Road on the edge of the ocean rounding tall cliffs. Picture is for the Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

Best Road Trip USA

The world looks a little different after the quarantine and lockdowns. No doubt we are all ready to get out of the house and start traveling again. However international travel looks a lot different and many are scared to venture outside of their own country. So it’s time to rediscover the list of best road trip USA!

Photo of a desert highway, used to display the best road trip USA

Road trips are the best! You can blast your favorite music, pick up the best road trip snacks, and see the USA. Road trips have always been an American classic. So as you are planning your summer trips let’s look at some of the best road trip USA.

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The best road trip USA list:

Large hill with roads splitting on to go around the hill. Main picture for road trip ideas and destinations.

Although a road trip is a great way to social distance you will still have to go into stores from time to time, gas stations, and other places where there might be people. You should still wear a mask. Here is a great mask that is comfortable enough for exercise, so it will be good enough for running into the gas station to grab a few more snacks.

The USA is a huge country with so much to offer. There are many different options throughout the USA for great road trips. We will take a look at a few of the top trips in the country. And we will also recommend the best road trip USA planners so you can plan a road trip right from your home town.

Renting a car for your road trip

Road trips are awesome however they are hard on your car. The wear and tear a road trip put on your car is enough to consider renting a car for your trip. I have always found great rates at RentalCars.com they compare rates across the board for you and make it so easy!

Best road trips in California

California has some of the greatest sites in the world and no doubt some of the best road trips in the USA. From Southern California with its infamous beaches to Northern with its giant trees. You could spend all summer road-tripping in California.

Let’s take a look at a few of the top road trips in California that will amaze you! Here is your road trip essentials checklist!

Pacific Coast Highway road trip

  • Length: 600 miles
  • Best time of year: Great anytime of the year

The number one best road trip in California is the Pacific Coast Highway. When you think of road trips, this best road trip USA is a classic. The best place to start this road trip is in San Francisco.

Take Highway 1 and head south. You will pass by beautiful places like Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Caramel, and Santa Barabara. Make sure to stop in a few of these towns and stretch your feet. In Monterrey try to get a glimpse of the humpback whales migrating or find a private cove beach.

This road trip ends in Los Angeles. Don’t rush this road trip, take your time riding down the coast. Consider spending a night in one of the towns along the way. This is by far one of the best road trips in California.

Notable places to road trip stops along the way

There are so many places to stop along this route it’s hard to narrow it down. A few of my favorites are Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Monterey, and Santa Barbara.

Yosemite to Lake Tahoe Road Trip

  • Length: 3 days
  • Best time of year: All year, beware Yosemite gets extremely busy during the summer months.
Photo of Yosemite National Park valley with Half Dome and waterfall. Green pine trees covering the Yosemite valley.

Start off in Yosemite and spend the day enjoying the national park. There are so many amazing sites to see in Yosemite, you don’t want to miss everything this park has to offer. Make sure to check out the National Park Website to see any road closures during the time you will be driving through.

While in Yosemite don’t miss the Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point. For more info on what to see in Yosemite, check out No Back At Home’s ultimate guide to Yosemite.

As you head out of the park towards Lake Tahoe, you will take Highway 395. The drive to Lake Tahoe will take you about 2.5 hours.

Lake Tahoe has so much to offer as well. This beautiful freshwater lake can be enjoyed all year round. In the summer, you can play in the water boating and swimming. In the winter Lake Tahoe is home to great skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Notable road trip places to stop along the way

If you don’t mind a little detour, you can visit an awesome ghost town which is about 25 minutes off 395. Bodie is the name of the town and it used to be a mining town. Now it makes great Instagram shots with it’s abandoned buildings.

Topaz Lake is right on off the interstate and it is beautiful. It’s a great spot to get out and stretch your legs, maybe have a picnic.

Road trip to Yellowstone – Via Zion’s National Parks

  • Length: 7 days
  • Best time of year: April to October

This is a much bigger road trip than the previous ones we’ve talked about. If you were to drive this straight through, it will take about 16 hours. But you don’t want to drive this road trip straight through. We will take you through some of the must-see places and a few off the beaten path places on this road trip. I have to admit that my family has been road-tripping to Yellowstone for many many years. It’s a family favorite road trip.

Road trip stop – Zions National Park

Driving North on I-15 you will find so many sites to stop and see you may want to take your time on this road trip. There are multiple national parks along the way to stop and see.

Take a look here for a detailed itinerary of this road trip. You’ll pass through Zion’s National Park and hike the red rock narrows. Then hop over to Bryce Canyon National Park and see the millions of red and white sandstone hoodoos. Hike or enjoy these picturesque natural creations from the car.

Road Trip Off the Beaten Path Stop: St. George Narrows
Just a short distance off Interstate I-15. You can experience your own hike through a Slot Canyon and a great short family adventure to stretch the legs.

On your way, spice up your road trip with some adventure. Head to Park City, Utah, and tube slide down the tallest summer tube slides in the world. Yes, you the popular kid’s activity has turned in to epic summer activity. Ride a tube down the Olympic Ski jump hill at lightning speeds. Get an adrenaline rush to help push you through to Yellowstone.

Yellowstone best road trips in the USA

Yellowstone is best known for Old Faithful and its natural geysers like the dramatic Grand Prismatic Spring. But there is so much more. One thing I love the most about Yellowstone is the chance to see animals in their natural habitat. Bison are a common cause of traffic in the park. There is probably a good chance that you will have a bison walking along with your car.

Read more about this amazing road trip here from start to finish.

Best road trips in the Midwest

Road trip – Chicago to Mackinac Island

  • Length: 4 Days
  • Best Time of Year: May to October

Lake Michigan has beautiful sights all around it, but my favorite is Mackinac Island, which is on the north tip of the Lake. Start this road trip in Chicago. We are going to head East on I-90 and get on 131 North.

Once you cross into Michigan, make a stop in Holland. This quaint town feels like you just stepped into another country. There is so much to do in Holland you will want to spend one night here to take it all in. Some of the top things to do are visit the windmill island and Nelis’ Dutch Village.

Now that you are rested and ready to get back on the road let’s head on to Mackinac Island. Today’s drive will be spent driving along Lake Michigan until you reach the top of the lake.

You cannot drive onto Mackinac Island. You will need to stop in Mackinaw City and then take a ferry to the island. This island has so much to offer, spend at least one night on the island. Here are some of the best things you can do on the island in a day. Mackinac is home to a number of Inns, Hotels, and Bed & Breakfasts.  The most famous of these is the Grand Hotel, but we recommend trying to stay like a local and rent a vacation home or Airbnb.

A couple of the top things to do and see on Mackinac island is to rent or take your bikes and ride around the island. Visit old Fort Mackinac. It was built by British forces in the late 1700’s and was active for about one hundred years. One of the most popular things to do is stop and smell the Lilac trees. Lilacs are scattered all over the island, filling the air with their beautiful scent.  Every spring, Mackinac holds the Lilac Festival, if you happen to be there in the spring take advantage or plan your road trip to when the festival is will be happening.

Road Trip – Badlands to Black Hills

  • Length: 1 or 2 days
  • Best time of year: April to September

Start this easy road trip in the Badlands. The Badlands will make you feel like you are in another world. Take a loop around the Badlands National Park to take in all the sites! The best time of day to see the Badland is actually at sunset. The hills light up with color.

Then head out towards the Black Hills. It’s a short drive to the Black Hills. Once you are in the Black Hills there are a few infamous sites that you don’t want to miss. This is where you can see the infamous Mount Rushmore National Monument. Another place to visit is the Crazy Horse Monument. Crazy Horse is still being sculpted, but when it is done it will be the world’s largest sculpture.

If you happen to get gold fever, try your luck and panning for gold in the Black Hills. The kids will love it and you might just walk away with a couple of gold nuggets.

Best Road Trips on the East Coast

Now let’s head to the other side of the USA and check out the best road trips on the East Coast of the USA. The East Coast easily holds some of the best road trip USA places to visit. Especially in the fall when the trees are turning vibrant reds, yellows, and orange. When college football seasons are kicking off and there is an excitement in the air in the United States.

Best Road Trips from NYC

New York City is home to some of it’s own magnificent sites but sometimes you need to get out of the city for a few days. We have just the right places that will give you a break from the city that never sleeps.

The Hudson Valley Road Trip

  • Length: 2 or 3 days
  • Best time of year: Best during the summer or fall

This gorgeous valley is easily reachable from the city and it won’t disappoint. You will want to spend at least one night, I would recommend spending 2 nights to really take in nature.

The Hudson Valley is home to the Bear Mountain State Park. This beautiful park is the perfect place to recharge your batteries and spend the weekend. It is spectacular in the fall with all the trees changing color, or enjoy a nice spring rainstorm as you drive through the state park. You can take a few hikes through Bear Mountain, explore the Kennedy space center, and visit the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the same day.

One of the reasons New Yorkers flock to the Hudson Valley is for the many vineyards that are found here. When you think of wineries you think of Napa, France, and Italy, but you don’t have to travel that far to experience a good wine. Explore the many wineries here in the Hudson Valley. Next, you will want to stop at Bannerman Castle that’s a must-see on Pollepel Island, located just off the banks of the Hudson River near Beacon. This castle-like structure gives a glimpse of the past that once had a very vibrant economic center. Although this is a shorter distance, it is still one of the best road trip USA destinations to visit.

Lake George Road Trip

  • Length: 2 days
  • Best time of year: April to mid-October

This stunning lake is often forgotten by many New Yorkers, which is part of what makes it so great! This drive will take you about 3.5 hours. Once you arrive at Lake George, there is so much to do you will want to spend at least one night. This Insiders Guide has great ideas on where to stay, eat, and what to do in Lake George.

Lake George is home to some of the best camping in the USA. But there are also awesome hotel options too. There is so much to do on the lake you won’t want to go inside. You can visit Million Dollar Beach and spend the day swimming. Take a steamboat ride across the lake. Or rent a canoe and ride through the narrows. Here is your camping essentials checklist!

On the North end of the lake, you will find the Sagamore Resort. Walk around the beautiful gardens on the shores of Lake George. Grab a drink in the bar or lunch at one of the award-winning restaurants.

For the history buff, stop at Historic Fort Ticonderoga.  Fort Ticonderoga is considered to be the most important historic attraction in the entire Adirondack region. This 18th-century fort was built during the French and Indian war. For the Instagramer, make a stop at “kissing Bridge.” This is a covered bridge that crosses over the La Chute River, which is the outlet that connects Lake George to Lake Champlain. Kissing Bridge is a good one to seek out because it’s situated in a scenic park and not far from waterfalls.

Lake George might be one of the best road trips in the USA but it also might be the most romantic.

Best Road Trip USA Planner

There are so many road trip planners, it’s hard to pick the best one. First, let’s talk about Roadtrippers which is an app that you can download on your phone. This app is amazing! It is so intuitive and will suggest places for you to stop along the way. The best apart of this app is that it is free and does not require a subscription.

Google Maps is also a great tool to use to plan your trip and to use along the way. Google Maps also allows you to download offline maps. So if you are going to be going to a place without cell service, download your maps before you go.

I always love a good check list especially when I am traveling. Checklists make my life some much easier when I am planning a trip and packing for the trip. My favorite app that helps me organize my checklists is Wunderlist. This is a great app to help you organize your road trip so you don’t forget anything!

The best road trip USA snacks

Everyone has their favorite road trip snack. I love chips, chocolate, and a big Diet Coke! To save yourself some money, pre-order your favorite snacks on Amazon before you go.

Gas stations charge an arm and a leg for their snacks. Order your snacks before you go and save big!

Why is it that junk food tastes so much better on the road? If you are going for a longer road trip, you will want to pack some healthier snacks as well. You can easily pre-order these on Amazon too.

Wrap up on best road trip USA

The best road trips in the USA list is complete! So pick your favorite road trip destination, order your favorite road trip snacks, use the best apps, and hit the road!

Visit: So. Cal or Phoenix Road Trip to Yellowstone – See 3 National Parks + try your hand at an Olympic bobsled. Everything you need to Pack for the Best Road trip in 2020!

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Comments

May 2, 2020 at 2:34 am

Love this post!
We are in the middle of planning a 2021 California road trip but now I want to extend it to more places! Lake George looks so perfect and we loved visiting Chicago a few years ago!



    May 4, 2020 at 12:48 am

    Thank you, California is a beautiful place to take a road trip! There are so many great places to see in California. The USA has so many great places it was hard to narrow it down.



May 2, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Great post! I would love to take some road trips around the US one day because I really have to explore my own country more. I’m pinning this for later!



May 2, 2020 at 8:00 pm

Our first road trip up the PCH was what sold California for us when we were figuring out where we should live. Great list!



May 3, 2020 at 4:00 am

Your pictures are stunning. I’ve always wanted to do the PCH. You’ve given me new inspiration to do that.



    May 4, 2020 at 12:54 am

    I’m so happy to hear that you were inspired to check out the Pacific Coast Highway. You will love it! It is some of the most beautiful spots in the world.



May 4, 2020 at 3:02 am

This is such a useful post, especially now that I feel we’ll all be planning a lot more road trips!



August 5, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Beautiful pictures. I can’t wait for the virus to be over so I can go to yellowstone.



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