America's ultimate road trips
Roof down, music on, wind rushing through your hair...
We’ve picked out 5 of our favourite self-drives to share with you but feel free to mix it up, add destinations, stay longer and let us create your perfect road trip in the USA.
Name a road in America and Route 66 will pop up first in most people’s minds. Motoring the ‘Mother Road’ is probably the most iconic road trip in the world but most of the original route has been bypassed by modern interstates and driving it now often means seeking out this less-visited highway snaking across America, taking you from Chicago to Los Angeles.
- Gaze over the Chicago skyline and discover over 50 buildings during an Architectural River Cruise.
- A salute to Route 66, visit the Cadillac Ranch art installation, which looks as if cars have been thrown from the sky with their bonnets stuck in the dirt.
- Drive through Navajo Indian Country to the Grand Canyon and feel your stomach lurch on the Skywalk or take a helicopter ride into the canyon.
What our experts say: “In Los Angeles, soak in the vibe of Hollywood, step onto the Walk of Fame and visit the Chinese Theatre. Cruise around Santa Monica and Beverley Hills and I’d recommend a hike into the Hollywood Hills – you get great views of the sign, scenery and the possibility of spotting celebrities doing their fitness regime!”
This is a classic self-drive along Highway 1 and great for honeymooners. You can stop off at small coastal towns and have the option, from San Francisco, to wander through the giant redwoods in Muir Woods or taste Californian wine in one of the vineyards in Sonoma County.
- Ride San Francisco’s cable cars, visit Alcatraz and admire the sunrise over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
- Monterey Bay Peninsular is home to the famous 17-Mile Drive, one of the most scenic journeys in the world.
- In San Diego, wander through the historic Gaslamp Quarter, past Little Italy’s shops and cafes or visit the Air & Space Museum.
What our experts say: “In San Francisco, pre-booking Alcatraz is important as it generally gets booked up well in advance so it’s very hard to get tickets locally. Hiring a bike and cycling to the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf is a different way to see the city and the views are breathtaking – highly recommended! Pompei’s Grotto restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf also serves great seafood chowder”
If music pulses through your veins, head to the southern states and experience live country, soul, blues and jazz music pouring out from every bar. Discover the birth place of the blues in Memphis or take a tour of Graceland. In Nashville, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame to admire costumes, guitars and memorabilia from music greats; and visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.
- Tour the recording studios of Music Row in Nashville – perhaps even recording your own song –and discover the Music Hall of Fame.
- The spirit of the Old South lives on in New Orleans where you can take a cruise up the Mississippi onboard a paddlewheel steamboat.
- Along the north of Florida’s glittering Gulf Coast, relax on the stunning white sands of Fort Walton Beach.
What our experts say: “A perfect travel moment for me was sitting at the piano Elvis performed and produced over half of his songs on in Nashville. We were in Studio B, which is where Elvis and many other famous country singers came to produce their records. As we were having a tour round the studio, we were shown the piano and the mic the king himself had used, what a surreal moment!”
Images of golden leaves and a natural, rugged beauty spring to mind when you mention New England but boy is there a lot more to this area than a kaleidoscope of colours. Capture images of South Portland’s two beautiful lighthouses; experience hiking and mountain biking in Rutland’s Green Mountains – or skiing and snowboarding in Killington, Mt Snow or Stowe. You’ll find miles of beaches and the freshest seafood in Cape Cod and Falmouth – so don’t miss the lobster roll which is a favourite here.
- Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, following the red brick road.
- Go whale-watching in Boston or Cape Cod.
- Take a ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard to see the picture perfect gingerbreadstyle houses.
What our experts say: “In Boston, we took a Duck Tour to see the city from all angles and I’d recommend catching a Boston Red Sox baseball game – there was an amazing atmosphere alongside the locals! During your stay, you can also take a break for a beer at the iconic Cheers Bar.”
This epic and rugged road trip is the great outdoors at its best with gob-smacking scenery to boot. Start your adventure among the neon lights of Las Vegas before heading for Lake Powell near Page, America’s second largest manmade lake, great for watersports. Moab oozes adventure, from rock-climbing to whitewater rafting; and don’t miss Springdale, the gateway to Zion National Park, with its thundering waterfalls and 15-mile long Zion Canyon.
- Bryce Canyon’s jagged orange landscape, which looks like a city skyline carved out of rock.
- Lake Powell’s 96 canyons and Rainbow Bridge – the world’s largest natural arch. You can also visit Antelope Canyon (seen on our front cover) close to Page.
- Zion’s spectacular trails, which can be explored on foot, bike or horseback.
Travel tip: You can pre-book and pay for your national park passes at www.nps.gov/fees or obtain a pass in each park that you visit.