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As indelible in America as the Fourth of July, football and freedom, the road trip is the way to see and appreciate the U.S. of A. Get out and drive off with our 16 faves.
1. Pacific Coast Highway
By far the best and most leisurely way to travel from one end of California to the next, State Route 1 hugs the ocean so snugly you can almost feel the surf spray as you zip by in your rental convertible.
2. Death Valley Scenic Byway
Split by the spectacular Sierra Nevada, California State Route 190 traverses the otherworldy landscape of Death Valley and, to the east, offers a memorable finish in Sequoia National Forest.
3. U.S. Route 1
A formidable road trip that covers the entire east coast of the United States, U.S. Route 1 runs from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida. From the border of New Brunswick, Canada to the doorstep of Havana, Cuba? Epic.
4. Route 66
A venerable slice of Americana, Route 66 is the one icon road trip to cross off your automotive bucket list. If you can manage the drive in a classic roadster or muscle car, all the better. Get your kicks from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica, where Los Angeles hotels and Korean taco trucks await.
5. Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway
A scenic loop through parts of Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway offers superlative access to gems like Dinosaur National Monument, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Colorado National Monument, and several national forests.
6. Great River Road
There’s another way to meander down the Mississippi other than on a raft or riverboat. The Great River Road is a vast network of federal, state and local roads and covers ten states, from the border of Ontario, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana.
7. Glenn Highway
No U.S. road trip portfolio is complete without a foray to colossal Alaska. With ridiculous vistas of Mount Drum and Matanuska Glacier, Glenn Highway out of Anchorage is as good a place to start as any. Add the Tok Cut-Off for an additional 201 km of road trip fun.
8. Tamiami Trail
Grab a take-out Cuban sandwich on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, Miami, jump in the car and head west. Before you know it, the Tamiami Trail has led you to the Everglades and you can see ‘gators on either side of you. Keep your arms (and sandwich) in the car until you see the signs for Naples.
9. Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
A photogenic ensemble of Oregon’s knockout landscapes rush past as you navigate Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Highlights include Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Wallowa Lake, Salt Creek Summit, Hells Canyon Overlook and the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.
10. Utah State Route 12
Short, sweet, yet brilliantly dramatic, Utah State Route 12 is otherwise known as A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway. The indomitable stars of the show are Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
11. West Cascades Scenic Byway
Back in the Pacific Northwest, the West Cascades Scenic Byway in Oregon provides peerless views of the Cascade Range and gorgeous, vineyard-heavy Willamette Valley.
12. Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
For more in-depth Cascades coverage, roam the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway in Oregon and through an underrated swath of northern California. Copious must-see deviations abound, from Crater Lake National Park to Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge to Lava Beds National Monument.
13. Boston to The Berkshires
The beautiful Berkshire Hills is a tiny hub of leisure tourism, arts, culture and gastronomy. The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is just 2.5 hours from Beantown.
14. Chicago to Michigan
Michigan is not all Motown and Ann Arbor. Just take a look at a map: the Straits of Mackinac connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and carve the Wolverine State in two peninsulas. Vast swaths of the Upper form national forests, wildlife reserves and state parks and the population density of the U.P. is in line with Kazakhstan. All about 7 hours from Chicago.
15. Miami to Florida Keys
A 3 hour drive from SoBe takes you within 90 miles of Havana, Cuba.
16. New York to The Hamptons
From swish Southampton to Sag Harbor, the Village of East Hampton to Montauk, the seaside resort side of Long Island feels worlds from Manhattan. Happily, however, just a few hours drive.
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