Taking a Sunday drive used to be a thing of the past, but more people are getting back on the road and discovering scenic and relaxing drives. Regardless of what day it is, or want month is it, if you’re looking to take a drive to find some stunning scenery, you’ve got plenty of options since there are several amazing roads to drive in the USA. When they say that it’s the journey that matters, not the destination, certain trips can exemplify that belief more than others. If you have some free time coming up and don’t have a particular destination you want to go to, then taking one of these amazing scenic drives near you and within the USA could be worth it.
Some options on our list provide different parts of nature to enjoy and take pictures of, and others give you more of a landscape to marvel at, especially at sunset. If you’re ready to get on the road, then here are some scenic drives you should take in the USA. If you want more, you can also drive to these last-minute budget destinations within the USA.
1. Highway 78, Alabama
Do you want views of the hills and mountains while you’re driving along the road? Then Highway 78 in Alabama will grant you beautiful scenes no matter the time of day. This highway goes through the Appalachian Mountains so if you’re already in this area or have plans of being around the area, plan on driving Highway 78 even if it’s just for the sights.
Spring and fall are the best times to drive along this highway so you can enjoy decent temperatures and changes in the colors of the leaves. From Hwy 78, you can drive to Tennessee, the Carolinas and other southern states if you have a long break like an upcoming spring or summer break.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Residents of North Carolina looking for a relaxing drive near them should take their cars along Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah and Great Smokey Mountains National Park so you have plenty of places to stop and enjoy nature. These locations are great for picnics with friends and family or small hikes so you can stretch out and get some exercise.
Most places you may stop by along this highway don’t require an admission fee, which means you have some of money left over for dinners and other activities. Since this part of North Carolina can be rainy some months of the year, it’s best to verify ahead of time that it isn’t raining near your destinations, unless you don’t mind getting wet.
3. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
A part of the Blue Ridge Parkway sits along the top spine of the Appalachian Mountains. This beautiful drive leads you through the area of the Shenandoah National Park itself. This is all part of the Blue Ridge Parkway that pass through North Carolina as well but more accessible from the D.C. and New York metro areas.
A highlight of this scenic drive comes in the fall as the leaves of the trees change colors. The rainbow of colors in the trees makes it one of the best and most scenic drives in the U.S. If you need to stretch your legs, the area also offers plenty of beautiful hiking and backpacking trails as well. And you can drive along this parkway till you get to North Carolina and beyond.
3. Silverado Trail, California
Californian residents can also take a drive along the Silverado Trail if they want to spend their break or vacation on the road. This is also the way to go if you are a fan of wine and want to stop at different wineries along the way. The mountains and valleys in the background provide an excellent backdrop.
There are also spots along the way for bike tours if you want to enjoy some fresh air on your trip. And if you have enough time, stop by one of the balloon ride services in Napa Valley so you can get a better view of the area.
4. Hana Highway, Hawaii
Those who have a vacation planned for Hawaii should save time for a drive along Hana Highway besides their days saved for surfing and hiking. This highway can make it easier to get to a variety of other activities you’ve planned in Hawaii, and the views of the mountains and gardens work great for when you need a break to take some photos. Cruising on the Hana Highway will offer you views of beautiful ocean vistas, cascades, and rain forests.
Restaurants and cafes are hard to miss on this highway, giving you a great number of places for lunch or dinner. There are many spots to stop and take in the scenery along the 52-mile long stretch of road. Some beaches you’ll see along the way have calmer waters than others, which will determine which ones you’ll want to stop for if you love to surf. Also, don’t expect to just whisk through the area as the highway is full of hairpin turns and twists along the way. You can expect to stay around an average speed of around 30 mph when taking this highway, because of the curves and not wanting to miss any of the amazing sights.
5. Olympic Peninsula Loop, Washington
Small towns are among the best unique sites for road trips, and the Olympic Peninsula Loop in Washington gives you the chance to tour through different spots for meals and shopping breaks. Most towns along this option are on the water, which should work for anyone who want to take pictures of lakes when the sun is setting or stop for a quick fishing trip.
When you’re not checking out the museums, city halls and other attractions in these towns, you can venture to the hot springs, waterfalls and other beautiful areas closer to nature. There are also spots along the coast for views of the ocean with mountains in the background.
6. Pacific Coast Highway 1, California
On West Coast, fans of long drives, specifically those in California, should put trips along the Pacific Coast Highway on their to-do lists. Travelers are treated with amazing views of the ocean, hills and mountains that make for great additions to your photo collection, and these spots are great for a break at the beach or on a hike up the mountains. California’s beautiful Pacific Coast Highway 1 runs almost the entire length of the Pacific Coast. Often called the PCH, Highway 1 offers some of the best scenic views in America. Along this route, you will find stunning beaches that dot the coastlines and wildflower-covered mountains.
Taking this drive north will lead you through the iconic Big Sur region and the Golden Gate Bridge. To the south, the PCH runs right through the heart of the celebrity City of Malibu. When driving through Malibu, you can see the many beautiful homes that sit along the beaches and on the hills. You might even see the filming of movies, which is done quite often along various sections of the PCH. This highway stretches from Los Angeles to San Francisco, providing plenty of places to spend the night in more populated areas if you’re driving the whole way. This makes it easy to find restaurants, clubs and other sources of entertainment on your journey.
7. Highway 101, Oregon
The highway 101 which starts in Los Angeles, California and ends up in Oregon is truly a visual treat. The Oregon coastline offers some of the most stunning views of coastline in America.
The winding roads that wrap the coastline create a beautiful backdrop as huge ocean waves crashing violently against the rocks. Along your drive, you can stop and view several locations that have been used in movies. Some movies filmed along this drive include Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, and Seal Rock just to name a few.
8. Highway 12, Southern Utah
Highway 12 in Southern Utah is a drive with spectacular views of red mountains and massive mesas. The Highway will take you past many picturesque spots in Utah like the Bryce Canyon National Park, with its pink cliffs and vistas with no end in sight.
A portion of Highway 12 that runs between the towns of Escalante and Boulder, and has been carved out of a mountain with a steep drop on both sides. This part of the road offers motorists breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
9. Overseas Highway, US 1, Florida
Ditch the boat and instead take your car island-hopping as you drive the Overseas Highway 1 bridges from one Floridian island to another. This stunning stretch of road will take you from Miami south through the Florida Keys. Along Route 1, you’ll see tropical islands and the largest coral reef in the United States. Some of you may prefer great views of the ocean and other bodies of water during your drives. In this case, save a weekend for U.S. 1 so you can check out the small bodies of land and blue water in the Florida Keys. The overseas highway connects these islands so you have a spot to get out and stretch on your breaks.
You’ll see lots of amazing scenery as you travel the down the 113-miles long highway. You’ll drive from one tropical island to another tropical island over bridges, one of which is nearly seven miles long. Aside from the beautiful islands that you’ll see, there are other attractions at the highways southernmost tip. The points along the highway provide a variety of sources of entertainment, including beaches for if you want to do some surfing or snorkeling, or bars for trying out different drinks. Lighthouses, coral-reef parks and other sites are common along the highway. And when you’re done driving US 1, visit other parts of Florida for fun things to do with your family.
11. Route 89A, Arizona
Route 89A will take you from Prescott to Flagstaff, Arizona, straight through the heart of the red rock country.
You will get to experience Sedona, Arizona, which is considered by many to be one of the most spectacular and scenic areas in the southwest of the U.S. With towering red rock formations and massive buttes, Sedona sits in an area surrounded by red canyon walls. A drive along here will provide you with tons of picturesque locations.
12. Route 1, Alaska
Alaska’s Route 1 runs from Homer to Anchorage, Alaska and lies near the Canadian border. There are some sections along the route that are just jaw-dropping beautiful depending on the time of the year. Taking a drive around the areas of Portage and Glenallen can yield spectacular views as well.
The areas feature massive glaciers and monstrous snow-capped mountains that transcend from the heavens down to the sea. With a slight detour, you can make your way up to Denali State Park, which has the highest mountain peak in all of North America, sitting at over 20k feet above sea level.
13. Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon
Running just east of Portland, you can take a drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway for magnificent views of waterfalls.
This narrow road sits surrounded by thick lush green foliage and trees covered in moss, creating a beautiful forest for the backdrop to your drive. Waterfalls, one after another line the road as you drive through this very lush and green area. As you pass through, you can visit the most popular of the waterfalls, Multnomah Falls, as it’s always worth a stop to enjoy the view.
From the east to west coasts there are a number of amazing roads that you can drive for amazing views. Whether you want to see mountains or you’re interested in beautiful coastlines, there are roads to drive in America that will literally take your breath away by its sheer beauty. So next time when you are looking to go for a drive or take a trip, consider taking one of these amazing drives to your destination for an amazingly scenic journey. And if you want to explore more by road, here are last-minute budget destinations you can actually drive to within the USA.