There is something special about packing up the car and going on a road trip. The wind in your face, the freedom to just drive, and the possibility of what you might find along the way is an experience like none other. Here, we rounded up six iconic road trips around the United States for your next road trip. Now all you need to do is pick one, grab a friend or two, some adventure gear, and head out!
1. Route 66: Chicago to Santa Monica
Of course we have to kick off this list with the historic Route 66. The 2,200-mile-long Route 66 was one of the original highways built in America. It was finished in 1926, and while the entire route no longer exists, you can still easily travel the sections from point-to-point. Start in Chicago, Illinois and head west (as the early travelers did) to the Pacific Ocean, through the Midwest, the Southwest, and then finishing in Santa Monica, California. For complete details, visit Historic66.com.
Don’t miss: While there are many museums and curiosities to see along Route 66, check out the World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln, Illinois, Ed Galloway’s 90-foot Totem Pole in Foyil, Oklahoma, or the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Virginia to North Carolina, covering 469 miles and connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. There are breathtaking views of the valleys and mountains and plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, or camping.
Don’t miss: The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, North Carolina will take you through remote areas of the region that you can’t get to in your car, while riding in a vintage railroad car from the 1940s.
3. Pacific Coast Highway: San Diego to San Francisco
Also known as the PCH or US-1, the Pacific Coast Highway is a gorgeous 600+ mile drive along the coast of California. It’s definitely one of the country’s most scenic roads, passing through all the best beaches in the state, and over one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world in Big Sur.
Don’t miss: Besides all the major cities (Huntington Beach, Malibu, Santa Barbara, etc.), stop and see the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The National and California Historical Landmark mansion was built for newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and was the place for the Hollywood elite to party in the 1920s and 30s.
4. Highway 101: Washington to California
The 101 is an even longer tour than the PCH (and is actually the same road in a few places in CA), running from Tumwater in Northern, down to Los Angeles, through dozens of state parks along the way. The whole trip is 1,550 miles, and you will go through the urban Hollywood before heading out through Cahuenga Pass. You will cruise through beach cities, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, cross scenic rivers in Oregon, and go through the Olympic National Forest in Washington.
Don’t miss: Mission Santa Barbara, which first opened in 1820, and is one of 21 missions in California between San Diego and San Francisco. Also, make time to stop at one of the Redwoods state parks in Northern California.
5. Alaska Highway
The Alaska Highway (or ALCAN) was completed during World War II in 1942, to connect Alaska to the contiguous United States via Canada. It was originally 1,700 miles long, but is now 1,387 miles. ALCAN actually starts in Dawson Creek, British Columbia in Canada, and ends in Delta Junction, Alaska, though it unofficially runs from Seattle, Washington to Fairbanks, Alaska. The views here are postcard perfect, with wide expanses of mountains and gorgeous blue lakes.
Don’t miss: Liard River Hot Springs, the second largest hot springs in Canada. It’s open year round, surrounded by a lush boreal spruce forest.
6. The Oregon Trail: Missouri to Oregon
You may remember playing the computer game on an old school Macintosh back in the day, but now you can drive the same path in a car instead of with oxen and the risk of dysentery. At just over 2,000 miles, start in Independence, Missouri and finish in Oregon City, Oregon. You will travel through the plains, the desert, and the mountains on your way.
Don’t miss: The prominent Chimney Rock in Bayard, Nebraska. It rises nearly 300 feet above the North Platte River Valley, and was a famous landmark for pioneers traveling along the trail.