Best US Road Trips for the Summer


Are you yearning for the open road, the wind in your hair, and the thrill of discovery? As travel restrictions ease and the world beckons us back to exploration, there’s no better time than this summer to plan an unforgettable road trip. While international travel might still be uncertain, the beauty of the United States awaits in your own backyard. Get ready to hit the road with these top picks for the best summer road trips in the USA!

Phoenix to Page, Arizona: A Desert Odyssey

Embark on a mesmerizing journey through the diverse landscapes of Arizona, stretching from the bustling city of Phoenix to the enchanting town of Page. This road trip promises a captivating blend of desert scenery, red rock formations, and iconic landmarks that will leave you in awe.

Picture By APK

Starting Point: Phoenix, Arizona

Begin your adventure in Phoenix, the vibrant capital of Arizona. Explore the city’s cultural attractions, savor Southwestern cuisine, and bask in the warmth of the desert sun before hitting the road.

Pit Stop 1: Sedona – The Red Rock Wonderland

As you leave Phoenix, make your way to Sedona, a picturesque town surrounded by towering red rock formations. Engage in exhilarating day hikes, try your hand at rock climbing, or traverse mountain bike trails that showcase the breathtaking beauty of the region.

Pit Stop 2: Flagstaff – A Mountain Escape

Continue your journey to Flagstaff, nestled in the Coconino National Forest. Escape the desert heat as you explore this mountain town, visit historic sites, and breathe in the crisp mountain air.

Destination: Page – Gateway to Arizona’s Wonders

Arrive in Page, the final stop before the Utah border, and the gateway to some of Arizona’s most famous landmarks. Here, marvel at Horseshoe Bend, a stunning meander of the Colorado River, and venture into the slot canyons of Navajo country, where the play of light and shadow creates an otherworldly atmosphere.

Highlight: The Wave – Nature’s Canvas

A must-see is “The Wave,” a surreal sandstone formation that resembles a painter’s masterpiece. While access is limited and requires a permit, the ethereal beauty of this natural wonder is worth the effort.

Local Delights: Navajo Culture and Cuisine

Immerse yourself in the rich Navajo culture, evident in local art, crafts, and traditional cuisine. Sample Navajo tacos, fry bread, and experience the warmth of the local community.

Recommended Duration: At Least a Week

To truly absorb the magic of this road trip, allocate at least a week for the journey. This allows ample time to explore each stop, indulge in outdoor activities, and create unforgettable memories against the backdrop of Arizona’s diverse landscapes.

Final Thoughts: A Tapestry of Arizona’s Beauty

The Phoenix to Page road trip is a tapestry of Arizona’s natural wonders, blending the allure of the desert with the grandeur of red rock formations. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, adventure seeker, or simply someone captivated by the beauty of the American Southwest, this road trip promises an unforgettable desert odyssey. So, pack your bags, hit the open road, and let the magic of Arizona unfold before you.

Pacific Coast Highway: Coastal Bliss from LA to San Francisco

Prepare for a road trip that unfolds like a dream as you navigate the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, offering unparalleled coastal vistas from Los Angeles to San Francisco. This journey is a celebration of the rugged beauty of the West Coast, with hidden gems waiting to be discovered along the way.

Starting Point: Los Angeles, California

Kick off your adventure in the glitzy city of Los Angeles. Before hitting the highway, soak in the sun on Venice Beach, explore the iconic Santa Monica Pier, and absorb the vibrant energy of Hollywood.

Pit Stop 1: Malibu – Where the Sea Meets Celestial Hills

As you leave LA, venture into Malibu, a haven for surfers and celebrities alike. Take a leisurely drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, where the sea meets celestial hills, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the coastline.

Pit Stop 2: Santa Barbara – Spanish-Inspired Serenity

Continue north to Santa Barbara, a city adorned with Spanish-inspired architecture and sun-soaked beaches. Stroll along State Street, visit the historic Santa Barbara Mission, and relish the Mediterranean ambiance.

Pit Stop 3: Big Sur – Majestic Cliffs and Coastal Majesty

One of the crown jewels of the Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur is a must-visit destination. Marvel at the majestic cliffs that plunge into the Pacific Ocean, hike through ancient redwood forests, and be captivated by the ethereal beauty of McWay Falls.

Pit Stop 4: Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea – Coastal Charms

Discover the coastal charms of Monterey, renowned for its aquarium and Cannery Row. Nearby, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a romantic escape with its quaint streets, art galleries, and white-sand beaches.

Destination: San Francisco – The Golden Gate Awaits

As you approach the final leg of your journey, San Francisco comes into view. Cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, explore Fisherman’s Wharf, ride a cable car up the hilly streets, and bask in the eclectic culture of this vibrant city.

Highlight: Bixby Creek Bridge – Engineering Marvel

Don’t miss the Bixby Creek Bridge, an engineering marvel that spans the rugged cliffs of Big Sur. Pull over at one of the designated viewpoints and take in the awe-inspiring scenery.

Local Delights: Seafood Feasts and Coastal Cuisine

Indulge in the freshest seafood along the way. From clam chowder in Monterey to Dungeness crab in San Francisco, savor the flavors of the Pacific as you dine in seaside establishments.

Recommended Duration: 2-3 Days

While the drive from LA to San Francisco can be done in a day, savor the journey by spreading it over 2-3 days. This allows time for exploration, relaxation, and the creation of lasting memories along the captivating Pacific coastline.

Final Thoughts: Coastal Bliss Unveiled

The Pacific Coast Highway road trip is a revelation of coastal bliss, where each curve in the road unveils a new panorama of natural wonders. From the glamour of Los Angeles to the cultural richness of San Francisco, this journey is an ode to the beauty that lines the edge of the Pacific. So, rev up your engine, breathe in the salty air, and let the magic of the West Coast unfold with every mile.

Joshua Tree National Park: Mystical Deserts and Quirky Towns

A weekend escape to the enchanting realm of Joshua Tree National Park, where mystical deserts meet quirky towns, creating a landscape that feels like a journey into another world.

Starting Point: Los Angeles, California

Your adventure begins in the bustling city of Los Angeles. Leave behind the urban sprawl and head east towards the vast desert landscapes that await you.

Pit Stop 1: Palm Springs – Oasis in the Desert

Before entering Joshua Tree, take a detour to Palm Springs, an oasis nestled at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along Palm Canyon Drive, explore mid-century modern architecture, and soak in the desert tranquility.

Destination: Joshua Tree National Park – Nature’s Wonderland

Enter Joshua Tree National Park, a haven for hikers, rock climbers, and stargazers. The park is characterized by its iconic Joshua Trees, unique rock formations, and vast desert vistas. Don’t miss the Cholla Cactus Garden, a surreal landscape that glows in the soft light of sunrise and sunset.

Pit Stop 2: Joshua Tree Town – Quirky Appeal

Adjacent to the national park lies the town of Joshua Tree. Immerse yourself in the quirky charm of this artistic community. Explore local thrift stores, art galleries, and embrace the laid-back atmosphere that permeates the town.

Highlight: Keys View – Panoramic Desert Views

Drive to Keys View for a breathtaking panorama of the Coachella Valley, Salton Sea, and the San Andreas Fault. The vista is especially captivating during sunrise or sunset, painting the desert in hues of gold and pink.

Local Delights: Starlit Nights and Campfire Stories

As night falls, experience the magic of Joshua Tree’s dark skies. The absence of city lights allows for unparalleled stargazing. Set up a campfire, share stories under the vast desert sky, and witness the Milky Way in all its glory.

Recommended Duration: A Weekend Getaway

While Joshua Tree can be explored in a day, a weekend allows you to fully immerse yourself in the park’s wonders and the quirky culture of Joshua Tree Town. Spend your days hiking, rock climbing, and your evenings stargazing and embracing the artistic spirit of the desert.

Final Thoughts: A Desert Retreat Like No Other

Joshua Tree National Park offers a retreat into a world of natural wonders and artistic expression. From the whimsical Joshua Trees to the rugged rock formations, every corner of the park tells a story of time and beauty. So, escape the city, let the desert winds guide you, and discover the mystique of Joshua Tree – a desert haven with a personality all its own.

San Antonio to Austin, Texas: A Journey Between Two Personalities

A road trip through the heart of Texas, weaving your way between two cities with distinct personalities – San Antonio and Austin. This adventure promises a fusion of rich history, vibrant culture, and the creative energy that defines these two dynamic Texan cities.

Starting Point: San Antonio, Texas

Your journey kicks off in San Antonio, a city deeply rooted in history and known for its Spanish colonial heritage. Begin your exploration at the iconic Alamo, a symbol of Texas’ fight for independence. Wander along the scenic River Walk, where charming cafes and shops line the San Antonio River.

Pit Stop 1: The Pearl District – Culinary and Cultural Hub

Before leaving San Antonio, visit the trendy Pearl District. This former brewery complex has transformed into a culinary and cultural hub. Indulge in diverse dining options, explore local boutiques, and soak in the artistic atmosphere.

Pit Stop 2: San Marcos – Riverfront Serenity

As you head north, make a pit stop in San Marcos, known for its crystal-clear river. Enjoy a leisurely float down the San Marcos River or explore the charming downtown area. It’s a serene interlude before the energy of Austin.

Destination: Austin – Live Music Capital of the World

Arrive in Austin, a city that thrives on creativity, live music, and a laid-back vibe. Explore South Congress Avenue, adorned with eclectic shops and food trucks. Dive into the local music scene on Sixth Street or catch a live performance at the legendary Austin City Limits venue.

Pit Stop 3: Barton Springs Pool – Urban Oasis

Escape the Texan heat at Barton Springs Pool, an urban oasis in the heart of Austin. This spring-fed pool offers a refreshing dip and is surrounded by lush greenery, providing the perfect respite in the middle of the city.

Highlight: Congress Avenue Bridge Bats – A Natural Spectacle

Experience a unique natural spectacle at the Congress Avenue Bridge, where thousands of bats take flight at sunset. Join the crowds along the bridge or opt for a bat-watching boat tour for an up-close view of this mesmerizing phenomenon.

Local Delights: Tex-Mex and Food Truck Delicacies

Indulge in Austin’s diverse culinary scene, with a particular focus on Tex-Mex and food trucks. From breakfast tacos to gourmet donuts, Austin’s food offerings cater to every palate.

Recommended Duration: 3-4 Days

To fully appreciate the contrasting personalities of San Antonio and Austin, plan for a leisurely road trip spanning 3-4 days. This allows time to delve into the history of San Antonio, savor the eclectic culture of Austin, and embrace the unique energy each city offers.

Final Thoughts: A Texan Tale of Contrasts

San Antonio to Austin is not just a road trip; it’s a journey through the diverse tapestry of Texas. From the historic landmarks of San Antonio to the vibrant creativity of Austin, this route captures the essence of the Lone Star State. So, hit the road, feel the warmth of Texas hospitality, and discover the captivating stories woven between these two personalities.

New Orleans to Baton Rouge: A Deep Dive into Southern Culture

A captivating road trip through the heart of Louisiana, immersing yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Southern culture. From the lively streets of New Orleans to the historical charm of Baton Rouge, this journey promises a deep dive into the rich history, diverse traditions, and mouthwatering cuisine that define the American South.

Starting Point: New Orleans, Louisiana

Your adventure begins in the lively and soulful city of New Orleans. Known for its jazz music, Creole cuisine, and vibrant street life, New Orleans is a sensory feast. Stroll through the historic French Quarter, revel in the lively atmosphere of Bourbon Street, and savor beignets at Café du Monde.

Pit Stop 1: Plantation Country – Antebellum Grandeur

As you leave New Orleans, venture into Plantation Country along the Great River Road. Explore antebellum plantations such as Oak Alley or Laura Plantation, where live oaks and Spanish moss create a picturesque Southern landscape.

Pit Stop 2: Houmas House Plantation – Southern Elegance

Make a stop at the Houmas House Plantation, known for its stunning gardens and Greek Revival architecture. Take a guided tour to delve into the history of the Old South while surrounded by the beauty of this historic estate.

Destination: Baton Rouge – Louisiana’s Capital City

Arrive in Baton Rouge, the capital city of Louisiana, where French and Southern influences converge. Visit the Louisiana State Capitol, perched on a hill with panoramic views of the Mississippi River, and explore the USS Kidd Veterans Museum.

Pit Stop 3: Old State Capitol – Gothic Revival Beauty

Step back in time at the Old State Capitol, a Gothic Revival masterpiece that now serves as a museum. Learn about Louisiana’s political history and marvel at the stunning stained glass windows.

Highlight: LSU Rural Life Museum – Living History Experience

For a unique perspective on Louisiana’s rural history, visit the LSU Rural Life Museum. This outdoor museum features preserved buildings and artifacts, providing a hands-on experience of life in 19th-century Louisiana.

Local Delights: Cajun and Creole Flavors

Indulge in the culinary delights of Southern Louisiana. From gumbo and jambalaya to étouffée and crawfish boils, Baton Rouge offers a diverse array of Cajun and Creole flavors. Don’t forget to try a po’ boy sandwich or some boudin sausage for an authentic taste of the region.

Recommended Duration: 2-3 Days

To fully absorb the richness of Southern culture between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, plan for a 2-3 day road trip. This allows time to explore the historical sites, savor the local cuisine, and embrace the unique ambiance of both cities.

Final Thoughts: A Southern Symphony of History and Flavor

The road trip from New Orleans to Baton Rouge is a symphony of Southern charm, where every note resonates with the history, culture, and flavors of Louisiana. From the lively jazz tunes of New Orleans to the stately beauty of Baton Rouge, this journey offers a profound encounter with the essence of the American South. So, hit the road, let the Mississippi River guide you, and immerse yourself in the captivating story of Louisiana’s soulful heart.

New York to Newport, RI: Coastal Charm Along the East Coast

A coastal road trip from the bustling streets of New York to the enchanting shores of Newport, Rhode Island. This journey promises a delightful blend of urban sophistication, picturesque landscapes, and the timeless charm of New England’s coastal gems.

Starting Point: New York City, New York

Commence your journey in the iconic metropolis of New York City. Before hitting the road, revel in the city’s energy, explore Central Park, and admire the skyline from the Top of the Rock or the Statue of Liberty.

Pit Stop 1: Connecticut Coast – Quaint Seaside Towns

As you leave New York, drive along the Connecticut coast, dotted with charming seaside towns. Stop in Mystic to explore the historic seaport, visit the Mystic Aquarium, and stroll through the quaint streets lined with boutiques.

Pit Stop 2: New Haven – Ivy League Grandeur

Continue to New Haven, home to Yale University. Walk around the picturesque campus, visit the Yale University Art Gallery, and indulge in a meal at one of the local eateries.

Destination: Newport, Rhode Island – Seaside Elegance

Arrive in Newport, a haven of seaside elegance with a rich history. Explore the opulent Gilded Age mansions along the Cliff Walk, including The Breakers and Marble House. Wander through Newport’s charming downtown, filled with boutiques, galleries, and waterfront restaurants.

Pit Stop 3: Newport Mansions – Architectural Marvels

Dive into the grandeur of the Newport Mansions, symbols of America’s aristocratic past. Marvel at the intricate architecture, lush gardens, and sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Highlight: Ocean Drive – Scenic Coastal Beauty

Take a scenic drive along Ocean Drive, a coastal route offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic. Stop at Brenton Point State Park for a picnic or simply to absorb the coastal beauty.

Local Delights: Seafood Extravaganza

Indulge in Newport’s renowned seafood. From clam chowder to lobster rolls, the town’s seafood shacks and upscale restaurants offer a delectable taste of the Atlantic.

Recommended Duration: 2-3 Days

To savor the coastal charm along the East Coast from New York to Newport, plan for a 2-3 day road trip. This allows ample time to explore the Connecticut coast, visit historic sites in New Haven, and fully immerse yourself in the elegance of Newport.

Final Thoughts: A Coastal Symphony of Elegance

The road trip from New York to Newport unfolds like a coastal symphony, where the rhythm of city life gives way to the timeless elegance of New England’s shores. From the sophistication of New York to the Gilded Age opulence of Newport, this journey captures the essence of East Coast charm. So, cruise along the scenic route, breathe in the sea air, and let the coastal allure of Newport become a melody in your travel story.

Upstate New York: Idyllic Escapes Close to Home

A picturesque journey through the hidden gems of Upstate New York, where charming small towns, serene landscapes, and idyllic escapes await. This road trip promises a retreat from the hustle and bustle, offering a tranquil escape and a chance to discover the beauty of the Empire State beyond its bustling city.

Picture By Tyler A. McNeil

Starting Point: New York City, New York

Commence your adventure in the heart of New York City, absorbing the vibrant energy of the urban landscape. Before hitting the road, explore iconic landmarks such as Times Square, Central Park, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Pit Stop 1: Hudson – Artistic Enclave

As you venture north, make your way to Hudson, an artistic enclave nestled along the Hudson River. Explore the town’s antique shops, art galleries, and historic architecture. The Hudson Opera House and Olana State Historic Site are must-visit landmarks.

Pit Stop 2: Catskill – Riverside Tranquility

Continue to Catskill, a riverside town with a rich maritime history. Stroll along the Hudson River promenade, visit the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and appreciate the town’s artistic flair.

Destination: Woodstock – Bohemian Spirit

Arrive in Woodstock, renowned for its bohemian spirit and the historic Woodstock Festival. Explore the town’s unique boutiques, art galleries, and perhaps catch a live performance at one of the local venues.

Pit Stop 3: Cooperstown – Baseball Heritage

Head west to Cooperstown, a charming village known for its baseball heritage. Visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame, explore the picturesque Otsego Lake, and stroll through the historic streets lined with colonial architecture.

Highlight: Finger Lakes – Wine Country Delights

Drive to the Finger Lakes region, a picturesque area known for its wine trails and stunning lakes. Stop at wineries for tastings, enjoy a scenic boat tour on Seneca Lake, and savor the tranquility of this idyllic landscape.

Local Delights: Farm-to-Table Cuisine

Indulge in Upstate New York’s farm-to-table cuisine. From quaint cafes to upscale restaurants, the region offers a delightful array of dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients.

Recommended Duration: 4-5 Days

To fully appreciate the idyllic escapes of Upstate New York, plan for a 4-5 day road trip. This allows time to explore each charming town, enjoy outdoor activities in the Finger Lakes, and savor the relaxed pace of Upstate life.

Final Thoughts: A Tranquil Symphony of Upstate Beauty

The road trip through Upstate New York is a tranquil symphony, where the harmony of small-town charm and natural beauty creates a serene escape from city life. From the artistic enclaves to the wine country delights, this journey invites you to explore the idyllic facets of the Empire State. So, hit the road, breathe in the fresh Upstate air, and let the beauty of these hidden gems become a cherished chapter in your travel story.

The Great Smoky Mountains: Majestic Beauty on the Tennessee Border

A journey through the stunning landscapes of the Great Smoky Mountains, a natural wonder straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. This road trip promises a retreat into the embrace of mist-shrouded peaks, lush forests, and the unparalleled beauty of one of America’s most cherished national parks.

Starting Point: Knoxville, Tennessee

Commence your adventure in Knoxville, a city nestled against the Tennessee River. Before venturing into the mountains, explore the vibrant downtown, visit the Knoxville Museum of Art, and savor a meal at one of the local eateries.

Pit Stop 1: Gatlinburg – Gateway to the Smokies

As you approach the Smoky Mountains, make Gatlinburg your first stop. This charming mountain town serves as the gateway to the national park. Stroll along the main street filled with shops, restaurants, and attractions, and consider a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Pit Stop 2: Clingmans Dome – Panoramic Vistas

Drive towards Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. Hike the short but steep trail to the observation tower, where panoramic views of mist-covered peaks unfold, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

Destination: Cherokee, North Carolina – Native Heritage

Cross over into North Carolina and arrive in Cherokee, a town deeply connected to Native American heritage. Explore the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, take a scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway, and immerse yourself in the cultural richness of the region.

Pit Stop 3: Cades Cove – Historic Valley

Venture back into Tennessee to Cades Cove, a historic valley surrounded by mountains. Drive the scenic loop road, where you might encounter wildlife such as black bears, deer, and wild turkeys. Explore preserved homesteads and churches that offer a glimpse into the Appalachian pioneer life.

Highlight: Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail – Scenic Beauty and Waterfalls

Embark on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a narrow, winding road that showcases the Smokies’ diverse flora and fauna. Stop at Grotto Falls for a hike behind the waterfall and revel in the serene beauty of this natural wonder.

Local Delights: Appalachian Flavors

Savor the flavors of the Appalachians with a meal at a local restaurant. From hearty mountain breakfasts to traditional Appalachian dishes, the region’s cuisine reflects its rich cultural heritage.

Recommended Duration: 3-4 Days

To fully immerse yourself in the majestic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, plan for a 3-4 day road trip. This allows time for exploration, hiking, and embracing the tranquility of the national park.

Final Thoughts: A Symphony of Mountain Majesty

The road trip through the Great Smoky Mountains is a symphony of mountain majesty, where every turn reveals a new facet of nature’s grandeur. From mist-covered peaks to historic valleys, this journey invites you to connect with the timeless beauty of one of America’s most beloved national parks. So, pack your hiking boots, breathe in the mountain air, and let the Great Smokies become a chapter in your travel tale, etched in the serenity of the Appalachians.

Route 66: Classic Americana Across the Heartland

An Iconic journey along Route 66, the historic highway that weaves across the heartland of America. This road trip promises a nostalgic voyage through classic Americana, featuring roadside attractions, small-town charm, and the enduring spirit of the open road.

Starting Point: Chicago, Illinois

Commence your adventure in the bustling city of Chicago, where the iconic Route 66 begins. Before hitting the road, explore Millennium Park, take a stroll along the Navy Pier, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the Windy City.

Pit Stop 1: Joliet – Small Town Charm

As you leave Chicago, make a pit stop in Joliet, a small town with a rich history. Explore the Joliet Area Historical Museum, stroll along the scenic Des Plaines Riverwalk, and soak in the charm of this quintessential Midwestern town.

Pit Stop 2: Pontiac – Route 66 Hall of Fame

Continue to Pontiac, home to the Route 66 Hall of Fame. Discover the history of the Mother Road, explore the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum, and marvel at the Route 66 Mural that captures the essence of the highway.

Destination: St. Louis, Missouri – Gateway Arch Splendor

Arrive in St. Louis, known for its iconic Gateway Arch. Take a tram to the top for panoramic views of the city, stroll along the historic Laclede’s Landing, and embrace the Mississippi Riverfront ambiance.

Pit Stop 3: Meramec Caverns – Subterranean Wonders

Head southwest to Meramec Caverns, a fascinating underground world filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Take a guided tour through the caverns, learning about their history and the role they played during the Route 66 heyday.

Highlight: Cadillac Ranch – Quirky Roadside Art

As you approach Amarillo, Texas, make a detour to Cadillac Ranch, a unique art installation featuring a row of brightly painted Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground. This whimsical roadside attraction is a true symbol of Route 66 eccentricity.

Local Delights: Diners and Motels

Savor classic American diner fare at roadside diners that dot Route 66. From hearty breakfasts to nostalgic milkshakes, indulge in the flavors of yesteryear. Opt for a stay at vintage motels that capture the essence of the road trip era.

Recommended Duration: 7-10 Days

To fully experience the nostalgia and diverse landscapes along Route 66, plan for a 7-10 day road trip. This allows time to explore attractions, visit quirky roadside stops, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of each town.

Final Thoughts: A Journey Through Time and Americana

The road trip along Route 66 is a journey through time and Americana, where each mile tells a story of the nation’s past. From the skyscrapers of Chicago to the open landscapes of the Southwest, this historic highway offers a cross-section of American history and culture. So, roll down the windows, let the wind guide you, and relive the golden age of American road trips along the iconic Route 66.

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