That ribbon of highway, the endless skyway…. Woody Guthrie immortalised life on the road in 1940 and it’s been sung about, written about and filmed about ever since.

So it’s no surprise that the ‘Great American Road Trip’ has a grip on all our imaginations. Anywhere else, a long car journey is nothing but a mundane chore. But you know where to get your kicks, right? Out on…you-know-where.

Maybe it’s something to do with the frontier myth: echoes of intrepid settlers, covered wagons, and the search for the American Dream. Or maybe it’s just that the American landscape, in all its dramatic, epic scale, makes a great backdrop for romantic adventures on four—or two—wheels.

There aren’t many places you can get this much scenic diversity without passing a single passport control. Your only problem is deciding how much ground you want to cover.

A few tips: Don’t bite off more than you can chew! Accept you’re not going to discover America on a two-week road trip. Less is more—slow down, avoid the interstates, and steer clear of the A-list tourist hotspots. The national parks hog all the attention, but you’ll find just as much wildlife and adventure (without the crowds) in state parks, national forests, wilderness areas and national monuments.

Most importantly, plan ahead! There might be some romantic appeal to just following the open road, but in reality that can mean expensive motels, RVs camped in Walmart parking lots, and crowded roads snaking through the aforementioned over-popular national parks.

With a little forethought you can devise your own journey and, if you squint a little, maybe catch a glimpse of the American fairytale.

This land really was made for you and me.

In this guide

The USA's Best Road Trips

Jody Halsted

Jody Halsted is her family’s chief vacation planner and publisher of Camping Tips for Everyone. While Jody has experience with all types of camping, from ‘roughing it’ to luxury glamping, she prefers the spacious comfort of her 36’ Class A RV.

The USA's Best Road Trips

Stuart Thornton

Stuart is a California-based travel writer and guidebook author. His books include Moon California Road Trip, Moon Coastal California and the forthcoming Moon Northern California Road Trips. For more about Stuart and his books, visit his website.

The USA's Best Road Trips

Amy Balfour

Amy has authored or co-authored 26 books on the USA for Lonely Planet. Her articles and essays have appeared in Backpacker, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Houston Chronicle, Redbook, Southern Living, Women’s Health, Vegetarian Times, the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post.

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