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
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
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 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
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 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
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
Have you ever been to New England? Do you live there? Perfect. This is the charming, wood-lined road for you.
Delaware: Kennett Pike
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.6 comments