The Great American Road Trip Bucket List

There are times when getting away from it all is in order, whether it’s to unwind and forget about life’s problems or to seek out adventure. Fortunately, America is full of boundless beauty and unique attractions that are fun to explore on a road trip. If you are looking to get away or see some interesting sites, one of these routes is sure to meet your needs perfectly.


Portland to Pemaquid Point, Maine

This 106-mile route could take from 3 hours to 3 days. Before starting your trip, head to the iconic Portland Head Lighthouse, which inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem. At Phippsburg Peninsula, visit Fort Popham, a Civil War fort before head to Bath’s “City of Ships.”

Grab a bite to eat at Argus Restaurant, famous for its Cabbage Island Clambake, then wind up your trip with a stop at the Penaquid Point Lighthouse. Take this drive if you are mesmerized by the ocean or anything related to it.


Tail of the Dragon

This legendary route along U.S. 129 has been named one of the Top Motorcycle Rides in the U.S. by National Geographic. It spans the Tennessee/North Carolina line, flanked on either side by the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest.

The route begins near “Fugitive Dam”, the dam Harrison Ford jumps off of in the movie “The Fugitive”. With 318 curves in an 11-mile span, this is a drive for motorcycle enthusiasts or adrenalin junkies-there are even several dragon sculptures along the way to remind you of the danger.


Blue Ridge Parkway

This 469-mile drive covers the distance between the Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has been designated a national park due to its breathtaking scenery and diverse terrain that includes mountain crests, woodland forests, river valleys and numerous species of shrubs and wildflowers.

There are no billboards to distract from the surroundings, allowing you to enjoy all the sites along the route such as Virginia’s Natural Bridge, Looking Glass Rock, Roanoke River Gorge, and several Civil War battle sites. Take this route whenever you would like to connect with nature.


General Hitchcock Highway

Also known as the Catalina Highway, this route is the only paved roadway to the summit of Mount Lemmon and the Santa Catalina Mountains. Allow between five to seven hours to drive this 90-mile route, not to include hiking time.

Begin in Tucson by filling your tank and your picnic basket so that when you arrive at one of the scenic overlooks, you can stop and enjoy yourself. Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to find out more about desert life, and gain more knowledge about the area at the Palisades Visitor Center. Do some shopping in Summerhaven, and end your day by taking part in a night sky viewing program at the Mount Lemmon Sky Center. This trip is highly educational and is therefore perfect for families with young children and homeschool groups.


Norfolk to New Haven, Connecticut

This 178-mile route, known for one of the best fall foliage displays in New England, will take approximately 9 hours to complete. After leaving Norfolk, you enter Haystack Mountain State Park, where you can climb the 34-foot tower for a panoramic view that extends as far as Massachusetts.

From there, head to Hartford, where you’ll find Mark Twain’s home is still standing. Continue toward Madison, stopping at Hammonasset Beach State Park, the largest shoreline park in the state. After enjoying the beach and rustic nature trails, you can wind up in New Haven, which is renowned for its museums, galleries, and historic buildings. This route is perfect for anyone who enjoys history.


Outlaw Route: Billy the Kid Scenic Byway

The 102-mile stretch of Billy the Kid Scenic Byway between Ruidoso and White Oaks, New Mexico takes between two and three hours from start to finish. Surrounded by more than a million acres of wilderness, the area surrounding this route is perfect for hiking and mountain biking.

Beginning in Ruidoso, this route winds through Ruidoso Downs, home of the richest American Quarter Horse race. From there, head into San Patricio, once a famous hangout of Billy the Kid, before reaching Lincoln, famous for the Lincoln County War that made Billy the Kid famous. At the end of your drive, stop by Smoky Bear Historical Park, where you can pay your respects to the famous bear before heading on to White Oaks Ghost Town. Anyone who loves nostalgia or enjoys hearing tales about the Wild Wild West will be intrigued by this one-of-a-kind trip.

Any of these routes would make a perfect day trip or even extended road trip. Have you traveled any of these routes? If so, what was your experience? Are there any other scenic routes in the United States that you would recommend?

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