5 epic road trips across America

May 6, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

No mode of travel is more American than the road trip. It’s a national rite of passage. Dating back to Model T days, folks have been hitting the wide-open road to explore every nook and cranny of the 3,000 miles that lie between sea to shining sea. From mountain roads with hairpin turns to stunning seaside escapes to good ol’ Americana history, here are epic five road trips through the United States.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In This Post

Overseas Highway: Florida

This appropriately titled highway crosses over the turquoise waters that separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico with a series of 42 bridges including the iconic Seven Mile, which hovers over Pigeon Key. However, the incredible cerulean panoramas aren’t the only sight worth seeing on this 100-mile journey. The road is lined with palms and native flora, retro motels, shell shops and an impressive array of fauna (including the Key’s small namesake deer). The drive takes about four hours round-trip starting from Florida City. Make it a longer vacation by starting the trip in Miami, then stopping by Homestead for a trip to the Everglades National Park, Knaus Berry Farm (in season) for cinnamon rolls and the Robert is Here fruit stand for tropical provisions and smoothies, before slowly meandering down the coral cay archipelago to Key West.

Related: Getting to Miami on points and miles

(Photo by felixmizioznikov/Getty Images)
(Photo by felixmizioznikov/Getty Images)

Route 66: Illinois to California

In the 1940s and 50s, the 2,500-mile stretch of road from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, was the American road trip. That changed with the development of the interstate system, which rerouted large portions of the highway to larger interstates. Even so, tourists from around the globe still follow the famous path (or at least sections of it) past vintage neon signs, retro roadside motels, multiple national parks including the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, as well as kitschy Americana stops such as the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Illinois, and cool art installations such as Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, a 12-minute drive from the killer brisket at Tyler’s Barbecue. The section of road that lies next to I-40 through New Mexico and Arizona is particularly picturesque.

Related: Route 66 road trip planner — the best stops along the way

(Photo by Ann Kathrin- Boppv/Unsplash)
(Photo by Ann Kathrin- Boppv/Unsplash)

Pacific Coast Highway: California to Washington

There’s a big debate on the official start and endpoint of the PCH. Some say it runs down Highway One from Mendocino County in the north to Orange County in the south. Others say it runs the length of the entire West Coast. According to the California Department of Transportation, the highway officially starts at Dana Point in Orange County and stops in Oxnard. Intrepid road trippers should drive the whole damn road. The 1,650-miles from San Diego to Olympia National Park in Washington passes through a range of ecosystems, including rainforests, deserts and dramatic cliffs hanging over the churning Pacific. And there’s no better time than the present.

Related: 12 essential stops on your Southern California road trip

(Photo by @kmarinelli via Twenty20)
(Photo by @kmarinelli via Twenty20)

Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia & North Carolina

Spanning 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this stunning parkway winds its way through the forested peaks that belong to some of the oldest mountains in the world. The area is lush and green through the spring and summer months, but the road is most spectacular in autumn when the rolling landscape is painted with fiery shades of red, yellow and orange, usually at its crest late-October to mid-November. Make sure to plan a stop in Asheville along the way: The mountain town is considered one of the top food and craft beer destinations in the Southeast.

Related: The essential guide to renting a cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains

(Photo by jaredkay/Getty Images)
(Photo by jaredkay/Getty Images)

Route 89: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming & Montana

Far less famous than Route 66 but just as gorgeous, Route 89 is sometimes called the National Park to Park Highway. Truly ambitious road warriors can take the road less traveled by starting in Arizona, moving through Utah and up to Wyoming and Montana. The highway passes 150 towns, cities and reservations (the cultural component of the trip), seven national parks (including the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Yellowstone) and three giant geographic regions (Basin and Range, Colorado Plateau and the Rockies). While going from border to border would certainly reach bucket list status, a shorter Jackson Hole-Grand Teton-Yellowstone-Glacier National Park trip could still make for an unforgettable expedition.

(Photo by Doug Lemke/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Lemke/Getty Images)

Featured photo by felixmizioznikov/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.