California State Route 1, California from See the USA: 20 Coolest Car Trips Gallery
See the USA: 20 Coolest Car Trips Gallery
California State Route 1, California
This well-worn path is the perfect road trip for everyone from native Californians looking for adventure to visitors looking to experience the beauty of the California coastline for the first time. This 655.8-mile route stretches from Dana Point in Southern California to Leggett in Northern California and whizzes past stunning beaches, sleepy ocean-side towns, and jaw-dropping overlooks.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 383 miles from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Asheville, North Carolina. The gorgeous roadway runs through dense mountain forests and connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. There are tons of spots like Waterrock Knob and Blowing Rock to stop and take gorgeous photos along the way.
Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming
Beartooth Highway is 68 miles through Montana and Wyoming leading to Yellowstone National Park. Considered one of the most scenic drives in the U.S., adventurers will see the Absaroka and Beartooth mountains with pristine looking alps, glacial lakes, forests, waterfalls, and, if they’re lucky, wildlife.
George Parks Highway, Alaska
Beginning in Anchorage and ending in Fairbanks, this 387-mile car trip will take you through famous small towns like Wasilla and Talkeetna, which holds an annual moose dropping festival. On this excursion, you’ll also see parts of Denali National Park with skyscraping mountains and gorgeous wilderness. Your ride ends back in the big city of Fairbanks.
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Going-to-the-Sun Road winds through Glacier National Park in Montana. Breeze past gorgeous pine trees, waterfalls, roaring rapids, incredible mountains, cliffs, and deep valleys on your journey. Just be careful not to drive down it during avalanches or major storms. Plus keep an eye out for any deer, elk, or meese trying to cross the road.
Hawk's Nest Highway, New York
Driving down Route 97 to Hawk’s Nest Highway, you will see rock-faced mountains, bluffs, and the sparkling Delaware River. This stretch of highway is so photogenic it has been used in ads for Porsche, BMW, Saab, Cadillac, and Honda.
Marinette County Waterfalls Tour, Wisconsin
You can see 14 famous waterfalls on this tour of the Marinette County Parks system. The self-guided tour will take you past the High Falls Dam and its 1,700 acres of lake, various big and small waterfalls, campsites, playgrounds, and picnic areas.
Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
This gorgeous road in the Northeast begins in Williamstown, and will take you through stunning foliage to see the Williams College Museum of Art, the Gothic-inspired Thompson Memorial Chapel, and more. Should you venture down the Mohawk Trail in the fall, this road will take you to North Adams, a town which houses the Fall Foliage Festival and Parade.
Ocean Drive, Rhode Island
These 10 miles of historic Rhode Island homes and landmarks will also take you past gorgeous coastal views. Impress your entire family by cruising by Hammersmith Farm, where President Kennedy’s wedding reception was held in 1953, three different historic yacht clubs, Fort Adams, and gorgeous homes around Narragansett Bay, where Taylor Swift owns a $17 million mansion.
Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Maine
In the fall, this 27-mile road will take you on the leaf-peeping excursion of your dreams. This “loop” of road will show you mountain forests coated in red, brown, green, orange, and yellow leaves and dotted with beautiful ponds. According to the state park website, there are plenty of places to pull over and take photos.
Road to Hana, Hawaii
The road to Hana is 51.1 miles of breathtaking Hawaiian scenery. Jewel-toned waters crash onto white sand beaches along coastlines, and lush mountainsides thick with colorful and sweetly scented flowers await you at every twist and turn on this steep and occasionally sick-making road. Stop often for car sickness and to peruse the quaint shops and artisans along the way. If you make it all the way to Hana, don’t forget to see the black sand at Waianapanapa Beach.
Route 6, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons
Make your car trip as enchanting as possible by navigating all 117 miles of Route 6 in Cape Cod. This quaint ride will take you past colonial villages, tidal ponds, dunes, forests, and historic Provincetown, where you can find some of the best food and drink in Massachusetts.
Route 12, Utah
Route 66’s Singing Road, New Mexico
Only one stretch of the famous Route 66 is musical. From Albuquerque to Moriarty, New Mexico, a strip of “musical road” was installed near the town of Tijears. If you drive at 45 mph the vibrations from your car will play the tune to “America the Beautiful” due to rumble strips on the highway. Pro tip: The road only plays the song if you’re driving east, so start in Albuquerque. Not all of this strip sings, but you will still be singing its praises as you pass the beautiful Cibola National Forest and the famous Sunset Motel.
Route 90, Louisiana
This southern route begins at the border of Texas, but stays low and meanders around all of Louisiana’s marshes and prairies for 297.6 miles. The route will even take you to New Orleans where you must stop and try some of the best food in Louisiana.
Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, Alabama
The national historic trail from Selma to Montgomery will take you to all of the most important locations of the Civil Rights movement in the south. On this road trip you’ll definitely need to stop every so often to see things like the Old Depot Museum, the Old Live Oak Cemetery, the Brown Chapel AME Church (where protestors gathered to march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery), Vaughan-Smitherman Museum, and many more places housing memorabilia and historic documents and period artifacts.
Tail of the Dragon, Tennessee and North Carolina
Buckle up before you take on this 11-mile stretch of Highway 129. Referred to as the “Tail of the Dragon” for its 318 curves and twists, this dangerous Southern road is worth driving just to say you’ve conquered it — just as long as you don’t get carsick.
Texas State Highway Loop 360, Texas
This Texas roadway is a popular spot for motorists and cyclists for how scenic it is and for the easy access it provides to Lake Austin. Winding through the hills of West Austin, Loop 360 is known for such historical landmarks as the Pennybacker Bridge, the Johnson Smokehouse (a vintage smokehouse from 1867), the Eanes-Marshall Ranch, and the marker commemorating the role that the geological riches of the Balcones Fault played in the Anglo-American settlement of Texas.
Winding Road in Valley of the Fire, Nevada
The Winding Road in the Valley of the Fire National Park is named as such for its brilliant coloring. The stark rocks, rich clays, and shifting sand dunes render the entire landscape in reds, oranges, yellows, and cream tones. Plus, temperatures can get fire-hot. Make sure to crank up the AC.
See the USA: 20 Coolest Car Trips Gallery
There’s no need to take the same boring road trip with your family year after year when there are tons of cooler roads less traveled. Sure, it’s always nice to stock up on snacks and pile into the car and see the sights just outside your town, but sometimes it’s more fun to wow your whole group by going someplace with spectacular views like you’ve never seen before.
The Active Times has researched routes, roads, and scenic byways to bring you a list of the coolest, most beautiful, most interesting car trips possible to make your summer fun. From Alaska to Cape Cod there are tons of awesome car trips that are jam-packed with scenic beauty, historic places, and sacred spaces. Whether you want to drive across the desert, through the mountains, or along the ocean, there are some pretty amazing routes and roads you can take for either a few short hours or as many days as you want, just to explore.
Load up that playlist with car tunes, bring some snacks and some sunscreen, and don’t forget to charge your phone, because you’re going to be taking a ton of pictures once you embark on the 20 coolest car trips in the USA.