While many people stress the importance of traveling abroad to expand one’s understanding of the world and become a more cultured individual, I am a firm believer that some of the greatest travel experiences can be found in our own backyard- or just a short drive away, anyway. The United States is full of spectacular geographical features and stunning scenery. Every state has its own unique charms, so all it takes to experience the best of the U.S. is a running vehicle and a little time on your hands to get out and explore. No matter where you live in the Unites States, there is sure to be some gorgeous nature or fascinating piece of history nearby, but these five drives throughout the country are particularly noteworthy. Be sure to give some thought to these road trips the next time you’re deciding where to travel in the United States!
1. U.S. 1, Florida Keys
U.S. Route 1 runs along the entire East Coast of the United States from the tip of Maine near the Canada-US border all the way down to Key West, Florida. One of the most scenic stretches along this vast territory is the drive from Key Largo to Key West, which will take drivers over one of the longest bridges in the world and through tropical paradises. Be sure to stop and experience the sparkling beaches.
2. Pacific Coast Highway, California
For another coastal drive, head to the other end of the country and drive along the Pacific Coast Highway up around Big Sur for unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. The famous 100-mile stretch will start you off in the state’s capital, Monterey, and take you around towering coastal cliffs to the opulent Hearst Castle.
3. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
This protected road runs for 50 breathtakingly beautiful miles through Montana’s Glacier National Park. Built in the 1920s, the road was designed to promote tourism to the country’s national parks, and to showcase and preserve the park’s fragile ecosystem at the same time.
4. Route 66, Illinois to California
You can’t get much more American than a drive down the iconic Route 66. The route may no longer be a main route across the country as it was in the 1950s, but if you start in Chicago and follow the markers to Los Angeles (or vice versa), you can experience a slice of Americana harkening back to days gone by, from kitschy roadside attractions to flashing neon signs. Perhaps an even more compelling reason to travel this historic highway, however, is to experience the spectrum of scenery as you pass through flat farmland, rolling hills, rocky precipices, and sandy shores- you’ll also have the chance to stop at the Grand Canyon.
5. Acadia All American Road, Maine
On this coastal drive through Acadia National Park, you may be lucky enough to spot a bald eagle. In addition to the spectacular coastal views and wildlife you’ll soak in, the 27-mile Park Loop Road segment of the drive will also take you through charming small towns. Adventurous hikers will want to climb Cadillac Mountain to look out on the Atlantic from its 1,562 foot peak. By this point, you’ll surely have worked up an appetite which you can satisfy with some homemade ice cream from the historic Jordan Pond House.
America is full of scenic drives in every state. Check out this list from Travel & Leisure for even more great options!