10 Best U.S. States for Road Trips (Plus Amazing Sights to See Along the Way)

Want to plan an epic family vacation? Hit the highway in one of these top 10 best U.S. states for road trips! Read on for our favorite road trip ideas, including amazing places to see along the way!

Want to plan an epic family vacation? Hit the highway in one of these top 10 best U.S. states for road trips! Read on for our favorite road trip ideas, including amazing places to see along the way! 

Road trips are lots of fun for singles, couples and families alike. They take you across scenic roads that feature amazing sightseeing attractions that you otherwise may not see if you just hopped on a plane and flew to a destination!  Here are the top 10 states that have the best road trips, along with a popular drive for each state. I also included links where you can discover all of the road trips each state has to offer.

10 Best U.S. States for Road Trips

1. California

California is home to some of the most iconic road trips in the US, with Highway 1 ranking #1 as far as scenic routes go. You can start and end at just about any point on the highway and see some amazing sites, but we recommend the Big Sur Coast Drive.

Big Sur Coast Drive

  • Miles- 137
  • Travels along- Highway 1
  • Starts- Monterey
  • Ends- San Luis Obispo

Points of Interest-

  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve- Caramel-By-The-Sea
  • Sand Dollar Beach- Big Sur
  • Hearst Castle- San Simeon

2. Colorado

Road tripping through Colorado gives you the chance to see pretty much everything the West has to offer, from massive mountain peaks to rolling rivers. I love the Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway because it takes you through some truly historic areas and gives you a glimpse into the past.

Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway

  • Miles- 103
  • Travels along- Highways 165 and 96
  • Starts- Pueblo
  • Ends- Colorado City

Points of Interest-

  • El Pueblo History Museum- Pueblo
  • Bishop Castle- Rye
  • Lake Isabel- San Isabel

3. Louisiana

Whether your passion is history, music, art, or the great outdoors, you’ll find it in Louisiana! The state may be most famous for New Orleans, but as far as scenic road trips go, you’ll want to hit the Louisiana Bayou Byway.

Louisiana Bayou Byway

  • Miles- 172
  • Travels along- Interstate 10 and Highways 182, 3083, 31, 325, 86 and 90
  • Starts- Lafayette
  • Ends- Lafitte

Points of Interest-

  • Cypress Island Preserve- St. Martinville
  • Rip Van Winkle Gardens- New Iberia
  • Jungle Gardens and Bird City- Avery Island

4. Washington

If outdoor recreation is your passion, Washington State is a road tripper’s dream come true. At over 300 miles , our top pick is the longest trip on this list, but well worth it!

Olympic Peninsula Loop

  • Miles- 329
  • Travels along- Highways 101, 12 and 8
  • Starts- Olympia
  • Ends- Olympia

Points of Interest-

  • Lake Cushman State Park- Lake Cushman
  • Lake Crescent- Piedmont
  • Hoh Rainforest- Forks

5. Minnesota

Spend an afternoon driving alongside the world’s largest freshwater lake and taking in some epic unspoiled natural views on the North Shore Scenic Drive. Make sure you pull over and get an up close view on one of the many hiking trails along this route! Since Minnesota gets crazy cold in the winter, you might want to save this road trip for the summer.

North Shore Scenic Drive

  • Miles- 147
  • Travels along- Highway 61
  • Starts- Duluth
  • Ends- Grand Portage

Points of Interest-

  • Great Lakes Aquarium- Duluth
  • Gooseberry Falls State Park- Two Harbors
  • North Shore Winery- Lutsen

6. Nevada

Don’t the let the shortness of this road trip fool you! It may only be a 19-mile drive, but it takes you past some of the most incredible views of Nevada’s red sandstone sculptures and historic petroglyph covered walls! You’ll definitely want to get out of the car and do a little exploring!

Moapa Valley Drive

  • Miles- 19
  • Travels along- Highway 169 and Valley of Fire Highway
  • Starts- Overton
  • Ends- Overton

Points of Interest-

  • Lost City Museum- Overton
  • Valley of Fire State Park- Overton
  • Overton Beach- Overton

7. North Carolina

North Carolina’s Cape Hatteras National Seashore drive clocks in at just under 100 miles, making it perfect for a lazy afternoon drive. Make time to spend an hour or two touring the North Carolina Aquarium for a peek at all the creatures that call the Outer Banks home.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

  • Miles- 97
  • Travels along- Highways 12, 158 and Hatteras Inlet Ferry
  • Starts- Points Harbor
  • Ends- Ocracoke

Points of Interest-

  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park- Nags Head
  • North Carolina Aquarium- Roanoke Island
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse- Buxton

8. Oregon

If your family loves geology, you definitely need to hop on the Outback Scenic Byway! From the largest geological fault in North America to one of the “most significant sites in North America for Pleistocene age fossils,” you’ll get an up-close peek into what life was like on earth millions of years ago!

Outback Scenic Byway

  • Miles- 157
  • Travels along- Highways 31 and 395
  • Starts- La Pine
  • Ends- Lakeview

Points of Interest-

  • Hole-in-the-Ground Cater- Lake County
  • Abert Rim- the largest geological fault in North America
  • Summer Lake Wildlife Area- Summer Lake

9. South Dakota

When you’re planning for your South Dakota road trip, make sure to load up on extra snacks (and maybe even extra fuel). Road tripping through this midwestern state requires a bit more preparation since you can go many miles without seeing another soul! It’s worth it though to see the incredible Mount Rushmore in person.

Mount Rushmore and the Badlands

  • Miles- 159
  • Travels along- Highways 240, 44, 79, 87, 89, 16; Iron Mountain Road; Reed Street and Sage Creek Road
  • Starts- Custer
  • Ends- Cactus Flat

Points of Interest-

  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial- Keystone
  • Buffalo Gap National Grasslands- Hot Springs
  • Fossil Trail- Rapid City

10. Utah

When most people hear “Utah,” they think of Salt Lake City. While that’s definitely a neat place to visit, if you want to see all the natural beauty that Utah has to offer, I recommend hitting the Colorado River Scenic Byway. As the name implies, it skirts along the famous Colorado River and offers views of both arid desserts and snow-capped mountains (sometimes at the same time!).

Colorado River Scenic Byway

  • Miles- 41
  • Travels along- Highway 128
  • Starts- Moab
  • Ends- Dewey

Points of Interest-

  • Canyonlands National Park- Moab
  • Arches National Park- Moab
  • Fisher Towers Campground and National Scenic Trail- Moab

These are just a few of our picks for the best U.S. States for road trips. Every state in the union has something different to offer. Sometimes it’s fun to just hop in your car and go! Forget the map (unless you get crazy lost), forget itineraries. Just get in your car, start driving, and decide which route to take one road at a time. Who knows, you just might discover the next iconic road trip!

Have you taken any of these road trips? Tell us your favorite!

17 thoughts on “10 Best U.S. States for Road Trips (Plus Amazing Sights to See Along the Way)”

  1. Great article – there is so much to do in the US and outside of the US. The waterfalls trail is really nice in Oregon – we do it everytime we go.

  2. Adventuresfromwhereyouwanttobe

    Lovely article, We drove from Los Angeles to San Fransisco a few years ago, and was blown away by hearst Castle. We also criss crossed around to see some of the amazing national parks. Our next plan is a huge 3 month road trip from LA, through to New York.

  3. I am certainly going to make a note of these. I have cousins in America I can try to convince to do a road trip with me!

  4. I will have to remember several of these road trips for adventures I want to take with my daughter soon. I have done the California one a couple of times, but it’s been years and I would love to take my daughter to it.

  5. I can’t wait till the hubby and I finally get to go on our first road trip! We’ve been talking about it for the past 24yrs but we had to make a slight “detour” so we could raise our two children. The youngest one is in college right now so hopefully after she’s finished with school. I’d love to go to California!!

  6. My husband and I have always said that one day when the children are older we will have a road trip across California! It sounds great!

  7. What a well put together article, thanks for sharing! I’m from Europe, but my hubby and I were always planning a road trip in the US, our destination would be more on the Northern areas like around Seattle and so on.

  8. My sister-in-law and I were just talking about planning some road trips! I haven’t done many growing up, but there is so much to see in the U.S. that I definitely want to do more! Thank you for this list!

  9. Oh My God , until now I was dreaming about a road trip in sunny California and now I want to take all these road trips , the Colorado one looks so dreamy ! thank you doe making me dream today

  10. I can definitely vouge for Colorado! Last summer I drove from Iowa to Fort Collins, and stayed a week. From there I went on to Billings, Montana. Driving through Wyoming, I swear was other-worldly. I stopped and took a million photos. So very cool. x

  11. This seems a fantastic guide for road trips. I have been loving road trips, stopping in the mid ways, praising the nature and so I really wanna cover these routes, more so the Colorado one.

  12. I haven’t been to 4 of those states. Even the states you listed I might not have visited your specific areas. Theres so much to see in California. Washington is on my list of places to see for sure. I have been to NC. It’s beautiful there.

  13. We know about Big Sur and Oregon but didn’t realize these other states are great for road trips too! Need to start planning for when the weather is nicer!

  14. I have been told that if I would ever go on a road trip in the states that I should visit San Diego and California, especially since I am such a fan of nature and both have excellent vantage points. I am especially drawn to hearst castle as it looks like something out of a fairytale. And I loved the video as well x

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