Whether you’re exploring hidden gems of America or traveling across the country to visit family, a road trip is an adventure of its own. There’s no security to go through or cancellation fees—you’re completely on your own schedule. As exciting as they are, road trips can sometimes be overwhelming to plan—there’s just so much to see. National Parks to amusement parks (abiding by social distancing and wearing a mask of course), local eats to historical sites, we want to see it all.
No matter where you’re going, every stop has something new and exciting to see. We curated road trip stops in every state in the country that are worth stopping for. Here, there’s something for everyone. We based each of these stops on the notion that there is something so unique about each one that you can’t see anywhere else. You don’t need to leave the country to experience natural wonders like Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve, filled with lava fields, or staples of history like the house where Elvis Presley was born. Start planning and be sure to add these to your ultimate road trip bucket list for a trip of a lifetime.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama, is exactly how it sounds—a thrift shop filled with items from lost baggage after the waiting period expired to claim it. What started as a part time business in 1970 has grown to a store the size of a full city block with more than 7,000 new items added every day. There have been some unique items including: a full suit of armor, gemstones, and even a live rattlesnake. If you’re not planning a trip to Alabama soon, good news! You can now shop online.
Once entering Sitka, you won’t feel like you’re in America with the vibrant culture of Russia at the forefront. That’s because this small town was a part of Russia until 1867, but the roots of its origin have remained. Visitors can enjoy the mountain scenery, whale watch, go snowmobiling on a Polaris, hike, fish and kayak.
Aside from local art shops and neutral architecture that blends in with the red rock landscape, Sedona is home to Devil’s Bridge. With a natural bridge formation on this trail, it’s no wonder why it’s on the top of most hikers’ lists. It does get crowded so be sure to get there early if you don’t want anyone in your photo.
Hot Springs National Park
In Hot Springs, Arkansas, this National Park with a rich cultural past stands as a pillar for healing and a tribute to the “American Spa” of the 20th century. With nine historic bathhouses, ancient thermal springs, mountain views and forested hikes, it’s a balance of adventure and history.
Visiting the Venice Canals in Venice, California, makes you feel like you’re in Europe (except with palm trees). Made up of six waterways–Carroll, Linnie, Howland, Sherman, Eastern, and Grand and approximately one and a half miles in length–the canals are perfect for a self-guided bike or walk.
Garden of the Gods
Explore what Colorado Springs has to offer in one magical place. Garden of the Gods is a registered National Natural Landmark, with dramatic views, 300 foot sandstone rock formations along a backdrop of mountainous views and blue skies.
This small town is unlike any other spot in Connecticut with a historical feel and grand personality. Mystic was historically a significant Connecticut seaport with more than 600 ships starting in 1784. Visitors can stay at the newly renovated Spicer Mansion, which was originally built in 1853.
A hot beach escape destination, Bethany Beach offers historical gems such as the Indian River Life Saving Station, built in 1877 and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. The beach is clean and the water is just fine for catching some waves.
Bok Tower Gardens
Located in Polk County, Florida, Bok Tower Gardens has 250 acres of lush gardens and a 205 foot tall tower with carillon bells. It’s relaxing and beautiful, which was the intention of creator Edward W. Bok, former longtime editor who desired to create a bird sanctuary while spending the winter in Florida. From subtropical temperature and plant bushes, visitors can spot up to 126 species of birds.
Rock City Gardens
Ancient rock formations are the focal point of this natural wonder, just a few miles from downtown Chattanooga in Georgia. Rock City Gardens feature over 400 native plant species, and panoramic views where you can actually see seven states!
We couldn’t leave Hawaii out because you could be taking a road trip in Hawaii! Hanauma Bay is a marine embayment formed within a tuff ring along the southeast coast of O’ahu. Explore the reefs, swim in the crystal blue waters and take in the greenery.
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve in Snake River Plain in central Idaho. It’s unlike any National Park encompassing three major lava fields. Get your moon shoes because you can see some of the best examples of rift cracks in the world—including the deepest known on earth at 800 feet.
Starved Rock State Park
Known for its sandstone canyons formed by glacial meltwater, Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois, is a natural wonder. There’s 13 miles of trails to explore with waterfalls, fishing, and boating.
What’s old is new in Antique Alley in Richmond County, Indiana. There’s a 60 mile stretch of the Historic National Road that connects Richmond to Knightstown with over 1,000 antique dealers. There’s even an antique mall in a 3 block radius in historic Cambridge City.
If you’re not afraid of heights, this Swinging Bridge in Columbus Junction is 262 feet long and was originally built in 1886 (rebuilt in 1922). It’s an ideal destination for a hike that won’t take all day.
Kansas Avenue of Murals
For art lovers, Kansas Avenue of Murals displays the city’s best art. The eight murals cover four blocks in the historic downtown area tell stories of the culture and history of Kansas City.
Red River Gorge
Visitors can see more than 100 natural sandstone arches at the Red River Gorge! Spanning 29,000 acres and located in east-central Kentucky, this gorge lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest. This canyon features sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls and natural bridges.
Within walking distance to the French Quarter in New Orleans, Frenchmen Street has the most authentic and local live music. There’s something for everyone with a range of every genre, and it’s also home to the Frenchmen Art Market if you’re in search of excellent local art.
Portland Head Lighthouse
Enjoy a day along the water in Cape Elizabeth along the shores of Fort Williams Park. The Portland Head Lighthouse, now a landmark, dates back to 1776 when the Town of Cape Elizabeth posted eight soldiers at the lighthouse to warn citizens of incoming British attacks.
While it’s a beautiful beach, Assateague Island is known for the wild horses that roam the beaches. Local folklore describes the horses as survivors of a shipwreck off the Virginia coast. Make sure to keep your distance and respect the horses to feel at home on the island.
The Freedom Trail
This three-mile trail in Boston contains some of the most important historical sites in the country. The self-guided Freedom Trail has 16 monuments including graveyards with the graves of notable signers of the Declaration of Independence John Hancock and Samuel Adams.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Along the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is known for picturesque, multicolored rock cliffs. Unusual sandstone formations define this lakeshore. Visitors can also walk through a white birch forest in Twelvemile Beach.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
A giant spoon with a cherry on top—check! The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden spans an 11 acre park in Minneapolis. Explore one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country, with 40 permanent art installations and several temporary installments.
Elvis Presley Birthplace
Tupelo, Mississippi, is home to the birthplace of world famous singer, Elvis Presley. The two-bedroom house was built by his father, grandfather and uncle. Today the home serves as a museum and preservation of the American musician—part of the Mississippi Blues Trail.
The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, has broken many world records. This 630 foot monument, built of stainless steel in the shape of a weighted catenary arch, stands as the world’s tallest arch and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park
Montana’s first state park is completely underground. Located in Whitehall, Montana, visitors can tour the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park led by park staff. With different trails for various hiking levels, it’s one of the largest limestone caverns in the world, adorned with resident bats.
The Carhenge is definitely a quirky and “where else would I see this” attraction. Spoofing the Stonehenge in England, the Carhenge, located north of Alliance, Nebraska on Highway 87 is made out of automobiles. Replicating the original stone version, 39 cars make up this masterpiece.
Seven Magic Mountains
An Instagrammer’s dream, the Seven Magic Mountains located a short drive outside of Las Vegas is magical photo op. This installation of seven colorful and vibrant stacked “mountains” is by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Visit sooner than later as the exhibit will be taken down at the end of 2021.
With stunning views, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6,288.2 feet and the most topographically prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River. Before you visit bring layers to be prepared for its erratic weather.
Cape May is the perfect combination of summer fun and history, as the entire city is a National Historic District, with nearly 600 preserved Victorian buildings. This beach town always has something to do from enjoying the sand and waves and special events throughout the year like classic jazz festivals.
Bandelier National Monument
Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos, New Mexico, is one of the most underrated national sites to visit. Hikers can visit over 3,000 dwelling sites of the ancestral Pueblo people from over 11,000 years ago and can even climb ladders to go inside them.
Storm King Art Center
Seen in movies and television shows (Netflix’s Master of None), Storm King Art Center is named after a nearby mountain—Storm King Mountain. Located in Mountainville, New York, this open-air museum arguably contains the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the country. Visitors get creative with taking photos from playing with perspective with the giant sculptures to a selfie on the mirrored picket fence.
Grandfather Mountain in Linville, North Carolina, is a day of fun for hikes of all ages. Offering unbeatable views and different level trails, the Mile High Swinging Bridge is as exciting as it sounds.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Western North Dakota is named after the naturalist, rancher, and 26th President of the United States. Activities are endless from hiking, camping, or just driving through the park if you don’t have a lot of time. Be sure to see the free-roaming bison!
Wright Brothers National Memorial
The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base located in Dayton, Ohio, is where Wilbur and Orville Wright worked on their aircraft and learned how to fly. The memorial, which was first built in 1940, is a sight to be seen (and lit at night beautifully) and can be found on Wright Brothers Hill.
When you’re driving down Route 66 and see a giant soda bottle, that’s not a mirage—it’s Pops. This modern take on a roadside stop (which is also a gas station) has a giant wall of soda bottles arranged by color when you walk in. Be sure to see it at night with the soda structure illuminated and choose from over 700 different kinds of soda and drinks inside.
Spanning two tiers of basalt cliffs, Multnomah Falls located in the Columbia River Gorge, is the tallest waterfall in Oregon at 620 feet tall. Adjacent to the falls is a pathway, viewing bridge and lodge which was constructed in 1925.
Benezette is an unincorporated community in Elk County, Pennsylvania, and is home to the largest roaming elk herd. Visitors travel from all over to see these majestic creatures up close. You can rent a cabin and even take a local sleigh or wagon ride for holiday feels.
Calling all Great Gatsby fans! Visitors can tour the nine mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, that once were holiday homes for the upper class. The Newport Mansions now are maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Be sure to check out The Breakers—a 70 room, renaissance style home.
Hilton Head in South Carolina is an oasis without traveling across the world. America’s favorite island is home to 12 miles of pristine beaches and the finest southern dining. Whether you’re seeking spa days or surfing days, there’s something for everyone.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, should be on everyone’s bucket list. Featuring 60 foot tall heads of our Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, it’s a sight you need to see at least once in your lifetime.
Jointly owned by Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, Dollywood is located in the Knoxville Smoky Mountains metroplex in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Don’t be fooled by the butterfly in the logo—their wooden roller coaster Lightning Rod reaches a top speed of 73 mph—the fastest for a wooden roller coaster in the world!
Fort Worth Stockyards
You know you entered the south when you can catch the world’s only (twice daily) cattle drive where the Fort Worth Herd (real Texas cowhands) drives Texas longhorns down East Exchange Avenue. Be sure to stop into family-owned M.L. Leddy’s, a Fort Worth staple since 1922, for custom hand-made cowboy boots, hats and belts.
Nine Mile Canyon
About 125 miles from Salt Lake City, Nine Mile Canyon is filled with thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs—some over a thousand years old. Although the name is “Nine Mile,” the canyon is actually 46 miles long. About halfway through the canyon is the remnants of an old town called Harper, once a stagecoach shop but now a hollow ghost town.
If you want to experience the personality of Burlington, Vermont, then spend an afternoon or night out on Church Street. From beautiful architecture, restaurants with a range of local beers and IPAs and steps from Lake Champlain, you really can’t go wrong.
Get stuck in the past and experience the American Revolution period in Williamsburg, Virginia. Williamsburg was the site for the final battle of the American Civil War. History buffs can visit spots that were frequented by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as well as see original buildings from the 18th Century.
Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Whether it’s in the summer months or ski season in the winter, Mountain Baker Snoqualmie National Forest is an escape into wildlife and scenic trails. Stay in cabins and check out Mount Baker as well as a variety of local restaurants at the neighboring town of Glacier.
New River Gorge Bridge
The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge that spans 3,030 feet long over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. For 26 years, it was the world’s longest single-span arch at 1,700 feet long, but now sits at the number four spot. Located in the Appalachian Mountains it defines taking the scenic route.
Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park is the largest state park in Wisconsin, located south of Baraboo. The park is known for its 500 foot high quartzite bluffs along the 360 acre Devil’s Lake, which was a result of a glacier depositing terminal moraines that plugged the north and south ends of the gap in the bluffs during the last ice age 12,000 years ago! Visitors enjoy hiking and camping overnight, taking in the history and views.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park in Northwestern Wyoming spans 310,000 acres of unbelievable country from mountain ranges to clear blue lakes. The park’s next door neighbor is Yellowstone, the world’s first National Park.
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