THE BEST NORTH AMERICA TRIP ITINERARY
The classic American road trip appeals to many out there.
It’s a favorite form of travel.
In fact, while countless people will travel to the United States to do a cross-country road trip, numerous Americans have never done it themselves.
If you’re itching to take a trip to the Wild West or the Deep South, read on!
We’ve got all the best ideas on how to plan a stellar North America trip itinerary.
Let’s jump right in.
North America Holiday
Looking for fun ideas for your next trip?
We’ll do our best to give you a few great ideas for your North America trip itinerary.
These are fun holidays that’ll get you out of the house and on the road.
Alright, you said you wanted a road trip.
THIS is a road trip. Route 66 is the longest of all the road trips on this list – it goes from Chicago to Los Angeles.
The driving distance (no stops!) is 1 day 4 hours.
But the Route 66 road trip is worth it for so many reasons.
Route 66 is one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System.
It’s also known as the Main Street of America.
It originally ran through the following locations:
- Chicago, IL
- New Mexico
- Santa Monica, Los Angeles, CA
It covers a total of 2,448 miles and served as a route for those migrating west during the Dust Bowl.
Needless to say, you’ll experience history and some pretty cool sights by adding this to your North America trip itinerary.
If you want to do a drive that is so classically America, well, you’ve met your match.
The Pacific Coast Highway
Our second idea is also classically American.
It’s time to drive the Pacific Coast Highway!
This drive takes you from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
During this trip, you’ll see small seaside towns like Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea and then follow the rugged coast up to Big Sur and Garrapata State Park.
You can enjoy the water and wildlife all along this drive.
Although it takes you to some remote areas of the California coast, they’re areas you’d otherwise never see.
The views are endless, and every new city and town brings something new (and gorgeous!).
Better yet, it’s an easy road trip that takes you between two major cities.
Sure, you could book a cheap and efficient flight, but your experience will be far superior with this road trip.
Even if you don’t pick it for this trip, you must add it to your bucket list!
Las Vegas Loop
Another fabulous road trip in the American West is the Las Vegas Loop.
If you dream of seeing the red rock that covers much of the southwest, then you’ve got an entire loop to check out.
Here are some of the stops you’ll make on this road trip:
- Las Vegas (START)
- Grand Canyon
- Monument Valley
- Navajo Tribal Park (not a US National Park)
- Photography is permitted, but be respectful of local customs and traditions
- Arches National Park
- Breathtaking sunrise and sunset
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
- Hike up Angels Landing in Zion National Park
- Las Vegas (END)
With this road trip, you’ll start and end in Vegas, which makes it an easy roundtrip flight in and out and an easy car rental (if you’re not within driving distance).
You’ll also see stunning views of the American desert, which frankly doesn’t get enough credit for its beauty.
North America has so many national parks to love, why not see them all?
Great Basin National Park to Lake Tahoe
Great Basin National Park is located in White Pine County in east-central Nevada near the Utah border.
It derives its name from the Great Basin, which is the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains.
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
It straddles the state line between California and Nevada.
Needless to say, there’s some real natural beauty to be seen between these two on a great American road trip.
The driving distance between the two is about 7 hours direct on Highway 50 (also known as the Loneliest Road).
You’d hit stops along the way like…
- Ghost town
- Ghost town
- Early reclamation site and agricultural town
- Carson City
- State capital of Nevada
While you won’t be hitting major stops in terms of urban cities along the way, this is a great trip to put on your list if you’re interested in hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities.
Summer is often the most popular time to visit Great Basin National Park.
Autumn brings cooler weather and smaller crowds.
Thunderstorms are common at any time of the year.
If you’re planning to hike or camp, be sure to keep this in mind when you’re planning your North America trip itinerary.
Deep South Road Trip Itinerary
The term “Deep South” is often defined in a variety of ways.
It’s a cultural and geographic subregion of the southern U.S. that depended on plantations and slave societies during the pre-Civil War period.
After the war, it suffered economic ruin and was a major site of racial tension following Reconstruction and the Jim Crow Laws.
The Deep South has been referred to as the “Cotton States” as cotton was the main cash crop.
It was also the site of many Civil Rights Movement events.
Most definitions of the Deep South include Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Texas and Florida are sometimes included, because they were slave states and were a part of the Confederate States of America.
It is also sometimes defined as a large part of the “Cotton Belt,” which would then include parts of North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
In history books, the term “Deep South” sometimes refers to the first 7 of the 11 states that made up the Confederacy.
These were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.
While the jury is still out on the definition of the “Deep South,” there are several road trips you can take in this area that allow you to explore the history that gave it its name.
We’ll give you three options of road trips that visit states and cities of the Deep South, and that will give you plenty of opportunities if you’re dying to explore this region.
The Heart of America
One of our favorites actually starts in Chicago, Illinois, which is not one of the states mentioned above, but is absolutely worth visiting if you haven’t previously.
This trip essentially traverses the heart of America from top to bottom.
Your route will take you through some less-visited U.S. cities where you’ll hear great music.
- Check out Millennium Park
- Visit Navy Pier
- Go to Cloud Gate or “The Bean”
- Eat deep dish pizza
- St. Louis
- Look for The Gateway Arch
- This is considered an iconic symbol of America’s expansion
- Go to the Missouri Botanical Garden
- Visit the Old Courthouse
- Walk down Market Street
- Look for The Gateway Arch
- Visit the former home of Elvis Presley – Graceland
- Go to Beale Street
- Visit the National Civil Rights Museum
- Seek out some rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and jazz – you’re in the cradle of it after all!
- Visit the Delta Blues Museum
- Enjoy a stopover and rest!
- Visit Longwood (antebellum mansion)
- Go to Grand Village of the Natchez Indians – a native American archaeological site
- Visit William Johnson House – the former home of a prominent freed slave
- New Orleans
- Head to Bourbon Street at the heart of the French Quarter
- Visit Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral
- Go to the National WWII Museum
- Eat beignets at Café du Monde
- Try shrimp po’boy
- Listen to jazz
- Go to Mardi Gras
The Blue Ridge Parkway
And if one southern road trip isn’t enough for you, we’ve got another in a slightly different part of the south.
This one isn’t “Deep South” per se, but you’ll still get those southern vibes as you drive through Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s longest linear park.
It links Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
It runs along the spine of the Blue Ridge, which is a major mountain chain in the Appalachian Mountains.
The best parts about this trip?
There are entrances and exits to the Blue Ridge Parkway at all major federal and state highways.
Below, we’ll list out the places you’ll pass along the way.
Asheville, NC, Boone, NC, and Roanoke, VA are the largest cities on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Shenandoah National Park (START)
- Fancy Gap
- Mount Airy
- Blowing Rock
- Visit the Biltmore House
- Pisgah National Forest
- Cherokee (END)
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a drive everyone should experience one day.
It’s designed for leisurely motoring at roughly 45 miles per hour (or less in some areas), so make sure you’re not in a rush to get somewhere when you’re planning this North America trip itinerary.
End to end, it is about 469 miles, which will take around 12 hours without traffic and stops.
However, when you factor in weather, traffic, stops, and anything else that may delay you, it’s worth giving yourself additional time.
This is an ideal road trip if you only have a few days on your hands.
It’s likely between 12 and 18 hours of driving depending on how efficient you are.
While there aren’t a ton of “sites” along the way to stop and see, you’ll have lots of nature to view as long as you visit at the right time.
Autumn is gorgeous, because of the change of colors.
If you have time, don’t hesitate to park and get out of your car to experience it.
There are hiking trails, waterfalls, and panoramic views that are waiting for you!
Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway official site to learn more and to plan your North America trip itinerary.
The Appalachian Trail: Driving Edition
Finally, you can consider the Appalachian Trail (the driving route, of course).
The Appalachian Trail is the longest and best-known hiking trail in the country.
And the road that parallels the hike is incredibly scenic.
You’ll experience almost continuous natural beauty as you drive down two-lane roads.
Now, be warned that it won’t be quite as cool to drive from Maine to Georgia as it would be to hike.
If you want to get to know the country and see incredible scenery, we can’t think of a better way than the Appalachian Trail.
You’ll go from resort towns booming with tourism to low-income areas in great need.
It’s a great way to open your eyes to various parts of the U.S. and how they differ from one another.
For more information on driving the Appalachian Trail, you can visit here.
Interested in Planning an American Road Trip?
There are endless opportunities to plan the perfect North America trip itinerary in a country as large as the United States.
Whether you’re using your favorite car or a campervan, the above road trips will create memories to last a lifetime.
When you plan to travel for extended periods – even if it’s by car or within your home country – it’s never a bad idea to have travel insurance.
It provides emergency financial assistance for out of pocket costs that you may otherwise struggle to cover.
Especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, definitely consider purchasing travel insurance.
And if you’re taking this road trip with family, we know how difficult it can be to survive with a full car.
Read our blog on Road Trip Gadgets That Help You Survive Family Vacation.
Get everything you need before you leave!
What are your North America trip itinerary recommendations? If you have any, comment below!
If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to help you plan your first international trip, check out The Ultimate Guide to Trip Planning.
If you simply do not have the time to plan your next road trip or you just don’t want to do it, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!