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Best Road Trips in the USA

The ultimate all-American road trip collection

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28 March 2023 by Debbie Mayger

There are more than 4 million miles of highway in the USA, making it prime territory to explore on a self-drive holiday, especially if you've been inspired by one of the great literary road trips of Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck, Hunter S. Thompson or Bill Bryson. From the icons of California to the wilds of Alaska, from Utah's canyons to the New England coast, here's our round-up of America's classic road-trip routes, a guide to exploring all corners of the country on four wheels.

Pacific Coast Highway

Iconic California State Route 1 extends the entire length of California but the best bit is south from San Francisco, via a wealth of Spanish and colonial history to Monterey, Carmel and the Big Sur. The 90 miles from Carmel to Hearst Castle is stunning, with mountains rising out of the sea, redwood groves, rocky beaches, sealion colonies and the Pacific Ocean to distract you as you wind along the precipitous cliff road. Convertibles were made for this journey.

Explore the Pacific Coast Highway

Big Sur, USA

Route 95 – New England to Florida

This 2,500 mile route links Maine to Florida and journeys through a swathe of America's history. Go in spring or autumn to avoid the crowds and take in colonial New England, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC before finishing in Miami. You could even tag on a road trip further south, taking in the jaw-dropping, island-connecting bridges of the Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys.

Explore New England

New England coast

The Deep South

If American music is your thing, then you simply have to head to the Deep South, the home of blues, jazz and, of course, rock n' roll. From Memphis to New Orleans, this region is teeming with 20th-century icons, be it the bars of Bourbon and Beale Streets of Elvis's mansion, Gracelands. Add in some of the USA's finest food and you've got yourself a road trip to truly remember.

Explore the Deep South

Beale Street, Memphis

Hana Highway, Hawaii

The Hana Highway on the Hawaiian island of Maui is the best way to explore the island's eastern coast and get a feel for its wild beauty and laid-back towns, although this rollercoaster ride isn't for the faint hearted. Drive east from Paia for 60 miles, via some 600 hairpin bends and masses of one-lane bridges. Look out for the verdant rainforest, a trio of crashing waterfall cascades and some unusual lava formations.

Explore Hawaii

Hana Highway, Maui

Seward Highway, Alaska

Drive the 127 mile route through a section of Alaska to see some of the state's wild beauty. Start in Anchorage and set off across the Kenai Peninsula to finish on Resurrection Bay, looking out for forests, glaciers and fjords as you go. Dall sheep and beluga whales make guest appearances, meaning that there's always something to admire amidst the Alpine scenery although the bore tide that sweeps along Turnagain Arm around new or full moon is the most impressive phenomenon.

Explore Alaska

Alaska, USA

Blue Ridge Parkway

Set off into the Appalachian countryside and explore the mountains, rustic retreats and jumping bluegrass music joints hidden here as you drive more than 450 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

Explore the Capital Region

Shenandoah National Park

Route 66

Synonymous with road trips, Route 66, nicknamed the Mother Road by John Steinbeck, stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles, via retro roadside attractions, traditional diners with soda fountains and historic motor courts. Although only segments of the old highway exist, it remains a venerable slice of Americana and still the best way to get your kicks while travelling through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Explore Route 66

The historic Route 66

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

The first route in the USA to be awarded the status of National Historic Landmark, this scenic route through Oregon is best enjoyed during spring, when the waterfalls are fuller and wild flowers spread along the dramatic Columbia River Gorge.

Explore Oregon

Mt Washington, Oregon

Yellowstone National Park

Driving through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, you'll get a chance to see bison, elk, wolves, moose, bears and dozens of bird species, making it an exceptionally good route along which to watch wildlife. Start in Jackson and take in Grand Teton and Jackson Lake for the ultimate excursion in this area.

Explore Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Canyon Country

Canyon Country, which straddles the states of Arizona, Utah and Colorado, incorporates some of the USA's most spectacular national parks. From the iconic expanses of Grand Canyon to the breathtaking desert landscapes of Monument Valley, this incredible region is nature at its most impressive. Although the distances may appear daunting, its possible, on a two-week trip, to take in not only the aforementioned Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, but also Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde and Sadona, while beginning and ending in America's ultimate Sin City, Las Vegas.

Explore Canyon Country

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Related offers

Big Sur, California

California & the Pacific Coast Highway

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,225 pp incl. flights

A truly iconic USA fly-drive, the Pacific Coast Highway brings you between San Francisco and Los Angeles, calling into world-class vineyards, pretty coastal towns and sweeping golden beaches.

Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee

Rhythms of the Deep South Self-Drive

15-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,905 pp incl. flights

Discover a rich and innovative culture, history and heritage on this self-drive tour of the Deep South states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

New England Lighthouse

Discover New England

16-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,575 pp incl. flights

An ultra-scenic road trip that showcases the best of New England, from the natural splendour of its coastlines and mountains to the region's revolutionary past.

Crandon Park Beach, Miami, Florida

Miami & Florida Keys Fly-Drive Tour

11-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,710 pp incl. flights

Journey from the boardwalks and architectural splendours of Miami to the yawning archipelago of Florida Keys on this two-week road trip through the Sunshine State.

Kauai, Hawaii

Best of Hawaii’s Islands by road

13-day tailor-made self-drive from £4,310 pp incl. flights

Hawaii is one of the world's most romantic destinations and one of the most exhilarating, home to fiery volcanoes, vivid coral reefs and emerald rainforests. Discover it all on this tailor-made tour.

Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C

Washington, DC & Capital Region Self-Drive

16-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,115 pp incl. flights

Starting among the monuments of America's political heartland, this road trip will see you out to the nearby states of Maryland and Virginia, home to beautiful coastlines, endless forests and picturesque national parks.

Oregon, USA

Oregon Fly-Drive

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,340 pp incl. flights

A luxury self-drive pairing the spectacular landscapes of Crater Lake National Park and the vineyards of Oregon wine country with stays in sleepy coastal towns and the chance to explore Portland's thriving arts scene.

Alaska Highway

Alaska National Parks Explorer

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £5,685 pp incl. flights

Fly over America’s tallest peak, sail past humpback whales and hike through national-park wildernesses on this truly epic road trip, pausing to take in everything from giant glaciers to historic gold rush towns.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone & Rocky Mountains Self-drive Tour

18-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,760 pp incl. flights

Explore Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Rocky Mountains national parks as you combine some of America's most spellbinding scenery with the chance to see native wildlife and explore a rich, pioneering past.

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