Best Road Trip Stops in the USA for an Amazing Adventure
A road trip is as synonymous with the USA as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Year after year, many are choosing to hit the road in their cars, vans, or R.V.s instead of flying. Instead of double-checking if your liquids are TSA compliant or paying a “COVID recovery charge,” consider a road trip. The hardest part of a road trip in the USA can be choosing your next destination. From weekend getaways to yearlong adventures, road trips allow you to choose your accommodations, sights, smells, and sometimes weather.
Fortunately, there is no better country to have an epic road trip across various landscapes than the USA. Feeling hot? Head into the mountains and cool off. Need some sun? Consider driving towards the desert. U.S. Residents love to travel in the United States, with $681 Billion spent on domestic leisure travel in 2019 (Source: U.S. Travel Association). Get your playlist ready and downloaded, your buddies confirmed and start planning your next road trip destination. Here are the 10 best stops for your next road trip in the U.S.A.:
by Kris from My Michigan Travel
What better stop to add to a USA road trip than the Motor City? Detroit industry put the country on wheels and a visit to the area can give you a taste of that history and so much more. Spend a day at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village located just outside of the city limits for a look into American history through traditional museum exhibits and an outdoor living history museum full of historic buildings. As befitting a museum bearing the name of one of the city’s Big Three car companies, special focus is paid to vehicles and transportation through the years and you can even hop a ride in an authentic Model T.
If you’re more into arts and culture, visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, one of the top art museums in the country. Its famous Diego Rivera murals depict the city’s industrial history in a way that’s still relevant today. Music enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Motown Museum housed in the original small studio that launched the Motown sound thanks to hits from the likes of The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and more.
For a more relaxing day, pay a visit to Belle Isle, one of the top things to do in Detroit. This island park in between Michigan and Ontario has scenic views of the skyline, picnic opportunities, a beach, an aquarium, a nature center, a small museum about the history of shipping on the Great Lakes, and plenty of other options.
If you’re hungry, grab a traditional Detroit-style coney dog from American or Lafayette (or sample both and pick a favorite!). Plenty of other restaurants and dining options can be found in the historic Eastern Market area, which draws in crowds of locals each weekend for its farmers market. Follow Kris for all things Michigan!
Saint Louis, Missouri
by Teresa Willis of Sparkle Adventures
If you have heard of Saint Louis, then you have heard of the Arch. You won’t want to miss the views of the Mississippi and Saint Louis from atop the Gateway Arch. Recent renovations of the National Park and Museum make this attraction new again. Saint Louis, the gateway to the west, is a great stop along Route 66 to add while planning your RV road trip.
You could spend an entire week vacation in Forest Park, the largest urban park in the nation, bigger and better than the famous Central Park in New York. Anytime the temps warm up in Saint Louis, you will find the 6-mile trail of Forest Park busy with runners, walkers, bikers, and roller skaters. There are plenty of places for fishing or bird watching or just sitting and reading or daydreaming and lots of places to play. Rent a canoe or paddleboat at the Boat House and wind your way around the park on the waterways that run through the park. Visit the animals at the Saint Louis Zoo, catch a show at The Muny, learn a little history at the Missouri History Museum, take in some art at the Saint Louis Art Museum. All of this at Forest Park!
Saint Louis is an immigrant town, and our food is as diverse as our citizens. Find every food you can imagine in the South Grand shopping and dining district. Meskeram, an Ethiopian restaurant has a sampler platter of all their best dishes. Tree House is an upscale vegan restaurant that is divine.
Stop on by, we’d love to have you.
Teresa Willis of Sparkle Adventures was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. She is the Saint Louis Chapter Director for Wanderful and the Eastern Missouri Guide for Girl Camper. Follow Teresa for custom adventure planning in the United States!
Visit Lawrence, Kansas during your road trip through the USA for an unexpected take on the start of the American West. The town of Lawrence was founded to keep the territory free from slavery and is home to the infamous Quantrill’s Raid. Today, Lawrence is home to all things arts, culture, and experiences.
Known as the best hippie town in the Midwest, Lawrence is a must-stop on your road trip. Visit during the last Friday of the month to experience Final Fridays. You will find art exhibits and activities throughout downtown Lawrence during this weekly pop-up party. Art heads will enjoy seeing Dale Chihuly’s work at the Spencer Museum of Art.
Of course, one of the prettiest times to visit Lawrence during your road trip is around Labor Day. This is when Sunflowers bloom all around the state of Kansas. Visit the Grinter’s Sunflower Farm during the week for fewer crowds and a chance at a beautiful photo op. After you post those beautiful sunflowers to IG, stop at Cresent Moon Winery for a glass of Vignoles.
Finally, you cannot leave the area without trying a sampler pack containing some of the best bbq in America. Hidden behind a gas station, as the best locations are, you will find Stanley James Smokehouse. If you have any room left, start your morning the next day with classic eggs, sausage, and potatoes “The Kansan,” or vegan hash from The Roost. Finish off the trip with a Spicy Shitake burger from The Burger Stand at the Casbah.
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Stop in Denver, Colorado during your USA road trip for high altitude experience. Known as “The Mile-High City,” Denver offers visitors a chance to enjoy the sunshine, mountain views, and everything a city can offer. Summers offer sunny days without humidity and cool evenings.
Denver has several art museums and art districts throughout the city. Stop at the Art District on Santa Fe to see the “Love This City” mural by Pat Milbery, created in partnership with Visit Denver. This mural was originally three murals in one. Another section was relocated after the host building was scheduled for demolition.
Then, consider signing up for a Denver Graffiti Tour, which offers a 2-hour walking tour of the city’s best street art in RiNo. You will see plenty of Rhino art in this neighborhood. After your tour, stop at urban winery The Infinite Monkey Theorem or grab a bite to eat at Zeppelin Station.
Have breakfast at Rivers and Roads Coffee, which offers scratch-made gluten-free pastries, egg breakfasts and coffee drinks. Then head over to the Denver Art Museum. There you will find paintings by Claude Monet and Edgar Hilaire Degas. Plus, monthly drop-in art programs for adults. Round out the day with gluten-free pizza or chicken & waffles from City, O’ City. This is a must before you continue on your next road trip destination.
by Rachel and Dana Reed from Traveling Found Love
Sedona is hands down a must-see road trip destination in the United States. The charm of the cute little town, located between the red rocks in Arizona, has increasingly intrigued more and more visitors. But what sets Sedona aside from other United States destinations? Sedona is jam-packed with endless fun and adventures. It has it all from stunning rock formations to admire, to exciting outdoor adventures. These include mountain biking and hiking, unique shopping experiences, delicious dining options, intense spiritual experiences, various historical sites, and more.
One of the best ways to experience Sedona is by wandering on one or more of the Sedona hiking trails. Each trail offers breathtaking opportunities to get closer to the area’s natural beauty from panoramic vistas to natural bridges and hidden caves. Sedona is also known for its unique energy vortexes. These swirling centers of energy are believed by some to help us heal, meditate and explore ourselves.
Besides hitting the trails on foot, you can also enjoy them on a 4×4 Jeep tour or on two wheels for a bumpy mountain biking experience. If you need to cool down from the hot temperatures in the summer, we would recommend sliding down one of the natural slides in the area’s State Parks or simply go for a swim in the beautiful rivers. Follow Rachel and Dana to learn all about van life road trips!
San Diego, California
by Abby – Worth Every Trip
San Diego is one of the best USA road trip stops along the west coast. From beautiful beaches to mountain hikes and everything in between, San Diego offers an abundance of outdoor activities for every kind of traveler.
Head straight to Coronado Island for vacation vibes and relaxation on the beach. There is plenty of room on the sand for running, playing games, building sandcastles, and exploring sand dunes.
Breathtaking coastal views are everywhere you turn when you hike through Torrey Pines State Reserve. Breathe fresh air as you hike on cliffs, around rock formations, and down to the beach. Journey inland and climb Cuyamaca Peak for 360-degree views of San Diego. Go further east and hike to Three Sisters Falls. Plunge down the natural rock slides and splash into the water for a refreshing outdoor adventure. Animal lovers will enjoy seeing over 12,000 animals up close, at the world-famous San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
You won’t go hungry in San Diego! Grab an açai bowl (popular with locals) and delicious cold brew for breakfast at Bowls N Brews. Enjoy seafood and cocktails at C Level Lounge with views of the bay and downtown. Order a sandwich and bomb sauce at Board & Brew to take your picnic to the next level. Eat farm-to-table dishes at Farmer’s Table in Little Italy, or walk down the street to Born and Raised for an outstanding steak dinner. Follow Abby for everything you need to know about road trips with little ones!
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San Francisco, California
by Sarah from Tiny Trailblazers
San Francisco, California is more of a cultural experiment than a city: in just seven square miles, you will find techies and artists, dreamers and realists, fog and sunshine, and cuisine from almost every nationality in the world.
Whether you are visiting San Francisco with kids, friends, as a couple, or as a solo traveler on your USA road trip, there is something for everyone. The city is made up of dozens of neighborhoods, each with a unique character and climate.
First, head to the sunny Mission, where you can browse the thrift stores and quirky independent retailers for a souvenir or three, before enjoying an artisanal coffee at Craftsman and Wolves on Valencia Street. Book a table at AL’s Place for a Michelin star experience with a neighborhood bistro vibe, or follow your nose (and the lines) to discover one of the many delicious taquerias and pupuserias in this district.
Hop on the BART train towards the Embarcadero and check out the ferry building, which is buzzing with vendors at the weekend. From here, you can catch a ferry to Sausalito, or rent a bicycle and pedal your way through the city and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Wherever you go, layer up: San Francisco’s temperatures vary wildly across the city. You can always spot the tourist by the hoodie they have been forced to buy because they reasonably assumed that July in California would be hot. Follow Sarah for all things travel with kids!
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This post really inspired me to look into less l-frequented destinations like Kansas! Love it!
I am all about road trips, and I’m loving this list. You’ve got some of my favorite places on there – San Diego, San Francisco, Denver. But I’ve got some other new ideas now too. I have friends in Lawrence and St Louis but haven’t been to either so I think they have to be top of the list
Laurel | BayRosemary
Great to hear, Lawrence is a really fun place! You will enjoy a visit there.
Okay. You are making me feel like going for a road trip in the USA right away. Denver has always been on my list of places to go in the USA.
A road trip through the USA sounds amazing and is something I’d love to do, especially Colorado and Arizona. Thanks for sharing!
I’m always up for a good road trip! I would really like to go on one through the states at some point, so I’ll make sure to add all of these stops to my itinerary.
I have experienced Sanfransisco and some parts of Arizona and it was breathtaking. Saving this for my next trip
I love a good road trip and you have some great suggestions here! I’d love to see the sunflower fields in Kansas!
Oohh yes these are great places!! Sedona is one of my all-time favorites. I think several of these would warrant spending several days in though rather than just as a quick stop!
Great advice for a USA road trip! Thanks for sharing the info. Would love to do one sometime.
Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
Wow, I was reading through this thinking “I haven’t been to ANY of these!” but I’ve been to San Diego and San Francisco (on a massive road trip, funnily enough!) so all is good haha. Some of these are really off-beat which is awesome reading about different places. I can’t believe I haven’t been to Sedona!
i love that mural in denver! i stumbled upon it two years ago during my trip! one of my favs!
I would love to explore Arizona on a long road trip, lately, we have really started to love red dirt landscapes. Hiking in Sedona would be epic.
Looking at doing a cross country this summer! Thanks for the ideas, pinning!