With a country as large and culturally diverse as the United States, the road trip opportunities are endless. Whether you are looking to journey up or down the coast, take in the sights between the nation’s many national parks, or simply want to try a new path between two familiar places, our writers have done the legwork for you and provided unique and exciting itineraries to use as you plan your own road trips.
While we could have included many more options on this list as we worked our way from California to Maine, here are 16 of our readers’ favorites from 2022 that we hope will make planning your next trip a breeze. This is not a ranked list, but it is numbered for your convenience.
1. Pismo Beach To Pacific Grove, California
California Route 1: Pacific Coast Highway
Enjoy 165 miles of California’s Central Coast as you slowly meander along the Pacific Coast Highway between Pismo Beach and Pacific Grove. This stretch is especially beautiful during springtime as wildflowers begin popping up all over the landscape. Temperatures are also ideal for enjoying the coast by car at this time of year, allowing you to turn off the AC and roll down the windows for fresh air. Views include such sights as Big Sur, Hearst Castle, and the many lovely towns that dot the central California coast. Road trippers are sure to indulge in many of the fruits of the region through delectable dining experiences and local wines.
Editor’s Note: Part of California Route 1 near Big Sur is closed due to rockslides. Check road conditions before heading out.
Read more about the beautiful stops on a California Central Coast road trip.
2. Eureka, California, To Bandon, Oregon
U.S. Route 101: Pacific Coast Highway
The trip between Eureka and Bandon along the Pacific Coast Highway is not long — less than 200 miles of driving — but it is meant to be enjoyed at a slow pace, savoring the sights, smells, and tastes along the way. Begin your journey in the mighty redwoods before making your way up the coast. Along the way, enjoy the stunning landscapes, gorgeous ocean vistas, and charming small towns that make this region of the Pacific such a worthwhile destination any time of the year. This drive up U.S. 101 through Northern California and Southern Oregon is one not to be missed.
3. Joshua Tree To Death Valley, California
The journey between two of California’s most visited national parks is an experience of its own. Only 4 hours separate these sizzling destinations in the California desert, and they make a great road trip for those that desire to enjoy both. After experiencing Joshua Tree National Park’s namesake yucca plants and exploring its many scenic trails, head north through the Mojave Desert — making frequent stops for fuel, water, and food as a precaution against the sweltering heat —and you will eventually arrive at Death Valley: the United States’ hottest and driest national park.
4. Kanab To Spring City, Utah
U.S. Route 89
U.S. Highway 89 runs parallel to, and just east of, Interstate 15 through the southern portion of Utah. This less-traveled route will put you within reach of many of southern Utah’s most memorable natural treasures: Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. In addition to these amazing natural wonders filled with astonishing canyons, stunning rock formations, and pristine sand dunes, you will find yourself in historic towns that will transport you back to the times of the Old West.
Read Cindy’s full article on her favorite stops along Utah’s beautiful Highway 89.
5. Phoenix To Salt River Canyon, Arizona
Drive east from the outskirts of Phoenix for about an hour and you may find yourself in Salt River Canyon, if you are lucky. While not as “grand” as the Grand Canyon itself, Salt River Canyon provides a unique scenic drive that you won’t want to miss, including the chance to spot wild horses. The drive through the canyon itself can prove taxing for the faint of heart, with steep grades, tight turns, and an overall drop in elevation of around 2,000 feet. Don’t let this scare you away from the breathtaking views the route has in store for those that make the journey.
Discover how to enjoy our nine favorite stops driving the scenic Salt River Canyon. And if you’re looking for more to do in Arizona, here are seven other amazing scenic drives through the Grand Canyon State.
6. San Antonio To Marfa, Texas
U.S. Route 90
Before Interstate 10 came into existence and created a faster path through West Texas, U.S. 90 was the route preferred by many. In fact, if you have the extra time and are looking for a more scenic and traditional road trip journey through the state, you may just want to set your sights on this more remote route. Explore Amistad National Recreation Area, Seminole Canyon State Park, and many other great natural areas along your way. Stop off for fuel and food in the historic and quirky old railroad towns, including Marfa, that you will find along the way.
Learn more about these six unique stops on an exciting road trip along U.S. 90 in Texas.
7. Eureka Springs, Arkansas, To Pawhuska, Oklahoma
This two-state journey will take you from the natural springs of northern Arkansas right to the doorstep of the Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond, in Pawhuska. Take in the beautiful trees and lakes of Arkansas as you make your way from Eureka Springs to Bentonville. Explore charming Vinita on historic Route 66 as you make your way west into the Oklahoma portion of your trip. Each stop on your journey will provide a reason to stop and explore.
Enjoy each of these five amazing stops between Eureka Springs and Pawhuska.
8. Seneca To St. Francis, Kansas
U.S. Route 36
Many motorists flock to interstates as a way to reduce travel time and avoid reduced speeds and stop lights. However, with only around 10 stoplights across the entire length of the state, the speed with which you can travel along U.S. Route 36 through northern Kansas might just surprise you. However, don’t go so fast that you miss the many great opportunities you will pass along the way. Find numerous endearing towns ready to welcome you, and explore the many parks and natural areas that you encounter during your journey.
Writer Sara Broers shares 10 reasons why you should take Route 36 through Kansas instead of I-70.
9. Chicago, Illinois, To Santa Monica, California
U.S. Route 66
Historic Route 66 may in fact be no more, as it was officially decommissioned by the U.S. government in the ’80s, having been replaced by several new interstate highways along the way. However, several stretches of this nostalgic byway still exist along the original route, and you can jump on the interstate as needed when they run out. Retrace the path of so many before you who got their proverbial kicks along this classic road trip between Chicago and Los Angeles over its many decades in existence.
From tried-and-true favorites to lesser-known — but just as worthy — hidden gems, here are writer Bob Clinkingbeard’s nine favorite Route 66 experiences he had on a memorable trip with his wife on this famed stretch of highway.
10. Duluth To Grand Portage, Minnesota
Minnesota Highway 61: North Shore Scenic Drive
Minnesota 61 along the coast of Lake Superior makes for a beautiful drive. Your journey will take you past great beaches, enchanting waterfalls, and stunning views out over the largest of the Great Lakes. With scores of interesting stops along the way, you will be sure to find a town or attraction of interest to you. Take the journey as fast — or as slow — as you would like as you make your way from Duluth north towards the Canadian border: Just make sure to stop from time to time to take it all in.
Writer Tim Trudell picked his nine favorite stops along Minnesota’s North Shore Drive.
11. Miami To Key West, Florida
U.S. Route 1: Overseas Highway
Just over 160 miles and 42 bridges is all that separates mainland Miami from the remote retreat of Key West. The sprawling city of Miami can keep you busy for days, so plan plenty of time to explore all that the region has to offer, including portions of nearby Everglades National Park. But once you are ready, hit the open road and cruise across the long stretches of bridge separating the 34 individual islands that make up the Florida Keys.
When planning your Overseas Highway trip, consider our favorite stops on an epic road trip between Miami and Key West.
12. North Ocean City, Maryland, To New Castle, Delaware
Delaware Highway 1
Highway 1 works its way north through the state of Delaware from its border with Maryland to Interstate 95. Along the way, you will be treated to sandy beaches, historic towns, and many unforgettable stops along the way. The southernmost leg of the journey will take you through numerous charming beach towns, including Fenwick Island and Rehoboth Beach. Then it turns inland and takes you through the capital of Dover and other great towns of Delaware’s interior. Finally, exit Highway 1 and make for historic New Castle along the Delaware River.
This small but exciting state is well worth your time; enjoy our picks for the best stops during a Delaware road trip the next time you are in the region.
13. Erie, Pennsylvania, To The Poconos
U.S. Route 6
This less-traveled path more or less follows U.S. Route 6 and will take you from the shores of Lake Erie to the wooded mountains of the Poconos. The charming towns of northern Pennsylvania are rich in history and exciting attractions for all ages. Enjoy a stroll out on a former rail trestle bridge turned skywalk; learn more about the man who brought down the infamous Al Capone at a museum dedicated to him; or take a wagon ride through Pennsylvania’s own “Grand Canyon”. The Allegheny region is also chock-full of scenic vistas and natural areas to explore along your journey. This stretch of highway through northern Pennsylvania is sure to provide something for everyone.
Robin O’Neal Smith shares her favorite stops on a beautiful Allegheny road trip through northern Pennsylvania to inspire your next trip.
14. New York City, New York, To Boston, Massachusetts
During your next trip between New York City and Boston, ditch the more crowded interstate route along the coast and opt for a leisurely road trip through New York State’s gorgeous Hudson Valley and Western Mass instead. With stops at both indoor and outdoor art exhibits, the Culinary Institute of America, and the infamous town of Salem, your journey to Boston will be sure to thrill art and history lovers alike.
Make sure to plan a trip that includes these must-stops during a New York City to Boston road trip through the Hudson Valley.
15. Boston, Massachusetts, To Bangor, Maine
This quintessential New England road trip will take you up the coast from Boston, through New Hampshire, and into Maine, the very heart of New England. Stop along at one of the many beaches you pass along the way and take a dip — or a brisk stroll through the sand, depending on the time of year. Each town you pass has its own unique history and charm to dig into upon arrival. Culinary treats await in Portland and Camden, with fresh lobster on the menu just about anywhere you stop. Finally, head inland to Bangor to experience the hometown of Stephen King.
Discover more about each of New England local Sandi Barrett’s picks for the 12 best stops on a road trip from Boston to Bangor.
Bonus: Fabulous Drives Through Alabama Perfect For Every Interest
Regardless of your favorite hobbies and interests, there is likely a road trip through Alabama that will meet your specific entertainment desires. From nature to art and history to sports, the state has a trail for everyone. The state’s department of tourism has crafted 19 unique trails around the state to encourage road trippers to hit the road and explore their great state, all while focusing on the attractions that mean the most to them. Resident and Alabama enthusiast Joe Cuhaj shares 14 of his these fabulous drives through the great state of Alabama, perfect for every interest.
And once you have chosen your path, have all of your stops laid out, and fueled up your ride, ensure you are fully prepared for the journey with these road trip tips: