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The United States is full of spectacular road trip possibilities . . . vast desert valleys, winding mountain roads, miles of waterfront views – all that and much more waiting for you to explore!
The shortest distance of America from east to west is 2,092 miles, which is quite daunting if you’re not sure where to go or the best way to get there.
That’s why our team – full of travelers with a passion for exploration – mapped out one of the best American road trip routes.
Read on to discover not just where to start and finish, but all the must-see places in between. A life-changing adventure is calling your name!
Table of Contents
Historical to hipster – this road trip takes you from one of the East Coast’s crown jewels to a glimmering city in the Pacific Northwest. Below we have listed favorite spots for locals and tourists in each state you’ll pass through.
The average distance for the below stops between Boston and Portland is about three and a half hours. Eight of the stops we listed have under two hours of travel between them all.
In each state, you’ll have hundreds of options including some of the best museums, zoos, exhibits, and aquariums in the world, touching memorials, authentic reenactments, breathtaking sights, and thrills you’ll remember for a lifetime.
We also listed top RV parks and the most fun places to visit with kids. If you’re a regular RV traveler or someone who has had the itch to live a more transient existence, take a look at our 10 best states for full-time RV living.
See our methodology and additional sources here. Let’s get started.
Home to the first subway, oldest public park, first lighthouse, and first public beach, there’s much to be discovered through this historical city.
Drink in the city’s past with 16 historical sites through the Freedom Trail and America’s oldest park, Boston Common. While you’re there, don’t pass up a stroll through Beacon Hill with all the new and old it has to offer.
Shop along Newbury Street – “Boston’s most enchanting street. Eight blocks filled with salons, boutiques, and fabulous dining. Boston’s Newbury Street has something for everyone.”
And if it’s in your budget, visit Massachusetts’ top high-end dining and shopping location, the acclaimed Prudential Center.
Below is the route we suggest for this cross-country expedition. Check out our favorites with links to each major attraction.
There are days of fun to be had in the Big Apple! Even if you’ve been before, can you really drive through New York without visiting some of the best American attractions in the country?
Plus the incredible museums, monuments, memorials, and observation decks throughout the city.
Or you can skip the city this trip and visit a piece of Ireland here in the states in one of New York’s Irish Towns. You don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy authentic Irish food, music, and some “afters and gargles.”
Here are the places we suggest you check out in Pennsylvania:
And those with little ones, the Please Touch Museum, Sesame Place, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh would make the long hours in the car totally worth it.
Or skip the city life and take a trip back in time to a phenomenal honor of the Revolutionary War generation at the Valley Forge National Historical Park, and once you’re further west visit Ford Ligonier where the whole family can “experience history like never before.”
Ohio is packed full of great tourist spots, but if you’re limited to one route, we suggest the straight shot from Cleveland to Toledo across the top of the state as you make your way west.
Here are some places you should consider visiting along the way:
Traveling across Ohio will make you hungry. Here are some out-of-this-world places to grab a bite:
Route 20 will take you directly from Toledo to the Indiana Dunes, which consists of over 15 miles of magnificent coastline along the southern shore of Lake Michigan waiting for you to explore.
“Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national lakeshore’s 15,000 acres will continually enchant you.” – National Park Service
Indiana Dunes is also home to gorgeous RV parks and campgrounds; “whatever your idea of the perfect campsite is, you’re going to find it here.”
Peoria is a small city that will give you the restful, rejuvenating overnight stay you deserve during this expedition.
Check out the Peoria Riverfront Museum and grab a bite to eat at one (or more) of the city’s diverse restaurants like the fine Italian eatery at Connected or the laid-back Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern.
If you have the time, definitely head off of I-294 and visit the Windy City! Click here for 31 “best things to do” for tourists and locals in Chicago.
Here are some spots we suggest as you pass through Iowa:
If you are making your cross-country journey in August, try to time it so that you’re in Des Moines during the Iowa State Fair – it’s an impressive celebration that lasts for two weeks.
There is already a countdown going until the next one in 2019, (310 days, 5 hours and 18 minutes from now) just above their slogan: “Nothing Compares.”
If you will be arriving in Iowa near the holidays, be sure to check out the Jolly Holiday Lights at Des Moines’ lovely Water Works Park.
Check out the world’s largest indoor desert at the Omaha Zoo.
When it’s time for a break, try some of the local beers.
“Omaha is gaining national recognition as a top beer city. Belly up to the bar and prepare to meet our makers. Enjoy a variety of innovative concoctions created by craftsmen who have made beer their life and Omaha their home.”
– Visit Omaha
Peruse the charming Old Market for a souvenir or just to see the work of Omaha’s prized artists. The quaint cobblestone streets are packed with art, entertainment, and over 45 restaurants.
Did you know? Colorado is home to 75 percent of the land area of the United States.
Clearly that’s a lot of land to explore, but we don’t want you to miss the 2nd most visited mountain in the world, Pike’s Peak. You can drive or take a train to the top at a literally breath-taking elevation of 14,115 feet.
Regardless of the time of year the “picture-perfect” town of Manitou Springs located at the bottom of the majestic Pike’s Peak “looks straight out of a storybook.”
We suggest two stops in “The Beehive State,” the first being Utah’s Grand Canyon. “It is arguably as impressive as the Grand Canyon in its own unique way, and far less visited.” . . . Picturesque views without the crowd.
As you make your way north, we highly suggest stopping in Salt Lake City.
Be one of the five million people a year who see “the most visited attraction in Utah,” Temple Square. Then do some “world-class shopping and dining” at a mall with a creek running through it, City Creek Center.
Or if you’re more of a thrillseeker, check out Snowbird and Olympic Park which offer some of the world’s steepest ziplines, skiing, snowshoeing, trams to the peaks, rooftop pools, bobsledding, and much more! If you are into the art scene, check out Salt Lake City’s fantastic murals.
We suggest you keep money in your pockets and smoke out of your lungs by staying north, bypassing Las Vegas, and heading straight to “the best small town in America.”
Check out Elko’s Western Folklife Center, the Northeastern Nevada Museum, or one of its seven public parks.
And if you’re taking this road trip in a motorhome, we suggest you stay at the Iron Horse RV Resort rated a top 100 RV park.
Oregon is bigger than it looks. It would have taken you over 11 hours to get from Elko, Nevada to Portland, Oregon, so we wanted to give you two towns to visit in between as you make your way northwest.
Lakeview is a small town with only 2,298 residents – seven percent less than in 2000 – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t full of hidden gems to explore!
Here you’ll find the Fremont-Winema National Forest, which embodies over 2.3 million acres of nature that can be explored by hiking, biking, skiing, or horseback riding.
And that’s not all Lakeview has to offer; “at an elevation of 8,222 feet, Drake Peak Lookout hugs the wind-swept land surrounding it, offering unparalleled views into Oregon, California and Nevada.”
Eugene, “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors” offers delicious farm-to-table restaurants, quaint bed and breakfasts, riverfront campgrounds, nationally recognized wineries and breweries, extensive bike paths and much more!
Portland, “The City of Roses,” is a city offering miles of magnificent forests and the stunning Pacific Coastline.
One of the most artistic cities in America, Portland knows how to extract the ordinary from the everyday – whether it’s latte art at Stumptown Coffee Roasters or literary delights at Powell’s, the world’s largest independent bookstore.
Popular (& Hidden) Attractions:
Top Restaurant Picks:
Want more ideas? Click here for “11 Hot Spots Only Portland Locals Know About.”
Even though we mapped it out for you, travelling the nearly 3,000 miles across the U.S. takes a lot of preparation. When you’re getting your car or RV ready to hit the highway, don’t forget to thoroughly inspect your insurance as well.
Make sure your insurance plan has roadside assistance, comprehensive coverage, and is guaranteed to protect you as you cross multiple state lines.
The best way to get a good deal is to compare quotes; you can get started right now by entering your ZIP code in the box below.
We hope you can take this phenomenal trip one day soon!