Here is the most scenic drive in every state in America

Here is the most scenic drive in every state in America

Some of the country’s most beautiful roads call out for casual trips

Editor’s note: This piece is part of the ClassicCars.com Journal’s Road Trip Month. We’ll be celebrating anything that helps pass the miles and the cars that get us there during the month of June.


There’s nothing like a summer road trip: The sun is out, the boss is away on vacation and there’s hundreds of miles of pavement between you and your destination.

Some are just in a hurry to get to where they’re going and will follow Google Maps to the last turn, but for the rest of us, summer drives offer opportunities to cruise down some of America’s most gorgeous roads with the wind in our hair.

To help those looking for scenic drives to take this summer, we turned to the folks over at Thrillist and their compilation of the most picturesque roads in each state. Their list is by no means comprehensive, but it sure seems like a good place to start.


Alabama: Highway 78

Alabama's Highway 78 | Google Maps photo

Alabama’s Highway 78 | Google Maps photo

Spanning across Alabama, Highway 78 takes drivers from state line to Birmingham to state line. It splits time between Alabama’s share of the Appalachian Mountains and the Talladega National Forest, providing some of the best views in the country.


Alaska: Haines Highway

Haines Highway in Alaska | Google Maps photo

Haines Highway in Alaska | Google Maps photo

Crossing from Alaska into Canada along the Haines Highway offers plenty of stunning landscape, but the real attraction is above your head: The area is home to the highest population of bald eagles in the world, which fits its nickname – the Valley of the Eagles.


Arizona: Highway 179

Arizona Highway 179 | Google Maps photo

Arizona Highway 179 | Google Maps photo

Arizona is home to a lot of pretty drives but there’s not one better than Highway 179. Used to connect to Sedona from Interstate 17, the road winds its way through red rocks dotted with Native American cliff dwellings.


Arkansas: Talimena Scenic Highway

Talimena Scenic Highway in Arkansas | Google Maps photo

Talimena Scenic Highway in Arkansas | Google Maps photo

In a relatively short 50 miles, the Talimena Scenic Highway packs quite a visual punch. Prepare yourself for historic towns, bright foliage and views at every curve.


California: Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway in California | Google Maps photo

The Pacific Coast Highway in California | Google Maps photo

The quintessential dream drive. This road stretches along the westernmost edge of the continental United States and offers plenty of curves to keep it interesting while you take in views of the world’s largest body of water.


Colorado: Pikes Peak Highway

Pikes Peak Highway in Colorado | Google Maps photo

Pikes Peak Highway in Colorado | Google Maps photo

We’re not saying you need to set any sort of speed record, so take your time as you climb toward the clouds.


Connecticut: State Route 197

State Route 197 in Connecticut | Google Maps photo

State Route 197 in Connecticut | Google Maps photo

Have you ever been to New England? Do you live there? Perfect. This is the charming, wood-lined road for you.


Delaware: Kennett Pike

Kennett Pike in Delaware | Google Maps photo

Kennett Pike in Delaware | Google Maps photo

Delaware may not pack a huge punch when it comes to landmass, but it sure makes up for it in roads. The Kennett Pike will have you cruising past museums, bridges and massive estates with a smile on your face.


Florida: Seven Mile Bridge

Florida's Seven Mile Bridge | Google Maps photo

Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge | Google Maps photo

Doesn’t this road just scream “Get a convertible and let’s go?” One of America’s most iconic drives, Seven Mile Bridge is also one of the longest bridges in the world.


Georgia: State Route 197

State Route 197 in Georgia | Google Maps photo

State Route 197 in Georgia | Google Maps photo

There’s several roads to choose from, but pros choose to drive State Route 197 when passing through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia. The turns are fun, but seeing a waterfall from the driver’s seat is just awesome.


Hawaii: Hana Highway

Hana Highway in Hawaii | Google Maps photo

Hana Highway in Hawaii | Google Maps photo

Don’t expect to fly on this one. The Hana Highway tightly winds through 52 miles of Hawaii and is certainly best enjoyed at a leisurely pace with the promise of a beach up ahead.


Idaho: Western Heritage Historic Byway

The Western Heritage Historic Byway, aka Swan Hills Road, in Idaho | Google Maps photo

The Western Heritage Historic Byway, aka Swan Hills Road, in Idaho | Google Maps photo

If deep gorges, winding roads and spotting huge birds of prey is your thing, you should jump behind the wheel and drive the Western Heritage Historic Byway. Or, you know, move to Idaho.


Illinois: Grandview Drive

Grandview Drive in Illinois | Google Maps photo

Grandview Drive in Illinois | Google Maps photo

We were tempted to pick Lakeshore Drive in Chicago for this one, but there’s something about following the Illinois River that’s just magical. Maybe it’s because former President Theodore Roosevelt once declared it “the world’s most beautiful drive.”


Indiana: Ohio River Scenic Byway

The Ohio River Scenic Byway in Indiana | Google Maps photo

The Ohio River Scenic Byway in Indiana | Google Maps photo

It may have Ohio in the name, but this 303-mile road is all Indiana. Take in the history and nature of the Hoosier State — don’t miss the limestone cliffs at Clifty Falls State Park — along this road.


Iowa: Loess Hills Trail

Loess Hills Trail in Iowa | Google Maps photo

Loess Hills Trail in Iowa | Google Maps photo

You know those old paintings of the idyllic Midwest with verdant rolling hills? We’re guessing some of the artists were pretty familiar with this road.


Kansas: Route 66

Route 66 in Kansas | Google Maps photo

Route 66 in Kansas | Google Maps photo

It crosses through a lot of states, but Route 66 really lives it up in Kansas. It’s a relatively short part of the highway, but it symbolizes America so much that it helped inspire some of the Disney Pixar film Cars.


Kentucky: Route 77

Kentucky's Route 77 | Google Maps photo

Kentucky’s Route 77 | Google Maps photo

If driving through a one-lane tunnel near a long-forgotten logging town on your way to a nationally registered gorge is your thing, Route 77 is your road. If it’s not, we’re not sure why you’re reading this.


Louisiana: Route 90

Route 90 in Louisiana | Google Maps photo

Route 90 in Louisiana | Google Maps photo

You can take this road all the way from the Texas border to the heart of the Big Easy. On your way to New Orleans, keep an eye out for historic towns and plenty of marshland.


Maine: Park Loop Road

Park Loop Road in Maine | Google Maps photo

Park Loop Road in Maine | Google Maps photo

Acadia National Park is already quite a looker, but throw in a great cruising car and you’ve got yourself a drive that looks straight out of a movie.


Maryland: Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway

The Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway in Maryland | Google Maps photo

The Chesapeake Country Scenic Byway in Maryland | Google Maps photo

This just isn’t a road, it’s a cultural tour. The byway snakes by plenty of historic sites from 18th Century courthouses to former plantations.


Massachusetts: Mohawk Trail

Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts | Google Maps photo

Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts | Google Maps photo

Our favorite name on the list, Mohawk Trail is far from a long line of bikers with the signature punk rock hair. This road has been in use for hundreds of years, so it’s basically part of your duty as a human to experience it.


Michigan: Woodward Avenue

Woodward Avenue in Michigan | Google Maps photo

Woodward Avenue in Michigan | Google Maps photo

The site of one of America’s biggest car shows, Woodward Avenue is open all year for cruising. Of course, if you see about 40,000 other cars parked and as many as 1 million people walking around, we’d recommend joining in on the fun.


Minnesota: Highway 61

Minnesota Highway 61 | Google Maps photo

Minnesota Highway 61 | Google Maps photo

Follow along the Mississippi River and take in the scenery on Highway 61. If you want to keep going north, however, you’ll need a passport as this road leads straight into Canada.


Mississippi: Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi | Google Maps photo

Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi | Google Maps photo

Originally used by boatmen working the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, the Natchez Trace Parkway is now a gorgeous wood-lined road begging you to drive it.


Missouri: Highway 19

Highway 19 in Missouri | Google Maps photo

Highway 19 in Missouri | Google Maps photo

Jump on this road between Thayer and New London to take in some vistas of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways and pass a cool old town or two.


Montana: Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway in Montanta

Beartooth Highway in Montanta

Consider this the Pikes Peak road, but with a lot less traffic. You’ve also got a really good chance of spotting some wildlife on the drive in Yellowstone National Park.


Nebraska: U.S. Route 83

U.S. 83 in Nebraska | Google Maps photo

U.S. 83 in Nebraska | Google Maps photo

Driving this road through 222 miles of Nebraskan countryside is a treat, but especially for architecture fans: Keep your eyes open for one of the only homes built by Frank Lloyd Wright on the west side of the Mississippi.


Nevada: Valley of Fire Highway

Valley of Fire Highway in Nevada | Google Maps photo

Valley of Fire Highway in Nevada | Google Maps photo

You’ll probably need air conditioning for this one. Fairly close to Las Vegas sits the Valley of Fire, a Mars-esque landscape that just so happens to have some fun roads winding through it.


New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway

Kancamagus Highway in Vermont | Google Maps photo

Kancamagus Highway in Vermont | Google Maps photo

Don’t worry. We can’t pronounce the Kancamagus Highway either, but the tall trees, amazing overlooks and colonial history sites have us wanting to drive down the old road.


New Jersey: State Route 49

State Route 49 in New Jersey | Google Maps photo

State Route 49 in New Jersey | Google Maps photo

Jersey is a great starting point for a lot of East Coast travel, but the drives here are worth enjoying as well. State Route 49 is a scenic highlight.


New Mexico: El Camino Real

El Camino Real in New Mexico | Google Maps photo

El Camino Real in New Mexico | Google Maps photo

Originally founded by Spanish explorers, this drive (which translates to “The Highroad” or “The King’s Highway”) is home to some great rock formations.


New York: Hawk’s Nest

Route 97 in New York | Google Maps photo

Route 97 in New York | Google Maps photo

Not for the faint of heart, Route 97 winds above the Delaware River. On one side is a sheer cliff face and the other is a drop to the water, but there’s a wall in the way.


North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina | Google Maps photo

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina | Google Maps photo

You’re going to want to take your time on this one. The 470-mile Blue Ridge Parkway offers a lot of scenic views and places to stop to take it all in. Oh, you may want to bring a camera as well.


North Dakota: Sakakawea Scenic Byway

Sakakawea Scenic Byway in North Dakota | Google Maps photo

Sakakawea Scenic Byway in North Dakota | Google Maps photo

Follow for a short time in Louis and Clark’s famed footsteps and explore a bit of the Missouri River along the drive.


Ohio: Highway 52

Highway 52 in Ohio | Google Maps photo

Highway 52 in Ohio | Google Maps photo

This road is perfect for those looking for photos of rolling hills and big old barns. Add a highway following a river and it sounds like your afternoon is planned.


Oklahoma: Talimena Scenic Drive

Talimena Scenic Drive in Oklahoma | Google Maps photo

Talimena Scenic Drive in Oklahoma | Google Maps photo

This road should sound familiar, as it also run through Arkansas. This sounds like the perfect opportunity to check off two road-trip states with one gorgeous road!


Oregon: Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon | Google Maps photo

Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon | Google Maps photo

Again, another road that should ring a bell. The PCH is one of the most spectacular drives in the country and continues along Oregon’s coastline as well.


Pennsylvania: Martin Luther King Junior Drive

Martin Luther King Junior Drive in Pennsylvania | Google Maps photo

Martin Luther King Junior Drive in Pennsylvania | Google Maps photo

One of the quickest drives into Philadelphia with some of the best views in the state, including those of the Schuylkill River? Give us the keys. We’ll take this leg of the drive.


Rhode Island: Ocean Drive

Rhode Island's Ocean Drive | Google Maps photo

Rhode Island’s Ocean Drive | Google Maps photo

It may be one of the smaller states, but Rhode Island can boast some of the best views of wonderful houses. Ocean Drive is one of the most-scenic places to see them.


South Carolina: Botany Bay Road

Botany Bay Road in South Carolina | Google Maps photo

Botany Bay Road in South Carolina | Google Maps photo

You know those idyllic Southern roads with huge trees covered in Spanish moss, the kind you see in the movies? The beautiful Botany Bay Road on Edisto Island puts it to shame.


South Dakota: Highway 16A

Highway 16A in South Dakota | Google Maps photo

Highway 16A in South Dakota | Google Maps photo

Of course the best drive in South Dakota will take you past one of the state’s – and the country’s, for that matter – most famous landmarks: Mount Rushmore.


Tennessee: Tail of the Dragon

Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee | Google Maps photo

Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee | Google Maps photo

The runner-up for our favorite name on the list, this 11-mile stretch boasts an insane 318 curves. Use caution on this one, but the slower speeds make the drive that much sweeter.


Texas: Capital of Texas Highway Loop 360

Capital of Texas Highway Loop 360 in Texas | Google Maps photo

Capital of Texas Highway Loop 360 in Texas | Google Maps photo

You’ll want to be out of bed early for this one, as the Pennybacker Bridge is one of the best places in the country to watch the sunrise.


Utah: U.S. Highway 89

U.S. 89 in Utah | Google Maps photo

U.S. 89 in Utah | Google Maps photo

If you want to see a wide range of terrain in just 124 miles, this is the trip for you. Get ready for everything from areas relatively close to Monument Valley across the Arizona border to full-on mountains.


Vermont: Connecticut River Byway

Connecticut River Byway in Vermont | Google Maps photo

Connecticut River Byway in Vermont | Google Maps photo

If you live for bridges, U.S. 5 and Vermont Highway 142 are for you. The drive crosses 20 old covered bridges that give that one-of-a-kind creak, so be sure to roll down your windows.


Virginia: Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive in Virginia | Google Maps photo

Skyline Drive in Virginia | Google Maps photo

The speed limit is strictly enforced at 45 mph on this stretch, but given the endless vistas that can be seen out the window, we’re guessing you’ll be just fine with that.


Washington: Chuckanut Drive

Chuckanut Drive in Washington | Google Maps photo

Chuckanut Drive in Washington | Google Maps photo

This road was originally opened in 1895 and offers drivers a tight and twisty cruise just north of the Seattle area.


West Virginia: State Route 16

State Route 16 in West Virginia | Google Maps photo

State Route 16 in West Virginia | Google Maps photo

Tour the old and new sides of the mining field as this road dips and climbs through the hilly coal-mining region of West Virginia.


Wisconsin: Marinette County Waterfalls Tour

Marinette County Waterfalls Tour in Wisconsin | Google Maps photo

Marinette County Waterfalls Tour in Wisconsin | Google Maps photo

Drivers can stop to see up to 14 waterfalls at stops along this 125-mile stretch of road, so plan to do a little hiking.


Wyoming: Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway in Wyoming | Google Maps photo

Beartooth Highway in Wyoming | Google Maps photo

Our third repeated road and, as the old saying goes, the third time really is the charm. Get ready to stop frequently and take scenic pictures befitting a Hollywood movie.

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6 Comments

  • Ken Pereira
    June 29, 2018, 5:41 AM

    Hi I was looking through your choices of beautiful drives for each state and being a resident of Washington state and living close to Chukanut drive I am compelled to say while it is a very pretty area it is impossible to enjoy.
    On any given day the road is covered with bicyclists, you can not drive that road you can only putt along behind a group of peddlers and hope you don’t run into any of them.
    I feel the best and most scenic road in this state is the Cascade Highway. Look into it I think you might be impressed.
    thank You
    Ken

    REPLY
    • Serge Small@Ken Pereira
      June 29, 2018, 3:35 PM

      I’m a Philadelphia resident and I can tell you there are so many other nicer drives than MLK Drive. A ten minute drive on it this past winter did the following due to the HUGE potholes on MLK: 1 wheel completely cracked in half, 1 wheel bent badly, and THREE flat tires. If you want to do Philly, then do Lincoln drive or Kelly Drive

      REPLY
      • James McIntire@Serge Small
        July 5, 2018, 9:49 AM

        As a longtime Pittsburgh resident, it sounds like you could be describing any number of roads throughout the state! For a really scenic drive in PA you need to get away from the cities and out into the countryside where there is less traffic, fewer bicyclists, and fewer potholes.

        REPLY
  • Frank Wright
    June 29, 2018, 7:39 PM

    "Keep your eyes open for one of the only homes built by Frank Lloyd Wright on the west side of the Mississippi." Except for the 17 in AZ, the 31 in CA, the 1 in Idaho, the 14 in IA, the the 2 in KS, the 6 in MO, the 1 in NE, the 1 in NM, the 3 in OK, the 1 in OR, the 4 in TX, the 3 in WA, and the 1 in WY. Other than that, there is only one west of the Mississippi!

    REPLY
  • Robert Hershgeer
    June 30, 2018, 9:01 AM

    For Nebraska, I would also suggest state highway 2, running from Nebraska City, through Lincoln, ( eat at Stauffers Cafe ) Grand Island ( eat at Mt Fuji ) Then North west through the beautiful Sand Hills and Broken Bow( City Cafe before 2 pm) then go to Halsey State Park, the largest man made forest, Alliance where Carhenge is located and Highway 2 ends. From there go north to Chadron and the Nebraska National Forest. From there take Highway 20 west to Chadron and visit Fort Robinson and take a horseback ride in one of the last Big Army forts used for the Indian wars in Nebraska and enjoy home cooking. There is Lots of history, beautiful country, Prairie castles ( Grain elevators that you can see from miles away) and very friendly people, home cooked foods in almost All small towns that are Far better than any fast food could even think of doing. So travel Nebraska and enjoy "The good life"!

    REPLY
    • Derby Preston @Robert Hershgeer
      July 11, 2018, 3:10 AM

      I was hoping to see the famous 17 mile drive….. home of the Mecca for Automotive enthusiasts every mid August ….. I’m a bit bias …. my Great Grandfather is responsible for the first Automobiles put in use on the once horse and buggie path …. He graded it out layering it with Macadam…. asphalt ….. when he layed out the first homesites and development of “ Pebble Beach “

      REPLY

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