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Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

TripBlog
Jun 4, 20206360

The open road captivates the American psyche like few other things. As life transitions to a new normal in many parts of the country, we look forward to the day we can once again travel the wide open spaces. This got to thinking about great long-distance road trips. For the foreseeable future, our new travel mode will involve spacing things out. What better way to do that than on the open road? In the spirit of the Great American Road Trip, these are our picks for the best multi-day driving tours in the Lower 48. Pack a cooler, put the top down, and start your engines. It’s time to head out on the highway. We’re looking for adventure…and whatever comes our way!

Table of Contents

Route 66 – An Absolute Classic
Pacific Coast Highway – California Lovin’
Overseas Highway – On the Road to Kokomo
Great River Road
Backbone of America – Coast-to-Coast on I-80
The Eastern Seaboard – All Aboard I-95
The Great Northern Road – Sault Ste. Marie to Seattle

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

Route 66 – An Absolute Classic

Arguably the most storied highway in America, Route 66 carried families from the ravages of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s towards prosperity in California. Later it became associated with a rebellious spirit and the pursuit of thrill. After all, where else are you going to get your kicks? Running between Los Angeles and Chicago, Route 66 traverses eight states right across the middle of the country. Along the way you can see soaring skyscrapers in Chicago, some of the world’s most productive farmlands in central Illinois, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, vast windswept plains across Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, and the otherworldly landscape that is the American Southwest. Give yourself at least a week if you plan to do the entire stretch. While much of the contemporary western portion of Route 66 runs coterminous with I-40, there are still sections where you can drive the classic two-lane highway. Summer temperatures climb in the desert across Arizona and New Mexico, something to remember if you’re making the trip during those months. Otherwise keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and enjoy!

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

Pacific Coast Highway – California Lovin’

Near unimaginable beauty awaits those who set out between Seattle and San Diego. The Pacific Coast Highway is essentially US Highway 101, which traverses more than 1,675 mi (2,500 km) through some of the most beautiful stretches anywhere in the world. A popular semi-detour takes you along scenic California Highway 1, hugging the coast basically the whole way from Leggett to Los Angeles. Don’t miss Big Sur, the mountainous area in Central California south of Monterey. Bisected by Highway 1, Big Sur is regarded among the longest and most beautiful coastlines anywhere in the world. Stunning vistas, redwood forests, hiking trails, and beaches make it an irresistible destination. The Pacific Coast Highway will let you enjoy driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco. Stop at the Santa Monica Pier before braving the famous gridlock in LA. Visit the USS Iowa Museum near Long Beach or go for something more revealing and take it all off at Black's Beach near UC San Diego and Torrey Pines. California is the star of the Pacific Coast Highway, but there’s plenty to see in Washington and Oregon. Budget at least 10 days if you want it all.

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

Overseas Highway – On the Road to Kokomo

Spanning 44 islands and 42 bridges, this is quite literally a highway over the sea. Linking Miami through the Florida Keys down to Key West, the section of US Highway 1 here is something you can’t find anywhere else in the States. Discover why Florida’s moniker as the Sunshine State is well-deserved. Visit the Southernmost Point of the Continental US before doing the loop around Key West and venturing north. Soon the island-hopping starts and you’re crossing spectacular turquoise waters. Enjoy the long stretch across Seven Mile Bridge, perhaps recalling the famous scene from True Lies when Arnold Schwarzenegger swoops down to save Jamie Lee Curtis just before her car plunges to the waters below. Keep heading north to Key Largo then take a detour to Everglades National Park. Stop at Zoo Miami before arriving in South Beach. Make sure to do the architectural tour through the Art Deco Historic District before enjoying some of the region’s famous nightlife and entertainment. The Overseas Highway Road Trip sounds like something out of a dream. Fortunately it’s very much real and waiting for you. Budget 3-4 days so you can stop and enjoy everything along the way.

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

Great River Road

Abraham Lincoln called the Mississippi River the “Father of Waters.” Immortalized in Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics as “Ol’ Man River,” the Mississippi has long held strategic importance for the United States. Prior to the advent of motorized transportation, this was the early nation’s main commercial highway. People and goods flowed between New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, and on up towards Chicago. Giant steam-powered riverboats plodded along, their big wheels turning. Make sure you experience the sights and sounds in New Orleans. Eat some gumbo and enjoy the Creole culture. Pass up towards Jackson, MS and detour over to the famous Civil War battlefields in Vicksburg. Come up through Memphis and delight in the city’s musical roots. Visit Elvis Presley’s former estate at Graceland. Along the way there are plenty of places to admire the natural scenery. Consider a side trip over to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Finish out the trek visiting St. Louis, Springfield, IL, and Chicago. America’s river flows clean through the nation’s fabled heartland. If you want to see the Good Ol' U-S-A, you’re well advised to take the Great River Road. You’re going to want about a week to do this trip.

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

Backbone of America – Coast-to-Coast on I-80

Interstate 80 runs east-west across the entire continental United States, from just outside New York City all the way to San Francisco. Nearly 3,000 mi (4,500 km), this mammoth road trip will take you through 11 states. Start across the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to round out the full dozen. Pass through beautiful rolling countryside dominated in the east by the Appalachian Mountains. Make a stop at Cedar Point near Sandusky in Ohio to visit one of America’s best amusement parks. The 17 roller coasters at Cedar Point are second only to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Once you’re past Chicago and into Iowa, consider turning north and stopping by the famous Field of Dreams film location. Miles and miles of farmland will greet you through Nebraska before the Rocky Mountains rise up on the horizon as you approach Cheyenne in spectacular Wyoming. Stop in Salt Lake City and get ready for the grand finale, a vast and desolate desert across Nevada. For a more memorable experience, leave I-80 outside of Salt Lake City and transit Nevada on Route 50. Dubbed the “Loneliest Road in America,” make sure you keep the tank full lest you risk becoming stranded in a literal middle of nowhere. Enjoy beautiful Lake Tahoe once you emerge back into civilization and California. You made it! One of the longer trips we profile, you’d do well to give yourself 10 days to two weeks for this one.

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

The Eastern Seaboard – All Aboard I-95

Intrepid adventurers might look at this as a something of a true challenge. New Brunswick to Miami, all along I-95. Bangor, Boston, Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Richmond, Savannah, Jacksonville…just some of the great cities along this magnificent stretch. It’s well worth the time to traipse the so-called Northeast megalopolis along the Bos-Wash corridor. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston and see the battlefields in Lexington and Concord. Stop for sunset photos on Long Island Sound. See the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty. Visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the National Constitution Center. Take selfies with the wildlife at the National Aquarium in Baltimore before exploring the nation’s capital with its many museums and galleries. The Eastern Seaboard tour is for those who crave an urban existence. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of scenery and history on this tour as well. The densely-packed Northeast corridor contains some of the nation’s grandest cities. Scenic shorelines along Long Island Sound make this much more than just concrete and glass. There’s a bit of something for everyone here. Sketch yourself a basic plan and you can easily occupy a week to 10 days while barely scratching the surface.

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

The Great Northern Road Sault Ste. Marie to Seattle

US Highway 2 unfurls across the Northern United States like lovely winter’s scarf. Extending from Bar Harbor in Maine all the way to Seattle, it’s briefly interrupted by Ontario. In normal times we’d recommend venturing across the border through Montreal and Ottawa; however, it’s difficult to predict when international travel restrictions between the US and Canada will fully relax. An equally pleasant alternative is to start in Sault Ste. Marie, come south on I-75, and pick up Highway 2 in St Ignace near the Mackinaw Bridge. Enjoy phenomenal scenery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and experience Escanaba in da Moonlight. Pass through Chippewa National Forest and snap a photo next to the source of the Mississippi River. Further west is Big Sky Country in Montana. Stop off in Glacier National Park before making your way through the passes in the Rocky Mountains. On the other side of those is lovely Spokane, Washington. Amazing Alpine landscapes await you in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and you can top in all off with a trip up to the observation deck at the Space Needle when you reach Seattle.

Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Road: Long-Distance US Road Trips!

There’s no shame in admitting you’re ready for a grand vacation after lockdown. Life for many of us has become topsy-turvy, so naturally we long for a simpler time when vacationing seemed less fraught. Easing into a post-pandemic reality will involve some adjustments. Rather than piling on the anxiety that comes with booking flights now, let your imagination wander to the open road. These classic, multi-day road trips offer the chance to comfortably explore the many wonders in-store across the Lower 48.

Disclaimer: This article has been used directly from the Qingqi Qiu Platform, the copyright belongs to the original author. If there is any discrepancy with the copyright please contact us directly and we will immediately delete the content.Index for Network Information Infringement Protection
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