Road Trips

East Coast Road Trip Ideas

If you're looking for some USA road trip ideas, try the East Coast! With 14 states between the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Appalachian Mountains on the west, the East Coast has everything you could want for a road trip destination. Enjoy an endless array of flavors and activities across the Eastern Seaboard, from Miami's beaches to Maine's seafood shacks. 

This guide offers the best East Coast road trip ideas in the USA. Find great options for exploring big cities, small coastal towns and everything in between. 

Big City Road Trip Ideas up the East Coast 

Whether you're doing a short trip or an entire East Coast tour, hitting these major cities on your route is sure to give you a ton of fun East Coast road trip ideas. If you like exploring busy streets, learning about history or simply having a good time, these cities will provide everything you're looking for. Explore someplace new and discover the attractions that make up the cities on the Eastern Seaboard:

1. Miami, Florida

Lush glades and clear waters surround this sprawling city on the coast. If you're planning a trip, stopping in Miami is one of the best East Coast road trip ideas. Explore the beaches and islands of Miami for some world-class fun in the sun. For a quiet spot to relax and a family-friendly environment, try North Miami Beach. If you want to party, Miami's South Beach scene is renowned for showing visitors a good time. 

After beach time, explore the city's wonderful street food and bars in Little Havana. For activities the whole family will enjoy, visit the Miami Children's Museum and explore the Everglades National Park. If you want to do something edgy and unique, check out Miami's Museum of Graffiti

2. Savannah, Georgia

As one of the most historic cities in the South, Savannah has a wealth of activities to choose from.

Another idea for road trips on the East Coast includes a stop in Savannah. As one of the most historic cities in the South, Savannah has a wealth of activities to choose from. Shop along the historic Broughton Street and check out the unique Paris Market. Stroll down the historical cobblestones of River Street and bear witness to Savannah's rich, and at times dark, past. 

Give your feet a break with a trolley tour of Old Savannah — you can hop on and off at your convenience to learn about and explore the city at your own pace. If you're looking for something a little spooky, take a bone-chilling ghost tour of America's most haunted city.

3. Norfolk, Virginia

Another great East Coast USA road trip idea is a stop in Norfolk, Virginia. It's situated on the coast, so you can get all the benefits of a coastal city along with great inland activities. You can explore the Chesapeake Bay on a cruise or even learn to set sail with one of Norfolk's sailing programs.

For history buffs, take a short trip north to visit the remains of the first English settlement, Jamestown. Explore more history at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and see a real-life warship, Battleship Wisconsin. Get active and take a bike ride down Elizabeth River Trail, right on the waterfront, or take a stroll in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

4. Washington D.C.

Washington D.C., the United States capital city, is one of the best road trip ideas along the East Coast. This city has something for everyone.

Washington D.C., the United States capital city, is one of the best road trip ideas along the East Coast. This city has something for everyone. Visit the Capitol to see the Library of Congress and even take a tour of the White House. Or, visit one of the 17 museums of the Smithsonian Institution, like The National Museum of African American History and Culture. For something truly unique that kids will love, check out the International Spy Museum.

You can also check out the restaurants and bars of Georgetown. Visit Georgetown Piano Bar for a cool and classy night on the town, or make your way over to The Tombs, a welcoming pub offering classic American fare. After a long day exploring the city, stroll along the National Mall to see the beautiful monuments reflected in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

5. Baltimore, Maryland

As another coastal city, Baltimore is a great stop for a road trip on the East Coast. Take a lunch or dinner cruise on the Inner Harbor for great views of the city and an unforgettable dining experience. Spend a day exploring Fell's Point, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Stop by America's oldest continually operating saloon, The Horse You Came In On Saloon, for live music and great food.

Get a glimpse at the diverse sea life and extraordinary marvels of the ocean at the National Aquarium, which is perfect for all ages. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, let nearby Patapsco Valley State Park transport you into a peaceful and relaxing state of mind. Or, stick around in the city and enjoy simple sea fare and great views at a waterfront restaurant.

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia matches its rich history with an awesome culture to make it one of the best cities to visit on the East Coast.

No East Coast American road trip ideas are complete without a stop in Philadelphia. As the first World Heritage City in the United States, Philadelphia matches its rich history with an awesome culture to make it one of the best cities to visit on the East Coast. Check out Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell to see iconic foundations in the story of America's founding. 

For a look at incredible works of art from around the globe, visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art — as a bonus, on your way to the museum you'll get to walk up the famous steps from the movie "Rocky." You can also get a picture with the iconic Rocky statue at the bottom of the steps. Even though you're in the middle of a city, Philadelphia's beer garden scene is hopping. After exploring historic Philadelphia, stop by Independence Beer Garden or another outdoor establishment for a refreshing brew in a magical greenspace.

7. New York City, New York

As the most populous city in the United States, it might be easier to list what you can't do in New York City. Split into five boroughs, New York City has so much to explore. Some of the most notable tourist stops include the Statue of Liberty and Ellis IslandCentral Park and Times Square. In addition to tourist attractions, New York offers some of the best markets and spots for authentic cuisine from around the world.

For a heavy dose of arts and culture, check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Relax for a mid-day picnic in Central Park, the most visited urban park in the country. No matter when you visit, you can guarantee something fun is going on, from film and music festivals to parades and block parties. New York City isn't for the faint of heart, but it is a cool idea for an East Coast road trip destination.

8. Boston, Massachusetts 

Lovingly referred to as Beantown by its residents, stopping in Boston is another great road trip idea for an East Coast vacation. Learn about the city's rich multicultural history on one of the many walking or boat tours available. Step into the past at the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum for a reenactment of that famous event. History buffs will love to round out the day with a trip to the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Boston has much more to offer than history lessons, however. Take your kids to the second oldest children's museum in the nation, Boston Children's Museum or the Boston Museum of Science for fun-filled activities. At the end of a long day of adventures, see why this city is becoming the craft brew capital of the USA by visiting one of the many local breweries.

Scenic Coastal Routes for Your Drive

Scenic Coastal Routes for Your Drive

One of the biggest draws of taking a road trip through the East Coast is the gorgeous views of the coastline. If you want to get acquainted with the true atmosphere of the East Coast, check out the scenic drives, small towns and natural preserves. Whether you want a long escape or a respite between visiting the big cities along the East Coast, these coastal getaways represent some of the best East Coast road trip vacation ideas.

With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Appalachian Mountains to the west, the East Coast has no shortage of scenic views. Take one of these fantastic scenic routes for your road trip on the East Coast: 

  • Blue Ridge Parkway: An immensely popular road, the Blue Ridge Parkway spans nearly 500 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. Get fantastic views of Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Be aware that speed limits are slower than traditional highways.
  • Kancamagus Scenic Byway: This scenic route in New Hampshire is only 34 1/2 miles, but boasts some of the most incredible views of White Mountain National Forest. The 'Kanc' is especially popular during the fall season.
  • Historic National Road: Originally constructed around 300 years ago, this 170-mile route in Maryland will take you through history.
  • US 1: At a whopping 2,376 miles, this route takes you from the top of Maine in Fort Kent to the tip of Florida in Key West. Use parts of the route for a shorter trip, or take the full route for a long-haul road trip.

Enjoying Nature on Your Trip

While the West Coast may get more attention for its huge national parks, the East Coast has tons of beautiful natural lands to celebrate and explore. Add one or a few of these parks to your list of U.S. East Coast road trip ideas: 

  • Acadia National Park in Maine
  • Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts 
  • Congaree National Park in South Carolina
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee
  • Everglades National Park in Florida
  • Biscayne National Park in Florida

Quaint Coastal Towns to Enjoy

For a truly relaxing vacation, check out one of these cozy small towns along the East Coast:

1. Marathon, Florida

Add Marathon to your list of East Coast road trip ideas for a truly unique destination. Spread across 13 beautiful islands between Key Largo and Key West, this town is an idyllic coastal paradise. Enjoy activities like snorkeling in the reef or dolphin tours, and unwind at one of the beachfront restaurants.

2. Bald Head Island, North Carolina

Bald Head Island is a great place to ditch the car and explore the lighthouses, beaches and quaint shops of this remote gem. Renowned for its turtle nesting activity, visitors can join local conservationists for a Turtle Walk to witness turtles nesting and hatching in the wild.

3. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth Beach is a wonderful, family-friendly beach city along the Delaware coast.

Rehoboth Beach is a wonderful, family-friendly beach city along the Delaware coast. Enjoy walking on the mile-long boardwalk with its restaurants, shops and amusements. Rehoboth Beach also offers fun in the off-season with a variety of different festivals and fairs. 

4. Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport's claim to fame is that it hosts the summer home of former President George H. W. Bush and his family. Set out on a whale watching adventure from this city, or stay on land and explore the various shops and restaurants on the dock. A local favorite, the Clam Shack is famous for its lobster roll.

Ideas for a Food Tour of the East Coast

While the East Coast has tons to offer in scenic views and sunny beaches, the quality and variety of food you'll find along your road trip is unbeatable. Food tours are some of the most interesting road trip ideas on the East Coast, and they're guaranteed to satisfy the whole family. Check out these highlights from some of the major cities and regions on the East Coast:

1. Start in Little Havana

Begin your road trip in the south of Florida with a taste of Cuba. Little Havana, a neighborhood in Miami, is internationally renowned for its Cuban fare.

Begin your road trip in the south of Florida with a taste of Cuba. Little Havana, a neighborhood in Miami, is internationally renowned for its Cuban fare. Start your morning right with a cafecito or café con leche with pan Cubano — Cuban bread. If you are a serious foodie, you can take a walking food tour of Little Havana, or explore the restaurants on your own. Just don't forget to try the empanadas, pasteles and Cuban sandwiches.

2. Soul Food in Savannah

Even though it's a coastal city, Savannah has no shortage of soul food. Soul food was born from African Americans in the deep South and features dishes like fried chicken and fish, macaroni and cheese, okra, collard greens and cornbread. For great Southern food and hospitality, check out The Sisters of the New South. For an upscale Southern dining experience, stop by The Grey.

3. Oyster Roasts in South Carolina

South Carolina has been crowned the Napa Valley of Oysters for its oyster season, which spans from around September to March. These oysters are in demand all over the country, and they sell fast. For an authentic and rustic oyster shack, order from the famous Bowens Island Restaurant in Charleston. Pair your oysters with wine at SAVI Cucina and Wine Bar for a fine dining experience.

4. Baltimore Crab Cakes

The Chesapeake region is known for its seafood, but no dish is more popular than the Baltimore crab cake.

The Chesapeake region is known for its seafood, but no dish is more popular than the Baltimore crab cake. Maryland's "crab culture" is booming, and variations of this staple crop up in hundreds of restaurants in the area, particularly in Baltimore. Maryland likes crab so much they dedicate whole festivals to it — check out the Baltimore Seafood FestivalChesapeake Crab, Wine and Beer Festival, the Annual Queen Day Crab Feast and many others.

5. Philly Cheesesteaks

Nothing says Philly like a greasy, cheesy cheesesteak. In fact, two steak restaurants have been at war in Philly for around 50 years. Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks face off 24/7 as they are just across the street from each other. Teeming with a near-constant stream of tourists, these restaurants are a Philadelphia staple. Most locals have their own favorite spots — ask around and you'll see how many different restaurants claim "the best cheesesteak" title.

6. New Jersey Hoagies

Piled high with cured meats, cheeses and veggies, the hoagie is a staple of New Jersey cuisine. Depending on where you are, it goes by different names, including "sub" and "hero." This simple, handheld dish can have hundreds or thousands of variations, but most natives like it simple. Try a hoagie from an authentic deli, like Carmen's, for a true taste of Jersey.

7. Everything in New York

New Yorkers are extremely proud of their pizzas and bagels, and you can find some of the best examples of these items in this city.

New Yorkers are extremely proud of their pizzas and bagels, and you can find some of the best examples of these items in this city. You can also get so much more. New York has everything a foodie could desire, from truly authentic regional Chinese cuisine to obscure Ukrainian dishes you've never heard of. You could spend weeks here and still not try everything, which is why it's such a great food tourism destination.

8. Boston Is Beantown

Beans are so ingrained in Boston culture that the current baseball team, the Braves, was formerly called the Beaneaters. As early as colonial times, Bostonians made baked beans a staple of their diet. Cooked slowly in molasses, a tradition derived from the local American Indian tribes, beans became a staple dish, and visitors to Boston appreciated the quick, cheap meal so much the nickname Beantown stuck. 

9. End in Maine With Lobster Rolls

In the early days of New England settlement, lobster was readily available and therefore food for the poorer citizens. As tastes evolved, so did the lobster industry — now, lobster is an often expensive delicacy. The lobster roll brings back the humble roots of the lobster with its simple construction. Almost every seafood joint in New England offers their variation of lobster meat tossed in butter settled between two rolls. For a traditional lobster shack, try Red's Eats in Wiscasset or The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport.

Weekend Road Trip Ideas on the East Coast

If you don't have time for a long road trip, the East Coast is ripe with perfect weekend getaway locations. Spend a long weekend exploring Maine along the Acadia National Byway or island-hop from Key West to Key Largo. If you live near the East Coast, a short drive can take you someplace very different from where you live, which is a benefit of the East Coast's compact geography. 

You can also add a big city to your mini road trip ideas on the East Coast. Savannah, Georgia, is a fantastic weekend getaway for a girl's trip or fun for the whole family. Hit up some of the major sites in Washington D.C. or Philadelphia for a quick dose of history, or spend a weekend exploring New York City. The options are endless, and the East Coast has something for everyone.

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Hopefully these U.S. road trip ideas along the East Coast have inspired you to take your next vacation. Enjoy sandy beaches, great food and a huge variety of activities on your road trip up the East Coast. What could make this trip even more memorable? There's no better way to travel the East Coast than in a personal recreational vehicle (RV).

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West Coast Road Trip Ideas

Many adventurous travelers dream about a U.S. West Coast road trip. The U.S. West Coast offers thousands of miles of windswept beaches and lush forests between Canada and Mexico. Tucked among the natural wonders and beautiful vistas are quaint coastal towns and exciting world-class cities you need to experience to believe.

If you're ready for the adventure of a lifetime, check out this ultimate guide to West Coast of America road trip ideas. Below, you'll discover the top attractions to see on a U.S. West Coast road trip, where to park your RV while on the road and specific West Coast USA road trip routes.

U.S. West Coast Road Trip Ideas

From quirky roadside attractions to magnificent national parks and camping destinations, here are some of the best road trip ideas for the West Coast:

West Coast Roadside Attractions

Nothing brings more joy on a road trip than stumbling across strange landmarks and unique roadside attractions in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, the West Coast is home to numerous roadside sights people make long drives to see each year. If you plan your road trip route around fun roadside stops, the West Coast will be a wealth of amusement for you.

If you plan your road trip route around fun roadside stops, the West Coast will be a wealth of amusement for you.

Here are 10 top attractions to see up and down the West Coast:

  1. Trees of Mystery: Located in Klamath, California, this attraction features unusual attractions, such as two giant statues of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe.
  2. Cabazon Dinosaurs: These enormous dinosaur statues in Cabazon, California, are among the most popular roadside attractions in the country. Road trippers of all ages will love stopping to visit Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex.
  3. Salvation Mountain: This famous sight on the edge of San Diego is a surreal and brightly colored hillside shrine situated in the middle of California's desert country.
  4. Wild Horses Monument: This beautiful sculpture in Quincy, Washington, is dedicated to the state's centennial. If you love wild horses, you have to make a stop to see this collection of iron horses galloping along a ridgeline above the Columbia River Gorge.
  5. Forestiere Underground Gardens: These gardens are an impressively intricate series of underground passageways and subterranean structures. If you'll be anywhere near Fresno, you'll want to stop and explore this charming spot with your family.
  6. Octopus Tree: As the name implies, this old spruce tree in Tillamook, Oregon, is distinctly shaped like an octopus.
  7. The Oregon Vortex: Bring your family by this spooky roadside attraction in Gold Hill, Oregon, but be warned — the laws of physics are allegedly non-existent here due to paranormal activity.
  8. Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health: If anyone in your family is a fan of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," you have to stop at this site where the movie was filmed. This museum in Salem, Oregon, now displays artifacts from the movie and archaic therapeutic techniques.
  9. Rosie: Rosie is a massive fish statue in Sekiu, Washington, that has legs and wears tennis shoes, a pink skirt and a bra. If you're into unique roadside attractions, this half-fish, half-human work of art is a must.
  10. Codger Pole: This huge totem pole in Colfax, Washington, commemorates local football players as they appeared in the 1930s when their first game took place. Sports fans of all sorts will appreciate this piece of public art that was dedicated to the rival cross-county teams during their final rematch in 1988.

West Coast National Parks

When you think of West Coast of America road trip ideas, you can't forget to look into national parks. The West Coast features some of the most stunning scenery in the country. If your family enjoys outdoor beauty and spectacular sights, you'll want to stop at as many national parks as you can.

 If your family enjoys outdoor beauty and spectacular sights, you'll want to stop at as many national parks as you can.

Check out the following West Coast national parks to get your fill of natural beauty:

  • Kings Canyon and Sequoia: These stunning national parks are situated next to each other in Southern California. Both parks are filled with awe-inspiring giant sequoias — one of the tallest types of trees in the world — and surrounded by the beautiful peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
  • Joshua Tree: This desert national park near Los Angeles features unique flora and fauna for you to admire. As a playground for the adventurous, Joshua Tree is a trendy destination among climbers, boulders and weekend warriors.
  • Yosemite: If you're in Northern California, you can't miss Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is a granite wonderland filled with some of the sheerest and most striking rock walls in the world. Hikers and rock climbers alike will enjoy the sights and activities Yosemite has to offer.
  • Redwood: Another Northern California treasure, Redwood National Forest is one of the best attractions along the West Coast. Redwood is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees on the map.
  • Death Valley: If you're up for a challenge, this national park in Southern California is one of the hottest and inhospitable places on the planet. Those who can handle the heat will be rewarded with scenes of surreal geology, enormous dunes and majestic mountains. Make sure you pack plenty of water if you plan on visiting this dry and arid spot.
  • Pinnacles: This Northern California national park was designated to preserve a mountainous area full of gorgeous rock formations and a large population of local bats. Visit Pinnacles National Park if you're interested in cave exploration, rock climbing or California Condor viewing.
  • Channel Islands: The Channel Islands National Park in Southern California provides vast ecological diversity, making it the perfect spot for scuba diving, whale watching and hiking. You'll get to explore trails to lighthouses, sea caves and rare pine forests.
  • Lassen Volcanic: This Northern California national park is best known for its active volcanoes and bubbling thermal pools. The park's beautiful combination of lava rocks, lakes, summits and hydrothermal sites makes it one of California's best places to camp.
  • Crater Lake: If you pass through Oregon, make sure you stop at the state's only national park — Crater Lake. This breathtaking spot is home to an astonishingly deep and clear lake situated in a collapsed caldera surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks.
  • North Cascades: The North Cascades National Park is a vast and wild mountain range commonly referred to as the Alps of the U.S. While hiking the North Cascades, you'll be mesmerized by the deep forested valleys, snow-capped peaks, cascading waterfalls and glistening glaciers. Make sure you check out Diablo Lake for a phenomenal overlook.
  • Mount Rainier: This Washington national park is an alpine paradise home to the highest summit in the Cascades and the largest glaciers in the Continental States. Mount Rainier itself is a dormant volcano that offers some of the best views in Washington.
  • Olympic National Park: Located on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, this national park is one of the most geographically diverse regions along the entire West Coast. From mountains and glaciers to rainforest and rugged coastlines, you can take in multiple dimensions of nature in a single park stop.

If you plan to include some national parks in your West Coast road trip routes, you may want to save some money by purchasing an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. This annual pass covers entrance and basic amenities fees for more than 2,000 federal recreation sites throughout the U.S. If you consider the cost of exploring a national park for the day, you'll see that the pass quickly pays for itself.

West Coast Camping Options

If your family loves a bit of adventure as well as nature, camping is a fantastic way to experience the West Coast. Loading the whole family up into an RV and hitting the road will allow you to see some of the most spectacular West Coast sights without worrying about booking hotels. Camping is also one of the best West Coast family road trip ideas because it lets you go to sleep and wake up in the heart of some of the country's most beautiful landscapes.

Camping is also one of the best West Coast family road trip ideas because it lets you go to sleep and wake up in the heart of some of the country's most beautiful landscapes.

The West Coast offers a wide variety of campgrounds with differing rates and amenities. In general, there are four kinds of campgrounds — private, public, dispersed and backcountry.

  • Private: These large campgrounds provide the most amenities, including showers, communal kitchens and sometimes even onsite restaurants. If your family enjoys the comfort of modern amenities, private campsites are the right choice for you. Keep in mind that this option is the most expensive because it offers more luxuries.
  • Public: Public campgrounds are a bit more basic than private campsites but still provide standard amenities. While public campgrounds are supposed to include running water, bathrooms and electricity, some may not. However, the prices for public campsites are extremely reasonable.
  • Dispersed: Also known as primitive camping or wild camping, dispersed camping refers to camping in an unofficial but legal campsite. Although dispersed camping comes with little to no amenities, it's almost always free.
  • Backcountry: Backcountry camping occurs in wilderness areas and nearly always requires a hike to reach the site. These campgrounds don't include any facilities so you'll have to bring your own food, cooking gear and other camp supplies. Typically, backcountry camping requires having a permit you can get from the nearest ranger station.

When planning your West Coast camping stops, keep in mind most campgrounds fill up quickly, especially those located at national parks. Try to book your campsite in advance to ensure you have a place to stay each night of your trip. Most campgrounds have walk-up sites available, but you'll need to arrive early enough to secure a spot.

West Coast Road Trip Routes

West Coast Road Trip Routes

Check out five of the best West Coast road trip route options below.

1. Pacific Coast Highway

Also referred to as California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the nation's most famous road trip routes. This marvelous highway spans 600 miles of California coastline from Los Angeles to Mendocino County. In between these points, the highway passes through the picturesque views of Big Sur, the illustrious Golden Gate Bridge and more.

If you're intrigued by the Pacific Coast Highway, here are a few top tips for cruising the California Coast from top to bottom:

  • Start in San Francisco: Before hitting the road, you'll want to check out the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and spend some time walking around the downtown area. Visit the city's Golden Gate Park, which covers over 1,000 acres of grounds and includes a Japanese tea garden, multiple world-class museums, a windmill and a herd of buffalo.
  • Snap photos at Big Sur: Big Sur is one of the most scenic sections of California's coastline. Dotted with rugged mountain peaks and enchanting redwood forests, Big Sur is a natural wonder. Swing by the Bixby Creek Bridge to get an unbelievable ocean view from the aesthetically designed bridge.
  • Stay the night in Morro Bay: This small city on a large bay is home to incredible wildlife, such as sea otters, monarch butterflies and hummingbirds. The Morro Bay State Park offers plenty of opportunities for you to encounter these animals and several trails so you can see the sights while stretching your legs.
  • Sip some California wine:As you continue down the coast, make some stops at the local wineries around San Luis Obispo, Santa Ynez Valley and Edna Valley. After visiting these famous wine destinations, you'll understand why California is so well-known for its vineyards.
Sip some California wine:As you continue down the coast, make some stops at the local wineries around San Luis Obispo, Santa Ynez Valley and Edna Valley.
  • Shop in Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara is the intersection of California's trademark glitzy culture and its casual beaches. You can spend all day lounging on the beach or shop until you drop in the city's exciting arts district. Along with admiring the ocean, you'll have a great time gawking at the impressive mansions scattered throughout Santa Barbara.
  • Surf in the South Bay area: As you keep driving, you'll come across Malibu, Santa Monica and the South Bay area. Make a pit stop to enjoy the area's beautiful beaches and catch a couple of waves. Whether you're a surfing fan or more into sunbathing, the South Bay area will be a welcome stop along your West Coast road trip.
  • Search for stars in Los Angeles: This California cultural hub is a must-see. You'll find endless activities in Los Angeles, old-fashioned food markets, first-class art museums, famous malls and five-star restaurants. You'll also get to experience the many personalities of Los Angeles, from Old Hollywood glamour to modern hipster.
  • Stop at Dana Point: This sunny Orange County city is an excellent place for spotting dolphins and whales. Take a whale-watching cruise or hop on a trail at Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area to see the city's extensive ocean vistas and fascinating fauna.
  • Soak up the sun in San Diego: San Diego is the perfect place to end your California road trip. You can go out with a bang by visiting the city's lively downtown area, SeaWorld and Balboa Park — home to botanical gardens, numerous museums and the San Diego Zoo. If being on the road has tired you out, you can close out your trip relaxing on San Diego's sandy beaches and basking in some rays.

2. Oregon Coast Highway 101

Although slightly less well-known, the Oregon Coast is equally as impressive as the California Coast. The Oregon Coast spans hundreds of miles from Astoria and the Columbia River in the north, down to the border of California in the south. This scenic drive has roadside attractions like historical shipwrecks, towering sea stacks and incredible ocean views.

Although slightly less well-known, the Oregon Coast is equally as impressive as the California Coast.

Whether you're starting from California or Seattle, your trip along the Oregon Coast Highway will include striking coastlines, charming towns, tide pools and plenty of marine life. Some of the best places to pull over include the scenic vistas of Cape Perpetua, Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Center and the Oregon Dunes, which offers overnight accommodations.

Other popular Oregon Coast attractions include Newport's Yaquina Head Lighthouse, the Astoria-Megler Bridge and Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach. If you're looking for West Coast family reunion road trip ideas, meeting up on the coast of Oregon will be memorable. Essentially, the Oregon Coast is full of adventure and unpredictable weather, so make sure you bring rain gear, beach supplies, hiking equipment and a camera.

3. Washington Cascades Loop

To get the full flavor of Washington's splendid cities, mountains, sights and scenes, you'll likely want to complete the 440-mile Cascade Loop. The route begins in the culturally rich city of Seattle and can be taken north toward Anacortes to connect with the North Cascades Scenic Byway. This 120-mile stretch takes travelers through some of the most dramatic landscapes in Washington.

You'll find incredible hiking trails and the top-rated campsites of North Cascades National Park along the byway. Specifically, Diablo Lake is extremely accessible from the byway and boasts a beautiful lake view. You'll also be able to spot gorgeous glaciers and striking mountain peaks.

The Cascade Loop's southern section passes through additional road trip attractions, such as Leavenworth — a German-inspired area featuring beautiful alpine mountains and lively local cultural festivities. The irresistible charm of Leavenworth draws a multitude of tourists each year and even converts some to residents.

If you're interested in adventurous activities like skiing, hiking or white water rafting, make sure you stop at Stevens Pass. After getting your adrenaline fill, you can take U.S. Route 2 back to Seattle to complete the loop. Try to build some extra time into your itinerary to explore Seattle because you don't want to miss the city's top attractions.

 Try to build some extra time into your itinerary to explore Seattle because you don't want to miss the city's top attractions.

During your tourist days in Seattle, make sure to hit these sites:

  • The Space Needle
  • Pike Place Market
  • The Museum of Pop Culture
  • The Seattle Art Museum
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

4. Eastern California

The inland portion of California has a diversity of national parklands and natural beauty. Full of shimmering lakes, postcard-worthy peaks and lush forests, the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California are breathtaking. You can start your scenic Eastern California road trip by hopping on Highway 395 to South Lake Tahoe — home of the shimmering Emerald Bay State Park.

Continuing south, you'll run across Mammoth Lakes, which is a prime destination for anyone who loves hiking, mountain biking, skiing or snowboarding. After Mammoth Lakes, make sure you circle back to see Yosemite National Park. Home to North America's tallest waterfall — Yosemite Falls — and a 3,000-foot tall granite monolith known as El Capitan, Yosemite is a crucial stop on any road trip route.

Home to North America's tallest waterfall — Yosemite Falls — and a 3,000-foot tall granite monolith known as El Capitan, Yosemite is a crucial stop on any road trip route.

After you're done exploring Yosemite, make sure you don't miss the mystical snow-capped wonder of Mount Whitney. Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain top within the contiguous United States. Hiking some or all of Mount Whitney is an epic way to wrap up your road trip. If you have some extra time, be sure to check out Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park — the two sensational parks that sandwich Mount Whitney.

5. West Coast National Parks

If you're feeling ambitious, a national parks tour might be the best route for your West Coast road trip. Among Washington, Oregon and California, you have a nearly endless selection of national parks, state parks, historical reserves and designated wilderness areas to explore.

For the ultimate West Coast national park experience, try following this giant loop:

  • Start in Los Angeles and travel east to Joshua Tree National Park.
  • From Joshua Tree, head up to Death Valley.
  • Go from Death Valley to Kings Canyon National Parks.
  • Make the short drive over to Yosemite National Park.
  • Following Yosemite, keep traveling north to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
  • From Lassen Volcanic National Park, cross over into Oregon to see Crater Lake.
  • On your way up from Crater Lake, stop to check out the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
  • Continue driving north into Washington to see Mount Saint Helens.
  • After admiring Mount Saint Helens, pop up to another impressive peak — Mount Rainier.
  • Once you've explored Mount Rainier, drive up to North Cascades National Park, which will be the height of your road trip loop.
  • Following the North Cascades, you'll start driving south to Olympic National Park.
  • Keep going south into Oregon to see the dazzling Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
  • After the Oregon Dunes, make a stop at the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve.
  • Once you've gotten your fill of caves, keep going south into California to Redwood National Park.
  • From Redwood National Park, enjoying driving down the California coast until you reach Point Reyes National Seashore.
  • After resting up at Point Reyes, keep going south to Pinnacles National Park.
  • Proceed from Pinnacles National Park to Channel Islands National Park, the final new destination on your road trip map.
  • Come full circle by driving from Channel Islands National Park to Los Angeles, completing your West Coast National Parks Road Trip.

Apply for an RV Loan From My Financing USA Before Your West Coast Trip

Apply for an RV Loan From My Financing USA Before Your West Coast Trip

If you're planning a West Coast road trip, consider traveling in an RV or campervan so you don't have to worry about packing camping gear or pitching a tent. Instead, you'll have access to all the amenities you need to make your trip even more enjoyable. Plus, you can save money in the long run on expenses like lodging and eating, meaning you can spend more on activities throughout your road trip.

Learn more about your RV loan opportunities from My Financing USA to make financing your RV as easy, convenient and affordable as possible. My Financing USA offers RV loans for both high and low credit scores, so you can find a loan option that meets your needs.

Are you ready to start your RV road trip? Apply for an RV loan from My Financing USA today, or contact us to learn more about your options.

Midwest Road Trip Ideas

The Midwest includes 12 states, which collectively cover about 821,000 square miles. That's a lot of land to cover! When planning a road trip through Midwest towns, there's so much material to go through. Discover the best places to road trip in the Midwest and make your trip the best it can be. This guide will make it as easy as possible to map out your plans so you can focus on making memories on the road.

If you're looking to explore the Midwestern United States, these Midwest road trip ideas won't steer you wrong.

Road Trip Routes 

A route through the Midwest is a fantastic way to see as much as possible of this wonderful region. If you're unsure where to go, check out these options for routes through the Midwest and make your road trip one to remember.

Popular City-to-City Routes

Popular City-to-City Routes

There are so many fantastic cities to visit and sights to see in the Midwest, so some of the best Midwest road trip ideas involve traveling from city to city. This option is great if you can't decide on just one place to visit. See as much as you can of this beautiful region by traveling between popular cities.  

1. Travel Route 66 from Chicago to St. Louis

This Midwest road trip route follows the historic Route 66, beginning in Chicago, Illinois and stopping in St. Louis, Missouri. Route 66 features countless unique stops and gorgeous views of the country. Start with a famous deep-dish pizza in Chicago and visit the Bean in Millenium Park. Then, travel down to Springfield to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. 

At the end of your trip, you'll find yourself in beautiful St. Louis, so visit the must-see City Museum and, of course, that famous arch at Gateway Arch National Park.

2. St. Louis to Kansas City

Whether you add this onto your Route 66 trip or want to make it its own vacation, traveling between St. Louis and Kansas City is one of the best Midwest road trips. In St. Louis, visit the beautiful Missouri Botanical Gardens and marvel at over 6.6 million different species there. These nationally ranked gardens are rivaled in size only by the one in New York.

As you make your way to Kansas City, stop in Hermann to be transported into wine country. Nestled amidst vineyards and wineries, with a trolley through town to transport you safely between them, this is the perfect stop for wine buffs. 

Finally, Kansas City is famous for its jazz scene. But don't forget to try some of their famous barbecue at countless authentic restaurants in the area. 

3. Indianapolis to Boyne City

Make your way from bustling Indianapolis, Indiana to the charming Boyne City, Michigan on this great Midwest road trip. If you want to go fast, check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, or delight the kids at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Then, hit Grand Rapids on your way to Boyne City to check out the renowned breweries and walk along the Grand River.

In Boyne City, relax on the beautiful Lake Charlevoix in the summertime or ski down the slopes of Boyne Mountain in the winter. This charming small town is the perfect bookend to one of the greatest Midwest road trips.

4. Milwaukee to Wisconsin Dells

Nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee boasts some gorgeous lake views. Explore the unique "living museum" Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, also known as The Domes. Then, relax from a day of exploring the city at a lakefront brewery.

A short drive lands you in Wisconsin Dells. The kids will love the variety of amusements here, including Wizard Quest and Wisconsin Deer Park, a 40-acre petting zoo. You can also enjoy many outdoor adventures in the Dells, like ziplining, horseback riding, hiking trails and boat tours.

Take the Scenic Route

If you're truly looking for breathtaking views, these roads offer some of the most scenic road trips in the Midwest.

  • Hocking Hills Scenic Byway — Ohio
  • Wilderness Byway — Minnesota
  • The Ohio River Scenic Byway — Indiana
  • Needles Highway — South Dakota
  • Chan Sansan Scenic Byway — North Dakota
  • Lake Michigan Scenic Highway — Michigan
  • Great River Road — Iowa
  • Flint Hills National Scenic Byway — Kansas
  • Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive — Illinois
  • Door County Coastal Byway — Wisconsin

Coast to Coast Routes

Start in a big city like Chicago to be sure to have all the supplies you need. Then, you can take historic Route 66 all the way to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles.

If you want to travel to the coast, try a Midwest to West Coast road trip. Start in a big city like Chicago to be sure to have all the supplies you need. Then, you can take historic Route 66 all the way to the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, or travel a different route where you hit major cities like St. Louis, Denver, Portland or Seattle. Don't forget to stop by and see Yellowstone, the beautiful Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon on your way west.

For a great Midwest to East Coast road trip, start in Chicago and head south to Indianapolis and Cincinnati. From there, stop in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as you make your way to the coast. Then, travel up the Eastern Seaboard through New York and Boston, hitting some of the beautiful seaside towns on your way up the east coast.

State-by-State Road Trip Destinations in the Midwest 

The Midwest is full of fun and exciting things to do, but it's not always easy to pinpoint where you want to visit.

The Midwest is full of fun and exciting things to do, but it's not always easy to pinpoint where you want to visit. If you're looking for the best road trip destinations in the Midwest, these ideas will give you everything you need to know. You'll discover the major cities, popular parks and outdoor adventures, fun activities for the kids and some suggestions for destinations off the beaten path for good road trip destinations in each Midwest state.


Major Cities

Chicago is the largest city in Illinois and the third-largest city in the entire U.S. If you love the hustle and bustle of a big city, then this destination is the perfect stop for your road trip through the Midwest. 

Get Outdoors

Illinois has some fantastic opportunities for visitors to get out and enjoy nature. Some of the great parks to visit include:

  • Shawnee National Forest
  • Matthiessen State Park
  • Starved Rock State Park
  • Giant City State Park

Fun for the Kids

Some of the most popular Midwest road trip stops for kids in Illinois include:

Off the Beaten Path

Check out these unique travel destination in Illinois:

  • Stay in a treehouse cabin at Timber Ridge Outpost and Cabins in Elizabethtown.
  • Take a picture with the world's largest ketchup bottle in Collinsville.
  • Visit Chester to see the Popeye Character Trail.
  • See one of the largest collections of Superman memorabilia in Metropolis.


Get Outdoors  - Some of the best state parks in Indiana.

Major Cities

Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana and a fantastic example of road trip destinations in the Midwest. 

Get Outdoors

Some of the best state parks in Indiana are:

  • Tippecanoe State Park 
  • Turkey Run State Park
  • McCormick's Creek State Park
  • Indiana Dunes State Park

Fun for the Kids

If you want some fun road trip destinations in the Midwest, look no further than these kids-friendly attractions in Indiana:

Off the Beaten Path

If you want something unique to add to your Midwest road trip vacation ideas, check out these attractions in Indiana:

  • See the covered bridges of Parke County.
  • Get great photos of the kids at the Garfield Trail in Grant County.
  • Howl with wolves at Wolf Park in Battle Ground.


Major Cities

Des Moines and Cedar Rapids are the two largest cities in Iowa. Even with tons to do, both these cities maintain a charming small-town feel.

Get Outdoors

The best places to access nature in Iowa include: 

  • Fossil and Prairie Park and Nature Center
  • Beed's Lake State Park
  • Maquoketa Caves State Park
  • Three Mile Lake
Kids can find ample attractions to enjoy in Iowa

Fun for the Kids

Kids can find ample attractions to enjoy in Iowa, such as:

Off the Beaten Path

If you want an Iowa experience like no other, check out these one-of-a-kind stops:

  • Keep your balance on the swinging bridge in Columbus Junction.
  • Visit the house that inspired Grant Wood's famous American Gothic painting in Eldon.
  • Climb up the Big Treehouse in Marshalltown.
  • Stop by the future birthplace of Starfleet Captian James T. Kirk in Riverside.


Major Cities

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, with a deep history and a rich cultural center. 

Get Outdoors

Enjoy the fields and wide-open prairies of Kansas in these state and national parks:

  • Shawnee Mission State Park
  • Prairie National Park
  • Tuttle Creek State Park
  • Prairie Dog State Park

Fun for the Kids

Bring the kids for fun in Kansas and visit one of the many family-friendly sites, such as:

Off the Beaten Path

Have fun on your road trip in Midwest USA at some of these unique Kansas sites:

  • Tour the original Pizza Hut that's now a museum in Wichita.
  • See the World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City.
  • Drive by a giant Van Gough painting in Goodland.


Major Cities

Know as a hub for the auto industry and the birthplace of Motown, Detroit has tons to offer visitors on a road trip through the Midwest.

Get Outdoors

You'll find much to enjoy outdoors on this pleasant peninsula, including: 

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
  • Huron National Wildlife Refuge

Fun for the Kids

Michigan has some fantastic family-friendly attractions:

Off the Beaten Path

Make your Midwest USA road trip one to remember with these fun stops:

  • Visit a beautiful freshwater spring called Kitch-iti-kipi near Manistique.
  • See the medieval-inspired Curwood Castle in Owosso.
  • Walk through the Graffiti Alley of Ann Arbor.
  • Check out the Pickle Barrel House in Grand Marais.


Major Cities

Minneapolis-St. Paul, also known as the twin cities, will double your fun on your U.S. Midwest road trip.

Get Outdoors

Enjoy the land of 10,000 lakes on your Midwest camping road trip at one of these fantastic state parks:

  • Banning State Park
  • Blue Mounds State Park
  • Glacial Lakes State Park
  • Gooseberry Falls State Park

Fun for the Kids

Have a blast with your kids at these fun stops:

Off the Beaten Path

These off-the-beaten-path destinations will make your Midwest road trip one to remember:

  • See a gas station designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Cloquet.
  • Take a selfie with the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth.
  • Visit Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, or at least their statues, in Bemidji.


Major Cities

Kansas City and St. Louis are the major cities in Missouri, but there's a lot of fun to be had in between.

Get Outdoors

Get in touch with nature at these gorgeous parks:

  • Castlewood State Park
  • Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
  • Elephant Rocks State Park
  • Hawn State Park

Fun for the Kids

Entertain the kiddos at one of these family-friendly stops:

Off the Beaten Path

Make your vacation one-of-a-kind at these Missouri stops:

  • Go to Columbia to visit the Devil's Ice Box.
  • Get up close and personal with bats at the Bat Bar in Lost Canyon Cave.
  • Visit Maxie, the world's largest goose in Sumner.


Major Cities

As their tourism slogan states, Nebraska may not be for everyone — but Omaha and Lincoln are still terrific destinations.

Get Outdoors

See the great wide open as it was truly intended in these Nebraska parks:

  • Platte River State Park
  • Niobrara National Scenic River
  • Ponca State Park
  • Smith Falls State Park

Fun for the Kids

Your kids will marvel at these Nebraska stops:

Off the Beaten Path

Check out these interesting road trip destinations in the Midwest:

  • Visit the smallest town in America, Monowi. 
  • See the automotive replica of Stonehenge, called Carhenge in Alliance.
  • Explore the Ashfall Fossil Beds in Royal.

North Dakota

Get Outdoors. Spend time in the outdoors with North Dakota's beautiful parks.

Major Cities

North Dakota gives small towns a new meaning, but you can always find something to do in Bismarck and Fargo.

Get Outdoors

Spend time in the outdoors with its beautiful parks:

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Little Missouri State Park
  • Sully Creek State Park
  • Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

Fun for the Kids

Entertain your children at these wonderful kid-friendly North Dakota stops:

Off the Beaten Path

Enjoy one of these off-the-wall destinations:

  • See the Enchanted Highway Sculptures of Regent.
  • Fans of the film "Fargo" can see the famous wood chipper on display in the town itself.
  • Say hello to Salem Sue, the world's largest Holstein cow.


Major Cities

Known as the three Cs, Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland are the perfect trifecta for a road trip through Ohio.

Get Outdoors

Become one with nature at these beautiful Ohio parks:

  • Hocking Hills State Park
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • John Bryan State Park
  • Cleveland Lakefront State Park

Fun for the Kids

Kids can't complain about any of these fun Midwest road trip stops:

Off the Beaten Path

Do something you'll remember forever at these interesting Ohio destinations:

  • Have a drink and explore Crystal Cave in Put-in-Bay.
  • See the grave of famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley in Versailles.
  • Visit the historic Leatherlips Monument in Powell.

South Dakota

Major Cities

Get a pick-me-up in Sioux Falls and take it slow in Rapid City as you travel through South Dakota.

Get Outdoors

While famous for their Badlands, South Dakota actually has pretty good lands for a Midwest national parks road trip:

  • Badlands National Park
  • Custer State Park
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Wind Cave National Park

Fun for the Kids

Explore some of the western world at these kid-friendly locations:

Off the Beaten Path

Do the unexpected at these unique South Dakota destinations:

  • See the haunted Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City.
  • Visit Art Ally, also in Rapid City.
  • Stop by the abandoned Spokane Ghost Town in Hermosa.


Major Cities

Milwaukee and Madison are two of the best road trip destinations in the Midwest.

Get Outdoors

You won't find anything lacking in Wisconsin's natural world, so visit these beautiful parks:

  • Devil's Lake State Park
  • Willow River State Park
  • Lakeshore State Park
  • Rib Mountain State Park
Wisconsin Fun for the Kids Road Trip Stops

Fun for the Kids

Your kids might even call it a cool Midwest road trip if you stop at one of these fun destinations:

Off the Beaten Path

Have a one-of-a-kind experience at these one-of-a-kind Wisconsin road trip stops:

  • Defy gravity on Gravity Hill in Shullsburg.
  • Hang out at Swing Park in Milwaukee.
  • Eat at the oldest continually operating lunch car diner, Franks Diner in Kenosha.

Midwest Weekend Road Trips

Midwest Weekend Road Trips. Some other weekend Midwest road trip ideas include checking out quaint, small towns. This idea is fantastic if you want an idyllic and relaxing getaway. Escape the fast pace of everyday life in one of the small towns around the Midwest.

For a shorter trip, take weekend road trips in the Midwest. If you want a big-city vacation, check out Chicago, St. Louis or one of the other major cities in the Midwest. The larger cities in the Midwest can easily fill up a weekend with fun and adventure and will leave you wanting to come back for more.

Some other weekend Midwest road trip ideas include checking out quaint, small towns. This idea is fantastic if you want an idyllic and relaxing getaway. Escape the fast pace of everyday life in one of the small towns around the Midwest. Luckily, most small towns have plenty to entertain for your weekend road trips in the Midwest

RV Loan Financing to Make Every Road Trip Memorable

These unique Midwest road trip ideas are sure to make your vacation memorable. But what could make these great road trip ideas in the Midwest even better? Your own recreational vehicle (RV) to ride around in style. An RV road trip through the Midwest is fantastic for couples looking for an adventure and families that want a unique vacation experience. Save money on lodgings, reduce travel stops that slow you down and enjoy the privacy of your own space in an RV. 

If you've always dreamed of having an RV, know that it's more accessible than you think. At My Financing USA, we make boat and RV loan financing simple, safe and cost-effective. We'll find you the best rates in the nation, even if you've had credit problems in the past.

My Financing USA allows you to complete everything completely online for a fast and straightforward application process. You can hear back in as little as 48 to 72 hours, and we can find you better programs and lower rates than you'll get working directly with a dealer.

You can learn more about our RV loans and even start the application process online today to make your dream of RV ownership come true.

RV Loan Financing to Make Every Road Trip Memorable