Sometimes, the wide open road is metaphor. Sometimes, it’s a microcosm of life. Sometimes, it’s a path to enlightenment. And sometimes, it’s just really, really, really fun to drive. This is a celebration of that last kind of road. America’s most scenic, most storied, most iconic roads.
Any “best of” road list must start with the historic Route 66. Main Street of America. Mother Road. This stretch of pavement originally reached from Chicago all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles. Sadly, the historic Route 66 is long gone, replaced by a modern interstate highway. However, there are still stretches you can drive and imagine what used-to-be, and sometimes actually witness what-once-was. Check out the National Register of Historic Places to see exactly which stretches of the original Route 66 were turned into National Scenic Byways. Then, imagine yourself in the early 50’s cruising across this vast land in the first road to bring it all together.
Ever wonder what it’s like to hover a few feet over the ocean for miles at a time? Cruising over the pastel greens and light blues that lap beneath you? Feeling like ocean air incarnate, the human embodiment of the sea breeze? Okay, maybe not that last one. But the Overseas Highway that takes you from Miami all the way to Key West will certainly have you feel like you’re sailing just as much as you’re driving. It’s 113 miles over tiny islands and vast stretches of ocean, with the highlight being the Seven Mile Bridge, one of the longest in existence. We recommend packing some fishing equipment and stopping at any of the tiny keys along the way. And don’t be surprised if you encounter a Key Deer or two, as this is the only place in the world they inhabit.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Now, for something completely different. High above sea level, across the Appalachian mountain range from Virginia to North Carolina, lies this 469-mile road. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful roads in the country, with the most scenic landscapes you’ll find east of the Rockies. The Linn Cove Viaduct, a 1,243-foot bridge takes you around the bottom of Grandfather Mountain is not to be missed.
The Pacific Coast Highway
Along the California coast, stretching all the way from NorCal to SoCal, is Highway 1, an absolute gem of a road. Resting right up against the cliffs at some points, snaking through wildflower fields in others, even passing through huge, overgrown forests and dry desert climes, the PCH has it all. And all within a few hours drive. Grab a ride in SF, make a few pit stops in Big Sur, San Simeon, and Santa Barbara, and watch the sun go down in Santa Monica. This is a drive you’ll want to make again and again.
Great River Road
If the ocean isn’t your thing, but you’re still a fan of the water, why not travel alongside it for, oh, I don’t know, 3,000 miles? This road follows the length of the Mississippi River, from Minnesota to Louisiana. Ten states and hundreds of town line this epic road. And as you travel farther and farther south, the cultures change, the foods change, the accents change, but the road remains the same. Absolutely picturesque.
The Loneliest Road in America
So, you’ve got a car. One you really want to drive. You don’t want distractions. You don’t want stop-offs. You don’t even want views. You. Just. Want. To. Drive. Well, America’s got that too. US Route 50 in Nevada. A totally desolate road that crosses a dry, scorching hot, desert valley with almost no signs of life. All it’s got is what you’re looking for. The wide open road.
So, if you’ve got time, and a penchant for driving. We’ve got the car. And no matter where you live, America’s got the road.