Like the portions it serves up, America is vast. From the frozen planes of Alaska to the sun-kissed Florida Keys, the Colorado Rockies’ peaks to the flats of Arizona, you could say you’ve got the four corners of the world in one country. Which makes it the perfect place for a road trip.
Here are five of the routes worth taking:
California State Route 1
Like beautiful weather, beautiful people and beautiful scenery? Then this one’s for you. Taking in LA, Malibu and Santa Monica, as well redwood country, the SR 1 is the perfect summer route, and at less than 800 miles long, it’s easily doable over a fortnight too.
You’ll also pass through wine country, which is where you might be tempted to stop and sample. (And, of course, sleep it off before you start again…)
The Centennial State’s scenery gives it a majesty that few others can match. Start in Denver, after filling up on the smothered Mexican hamburgers or elk cheddar dogs the city’s known for, before setting your sights on Colorado Springs.
Take in the magnificent Garden of the Gods and glacier-carved 14,115-foot landmark Pikes Peak, the site of an annual hill climb race (go in June to see this – the motors are the nuts) that attracts hardened hikers from around the world.
Finally, round off your route with a tour of Colorado’s ghost towns, eerily quiet reminders of the state’s gold-mining past.
The Florida Keys
Unless you’re a Disney superfan, or have kids threatening never to speak to you again unless you take them there, you can forget Orlando. Because there’s far more to Florida.
Jump on Route 1 – the Ocean Highway – at Key Largo and head along the keys for Key West, crossing the seven mile-long bridge over seas that are the sort of colour only nature can conjure up. You’ll be bathed in sunshine from start to finish.
The Whole Hog
At just short of 3,400 miles, US Route 20 is the longest route in the States. It runs from Newport (Oregon, not California) to Boston, taking in Chicago and a cruise alongside the Mississippi River, and is broken only by Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Ohio, home of the famed Old Faithful geyser.
You’ll need a good three weeks to do a route like this justice, and a comfortable car to drive it in too.
Ice, Ice Baby
Fancy starring in your own episode of Ice Road Truckers? Then jump on the Dalton Highway in Alaska and embark on a 400 odd-mile journey that culminates in a breathtaking view of the Arctic Ocean.
You’ll take in some seriously ‘gram-worthy scenery through wintry forests and open tundra, and make some new friends including caribou and Arctic foxes. You can even stop and hike – though you won’t want to stray too far for fear of bears.
Mobile phone coverage, medical services and vehicle repair services are few and far between on this not-for-the-faint-hearted route, so be prepared.
The daddy of all US road trips, Route 66 is as American as apple pie. A 2,400-mile drive from Chicago to Santa Monica, the 1926-opened road offers sights including Missourian caves, an Arizonian meteor crater and a wealth of old school Americana, from classic cars to motels.
To drive Route 66 is, as John Steinbeck put it, to drive the “Main Street of America”. It should be on everyone’s bucket list, whether or not you give a crap about cars.