The best routes to drive for the ultimate U.S road trip
There is something overwhelmingly appealing to people about the notion of loading up a camper van or vintage Cadillac and hitting the road into the great unknown on the great American highways. The sense of freedom and adventure that such a trip offers is so unique and has been the reason for millions of tourists from all corners of the world flocking to the United States to experience this one off adventure trip.
One of the major things that draw people to taking to the American highways is the mythology and adventure of these roads that is as deep and long as the Grand Canyon itself. Everything from books, films and music from as far back as records began has added to the mystic and glamour to what in other countries in the world would be simply be a long, tedious, journey.
The huge cities, the small towns, the music, the food, the locals as well as the amazing sights of the American landscape makes journeying across the “good old U.S of A” a must for anyone with a sense of adventure. Here is a list of some of the best routes to travel on your American road trip to really get that genuine “American outlaw” feeling while you listen to Willie Nelson’s classic song “On the road again.”
Route 66 (Chicago to California)
Route 66 is without doubt the most famous of all of the highways in the United States. The highway was built in 1926 and was one of the country’s first numbered highways. American roads before then were only recognisable by coloured bands on telegraph poles and were often maintained by private individuals. The construction of the highway began in Springfield, Missouri, in 1926 and the 2,400-mile road was originally the main route of access to the Gold Rush destinations in California in the 1930s. Route 66 is also commonly known as the Will Rogers Highway, named after the famous actor of the 1920’s.
Nowadays Route 66 has lost a lot of its sections to state roads, local roads, private drives and grass but the route across the country to California remains an iconic one. The reason for the number 66 being chosen was simply due to the fact that it was not taken at the time and that the officials thought that it would be an easy one for people to remember. The road is a favourite among stereotypical biker gangs that you would see in the movies.
This in itself adds to the appeal of the world’s most famous road. Anyone venturing on a road trip across the infamous route 66 will be to be amazed and intrigued at the sights, sounds and smells of the fabled highway. It’s a must for anyone on a driving holiday across the United States.
California State Route 1
This seldom travelled route runs along the Pacific coast between Dana Point which is located to the north of San Diego, and Leggett, located right in the middle of California’s redwood country. It is a beautiful and very scenic drive and because of its location, the weather is usually sunny and humid. For anyone who has not driven across big highways in the United States before, California State Route 1 is a gentle and breathtaking introduction to road culture in the United States.
The highway bypasses the greater Los Angeles area which is notorious for its traffic jams and it passes through Long Beach, Santa Monica, Malibu, Santa Barbara’s wine country where there are vineyards and wineries for as far as the eye can see. Anyone with an interest in wine tasting and how wine is made will be in heaven as they vineyards offer an array of activities like tasting, and classes on how to ferment your own. The breathtaking views on offer will also certainly make this trip a memorable one.
Highway 61 (New Orleans to Wyoming)
Highway 61 is actually officially known as US Route 61. The highway connects New Orleans and Wyoming in Minnesota, and runs uninterrupted between the locations for the whole 1,400 miles the road covers. There is plenty to see on the vast highway, often dubbed the “Blues Highway” in tribute to the musical heritage and culture associated with this part of the United States. If you plan your trip right you should take in the annual Mardi Gras festival of music and culture that runs in New Orleans that is on in late February each year.
The city is alive with history, heritage and jazz music and is one of the best cities in the whole country to visit. Highway 61 has some great history and mythology surrounding it also. It was on this very highway that the legendary blues artist Robert Johnson supposedly came across the devil at the crossroads of highways 61 and 49. The highway is full of these types of stories and the locals will be more than willing to tell them to you.
Driving from coast to coast
For those of us who are brave enough to want to do the ultimate U.S road trip from one side of the country to the other there are plenty of routes to do it on. Firstly there is US Route 20, which is largest road in the whole of the United State. It is 3,365 miles in length and runs from Newport in Oregon and Boston in Massachusetts taking in the world renowned Yellowstone National Park along the way. Interstate 90 runs directly parallel to the north and is 3,100 miles in length.
In the deep south of the country is Route 6, which at 3,205 miles is the longest continuous route in the states. These are quick and direct ways across the country and are easy to navigate and helpful to anyone who want to take in as much of the U.S in two or three weeks without doing too much hectic driving. US Route 30 runs from Oregon to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and takes in significant sections of the Lincoln Highway which is sort of a national “Main Street” that passes through the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada, Abraham Lincoln’s cabin in Chicago Illinois, and the Big Mac Museum and giant Coffee Pot in Pennsylvania.