When there’s nothing but the sun and the blue sky and that taste of summer in the air, it’s time to grab some friends, pick out your favorite tunes and hit the open road. Where to? That’s an exciting question and a daunting one for the average traveler. Good thing there’s plenty of places to go in America, with just as much to see along the way as at the destination. Is it possible to narrow it down to just 10? Let’s try and figure out the Top 10 North American Road Trips Every Driver Should Do At Least Once.
10 Columbia River Highway (Oregan, USA)
The views on the Columbia River Highway can only be described as dramatic. Multnomah Falls, just to name one attraction, is a part of the largest collection of waterfalls outside of Yosemite, a two-tiered cascade of water falling from an astounding 620 feet.
It is the largest natural attraction in Oregon, and cannot be missed during a road trip there, among the other number of waterfalls that surround it. There’s also Crown Point and Vista House, The Bridge of the Gods and several other stops that allow you to stop off the highway and stretch your legs on a refreshing hike.
9 Tennessee Music Pathways
The name speaks for itself. Tennessee’s music pathways are teeming with musical history and culture. This path allows travelers to explore that history and culture that has shaped today’s music so profoundly, from rock and roll to blues to jazz to country to gospel!
Bristol, in particular, is an interesting and educational stop on the tour, it being the so-called birthplace of country music. Even for those who are not country music fans or music enthusiasts, the rich legacy found there is moving. It couldn’t hurt to take a look-see, and find out where it all really it started.
8 California Highway 1
The best time to drive the Pacific Coast Highway is in the late spring, summer, and early fall when the weather is at its peak. The panoramic ocean views and the beautifully preserved forests are to die for. Some of the hottest spots that one has to stop in are none other than San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Malibu respectively.
Long Beach is also a big contender, with its gorgeous lagoons and impressive Museum of Art (housed in an early 20th-century mansion). The modern traveler also can not forget to visit the many winemaking districts that are available.
7 Route 100 (Vermont, USA)
Route 100 offers 33 classic towns and villages for the eager tourist to visit. Following the scenic outline of the Green Mountains and its rivers. One of its most popular attractions is Moss Glen Falls in Granville, which boasts an impressive 30-foot waterfall that is a definite must-see.
There are also 30-minute tours at Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, the brand having had its start in Vermont, for those who are true fans of ice-cream treats. Of course, the skiing options can’t be left out, such as Mount Snow, Okemo, and Sugarbush. It isn’t nicknamed “The Skier’s Highway” for nothing!
6 Million Dollar Highway (Colorado, USA)
Built-in the 1880s, the Million Dollar Highway offers an amazing view of the mountains, valleys, and gorges as it takes you up several mountain passes. However, it’s also without safety measures like guard-rails or shoulders and subject to rough, unpredictable weather.
Avalanches and landslides could happen upon a hapless driver at any moment on this winding road if one isn’t watchful. Is it worth it? Absolutely, if you take it slow. Needless to say, this road should not be traversed by a novice driver, lest they get “frozen” on the mountainside, too scared to go forward or back.
5 Going-To-The-Sun Road (Montana, USA)
The Sun Road isn’t the lengthiest of roads, stopping short at about 50 miles, but makes up for it with awe-inspiring scenery. This highway boasts distinguished mountains, gorgeous valleys, flowing waterfalls, stunning glaciers and an array of vibrant wildflowers as its backdrop.
It’s only open seasonally due to the mountainous terrain, so before making a plan to take this road trip, checking the weather is a necessity. Even with the route and unpredictable weather in mind, it is best to get there as early as possible. It isn’t as crowded, and there are more opportunities to see beautiful wildlife.
4 Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway (Maryland, USA)
The Underground Railroad Byway is a celebrated and unparalleled cultural and historical gem. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s been designated a “National Road.” This road offers a self-guided tour of 36 historically rich sites, with an audio guide, map and PDF guide that describes the locations and explains the reasons they are significant.
The volunteer-run Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center is a must-see, with fascinating exhibits and featuring a moving portrait of Harriet herself. Harriet Tubman was an American Hero, and her legacy is being diligently kept alive by means of the history preserved on this Byway.
3 Yellowstone Grand Loop Road
Yellowstone is amazing in its own right, but taking the Grand Loop Road adds another layer of excitement to the trip. At 154-miles, The Grand Loop takes you around the outside of the road that runs through Yellowstone, giving a broader look at the landscape.
This detour is not short by any means and usually takes a full day, but it’s worth it. A tip? Get up early! Some of the better-known attractions like the Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful are less busy in the early morning, allowing for the peaceful observance and even a chance to see wildlife.
2 Florida Overseas Highway
At 113-miles long, “The Highway That Goes To Sea” is nothing short of breathtaking. It can be recognized as the paradisaic backdrop behind racing cars in commercials and movies like True Lies. With the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf on the other, the many stops along with this scenic route offer snorkeling, Caribbean-themed restaurants, gift shops, museums, and colorful natives, among other things. Over the years, technological advancements have made great improvements on the Overseas Highway, increasing its fame and solidifying its place in the heart of tourists from all over. It was designated an “All-American Road” in 2009.
1 Route 66
There’s a reason this nostalgic stretch of road has its own rock song. Old Route 66 is more than a destination, it’s an icon of American history. This trip spans from Illinois to California and can only be described as magical, with numerous stops at cultural and historical checkpoints. Wigwam Village, The Grand Canyon, and Cadillac Ranch are just a few of these must-see stops, not to mention famous landmarks like The Blue Whale, or a simple diner-like Cozy Dog Drive-In where you can get an all-American meal. Route 66 is still undeniably “the mother of all road trips.”