51 U.S. Road Trip Destinations To Visit In Your Lifetime
Looking for popular U.S. tourist destinations to add to your Summer Bucket List? We’ve compiled an extensive list of some top attractions for each of the 50 U.S. states, in addition to Washington, D.C. From expansive national parks and forests, to towering mountain ranges, wide-open prairies, scenic drives, and plenty of action and adventure, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to check off states you haven’t been to yet, or planning an ultimate cross-country road trip, we know you’ll have the time of your life exploring America the Beautiful!
P.S., We’re giving away a Road Trip Prize Pack which includes an “America the Beautiful” parks pass, $100 gas gift card, Martin’s roadside emergency kit, and Martin’s cooler, as part of our Summer Fun Season Sweepstakes! But hurry—the sweepstakes round ends on July 15, 2020.
Alabama – Civil Rights Movement Sites
Alabama was key to many pivotal points in Civil Rights history in the fight for African American rights. From iconic churches like Bethel Baptist (Birmingham), 16th Street Baptist (Birmingham), and Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist (Montgomery); to the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park (Atlanta), and the Rosa Parks Museum (Montgomery), numerous cities throughout the state are filled with rich history and worthy of exploring. (Learn more at: https://alabama.travel/experience-alabama/civil-rights-legacy.)
Alaska – Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
If you’re looking for an adventure, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is considered a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage. There is lots to see in this diverse park, which covers 3.3 million acres. The terrain spans 1,045 beautiful tidewater and terrestrial glaciers, towering mountains, rainforest, sheltered fjords, and coastlines.
Arizona – Grand Canyon National Park
Arizona is home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon! No trip to Arizona is complete without gazing over this vast expanse carved by the Colorado River and wind over millions of years! To get the full experience, we recommend staying in Grand Canyon Village along the South Rim. From there you can ride a mule down into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail, capture amazing views along the Rim Trail, climb the Desert View Watch Tower, and grab a delicious meal at the El Tovar Dining Room.
Arkansas – Hot Springs National Park
Visit “The American Spa” in Hot Springs, AR for a unique blend of history and nature. Hike through Hot Springs National Park to explore the ancient thermal springs themselves, then head to the neighboring city to see Bathhouse Row—a collection of historic bathhouses in the Gilded Age architectural style. (You can even experience the hot springs for yourself with a soak in a spa at a few of the bathhouses!)
California – Various National Parks & PCH
This state is sprinkled with popular tourist destinations—for the city-lovers and outdoorsmen alike. Take your pick of gorgeous national parks to traverse: admire the world’s tallest trees in Redwood National and State Parks, hike the Sierra Nevada mountain range and explore grand waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, or adventure through the wilderness of Sequoia National Park and Forest.
Or—Take a scenic drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, a 656-mile-long state route that stretches from just above San Diego in the south to Mendocino County in the north, passing through the happening cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Colorado – Rocky Mountain National Park & Pikes Peak
Ah, Colorado—home to the Mile High City (Denver) and fifty-eight 14,000+ foot peaks aka “14ers.” Needless to say, there are some views to behold! We recommend visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, home to the country’s highest continuous paved road, Trail Ridge Road, and 350 miles of hiking trails which can be used to observe a plethora of nature such as wildflowers, big horn sheep, and moose!
Bonus—If you’d like to drive/ride (rather than hike) to the top of a 14er, check out Pikes Peak. Fun fact: it was the inspiration for “America the Beautiful”!
Connecticut – Mystic Seaport Museum and Aquarium
The seaport village of Mystic, Connecticut is a popular tourist destination throughout New England. The Mystic Seaport Museum is the largest maritime museum in the U.S. and contains over 500 historic watercraft, including four National Historic Landmark vessels, such as the famous Charles W. Morgan whaleship, along with an extensive research library on maritime history, and a maritime art gallery. Nearby at the Mystic Aquarium, you can admire numerous aquatic animals, both indoors and outdoors, including sharks, stingrays, seals, sea lions, African penguins, and beluga whales!
Delaware – Rehoboth Boardwalk & Cape Henlopen State Park
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is a lovely small beach town hosting a boardwalk along the ocean shore that is lined with restaurants, shops, hotels, and amusements. Just north of Rehoboth Beach is Cape Henlopen State Park. The park is a family friendly environment that offers many outdoor experiences such as beaches for swimming, boating, fishing, clamming, and kayaking as well as trails for hiking and biking. You can also explore the dunes and observation tower from 1941, when the park was a military base.
District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) – Smithsonian Museums
Travel to our nation’s capital for lessons on history, culture, art, space, and everything in between. In addition to several famous monuments and memorials, D.C. is home to many prestigious museums, from the new Museum of the Bible, to the various Smithsonian Museums including: National Museum of Natural History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture—and the list goes on. (Tip: you may need more than one day to see everything!)
Florida – National Parks & Theme Parks
Nature enthusiasts will love the Everglades—the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S! This World Heritage Site covers a total of 1.5 million acres of wetland, home to an abundance of wildlife including alligators, crocodiles, turtles, manatees, herons, and much more.
Then—If you’re not insistent on staying landlocked, you may also enjoy a ferry ride to visit the Florida Keys, or continue even further west toward the Gulf of Mexico to explore Dry Tortugas National Park.
For the adventure-goers and family road-trippers, Orlando’s various theme parks are another must-see attraction. From the four parks of Walt Disney World to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, there is countless fun to be had here.
Georgia – Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge & Downtown Savannah
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of 599 National Natural Landmarks—a collection of landmarks that display our country’s unique and diverse ecological systems. Containing just over 400,000 acres of wetlands, forests, and prairies, the Okefenokee NWR is a great place for many activities, such as hiking, wildlife spotting, and even canoeing!
For a more of a bustling city-life experience, just 2 hours north is the historical city of Savannah, which is also home to many landmarks, including the beautiful Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and Forsyth Park (a great place to view the quintessential Spanish moss). We recommend taking the free shuttle service to visit the Historic District, the shops along the bay, and Forsyth Park.
Hawaii – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The mystique of Hawaii has drawn many tourist to the Hawaiian islands which are located in the Pacific Ocean. Although you cannot drive there, you can take many scenic tours once you arrive on the islands. There are many iconic and famous spots on the islands including Waikiki Beach and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The crescent shaped Waikiki beach lined with palm trees and hotels along with the iconic volcanic Diamond Head crater in the background, has been seen in many television and movie scenes and has been known to be a favorite spot frequented by the rich and famous. The surrounding beach area features dining, nightlife, shopping, and cultural activities. The most active volcanoes in Hawaii (actually the most active volcanoes in the world!) are primarily located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The park has some of the most unique volcanic views and some of the most unusual geological and biological phenomena in the United States. The most active volcanoes are Kilauea and Mauna Loa.
Idaho – Shoshone Falls
Located in Twin Falls in Southern Idaho, along the Snake River, Shoshone Falls is often called the “Niagara of the West.” In fact, it is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the country and surpasses the height of Niagara Falls. Visitors to the Shoshone Falls Park can participate in hiking, boating, or swimming or simply enjoy a nice picnic at the scenic overlook recreational area. It surely is a sight to see!
Illinois – Shawnee National Forest
For those who enjoy hiking, the Shawnee National Forest offers some great family-friendly trails to explore. Also available in the park are some of the best fishing in the state of Illinois, rock climbing, canoeing, and kayaking. Come on out and enjoy the unique biodiversity of Shawnee, Illinois.
Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Park
You may be standing at the edge of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park, but it sure will feel a lot like the ocean. This is a great place to visit with your family just to relax or walk by the water. You may even be able to view the Chicago skyline across the lake! Bonus Tip: It’s especially beautiful during sunset or sunrise, and there are special photo-taking tours available during those times!
Iowa – Maquoketa Caves State Park
The Maquoketa Caves have been popular for hundreds of years, and the park contains more caves than any other state park in Iowa. Historical artifacts like pottery and tools have been found in and around the limestone caves, making it both a beautiful and historical caving site. The state park offers picnicking, camping, trails to walk, and fun cave tours that include walking, or even crawling, through the crevices of the caves.
Kansas – Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Located in Flint Hills, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the largest expanse of tallgrass prairie in the world and the United States’ only national park dedicated to this ecosystem. Of the once 170 million acres of tallgrass prairie in North America, only 4% now remains (a majority of which is in Flint Hills). The preserve is home to over 500 species of plants, 150 species of birds, and a wide variety of other wildlife including bison.
Kentucky – Mammoth Cave National Park
Home of the world’s longest cave, Mammoth Cave National Park is a must on the road trip bucket list. The cave’s surrounding forest area encompasses roughly 70 miles of nature trail and 20 miles of river, making it a great destination for sight-seeing and hiking both above and below ground.
Louisiana – French Quarter, New Orleans
A perfect mix of history and modernity, the French Quarter of New Orleans is a favorite of many tourists. It is teeming with sites to see and activities for visitors of all ages, from centuries-old restaurants to street performers to art galleries. And, ultimately, its old-fashioned architecture and bohemian aesthetic make for a beautiful place to just walk around and look.
Maine – Acadia National Park
While in Maine, be sure to explore what is considered the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast, Acadia National Park. The Park is full of rich cultural heritage as well as breathtaking views, 158 miles of hiking trails, 27 miles of historic motor roads, and 45 miles of carriage roads. The park has a variety of landscapes including mountains, woodlands, lakes, ocean coastline, and wetlands.
Maryland – National Aquarium, Baltimore
Located in the scenic inner harbor of Baltimore, the National Aquarium provides several hours of viewing pleasure, with award-winning exhibits, like the Jellies Invasion Exhibit and the Upland Tropical Rain Forest Exhibit. With over 20,000 animals of 800 species featured in the aquarium, we’re thinking it would be very difficult to get bored!
Massachusetts – Freedom Trail, Boston
Looking for a unique and interesting way to learn more about U.S. history? Then the Freedom Trail in Boston should be your next road trip destination. This 2.5-mile trail will take you on a journey through 250 years of history with 16 significant historic sites, including museums, old meeting houses, and the church where Paul Revere lit his famous warning lantern.
Michigan – Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Just 15 minutes off the coast of Lake Superior, the Tahquamenon Falls State Park contains two especially beautiful waterfalls, the Upper and Lower Falls. The former is the largest with a drop of almost 50 feet and spanning 200 feet across. The falls can be viewed and reached via many paths in the park.
Minnesota – Voyageurs National Park or Mall of America
Nestled in northeast Minnesota along the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park is a unique water-based park encompassing several large lakes and numerous smaller lakes, which are available to explore via boat. You can also enjoy kayaking, fishing, and hiking along the park’s 218,000 acres. (P.S., you may even get to see the Northern Lights!)
For the less adventurous travelers (or the shopaholics), you may prefer to visit the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul for some sight-seeing or head to Bloomington where you can visit the Mall of America, one of the largest shopping malls in the world (which also encompasses the Nickelodeon Universe indoor theme park)!
Mississippi – Vicksburg National Military Park
The 47-day battle at Vicksburg in 1863 was one of the key turning points in the American Civil War, eventually ending in the surrender of the city, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River. Vicksburg National Military Park, commemorates the siege and defense of Vicksburg and includes 1,325 historic monuments and markers, over 100 cannons, restored Union gunboat USS Cairo, and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Visitors to the park will appreciate the in-depth look into this crucial moment in our nation’s history.
Missouri – Gateway Arch National Park
An architectural sight to see, the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis was built to honor the memories of those who served important roles in the Westward Expansion of the U.S. in the nineteenth century: Thomas Jefferson, Dred Scott, and the pioneers who helped establish the West. For history and architecture lovers, be sure to check out the Gateway Arch.
Montana – Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
From fields of wildflowers to clear lake waters, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park offers sights that are sure to amaze. Considered one of the most beautiful parts of North America, the park is actually the union of Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and Glacier National Park in the US. If you plan to cross from Glacier into Waterton, be sure to bring your passport along, because there is a separate entrance and entrance fee for crossing the border between the parks. If you decide to visit, be on the lookout for all sorts of wildlife, such as deer, elk, wolves, coyotes, and mountain goats!
Nebraska – Omaha Zoo
An unfortunately oft-labeled “flyover state,” Nebraska is home to arguably the most outstanding zoo of all time, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. This site has been featured in many zoo-ranking articles, topping many, including CNN’s ranking from 2014. Inside, the zoo has created several interactive and breathtaking ecosystem “domes” in which its animals live (and even fly overhead or swim under foot!). Possibly the most notable dome is the Lied Jungle, America’s largest indoor rainforest.
Nevada – Hoover Dam
Located on the southeast corner of Nevada and bordering the northwest corner of Arizona sits a modern marvel of the world, The Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam is a 726-foot tall concrete arch-gravity dam that was constructed in 1936. The creation of the Hoover Dam created America’s largest water reservoir, Lake Mead. Formed by the Colorado River, Lake Mead covers roughly 248 square miles. Witnessing the massive presence of the Hoover Dam is a memorable experience all by itself. But, if you have time, there are tours available for a more in-depth understanding of the historical, financial, cultural and geological impacts of The Hoover Dam as well as insights into the engineering innovations that brought The Hoover Dam to reality.
New Hampshire – White Mountains National Forest
Nature-lovers rejoice! You’ll love the opportunity to hike along the Appalachian Trail through the White Mountains, the most famous of which is Mt. Washington—the highest point in the Northeast. You may also enjoy scenic drives, camping, mountain biking, or zip lining among the mountains and forests.
New Jersey – Cape May Historic District & Six Flags Great Adventure
Head to New Jersey’s southern tip to Cape May where you’ll find relaxing beaches, quaint bed and breakfasts, and a historic lighthouse—but the true pleasure comes in taking a walking tour of the town to admire all the gorgeous Victorian-style houses and buildings (one of the largest concentrations in the country)! You won’t regret a visit to this adorable seaside site.
Further north in Jackson, New Jersey, you can head to Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park. With 13 roller coasters and adjoining water park Hurricane Harbor, it is easy to see why it is one of the top ranked amusement parks in the country. It is also home to Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster, measuring in at 456 feet.
New Mexico – Carlsbad Caverns National Park
New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park has a lot to offer, both on the surface and underground. Above ground there is wonderful desert wildlife and the beautiful sights of canyons and sea ledges. Below, sulfuric acid has dissolved the limestone, leaving behind 119 caves that form an array of cavernous chambers. Tourists can hike to the cave’s entrance on their own, or, the visitor center offers a convenient elevator that can take you right down into the cave.
New York – Niagara Falls
While New York City has its place on everyone’s travel “bucket list” (and for good reason—with famous sites like the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Brooklyn Bridge), we couldn’t fail to mention one of upstate New York’s treasures: Niagara Falls. The Falls, which straddle the U.S./Canadian border, are one of the greatest natural wonders. The largest of the three falls, Horseshoe Falls, is the most powerful waterfall in North America, as measured by flow rate. Be sure to bring along your passport for the chance to view the Falls from both the New York and Ontario sides!
North Carolina – Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Covering 522,427 acres of land in both North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-see landmark. But it’s not only for the nature-lover; with five historic buildings, 11 picnic areas, miles of hiking trails (including parts of the Appalachian Trail), and several waterfalls, this huge park offers a little something for everyone.
North Dakota – Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Full of rich history, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located in western North Dakota. The park encompasses three separate areas of badlands where you can enjoy a scenic loop drive, bison sightings, prairie dog towns, and trail walking. The park is named in honor of Roosevelt’s conservation policies as President, and the extensive wildlife and changing scenery bear witness to his actions.
Ohio – Cedar Point
Cedar Point is not your average amusement park. Named the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, it is home to the tallest, fastest, and longest hybrid rollercoaster in the world, along with several other rollercoasters, the fastest of which reaches 120 mph. But, it also includes many family-friendly rides, non-rollercoaster thrills, and interactive shows that provide fun for the whole family.
Oklahoma – Chickasaw National Recreation Area/Platt Historic District
A quiet oasis in south-central Oklahoma, Chickasaw National Recreation Area is one of the region’s top locations for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and much more. The recreational area encompasses several creeks and lakes including 2,300-acre Lake of the Arbuckles, and Platt Historic District, which was once designated as a national park.
Oregon – Crater Lake National Park
Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park, created from a collapsed mountain peak, is the deepest lake in the USA. There are a lot of things to do around the crater, such as driving the scenic Rim Drive, hiking Garfield Peak, visiting the Crater Lake Lodge, or catching a boat to Wizard Island. There are also sights to see outside the crater, like the Plaikni Falls. Whether you wish to hike or drive, Crater Lake has plenty to offer!
Pennsylvania – Historic Philadelphia & Theme Parks
History buffs will enjoy a field trip to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell or visit Independence Hall, where the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776—and later, the U.S. Constitution.
For the thrill-seekers, head west of Philly to Hershey, Pennsylvania for a very “sweet” adventure at Hershey Park, a chocolate-themed amusement park that includes numerous coasters, family rides, a water park, and plenty of sweet treats including a chocolate-themed tour ride! (P.S., We’re giving away Hershey Park tickets as part of our upcoming Summer Fun Season Sweepstakes prize! Visit https://martinssummerfun.com to enter!)
About an hour southwest of Hershey, you’ll come to Chambersburg, PA, the location of our bakery headquarters, where you can take a tour of The Golden Roll: Martin’s Visitor Center to learn all about the history of Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls and Bread!
Rhode Island – The Breakers, Newport
The town of Newport, RI is famous for its collection of elegant 19th and early 20th century mansions, many of which have been preserved by the Preservation Society of Newport County. The Breakers is one of the most famous of the Newport Mansions and has since been designated a National Historic Landmark. The mansion, which was formerly the Vanderbilt family’s summer home, is a 70-room mansion designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt and based on the architectural style of the Italian Renaissance. The grand house, with its garden and accompanying stable and carriage house, is truly a sight to behold.
South Carolina – Historic Charleston
Known for its beaches, golf courses, and historic districts, South Carolina is a destination with a lot of Southern Charm. Historic Charleston tops our list as a can’t-miss destination! A historic walking tour will give you the opportunity to take in the ornate homes and gardens nestled in amongst the cobblestone city streets; you’ll learn some pretty cool history along the way as well. Don’t forget to swing by the Charleston City Market for some souvenirs and sample some home-cooked southern hospitality in this foodie city!
South Dakota – Badlands National Park
You may think there is little to see in South Dakota, but that kind of sparseness between cities also means more space for beautiful natural sights, such as the Badlands National Park. The massive and expansive canyon-like land formations and beautiful, detailed layers on the rock will leave you feeling very small, in the best kind of way.
Tennessee – Dollywood
Located southeast of Knoxville in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee lies Dollywood, a Smoky Mountain themed amusement park named after entertainer and country music star, Dolly Parton. The park, which attracts around 3 million visitors annually, has close to 50 rides and attractions including 9 roller coasters, in addition to a sister waterpark Dollywood’s Splash Country.
Texas – San Antonio Missions
San Antonio is rich with cultural and historical significance. A journey to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (including the Alamo) will give you a deep dive into Texas’ exciting history. You’ll also want to be sure to check out the famed San Antonio River Walk—a scenic 15-mile urban waterway—for shopping, dining, and sightseeing.
Utah – Zion National Park
With its spectacular landscape, Utah is a haven for folks craving outdoor recreation, and you’ll get just that at Zion National Park! Bicycling, canyoneering, climbing, horseback riding, and river trips are all possibilities at this breathtaking park, but you can even take hiking to the next level at both The Narrows and Angel’s Landing. Hiking the Narrows involves hiking upstream in the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, while hiking Angels Landing (not for those afraid of heights) requires scooting around sheer drop-offs with the use of chains that have been bolted into the cliff as handholds.
Vermont – Lake Champlain
Along the northwest corner of the state, extending into New York State and upwards into Quebec, Canada, is the great Lake Champlain—a 107-mile long lake in a valley by the same name, which separates the Adirondack Mountains of New York from the Green Mountains of Vermont. This unique geology makes Lake Champlain a wonderfully scenic spot to enjoy a lakefront view while looking out at two hovering mountain ranges on either side. To see the fascinating view for yourself, take a scenic road trip up to northern Vermont, and bring along an RV or tent for camping or stay in one of the region’s many bed and breakfasts or inns. During your visit, be sure to keep an eye out for the alleged lake monster “Champ” who’s supposed to live in the lake!
Virginia – Shenandoah National Park
You may have heard their motto, “Virginia is for Lovers” and between the various historic sites, gardens, museums, and scenery, you may indeed fall in love with this state! We recommend taking a drive down Skyline Drive, a 105-mile mountaintop highway winding along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. Make sure you stop and pause at some (or why not all?) of the 75 scenic overlooks to take in the incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley!
Washington – Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 14,411 feet, making it the highest mountain in the Cascade Mountain Range and the 4th most topographically prominent peak of greater North America. In the surrounding Mount Rainier National Park, visitors can stroll through the famous wildflower meadows, observe the 150+ waterfalls that flow from Mt. Rainier’s glaciers, take a scenic gondola ride, go hiking or mountain-climbing (for the more adventurous), or participate in a variety of other exciting activities.
West Virginia – Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Travel back in time with a trip to Harpers Ferry—a quaint, historic community along the meeting point of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The National Historical Park is the site of many famous historical events; perhaps, most notably, John Brown’s raid during the Civil War. Today, you can take a walking tour of the town, hike along several scenic trails, or visit the many museums and battlefield sites.
Wisconsin – Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright, born and raised in Wisconsin, was a famous American architect who designed more than 1,000 structures during his 70-year creative period; he has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”—a fantastic feat! A selection of his works, which demonstrate his style of “organic architecture,” became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, listed as “The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.” Two of the eight buildings in the collection, along with many of his other designs including Taliesin, his home estate, are located in the state of Wisconsin. (To learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright, visit: https://franklloydwright.org.)
Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park
Welcome to the wild and wonderful Wyoming, home to rugged and otherworldly landscapes like those you’ll find in Yellowstone National Park! You won’t want to miss the geothermal wonders like the Grand Prismatic Spring and Old Faithful or the abundant wildlife like wolves, black bears, and bison!
Wow—what an adventure! There are so many sites to see in the United States of America! Did we cover all of your favorites? Chat with us on social media to let us know.
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