A road trip across the USA is an adventure of a lifetime. Some of the world’s coolest sights can be found here, and all you need to explore them is a map, a good playlist and four wheels. From the all-time classic Route 66 to the Pacific Coast Highway, the routes that you choose make a road trip, so sit back and enjoy the ride as we take you through some of the USA’s best road trip routes, according to Instagram.
Seattle to San Diego
Starting in Seattle, known for the rain, you’ll be pleased to know that this city’s weather won’t set the tone for the rest of the trip as you go in search of the sun. Driving south, you’ll explore 1,476 miles of paradise, passing through two states as you head down the Pacific Coast. Here comes the sun…
Stop 1: Seattle
Get your grunge fill in Seattle – Kurt Cobain’s birthplace. Surrounded by forests and mountains, the city is known for its dive bars and hipster havens that are a stark contrast to the picturesque surroundings. Make time for the Space Needle, an iconic landmark, and Pike Place Market, a farmer’s market that is more than 100 years old.
Stop 2: Mount Rainier National Park
After you’ve had your urban fun in Seattle, after a couple of hours drive, you will stumble on to an active volcano in the shape of Mount Rainier National Park. Standing at 14,410 feet above sea level, the area around the volcano is beautiful, filled with wildlife and meadows – something you need to witness.
Stop 3: Napa Valley
Napa Valley in northern California is the perfect place to sample a little wine, rumoured to be the best in the world (if you ask a local) – so make your own mind up. Explore vineyards, fancy restaurants or even take the Wine Train for an Instagrammable experience.
Stop 4: San Francisco
Once you get to the shores of the Bay Area, get ready to take it all in, as you’ll see the famous Golden Gate Bridge that is the image of a million postcards – now one of the seven wonders of the modern world, with 1.7 miles of suspension.
Stop 5: Big Sur
Heading away from San Francisco, the Californian coast is the ideal place to take a break from the road and just breathe in the fresh air. It’s a 17-mile drive along the rugged coastline where you can bask in the natural beauty of the bright blue water.
Tip: The Bixby Creek Bridge is a great photo op.
Stop 6: Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a truly unique mix of California cool with Colonial Spanish heritage. Instagrammers will love snapping the Santa Ynez mountains that frame the city. Take some time to enjoy the chilled vibe of the city before you head to your final stop.
Stop 7: San Diego
Whilst San Diego is known for its world-famous zoo, it has much more to offer than just animals. Sandy beaches, museums, gardens and walking tours make it a great place for a family to visit, but over 21s will also love the bustling nightlife.
Los Angeles to Las Vegas
Your 324-mile drive from one iconic city to another has everything to offer – from cityscapes to natural beauty spots and even a little bit of ghost hunting. The City of Angels meets the City of Sin, here we go…
Stop 1: Los Angeles
Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, is everything you’ve ever seen on TV and more. Enjoy a studio tour, peek at the homes of the stars and seek out your favourite A-lister at one of the many celebrity hotspots in the city. Aside from the glitz and glamour, LA is a great place to start a road trip – with more to offer than just Hollywood. You might be surprised.
Stop 2: Angeles National Forest
Just 30 minutes outside of La La Land is an oasis of calm in the shape of the Angeles National Forest. If you like hiking, this is the ideal start to your trip – scale the San Gabriel Mountains and marvel at Mount Baldy (yes that is the real name!).
Stop 3: Calico Ghost Town
From forest to phantom – this creepy stop will have your senses tingling. This abandoned former mining town lies in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert. Take a ghost tour and get some spooky snaps that will wow your friends at home.
Stop 4: Bottle Tree Ranch
As you can imagine, not too many trees grow in the desert of California. However, when they do – they’re made of bottles. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and this treasure is perfectly ‘grammable’.
Stop 5: Red Rock Canyon
This one’s for the off-roaders. Tackle the 13-mile one-way road through the dusty red landscape on four wheels or plant your feet firmly on the ground at one of the many hiking trails. If you’ve got time, take a night to camp under the stars and enjoy the serene surroundings, before you head to the madness that is Vegas.
Stop 6: Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas! You’ve made it. From one crazy US city to the other, now’s the time to let go and get a little hedonistic. Have a flutter, knock back some beers and enjoy a cabaret show. Just be prepared to party until the sun comes up.
Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
From crazy to calm, this road trip route really does have the best of both the worlds. Starting in Vegas, you’ll travel 313 miles, taking in outstanding areas of natural beauty along the way. Strap on your hiking shoes because it’s going to be awesome.
Stop 1: Las Vegas
You know what Vegas has to offer by now. Make it your own – lay by the pool at one of the exclusive pool parties, hide away in the casino or explore some of the kitschy attractions like the Neon Museum. The beauty of a road trip is that you can do whatever you want.
Stop 2: Hoover Dam
From the bright lights of Vegas to the vast Hoover Dam, one of the top ten construction achievements of the 20th century. To get the best views of this impressive feat, head to the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, around 900 feet above the Colorado River.
Stop 3: Mount Tipton Wilderness Area
It’s time for your first big hike of the trip, at the Mount Tipton Wilderness Area. The highest peak is Mount Tipton itself, but the true photographic beauty lies in capturing the Pinnacles – enormous maroon spires that tower above the golden desert.
Stop 4: Ash Fork Route 66 Museum
The original Route 66 is a thing of the past, but its memory lives on at the Ash Fork Route 66 museum. This little roadside beauty highlights all the nostalgia of Route 66, so get your history fix here – one visitor even claims to have seen a real-life cowboy!
Stop 5: Bedrock City
Continuing the nostalgia trip, it’s time to make a stop at Bedrock City, Arizona’s very own Flintstones theme park. Originally opened in 1972, it’s more of a tribute to the 70s themselves rather than the actual TV show. Take a walk around the cartoon city which is now pretty much abandoned and enjoy this strange roadside attraction.
Stop 6: Willow Beach Marina
Get your wetsuit out and get ready to see the Hoover Dam from water level at the Willow Beach Marina. You can either rent a boat or book a tour to take you 11 miles through the Black Canyon. You’ll see lots of wildlife and when you’re back on the ground, you can hike through the hot springs. I told you to pack your hiking boots for this route, didn’t I?
Stop 7: Grand Canyon
Lastly, it’s the Grand Canyon. Grand by name and by nature, take in this famous sight, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. Thanks to geology, the unique colour combination of the 277-mile-long area is a true must-see. You can see the Grand Canyon in all its glory from the Mather Point lookout, but if you’ve got some budget left, why not splurge on a helicopter trip?
Whatever route you choose, the US has the perfect road trip for you. From natural wonders to quirky attractions you never knew you needed to see, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.
About the author
Leila Jones is a content executive specialising in travel. She loves exploring the USA and has just got back from New York.
Read the part one here – https://blog.pickyourtrail.com/americas-road-trip-destinations-part-i-california-the-road-trip-state/