best roadtrip in USA

The Ultimate USA Road Trip: Discover America’s Most Iconic Destinations

Hey, America! Are you ready for the ultimate USA road trip across our incredible country? I know you’ve dreamed of traveling the country to see all the famous landmarks and cities. After all, freedom is the foundation of the United States, and what’s more freeing than the open road and no obligations?

From the Grand Canyon to the French Quarter, Mount Rushmore to Mount Vernon, Randy Olson has compiled a geographically diverse road trip that perfectly represents just how awesomely varied the landscape and culture of America is.

In fact, he used an advanced algorithm he created to come up with the perfect route that would appeal to everyone. His only rules were: 1) the road trip could not leave the US, 2) you had to be able to take the entire trip in your car, and 3) it would only stop at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments. From there, his calculations were used to put them in the best order and timing.

As you’ll see below, the result is the ultimate USA road trip that will leave you with enough memories to last a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?

Table of Contents show

The Trip at a Glance

1. Grand Canyon, Arizona

best adventure destinations us grand canyon

No American road trip is complete without arguably our greatest natural wonder. Start your journey at the Grand Canyon and be awed by its vastness and beauty. The sheer scale of the canyon, coupled with its intricate rock formations and stunning sunsets, makes it a must-see.

2. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Continue the majestic offerings of the Grand Canyon by heading to southern Utah. Bryce Canyon is known for its distinctive rock formations called hoodoos, which create an otherworldly landscape. The park’s overlooks provide breathtaking views that are especially magical at sunrise and sunset.

3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

The open rift cracks of the three massive lava fields at the preserve are a sight to behold. This unique landscape, formed by volcanic activity, looks like something from another planet. Explore the lava tubes, cinder cones, and expansive lava fields for an unforgettable experience.

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

top UNESCO world heritage sites yellowstone

We’ve all heard of it, but have you been there? It’s a must-stop on this road trip. Home to geysers, hot springs, and abundant wildlife, Yellowstone offers a glimpse into the earth’s geothermal wonders and natural beauty.

5. Pikes Peak, Colorado

This 14,115-foot mountain peak is filled with so much to do. Drive up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway, hike the challenging Barr Trail, or take the historic cog railway to the summit. The panoramic views from the top are simply breathtaking, showcasing the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

The cavern is the primary attraction here because water has created an unbelievable array of limestone decorations within.

Explore the vast underground chambers, including the famous Big Room, and witness the stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Don’t miss the bat flight program at dusk for an extraordinary natural spectacle.

7. The Alamo, Texas

The Alamo

Whether you’re a history buff or not, The Alamo in San Antonio is worth the visit. This historic site commemorates the pivotal battle for Texan independence from Mexico. Walk through the grounds and museum to learn about the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought there.

8. The Platt Historic District, Oklahoma

There are plenty of reasons this is on the ultimate road trip, but don’t miss the waterfalls. The Platt Historic District offers scenic beauty with its natural springs, creeks, and trails. Take a refreshing dip in the swimming holes or enjoy a peaceful hike through the lush landscape.

9. Toltec Mounds, Arkansas

The state’s tallest American Indian mounds can be found here. These ancient earthworks, built by the Plum Bayou culture, offer a fascinating glimpse into the region’s prehistoric past. Explore the interpretive trails and learn about the archaeological significance of the site.

10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Tennessee

Curious and Suspicious Minds must stop here. Visit the home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and explore the mansion, car museum, and Elvis’s private planes. Graceland is a pilgrimage site for music lovers, offering an intimate look into Elvis’s life and legacy.

11. Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

Stand where the famous Civil War battle once took place, lasting from May 18, 1863, to July 4, 1863. The park preserves the site of the Siege of Vicksburg, a crucial turning point in the war. Walk the battlefield, tour the historic landmarks, and reflect on the significance of this pivotal conflict.

12. French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana

new orleans

The oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, this area is full of history and culture. Stroll through the vibrant streets, enjoy live jazz music, and savor delicious Creole cuisine. Don’t miss landmarks like Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and the lively Bourbon Street.

13. USS Alabama, Alabama

Now a museum ship, it served our amazing country from 1942 to 1962. Explore the battleship and its exhibits to learn about its role in World War II. The USS Alabama offers a hands-on experience with history, including access to its decks, turrets, and engine rooms.

14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Rockets have been launched from here. Need I say more? Visit the Kennedy Space Center to explore the history of space exploration and witness the awe-inspiring launch pads. Take a tour to see where history was made and learn about NASA’s ongoing missions.

15. Okefenokee Swamp Park, Georgia

Time for something different in the form of a 438,000-acre, peat-filled wetland. Grab a canoe and explore the Okefenokee Swamp, home to diverse wildlife and unique vegetation. Paddle through the waterways, spot alligators, and immerse yourself in this serene natural environment.

16. Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina

Famous (infamous?) for two Civil War battles, this seafort in Charleston is a historical must-see. Take a ferry to Fort Sumter and explore the ruins where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The museum offers insights into the fort’s strategic importance and the war’s impact on American history.

17. Lost World Caverns, West Virginia

Road trips are about getting a fresh perspective, and what better way than to go underground? Discover the stunning underground formations at Lost World Caverns. Take a guided tour to see stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological wonders, or try the Wild Cave Tour for a more adventurous experience.

18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, North Carolina

“First In Flight” being NC’s motto, this one is a no-brainer for the road trip. Visit the site where the Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight in 1903. The visitor center and reconstructed camp buildings offer a glimpse into the early days of aviation.

19. Mount Vernon, Virginia

Why here? Because the plantation house of this country’s first president, George Washington, is here. Tour the beautifully preserved estate, including the mansion, gardens, and Washington’s tomb. Learn about the life and legacy of America’s founding father in this historic setting.

20. The White House, Washington, DC

the white house

Swing by the President’s home during your unforgettable journey. Take a guided tour of the White House to see the iconic rooms and learn about its history. While in D.C., explore the National Mall and visit the Smithsonian museums for a comprehensive cultural experience.

21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, Maryland

There’s so much to do in this part of the state’s capital. Don’t miss it. Walk the charming streets of Annapolis, lined with colonial-era buildings and historic landmarks. Visit the Maryland State House, the U.S. Naval Academy, and enjoy waterfront dining and shopping.

22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware

Continue your historic exploration in Delaware. The New Castle Historic District features well-preserved colonial and federal-style buildings. Stroll along cobblestone streets, visit historic homes, and explore museums that tell the story of early American life.

23. Cape May Historic District, New Jersey

Over 300 acres and 600 buildings await you here with more things to discover than you can imagine. Cape May’s historic district is known for its Victorian architecture and charming seaside atmosphere. Enjoy the beaches, visit the lighthouse, and take a trolley tour to learn about the town’s history.

24. Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania

Swing by Philly to see one of America’s most iconic symbols. Never forget your freedom as you travel through the country. The Liberty Bell, located in Independence National Historical Park, is a powerful symbol of American independence. While in Philadelphia, visit Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

25. Statue of Liberty, New York

statue liberty

Another obvious one, but it would be criminal to leave it off of the list. She is perhaps our nation’s most incredible sculpture. Take a ferry to Liberty Island and explore the statue and its museum. The Statue of Liberty represents freedom and democracy, welcoming visitors to the United States for over a century.

26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, Connecticut

After the crowds in NYC, check out the home of Samuel Clemens in Hartford. Literature fans especially will appreciate this stop. Tour the beautifully restored Victorian mansion where Mark Twain wrote some of his most famous works, and learn about his life and legacy.

27. The Breakers, Rhode Island

This Vanderbilt mansion is a historic landmark with an area of 125,339 square feet and 62

,482 square feet of living area on five floors. Wow. Explore the opulent interiors and stunning gardens of this Gilded Age mansion, which offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of America’s wealthiest families.

28. USS Constitution, Massachusetts

USS Constitution

Named by George Washington, this ship’s history is unsurpassed. The USS Constitution, also known as “Old Ironsides,” is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Visit the ship and its museum in Boston to learn about its storied past and naval heritage.

29. Acadia National Park, Maine

Get away from it all for a while and explore all that Acadia has to offer. And it offers a lot. Hike the scenic trails, drive the Park Loop Road, and enjoy the stunning views from Cadillac Mountain. Acadia’s rugged coastline, pristine forests, and abundant wildlife make it a nature lover’s paradise.

30. Mount Washington Hotel, New Hampshire

Why a hotel? Because it’s centered around a 1902 Spanish Renaissance building. Stay at this historic grand hotel, known for its luxurious accommodations and stunning mountain views. The Mount Washington Hotel offers a range of activities, including golf, hiking, and spa treatments.

31. Shelburne Farms, Vermont

Hiking, charm, and plenty of activities, a stop in Vermont is well worth it for some peace and serenity. Shelburne Farms is a working farm and education center with beautiful landscapes and historic buildings. Take a farm tour, enjoy the walking trails, and learn about sustainable agriculture.

32. Fox Theater, Detroit, Michigan

After all the parks and historic homes, check out the Fox Theater in the Grand Circus Park District of Detroit. This historic theater, built in 1928, is an architectural masterpiece and a vibrant venue for concerts and shows. Take a tour or catch a performance to experience its grandeur.

33. Spring Grove Cemetery, Ohio

The second largest cemetery (and garden) in the U.S. has a design that will blow you away. Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati is a beautiful and serene place to visit. Stroll through the landscaped grounds, admire the historic monuments, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

34. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

It’s the longest cave system in the world, and you won’t forget your time there. Explore the extensive underground passages and chambers of Mammoth Cave. Guided tours offer insights into the cave’s geology, history, and unique ecosystem.

35. West Baden Springs Hotel, Indiana

This “resort” has a history, some of it dark, that’s too long to explain here. Stop there and you’ll learn all about it. The West Baden Springs Hotel is known for its stunning domed atrium and luxurious accommodations. Discover its fascinating history and enjoy the resort’s amenities.

36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, Illinois

Widely considered the best President we’ve ever had, it’s surreal to stand where Lincoln once lived. Visit the preserved home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield and learn about his life and legacy. The site includes the Lincoln Home, visitor center, and historic neighborhood.

37. Gateway Arch, Missouri

Gateway Arch

At 630 feet, this is the tallest arch in the world. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a symbol of westward expansion and a marvel of engineering. Take a tram ride to the top for panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River.

A carousel museum? Yes, please. The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth celebrates the history and artistry of carousels. Ride a beautifully restored antique carousel and learn about the craftsmanship involved in creating these whimsical machines.

39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, Iowa

This has been the residence of the state’s governors since 1971 and guided tours are available. Terrace Hill in Des Moines is a stunning example of Second Empire architecture. Tour the historic mansion and its gardens to learn about Iowa’s political history and architectural heritage.

40. Taliesin, Wisconsin

This is the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most famous and impressive architect who ever lived. Taliesin in Spring Green was Wright’s home, studio, and school. Explore the estate and discover Wright’s innovative designs and architectural philosophy.

41. Fort Snelling, Minnesota

Swing by this military fortification located at the confluence of Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers to experience another part of American history. Fort Snelling played a significant role in the region’s history, from its founding in the early 19th century to its use during World War II. Visit the historic site and learn about its impact on Native American and military history.

42. Ashfall Fossil Bed, Nebraska

Bring out your paleontology side where a Yellowstone eruption preserved an ecological snapshot. It’s like going back millions of years. Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park offers a unique glimpse into prehistoric life. See the fossilized remains of ancient animals preserved in volcanic ash and learn about the region’s geological history.

43. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

mount rushmore

Touring the USA without seeing the heads of our founding fathers would just be a disgrace. Mount Rushmore National Memorial features the carved faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The iconic monument represents the ideals of democracy and the vision of America’s leaders.

44. Fort Union Trading Post, North Dakota

This is actually one of the earliest declared national landmarks. Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site was a key center of trade between American Indian tribes and European settlers in the 19th century. Explore the reconstructed fort and learn about the cultural exchanges that took place here.

45. Glacier National Park, Montana

glacier national park

There’s arguably no place more breathtaking than here. Your road trip would not be complete without it. Glacier National Park offers stunning landscapes of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road, hike the scenic trails, and experience the park’s natural beauty.

46. Hanford Site, Washington

In 1943, this became a site of the Manhattan Project, which led to the first ever nuclear weapons created by the United States. The Hanford Site played a critical role in the development of nuclear technology. Take a tour to learn about its history and the scientific advancements that occurred here.

47. Columbia River Highway, Oregon

This part of the trip truly embodies “road trip” as you take in the most beautiful scenery not only in Oregon but the country. The Columbia River Highway offers breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge. Drive along this historic route to see waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and lush forests.

48. San Francisco Cable Cars, California

This should be on everyone’s bucket list. There’s nothing like the San Francisco cable cars. Ride the historic cable cars through the hilly streets of San Francisco and experience the city’s charm. Visit Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street, and other iconic landmarks along the way.

49. San Andreas Fault, California

When you hear San Andreas Fault, you think of earthquakes. This 810-mile continental transform fault terrifies many people – it’s extraordinary. The San Andreas Fault is one of the most famous geological features in the world. Learn about the science of plate tectonics and the history of earthquakes in California.

50. Hoover Dam, Nevada

hoover dam

Taking inflation into account, this Dam cost nearly 1 billion dollars. Its construction is truly incredible. The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel that provides hydroelectric power and water to the southwestern United States. Take a tour to see the massive structure, learn about its construction, and enjoy the stunning views of Lake Mead.

The Ultimate USA Road Trip Conclusion

Now that the ultimate U.S. road trip has been laid out for you, will you take it? If nothing else, try to take it in sections as time allows. You won’t regret it!

From the grandeur of the Grand Canyon to the historic charm of Colonial Annapolis, this road trip offers a comprehensive journey through America’s most iconic and diverse landmarks. So pack your bags, fuel up your car, and hit the open road to create memories that will last a lifetime. Happy travels!

**Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. When booking through one of our links, we earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running.

Related Posts