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17 Great American Road Trip Ideas, from Mountain Roads to Coastal Treks

A comprehensive guide to the best road trips in the US, including the places to stop, where to stay, and what you’ll see along each route.

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Ah, yes–the great American road trip. Clichés aside, there’s something about the magnetic pull of “the open road” that attracts all types of travelers to embark on this time-honored pilgrimage across the US. Whether it’s the boundless sense of free rein, the quiet hours of meditative self revelation, or the transfixing power of staring out the (rental) car window–road trips can be some of our most transformative travel experiences, particularly in a country as vast and diverse as the United States.

For many, however, the open road can be as intimidating as it is alluring. To help, we’ve pulled together 17 of the best US road trip ideas to inspire your next journey, whether it's to the East Coast, West Coast, or the many national parks in between. Keep reading for the best places to stop, where to stay, and what you’ll see along the way for each route. All you’ll need to supply is a car and a killer playlist.



Highway 240: Badlands Loop Road

A drive through the rugged Badlands National Park allows for an enchanting perspective of southwestern South Dakota. Spanning approximately 31 miles, the scenic route offers a glimpse into the majestic and unique terrains of the park, which the region’s Indigenous Lakota people called "mako sica," or "land bad," due to harsh living conditions at the time. Now, while best in Spring or Fall, I'd say the land is pretty great (when Badlands was first proposed as a national park in 1922, it was nearly renamed Wonderland National Park).

Where to Stop: Pick up your rental car and head east, directly to Badlands National Park. You'll spend the first leg of your journey driving through rock formations and landscapes along the 31-mile Badlands Loop Road (stopping at overlooks like Big Badlands Overlook and Panorama Point). Keep an eye out for commonly spotted wildlife, including bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. A few minutes north from the Park is Wall Drug, a once small-town drugstore turned iconic roadside attraction. From there, you can either drive approximately 70 miles to Mount Rushmore National Memorial–or continue your journey through the Black Hills National Forest. Now, a scenic drive along the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, where, in Spring or Summer, you can hike to and dive in the waterfalls of Bridal Veil or Roughlock Falls. In fall, this is the perfect haven to be engulfed in foliage. In any case, Spring Horse Memorial is a must to dive deep into the very much present Lakota culture and tradition. Then, venture south to Custer State Park and drive Wildlife Loop Road, where you can spot even more wildlife, from bison herds to pronghorn antelopes. You can also drive another 50 miles southwest to Wind Cave National Park to explore underground caverns and hike through prairies and forests.

Where to Eat: Reimagined dining saloon Tally’s Silver Spoon offers a forward-looking, creative take on local dishes. For dinner, head to Delmonico Grill in the Black Hills Region for more of an upscale dining feel (think steak and seafood dishes). Deadwood Social Club, also a steakhouse, touts lively outdoor seating located on the second floor of a saloon.

Where to Stay:Hotel Alex Johnson in the heart of downtown Rapid City. A member of Hilton’s Curio Collection, its historic charm transports guests back in time–while offering modern amenities, of course.


Jordan Siemens/Getty

Big Sky Country: From Glacier to Yellowstone to Grand Teton

“Phew, finally.” When driving through America’s Big Sky Country, you might feel that rare, raw sense of peace immediately wash over you—don’t be surprised if you catch yourself audibly sighing out loud. From alpine meadows carpeted with vibrant wildflowers to the greatest views of sun-kissed peaks, this 200-300 mile journey hits 3 of America’s hottest National Parks: Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. The trip can originate from either end point, depending on your preference. The best time to visit: late spring or early fall, when the weather is generally mild, and all roads and attractions in each park are open for travelers.

Where to stop: Start the journey heading to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Here, you’ll find panoramic views of crystal-clear waters, reflecting the mountains surrounding. Next, head to the legendary Going-to-the-Sun Road. Home to towering peaks, cascading falls, and glacial-carved valleys, you can wind your way through the heart of Glacier National Park (make sure to hit Logan Pass along the way, it’s the highest point along the road). From there, you’ll want to drive around downtown Whitefish for a bite to eat. Then, to the vibrant and charming town of Bozeman, nestled in the Gallatin Valley. In the winter, Bridger Bowl Ski Area is a must for world-class skiing and snowboarding. Only around an hour south, you’ll arrive at Yellowstone. Continue on the Grand Loop road to drive in transfixed wonder at the Park’s beloved and multi-colored geothermal geysers, including Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Norris Geyser Basin. Conclude your road trip with a spellbound visit to Grand Teton National Park, renowned for its clear, mirror-like lakes (a must: Jenny Lake), and jaw-dropping views of wide mountain ranges. Whether hiking a trail, or driving to overlook peaks of Signal Mountain Road–there’s nothing quite like these views.

Where to eat: During your time near Glacier, eat at the modern yet cozy Herb & Omni, or the more low-key, yet equally delicious, Jalisco in Whitefish. Cateye Cafe in Bozeman is an eclectic, cat-themed hotspot popular among locals. After soaking in the essence of Yellowstone, head to tough-to-beat Local Restaurant and Bar for contemporary American dishes. Closer to Grand Teton, eat nachos outside on the deck of Signal Mountain Lodge for lunch, or sit by the window for sweeping views of the mountain range at The Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge.

Where to stay: There are incredible homestead and mountain houses available to book via Airbnb near Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. For hotel accommodations, begin at Aprés Whitefish to rest your head near Glacier. From there, a stay at Mountain Sky dude ranch, only an hour from Bozeman, encapsulates the heart of a true American West road trip experience. Near Yellowstone, stay at Jackson Hole’s infamous Hotel Terra– and when crashing from your last excursion in Grand Teton, the cozy Hotel Jackson is only four miles away.


Brad McGinley/Getty

I-70: Denver to Aspen

Not all great road trip ideas require weeks to complete. From one charming and buzzy Colorado city to the next, this approximately 200-mile journey from Denver to Aspen ascends through the heart of the Rocky Mountains. With winding roads and towering peaks, take your time on this high mountain drive via the Independence Pass–only open from mid May till mid September–reaching an elevation of over 12,000 ft.

Where to stop: When in Denver, stop at the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre for the city’s artful-energy center and iconic red rock formations–all adjacent to a view of the skyline. From there, drive through the old-time charm of downtown Idaho Springs, lined with Victorian-era buildings along the streets. Next up: the fabulous mountain resort town of Vail for a stroll through the village. Admire the chic and quirky boutiques and galleries, or stay overnight to soak in the surrounding slopes. From there, head to Glenwood Springs, a haven for rejuvenation renowned for its natural hot springs. Only an hour away is the tres-chic, surreal, and stunning city of Aspen. Stay for a few days to make the most of your trip–from high-end designer shops and galleries downtown to the vibrance of colors in the mountain trees surrounding, the city is easy to fall in love with.

Where to eat: In Denver, make sure to sit down for a meal from the seasonal menu of Spuntino. When stopping in Glenwood Springs, pick up tacos at the cute and convenient Slope and Hatch. To celebrate your arrival in Aspen, Bear’s Den is aesthetic and cozy for lunch; while French Alpine Bistro is a must for dinner.

Where to stay: For a base in Denver’s Lower Downtown, lay your head at a room in the The Rally Hotel. If you have time to extend your trip for a mid-point check in at Vail, stay at The Sebastian, located in the heart of the Village. When finally in Aspen, reward yourself with a stay at the Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection, or the St. Regis.



I-15: Las Vegas to Salt Lake City

I-15 runs from San Diego to Montana, carving off the westernmost quarter of the country from the rest. The best stretch to drive, though, is the chunk between Utah to Nevada. Choose the leisurely route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon's South Rim, passing by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Lake Powell, Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, and Arizona's Painted Desert, which more than lives up to its name. Give yourself at least four days (better yet, a week). There’s simply nothing like the contrast between man-made neon–and utter glitz-and-glam of the Las Vegas Strip—versus the pinks, purples, and dusty reds of the deserts in Arizona and Utah.

Where to stop: Make Springdale, Utah, outside Zion your first base camp and take a half-day private tour of the national park before a spa day at the ultra-luxe Amangiri resort. Save time for a boat tour of Lake Powell, and for photo ops of the otherworldly Antelope Canyon.

Where to eat: There’s a surprising energy in Flagstaff, originally founded as a pitstop on the wagon road, thanks to the Northern Arizona University campus there. Downtown has a pleasant roster of cafes, bars, and craft breweries—follow the trail here—as well as an outstanding Southwest-Tex Mex scene; try the tacos at Salsa Brava.

Where to stay: Channel your inner Easy Rider in downtown Flagstaff with a night at the Motel du Beau where both John Ford and John Wayne once stayed; the 1929-built hotel has a gloriously retro charm. You can also stay at Amangiri, of course, or the chalet-like El Tovar, which hugs the edge of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.


CaptionPhoto by (Xavi Gomez/Cover/Getty Images)

Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West

Driving down the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West feels like slowly decompressing from the world at large. (The Seven Mile Bridge will make you feel like you’re soaring over the water.) The necklace of islands strung together by this 127.5-mile road vary markedly, moving from the Upper Keys, which seem like shards of the mainland cast off into the ocean, on to the Middle and Lower Keys. The final stop is Key West, a.k.a the Conch Republic. The journey only takes four hours total (though watch for delays, as traffic accidents can block the road and make passing impossible). If you can, earmark a week to meander down and explore hidden corners at your own pace.

Where to stop: Press on through the Upper Keys, which can feel a little gimmicky thanks to an abundance of souvenir shops, and instead linger in the Middle and Lower Keys en route to Key West. Go spearfishing near Marathon with one of the local fishing charters or sunbathe in the wilderness of Bahia Honda State Park, one of the prettiest spots in the Keys. Sandy beaches are rare elsewhere on the archipelago, but you’ll find several here. Finally, in Key West, take a refreshing, well-deserved dip at Fort Zachary State Park. A great plus: there’s music everywhere– so as long as you're strolling, you’ll get your groove on.

Where to eat: You’re going to want to try Key Lime Pie in its spiritual home—debates rage as to the best, but we’d start with a slice at Blue Heaven, an al fresco restaurant with a yard full of roosters—but don’t miss the chance to detour for a pizza and a pint at the No Name Pub. Located on a hard-to-find island where Cuban patriots staged rehearsals for the Bay of Pigs invasion, the pub’s interior is covered with currency stapled to almost every surface. Ask to borrow the staple gun if you want to add to your own.

Where to stay: Key West is surprisingly large, and much of the accommodations are clustered around the eastern edges—avoid this at all costs, as it’s a long hike from the main drag on Duval. Instead, splurge for one of the 19th-century cottages at Winslow’s Bungalows downtown, or at The Perry Hotel for a more chic and spacious vibe. If preferred, there are some great Airbnb recommendations available to book as well.



Pacific Coast Highway: San Francisco to Los Angeles

To embrace every road trip cliché, rent a convertible and drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, a cliff-hugging, exhilarating 123-mile drive along the central California coast. Start in San Francisco and drive southbound, as you’ll be closer to the ocean. Charming coastal towns like Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea give way to the rugged emptiness of Big Sur, before you hit the central Coast and the architectural sugar rush of Hearst Castle. Allow four or five days, if you don’t want to rush.

Where to stop: Other than Hearst Castle, the over-the-top estate that’s equal parts tribute to William Randolph’s deep pockets and magpie-like instincts, the outdoors is the main allure here. On the northern reaches of Big Sur, just 15 miles south of Carmel, stop to take an obligatory photo of the Bixby Bridge, one of the tallest concrete bridges in the world. For hiking, head to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Monterey County, which has an easy path that leads to the overlook for the 80-foot high McWay Falls.

Where to eat: Ritzy Carmel-by-the-Sea has a food scene that is just as upscale as the surroundings: local fish is the backbone of the cooking at Chef Justin Cogley's Aubergine, while Il Tegamino serves up the high-end Italian comfort food.

Where to stay: Splurge on a night or two at the luxe eco-retreat clifftop Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur. The rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the crashing ocean around you. Take a dip in the infinity pool, which hangs 1,200 feet over the sea below. Treebones Resort is another great option for more of a glamping experience. After resting your head, start the day with morning yoga, or take in the view of the Pacific from your private deck.



I-95: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Camden, Maine

This drive along the northern New England coast takes just over three hours, but is filled with charm. Think: endless beaches, fishing harbors, artist colonies, and postcard-pretty villages clinging to the edge of the water. The route snakes from Portsmouth via preppy Kennebunkport, the city of Portland, and the tiny town of Boothbay Harbor.

Where to stop: Don’t miss the almost 40 preserved historic houses at Portsmouth's Strawbery Banke Museum, which showcases life from early settlement until World War II. As you approach Camden, head to Boothbay Harbor for quaint and coastal vibes–along with a walk through the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. You can also take a boat tour to explore the surrounding islands or visit the Maine State Aquarium. At your final destination in Camden, explore the downtown village’s boutique shops and art galleries. You can also head to Camden Hills State Park for a hike to panoramic views–or, relax by the harbor and watch the sailboats pass by.

Where to eat:Portland, of course. With 300 restaurants for just under 70,000 inhabitants, it has more places to eat per capita than any other city bar San Francisco. One of the pioneers of the city’s booming food scene is the James Beard-award winning seafood specialist, Eventide Oyster Co. If you order a lobster roll, expect it Maine-style: a hot dog bun, center-cut, with lobster tossed in mayo and a sprinkling of celery for crunch.

Where to stay: The nautical Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa. A perennial presence on our Readers’ Choice Awards, it occupies a sprawling site on the waterfront in the town of Boothbay Harbor. Take a sundowner on the terrace.

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Route 66: St. Louis to Amarillo, Texas

The 2,200-mile long Route 66 has been immortalized in countless rock songs, stories, and poems by everyone from Nat King Cole and Chuck Berry to John Steinbeck. Though it technically runs from Chicago to California, the best stretch is a two-day drive from St. Louis to the edge of Texas, via Lake of the Ozarks and Oklahoma City. There’s a sense of nostalgia (mingling with a little loneliness) and curios stops abound.

Where to stop: For natural wonders there’s nowhere better than the 4.6-mile long cave system called the Meramec Caverns in Stanton—a series of vast underground spaces that were used by Native Americans for shelter, and, reportedly, as a hideout by outlaw Jesse James. A sweet picnic idea: head to Lake of the Ozarks State Park.

Where to eat: When driving Route 66, roadside diners, for a classic American meal, are a must. The Rock Café in Stroud, Oklahoma, and Waylan's Ku-Ku Burger in Miami, are both iconic– renowned for their delicious burgers and of course, retro charm. If you’re into this kind of thing, head to anywhere that serves ribs, St. Louis-style. The midwestern city’s southern inflection is evident in the pride locals take in its ribs, grilled and sauced, rather than dry-rubbed and slow-smoked.

Where to stay: For an overnight stay, book a room at the art-deco inspired Ambassador Hotel in OKC's vibrant downtown district. Also, chic boutique hotel Bradford House, with 36 rooms, has a unique historic charm. It's the former house of William L. Bradford who moved to the area in the late 1889 from Kansas. Through the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, this inn was a hub for hosting artists, actors and politicians on the road.



The Blue Ridge Parkway: Afton, Virginia, to Cherokee, North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs for almost 500 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, along a picturesque route that’s lined by the soft green valleys descending from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and connecting the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks at either end. Heavy mist wreaths the landscape at dawn and dusk, thanks to the altitude, so take care when driving—that fog is often denser than it looks, and the looping, hilly route demands extra attention. Allow extra time to cover the distance, too, as the speed limit on most stretches is just 45 mph.

Where to stop: This was once moonshine territory, so it’s fitting that the region is now a craft distilling hub. Try the moonshine-inspired whiskey from Blue Ridge Distilling, which shortcuts the aging process by stirring shards of toasted American white oak directly into the spirit conferring a smoky richness in less than a week. In Asheville, distiller Troy Ball is known for using an old corn varietal, known as Crooked Creek, whose high fat content rounds out the spirit beautifully.

Where to eat: The superb farmland nearby has drawn chefs to Asheville in increasing numbers, whether El Bulli-trained Katie Button, who owns two spots there, or this year’s James Beard Best Chef semifinalist Meherwan Irani, who has a mini empire of Indian restaurants in the area.

Where to stay: Detour off slightly to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, home of Dollywood, the kitschy theme park owned by Parton herself, and hunker down in one of the cabins there. You can also look for a sweet cabin rental via Airbnb along the way.



Great River Road: Memphis to New Orleans

Stretching more than 2,000 miles along the Mississippi River from its start in Minnesota, the Great River Road passes through a whopping 10 states. But the most appealing stretch is its southern reaches, along the Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows an old Native American trail for more than 400 miles, where there are a number of ancient burial mounds. Stretch out the drive over a week, and be sure to stop at the monuments and museums along the way that highlight Black history in the area, like the Crossroads in Mississippi where musician Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the ability to play the blues (look for a trio of electric guitars on a pole that marks the spot). Also of note in the Magnolia State are the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, located in the first public school for African American children in Jackson, the Natchez Museum-African American Culture, and the University of Mississippi's Blues Archive, home to some 60,000 recordings (it's a short detour off the parkway).

Where to stop: Vicksburg is a major stop for history buffs (it was the site of a 47-day Civil War siege) but it’s also the place where Coca-Cola was first bottled, a fact that’s immortalized at the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum. Don't miss Elvis Presley’s Graceland, either, a museum complex anchored by his surprisingly modest home.

Where to eat: Come hungry to this drive, which is bookended by two cities famed for their food: Nashville and New Orleans. Don’t assume that you’ll be existing solely on brisket and BBQ. Try two modern Middle Eastern restaurants that have earned accolades—the chic Epice in Nashville, and Alon Shaya's Saba in New Orleans.

Where to stay: The Warehouse District-based Ace Hotel in New Orleans—it's worth it for the rooftop bar alone. For more of a poetic, European flair, book a stay at The Eliza Jane in the Central Business District.



Oregon Coast Highway 101: Seaside to Brookings, Oregon 

California’s PCH might be better known, but Oregon’s Highway 101 is just as jaw-dropping to drive, snaking down the shoreline from Washington State to the redwood forests and further south. Along the seven-hour route, there are superb beaches—Cannon Beach is particularly pause-worthy—as well as countless, often near-deserted state parks. The waters here are prime surfing terrain while the small towns along the coast, like Seaside and Newport, have more than a whiff of New England charm, not to mention equally impressive chowder.

Where to stop: Hike through the myrtle and redwood groves of Alfred A. Loeb State Park or the Myrtle Tree Trail, a quarter-mile walk through the fragrant tree cluster to the world’s largest known eucalyptus tree, with a canopy that’s almost 70 feet across.

Where to eat: Anywhere that serves Pacific clam chowder, which often amps up the flavor of the more delicate, buttery clams round here with chunks of smoked bacon. Compare the recipe at Seaside Brewery with the lighter, bacon-free version at Norma’s Ocean Diner nearby.

Where to stay: The six rooms at the Heceta Lighthouse offer a unique coastal hideout. The lighthouse was built in the early 1890s and the cottage was recently converted to an upscale B&B—book the Lightkeeper’s Room for the best view of the lighthouse itself.



Alaska-Canadian Highway: Vancouver to Anchorage

Known as the ALCAN, or Alaska-Canadian Highway, this 1,390-mile route in the Pacific Northwest was once rugged and hard to tackle, with several unfinished stretches when it first opened in the 1940s. These days, the journey is far smoother and takes around five days to drive, starting just over the border in British Columbia. Expect to encounter bears and moose as you cross through a landscape of mountains and lakes. The best time to come is in June and July; it can be a little damp, but the extra-long days allow you to make the most of your time driving, fishing, and hiking.

Where to stop: Before entering the wilderness, stop in Vancouver for a walk through Stanley Park. Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory is one of the few landmark towns on the ALCAN (and a good place to overnight). The Takhini Hot Pools just north of there provide views of the northern lights in winter, if you’re lucky.

Where to eat: Relish the Asian influence on Vancouver’s culture with Szechuan dishes at Bao Bei or try a cocktail or two at the decade-old The Diamond, an upscale lounge in buzzy Gastown. On the road, if you’re not cooking for yourself over a camp stove, Whitehorse has a few worthwhile options, like Mexican joint Antoinette’s or bistro-like Burnt Toast Café.

Where to stay: This is a place for camping and RVs rather than hotels, and there are almost 20 different government-run parks on the route that have room for both. But if you do need a little pampering, consider the Northern Lights Resort and Spa in Yukon where three new glass-fronted chalets offer the perfect perch to watch the light show.



Route 50: Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento, California

Known as the “loneliest road in America,” this 3,200-mile stretch of blacktop that follows the same route as the Pony Express has captured the American imagination ever since its early stages of construction in 1926. It bisects the country, slicing through a dozen states, starting at Maryland’s Eastern shore and finishing in San Francisco, through the Appalachian and Rocky mountains and Utah’s deserts. Set aside a couple of weeks for the journey, but if you’re more time-pressed, the most evocative stretch is a two-day drive through Nevada to the West Coast; fly into Salt Lake City, and pick up a car there. Expect little more than blue sky, sagebrush, and mountains, periodically punctuated by the occasional, dusty small town like Eureka or Austin.

Where to stop: Tick some of the national parks off of your list—Indiana's George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, the Black Canyon of Colorado's Gunnison National Park, and more. If you’re focusing on Nevada, stop by the bizarre folly known as Stokes Castle: built by a wealthy mining magnate and intended to ape an Italian tower, it sticks out in the dusty desert, a monument to eccentricity.

Where to eat: You'll have more than enough places to try along the 3,000-mile stretch, but we recommend seeking out some regional specialties and tried-and-true stops: think a slaw-dog in West Virginia, Cincinnati-style chili in Ohio, sugar cream pie in Indiana, and Rocky Mountain oysters in Colorado. On the shorter route, gorge on Basque cuisine in Elko, one of the largest expat communities of this Iberian culture anywhere in the world.

Where to stay: Hotels (and motels) are plentiful along this drive, but we're partial to making detours for The Greenbrier in West Virginia, Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, and the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.



Road to Hana: Kahului to Hana, Hawaii

Not all roads are created equal, and this 64-mile stretch, known as the Hana Highway or Road to Hana, is one of the most thrilling. It snakes along the northeastern coast of Maui with 600 curvy bends and 50-plus-wait-your-turn bridges (we suggest a Jeep Wrangler for this journey) taking you past towering coastal cliffs, plunging waterfalls, dense jungle, and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Where to stop: With its bamboo canopy, Waikamoi Nature Trail is worth a pitstop, even more so as it’s often overlooked. The dreamy hike here takes less than a mile but remember to pack sturdy shoes if it’s wet, as the trail can be slippery. The mystical Waikani Falls and volcanic black sand beaches at Wai’ainapanapa State Park are both unmissable.

Where to eat: The sleepy Wailele farm stand at Twin Falls is a great spot: try the cold brew, Maui-grown coffee, or some of the farm’s all-natural, dairy-free coconut ice cream.

Where to stay: The blissed-out, television-free Hāna-Maui Resort, allows you to decompress, island-style. Try everything from stand up paddle boarding to coconut husking, or just book a traditional Hawaiian Lomilomi healing massage at the spa. Book an Ocean Bungalow and soak in the sunset.



Hill Country Route: Lampasas to Brenham, Texas

Spreading across Edwards Plateau—with San Antonio to the south and Austin to the east—this route is a dramatic mix of rugged hills and rolling rivers, as well as a smattering of small towns like Fredericksburg, Lampass, and New Braunfels, which offer surprises like award-winning vineyards and boutique lavender and olive tree farms. You can make this round trip in as few as three days, or linger for a week or more to give time for detours.

Where to stop: Outside Fredericksburg, rock climbers and hiking enthusiasts flock to Enchanted Rock, made of an other-worldly pink granite. History buffs can walk the sprawling grounds of the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch, rich with mighty live oaks and environmentalist Lady Bird Johnson’s wildflowers; pair it with a trip to his Presidential Library, which offers a glimpse of how the former president wanted to be seen by history.

Where to eat: You can’t leave Texas without eating BBQ. One of the best all-rounders is the funky Truth BBQ in Brenham, which doles out thick-cut brisket, smoked sausage, juicy ribs.

Where to stay: Book a casita at the intimate, nine-room Inn at Dos Brisas, which is located along the bluebonnet-flowered hills in the town of Washington. Take a dip in the infinity pool, where you can stare out at grazing horses and then dine at the inn’s farm-to-table restaurant, where ingredients are plucked right from its organic garden.



Scenic Route 100: Wilmington to Stowe, Vermont

It only takes around five hours to drive this 200 mile-road cutting through Vermont, but we suggest giving it five days to really enjoy the route, which takes in vast swathes of classic New England landscape. Its peak, of course, is during fall, but this road is gorgeous in spring and summer, too. Veer past country stores and farm stands and stop by towns like Wilmington, Ludlow, Killington, Warren, and Stowe.

Where to stop:Stowe Recreation Path is ideal for biking, hikes, and idle picnics. In Weston, give yourself a little time to browse around the Vermont Country Store (est. 1945) and pick up one of the retro ceramic Christmas trees, which the Orton family has begun reproducing using classic molds.

Where to eat: Locals’ favorite Mad Taco has four locations in the region—all the meats are smoked in-house and the hot sauces are made from scratch. The family-run Fat Toad Farm in Brookfield is worth a pitstop for its goat cheese with caramel sauce, which is also made from milk produced by the family’s herds. Buy some to take home, and expect to be eating it direct from the jar when no one’s looking.

Where to stay: In Warren, check in to the Pitcher Inn, a stately house kitted out in preppy New England decor (think duck decoys, paneled walls). After a country breakfast, take out a complimentary canoe on the trout-filled stream or play a game of shuffleboard.



Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway: Albuquerque to Taos, New Mexico

This three-hour drive from Albuquerque to Taos via Santa Fe is known as the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Cruise down State Road 14, dotted with dusty pioneer trails and Western ghost towns like Los Cerrillos. From Santa Fe, the 56-mile road weaves through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains—a range of lush hillsides and orchards—and then passes through tiny towns like Chimayo and the summit village of Truchas. And remember, this area has some of the darkest skies in the country, so you can clamber out and stargaze if your drive edges into nighttime.

Where to stop: In winter, Taos is a ski mecca, with more than 100 pistes, but the Native American culture here makes it worth visiting year-round. Go to the Zuni Reservation, the largest of the state’s 19 pueblos where 80 percent of the workforce produce crafts and artwork for sale at the Craftsmen Co-op, and the Taos Pueblo, a National Historic Landmark built in the 14th century.

Where to eat: Detour north of Santa Fe to Chimayo, a small town that’s home to the longstanding restaurant Rancho de Chimayo. It’s one of the best places to try New Mexican cuisine using ingredients like hatch green chiles, anise, and pine nuts, all of which grow plentifully here.

Where to stay:Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs is a lush resort centered on a dozen natural pools, fed by four different kinds of mineral-rich water en route from Santa Fe to Taos.

This story has been updated with new information since its original publish date in 2020.

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This post originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler and was published March 12, 2024. This article is republished here with permission.

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