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The Top 5 Classic American Road Trips

Perhaps no country has quite the expanse, the open road, as America has. From the stretches of the great plains, to the rolling hills of the deep south, there’s something that brings out everyone’s inner Kerouac in simply loading up and hitting the pavement. Out of the many destinations, it’s hard to decide on the best road trip destinations in America.

There are numerous ways to travel, to see the world, and to simply get lost, but possibly none other brings the freedom of a devil-may-care experience like a road trip. Here’s our list of the top five American road trips for the inner rebel in all of us.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

A true piece of Americana, Route 66 should be at the top of any road trip bucket list.

Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip, moving all the way from Chicago to the City of Angels, it continues to inspire. Best known for its stretches through miles of unbeatable scenery, small cafes and throwback hotels, Route 66 is a classic American road in every sense of the word. Post-World War II, the workers in the Rust Belt packed their bags and hit the famous stretch for better opportunities and new worlds as well as views across the States, bringing fresh perspectives to many along the romantic highway. There’s no need to start at the beginning – pick the locations that interest you and take your time to meander through the towns along the way. For a real piece of history that will take you back to the good old days, find your stay along Tucumcari’s Hotel Row in New Mexico, rife with relics from the warm neon lights of the mid-century. Another highlight of the famous route is a breathtaking visit to Meramec Caverns in Missouri, one of our favorite spots along the way. And the very place where the modern bumper sticker was born!

Helpful Hint: Don’t be afraid to venture off the Route itself, there are endless kitschy and cool attractions off the beaten path including Meteor Crater, Lowell Observatory and numerous Route 66 museums that chronicle the history of the Route’s embedding in American history. The ample opportunities to stop and reconnect with the classic scenery make this an ideal summer road trip destination.

See the Sun in South Florida

Photo Credit: Jenni Conrad

One of the most tropical and tempting stretches of road in the United States brings you from the white sand beaches of Miami all the way to the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S. For 120 miles, roll down the windows and take in the sea air while you drive over the ocean itself. Pack some snacks and drinks for the 120-mile trip, some great tunes, and your sunscreen for the final destination in Key West! Along the way, make sure to stop at Islamorada to take in the local food (and cocktails) at the Hungry Tarpon Restaurant, all while sitting water-side next to the gigantic local Tarpon fish and pelicans, who are also eager to be fed by visitors.

For an even better, wind-in-your-hair experience, break out the motorcycle and bask in the sun (or sunset) along the bridges and causeways to get the full experience!

Helpful Hint: The weather can, and will, change in a second. Florida is known for frequent and wild weather swings, especially in the summer months, so make sure to equip any motorcycle with the best motorcycle tires online. If you’re prepared, the weather swings even add to this wild road trip!

The Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway

Photo Credit: Stephen Archer

The Appalachian Mountains are some of the most intriguing in the world, with your trip starting about two hours west of Washington D.C. and moving you over 500 miles through unbelievable scenery. As another great stretch that will make you want to hop on the motorcycle, find your way through the slow winding roads of Virginia and North Carolina with the wind in your hair. You’ll visit the long stretches of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia along the Skyline Drive before you get to the famous Smoky Mountains, a UNESCO National Heritage site.

Also, make sure to stop over in Charlottesville along the way and feed your inner history buff at Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, as well as the beautiful University of Virginia (where you’ll find great shopping and dining as well!).

Helpful Hint: Take your time! The tendency going through the Appalachians is to get through them, as though it’s simply a badge of honor. If you can take a few days on this trip and really embrace it – stop often, check out anything that looks interest, and of course, take plenty of pictures. The Appalachians are beautiful and will provide plenty of opportunity.

See the Loneliest Road from Coast to Coast

Photo Credit: Bill Herndon

For the most extreme road-trippers, find your way along Route 50, commonly known in Nevada as The Loneliest Road. Stretching from West Sacramento in California all the way to the East Coast of Ocean City in Maryland, this country-long pathway will take you about as far as you can go in the U.S. Once on the western part of the States, you’ll traverse through many desert valleys between beautiful mountains.

This historic route was actually used initially for the Pony Express and later for the Lincoln Highway. Be sure to stock up on gas, however, as at one point you’ll find yourself winding 112 miles with only one station – Middlegate Station in Fallon, Nevada, a town with a population of just 19 residents!

Helpful Hint: If you don’t have ample time to enjoy the entire trip, pick either the route out of California or going through the heartlands. You’ll have the least amount of traffic, the most sight-seeing, and the freest trip whether traveling via car or bike!

See the Sun along the Pacific Coast

Photo Credit: Kai Lehmann

Route 1 in California is definitely in contention for the one of the most famous stretches of highway in the country, and should be a part of any western road trip itinerary. Bringing the road-tripper views of mountainous terrain, forests and (of course) the ocean itself, take your time along the road where the asphalt seems to merge with the coast itself.

Don’t miss the highlight of California’s Central Coast – Big Sur – where you’ll find the breeze flowing along one of the most scenic and underpopulated coastlines in the U.S. The very place where Kerouac also found inspiration for his book of the same name, it makes this one of the best American road trip routes!

Helpful Hint: Route 1 is best traveled by bike, as this is a stretch where you really want the wind in your air! Some of the freshest landscape in the country, you can find whatever you need for this trip through great suppliers like www.bikebandit.com.

The U.S. is a vast, changing, and gorgeous landscape waiting for you to make your way around all her hills, valleys and oceans. Pick your favorite road and get out there; whether it’s the sparse landscape of Nevada or the sunlit roads of Florida, there’s something for every adventurous road-tripper!

Cover photo credit: JLS Photography