Things have changed quite a bit in the travel sphere since the last time we checked in, haven’t they? Like many of you, we’ve shuffled plans, postponed adventures and sadly, outright cancelled the group trips to the Finger Lakes and the Jane Austen Festival we were so looking forward to. It’s definitely been a bummer of a year for us professionally, but all is not lost! Just because our plans aren’t working out how we expected, 2020 travels don’t have to be a total wash. There’s never been a better time to plan athe ultimate USA road trip!
While we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend following CDC guidelines as you make your travel plans. The suggestions presented here are not guaranteed to be safe or available, so do your due diligence as a responsible traveler to ensure your safety, comfort and health as you travel.
Our Favorite USA Road Trip Routes for 2020
For our U.S.-based readers, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite all-American road trip routes so this year’s many crises don’t have to mean a year without adventures. Looking for the best USA road trips? Read on!
1. Nashville, TN, to Asheville, NC, Road Trip: Country Music and Smoky Mountains
This is our go-to road trip if you want a change of scenery but not too far a drive from much of the East Coast. There’s a great mix of outdoor and indoor activities in this route, so even if some of the itinerary options aren’t running at full capacity (The Grand Old Opry is still streaming shows live for now), you’ve got a ton of socially distant options in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Top priority on this US road trip: the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway! Oh, y’all, it’s so pretty. Spend a few days in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Waterfalls, easy hikes and a scenic views in every direction are guaranteed. You might even see bears – we did!
Once you get to Asheville, check in on the gardens at the sprawling Biltmore Estate. The main house is now offering limited capacity, small group tours by reservation only.
Check out our recommendations on places to stay and things to do on a Nashville to Asheville road trip!
2. Road Trip to the California Redwoods
Welcome to Northern California! Home to Redwood National & State Parks, a 132,000 acre series of interconnected lands along the Pacific Coast protecting almost half of the remaining coastal redwoods.
Redwoods are GINORMOUS and so majestic. After driving from Eureka to the national park earlier this year, I had to add it to my favorite American road trips list. There’s good news, too, if you don’t make it all the way to Redwood National Park – there are plenty of redwoods to see along the way.
3. Glacier to Yellowstone Road Trip
Have you been to Montana yet? It’s always been good at social distancing! There are mountains, lakes and wildlife around every corner – and really not a whole lot of people.
TIP: A 7-day pass for Glacier or Yellowstone is only $35.
We drove from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park over about a week, but you could do it in fewer days if you didn’t have as much time to spare. We could’ve spent a month taking it all in!
- Did you know Yellowstone National Park is the first National Park EVER? There are more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, 290 waterfalls and more than 500 active geysers.
- Glacier National Park is 1,583 sq. miles of wilderness on its own, an ideal spot to be in the middle of a pandemic.
Thinking about visiting? Check out our Montana Road Trip Guide.
4. 7-Day Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary
If you know, you know. The Florida Keys are consistently included on the top lists of road trips in the U.S. The moment pass South Florida and the Everglades, you meet the Overseas Highway (U.S. 1) and the laid-back Florida Keys vibe takes over.
Turquoise water, kitschy souvenir shops hawking shells and motels from a bygone era welcome you to what may as well be a country unto itself. Instantly, conch fritters and key lime pie become dietary staples. It’s like nowhere else in the USA!
TIP: When road-tripping to the Florida Keys, we like to break up the drive. We start in the middle of the 125-mile chain for a few days, then head to Key West for some fun nights before spending the last night or two in Key Largo. This makes the long drive home at the end of the trip a bit shorter.
Along the way, there are plenty of socially distant activities, from fishing to kayaking to stand-up paddleboarding. Want to learn more? Check out our ultimate Florida Keys road trip guide!
FLORIDA KEYS POSTS YOU MIGHT LIKE
- Dreaming of Islamorada
- What to Do with 48 Hours in Key West
- Wet and Wild at an Underwater Music Festival in the Florida Keys
5. Denver to Seattle Road Trip
Years ago, we worked with Ford to create a road trip from Denver to Seattle focusing on all the quirky attractions along the way. We still talk about it as one of our favorite sibling adventures ever, and not just because we had a great time together. This trip has such a vast array of scenery and climates – everything from vast plains to Rocky Mountains – that we Floridians were in awe from start to finish.
On this route, you can expect to cross 5 states one-way, and you’re just close enough to some other fab attractions that we recommend spreading it out over 7-10 days, instead of just five like we did.
6. Mississippi Delta Blues Road Trip
Looking for an exploration of the most “Southern” place in the world? Cruise along Highway 61 from Greenville to Greenwood to Cleveland to Leland. But first, be sure you’ve got the blues cued up as your soundtrack. Follow the trail markers along the way as you encounter the friendliest people, eat tamales and learn why the Delta is a place like no other.
Take note if you’re planning a Mississippi Delta road trip of your own, there’s a mental transition if you’re used to itineraries filled with activities and appointments. In the Delta, it’s just cotton and corn between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. A typical road trip day is more about what you might stumble upon – a juke joint, a roadside fruit stand, a historic graveyard – than sticking to any kind of schedule.
For our favorite stops along the way and restaurant suggestions you definitely need, check out our Mississippi Delta road trip itinerary. Don’t miss our favorite hotel (and spa!) in the Delta, the Alluvian.
7. Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula Road Trip
I cheated just a bit on my Alaska road trip, so confession time: we only drove the part from Anchorage to Seward. We took the Denali Star train from Fairbanks to Anchorage and let me tell you, it was incredible watching the scenery and wildlife out the window! Read more about our time on the Alaska Railroad.
Once we made it to Anchorage, it was easy to rent a car and continue to the trip in a self-guided fashion. My main advice for anyone road tripping in Alaska: there are so many animals, so you gotta keep your eyes peeled at all times. We saw so many bears – even in the suburbs!
TIP: This goes for all national parks and basically the whole of Alaska. If you see a bunch of cars stopped or pulled to the side, you can bet there’s an animal nearby. Be safe if you pull off and be sure to give the folks behind you ample time to slow down if you do hit the brakes.
My favorite part of the trip was Denali National Park, but Alaska is basically just one wild adventure so you really can’t go wrong with any destination in the state.
8. Kauai Road Trip Ideas
NOTE! Kauai is a tricky road trip option in the time of COVID, because there are ever-changing rules and restrictions for getting out to the Hawaiian islands. (For updated info, click here.) I had to include it in this list of favorite American road trips through, because if you are able to safely make it to Kauai, it’s a magnificent drive with mountains, rainforest, canyons and beaches.
The island is a big circle, almost completely encircled by road. But not completely! There’s an impassable stretch of rugged coastline between the beginning and the end, so you can’t drive all the way around. That tiny section is some of the wildest untouched land in the world – the Na Pali Coast. If you ever get the chance to hike / camp there, definitely do. It’s truly incredible.
But in the meantime, road-tripping around Kauai is just heaven on earth. I’ve done it in a jeep and a convertible Mustang, and I loved both options. This is a drive best attempted at an island-time, leisurely pace. And while you certainly can drive around the whole island and back in one day, it makes sense to break up the drive over a week and give each area of Kauai its due. Don’t forget to stay a few nights at my favorite hotel on the North Shore, Princeville Resort. On the South Shore, we adored the Grand Hyatt Kauai.
POSTS TO HELP YOU PLAN A VISIT TO KAUAI
- Why Kauai is the Perfect Adventure for Beginners
- Things to do in Kauai
- Renewing Our Vows in Poipu
- Hiking Tips in Kauai
U.S. Road Trip Planning Tips
Today more than ever, you gotta be over-prepared for your great American road trip. Even the easiest road trips need some extra planning in pandemic times. It goes without saying, some of the attractions. you might want to see may be closed or operating at limited capacity, so be sure to plan ahead as much as you can. Campgrounds are filling up fast, so if you’re driving an RV or planning to tent camp, make a reservation.
When considering a U.S. Road Trip in 2020, consider:
• Have you been sick? Do you currently have symptoms of COVID-19? Don’t travel! You could spread the disease.
• Are you immune compromised or in at at-risk population? Consider postponing your trip.
• Will you be able to maintain at least 6-feet distance from others as you travel?
• Does your destination require a mandatory quarantine upon arrival? Does your home require quarantine upon return?
Research travel advisories before you go, and be prepared for unexpected challenges along the way. Safe to say most destinations have never navigated something like COVID-19 before, so everyone is doing their best to accommodate guests, stay open and stay safe. Pack your patience!
Want more USA road trip ideas? We’re on it!
The U.S. is an enormous country, so there are dozens of other road trips we didn’t include because we haven’t taken them yet! As we explore more of our own home base in the future, watch this space for updates and more favorite U.S. road trip routes. And if you have suggestions for a route we should check out, leave it in the comments.