Road tripping is more popular than ever. Domestic tourism is beginning to boom right now in the U.S. and what better way to see the states than at your own pace from the comfort of your own vehicle?
Road-tripping can require some serious planning. From packing your food to where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Here is our top ten road trip routes in the U.S. for 2021 to help inspire you in the right direction!
1. Route 66
Illinois to California
Driving across the country on Route 66 has long been considered the ultimate cross-country road trip. Two weeks is generally considered the minimum amount of time it takes to do this trip right. But travelers have been known to make this trip in as little as a week or make it last up to a month! The amount of time you spend getting your kicks on Route 66 is up to you.
Historic motels and restaurants fill the road along this route across 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. A few must-sees along the way include the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum about 100 miles down the road from the Route 66 starting point and the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The famous Route 66 End of Trail sign sits at the end of Santa Monica Pier.
2. The Appalachian Trail
Maine to Georgia (Inland)
The Appalachian Trial is an incredibly popular hiking route through fourteen states from Georgia to Maine. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is a massive endeavor. Driving along it gives you all the beautiful views with none of the aching feet!
Some must-see places along this route include Shenandoah National Park just 75 miles from Washington D.C. and the Blue Ridge Parkway through the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. You’ll also pass through the Pennsylvania Dutch area on this typically 14-day trip. Start at either end of the route and get out for hikes along the way as much as you want!
3. Blue Ridge Parkway
Virginia to North Carolina
Speaking of the Blue Ridge Parkway, if you’re looking for a trip with less of a time commitment that doesn’t sacrifice any of the interesting scenery, consider this 469-mile stretch of road. It only takes about ten hours to drive the route, so it’s easy to make this trip last anywhere from as short as two days to as long as a week!
According to the Parkway’s official website, this road was “the first national rural parkway to be conceived, designed, and constructed for a leisure-type driving experience.” Check out their helpful wildflower bloom schedule to see when the natural beauty of this road will be at its height. The beautiful town of Asheville, North Carolina is a great place to stop on your trip. While you’re in Asheville, make sure to tour the historic Biltmore House and its lovely gardens.
4. Pacific Coast Highway
California to Washington
This route starts in San Francisco and takes you all the way up into Washington. The titular Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California 1, starts and ends in California, but the classic road trip route takes you all the way up the coast into Washington state.
Make sure you see the unique geographical features of the Olympic National Park in Washington and the ancient trees of the Redwood National Park in California. You’ll also get to see L.A. and the wineries of Sonoma.
5. The Atlantic Coast
Maine to Florida (Coastline)
Sticking close to the Atlantic rather than zipping down the I-95 corridor will completely change your east coast experience. Much of the beaches along the Atlantic, like Assateague Island with its wild horses and many lighthouse areas, are protected. They are part of national reserves that help preserve the peaceful calm of the areas.
If you’re looking for lighthouses, this route will not disappoint. You can stop and see Roanoke Island or go to Kitty Hawk where the Wright Brothers flew their plane. You’ll also see Boston and Charleston. This route takes travelers from Maine all the way down to Key West in Florida.
6. Colorado Scenic Byways
With the Colorado Scenic Byways system, you can choose your own adventure. All of these byways take less than a day to drive, so they are perfect for turning into weekend trips. They are great ways to see the beauty of Colorado.
The Collegiate Peaks Byway takes you through the highest concentration of 14,000-foot peaks in the U.S. If you’re looking to take in the sights of the “Front Range” Denver area, then the Peak-to-Peak Byway is for you. This road takes you along the Rocky Mountain National Park and to the Continental Divide.
7. Silverado Trail
Napa Valley, California
The Silverado Trail follows a historic roadway that was originally built during the silver rush in the mid-1800s. It winds through wine country, taking its travelers through the iconic Napa Valley.
This short, hour-long drive starts in Napa city and ends in Calistoga, a city known for its spas and its food culture. Stopping at Silver Oak Winery (reservation only) and Stags Leap Winery (Thursday through Monday by appointment only) is a must. Since it only takes an hour to drive this route, you can feel free to make as many stops as you want! This trip can easily fill up a three-day weekend.
8. Great River Road National Scenic Byway
Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico
You can experience the flavors and culture of the Mississippi River at the restaurants along this road. You can also check out the history of this area at the museums along the way! It’s easy to enjoy boating and fishing while on this trip.
9. Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota
There are many different routes that will take you through the iconic Black Hills of South Dakota. This area will show you diverse landscapes – the Black Hills are wooded and mountainous while the Badlands consist of open desert.
The Black Hills and Badlands are full of hot springs, museums, and great restaurants as well as the classic hikes and views that come to mind when thinking of this area. Don’t miss out on seeing Mount Rushmore!
10. Northwest Tour
Wyoming to Washington
Take this tour of the mountainous North from Wyoming through Montana and the topmost tip of Idaho into Washington state. This trip can take as little as four or five days to a couple of weeks.
Starting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming gives you some of the most stunning mountain views in the country. Drive up to Montana to see beautiful ski resorts and discover the rich history of the indigenous cultures of the area. Called “The Gem of the Northwest,” Idaho offers relaxing hot springs and state parks. Ending your trip in Washington will give you a varied experience. See the unique culture of Seattle and see the great rocky beaches of the Pacific Northwest.
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