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Editor Pick

The 18 Best Road Trips in the U.S. in 2024

Updated: January 10, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

Road trips let travelers see the world from a new perspective and explore distant locations. Recent studies indicate that more than 100 million Americans plan for road trips in the summer. Each state offers a unique experience for travelers, so it can be hard to limit your options. Whether you are dreaming up road trip ideas or simply curious about the most popular ones, here we’ll explore 18 of the best road trips in the U.S. and share some of the ways AAA Travel can make planning a breeze.

1. Southern New England

Starting and ending in Boston, this southern New England road trip covers quite a bit of history and scenery in one route. One of the best road trips in the U.S., 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, Connecticut and lavish mansions from the Gilded Age in Newport, Rhode Island. 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.)

  • Length: 229.4 miles
  • Time: 5+ hours
  • Great for: Couples, history buffs and families

2. Northern Arizona Canyons

Southwest desert scenery is on full display on this 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. It 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.

  • Length: 274.3 miles
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Great for: Solo and adventure travelers

3. Natchez Trace Parkway

To see the American South in all its glory, the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the best places to go on a road trip. Stretching from Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi (by way of Tupelo, Mississippi, 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.

  • Length: 494.6 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Music lovers and history buffs

4. Hershey, Pa., Dutch Country

Expect to see horse-drawn carriages and historic covered bridges on a drive through Hershey, Pennsylvania, Dutch Country. 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).

  • Length: 197.0 miles
  • Time: 5+ hours
  • Great for: Families and history buffs

5. Southern Arizona

From the towering cacti of the Sonoran Desert to the Wild West saloons of Tombstone, photo-worthy sights are aplenty on a drive through southern Arizona. You’ll pass through the vibrant cities of Tucson and Scottsdale on this trip, with 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.)

  • Length: 547.1 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Couples and adventure travelers

6. Southern California

It’s sunny skies ahead on this Southern California cruise, which includes a seven-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 the summer. (For more escapes from L.A., check out the Los Angeles to Death Valley Road Trip or the California Desert Road Trip.)

  • Length: 307.4 miles
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Great for: Couples and solo travelers

7. Northern CA & Southern OR Coast

Definitely not short on scenery, this Northern California and Southern Oregon Coast drive 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 U.S. 101. (If you drive an electric vehicle, also check out Where to Stop and Recharge on an EV Road Trip Down Oregon’s Coast.)

  • Length: 380.1 miles
  • Time: 8+ hours
  • Great for: Families, couples and campers

8. 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 road trip covers 860 miles in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and includes stops at man-made landmarks like the Hoover Dam and Route 66 and 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.)

  • Length: 857.4 miles
  • Time: 16 hours
  • Great for: Solo and adventure travelers and campers

9. Smoky Mountains

See the signature haze of the Great Smoky Mountains on this 500-mile loop that provides plenty of ooh- and aah-worthy views of America’s most-visited national park. One of the best road trips in the USA, AAA’s route begins and ends in Knoxville, Tennessee, and includes stops in fun mountain towns like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina.

  • Length: 497.8 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Families, couples and campers

10. Grand Pacific Northwest

Soak up views of iconic Northwest landmarks on this Pacific Northwest drive, which covers 550 miles in Oregon and Washington. 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).)

  • Length: 551.1 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Families and campers

11. Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina

America’s longest linear park is also one of its most scenic, which makes the Blue Ridge Parkway 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 North Carolina-Virginia state line, with plenty of spectacular views and hiking opportunities along the way. You could easily stretch this drive into a multiday trip.

  • Length: 303.8 miles
  • Time: 8+ hours
  • Great for: Families, couples and campers

12. Route 66 - Eastern New Mexico

Route 66 is a staple of “Americana” culture and the subject of a particularly catchy tune from the 1940s. This massive highway stretches across two-thirds of the United States, so it’s not uncommon for folks to explore Route 66 bit by bit. The Eastern New Mexico stretch of Route 66 will take you from Albuquerque, New Mexico, the primary setting of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” to Adrian, Texas — the “Midpoint of Route 66.” 

  • Length: 118.7 miles
  • Time: 2+ hours
  • Great for: Americana fans, families and couples

13. Black Hills

Mount Rushmore, a scenic memorial that features four of the United States’ most famous presidents, is the center point of this Black Hills road trip. However, there are plenty more historic landmarks along the way, including the legendary gold rush town of Deadwood, South Dakota, and the Jewel Cave National Monument.

  • Length: 209 miles
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Great for: History buffs, families and campers

14. Utah's National Parks

Utah is adored for its delicious food scene and gorgeous natural landscapes. This scenic road trip will let you get up close and personal with some of Utah’s national parks. Throughout the 1,050-mile voyage, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in Utah’s world-famous natural scenery. You’ll also be able to sample local delicacies from venues like the Sunset Grill in Moab, Utah.

  • Length: 1,049.3 miles
  • Time: 19+ hours
  • Great for: Outdoor adventurers and naturalists

15. Cape Cod

This 174-mile road trip through Cape Cod highlights Boston’s natural beauty and historic significance. During this drive, you’ll encounter a touching monument to John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States. You may also get a chance to admire humpback whales if you visit during whale-watching season, which normally runs from mid-April to October.

  • Length: 173.7 miles
  • Time: 6+ hours
  • Great for: Fishing fans, beachgoers, and whale watchers

16. Big Sky Country

The term “Big Sky Country” refers to the parts of the U.S. that still largely consist of untouched natural land. This 425-mile scenic road trip will take you through portions of Montana and Wyoming. Highlights include visits to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

  • Length: 425.4 miles
  • Time: 8+ hours
  • Great for: Campers, astronomy fans, and naturalists

17. South Florida

Folks have called Florida the Sunshine State since before the 1970s — and for good reason. This popular vacation destination is brimming with sandy beaches and tropical weather. AAA’s 421-mile route through South Florida hits major destinations like Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach. Along the way, you might even see herds of deer or congregations of alligators.

  • Length: 421.1 miles
  • Time: 10+ hours
  • Great for: Wildlife watchers, beachgoers, couples and families

18. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno

California and Nevada feature a bevy of breathtaking sights and sounds. AAA’s 486-mile route from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to Reno provides plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in natural experiences near Lake Tahoe — and enjoy some of Reno’s most impressive resorts, like the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.

  • Length: 486.3 miles
  • Time: 9+ hours
  • Great for: Museum fans, kayakers and hikers

Plan Your Next Road Trip with AAA Travel

AAA Travel can help you streamline your next cross-country cruise with our wide selection of pre-planned road trips. Travelers with AAA memberships can also capitalize on big savings and exclusive offers while sightseeing. 

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

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