Hit the Road! The 10 Most Scenic Drives in America

Good old Nate King Cole said it best with his famous lyrics, “get your kicks on route 66.” The song’s a classic for a reason; there’s just something wholesome and downright American about the idea of hitting the road for a scenic drive to somewhere new and adventurous. 

But just because you’re up for adventure doesn’t mean you can’t be well planned ahead.

For those vacationers prepping for a fun ride, here’s a helpful list of the 10 most scenic drives in America where you’re sure to get your kicks.

10 Most Scenic Drives in America

If you grew up in the states and didn’t spend at least one family vacation driving cross country, you definitely missed out.

Driving can be a major part of the travel experience. When you’re traveling through beautiful countryside or amazing scenery, the ride itself becomes a great memory.

So buckle up, these are some unforgettable drives you don’t want to miss.

1. Pacific Coast Highway, CA

Wow, looking for some gorgeous beach views and world-famous landmarks? This unforgettable drive extends the length of California’s Pacific coast. 

Enjoy beautiful sunsets along miles of coastline. See everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Big Sur Section. This drive even boasts a little detour up north that leads you through the otherworldly redwoods.

Best not be forgetting your camera for this drive.

2. Highway 12, UT

Utah, you amaze us with your many national parks and a variety of stunning landscapes. Highway 12 takes you through too much to ever fully appreciate on one trip.

You get to see red rock country. Think real cowboy landscape with buttes and mesas as far as the eye can see.

Capital Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Staircase Escalante National Monument. Just be sure you make time to park the car and take some hikes while you’re passing through.

There’s nothing else in the world quite like this stunning Utah drive. Do we sound a bit biased? Honestly, this has to be a favorite on the list.

3. Blue Ridge Parkway, VA

Another famous spot immortalized by more than one hit song, Blue Ridge Parkway, runs through the heart of the Shenandoah National Park.

Every direction you look during this stunning, forested drive you see green beauty amid the Appalachian Mountains. 

Plus, what’s not to love about that real bluegrass music you can listen to on the radio during this trip? Oh, and the southern food, you’re sure to find along the way.

4. Million Dollar Highway, CO

This scenic drive is a stunner in the green summer months but may be at it’s most breathtaking during winter when the mountains are covered in snow.

Be aware, you’re going to want to take your 4-wheel drive on this one, but it’s worth it. With a steep incline and sometimes slick winter conditions, preparation is key.

Still, the sights make it worth the effort. Drive through the Red Mountains Pass, Ouray, Silverton, and the San Juan Mountains. We recommend bringing some hot cocoa and a windshield scraper for this one. 

5. Historic Columbia River Highway, OR

Is green your thing? This is your drive. Waterfalls, lush vegetation, tunnels, more waterfalls.

Start your drive amid the weirdies in eastern Portland and enjoy the trip to the Vista House alongside the mighty Columbia River. 

End your trip with a very safe hotel stay in the famous Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge where scenes from “The Shining” were shot.

6. Route 1, AK

This one’s in Alaska. Should we stop with our explanation there? 

What’s not to be impressed by in Alaska? This route takes you from Homer up to Anchorage, then on to Tok close to Canada. You’re going to want to enjoy this trip over the course of several days so be sure to book a great hotel along the route.

See the Matanuska Glacier, take a detour to see Mount Denali, (the highest peak in the U.S.A.), and be sure to get a glimpse of those northern lights. 

7. Olympic Peninsula Loop, WA

Another northwest drive, it’s impossible to be left off the list. This scenic drive literally does circles around the Olympic National Park.

You’ll see the Pacific coast, Hood Canal, Lake Crescent, and endless snowy-topped mountains and lush green forests. 

If you’ve got extra time, consider heading up to La Push for some nearly untouched beaches surrounded by forest. Even drive through the Hoh Rainforest.

8. Overseas Highway, FL

Welcome to Miami! Odds are, you’ll need a reliable flight into Miami before you get a car to head on down to the famous Florida Keys.

The natural variety is sure to keep your interest as you move from savanna to the tropical islands of the Florida Keys.

The entire drive is 113 miles and connects multiple islands. Enjoy the thrill of driving bridges across the ocean, the longest of which reaches over 7 miles in length!

This drive takes you to the southernmost point in the U.S.A. When you get to Key West, you sure better have your bathing suit with you because these white sands are not to be taken for granted.

9. 89A, AZ

Again with the Redrock, but let’s be honest, there’s too much about this amazing landscape to keep from adding this drive to the list. 

If you’re feeling like a detour, you’ve got the Grand Canyon in your sights. 89A will see you driving from beautiful, pine-covered, Flagstaff, all the way to Prescott.

You won’t need a filter to capture the vibrant reds and greens of this rocky landscape. Take a break in Sedona before heading on to see the Mogollon Rim.

10. Highway 78, AL

You’re going to want to do this drive in the autumn as the bright reds, oranges, yellows, and greens will undoubtedly steal your breath.

Head through the Alabaman version of the Appalachians, and on to Talladega National Forest.

This drive is a fun one too as it has many ups and downs as the road hugs the hilly terrain.

Start Your Trip off Right

These 10 most scenic drives in America are a great way to enjoy the wonders of this vast and varied nation without even having to leave your car.

Of course, if traveling cheap is truly your forte, check out these great tips on how to travel cheap. After all, if you’re taking one of these drives, you can always use some extra gas money.

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