Do you feel an insatiable urge to travel, explore new places, and see majestic landscapes? Even if your budget does not agree with your wishes, there is a perfect solution! Exploring America’s scenic byways can give you everything you’re looking for and more. There is something for everyone, from majestic views to cultural landmarks and unique attractions. Here are some route ideas and budget-friendly tips for your next adventure!

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a fantastic road trip for all nature lovers searching for stunning views. This 469-mile-long road goes through the states of Virginia and North Carolina, winding through the Appalachian Mountains.

So many mesmerizing stops will tempt you to explore further – from Linville Falls and Craggy Garden to Mount Mitchell. Don’t miss out on craft beers and the art scene in one of America’s hidden gems—the mountain city of Asheville.

The Shenandoah National Park is a must-stop on your trip, too. There are waterfalls and forests as well as rocky peaks and wetlands—a dream come true for every hiker and explorer. It’s especially beautiful in the fall, with gold and amber foliage everywhere.

Pacific Coast Highway

If you’re leaning more toward coastal beauty and seaside adventures, this trip is the right choice for you! The Pacific Coast Highway is 365 miles long and offers spectacular views of the ocean and mountains. This route is dotted with plenty of charming seaside towns with lots of things to see and do.

Make sure to stop in Santa Monica Pier and visit Santa Barbara Zoo. Hearst Castle in Simeon and Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Monterey are also worthy of a visit on this trip. Of course, who would miss visiting the iconic Big Sur and San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge? And if you have a bit more time, don’t hesitate to explore off-the-beaten-path surprises in San Francisco, such as Lands End trail or the Conservatory of Flowers.

The Pacific Coast Highway winding through hills with an ocean view.
From ocean views to mountains, the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best America’s scenic byways.

Great River Road

If your idea of perfect America’s scenic byways includes exploring different states, Great River Road is just for you. This route consists of a network of state and local roads that stretches through ten states, from Minnesota to Louisiana! As an ideal interstate travel route, it follows the river Mississippi, leading you through historical sites, natural wonders, and unique river towns.

For instance, don’t miss camping, hiking, or river picnics in Nelson Dewey State Park or Mud Island Park, which have over twenty major city replicas. For a taste of history, visit Fort Snelling in Minnesota, Buffalo Bill Museum in Iowa, or remnants of a Native American village at Wickliffe Mounds in Kentucky. This route truly offers numerous activities and adventures for the whole family to enjoy! But that state-hopping adventure can and most likely will get lengthy, so if you are taking this interstate trip with kids, it might be a good idea to prepare your family for the road. Plan your itinerary, decide on the must-do list, and see amazing things along the way.

Trail of the Ancients

One of the famous America’s scenic byways for all nature lovers and history buffs is the Trail of the Ancients in the Four Corners states of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. This byway explores the history of southwestern Native American peoples and offers beautiful geological sights of the Colorado Plateau.

Majestic canyons, lush valleys, snow-capped mountains, and iconic red rock scenery will leave you in awe. You will be amazed by what nature can do. Mesa Verde National Park, with its cliff dwellings, Balcony House, and Petroglyph Point trail, has a bit of everything. Comb Ridge, Valley of the Gods, or Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park are all the right choices for immersing yourself in the rich history and cultural background of the US.

A view of mountains through a cave.
Majestic landscapes await you on the Trail of the Ancients.

Florida Keys Scenic Highway

If a taste of the tropics and island life is just what you need, pack your bags and get your vehicle ready for the Florida Keys scenic highway. This route connects Florida’s mainland with the Florida Keys, a coral cay archipelago between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Relish in turquoise waters, swaying palms, and rich marine life. Enjoy the sandy beaches, swimming, and snorkeling while bathing in the sun. Sunrises and sunsets by the ocean are spectacular, and natural beauty abounds in this area.

Also, immerse yourself in local culture and delicious seafood cuisine, and of course, try the iconic Key lime pie while you’re there. Catch sight of dolphins, manatees, and various bird and fish species in this tropical paradise. Glass-bottom boat tours in Key Largo and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park are must-stops on this trip. And, if you have enough time, make sure to visit the Hemingway Home & Museum!

Richardson Highway in Alaska

Now, let’s go from summer to winter! If you want to experience a winter wonderland, crystal-clear glaciers, and glacier lakes, you’ve found your match. Richardson Highway stretches for 368 miles through Alaska, from Valdez to Fairbanks. Valdez Glacier Lake, with its splendid view of the Chugach Mountains, is one of the unique attractions on this route, and so is the Rainbow Bridge, with its green and red volcanic ash. Visiting Horsetail Falls and Big Delta State Historical Park is also a good idea. Or, you can travel through Keystone Canyon, then across Thompson Pass, all to the Worthington Glacier.

A person in a vehicle reading a map.
Plan your road trip well.

Get Ready for Your America’s Scenic Byway Adventure!

If you want to make the most of your trip, the key is to prepare well! Whichever of the byways you choose, there are some things you should consider before you hit the road. Here are some tips that will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip:

  • Have a plan—There’s so much to see and do, so it’s best to decide on your priorities in advance. Make a list of attractions you want to see and plan your route, timeline, and accommodation.
  • Check your vehicle—Ensure your car is in proper condition for the long trip.
  • Bring essentials—From maps and an emergency kit to snacks and entertainment, ensure you pack everything you need for the long drive
  • Dress for the weather—Check the weather forecast in the region and bring appropriate clothing.

Choose Your Adventure and Explore America’s Scenic Byways

Exploring America’s scenic byways is a unique way to experience everything this vast country offers. The options are endless! Various roads will lead you from tropical havens to desert landscapes and fantastic mountain vistas. Get ready to experience rich historical heritage, diverse cultures, and amazing natural sights along the way.