’ll remember for a lifetime. Be sure to try to travel this route in the fall to avoid any heavy traffic and still enjoy beautiful weather.
If you only have a long weekend, check out these shorter routes to plan a trip around. Each of these can be extended into a weeklong vacation and I’ve provided specific suggestions in order to help you do that. One is a “Great Outdoors” road trip in Wyoming and the other is a perfect beach getaway down a road with unspoiled views of the dunes and the Atlantic Ocean along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
If you want to plan a road trip through the desert and canyon-lands of Utah, look no farther than this Bryce Canyon to Arches National Park road trip route that will take you on the routes of 12 and 24 through some spectacular scenery. This trip can be as short as four days (not counting getting to and from Utah) or as long as you’d like to linger at the wonderful parks along the way. This is a fantastic camping road trip if you’re a camper.
Want more of the desert experience? This Monument Valley road trip route takes you from the Valley of the Gods and through Monument Valley in Utah with all the tips and advice you need to plan a road trip through this remarkable landscape.
The Overseas Highway (Rt.1) through the Florida Keys is one of my all-time favorite roads! Plan a road trip down this unique road that hops over the water using many bridges and sees a wide expanse of impossibly blue water all around you, all kinds of marine life up-close-and-personal, palm trees swaying above as you watch the sunset, and, of course, the wild and zany Key West.
If you want to experience quaint New England in all its glory, plan a road trip down Rt. 44. This great road trip route takes you from the Hudson Valley of New York to Hartford, CT (or on to Rhode Island and Massachusetts if you want to make a week of it). This is a route I’ve taken many times and absolutely love in the fall for some leaf-peeping along a winding country road.
Some of the most famous routes to plan a road trip on are Rt. 66 and the Million Dollar Highway. These road trips can be as long or short as you want them to be. These routes have gone down in history (and will continue to do so) and are lifetime “must-dos”.
Speaking of famous, the Blue Ridge Parkway that rides from Virginia through North Carolina is one of the most beloved roads to plan a road trip around due to its many gorgeous mountain vistas, sights to see, and Appalachian flavor. If you haven’t been, put it on your must-do road trip list!
If you’ve ever traveled through Oregon, you may never want to leave due to its natural go-ga-ga beauty, and no route captures it all better than Route 101 along the Oregon Coast and into California. While lighting up the H1 led bulb low beam, driving at Oregon Coast at night, you will see the fantastic view through the Coast, different from the daytime.
Your road trip planning isn’t complete without some great road trip planning guidebooks. These two are my favorites and the best on the market – one is just about great roads and routes!
As I am active in the road trip community, I keep getting more info every day about yet another great route to plan a road trip around. Why not just keep adding? Stop back here from time to time for more goodies – I can guarantee that they’ll just keep coming…