No matter what your personality or travel style, there’s an open American road waiting just for you. On these classic drives, you’ll encounter quiet towns, historic landmarks, and stunning natural landscapes. Whether you like to chat up locals at roadside taverns or bask in the solitude of a breezy, starry night with the windows rolled down, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the best of these USA road trips.
1 – For Solo Travelers: The Loneliest Road, Nevada
Dubbed “The Loneliest Road in America” by Life magazine in 1986, the part of US-50 stretching across Nevada draws those who relish in the quiet void for miles on end. The route through the desert, followed by more desert, is so desolate that the Nevada Commission on Tourism distributes “I Survived the Loneliest Road in America” collectibles to those who make the passage. With only mountain views and big sky to keep you company, you’ll experience the pinnacle of head-clearing solo travel along this road.
2 – For Nature Lovers: Black River Scenic Byway, Michigan
Follow the Black River from Bessemer to Black River Harbor on this byway along Lake Superior, and be struck by the lush allure of natural American beauty. Boasting five major waterfalls along its route, all with accessible parking, this inviting trail will make you want to linger. Conveniently, two of the most breathtaking – Gorge Falls and Potawatomi Falls – are accessible via shared parking and a short hike.
3 – For Wine Connoisseurs: Hill Country, Texas
With grape cultivation by Spanish colonists dating back to the 1600s, Texas wine country has a very fertile past, present, and future. With plenty of daily tastings and tours for food and wine-lovers to enjoy throughout the state’s Hill Country – stretching from Austin to the east and San Antonio to the south – the region also features seasonal events. Stop and indulge in the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, drawing crowds since 1986, or the Hill Country Wine and Music Festival, held on Fredericksburg’s picturesque Wildseed Farms. With limestone similar to that in the south of France and a climate akin to South Africa’s, the Hill Country is the most productive wine region in the state. And surprising to many, Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the country (behind California, Washington, New York, and Oregon). Cheers to discovering all that it has to offer.
4 – For History Buffs: Route 66, Illinois to California
From Chicago’s shores of Lake Michigan to Santa Monica’s Pacific blue waters, US-66 runs from Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before reaching California. Although it was decommissioned as a federal highway in 1985, many parts of the original 2,400-mile roadway still operate. Also known as the “Mother Road,” this route established in 1926 was the path for many 1930s Dust Bowl migrants. If you’re drawn to Americana and nostalgia, turn up the volume on the classic song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” and experience history firsthand.
5 – For Music Aficionados: Highway 61, New Orleans to Minnesota
Mythologized in Bob Dylan’s 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited, this route gave birth to rock-n-roll. Pay homage to the American music that grew out of African slaves’ field songs and contributed to the legend of musician Robert Johnson. In exchange for selling his soul to the devil at the Crosswords in the heart of Mississippi Delta blues country, the story goes, his guitar prowess lives on. In early autumn, take a break from cruising along flat expanses dotted by one-room churches and convene with fellow music-lovers at the Highway 61 Blues Festival.
6 – For Eco Travelers: The Florida Keys
At least once in a lifetime, every nature lover should experience the bliss of driving the length of the Overseas Highway, extending along the Florida Keys through the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Beginning just south of Miami, it passes through a chain of islands culminating in the final destination of Key West. Along the way, explore Marathon’s Dolphin Research Center and the National Key Deer Refuge in the Lower Keys. Throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, enjoy world-class kayaking, sailing, kite-boarding, paddle boarding, diving, or snorkeling. Once you arrive in Key West, cut down on traffic and pollution by renting a bicycle, the best mode of transport for acquainting yourself with Old Town’s historic architecture and fragrant flowering trees.
7 – For Slow Travelers: US Route 30, Oregon to Atlantic City
Much like the Slow Food movement, which took root in Europe and deeply connects diners to their food and its environment, US-30 stands as a symbol of America’s connection to a past, slower time. Much of the historic Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road from New York City to San Francisco, became part of US-30. In many areas, it’s still known by that name, a tribute to sixteenth US president Abraham Lincoln. Enjoy the ride, and its taste of simpler times, along this route also dubbed “The Main Street Across America.”