The Two Greatest (and Longest) Road Trips to Take in America

Photo credit: Ian D. Keating Castle Rock via photopin (license)

America is a vast land full of natural beauty and amazing people. Many people will pick a destination to travel to then fly into the nearest city (or the city may be the destination). From there they might take a short car trip to their final destination.

But these kind of trips limit your sights to just a small part of the city or site you are traveling to. There is so much more to see and do if you take an alternate route to your destination. There are local towns and cultures to experience. You are also missing out on all of the diverse landscapes that make this country great.

For your next trip in the United States, whether you are flying in from outside the country or are a native looking to explore more of America, don’t aim for a specific destination. Go for a journey.

Plan a road trip that will have you seeing more of this beautiful land under spacious skies. Plan to take longer to get wherever the road takes you rather than a short time in a specific place. Allow yourself to go with the flow. “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” It truly is.

Some of the best road trips are discussed below in case you need help deciding which direction to go. Make sure your GPS is updated, your car insurance is paid (hopefully you won’t have to deal with another driver’s insurance company) and you have a phone charger. If you are in an accident, be sure to talk to an attorney before you make any decisions with another driver’s insurance. Also, take a look at the laws for other states. For instance, speeding in one state could cause you to get a fine, while in another state you could go to jail.

Route 66

During its heyday, Route 66 was the quintessential road trip experience. People drove it just to drive; to get away and wander the country by car. It connected a large chunk of the country together before the interstates crisscrossed the nation.

The path began up in Chicago and traveled mostly west to Los Angeles. There were plenty of stops along the way. Countless towns popped up along the route over time (remember Radiator Springs?) in each of the states the route passed through. Traveling Route 66 in this direction, you will start in Illinois and find yourself driving through the Midwestern states of Missouri and Oklahoma. From there, you will pass through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, then finally arrive in California.

Altogether, Route 66 covered over 2500 miles, as close to a road that went from shore to shore as you would find during the road’s popularity. Unfortunately, interstates and other roads have taken over sections of the now-almost 100 year old road. Sections of it remain as it once was, making this as much of a historical journey as it is a sightseeing one.

Route 1

Starting from the very top of the country (not including Alaska), Route 1 travels the entirety of the American East Coast. It ends after a 2400-mile journey in the Florida Keys – the very bottom of the country.

Along the way you will see a variety of oceanscapes and forests, quaint little fishing towns to large metropolitan areas. The culture differs tremendously from the beginning point in Maine, with its New England sensibilities, to the polar opposite party vibe of Florida.

Just like Route 66, there are so many stops to make, so much local shopping to do, so much cuisine to sample that you will be glad you didn’t aim for just one destination for this trip. You cannot experience everything in just one place so why try? Take a week-long trip down the American coast and experience so much more than a single city could offer.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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