Road trips are as American as apple pie and there are tons of road trip ideas out there. According to AAA, each year over 44 million Americans pack up their families in the car and head out on an adventure. They visit national parks, theme parks, major cities, and the nation’s coasts and wilderness areas. There are many different amazing road trip options to choose from. So get out your road map and road trip planner, here is a list of the 2018 top ten best road trip destinations in the US!
Best Road Trip Destinations
Grand Canyon South Rim
The Grand Canyon is the quintessential road trip of a lifetime for all Americans and must be done at least once. The closest international airport to the Grand Canyon is located in Phoenix and is about a four-hour drive, so if you want to see and experience this natural wonder you will most likely be doing it by car (or train).
From the North: If you’re coming from the North, head through Utah and catch some other National Parks along your way. Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, and Bryce Canyon are all on the list.
From the East: Route 66 runs along and with Interstate 40 and is a must see. It takes a little bit longer to drive than the interstate but comes through a bunch of small tourist towns. Some are all but extinct while others are still thriving. Take some time to classic Americana in towns like Holbrook, AZ where you can stay at the Wigwam Village and see other iconic Route 66 stops.
From the South: A four-hour drive from Phoenix you’ll head north through Coconino National Forest and Flagstaff. In Flagstaff, stop by Oregano’s and pick up a Pizza Cookie. It will be the culinary highlight of your life.
From the West: Depending on where you’re coming from stops in Las Vegas, Death Valley or Joshua Tree National Forest might be along your way.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone makes the perfect family road trip and is a great place to encounter wildlife, camp, hike to waterfalls, and enjoy nature in all its finest. Witness Old Faithful and have fun exploring the natural hot springs and stinkpots, and take a moment to bask in nature’s beauty.
From the North: You’ll head through beautiful Montana and most likely straight through the Bozeman and by Big Sky Ski Resort. There are plenty of scenic stops along the way.
From the East: Devils Tower and Rapid City lay East of Yellowstone and are great destinations along the way.
From the South: Jackson, Wyoming is along the way and is home to Grand Teton National Park which is definitely worth a visit.
From the West: Major freeways leading to Yellowstone will either take you through Boise or Spokane. Both are beautiful cities and have a lot to offer.
Located in beautiful South Dakota, Mount Rushmore stands as a tribute to Presidents Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and T. Roosevelt, but there is much more to this area than carved mountains- there are many other awesome places within a few hours drive. Check out Devil’s Tower National Monument, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse or Sturgis along the way.
From the North: The motorcycle town of Sturgis is just North of Mount Rushmore and is full of biker culture.
From the East: Just off of Interstate 90 you’ll find Badlands National Park which is very surreal and beautiful. Wall Drug is also along the way and you’ll see the signs advertising it all the way into town.
From the South: From Denver, Fort Collins and Cheyenne make for good stops along the journey. Make sure to take in Custer State Park in South Dakota to see the “wild” mules.
From the West: See Thunder Basin National Grassland along your way and make sure to stop at Devils Tower National Monument.
If visiting a National or State Park isn’t your ideal road trip you can head to San Diego for a healthy mix of city, beach, and sun. San Diego boasts a superb history, SeaWorld, an award-winning zoo, and excellent shopping. San Diego is a popular West Coast road trip destination and is just hours from Los Angeles. The city also offers lots of scenic views along the coast.
From the North: Pacific Coast Highway doesn’t run all the way to San Diego, but if you’re heading down the coast of California, it is a great drive. Make sure to hit Redondo Beach or many of other great beaches along your way.
From the East: Multiple state parks and National Wildlife Refuges are on the way to San Diego from Arizona. If you’re coming in from the North East, check out Palm Springs.
From the South: If you’re coming from Mexico, make sure to account for some extra time for customs and immigration.
The Outer Banks are located in North Carolina along the coast and serve as a popular East Coast road trip destination. They’re famous for their lighthouses, the Wright Brothers, and an annual hang gliding spectacular. It’s also a great beach destination for everyone regardless of their budget.
From the North: Visit the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. along the way. You could also stop at numerous civil war sites and battlefields.
From the South: Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington are all along the East Coast and are Southern cities that offer great sights and history.
From the West: Winston-Salem and Raleigh-Durham are cities full of rich history and are worth a visit as you travel in from the West.
While I don’t recommend seeing it strapped into a barrel about to be plunged over the falls, it is a great place to take a road trip and is highly recommended for honeymooners or lovers looking for a romantic road trip getaway. The falls are spectacular and will mesmerize you, bringing you closer to those whom you share this experience with.
From the North: If you come in from Canada, be sure to stop in Toronto, a vibrant city, with a ton of culture. Get some poutine while you’re north of the border.
From the East: Take in the sights of upstate New York and enjoy the scenery. Stops in Buffalo and Syracuse are a must.
From the South: Travel through the Allegheny National Forest won’t disappoint along the way.
From the West: Check out the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal on your way into New York.
Located in Page Arizona, Lake Powell is more than 400 feet deep and has nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. Lake Powell surrounds you with spectacular rock canyons and towers. People flock here every summer to rent houseboats or go beach camping and enjoy the glassy warm waters. Spend some quality time fishing, water skiing or exploring together.
From the North: Utah’s many national parks offer plenty of scenery. Zion National Park is just hours away from the waters of Lake Powell.
From the East: Four Corners and Mesa Verde are not too far from Lake Powell and are noteworthy road trip stops.
From the South: Three words, the Grand Canyon. Make sure not to miss this national icon along the way from the South
From the West: Las Vegas and Zion National Park make great stops along your road trip to Lake Powell.
Daytona Beach is the perfect destination for families looking to spend quality time together. It is also popular among college students looking during spring break. It’s a place where you can find all things beach but is also home to great museums, shopping, dining and don’t forget the Daytona 500!
From the North: See Jacksonville and other famous Southern cities like Savannah or Charleston.
From the South: Heading from the South you can stop in Orlando and take in Disney World and other theme parks.
From the West: Ocala National Forest is just west of Daytona Beach and is a great place to see Florida wildlife. It is also home to natural water springs and pools.
Wisconsin Dells boasts over twenty outdoor and indoor water parks. It’s a great place to bring your family in the midst of summer. It is also a popular winter destination with many indoor attractions and outdoor activities..
From the North: Duluth, Minnesota is a scenic city and the shore of Lake Superior can be breathtaking to drive along.
From the East: See the twin cities or Rochester, Minnesota, the home of world-famous Mayo Clinic.
From the South: Stop in Wisconsin’s capital, Madison for a visit along the way to the Dells.
From the West: Follow the shore of Lake Michigan and see the sights in both Chicago and Milwaukee both booming Great Lakes cities.
People of all ages flock to Disney World every year and it appeals to nearly everyone. Adults and children alike adore meeting characters and enjoy the magical rides. It is the perfect place for a family to share time together.
From the North: See the University of Florida as you pass through Gainesville.
From the East: Clearwater and St. Pete have awesome beaches along the Gulf Coast and are a perfect way to get some beach time in before Disney.
From the South: Miami and the Everglades are places that everyone should visit. See the cultural city and also alligators in their natural habitat on the same trip.
From the West: Daytona Beach and many others along the East Coast are perfect for a road trip.
What did we miss? What are your favorite road trip ideas and destinations?