The great American road trip is something of a cultural icon. From Kerouac to Thelma and Louise, our greatest figures have paved the way here. Only when you’re out on the open road for weeks on end can you come to appreciate the beauty that is America. With the wind in your hair and some of your top American hits blaring, you’ll never feel more patriotic than on a trip like this.
Naturally, if you’re planning a great American road trip, you’ll likely want to hit Route 66. It’s difficult to imagine a more classic option than this. In fairness, this a route which passes through everywhere between Lake Michigan to LA. The two-week long driving experience is sure to show you everything you could hope to see. But, it does have its downsides. Such a popular route can get busy. It also might not offer what you’re after regarding location. Which is why it’s crucial you understand that it’s not the only option you have.
There are many life-changing, ready-mapped routes waiting in the wings. Rather than jumping on the Highway 66 bandwagon, you might be best off considering your options. Doing away with the expected choice may just lead you to some unexpected gems along the way.
Of course, too much choice can also lead to you feeling overwhelmed. It’s important to consider your needs before delving into your options. It may help to have some idea, for instance, of where you would most like to head. How you decide that is up to you. It may be that you pick a route for its geographical diversity. It may even be that something as simple as being able to book up in the same hotel chain all the way seals the deal. Companies like Diamond Resorts are an excellent example of a company who offer accommodation across the country. As you can see from these diamond resorts timeshare reviews, that alone might be worth planning your trip around. It would certainly save you money along the way. Or, perhaps you settle on a route because it passes through destinations you’ve always wanted to see. With those desired locations in mind, keep reading to find out about the best road trip routes you didn’t know you could choose.
Great River Road
As much as Route 66 gets most of the road trip attention, The Great River Road is a close second. Ideal for those wanting something a little shorter, this route is a mere 3000 miles long. While 36 hours of straight driving would cover this, the majority of trippers take at least four days here. Often considered as America’s most scenic byway, Great River Road passes from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. And, it offers a great deal to see along the way. If you’re looking for a road trip which helps you to rediscover the pleasure of nature, this one’s undeniably for you. Along the route, you’ll pass wildlife resorts including the Yazoo Refuge and the Theodore Roosevelt Refuge. A trip here could even see you passing through river towns like Rosedale. If all that isolation sounds too much, bear in mind that you can also experience metropolises like New Orleans at the end of this route. If that isn’t a road trip with something to offer everyone, we don’t know what is.
The Loneliest Road
We’ll hand it to you; The Loneliest Road doesn’t exactly scream killer road trip on the surface of things. In fact, it sounds like it could make for a depressing time. But, that couldn’t be more wrong. US-50 runs through 12 states and four state capitals. Admittedly, it doesn’t get its name for no reason. Long stretches of driving through Nevada are sure to get a little lonely if you don’t have a buddy along with you. But, many would argue that’s a small price to pay for the sights on offer during this 3,200-mile trip. Along the way, you’ll see the Sierra Nevada, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Not to mention the deserts of both Nevada and Utah. This would be an ideal trip for history lovers. It takes you from silicon valley, right back to towns straight out of America’s wild west. The Nevada commission has even developed a survival guide for the route. If you get it stamped, they’ll send you a certificate to mark your achievement on the route. If nothing else, we would say that’s a reason to give this a go.
If the mention of the wild west got you all excited, you’re going to love this next route. A road trip on the Hill Country route promises to take you right into Texas and the cowboy capitals of America. Necessary stops along the way include locations like Bluebonnet Paradise, and Fredericksburg. You may also want to book some horseback riding ahead of time to ensure you really get a taste for the wild west along the way. Many would also argue that it’s a crime to drive Hill Country without a wine tasting or two. That’s no surprise given that it’s second only to Napa Valley for its vineyards. There are a variety of wineries available for tastings along the 290 W towards Austin. Look them up and book ahead. Just make sure the designated driver stays sober so that you can carry on with the trip! If all that isn’t temptation enough, this route takes you right into the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area with its famous pink rock. Many would argue the whole trip would be worth your while to see that sight alone. It’s certainly not something you’ll get with Highway 66.
Pacific Coast Highway
Thanks to Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild,’ we all know a little something about the Pacific Crest Trail. But, if hiking isn’t your thing, you could always find yourself with a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway. Unlike the other routes mentioned, this offers something of a more ‘traditional road trip.’ We’re talking sunglasses and the roof down as you cruise between San Francisco and San Diego. Along the way, you’re sure to see some of America’s most iconic landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. You could even stop off and get stuck in with a little hiking in Big Sur (can it get anymore Kerouac than that?). You could also take some time out to hit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. There, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight out of the 60s. Monterey also awaits you on this trail, with the spectacular Monterey Bay and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. You could even stop off at Malibu along the way. Does it get any more standard summer road trip than that? We don’t think so.
The High Road to Taos
If you fancy a road trip with a more Hispanic twist, this last one is for you. The High Road to Taos is a New Mexican road trip to die for. This 56-mile drive is a baby compared to the other routes mentioned, but it still packs plenty of punch. The sights worth seeing along the way also ensure that you can make a trip here last as long as you want it to. The route starts in Santa Fe on Highway 503, then veers north to Taos. As you drive, you’ll pass through traditional Hispanic villages like Chimayo which are worth a visit. You can find traditional wood carvings, Spanish colonial architecture, and ancient churches like the Asis Mission Church. If the mood took you, you could even stop off Sipapu ski resort for some fun in the snow. This trip even has something to offer nature lovers among you, with Tewa Pueblo. Around 15 miles out of Santa Fe, this ancient landmark is a waterfall well worth any hiker’s attention. Dating back to 1300, it’s certainly a sight you won’t want to miss out on while you’re in the area. This would be the ideal shorter trip for someone embarking them on their first roady experience. The variety of offer also means that experienced roadtrippers can make their journey last as long as their hearts desire. Highway 66, eat your heart out.
So, you see, whoever said that Highway 66 was the only American road trip worth seeing was wrong. Undeniably, it remains the most iconic route of them all. But, don’t feel that you’re limited to the locations on offer there. This post only scratches the surface of the road trip capabilities in the USA. Do your research, and don’t stop until you settle on a route which is sure to take you on the trip of a lifetime. Get that right, and all you need is company and music to make this the road trip you always wanted. Your playlist also has great standing on your enjoyment, of course, so don’t rush your decisions here. The right road trip songs can transform your experience, no matter which route you settle on in the end.