5 Incredible American road trips

Featured Blog: Travel Nation

Want to experience a classic American road trip? Take your pick from these 5 stunning routes that will let you experience the classic USA road trip with a car or campervan. The deserts of the Wild West, the fabled Californian coast or the red and gold leaves of the Appalachian Mountains - whichever takes your fancy, we can help you plan it.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway snakes its way through the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia, all the way down to the Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. During the autumn, the golden hued trees hug the edges of the road, which twists and turns through the incredible scenery of the Appalachians. Along the way are hiking trails, waterfalls and panoramic views that are easy to access from the road.

Why drive the Blue Ridge Parkway? 

Although there are places of interest along the route, the highlight of his journey is the drive itself. This road was built purely for the joy of driving through the Virginian countryside so make the most of the outstanding scenery passing by your windows. Many people miss out this area of the USA as it is slightly removed from the major cities but it is such a worthwhile area to drive through that will produce some great photos! 

When to go

Autumn is best - the red and gold leaves make September and October the perfect time to do this drive.

Tips for this route

The speed limit on the Blue Ridge Parkway is mainly 45 mph (less in some sections). The road is meant to be driven at a leisurely pace so take your time and enjoy the drive.


2. Pacific Coast Highway

This drive takes in the highlights of the Pacific Coast – the small seaside towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea before following the rugged coast of Big Sur and Garrapata State Park where you can look out for the protected sea otters. Stop to enjoy the beaches of Pfeiffer Beach before emerging from the redwoods by Moro Rock and cruising into Los Angeles to relax by the Santa Monica Pier. 

Why drive the Pacific Coast Highway?

It’s so simple to fly from San Francisco to L.A. but everyone knows that sometimes the easiest option is not the best! This drive takes in some remote areas of the California coast that you’d never be able to reach by public transport and the ability to pull over and stay longer along the way, gives you such a sense of freedom that you’d otherwise be missing out on.

When to go

Spring and autumn are the best times; free from the crowds and prices of the summer but with enough warmth to still enjoy your coastal journey.

Tips for this route

Make sure you drive this route south, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, as you will be driving in the right hand lane and the views will be far superior in this direction.


3. The Overseas Highway - Miami to Key West

The road over the ocean crosses 42 bridges in its journey from Miami to Key West, the final link in the chain of the Florida Keys. The stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean on both sides of the road is a unique experience that is unrivalled by other road trip routes. Jumping from island to island, make sure you check off their unusual names as you pass: Ragged Key, Plantation Key, Fat Deer Key, Tea Table Key and Sugarloaf Key, before finally arriving in Key West and delivering you to the beach for a real Key lime cocktail.

Why drive the Overseas Highway?

The best part of this spectacular drive comes from the way the road hops from island to island with the option of pulling in at other keys making this a much more adventurous route than simply flying. Windows down, sunglasses on – this unique drive over the ocean is a wonderful way to start a trip to the Florida Keys.

When to go

This is a great drive all year round – although it is worth noting that June to November is hurricane season so keep an eye on weather warnings and if you’re worried, try and hit the Keys in April or early May.

Tips for this route

Winter is high season, so if you want to stay anywhere along the route, make sure you book ahead to avoid disappointment.


4. Las Vegas Loop

The red rock of the American West is the scenery that will guide you through this loop from Las Vegas, round to Monument Valley and Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Starting in the bright lights of the Vegas strip, make your way through the open desert of Arizona and Utah into the classic American Wild West. Hike and bike in the national parks and enjoy driving, Thelma and Louise style through the unique scenery, learning about the local Navajo culture as you go.

Why drive the Las Vegas loop?

Seeing the stunning views of the American desert will be all you need to persuade you to take a road trip through this natural phenomenon. The long, straight and empty roads are so classically American that you’ll really get under the skin of this incredible country. Americans have a real love affair with their national parks and after driving through some of the most spectacular ones in the country, you’ll be hard pushed to ask why.

When to go

Avoid summer if you don’t want to be burnt to a crisp! Spring and autumn are the best times heat wise, although the occasional snowfall that winter brings makes the red rock even more beautiful (if that’s possible!)

Tips for this route

Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park, not a US National Park so make sure you are respectful of the local customs and traditions. Photography is allowed but when taking pictures of Navajo residents, ask permission first as a contribution is expected.


5. Route 66

From Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 is the longest of our classic road trips. Cruise down the long straight roads through the breadbasket of America passing the old fashioned motels and truck stops that make this road so famous. The long history of the road is documented in the various sights along the way: museums, restaurants and towns that prospered in the 30s and have now become an important part of American history. If you feel like venturing off the road, you’ll be passing pretty close to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Santa Fe.

Why drive Route 66?

The fabled journey down Route 66 is the thing of American legends, the most famous of all road trip routes. The places you’ll pass through are towns you would be unlikely to ever visit otherwise and the link this journey has as the pathway to opportunity and prosperity in the west, is so classically American that this drive is a must if you want to get under the skin of the true American spirit. On Route 66, it is all about the journey. 

When to go

Avoid the heat of the summer as a lot of this route is in the desert. Similarly the northern section can be snowy in winter – spring and autumn are the best times for driving.

Tips for this route

Although the drive can probably be completed in 5 days, it is best to spread out the driving and enjoy the experience by going slower and enjoying side trips like the Grand Canyon. 2 weeks is a more comfortable amount of time to complete this iconic drive.