Cross Country Road Trip Ideas – Which Adventure is Best for You?

Written by: Greg Cayea

November 24, 2019

Not sure which cross country road trip to take? Worry no more, we’ve taken the thinking out of the planning process for you. Browse trips by adventure, theme, or region.

1. The Giant Pub Crawl

Cross Country Road Trip: The Pub Crawl
Distance: 9,578 miles | Estimated Fuel Cost: $755 | Driving Hours: 150 | Days: 45

These are the best places to party in the USA. The goal of this road trip is to meet people. You will experience the nightlife and social culture around the country. If you’re looking for cool small towns and roadside attractions, this probably is not the trip for you. This journey has one goal: making connections. Start where you want; end where you want. You can mix and match or ride the whole wave. Use our Vagabond Tripper to help you plan your adventure.

Best Nightlife in the USA

By the way, this isn’t just about nightlife… it’s about the best places to meet anyone at any time of the day. The Pub crawl just had a nice ring to it…

  1. Seattle
  2. Portland
  3. Eugene, Oregon
  4. Lake Tahoe, California
  5. Los Angeles – West Hollywood
  6. San Diego – Gaslamp District
  7. Tempe, Arizona
  8. Flagstaff
  9. Las Vegas – Freemont District
  10. Boulder – Pearl Street
  11. Santa Fe –
  12. Downtown Austin
  13. New Orleans – Bourbon Street
  14. Destin, Florida
  15. South Beach
  16. Savannah, Georgia – River Street
  17. Atlanta – East Atlanta Village
  18. Asheville, North Carolina
  19. Seaside Heights, New Jersey
  20. Brooklyn – East Williamsburg
  21. Montreal, Canada
  22. Toronto, Canada
  23. Nashville, Tennessee – Music Row
  24. Memphis, Tennessee – Beale Street
  25. Chicago
  26. Minneapolis, Minnesota – Lake Street

2. Mountain Time Zone Road Trip

Cross Country Road Trip: West Coast Road Trip
Distance: 7,473 miles | Estimated Fuel Cost: $657 | Driving Hours: 126 | Days: 30­­­

Need to calm yourself? Massage your soul? Get in your car and go to these spots. There’s nothing in the world that’ll relieve your tension like natural beauty without traffic. Enjoy a stress-free zone; they exist.

Best Road Trip in the Mountain Time Zone

  1. McCall, Idaho
  2. Sun Valley, Idaho
  3. Twin Falls, Idaho
  4. Salt Flats, Utah
  5. Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota
  6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  7. Glacier National Park, Montana
  8. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  9. North Cascades National Park, Washington
  10. Thor’s Well – Yachats, Oregon
  11. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon
  12. Ashland, Oregon
  13. Fly Geyser – Gerlach, Nevada
  14. Grass Valley, California
  15. Big Sur, California
  16. Matador State Beach, Malibu, California
  17. Sequoia National Park
  18. Death Valley National Park
  19. Marble Canyon – Arizona
  20. Antelope Canyon – Arizona
  21. Moab, Utah
  22. Ouray, Colorado
  23. Paint Mines Interpretive Park – Calhan, Colorado
  24. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  25. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  26. Jerome, Arizona

3. The Instagram Shoot

The Instagram Shoot Road Trip - Best Photography Road Trip Spots
The Instagram Shoot Road Trip – Best Photography Road Trip Spots

These are some of the best Instagrammable stop-offs in the country. Every one of these places will provide a backdrop you can’t find on an Instagram filter. Some of these you know about, some of them you might not. Perfect for the amateur and professional photographer, travel blogger, or cool spot enthusiast.

Instagrammable Stop-offs

  1. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
  2. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
  3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  4. Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone, Wyoming
  5. Monument Valley, Arizona
  6. Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona
  7. Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  8. City Hall Station, New York City
  9. The Wave Organ, San Francisco
  10. Underground Tunnels of Los Angeles
  11. Evolution Nature Store, New York City
  12. Dream House, New York City
  13. Secret Tiled Staircase, San Francisco
  14. Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze, San Francisco
  15. The Wave, Marble Canyon, Arizona
  16. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
  17. Thor’s Well, Oregon
  18. Fly Geyser, Nevada
  19. The Neon Boneyard, Las Vegas
  20. New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
  21. Please Don’t Tell, New York City
  22. Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs, Texas
  23. House of Eternal Return, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  24. Mapparium, Boston, Massachusetts
  25. Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona
  26. Bradbury Building, Downtown Los Angeles
  27. Track 61, New York City
  28. Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Calhan, Colorado
  29. Witch House of Salem, Salem, Massachusetts
  30. Havasupai Falls, Supai, Arizona
  31. Synchronized Fireflies of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  32. Multnomah Falls, Corbett, Oregon
  33. Horsetail Fall’s Fire Fall, Yosemite National Park, California
  34. Ra Paulette’s Hand-Carved Caves, La Madera, New Mexico
  35. Dry Tortugas, Key West, Florida
  36. Fremont Troll, Seattle, Washington
  37. The Gum Wall (extinct), Seattle Washington
  38. El Matador State Beach, Malibu, California
  39. The Salt Flats, Utah
  40. The Town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
  41. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  42. Lost Sea, Sweetwater, Tennessee
  43. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  44. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  45. The Prada Store, Marfa, Texas
  46. Nine Mile Canyon, Carbon County, Utah
  47. Hole N’ The Rock, Moab, Utah
  48. Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Mammoth Lakes, California
  49. The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles
  50. Paul Smith Wall, West Hollywood, California
  51. Devil’s Tower, Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
  52. Crazy Horse Memorial, Black Hills of South Dakota
  53. Wall, South Dakota

4. The Hostel Route

Cross Country Road Trip: The Hostel Trip
Distance: 8,314 miles | Estimated Fuel Cost: $660 | Driving Hours: 128 | Days: 30­

My favorite route. What makes this adventure special is that you’re guaranteed to have a great time, make friends, and find yourself having crazy experiences. You’ll have bad days, good days, travel flings, wild nights, fun mornings, (sometimes) uncomfortable beds… literally, you get it all. If you’re looking for a quiet pilgrimage across the country full of solitude and creative inspiration, this probably isn’t for you. If you’re not a social creature, this is not your route. Every destination is a place for you to expand your network and meet other travelers. If you want to break out of your shell a bit, this is the perfect trip to get you there.

Hostels

I LOVE hostels and I’ve bolded my favorites.

  1. Green Tortoise Hostel Seattle
  2. HI Portland
  3. Green Tortoise San Francisco
  4. USA Hostels Hollywood
  5. USA Hostels San Diego
  6. Hostel Cat, Las Vegas
  7. Grand Canyon International Hostel, Flagstaff, Arizona
  8. The Lazy Lizard Hostel, Moab, Utah
  9. Hostel Fish, Denver
  10. Santa Fe International Hostel
  11. Firehouse Hostel, Austin
  12. Deep Ellum Hostel, Dallas
  13. India House Hostel, New Orleans
  14. Miami Beach International Hostel
  15. Bon Paul & Sharky’s Hostel, Ashville, North Carolina
  16. The Crash Pad: An Uncommon Hostel, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  17. Nashville Downtown Hostel
  18. HI Chicago Hostel
  19. Hostel Detroit
  20. HI Richmond Hostel
  21. Apple Hostels of Philadelphia
  22. Freehand New York
  23. HI Boston Hostel

5. The National Park Cross Country Road Trip

Cross Country Road Trip: The National Park Road Trip
Distance: 14,500 miles | Estimated Fuel Cost: $1,000 | Driving Hours: 240 | Days: 60

Not much to explain here. Go to all the National Parks in the Lower 48. Definitely buy the national park pass because it’s not only good for national parks, but national forests and other recreational sites. It’ll save you a ton of money. Ask for a park map—you’re going to collect these! If you don’t have the park map, you weren’t really there.

Call ahead as far in advance as possible for camping reservations. Don’t count on availability showing up on the day of. There’s also a great book that I read when I was traveling to all these parks called: Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks.

National Parks

  1. Kings Canyon National Park, California
  2. Joshua-Tree-National Park, California
  3. Death Valley National Park, California
  4. Sequoia-National Park, California
  5. Yosemite National Park, California
  6. Pinnacles National Park, California
  7. Channel Islands National Park, California
  8. Redwood National and State Parks, California
  9. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  10. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  11. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  12. Olympic National Park, Washington
  13. North Cascades National Park, Washington
  14. Glacier National Park, Montana
  15. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  16. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  17. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
  18. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  19. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
  20. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  21. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  22. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  23. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
  24. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
  25. Arches National Park, Utah
  26. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  27. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  28. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  29. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
  30. Zion National Park, Utah
  31. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  32. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  33. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  34. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  35. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  36. Big Bend National Park, Texas
  37. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
  38. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
  39. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
  40. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  41. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  42. Acadia National Park, Maine
  43. Everglades National Park
  44. Dry Torgugas National Park

6. The Roadside Attraction Cross Country Road Trip

Cross Country Road Trip: The Roadside Attraction Road Trip
Roadside Attractions!!

If you want to see the real America, there’s no better way than by traveling to all the great roadside attractions. See a giant blue ox in Bemidji, MN, sock house in High Point, NC, or say hi to the aliens at all the Area 51-themed joints in Nevada! This is a great trip if you just wanna be on the road and see cool shit.

Roadside Attractions

  1. Seattle Gum Wall (Seattle, WA)
  2. World’s Largest Pig Hairball (St. Benedict, OR)
  3. Salvation Mountain (Calipatria, CA)
  4. Area 51 Alien Travel Center and Alien Cathouse Brothel (Amargosa Valley, NV)
  5. Hole N” The Rock (Moab, UT)
  6. The Thing (Dragoon, AZ)
  7. World’s Largest Pistachio (Alamogordo, NM)
  8. Cano’s Castle (Antonito, CO)
  9. World’s Largest Ball of Twine (Cawker City, KS)
  10. The Blue Whale (Catoosa, OK)
  11. Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, TX)
  12. Kliebert’s Turtle and Alligator Farm (Ponchatoula, LA)
  13. Peavy’s Monster Mart (Fouke, AR)
  14. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum (Weldon Spring, MO)
  15. World’s Largest Baseball Bat (Louisville, KY)
  16. World’s Largest Cedar Bucket (Murfreesboro, TN)
  17. Mammy’s Cupboard (Natchez, MS)
  18. World’s Largest Brick (Montgomery, AL)
  19. World’s Largest Chicken Wing (Madeira Beach, FL)
  20. Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue (Plains, GA)
  21. Peachoid Water Tower (Gaffney, SC)
  22. World’s Largest Chest of Drawers (High Point, NC)
  23. Foamhenge (Centreville, VA)
  24. Farnham Colossi-Land of Giants (Unger, WV)
  25. Lawyer’s Farm Transformers (Thurmont, MD)
  26. Fountain of Youth (Lewes, DE)
  27. Lucy the Elephant (Margate City, NJ)
  28. World’s Largest Jack-in-the-Box (Middletown, CT)
  29. Fighting Seabee (North Kingstown, RI)
  30. The Paper House (Rockport, MA)
  31. Redstone Rocket (Warren, NH)
  32. Lenny the Chocolate Moose (Scarborough, ME)
  33. Giant Gorilla (Leicester, VT)
  34. Cardiff Giant (Cooperstown, NY)
  35. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, Bemidji, MN
  36. The Largest Burger in the World (Clearfield, PA)
  37. Giant Horseshoe Crab (Blanchester, OH)
  38. The (Former) World’s Largest Cherry Pie Pan (Charlevoix, MI)
  39. Largest Ball of Paint (Alexandria, IN)
  40. World’s Largest Catsup Bottle (Collinsville, IL)
  41. UFO Landing Port (Poland, WI)
  42. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (Bemidji, MN)
  43. Iowa’s Largest Frying Pan (Brandon, IA)
  44. World’s Largest Ball of Stamps (Boys Town, NE)
  45. World’s Only Corn Palace (Mitchell, SD)
  46. Enchanted Highway (Regent, ND)
  47. Talking Penguin Statue (Cut Bank, MT)
  48. America’s Smallest Town (PhinDeli Town Buford, WY)
  49. Idaho Potato Museum (Blackfoot, ID)

7. Cool Small Towns

Cool Small Towns Road Trip
Cool Small Towns Road Trip

Small towns are the heartbeat of every vagabond’s life. These are the towns that show you the cultural differences between cities and states. It’s a great way to see what life is like for our neighbors. I can assure you you’ll feel like you’ve crossed international borders going from Jerome, Arizona to Wiscasset, Maine.

Coolest Small Towns in America

  1. Pioneertown (California)
  2. Jerome (Arizona)
  3. Alpine (Texas)
  4. Marfa (Texas)
  5. Big Sur Towns (All the towns in Big Sur State Park in California)
  6. Weed (California)
  7. Grass Valley (California)
  8. Ashland (Oregon)
  9. Seaside (Oregon)
  10. Forks (Washington)
  11. Coeur d’Alene (Idaho)
  12. Twin Falls (Idaho)
  13. Sun Valley (Idaho)
  14. Butte (Montana)
  15. Black Hills Towns (All the towns in the Black Hills of South Dakota)
  16. Wall (South Dakota)
  17. Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
  18. Ouray (Colorado)
  19. Durango (Colorado)
  20. Idaho Springs (Colorado)
  21. Pigeon Forge (Tennessee)
  22. Gatlinburg (Tennessee)
  23. Biloxi (Mississippi)
  24. Kingston (New York)
  25. Beacon (New York)
  26. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  27. Montpelier, Vermont
  28. Biddeford, Maine
  29. Wiscasset, Maine
  30. Kingston (Ontario, Canada)

8. Ghost Towns of the US

Can you find the ghost towns that are missing? Some of them are mysteries…

Ghost Towns are awesome. They’re historically riveting and insanely adventurous. Get your dose of history and picturesque destinations with this Ghost Town road trip.

Best Ghost Towns in the USA

Some of these towns are EXTREMELY hard to find. Attempt at your own risk.

  1. Bayhorse, Idaho
  2. Rhyolite, Nevada
  3. Bodie, California
  4. Terlingua, Texas
  5. Thurmond, West Virginia
  6. Santa Claus, Arizona
  7. Flagstaff, Maine
  8. Calico, California
  9. Virginia City, Montana
  10. Cahawba, Alabama
  11. Dogtown, Massachusetts
  12. Glenrio, Texas and New Mexico
  13. Goldfield, Arizona
  14. Gleeson, Courtland & Pearce, Arizona
  15. Kennecott, Alaska
  16. St. Elmo, Colorado
  17. Swan Island, Maine
  18. Texola, Oklahoma
  19. South Pass City, Wyoming
  20. Garnet, Montana
  21. North Brother Island, New York
  22. Animas Forks, Colorado

9. The Roadside Diner Trip

MAP COMING SOON

Wanna live the Anthony Bourdain life? This is how ya do it–starting in America. From roadside diners to lobster shacks to pizza joints to soup dumplings, these are must-eats around the country.

Best Food Stop-offs in the USA

  1. The Pantry Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  2. Harry’s Coffee Shop, La Jolla, California
  3. El Tepeyac Café in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles
  4. Otis Cafe, Otis, Oregon
  5. Tel-Wink Grill, Houston, Texas
  6. Travis Coffee Shop, St. Clair Shores, Michigan
  7. Frank’s Diner, Kenosha, Wisconsin
  8. Cozy Dog, Springfield, Illinois
  9. Bluebird Diner, Iowa City, Iowa
  10. Wagner’s Pharmacy, Louisville, Kentucky
  11. Winstead’s, Kansas City, Missouri
  12. Strawn’s Eat Shop, Shreveport, Louisiana
  13. Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans, Louisiana
  14. Brent’s Drugs, Jackson, Mississippi
  15. The Breakfast Club, Tybee Island, Georgia
  16. Howley’s Restaurant, West Palm Beach, Florida
  17. Tastee Diner in Asheville, North Carolina
  18. DeLuca’s Diner, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  19. Gallery Diner, South Boston, Massachusetts
  20. The Blue Benn, Bennington, Vermont
  21. Palace Diner, Biddeford, Maine
  22. The Dueling Lobster Roll Joints in Wiscasset, Maine
  23. Pepe’s in New Haven, Connecticut
  24. Sally’s Pizza in New Haven, Connecticut
  25. Joe’s Shanghai, Chinatown, New York City
  26. Tops Diner, East Newark, New Jersey

10. Snowball Adventure

MAP COMING SOON

Wanna roll around in the snow and ski or snowboard your way across America? These are the best mountains to stop at.

  1. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, California
  2. Diamond Peak, Nevada
  3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  4. Powder Mountain, Utah
  5. Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah
  6. Snowbird, Utah
  7. Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
  8. Snowbasin, Utah
  9. Deer Valley, Utah
  10. Sun Valley, Idaho
  11. Big Sky, Montana
  12. Winter Park, Colorado
  13. Vail, Colorado
  14. Breckenridge, Colorado
  15. Beaver Creek, Colorado
  16. Crested Butte, Colorado
  17. Steamboat, Colorado
  18. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
  19. Buttermilk, Colorado
  20. Aspen Highlands, Colorado
  21. Snowmass, Colorado
  22. Purgatory, Colorado
  23. Telluride, Colorado
  24. Durango, Colorado
  25. Ski Santa Fe, New Mexico
  26. Hunter Mountain, New York
  27. Whiteface Lake Placid, New York
  28. Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
  29. Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

11. Summer Adventure

MAP COMING SOON

Looking for some amazing summer stop-offs to add to your road trip itinerary?

  1. Snake River in Idaho
  2. Big Sur in California
  3. Pacific Coast Highway Drive
  4. Verde Valley of Arizona
  5. Beartooth Highway from Yellowstone to Montana
  6. Interstate 70 in Colorado
  7. Black Hills of South Dakota
  8. Outer Banks of North Carolina
  9. The Casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi
  10. Hudson Valley of New York
  11. The Montauk Highway in Long Island, New York
  12. Drive to Acadia National Park in Maine from Anywhere

12. Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

MAP COMING SOON

  1. Gaslamp District, San Diego
  2. Ocean Beach, San Diego
  3. Laguna Beach, Orange County
  4. Huntington Beach, Orange County
  5. Long Beach, Los Angeles County
  6. Venice, Los Angeles County
  7. Santa Monica, Los Angeles County
  8. West Hollywood, Los Angeles County
  9. Hollywood, Los Angeles
  10. Downtown Los Angeles
  11. Los Feliz, Los Angeles
  12. Studio City, Los Angeles
  13. Malibu, Los Angeles County
  14. Santa Barbara
  15. Big Sur
  16. Santa Cruz
  17. San Francisco
  18. Napa Valley
  19. Mendocino
  20. Eureka
  21. Redwoods
  22. Thor’s Well, Yachats, Oregon
  23. Seaside, Oregon
  24. Forks, Washington
  25. Seattle, Washington

13. East Coast Road Trip

MAP COMING SOON

From Quebec to Key West, here are all the spots you should check out to get a good feel for the East Coast.

  1. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. Burlington, Vermont
  3. Bangor, Maine
  4. Acadia National Park, Maine
  5. Wiscasset, Maine
  6. Portland, Maine
  7. Biddeford, Maine
  8. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
  9. Boston, Massachusetts
  10. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  11. Providence, Rhode Island
  12. Newport, Rhode Island
  13. New Haven, Connecticut
  14. Beacon, New York
  15. New York City
  16. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  17. Wilmington, Delaware
  18. Baltimore, Maryland
  19. Washington DC
  20. Charlottesville, Virginia
  21. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  22. Asheville, North Carolina
  23. Athens, Georgia
  24. Atlanta, Georgia
  25. Destin, Florida
  26. Tampa, Florida
  27. Sanibel, Florida
  28. Everglades National Park, Florida
  29. The Florida Keys
  30. Miami, Florida
  31. Orlando, Florida
  32. Savannah, Georgia
  33. Charleston, South Carolina
  34. Wilmington, North Carolina
  35. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
  36. Atlantic City, New Jersey
  37. Brooklyn, New York
  38. Port Jefferson, Long Island, New York
  39. Montauk, New York

Before you leave, get your car camping checklist here.

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