Monterey, California, for rugged coasts, whale-spotting and history
For California first timers, there are few finer ways to see the Golden State’s magnificent beaches and oceans, than cruising the 129-mile leg of the Pacific Highway from Monterey through Big Sur to San Luis Obispo.
There’s plenty to see before you set off. Monterey has a renowned aquarium where you can see stingrays, hammerhead sharks, psychedelic jellies and sea turtles up close. Outside, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is feeding grounds for humpback and blue whales.
The Jabberwock Bed & Breakfast is close to Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck and now a restaurant hotspot.
Moab, Utah, for deserts, mountains and dinosaur footprints
Your backdrop as you drive along Moab’s scenic byways will be colossal sandstone arches in Arches National Park, the spectacular ‘Island in the sky’ plateau in Canyonlands National Park and a 2,000ft lookout to capture it all in Dead Horse Point State Park.
You won’t be the first to leave nothing but footprints, you can spot dinosaur tracks on Moab’s extensive fossil trails and see the hand of our ancestors in ancient petroglyphs.
Red Cliffs Lodge is on scenic byway 128 and has its own horse corral, film museum and winery.
Provincetown, Massachusetts, for art, seafood and sandy dunes
With clam shack and gallery hopping, whale watching and beach walks, it’s easy to see why Cape Cod is a road-trip favourite. Provincetown, where the Mayflower landed in 1620, is at its most northern tip and the end of Route 6.
An LGBT vacation mecca, ‘P-town’ is open-minded and culturally rich. Art galleries, indie boutiques and cafes line its streets, and visit in August to see its vibrant carnival.
Built in 1830, Revere Guest House is a short walk from the Pilgrim Monument and Whydah Pirate Shipwreck Museum.
Williams, Arizona, for canyons, cowboys and awesome vistas
There are a few more bucket list-worthy road trips than Route 66, and Williams boasts a stretch running straight through it. Founded in 1881 and named after a local fur trapper, this is some of the oldest Old West – be sure to visit at rodeo time.
The Grand Canyon, is a 60 mile-drive north or, for a slower pace, go by vintage train on the Grand Canyon Railway.
Sheridan House Inn is only half a mile from Route 66 at the base of Bill Williams mountain, but feels tucked away and peaceful.
Boulder, Colorado, for peaks, plains and microbrewery hopping
For a road trip with peaks, plains, forest and fudge, Colorado has 25 designated scenic byways, with a key route – Peak to Peak – starting in Boulder and winding through the Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the way, you’ll hit Estes Park (fudge shop heaven).
Boulder’s buzzy downtown has independent boutiques and restaurants to explore. And craft ale fans will rejoice – Colorado is the ‘Napa Valley of beer’ and Boulder is a microbrewing hotspot. Refuel with an organic breakfast at the Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast.
Atlanta, Georgia, for history, music and epic waterfalls
Atlanta isn’t a driver’s paradise; not with that gridlock. But this being a vibrant and bustling city, simply use it as a base for mini road trips. Live music fans will love Athens, the home of REM and the B-52s, 1.5 hours east. At 186ft, Toccoa Falls beats Niagara by 26ft and is reachable in 1.5 hours.
In Atlanta, don’t miss Oakland Cemetery, the final resting place of Civil War soldiers and Civil Rights campaigners alike, and Martin Luther King’s boyhood home. Stonehurst Place Bed & Breakfast is a quaint stay in this modern city.
Fort Worth, Texas, for rodeo shows and iconic architecture
Calling all fans of cowboys and culture. Be sure to swing by Fort Worth on the Texas Lakes Trail scenic byway loop.
Head to the city’s one-time livestock market, the historic Stockyards, for lively rodeo shows, rope trickery and the world’s largest steaks. This is Texas after all. Architecture fans, meanwhile, will love the iconic Kimbell Art Museum.
Stockyards Hotel is close to another must-see – the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Wytheville, Virginia, for iconic mountains and Fall foliage
Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in South Virginia. There are 3,500 miles of designated scenic byways to revel in colourful foliage.
Between the intersection of Interstates 81 and 77, you’ll find sleepy Wytheville. From here take scenic Highway 52 and schedule a pit stop to climb the 100ft Big Walker Lookout tower for panoramic views of the Appalachian Mountains.
After a stay in Wytheville’s The Bolling Wilson Hotel (which has a rooftop bar and sun deck for mountain views), head on to ‘America’s favourite drive’ – The Blue Ridge Parkway.
Missoula, Montana, for forests and foodie hot spots
Road trippers who seek Montana’s wilderness will be surprised by Missoula’s cultural credentials and cool points.
With a thriving student population from the University of Montana, it has music venues, theatres, lively bars and restaurants. Mingle with locals at the town’s First Fridays, when galleries, museums and shops stay open late.
Stay close to the action in Goldsmith’s Bed & Breakfast, a turn-of-the-century brick house on the banks of the Clark Fork River.
Alamogordo, New Mexico, for deserts, dunes and stargazing
Desert town Alamogordo is a must-stop for space enthusiasts. Much of the American space program has been developed here in the Tularosa Basin, hence the town is home to the futuristic-looking New Mexico Museum of Space History (which houses the International Space Hall of Fame).
The other-worldly White Sands National Monument is a 20-minute drive away – it’s the largest gypsum dune field in the world and is fittingly eerie.
The secluded Cabin Retreat of New Mexico offers a shady spot for travellers to relax after a day on the road.
Teton Village, Wyoming, for skiing, hiking and landmark hopping
This picturesque ski resort in the Teton Mountain range is worth making a detour for, at any time of the year. It’s a great base for exploring Jackson Hole and the Snake River Valley.
The tallest peak, Grand Teton, towers at 13,770 feet, but novices fear not – there are gentle slopes, too. Take a day trip to nearby Yellowstone National Park to tick off natural landmarks including thermal geyser Old Faithful.
Check into the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa to soothe aching bodies after a day’s hiking, biking or hitting the slopes.
Freeport, Maine, for lighthouses and lobsters
For a road trip full of preppy East Coast charm (and plenty of those famous lobsters), head for Interstate 95 which runs from Maine to Florida.
Freeport offers an authentic taste of New England; explore its beautiful coastline by kayak, take a trip to the state’s iconic Doubling Point Lighthouse (30 minutes by car) and check out a local natural oddity – the Desert of Maine, a 40-acre desert in the middle of a pine forest.
Top off your New England experience with a stay at Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, a traditional Victorian clapperboard.