Skip to main content

The 10 best states for road trips: Where to go on your epic summer getaway

Need a road trip planner? Here are the best states for road trips

There’s something very inviting about hitting the highway for a road trip, even when the price of gas is on the high side. Road trips offer freedom other types of vacations don’t. When mapping out a road trip, the itinerary isn’t set in stone. There aren’t flights or trains to catch, or even a hard check-in time.

Sure, you still need a vague road trip planner with a general idea of the sites you want to see and the timeframe available. What you don’t have, though, is a firm schedule with little room for spontaneity. Part of the fun of a road trip is the unexpected nature of it. Spring and summer are earmarked for road trips, but you can plan an amazing vacation on the road any time of the year. All you need is a route planner. To help you on your way, we’ve got a list of the top 10 states for road trips.

travel bubble map magnifying glass
runner of art/Getty Images

Road trip ideas

When planning on heading out on the highway to enjoy a road trip, there are three main things you’ll want to consider. Gas prices, road safety, and what sites you want to see are all important components to factor in with a road trip planner. You’ll also need to think about renting a car, if necessary, and the Availability and price of accommodations. If you’re flying to the state you’ll be exploring instead of driving to it, it’s important to factor in the cost of a car rental and, of course, gas.

Keeping those elements in mind, here are the 10 best road trip states to gas up for.

Rocky Mountain Road Trip Stanley Idaho
Nicholas Shrier/The Manual

Top road trip states

Gas prices are super important when it comes to planning a road trip. Unfortunately, some of the best states to explore by car also have the ugliest gas prices. Western and Pacific states have always been notorious for higher gas prices, but they also offer amazing road trip ideas. When deciding on which of these 10 states to visit on your road trip, be sure to choose one that fits into your travel budget.


This state tops US News & World Report’s list of best states to live in. It’s also a beautiful state for visitors to explore by car. Where else can you see an active volcano, Mount St. Helens; one of the highest mountains in the United States, Mt. Rainer; and waterfalls, all in one state? There are also scenic railroads and more to experience. The only drawback to a Washington road trip vacation is its gas prices.


Oregon is another Western state ideal for a road trip getaway. It routinely makes the list for best road trip destinations. Its Highway 101 is a stunning ride through seaside coves, inviting beach towns, and hidden gems. The Highway 101 road trip begins in Astoria, which is a two-hour drive from Portland. Enjoy the trek along the highway and let its views take you away. If you have the time, take a side trip along Oregon’s 12-mile Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Oregon’s gas prices will raise an eyebrow, though, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Overall, though, you can’t go wrong with an Oregon road trip.


You can’t talk about road trips without mentioning the Golden State. California has nine national parks; that alone makes it a great road trip destination. Its Pacific Coast Highway is well-known for stunning views, and it’s finally open again after suffering months of closures. Napa and Sonoma County are both amazing areas to explore on a road trip. California gas prices are scary, but don’t let that keep you away. A California road trip is a bucket list must-do.


Minnesota routinely makes the list of the friendliest states in the nation. If you love the outdoors and are looking for a memorable, off-the-beaten-path road trip, hit Minnesota’s North Shore. It skirts Lake Superior’s shoreline from Duluth to Grand Portage. It’s 145-miles of beautiful scenery, endearing small towns, and inviting parks. Other Minnesota road trip ideas include the Great River Road Scenic Byway and the Lake Mille Lacs Scenic Byway. A major plus to a Minnesota road trip, besides its neighborly residents, is the states relatively low gas prices.

North Carolina

If you’re looking for a classic road trip and love hiking, think North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 400 miles long and travels through North Carolina and Virginia, and it’s a fall favorite to check out the leaves as they change color. Chimney Rock State Park is a not-to-miss stop, as is the Blowing Rock, which is North Carolina’s oldest attraction. Recharge in Asheville, especially if you’re a foodie.

New York

The Empire State is most known for its iconic Big Apple. New York City attracts millions of visitors year-round, but what some people may not realize is that New York state offers cool road trip ideas too. There are a few ways to explore the Catskills on a road trip as well as the Finger Lakes along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway. If you’ve never experienced the Big Apple in person, start or end your road trip there. New York’s Long Island also offers ideal road-tripping opportunities.


Like California, Utah is home to many of the United States’ most stunning national parks, including Zion, the oldest. Utah’s national parks are also located relatively close to one another, which means it’s possible that you can explore them all on your road trip vacation.


For a Southern road trip, hop on the Florida’s eastern highway. It winds its way along the Atlantic Ocean from Key West to Amelia Island. One of the stops along the 557-mile highway includes the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. Scenic Highway 30A is another well-known Florida road trip idea.


It may sound weird to think of Hawaii as a road trip state, but can you imagine a better way to see these Pacific Islands up close and personal? Hawaii offers amazing road trip options, such as driving the North Hilo and Hamakua Coast or the Hana Highway. Be sure to factor the cost of car rental and gas prices into your Hawaiian road trip planner. Hawaii’s gas prices routinely top the list of the highest in the US.


No road trip list would be complete without Illinois. For a classic American road trip, drive the 300 miles of the iconic Route 66 that run through the state. Drive along the Galena River and enjoy wineries, restaurants, shops, and more. Be sure to plan a drive along the 33-mile Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway.

Road trip planner

Every one of the 50 US states offers its own unique charm and beauty, but these 10 are must-sees when it comes to road tripping. There really isn’t a better way to experience America than behind the wheel. A road trip vacation is a perfect way to kick back, reconnect, and recharge. If you’ve exhausted the top road trips in your neck of the woods, start expanding your horizons to these road trip states. They definitely will not disappoint.

Editors' Recommendations

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
How to survive a long-distance RV road trip with your significant other
These tips will help you have an amazing adventure
Couple outside an RV during a road trip

A road trip is the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. On the best trips, every day is exciting, novel, inspiring, and Instagram-worthy. But travel can also be stressful, tiring, frustrating, and unpredictable. It’s one thing to deal with these things on your own. But adding a partner into the mix changes the dynamic. It can make things a lot more interesting, sometimes for the worse.

Our best advice when traveling with your partner
Here’s how to survive a long-distance RV road trip with your significant other (without killing each other).
Don’t let it be a "compatibility test"
Above all else, be honest with each other about what’s involved in a long-distance road trip. A six-week, cross-country RV trek isn’t the time to learn that you and your significant other are not quite as compatible as you thought. Hard travel days have a way of bringing out a different side of people. That can put a strain on even the healthiest relationships.
Take a "shakedown trip"
If you’ve never traveled in an RV or in an RV with your partner, plan a “shakedown trip” -- a trip close to home to test things out together in your new rig -- before committing to a long-distance journey. This will let you both experience living in a confined space with one another. If you don’t yet have an RV, consider renting one to get the whole experience before buying your own camper. Test the waters to see how things go, so you don’t have to worry about things going sideways when you’re 400 miles from home.
Decide your roles
Traveling in or towing an RV requires more planning than your average road trip. Setting up and breaking camp isn’t just a matter of jumping in or out of your car and checking into your hotel. There’s finding your campsite, parking and leveling your RV, hooking up the electric, water, and sewer lines, double-checking that your appliances are working correctly -- the list goes on. All of this is much, much easier with two people. It’s easier still if you decide on your roles beforehand. When I travel with my girlfriend, we don’t even have to discuss what needs to be done when we get where we’re going. We just do it. This is especially nice at the end of a long travel day. I take care of parking, leveling, and hooking up our utilities while she gets our cat squared away, fixes our bedding, and sets up the kitchen.
Plan your en-route entertainment
This might seem trivial, but I promise it’s one of the most essential tips on this list. If you’re planning to cover hundreds of miles and hours in a confined space together, you’ll probably want some entertainment along the way. If you and your S.O. are always in sync here, great. If not, take a second before your trip to plan out a playlist, download some audiobooks, or find the best long-road-trip-friendly podcasts to listen to together. That way, you’re not stuck arguing over how many replays of Despacito is too many.
Be realistic
Traveling with an RV, even an ultra-light travel trailer, isn’t an ordinary road trip. Campers are big, unwieldy, and unlike ordinary vehicles. Navigating freeways means being patient, extra cautious, and hyper-aware of your surroundings. All of this makes RV road trips more tiring. If this is your first RV road trip together, be prepared for this. If you’re used to covering 600 miles in a day on a normal road trip, you may only want to tackle half that with an RV in tow. If you and your significant other are both comfortable driving your RV or towing your travel trailer, divvy up the driving duties whenever possible so you can both rest along the way.
Make time for yourself
For couples traveling long distance, they may be together almost non-stop. Depending on your relationship, things can start to feel a bit cramped. Even in a more spacious RV, things will be cramped. Some couples can spend day and night together for weeks on end. Others, even those in perfectly healthy relationships, need regular time apart. Learn to appreciate each other’s need for space. If you want to take a solo hike or visit a museum your partner isn’t interested in, go it alone. Don’t overthink it. Use the time apart to allow the heart to indeed great fonder.
Learn to say "yes!"
There’s no sense in traveling hundreds or thousands of miles from home only to go to the same shops and restaurants and do all the same things you do back home. If your partner wants to try something new, lean into it. If it’s something you wouldn’t normally be into, be flexible. Learn to say “Yes!” without thinking too much about it. Travel is, after all, about new experiences.
Stop often
On a long pleasure trip, forget about “making good time.” You probably won’t with an RV in tow anyway. Who cares if you get where you’re going an hour later than you expected if everyone was stressing over keeping to a predefined schedule? Stop frequently along the way whenever you or your S.O. needs a snack, bathroom break, or to snap a photo. Learn to ignore the clock and just enjoy the journey.
Document your journey
Remember to take photos and videos and write down your experiences in a journal, even if it's just notes and not comprehensive. This is the best way to make the memories last, which you can cherish long after the trip is over.
Try new things
Take advantage of being somewhere new and step outside your comfort zone and try new foods, activities, and experiences. You might discover something you love that you can bring back from the trip.
Be prepared
Even for solo trips, it pays to be prepared. But, this is doubly true for couples. You don’t want a lack of preparation to become a sore spot when the unexpected happens on the road. Even if planning isn’t in your nature, at least think about the next few days in advance. Consider the route you’re planning to travel and whether it requires any special preparations for your RV. Do you need to change up your directions to account for poor road conditions, a certain bridge that’s too low, or a ferry crossing? Call ahead to confirm your reservations at any upcoming campgrounds or campsites. Pack plenty of food, water, and extra clothing in case of a breakdown. A first aid kit and a well-stocked emergency automotive kit are wise, too.
Roll with the punches
Travel far and long enough in an RV and things will go horribly wrong. Learn to expect -- and embrace -- the unexpected. Whether it's flat tires, lousy weather, a leaky sink, no vacancy at your next stop (even though you’re sure you made a reservation), or obnoxious campground neighbors, the travel gods will deal you a crap hand at some point. As in life, learn to roll with the punches as best you can. You and your S.O. will get annoyed and upset, maybe even with each other. Fights may (will) happen. Just know that the sting of the moment will fade and, in another year, you’ll have a great story to tell and laugh about together.

Read more
Wineries, golf courses, museums, and more: Here are 12 of the best campground alternatives for RVs
You just might find your favorite place to stay on this list
Two fighter planes, one yellow one black, sit facing an aircraft hangar.

With the camping season around the corner, it's time to pull the covers off the RV, take your essential gear and get ready to hit the road. RV owners across the U.S. are champing at the bit to get back out and experience the freedom of having the world at your feet. When peak season arrives, this means that campsites and national parks can be overrun, and your sense of freedom starts to disappear as campsite after campsite feels more like a parking lot than your own Shangri-La.

This means you need to get creative, and with 21st-century technology at your fingertips, your phone is your friend. If you're looking for traditional RV campgrounds, apps like Good Sam and Campendium can give you a range of options. If you want to avoid the rush, one of the best apps for finding campground alternatives in the U.S. is Harvest Hosts. You can get a subscription for just $99 per year, and with thousands of free sites for you to choose from, this pays for itself after just a few trips.

Read more
New Mexico road trip itinerary: These 3 incredible routes feature highlights and hidden gems
Ready for the ultimate New Mexico road trip? Here's where to go, what to do, and where to eat
Ghost ranch New Mexico

You know you deserve some time off to get out there and live a little, and that means planning a getaway. Few places beckon the wanderer quite like a New Mexico road trip. From the desert to the mountains, the ever-changing landscape is mesmerizing to watch as you work your way across the state in the Southwest U.S.

Following one (or all!) of these itineraries for different regions of the state will also lead you to fantastic food. "We cannot forget about the mouthwatering New Mexican cuisine and the variety of microbreweries and wineries," Brianna Gallegos, a New Mexico Tourism Board representative, said. While you'll find delicious restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and more along the way, you could even stock your car with local snacks, like Bisco Bites, the state's official cookie. Think shortbread cookies laced with spices like cinnamon, sugar, and anise. Once you have your car stocked, get ready to hit the highway for an amazing trip from corner to corner.

Read more