20 Places to Visit on the Ultimate American Road Trip
It’s officially summer, and the time to get to planning your great escape is now. Forget the stress of international travel, and look to the open road. We’re dreaming of an epic road trip around our great nation. To help pinpoint some stellar destinations to add to your travel route, we’ve rounded up 20 places with history, natural beauty, and culture in spades. Read on.
Rocky shoreline and blue seas meet the edge of this historic lighthouse—the oldest in Maine. At sunset it makes for one majorly photogenic vista.
Just a few hours outside of bustling Manhattan is a refuge of green. The Catskills Mountains region is rich with rolling hills of verdant green, charming small towns, and fresh air.
If you make it into New York City, skip the madness of Midtown and head straight to Central Park, one of the biggest feats of urban greenscaping in the country. The American elm–lined Mall and Literary Walk is truly iconic—and has been host to many a cinematic moment.
This National Historic Landmark is Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous, and for good reason. Nestled in dense woods, the architectural icon stretches out over a 30-foot waterfall. It’s been stealing hearts since it graced the cover of Time magazine in 1938.
Key West and Key Largo are charm city, in their own unique way. For the literary set, Ernest Hemingway’s Key West house provides a peek into the famously gruff and hard-living author’s home base, where he is said to have written, standing up at his typewriter, every morning at sunrise.
This expanse of marshy wilderness is made up of some seriously distinct landscapes and animal species, to boot.
Part of a natural preserve, this one-of-a-kind swimming hole—whose limestone outcroppings create a 50-foot waterfall as the water of the Hamilton Creek spills over them—is an ideal place for swimming, picnicking, and relaxing with Austin-area locals.
Marfa, Texas, is one of the most distinct cities of the high desert. Known for attracting a creative community of artists, El Cosmico—with its 21 acres of campgrounds, teepees, yurts, and trailers—serves as an unofficial gathering ground.
A magnificent backdrop of vast sandstone formations rising from the red earth, Monument Valley is one of the most majestic—and most commonly photographed—landscapes of the American West.
This unique national park in Utah is an adventurer’s playground, with more than 2000 known natural stone arches ready to be explored. Set against the crisp blue sky, the red sandstone of the arches makes for a truly glorious photo op.
Set atop a volcanic hot spot, this sprawling, 3500-square-mile national park boasts some of the most dynamic natural sites in the world: hot springs, geysers (including Old Faithful), dramatic canyons, as well as roaming packs of wildlife (bison, elk, and antelope included!).
Situated in a lush valley, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is made truly breathtaking thanks to its backdrop of dramatic peaks. Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole overlap, so it’s a great place to head if you want to experience some truly magnificent natural sights. Think snowcapped mountains, shimmering lakes, thick forests, alpine meadows, and even the occasional roaming herd of bison and antelope.
Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, Valley of Fire gets its name for an obvious reason, what with its great waves of ombré red rock rolling across the landscape. The coloured stone of Rainbow Vista makes for some truly unforgettable scenery, but be prepared for extreme heat and sun.
Set again blue skies, the pristine white of these New Mexico sand dunes—the largest gypsum dunes in the world—creates one of the most spellbinding and wondrous landscapes of the world. Notoriously “under-the-radar,” White Sands is reliably quiet and ideal for exploration.
Created by water rushing through rock, this famously beautiful and photogenic slot canyon is a must for any westward road trip. Pro tip: If visiting between March and October, you’ll be privy to a spectacular light beam captured by the red walls of Upper Antelope Canyon. Bonus: Visit nearby Horseshoe Bend, a lesser-known fissure that promises views as wonder-inspiring as the Grand Canyon itself.
No American road trip would be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon. Though it might be tempting to skip—and assume you know exactly what awaits you—the grandeur of the canyon is, without question, one of the most overwhelmingly magnificent sights in the world.
California’s Mojave Desert is home to some of the state’s most heralded and singular happenings. Head to the Integratron in Landers, Salvation Mountain in Niland, the dunes of Devil’s Playground, or Pioneertown just outside Joshua Tree National Park. The sunbaked earth has a kind of magical energy about it that makes traversing this region truly special.
The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is loved for its sparkling blue waters and panorama of surrounding mountains. Ride bikes, try some rafting, hike, and more.
This majestic stretch of California coast features some of the most awe-inspiring vistas and peaceful pockets of nature of the United States. The famous 90-mile tract of Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1, traces the edge of sheer cliffs that plummet to the Pacific below. The city of Big Sur itself is a peaceful place thanks to sparse population and the sound-cushioning (and service-obliterating) impact of dense redwood forests.
The national park surrounding this active volcano—sporting a cloak of white year round—boasts wildflower meadows, forests, and an abundance of ecosystems and wildlife.
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