AAA Travel Tips / The 11 Most Popular Road Trips in the U.S., According to AAA

The 11 Most Popular Road Trips in the U.S., According to AAA

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By AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
April 23, 2020
How long has it been since you planned a good old-fashioned road trip? Touring the U.S. by car can be a great alternative to visiting exotic, far-flung destinations—especially if budgets are tight, flights get cancelled or crowds are an issue.
Whether you’re adventuring alone or with the whole family in tow, get inspired with this list of the most popular AAA road trips. (To browse all trips, visit AAA.com/RoadTrips.)
Mansion in Newport Rhode Island
AAA

11. Southern New England

Starting and ending in Boston, the Southern New England Road Trip covers quite a bit of history and scenery in one route. You’ll see sites from the American Revolution along Boston’s Freedom Trail; quaint shops housed in Colonial-era buildings on the streets of Mystic, Conn.; and lavish mansions from the Gilded Age in Newport, R.I. This trip also offers prime leaf peeping opportunities in late October and early November. (To explore nearby Martha’s Vineyard, check out the Cape Cod Road Trip.)
Great for: Couples, history buffs and families.
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10. Northern Arizona Canyons

Southwest desert scenery is on full display on the Northern Arizona Canyons Road Trip. From the red rock formations of Sedona to the majesty of the Grand Canyon, this loop journey from Flagstaff hits all the highlights and includes stops at the Grand Canyon’s south rim, the ancient pueblos of Wupatki National Monument and the lava fields of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
Great for: Solo and adventure travelers.
natchez trace parkway
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9. Natchez Trace Parkway

To see the American south in all its glory, there are few better drives than the Natchez Trace Parkway Road Trip. Stretching from Nashville, Tenn., to Natchez, Miss. (by way of Tupelo, Miss., the birthplace of Elvis Presley), this rural route makes it easy to visit archeological sites, prehistoric ceremonial mounds, Civil War battlefields and the original Native American trail.
Great for: Music lovers and history buffs.
Shutterstock.com/Lissandra Melo

8. Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country

Expect to see horse-drawn carriages and historic covered bridges on a Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country Road Trip. Named after the German (Deutsch) immigrants who settled there in the 18th century, Pennsylvania Dutch Country offers the unique chance to see people of the Amish, Mennonite and Brethren faiths practicing their simple, modest lifestyle. The road trip also includes a stop in Gettysburg. (For more nearby things to do, see Best Historical Places to Visit on a Pennsylvania Road Trip).
Great for: Families and history buffs.
arizona
Shutterstock.com/Anton Foltin

7. Southern Arizona

From the towering cacti of the Sonoran Desert to the Wild West saloons of Tombstone, photo-worthy sights are aplenty on a Southern Arizona Road Trip. You’ll pass through the vibrant cities of Tucson and Scottsdale on this trip, which has art galleries, authentic Mexican restaurants and splurge-worthy resorts along the way. (For more things to do near Scottsdale, see Best Places to Hike and Eat in Scottsdale, Arizona, on a Weekend Getaway.)
Great for: Couples and adventure travelers.
Vineyards in Temecula California
iStockphoto.com/Michael Valdez

6. Southern California

It’s sunny skies ahead on the Southern California Road Trip, a 7-hour journey from Los Angeles to Temecula wine country that features palm tree-dotted beaches, coastal cliffs, rugged desert canyons and a stop in San Diego. Travel editors recommend you plan this trip for spring or fall, as temperatures at some points along the drive can top 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. (For more escapes from L.A., check out the Los Angeles to Death Valley Road Trip or the California Desert Road Trip.)
Great for: Couples and solo travelers.
Shutterstock.com/Yelena Demyanyuk

5. Northern CA & Southern OR Coast

Definitely not short on scenery, the Northern CA & Southern OR Coast Road Trip can easily be split up over a few days so you have plenty of time for exploration. You’ll start in California’s Central Valley, then wind your way up the Pacific coast to see towering redwoods, quaint beach towns, shifting sand dunes and breathtaking ocean views on Oregon’s US 101. (If you drive an electric vehicle, also check out Where to Stop and Recharge on an EV Road Trip Down Oregon’s Coast.)
Great for: Families, couples and campers.
Las Vegas city view
Getty Images/Robert Glusic

4. Vegas to National Parks to Vegas

A multiday road trip from Las Vegas is a great way to explore the southwest and check off a few bucket list items. AAA’s Vegas to National Parks to Vegas Road Trip covers 860 miles in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and includes stops at manmade landmarks like the Hoover Dam and Route 66 as well as at natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and the hoodoos (rock formations) of Bryce Canyon. (For more inspiration, see Ditch the Glitz for Adventure in Vegas.)
Great for: Solo and adventure travelers, campers.
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3. Smoky Mountains

See the signature haze of the Great Smoky Mountains on the Smoky Mountains Road Trip, a 500-mile loop that provides plenty of ooh- and aah-worthy views of America’s most-visited national park. AAA’s route begins and ends in Knoxville, Tenn., and includes stops in fun mountain towns like Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Asheville, N.C.
Great for: Families, couples and campers.
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2. Grand Pacific Northwest

Soak up views of iconic Northwest landmarks on the Grand Pacific Northwest Road Trip, which covers 550 miles in Oregon and Washington state. From the waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway to the summer wildflowers of Mount Rainier National Park, this road trip is sure to please nature lovers. For even more adventures in the “upper left” of the U.S., see Best Pacific Northwest Road Trips (and When to Take Them).
Great for: Families and campers.
DaleBHalbur/iStockphoto.com

1. Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina

America’s longest linear park is also one of its most scenic, which makes the Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina Road Trip a clear winner in AAA’s list of the most popular road trips in the U.S. The portion of the parkway that runs through North Carolina follows curvy mountain roads from Cherokee to the NC—VA state line, with plenty of spectacular views and hiking opportunities along the way. You could easily stretch this drive into a multiday trip.
Great for: Families, couples and campers.
Domestic Travel Boiler Plate Graphic
AAA

Rely on AAA Travel for Every Mile of Your Road Trip

AAA Travel provides peace of mind for travelers—from the first mile of the journey to the last. Get inspiration for your next road trip with AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner, or browse pre-planned itineraries on AAA.com/RoadTrips. Estimating fuel costs for your trip is easy with the AAA Gas Cost Calculator, and if your car needs a quick tune-up before the trip, find a AAA Approved auto repair facility near you at AAA.com/AutoRepair. For printed maps, AAA TourBook guides and trip planning advice, visit your local AAA office.
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