There’s no denying that the United States is a land of diverse beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes. One of the best ways to explore these stunning sights is by taking a scenic drive, which allows for a more personal and immersive experience. This article is a curated list of the best scenic drives in the country, showcasing unique and interesting places that are sure to take your breath away. From coastal highways to mountain passes, there’s a scenic drive on this list for every type of adventurer.
Exploring The Scenic Drives Of America
The open road has long held an allure for travelers, promising new experiences and unforgettable memories. Embarking on a scenic drive allows you to connect with the landscape in a way impossible when flying or traveling by train. This list of scenic drives is diverse, featuring unique and interesting locations across the country. Whether you’re interested in mountain vistas, ocean views, or historic landmarks, a drive on this list will captivate and inspire you.
Discover The Best Scenic Drives In The United States
We’ve carefully selected the most picturesque and captivating routes for our list of the best scenic drives in the United States. Each drive offers a different type of adventure, catering to various interests and travel preferences. From the rugged wilderness of Montana to the tropical paradise of the Florida Keys, these drives showcase the breathtaking beauty and diversity of the American landscape. So, buckle up and get ready to hit the road as we explore the most unforgettable scenic drives in the United States.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Stretching 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is often considered one of the most beautiful drives in the country. As you wind through the Appalachian Mountains, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of lush forests, rolling hills, and dramatic peaks. This scenic drive is especially popular in the fall when the foliage turns brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking backdrop for your journey.
Along the Blue Ridge Parkway are numerous overlooks and trailheads, inviting you to stop and explore the unique flora and fauna of the region. Charming towns like Asheville, North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, offer a glimpse into the local culture and history, providing plenty of dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a leisurely drive through some of the most stunning landscapes in the United States, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a must-see.
The Pacific Coast Highway
Running along the California coastline, the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, is a 655-mile stretch that offers some of the most iconic and breathtaking views in the United States. The route takes you past dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and quaint coastal towns, showcasing what California offers. From the bustling city of San Francisco to the serene beauty of Big Sur, this scenic drive is an unforgettable journey through the Golden State.
With its stunning ocean views and diverse attractions, the Pacific Coast Highway is a dream come true for any road trip enthusiast. Some of the Pacific Coast Highway highlights include the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge, the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas. The drive also offers plenty of opportunities to stop and explore California’s famous wine regions or to hike along the numerous coastal trails.
Nestled within Montana’s Glacier National Park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50-mile alpine drive that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty of the United States. This engineering marvel traverses the park, offering breathtaking mountain scenery, stunning glaciers, and ample wildlife viewing opportunities. Walking along the winding road, you’ll be treated to dramatic vistas of the park’s rugged wilderness, with countless photo opportunities at every turn.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a visual feast and provides access to some of the park’s most popular hiking trails and attractions. The iconic Logan Pass, located at the highest point on the road, is a must-visit destination offering unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Be sure also to take the time to explore the many waterfalls, lakes, and glaciers that make Glacier National Park a true natural wonder. Remember that the road is only open seasonally due to weather conditions, so plan your trip accordingly.
The Great River Road
The Great River Road offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and heritage of the Mississippi River Valley. Following the mighty Mississippi River, the Great River Road spans over 3,000 miles and meanders through ten states, making it one of the longest and most diverse scenic drives in the United States. As you travel along this historic route, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of landscapes, from the rolling hills of Minnesota to the swamps and bayous of Louisiana.
One of the most appealing aspects of the Great River Road is the charming river towns that dot the route, each with unique character and attractions. Highlights include the historic architecture of Galena, Illinois, the vibrant music scene of Memphis, Tennessee, and the antebellum homes of Natchez, Mississippi. Along the way, you’ll also find numerous parks, wildlife refuges, and interpretive centers that delve into the history and ecology of the region. With its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, the Great River Road is an unforgettable journey through the heart of America.
Stretching over 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, Route 66 is an iconic piece of American history. Often referred to as the “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road,” this historic highway symbolizes the country’s love affair with the open road. Though modern interstate highways have largely replaced it, Route 66 remains a popular tourist attraction, drawing travelers worldwide who want to experience a slice of classic Americana.
As you journey along the remnants of Route 66, you’ll encounter a wide variety of attractions that evoke the nostalgia of a bygone era, from neon signs and kitschy roadside diners to vintage motels and historical landmarks. Highlights of the route include the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, and the iconic Santa Monica Pier in California. Whether you’re a history buff or simply longing for a taste of the open road, Route 66 is a must-see for any road trip enthusiast.
The Hana Highway
Located on the island of Maui, Hawaii, the Hana Highway is a 64-mile stretch of road that offers a truly unique and breathtaking driving experience. Winding its way along the rugged eastern coast of the island, this scenic drive takes you through lush rainforests, past cascading waterfalls, and dramatic coastal cliffs. With its narrow, winding roads and numerous one-lane bridges, the Hana Highway is a thrilling and beautiful journey through the heart of Maui’s natural beauty.
As you go along the Hana Highway, stop at some scenic overlooks and attractions that dot the route. Popular stops include the Garden of Eden Arboretum, the black sand beach at Wai’anapanapa State Park, and the Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o Gulch. Although the drive can be completed in a day, many visitors take their time and explore the hidden gems and breathtaking sights along the way. The Hana Highway is not only one of the most stunning drives in the United States, but it also offers a unique glimpse into the enchanting beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Overseas Highway
Connecting the Florida Keys, the Overseas Highway is a 113-mile stretch of road offering a unique driving experience. Built on the remnants of the old Florida East Coast Railway, this highway takes you on a journey over the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, making you feel like you’re driving on water. As you hop from key to key, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the surrounding ocean and the vibrant marine life that calls this tropical paradise home.
The Overseas Highway offers numerous opportunities to stop and explore the natural beauty and attractions of the Florida Keys. Highlights include the historic town of Key West, with its vibrant nightlife and unique architecture, the stunning Bahia Honda State Park, and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, where you can snorkel or dive to explore the breathtaking underwater world. With its crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, and laid-back atmosphere, the Overseas Highway is the perfect escape for those seeking sun, sand, and the allure of the open road.
Which Of These Scenic Drives Interests You The Most?
From the dramatic mountains of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the sun-soaked shores of the Overseas Highway, the United States is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking and unforgettable scenic drives. Each of these routes offers a unique adventure, showcasing the diverse beauty and captivating landscapes that can be found across the country. So, whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an epic cross-country road trip, there’s no better way to experience the beauty of the United States than by hitting the open road and exploring these one-of-a-kind scenic drives.