In many ways, a road trip is the best way to see the US. It’s a liberating adventure where you can travel at your own pace through canyons, mountains and along coastal cliffs, but also get a feel for local life by making stops along the way.
And these are the most highly-rated road trips in the USA, according to global travelers.*
San Simeon, Highway 1
Watch the Pacific waves crash against the rocks near Bixby Bridge, Big Sur
San Simeon is a small seaside town along the Pacific Coast Highway that marks the start of the Big Sur region. Hearst Castle, a lavish mansion built in the early 20th century for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, is worth a visit before you hit the road. Then, follow the 100-mile stretch of the Highway, carving through cliffs and over impressive bridges high above the crashing waves of the Pacific. If you decide to stick around, relax in a rocking chair with a glass of California wine and watch the sunset on a beachfront porch at Cavalier Oceanfront Resort.
Flagstaff, Route 66
Route 66, aka the Main Street of America
Route 66 is probably the most celebrated road trip in American popular culture. With giant billboards along the route offering live rattlesnake shows and other rare roadside attractions, it’s as amusing and surreal as you can imagine. Stretching 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, Route 66 crosses some of the US’s most distinct landscapes, from the cornfields of Illinois to the sun-drenched, golden sands of California, past the massive Grand Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks. Surrounded by these snow-capped mountains and dark, pine forests, you’ll find the city of Flagstaff. The downtown area, lit by retro neon signs, definitely deserves a visit, and after a full day of driving, get some rest at the Starlight Pines Bed and Breakfast.
Winnemucca, Interstate 80
The Interstate 80 takes you all the way from San Fran to New Jersey
Interstate 80 takes you coast to coast all the way from downtown San Francisco in California to New Jersey. It’s almost 3,000 miles of open road, farmland and natural scenery, transforming from coastal hills to the practically endless plains of the Sacramento Delta. Make a pit stop at historic destinations like the granite pyramid Ames Monument and the former Wyoming Frontier Prison. The town of Winnemucca has a strong Basque community, which means lots of delicious Basque cuisine. It wouldn’t be a road trip in the US without a night in a motel, so check into the highly-rated Town House Motel in Winnemucca.
Merced, Highway 99
Drive the length of the Central Valley in California via Highway 99
Running almost the entire length of the Central Valley in California, 425-mile-long Highway 99 (aka the Golden State Highway) is a historic route, featured in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as the road the Joad family traveled. You’ll be directed by huge billboard signs towards pistachio farms and orchards where you can sample produce like organic honey, olive oil, raisins, and cheese. Stop at towns like Merced on your way to Yosemite, and Red Bluff for the nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. Holiday Inn Express Hotel has the highest-rated accommodations in Merced.
Chemult, US Route 97
Route 97 is the longest continuous north-south highway in the USA
Route 97 is the longest continuous north-south highway in the US. It takes you from northern California, through Oregon and Washington, to British Columbia in Canada. Along the way, you’ll see Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. You’ll also pass by the Canadian Cascades, volcanoes that form an arc across North America – and in Osoyoos you’ll come across Canada’s only desert. You definitely can’t miss the fertile valleys, wine regions with miles of rolling, vineyard-covered hills, vast freshwater lakes, grizzly and black bears, and a number of national parks – the result makes for a pretty great road trip. Check into the highly-rated Eagle Crater Lake Inn in Chemult.
**The data scientists at Booking.com used internal data to uncover the top destinations for “road trip” in the US, according to Booking.com customers.