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…
U.S. Virgin Islands escape: See why St. John is America’s not-so-best-kept tropical island secret
Some of the world's most stunning beaches are right here in the U.S. No passport required
Tiny islands of Trunk Bay off the shore of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Even if you’ve been to the U.S. Virgin Islands, until you’ve set foot on St. John, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This postage-stamp-size speck of land just east of St. Thomas is among the smallest developed islands in the Caribbean. With few roads, near-zero chain businesses of any kind, and the vast majority of land designated as a U.S. National Park, it feels a thousand miles from anywhere. Here are just a few of the best places to eat, play, and stay in one of America’s best tropical island destinations, St. John, USVI.

What to do on St. John, USVI
The Caribbean is home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches, and St. John alone is home to many of them. Pick up a dirt-cheap Jeep rental in Cruz Bay and spend the day exploring the island’s North Shore through Virgin Islands National Park, where every beach seems even more incredible than the last. From east to west, you’ll find Maho Bay, Cinnamon Bay and finally, Trunk Bay. The latter is staggeringly beautiful: Soft, white flour sand, impossibly turquoise water, and the best snorkeling spots in the U.S., with an underwater snorkel trail to boot.

Read more
These are the 12 best podcasts for long road trips
Make your drive better with these great podcasts for road trips
A car driving in the road.

Depending on who you are, a road trip may be a necessary evil or something you've looked forward to for weeks. Whatever your position is on road trips generally, though, we can all agree that every road trip is made better by a high-quality podcast.

This is not to say you shouldn't embrace the sounds of the road. Nor should you avoid your fellow passengers or overlook that special quiet you get when you're driving an empty road during the wee hours. But at some point along the way, you might want a little sonic pick me up. That's where the road trip podcast really comes in handy, an audio copilot that will keep your brain running while the odometer ticks away.

Read more
You still have time to plan a Labor Day weekend trip: 10 fantastic spots
Make Labor Day travel fun with these stellar destinations
The beach at Pismo Beach, California.

It’s wild to think of how quickly summer flies by every year. Yet while the summer travel season starts to wind down and we wonder where the summer went, we still have Labor Day Weekend to plan one more exciting and refreshing summer trip. We know that making summer vacation plans isn't everyone's cup of tea, so we’re going out of our way to point out the destinations where you can escape the most maddening Labor Day weekend crowds without completely breaking the bank.

Now that summer is about to come to a close, here are some great ideas on where you can go to enjoy one last gasp of summer warmth. Here's your last chance to discover your new favorite beaches, explore some great outdoor markets, sport your warm-weather hiking attire, find your perfect spot on the lake, and simply soak up the extra hours of sunshine.

Read more