Travel Tips – USA Driving Routes
Here’s a handy little guide to our favourite driving routes in the good old US of A. We’ve laid on seven of the best American drives, so if you’re hiring a car you can really get the best out of the land of the free’.
Be sure to sort out some accommodation before you hit the road. Enjoy the ride!
1. Route 66 – Los Angeles to Chicago
This iconic route is definitely the most famous drive in the States, and rightfully so! Get your kicks on route 66′ as the song goes, starting at Los Angeles and cruising east towards Chicago, where you’ll take in the neon strips, dusky backwaters and quirky, movie style diners, motels and gas stations of America’s favourite freeway.
You’ll meander across the sun and sand of the City of Angels and through the dusty red rocky mountains of the Grand Canyon. Next comes the Native American settlements of the Southwest, and then on to the towering skyscrapers of Chicago – The Windy City’. It’s the perfect choice if you’re touching down at Los Angeles or Chicago Airport.
2. Pacific Coast – Olympic National Park to San Diego
Travel the 1,500 miles along the West Coast of America. Ideal if you’re landing in at San Diego or Vancouver Airport (Canada), this drive snakes alongside the Pacific Ocean, taking in the lush greenery and quaint harbour towns of Washington State, the flowing waters of the Columbia River, the tranquil Oregon countryside and the sun soaked surfer shores of Southern California. You’ll take in a variety of cities and towns, a wealth of landscapes and a huge cross section of people, not to mention the most majestic of scenery.
3. Atlantic Coast – New York City to Florida
This tour of America’s east coast is a real eye opener… take the Interstate 95 route from the famous Statue of Liberty through the streets of New York City to the strands, piers and beach towns that pepper the East coastline. You’ll pass through the neon wonderland of Atlantic City and it’s countless casinos, the searing heat of motor haven Daytona Beach and the exotically Latin party capital of Miami in Florida, before pulling up at Key West. Offering a colourful palette of scenery, towns and people, this route is essential if your flying into New York or Miami.
4. One Border to Another – Arizona to Canada’s Rocky Mountains
Perfect if you’re touching down at Los Angeles or Calgary Airport (Canada), this route starts with the arid sands of Arizona, snaking along Highway 93 towards the oases of Sonora Desert. Passing through the Grand Canyon via Route 66, you’ll come next to The Loneliest Road’ – a majestically beautiful but very quiet stretch leading up to the gamblers utopia of Las Vegas.
You’ll then hit the Oregon Trail, crossing the lava flows and the Snake River of Idaho, before hitting the alpine landscapes of Sun Valley, America’s upmarket ski centre par excellence. This gives way to the captivating landscapes of Western Montana, then the valleys, ski trails and alpine contours of Glacier National Park, and finally onto the imposing Canadian Rockies. Stretching thousands of miles, this route isn’t for the faint hearted, but it’s a fabulous and varied drive that captures excellently the different landscapes and ways of life that make up America.
5. America’s Loneliest Road – San Francisco to Ocean City
This symbolic drive slices right through the middle of America, running from coast to coast over some 3,200 miles along Highway 50. You’ll start with the famous hilled streets of San Francisco and move on through California to the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe. Once you reach Nevada it’s just you, the mountains and the blazing sunshine, before you hit the dusky red cliffs of Colorado and then the rural backwaters of the iconic and typically American Santa Fe Trail.
You’ll continue on through Kansas, St Louis and the Mississippi River before hitting the West Virginia forests and on through Washington DC, home of the White House. Next comes the Maryland Coastline and Ocean City, where your epic journey across Americana finally comes to an end. Of course you can do the route in reverse – either way it’s a must if you’re landing in at San Francisco International or Washington Dulles Airport.
6. The Great Mississippi River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana
This incredible route follows the majestic Mississippi as it carves through the body of America, starting in the Cajun country leading up to the soulful city of New Orleans, and following the river right up to the headwaters in Minnesota. You’ll pass through farmlands, rich forests, swamps and rocky cliffs as the road bisects Kentucky and Tennessee (home to Elvis’s Graceland in Memphis) then Missouri and Illinois, witnessing some of the most iconic imagery of Americana.
Made famous by the literary works of Mark Twain, the legendary Big Muddy’ snakes through Iowa, Wisconsin and on through the famous writer’s home, taking in a plethora of towns, landscapes and scenery. the GRR shows you the beauty of the free world’, as well as it’s sprawling industrial underbelly, before finally finishing in the rocky mountains of Minnesota. Perfect if you’re flying into New Orleans International!
7. Southern Pacific Road – California to Georgia
Running 3000 miles cross country along the southern states of America, this fascinating drive along Highway 80 starts with the lush seashores of San Diego and motors through the cacti filled deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. On the way you’ll pass through the former bandit town of El Paso on the US-Mexico border (a must for fans of the old Spaghetti Western genre!) before hitting the stalwart Southern states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
You’ll pass through the land of Southern Belles, mouth-watering BBQs, boiled shrimp and lobster menus and roguish gents in cowboy hats! Touch upon the darker side of the American dream by following the route of Bonnie & Clyde, seeing the site of JFK’s assassination in Dallas or visiting the Wild West Tombstone.
You’ll experience the very soul of music as you motor along towards Georgia, passing through the hometowns of famous Rock, R’n’B and Country-Western legends such as Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Otis Redding as you soak up the scene in the bustling juke bars and clubs that scatter the roadside. Ideal if your flying into San Diego International or Atlanta in Georgia, this route is a colourful and fascinating foray into the Southern American way of life, from its scenery, cityscapes and demographics to its alternately colourful and dark history.
And that’s our magnificent seven American drives for you to enjoy! You’ll be putting down some serious mileage in your USA car rental, and be sure to have a glance at our tips to driving in the states.
Remember, if you’ve any questions, suggestions, tips or stories then we’d be delighted to hear from you, just drop us an email and we’ll get back to you straight away. Enjoy the US of A!