Road tripping in America is practically a right of passage. Those long car rides filled with gas station junk food, frequent pit stops, and sing-along tunes - it’s how so many of us remember summer vacations with the family.
To inspire your next long car ride with loved ones, we’ve compiled a list of the top four classic road trips you must take in the United States. If you haven’t checked these out, then you’ve got a whole lot of road trip memories to make this coming summer!
No list of American road trips would be complete without mentioning Route 66! An American classic that goes from Illinois all the way to California. The good news is you don’t need to complete the 2,400-mile long route to see some amazing sites.
This two-lane stretch of road was built in the 1930s to connect Chicago to Los Angeles, but it became a pop culture icon after the song Route 66 was recorded and performed by numerous icons, including Nat King Cole and the Rolling Stones.
Since this road stretches from major cities to small town America, and everything in-between, there is no shortage of views or experiences to have along the way.
Stops Along the Way
Route 66 is famous for some rather, well, unusual tourist attractions.
For instance, the Blue Whale in Oklahoma, the Cadillac Ranch in Texas, or the world’s second-largest rocking chair in Missouri. There are also plenty of wacky and weird but truly unique restaurants and bars in every state, but the Cozy Dog Drive-in and the Big Texan Steak Ranch are not to be missed.
Route 66 has a lot of historical significance, so there is no shortage of interesting museums to check out. Some are undoubtedly a bit quirky, like the Vacuum Cleaner Museum in Missouri, but there are plenty for American History lover’s, too.
Springfield, Illinois is home to a museum entirely devoted to Abraham Lincoln, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will certainly teach you a thing or two.
If you’re looking to see some of the nation’s natural beauty, then you will certainly want to see Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas, also known as Texas’s Grand Canyon. Following the route through Arizona will also bring you through some beautiful spots, like the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park.
The Scenic Byway in Southern Colorado
Colorado’s “Highway of Legends” is an excellent way to see the best parts of the state’s southern edges. Drivers start at U.S. Hwy 160 W, then join the Colorado Hwy 12 where they can see the Spanish Peaks and radical rock formations. This area is sacred to the Tarahumare Native Americans, and you can see why as you cruise through the Cuchara Valley and stunning landscapes.
Stops Along the Way
A popular stop on this route is the town of Trinidad. There, you can see a preserved rough-and-tumble town that takes you back to the past with its Victorian architecture. If you’re interested in history, you’ll also want to check out Cokedale, which is a National Historic District reminiscent of the Roman Empire.
Monument Lake is another excellent destination to hit while on this byway. This high-altitude body of water is a favorite for many fishermen, as well as families that want to pedal boat or check out a fish hatery. There’s even a zoo to check out, as well as many cabins and RV and tent sites.
If you keep heading to the southern area of Colorado, you’ll stumble upon the San Juan Mountains and the Rio Grande National Forest. Check out some of the RV parks and campgrounds there for an overnight stop under the stars.
CA Route 395
California has much more to offer than just beautiful beaches. As you travel inland, you will feel like you are in a totally different state with the snow-topped mountains and vast forests. CA Route 395 stretches from the Mojave Desert and goes up all the way to the border of Washington state, so you will certainly get to see some of the best parts of the west coast during the drive.
This route will also take you directly through many of the state’s national parks, so you should certainly plan to stop and visit some of the best RV parks and campgrounds if you have the chance.
Stops Along the Way
The Mojave Desert and Death Valley area certainly have some spectacular sights to see. There are plenty of small towns with unique offerings, like the Randsburg General Store or the Twilight Zone house.
You should certainly plan to check out the interesting rock formations in the Alabama Hills and see the Mobius Arch. This area is also quite popular among rock climbers!