The Most Beautiful Highways for Road Trips from The Most Beautiful Highways for Road Trips
The Most Beautiful Highways for Road Trips
Long before the Internet and GPS navigation there was the open road that beckoned adventurers to unfurl a map, grab a friend, and hit the road. Nostalgic for a throwback trip, we have come up with a list of the most beautiful highways for road trips around the world. Pack some snacks, press ‘play’ on your radio, roll down the windows, and just drive!
Route 66, Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California
Nicknamed, “The Main Street of America,” the 2,451-mile Route 66 was the main highway to the U.S. West Coast when the iconic road first opened in 1926. “The Mother Road,” which was immortalized in John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath, slices through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Riders can still get their kicks on Route 66 at kitschy mom-and-pop roadside motels, neon-lit diners, old-time soda fountains, and remnants of old-school service stations and times gone by.
Pacific Coast Highway, San Diego, California to San Francisco, California
One of the most beautiful drives in the U.S., the coast-hugging Pacific Coast Highway is a treat for all travelers. Drivers can begin the 655.8-mile journey from the north or south. Many opt to start in San Diego and work their way up the state’s longest route, stopping along the way at star-studded Los Angeles, laid-back Santa Barbara and the surrounding wine country, and charming Carmel, Monterey, and Santa Cruz before completing the journey in San Francisco.
Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Florida to Key West, Florida
The 110-mile Overseas Highway, which includes the famous Seven Mile Bridge, connects the Florida Keys to the U.S. mainland. It only takes two-and-a-half hours to drive from Key Largo south to Key West; however, drivers will want to stop and explore notable spots in Key Largo like Everglades National Park, a 1.5 million-acre subtropical wilderness, and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater preserve in the U.S. that is teeming with marine life, a massive coral reef, and the Christ of the Abyss, an eight-and-a-half foot, 4,000-pound bronze sculpture of Jesus Christ and in Key West like the Hemingway Home and Museum, where the Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway wrote many of his famous works. Those who drive along the Overseas Highway quickly discover why the Florida Keys are unlike anywhere else on Earth.
Hana Highway, Kahului, Hawaii to Hana, Hawaii
The 52-mile Hana Highway is a harrowing, hairpin highway along Maui’s eastern coast. Drivers most go slow through 59 narrow bridges and navigate 620 curves, making the journey from Kahului, Hawaii to Hana, Hawaii take two to four hours. Along the way, the dramatic scenery includes lush rainforests, enchanting waterfalls, and picture perfect panoramas of the sea.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, provides one of the world’s most diverse displays on flora and fauna. Beginning at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and ending in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, there is no shortage of natural beauty here. Scenic stops, palatial parks, cozy campsites, and other roadside entertainment provide plenty of excuses for picturesque pit stops along the way.
Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
The 413-mile, two-lane Great Ocean Road in southeastern Australia runs east to west, from Torquay to Allansford. It takes about three days to drive along what is the world’s largest war memorial (the route was built by soldiers between 1919 and 1931 and serves as a dedication to those killed during World War I). Drivers depart surf town Torquay and along the way are treated to beautiful waterfalls, rainforests, limestone and sandstone cliffs, and beaches along the Indian Ocean before reaching the endpoint, the fishing village of Allansford.
Trans-Himalayan Road, Manali, India to Tso Moriri, India
Open only four months of the year (the treacherous roads are usually blanketed in snow), the Trans-Himalayan Road is a roughly 528-mile labyrinth-like route that passes through the verdant Kullu Valley and is flanked by dramatic gorges and snowcapped Himalayan Mountains. The six-day journey along the highest roads in the world typically starts in the small village of Jispa or the hilltop town of Manali. Highlights of desolate, vertigo-inducing road trip include the stunning Tso Moriri Lake, the largest high altitude lake in India, and Khardung La, a high mountain pass 16,404 feet above sea level.
Silk Road, China to Europe
Established during the Han Dynasty in 130 B.C., the fabled Silk Road was an ancient series of trade routes that connected the East with the West. The original 4,000-mile route stretched from Chang’an, China (today Xian, China), then branched off into many routes and ended in the Mediterranean, covering 31 countries. It wasn’t until the 19th century that a German explorer coined the name “Silk Road” for the vast amounts of Chinese silk traded along the route. Today, there is not one beginning and end. It’s best to tackle the route in specific parts like the Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor, a 3,106-mile section of the Silk Road, which includes sections of the Great Wall, the Sunday market at Kashgar, and the hanging temple at Maijishan.
Alpine Road, Lindan, Germany to Berchtesgaden, Germany
Built in the 1930s to connect villages along the Bavarian Alps, the 280-mile Alpine Road runs west to east, from Lake Constance in Lindau to Berchtesgaden. Along the way, there are 26 castles and palaces, 21 mountain lakes, dozens of health resorts, and five thermal spas – all set against the backdrop of the majestic Bavarian Alps. It’s no wonder the bucolic valleys and picturesque river-scapes along this route have been the inspiration for artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
Route 1, Iceland
Iceland’s most traveled road, the 828-mile Highway No. 1, is a ring road that connects some of the island’s most popular attractions. Starting and ending in the capital Reykkavik, Route 1 is arguably the most efficient way to see the country’s famous waterfalls, glacier lagoons, and the Northern Lights.
Ruta 40 Cabo Virgenes, Argentina to La Quiaca, Argentina
Argentina’s longest road, Ruta 40, runs parallel to the Andes Mountains along the country’s west coast from Cabo Virgenes in the south to La Quiaca in the north. Along the 3,320-mile route, travelers pass olive groves, vineyards, and historic towns as well as ecological hotspots like Talampaya National Park, famed for its red desert and canyon, and Laguna Brava Nature Reserve, popular for its pink flamingos.