Are you unsure where to go on your next summer road trip? There is nothing better than exploring new national parks, hiking trails, and interesting cities around the US.
Tour the historic Route 66, check out the Pacific Coast Highway or explore the Going-to-the-Sun Road to discover the Montana Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountains. Your options are endless!
Today, we will look at these and more iconic summer road trip ideas. With so many stunning road trip routes, planning summer road trips can be challenging.
We have made it less overwhelming by compiling a list of the top nine iconic US road trips sure to blow your mind.
1. Route 66
A fond memory for many who traveled this ribbon of highway on childhood family vacations, known as the Mother Road, Route 66 is a must-see US destination. This historical route covers a 300-mile stretch from Illinois to California.
Formed in 1926, Highway 66 connected Chicago with the West Coast, which attracted tourists and commuters alike. Hundreds of businesses lined the roadway, offering small diners, gas stations, souvenir shops, and tourist attractions.
Remember to bring a map with you on this iconic route, as GPS systems do not always work on this road. Visit authentic old-style diners, and snap photos of decades-old drive-in movie theaters, neon signs, and several iconic landmarks still standing.
Route 66 is an unforgettable trip down memory lane you will not want to miss.
2. Route 61
For country music lovers, Route 61 is the ultimate road trip. The Blues Highway, Route 61 from New Orleans to Louisiana and on toward Minnesota, offers an excellent way to spend a weekend road-tripping.
Take in the panoramic views of the Mississippi River along the Great River Road and the Mississippi Blues Trail that runs along the highway.
Route 61 got its nickname for its rich history of legendary blues music and inspired the Bob Dylan album Highway 61.
Music lovers can stop at Graceland to visit Elvis Presley’s estate and recording studios. Finish your road trip in New Orleans and sample the delicious local delicacies, such as gumbo and jambalaya.
3. Going-to-the-Sun Road
Going-to-the-Sun Road is one of the most scenic drives through Glacier National Park. Drive through the picturesque Rocky Mountains of Montana.
Open from June to October, stops on this scenic route for sightseeing include Lake McDonald, the Wild Goose Island Lookout, and the breathtaking views of Haystack Creek and Waterfalls.
For those who enjoy hiking, Virginia Falls in Glacier National Park, Montana, is a 3.6mi hike, including a captivating 50-foot waterfall. The magnificent views promise not to disappoint.
4. US Route 1
Highway 1 runs along the breathtaking East Coast and is the perfect road trip for anyone who loves sunbathing, beaches, and endless views of palm trees blowing in the warm southern breeze.
Major US cities along Highway 1 include Daytona, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Take in the views of luxury beach houses in Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale beaches, and Little Havana in Miami.
NASCAR fans will enjoy a stop in Daytona at the International Speedway. Stay in Daytona for a few days to make the most of the seafood shacks, souvenir shops, and pristine beaches.
5. The Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway stretches along one of the most picturesque landscapes in the US, making it the ultimate road trip to add to your bucket list.
From Oregon to Washington in the Pacific Northwest, and all the way down to California, along the Pacific coastline, this road tour features scenic views of geological rock formations, cliffs, and ocean views with splashing waves lapping up the seascape.
Must-see attractions to see along the Pacific Coast Highway include the Hearst Castle in California, the Oregon Dunes, the Santa Monica Piers, and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is an iconic landmark often seen in photographs and movie settings. However, nothing beats seeing the real thing rising high above the Pacific Ocean.
6. Great River Road
The Great River Road offers an epic road trip via a series of highways that travel through New Orleans, Memphis, St Louis, and Minneapolis, following the scenic Mississippi River.
Follow the green helm signs to continue driving on the Green River Road through the various states and side roads. Spend a few days on this trail to make sure you cover all the major sites.
Some famous attractions along the Great River Road include the Dinosaur National Monument and quarry, containing over 1600 bones from various dinosaur species, the Cleveland Dinosaur Quarry, and the Utah White Water Canyon.
Visitors can explore the fast-paced currents of whitewater rafting on the Colorado River.
7. East Coast, I-95
The 1-95 is the main interstate when heading north or south along the US East Coast. The route connects Florida, Maine, and New Brunswick, Canada. This busy highway runs parallel to the Atlantic Coast and offers scenic views.
Some iconic cities along the 1-95 include Georgia, Washington, Baltimore, Portland, and New York City, offering one of the most beautiful skylines you will not want to miss, especially at sunset.
This epic coastal ride explores the heart of city life along the Atlantic Coast and offers plenty of tourist attractions and views.
Some must-see attractions along route I-95 include the Coral Castle in Miami, people-watching in swanky South Beach, and the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Florida.
Keep heading south to the Overseas Highway and you’ll reach the stunning scenery of a popular summer vacation destination, the Florida Keys. While you’re in the Florida Keys, don’t forget to check out the Key West lighthouse and eat some fresh seafood.
8. The Loneliest Road: Highway 50
The Loneliest Road in the US is a remote highway between the sunny city of Sacramento, California, Utah, and Nevada that features baron landscape views, seemingly endless valleys, and desert plant life along the way.
This baron road trip offers few signs of civilization. But it features breathtaking views of desert-like plateaus, mountain ranges, and empty valleys below.
Before venturing out on this adventurous road trip, ensure you have food, water, and a full tank of gas because there are next to no stops along the route, such as restaurants or gas stations.
9. New Jersey Old Mine Road
This enchanting drive down the New Jersey Old Mine Road features a 17th-century historical route from Delaware to Kingston, New York, along the scenic Delaware River and the Hudson Canal.
Enjoy a drive that takes you back in time with colonial heritage buildings still standing and older-styled homes, churches, and farms along the way.
Some historical sites on the New Jersey Old Mine Road include the Sterling Hill Museum and Mine and the Morris Canal.
The once-booming village along the Morris Canal still features a working mill, sawmills, gristmills, a blacksmith shop, a corner store, and authentic 17th-century houses, which are open for tourists to visit from June to September.
For a nostalgic trip through the centuries, a drive down the New Jersey Old Mine Road is a must for history buffs. Enjoy the historic sites and cute small towns of the Eastern Coast as you explore this part of the US.
As you can see, there is no shortage of summer road trips in the US, and this list is far from exhaustive.
For more summer road trip ideas venture west to Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, the Turquoise Trail in New Mexico (a national scenic byway), and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. While in Colorado, you can also check out the Million Dollar Highway.
Outdoor enthusiasts should stop at the shops selling western goods on the Turquoise Trail before heading over to Arches National Park, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park.
On the other side of the country, you can explore the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway connects two national parks and is not too far from the incredible dining scene of Charleston, South Carolina.
These are just some of the most scenic routes in the US. No matter what climate you are looking for, you will find something you love in this list of the best summer road trips in the states.
Wrapping it Up: 9 US Summer Road Trip Ideas
There are so many iconic road trip ideas available to you throughout the US. Narrowing our search down to the top nine most iconic road trips was a challenge. Whatever you want from your summer adventures, hopefully, you’ve been inspired to start planning your next US road trip.
When planning a summer road trip, try to reserve accommodation in advance. A great option for your summer road trip is to stay at a motel, and you can use Motelmatcher to find cheap motels easily.
Enjoy your tour of some of the best national parks, hiking trails, and coastal villages the country has to offer!