Embarking on a coastal road trip in America is a visual and sensory event. With a coastline stretching over 95,000 miles, there is no shortage of scenic routes from which to choose.
From the rugged beauty of the northern California coast to the picturesque fishing villages of Maine, each stretch of coastline offers its own unique charm and attractions. Along the way, road-trippers are treated to stunning vistas, quaint towns, and opportunities to explore state parks, national forests, and historic landmarks. A coastal road trip is the perfect way to experience the beauty and diversity of America’s coastline.
5 Coastal American Road Trips With The Best Scenery
1. Bodega Bay To Westport, California
Driving along Highway 1 from Bodega Bay to Westport is a feast for your eyes. This hyper-scenic route features rugged beauty on the northern California coast. The journey takes you through coastal towns, fabulous vistas, and secret beaches.
The route is also dotted with several state parks — like Salt Point State Park — that offer a chance to hike, picnic, and camp. The Bodega Head juts out into the Pacific Ocean and provides a stunning panoramic view of the coastline. As you continue north, the towering redwoods of the Mendocino Coast appear, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. The Highway 1 drive from Bodega Bay to Westport is a trip you won’t soon forget.
2. Portland To Belfast, Maine
Head to the East Coast and drive along the other Highway 1 from Portland to Belfast. Maine coastal trip is a visual treat for travelers who love scenic routes. The journey takes you through colorful coastal towns, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich maritime culture.
The scenery is remarkable, with rocky shorelines, lighthouses, and fishing boats dotting the landscape. You’ll pass through quaint little villages like Wiscasset — with its historic sea captain’s homes and antique shops — and Boothbay Harbor, a bustling tourist destination with lots of shopping and dining.
The Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay is a nature lover’s Nirvana. The route also takes you through Acadia National Park, a natural wonderland with outstanding vistas, hiking trails, and wildlife. The drive along Highway 1 from Portland to Belfast is a true delight for the senses.
3. South Bend To Rockaway Beach, Washington
Let’s head back to the West Coast and drive along the scenic Highway 101 from South Bend to Rockaway Beach. You’ll encounter a wealth of natural attractions that will leave you captivated.
The journey takes you through lush forests and scenic coastal towns, offering a glimpse into the region’s diverse landscape. One must-see attraction is the Cape Disappointment State Park, where you can explore miles of sandy beaches, hike through dense forests, and visit the historic lighthouse.
The Long Beach Peninsula is another memorable destination, with its pristine beaches, towering sand dunes, and colorful boardwalks. Other highlights include the quaint town of Ocean Park, with its delightful cafés and antique shops, and the Columbia River Maritime Museum, showcasing the region’s rich maritime history.
If you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or just craving a scenic road trip in the U.S, the Highway 101 drive from South Bend to Rockaway Beach is a jewel.
4. Charleston To North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The stretch of Highway 17 between Charleston and North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina is magnificent. The journey takes you through the Lowcountry Wetlands, home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, as well as alligators, turtles, and egrets. You’ll see miles of marshes and tidal creeks, with their peaceful and serene beauty.
The route also takes you through captivating coastal towns, such as Mount Pleasant and Georgetown, where you can enjoy local seafood and historic architecture.
The drive’s highlight is the superb beaches of Pawleys Island and Litchfield Beach, with white sands and crystal-clear waters. The coastline is dotted with historic plantation homes, like the Atalaya Castle and Brookgreen Gardens. The Highway 17 drive between Charleston and North Myrtle Beach is a bucket-list-worthy experience for any road-trip enthusiast.
5. Pensacola To Tallahassee, Florida
The drive along Highway 98 from Pensacola to Tallahassee is a scenic journey through the lush forests and picturesque coastal towns of Florida. The route takes you along the Gulf Coast, offering peeks of pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and inviting fishing villages.
You’ll pass through the Gulf Islands National Seashore. This protected area claims some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, including the stunning Navarre Beach. The route also takes you through the Apalachicola National Forest, a vast wilderness area filled with towering trees, crystal-clear streams, and abundant wildlife.
Along the way, you’ll encounter several historic lighthouses with outstanding coastline views, like the Cape San Blas Lighthouse. Driving along Highway 98 is a must-do for anyone looking for a scenic road trip through Florida.
An American coastal road trip is an essential experience for those who love nature, adventure, and scenic beauty. The diversity of landscapes, from rugged coastlines to pristine beaches and beautiful mountain scenery, offers a unique opportunity to explore the country’s natural wonders.
These journeys take you through coastal towns, historic landmarks, and state parks, each with a distinct character. The road-trip experience is not just about the destination but also the journey itself. It lets you slow down, take in the scenery, and create lasting memories. An American coastal road trip is a bucket-list-worthy adventure that should be on every traveler’s radar.