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These Are The Best Cross-Country Road Trip Routes
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These Are The Best Cross-Country Road Trip Routes

While there are a plethora of hidden gems worth exploring, these cross-country road trip routes are the ones you need to cross off ASAP.

Roubina Al Abashian

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5 min read

December 07, 2021

Nothing screams American more than a cross-country road trip. There’s so much to see and explore that it gives us the perfect excuse to pack our cars and hit the road. There’s no right way to go on a  road trip, but some routes are more scenic than others. And while there are a plethora of hidden gems worth exploring, these cross-country road trip routes are the ones you need to cross off ASAP.

The Best Cross-Country Road Trip Routes To Check Out Now

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. Once a year, go somewhere you’ve never been before.

1. Highway 101 

Distance: 1,540 miles

Anyone who loves coastal landscapes is up for a treat with this mesmerizing cross-country route. Starting at the northernmost part of Washington and going all the way down to sunny San Diego, cruising on Highway 101 is all about the journey. Check out Washington’s Columbia River, visit the massive sand hills of Umpqua Dunes right off the Oregon Coast, and hike the trails of California’s famous Redwood National Park. Don’t forget to take in the breathtaking views across Big Surit’s the best part.  

2. Route 66

Distance: 2,448 miles

Eight states and one road is all it takes to take the ultimate cross-country road trip. Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California are the states that give you a taste of America's diversity.  Learn about the experience of Black travelers at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago; pass by the tallest arch in the world—Gateway Arch—in Missouri; scuba dive in New Mexico’s Blue Hole; ride the Ferris wheel at California’s Santa Monica Pier.  As Nat King Cole once sang, “When you make that California trip, get your kicks on Route 66.”

Take vacations, and go as many places as you can. You can always make money, but you can’t always make memories.

3. The Loneliest Road/Route 50

Distance: 3,073 miles

If you’re looking for the best cross-country route east to west, let Route 50—aka The Loneliest Road—take you from coast to coast. The road takes travelers through 11 states along a route full of farmlands, Western-inspired attractions, and plenty of scenic routes. With Maryland as your starting point and California as your final stop, you’ll pass through Washington D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. Check out the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.; hike the Curecanti National Recreation Area in Colorado; spend the day at Golden Gate Park in California—you’ll end up leaving your heart in San Francisco.

4. The Southern Pacific Route

Distance: 3,000 miles

Ready to travel one of the best cross-country road trip routes? The Southern Pacific Route will take you from the Pacific to the Atlantic in a dreamlike American trip. From miles of desert landscapes and routes that look like scenes from Western flicks to Appalachian mountain ranges and Southern bayous, you’ll be having more stops than you initially planned. We’re talking California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia here, so you can imagine the cool roadside attractions you’re about to see. Start your trip at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California, make a quick stop at the International UFO Museum And Research Center in New Mexico, and experience Tybee Island in Georgia unlike any other way—these are stops you can’t do without.   

Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.

5. California to Ohio

Distance: 2,406 miles

Driving from California to Ohio is a trip so cool everyone you know will want to join. Between the two states, you’ll pass through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. Start from the sunny Malibu Beach in California and head towards the crimson-colored hoodoos at Bryce Canyon in Utah, the 1,450-foot Willis Tower in Illinois, and finally, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio—there are so many more fun stops we can think of.

A great road adventure is measured in friends rather than miles. All you need is one wheel in hand and four wheels on the road.

6. California to New York

Distance: 2,914 miles

Between the glam of Los Angeles and the bustle of New York are almost 3000 miles of charm and must-visit places—Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, to be exact. Visit your favorite stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, explore the largest indoor rainforest in the U.S. at The Lied Jungle in Nebraska, and attend a Broadway show in New York. If we were to guess what cross-country driving routes celebrities like to take, this would be it.     

7. Montana to California

Distance: 1,310 miles

It’s only natural that people will want to leave the Treasure State to go to the Golden State—the trip down south is as exciting as it gets. Starting in Montana, the road takes you through Idaho, Nevada, and the shores of San Diego in California. Tour Montana’s notorious Bannack State Park, check out the Pinball Hall of Fame in Nevada, and before you get splashing around in San Diego, check out the famous USS Midway Museum—it’s one of the top things to do in America’s Finest City.  

Any road will take you wherever you want to go. Just pick one and go. Communing with the open road. It listens, feels, and understands.

 8. California to Nevada

Distance: 1,419 miles

To all of you who love the desert lifestyle, this road trip is one you should go for. Begin your journey from the desert resort city of Palm Springs and head east towards Arizona, then north to Nevada. Start your trip by riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and then continue driving towards Arizona. Check the geological wonders and massive red stones at Grand Canyon National Park. And once you're in Nevada, drive through Valley of the Fire State Park. Wherever you end up stopping during your road trip, make sure to stay hydrated at all times. 

9. California to Wyoming

Distance: 1,555 miles

Granite domes, desert landscapes, and rare wildlife will accompany you as you drive from the Golden State to Wyoming, passing through Nevada and Idaho. Start your road trip with a hike at Yosemite National Park’s iconic trails in California. Enjoy the scenic overlooks with views of waterfalls, granite domes, and mountain lakes. Make your way towards Wyoming through Idaho and check the fishing ponds and waterfalls at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Once you reach the endpoint of your road trip, pay a visit to Yellowstone National Park to see Old Faithful erupt.  

The only way to reach your destination is to adapt to the situation by going around them and looking for other paths.

10. California to Wisconsin

Distance: 2,176 miles

One of the best routes to drive cross-country is the one that takes you from California all the way to Wisconsin. A trip full of fun stops, the road to Wisconsin can get as exciting as you want it to be. Start with taking in the beautiful views of San Francisco from Lombard Street—you’ll be driving through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota to finally arrive in Wisconsin. Admire the geological wonders at Arches National Park, marvel at the beauty of the Grand Prismatic Spring, and don’t forget to check out the Circus World Museum once you arrive in Wisconsin. This might not be the shortest drive, but it sure is worth it. 

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