What makes a road trip one of the most scenic drives in America? Is it storied architecture or jaw dropping views of bright blue ocean waters? We think all these things and more make a road trip worth taking, and that’s why we’ve included a little bit of everything on this list of the most scenic drives in America. Hold on tight, it’s going to be a memorable drive!
1. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia
If you’re looking for scenic views, look no further than Blue Ridge Parkway. This 500-mile stretch of roadway traverses through 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina. It’s a National Parkway as well as an All-American Road, and it remains the most visited National Park year after year.
Designed to offer unmatched views of the Appalachians, the drive takes you through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National parks. Did we mention there are over 50 resident species of birds that live here? That’s more than all of Europe combined.
2. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Driving through the storied streets of Lake Shore Drive offers a unique road trip experience. It is one of the most scenic drives in America, and runs both north-south and east-west. The streets are full of historic locations and architecture, like the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower and the tallest building in the world. There’s also the Seven Houses historic district, built between 1869 and 1917.
If you’re looking for pretty views of the coastline, take the Lakefront Trail, an 18-mile trail that runs parallel to Lake Shore Drive.
3. Pacific Coast Highway (California State Route 1), California
This major north-south state highway runs alongside the picturesque Pacific Ocean for over 665 miles. The road begins in Dana Point, located in Southern California, and runs all the way up to Leggett, located in Northern California. You don’t have to drive the entire highway to soak up all the beauty it offers, hop on this scenic drive from any part of California and you’re sure to enjoy stellar views and fun things to do.
4. Route 12, Utah
Instead of sandy beaches and bright blue coastlines, Route 12 weaves through striking desert landscapes and funky small towns. From cactus to mountains made of jagged red rocks, your eyes will have a field day taking in all the desert sights. The road runs for 124-miles between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks. One of the most scenic roads along the route is a cliff-hanging road called The Hogback. Just don’t watch The Hills Have Eyes before you go on this road trip!
5. Bluebonnet Trail, Texas
The Bluebonnet Trail connects Houston and Austin, and it doesn’t get more Texas than this; the bluebonnet is a native state flower. if you drive here between March and May you’re in for a real treat. This is when the wild bluebonnets are in full bloom, offering views of rolling fields filled with pretty blue flowers. You’ll also pass by a chain of interconnected lakes that belong to the Colorado River, including the popular Lake Buchanan. For more flower power, make sure to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center.
6. Honoapiilani Highway, Maui
You’ll want to be a passenger while cursing along this beautiful 23-mile stretch of roadway. Not only will the coastal views blow you away, but also the area is home to a lot of whales. Your best bet for whale watching is to drive here between October and May. It’s easier to spot the whales out in the water than you might think, just look out for big splashes or clouds of white vapor spewing out of the water.
7. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Going-to-the-Sun road runs through 354 acres of scenic mountain roads in the famous Rocky Mountains. Located in Glacier National Park, the 50-mile drive passes through the Continental Divide at Logan pass. Depending on what time of year you’re passing through, this scenic drive includes cascading waterfalls, colorful wildflowers, river valleys, and impressive glaciers. You’re sure to see some wildlife too!
Roads are open seasonally. Before planning your trip make sure to check the current road status.
8. Overseas Highway, Florida
The Overseas Highway runs between Key West and Miami. You could make the trip by plane, but then you’d miss out one of the most scenic drives in America. This unique roadway stretches over 100-miles, and includes the impressive Seven Mile Bridge which is quite literally built right on top of the water. In total there 42 overseas bridges and each one is a feat of engineering.
The Secret to More Comfortable Road Trips
The key to truly enjoying the most scenic drives in America is having enough leg room. That doesn’t mean you must sacrifice gear, snacks, or extra pairs of long underwear. Instead, it all boils down to how you pack your car. The right equipment will help you make the most of whatever space you’re working with.
The Cargo Hitch Carrier offers up to 500 pounds of extra hauling capacity. The rugged and versatile 60” by 24” cargo hitch carrier platform conveniently straps onto the outside of your vehicle, leaving more leg room for you and everyone else in your car.
Click here to see how the Cargo Hitch Carrier can improve your next trip!