Home Destinations The Definitive List of Best American Road Trips

The Definitive List of Best American Road Trips

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Since 1997, the RV (short for recreational vehicle) industry has grown to a 350$ million per year business and rentals keep going up every year. Some travel experts point to the baby boomers, some point to the rising costs of motels, some to the astronomical cost of airfare. All I know is that I am in love with the RV life, and I’m hoping that the trend is here to stay. Summer is the perfect time to consider renting an RV, there’s sure to be one to suit your needs, whether you have pets, children or you and some friends are traveling solo! To celebrate the upcoming 4th of July season, we gathered our quintessential all-American road trips and some helpful websites to help you plan your very own trek!

1. The East Coast: 2188 miles

east coast road trips travel freak beach nature cities

Start: Maine

End: Florida

The East coast is such a vibrant (and huge) expanse of land that we simply couldn’t give you only one way to go through all of those states! Our first option is the city slicker. This will ensure tons of great food, history and touristy stuff to do. This would be an especially good choice for those travelling with small children, it’ll guarantee they’ll never get bored and that you always have options for family-friendly areas. Make sure to visit the cities’ websites to learn valuable information about Blue Laws, best places to visit and parking (if you’re driving in the RV). Check our the AAA Gas Cost Calculator for help financing your trip.

The Beach Bum option is for those who desire a slower pace of life in between those highway stints, or scenic routes if you choose (ByWay.org is great for that). We’ve taken the best beaches the East Coast has to over and put them all here for you. Make sure you observe local laws for beach cleanliness, food, pets and camping equipment. Be observant of beach safety as well.

The Tree Hugger path is filled with butterflies, rainbows, grass, fresh air, and–well–trees. Hiking, camping and some beach activity were the main priorities for this trail and it will ensure an awesome summer experience! Make sure to pack everything you need (even things you think you don’t) and be prepared for any type of weather. Here are some great camping tips. If you don’t like our list, check out Reserve America.

City Slicker: Bangor ME, Bar Harbor ME, Portland ME, Portsmoth NH, Manchester NH, Cambridge MA, Boston MA, Providence RI, Hartford CT, New Haven CT, New York City NY, Atlantic City NJ, Philadelphia PA, Baltimore MD, Washington D.C., Alexandria VA, Richmond VA, Raleigh NC, Charlotte NC, Columbia SC, Augusta GA, Savannah GA, Jacksonville FL, Orlando FL, Tampa FL, Fort Myers FL, Miami FL

Beach Bum: Sand Beach (Acadia ME), Scarborough ME, Ogunquit ME, Hampton Beach State Park NH, Hyannis MA, Provincetown MA, Sherwood Island State Park CT, Atlantic City NJ, Cape May NJ, Bethany Beach DE, Virginia Beach VA, Duck NC, The Outer Banks NC, Myrtle Beach SC, Kiawah Island SC, Tybee Island GA, Cumberland Island National Seashore GA, Playalinda Beach FL, Key West FL

Tree Hugger: Acadia National Park ME, Odiorne Point NH, Hampton Beach NH, Cape Ann Camp Site Gloucester MA, Indian Head Resort Plymouth MA, Charlestown Breachway RI, Mianus River Park CT, Bear Mountain State Park NY, Deleware Water Gap National Recreation Area NJ, Wharton State Forest NJ, Delaware Seashore State Park DE, Assateague State Park MD, False Cape State Park VA, Cape Hatteras National Seashore NC, Hunting Island State Park SC, Jekyll Island Campground GA, Juniper Springs Recreation Area FL

 

2. The Cali Kids: 1355 miles

california roadtrip travel freak

Start: Crescent City, CA

End: San Diego, CA

We’re going, going back, back to Cali, Cali. From what I heard California is a mystical place where everyone’s young, beautiful and rich. Also in NoCal I heard you can ski and surf in the same day and I want that in my life. Go to California so I can live vicariously through you! For this trip we’ve mixed together beaches, cities, parks and the Pacific Coast Highway. We didn’t include ski resorts because it’s summer, but some are still in operation as water parks or skyrides–which is equally awesome. When you’re not at the beach or in an awesome city, check out some of the amazingly delicious wine at the wineries or visit the famous Redwoods.

Stops: Crescent City, CA-1 South (aka: Pacific Coast Highway), Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Yosemite National Park, Santa Barbara, San Diego

 

3. Southern Exposure: 1002 miles

southern exposure roadmap

Start: Charlotte, NC

End: Baton Rouge, LA

Are you terrified of the South because of the stereotype that they’re stupid rednecks in pickup trucks driving around waving Confederate flags?! Shame on you! Although some of that is totally true, you shouldn’t let it deter you from visiting the gorgeous states in the South. This route may look short but the drive will feel much longer because the states are just so big (and here’s how to combat highway hypnosis). The South is a rich haven for culture, history (see: “The War of Northern Aggression“) and especially food. Forget about calories and dive into the smoked meats, pulled pork, ribs, slaw, biscuits, and (sweet Lawdy Lawd!) fried chicken. Yum.

Stops: Charlotte NC, Great Smoky Mountains National Park TN, Chattanooga TN, Birmingham AL, Tuscaloosa AL, Mobile AL, Gulfport MI, New Orleans LA, Baton Rouge LA

 

4. The Middle (of Nowhere): 5188 miles

middle of nowhere small town america road trip

Start: Montana

End: Missouri

To be frank, I debated with a friend if we could just get rid of the middle of the country and not be damaged. I was wrong; they produce lots and lots of food. Also bison live there and I’d feel bad if they all died. Anyway the theme for this route is small town America. I sometimes feel that the gap is so disproportionately large between small town living and city living (mostly due to technology), that we all need to get back in touch with that slower, simpler side of things. Feel free to add or delete towns from this list as it’s just a sampling of all the towns out there and I’ll admit this is a really long route with too much driving time in between things. While you’re out there, make sure to see some of the national monuments you’ve never heard of and really immerse yourself in the local culture. Have fun!

Stops: Polebridge MT, Bozeman MT, Cooke City MT, Jackson WY, Glenwood Springs CO, Durango CO, Los Alamos NM, Siloam Springs AR, Abilene KS, Iola KS, Fairfield IA, Menomonie WI, Door County WI, Baraboo WI,  Galena IL, Oberlin OH, Nashville IN, Ste. Genevieve MO

 

5. Choose Your Own Adventure!

license-plate-map-of-the-united-states-design-turnpike

[photo: Fine Art America

Are you a foodie? Are you a sports fanatic? Are you a history geek? A landscape photographer? A water bug? A wino? Okay seriously, if you answered yes to the last one you really shouldn’t drive, but if you’re a wine connoisseur then just be careful. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and call a taxi. The point is that whatever your passion is, you can build a trip around it! A particularly good website to get some ideas is Road Trip USA and if you want to chart your own course for adventure, RoadTrippers is definitely the way to go. If you’re worried about your pet, check out Go Pet Friendly’s road trip planner and if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of highways go to My Scenic Drives. If you’re trying to plan a road trip on a tight budget, check out the student travel section of About. We hope that you have a happy (and safe) road trip, see you on the other side!



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2 COMMENTS

  1. These are really great ideas for road trips! No matter where you decide to go, it’s important to relax and enjoy yourself as you visit places you have never been before.

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