America’s Iconic Summer Road Trips
Summer is here so it’s time to hit the road Jack (and Jill) and DO come back with many tales from the road.
If you’re looking for road tips ideas in the United States, there are plenty of options to choose from. The United States is renowned for its vast and diverse landscapes, making it an ideal destination for summer road trips. From stunning coastlines to majestic mountains, charming small towns to bustling cities, there are countless routes to explore. For adventurers, just hopping in the car and driving for a day is a great way to have an unplanned adventure and discover some new treasures. But those who really like to explore iconic routes, here are a few road trips you can plan for.
Pacific Coast Highway (California)
Stretching along the stunning California coastline, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and charming coastal towns. PCH is my old stomping ground and I drove or took the train several times. You can start in San Francisco and drive south to Los Angeles, passing through Big Sur, Monterey, and Santa Barbara along the way. Or start in my former home of San Diego and drive north passing through the same cities.
Route 66 (Illinois to California)
Get your kicks traveling along the “Mother Road”. A classic American road trip, Route 66 spans from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. This historic highway takes you through iconic towns, including St. Louis, Albuquerque, and the Grand Canyon. Experience nostalgic Americana, roadside diners, and quirky attractions along this legendary route. Route 66 also travels through parts of Texas and we found a cute antique shop outside of Amarillo.
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina to Virginia)
Winding through the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers panoramic vistas, lush forests, and charming Appalachian communities. Drive from Asheville, North Carolina, to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, and enjoy the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains along the way.
Going-to-the-Sun Road (Montana)
Located in Glacier National Park, Montana, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a jaw-dropping journey through the heart of the park. As you traverse this mountainous route, you’ll witness glaciers, alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and wildlife. (You may also witness some of the impact of climate change.) Be sure to plan your visit during the summer when the road is open.
Great River Road (Ten states along the Mississippi River)
Following the mighty Mississippi River for approximately 3,000 miles, the Great River Road passes through ten states, from Minnesota to Louisiana. Immerse yourself in the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of America’s heartland as you drive through charming river towns and witness the river’s grandeur.
The Loneliest Road (Nevada)
U.S. Route 50 in Nevada is famously known as “The Loneliest Road.” While it may lack bustling cities and major attractions, this road trip offers a unique and tranquil experience. Journey through vast desert landscapes, open highways, and small Nevada towns, providing a sense of solitude and natural beauty.
Overseas Highway (Florida Keys)
Starting in Miami and ending in Key West, the Overseas Highway is a spectacular drive through the Florida Keys. As you cruise along this 113-mile road, you’ll cross numerous bridges and enjoy stunning views of turquoise waters, tropical islands, and vibrant coral reefs. Take your time to explore the charming towns and indulge in fresh seafood along the way.
A not-so iconic road trip but a childhood favorite of mine is the drive through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Every year my dad hired an RV and took me and my sisters on an exploration of Michigan. One of our more adventurous drives was to Copper Harbor at the tip top of the Upper Peninsula. This is a spectacular drive and there’s so much to see and do. Along the way you can stop in Petosky to get a Petosky stone, spend a day on Mackinac Island, enjoy the famous Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie and stop for some tasty pasties.
Before You Hit the Road
Remember to plan your road trip ahead of time, including accommodations, attractions, and any necessary permits. Stay safe, enjoy the journey, and make lasting memories (as my dad did for me and my sisters) as you explore some of the best summer road trips in the United States.
Tonya Fitzpatrick, Esq. is co-Founder of World Footprints, a social impact travel storytelling content hub she runs with her husband, Ian, that has been recognized as Best Social Impact Travel Media Company by CEO Monthly. She is an award-winning travel and business journalist, global public speaker, and 3-time TEDx speaker. Tonya regularly shares her insights on career transitions, DEIA in travel and the transformative power of travel to audiences all over the world. Recognized as Black Travel Journalists of the Year—an honor she shares with Ian, Tonya contributes her time and leadership to several boards and commissions in the travel community including SATW, The Explorers Club (DC), North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) and JourneyWoman. Tonya recently was been appointed to the Maryland Tourism Development Board by Gov. Wes Moore.