With incredible geographic and cultural diversity, a connected highway system, and a car-friendly culture, there’s nowhere quite like the United States to take a road trip. It’s a great way to see the country, and check out some of the weird and wonderful things that make the country what it is.
Take the coastal highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco and visit iconic beaches, redwood forests and hippy enclaves. Have breakfast at the iconic Big Sur Bakery, stop for a dip in the Esalan Hot Springs, and visit the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Between great surf spots, the chance to see sea otters, seals and sea lions in Monterey Bay, and the General Sherman Tree – the largest living thing on the planet – there’s something for everyone on the California Coast. Find your route here.
Food lovers shouldn’t miss either Austin or New Orleans, with two of the most distinct and iconic cuisines in the United States. By taking the scenic route between them, you can visit San Antonio, home of The Alamo, Houston and historic oil town Galveston before arriving in New Orleans, where you can listen to Jazz, try gumbo, and take in the sites of the bayou. Find your route here.
If music is more your thing, the Americana Music Trail is a must-see. Connecting the three points of the triangle, Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans, there are historic venues, museums, and local music trails such as the Mississippi. Along the way, you can also visit American Civil War sites, including the site of the battle of Vicksburg, and see the mighty Mississippi. The American Music Triangle website has detailed guides and maps to plan a trip to your musical taste.
It’s a much shorter trip than most, but there’s plenty to see in Virginia. Start in Richmond, Virginia, which was the capital of the confederacy during the US Civil War, where museums and monuments tell the story of the failed rebellion. Travel south to the Petersburg battlefield and see the crater that gave the battle its name, then head east to check out Norfolk, home of the oldest US naval port; Colonial Williamsburg, a recreation of the colonial town; Yorktown, the site of the decisive battle of the Revolutionary War; and Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English settlement in Virginia (which predates the Pilgrims by over a decade). Find your route here.
The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, a 1.2 km Meteor Crater and Monument Valley: you could travel thousands of kilometres without seeing anything as incredible as any one of these site. Yet in a road trip of just over 1500km you can see them all. You can also visit the artsy town of Sedona, the Petrified Forest National Park and lands of the Navajo people, who have lived in the southwest since around 1400. And yes, the drive does take in some of the iconic route 66. Find your route here.
For a mix of incredible autumn colours, historic cities, sleepy university towns and skiing villages, consider taking the drive from Boston to Montreal via Vermont. Be sure to stay in a few of the many beautiful bed and breakfasts along the route. If you take a quick detour, you can also see historic Salem – famous for the witch trials, but there's much more on offer than just that. Plan your trip for the late September- October to make sure you’re there when the leaves change. Find your route here.