Figuring out Where to Go Road Tripping in the USA

California Coast
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn

I’ve always been prone to spontaneity. There’s just something about that kick of adrenaline when you don’t know what you’re going to do next – nor does it matter – because the world is your oyster.

So when I was midway through a ski trip in Aspen with no on-going flight booked, I took to the interwebs ( more accurately) to discover where I could road tripping go in the USA and what I should do next.

How to fly “everywhere” 

Have you ever wanted to just type in your destination and go somewhere, anywhere, everywhere!? You know you want to go, but you don’t know where to. Too often I’m faced with this impulse and just want to go. I don’t care where, I don’t care when (except for pretty soon) and I very rarely have a reason as to why. I just like to move.

Skyscanner Everywhere

So how do I do it?

To fly “everywhere”, I enter the point of origin into a Skyscanner search engine and type “Everywhere” as my destination. Within a few seconds (or more, depending on the wi-fi connection), I can see where, in order of expense, I can and should go. I wanted to start my road trip off in a city, driving one-way through to Los Angeles. Of the options available, San Francisco seemed the obvious choice – and before I knew it, I was on a one-way flight to The Bay, ready to kick off my adventure to LA.

Where to Go Road Tripping in the USA

Generally speaking, you’ve got four types of “USA encounters” – The West Coast, East Coast, South, and the Midwest. You can definitely experience a combination of these, as it is indeed quite common for first timers to the US to hot foot it from the West to the East Coast and tick off the most visited cities. But if its a theme you want, its a theme you will get…

Read more: 10 Steps to the Perfect Road Trip

West Coast USA

The West Coast

I chose a West Coast adventure. I’ve always wanted to road trip “Highway 1”, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as one of the world’s most scenic drives.

You can start at various points along the West Coast, but the most common route is to drive either from LA to the Bay (San Francisco), or vice versa. I chose to fly to San Francisco and drive down Highway 1 to Los Angeles on the following itinerary:

San Francisco – Carmel – Santa Barbara – Los Angeles

Highlights include: San Francisco, fresh (and cheap) produce in Northern California, Carmel by the Sea (the cutest town you e’er did see), Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.

New York Views

The East Coast

While road trips on the East Coast aren’t quite as common, there are a great range of cities/states to visit over in the East! New York is a fantastic starting point, but you should also make your way North to Boston, MA; South to Washington DC; and should you be looking for something a little more local, perhaps even a trip to the Hamptons.

If you’re visiting in the fall, a great road trip on the East Coast is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Virginia with North Carolina. This is known to be one of the most scenic road trips in the States, and offers travellers a chance to get in touch with scenery over big cities.


The South

And then there’s the South! Last year I had a blast driving through the Southern States – home to only the most hospitable people in the entire country! Southern Hospitality is a pretty known characteristic of the South, but even so – don’t let it be downplayed! These people are honestly something else – kind, generous, and extremely welcoming.

The South consists of the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

A road trip through any of these states would be highly enjoyable — however when you can’t do it all, you must pick and choose! My non-traditional route took me on the following trip:

New Orleans – through Mississippi & Alabama – Nashville – Great Smoky Mountains – through North Carolina – Charleston

mountain sky

Credit: Mountain Sky Guest Ranch

The Midwest

Last but not least, the Midwest.

While I haven’t yet been fortunate to venture through the Midwest (at all, ever – we should really fix that), there is some great scenery and equally hospitable locals throughout the Midwest. So in saying that, I can’t really offer much by way of road trips in the midwest, but it certainly seems to be the case that Michigan, Montana & Wisconsin all have a lot to offer visitors.

If you’re looking to save a buck, you can certainly do so here in the Midwest. This area is extremely cheap to in comparative terms and will provide a lot of great scenery and National Parks to discover.

States in the Midwest include: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Borderline (a little more West) include Montana and Wyoming, which similar have a lot to offer on a road trip in the region.

So where will I go?

Flight booked. I’m on my way to San Francisco to begin a four day road trip from The Bay to LA. At the Aspen airport I booked a last minute hotel for a bargain $100 USD per night using the Skyscanner Hotel App, located right in the centre of town. Let the adventure begin!


Next in this series: Road trippin’ from The Bay to LA

You Might Also Like

    Cassie T
    April 24, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Definitely agree that the PCH is one of the best trips, and highly recommended going all the way up to Oregon and Washington. Also a little bummed that Texas is nowhere on your list!

    April 17, 2015 at 7:01 am

    I might be biased because I was born and raised in California, but the trip along the California coast is one of the best in the world. That being said, I have not seen much else of the country (I know Europe much better), but nothing can beat those ocean views!!

    And yes Skyscanner is a life saver, I just booked a weekend trip to Berlin with it. Will be trying lots of your recs (especially the food ones) while I am there 😀

    Zoe Herron
    April 16, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Hey Brooke! If you are road tripping on the West Coast, don’t neglect the Pacific Northwest. California is a must-see for sure, but Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia are beyond wonderful. You definitely get a different vibe, landscape, and culture in the PNW, lots of evergreen trees, forests, rivers, and mountains.

    A few stops I would recommend are Portland, Olympia, Seattle, and Victoria.

    Happy road tripping! ‘

    Brittany Stopa
    April 15, 2015 at 2:05 am

    In the US there is so much beautiful scenery to see and so many cities to visit, yet it’s all so spread out! Road tripping is the absolute perfect solution, and a classic American experience. I had my first road trip around the West Coast last month, and it did not disappoint! I’ll be looking to your advice here for my next road trip!

    April 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

    This is a great list, but I would make a distinction between the West Coast and the Southwest. Both are such iconic places for a road trip! If you want to check out the “Midwest” (in the broadest sense of the word) the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is amazing.

    Nicola Bhamra
    April 12, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I literally just spoke about my need for an American road trip in my blog post yesterday so this has really helped. Thanks!

    April 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I’ll try typing ‘everywhere’ next time I’m using Skyscanner, too 🙂
    It’s about time I become I more spontaneous traveler!!

    Love Yourself
    April 12, 2015 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for the tips. Im checking out the skyscanner website now!

    Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)
    April 12, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Of course now that I’ve left the beautiful mountain of Virginia, I’m wishing we had done a road trip. The thing about the U.S. is that it takes so long to get to each place. But I do love Virginia! You could do a road trip just in that state!

    Julie Neis
    April 12, 2015 at 3:38 am

    Thanks for this. I live in Paris, and my roommate and I are talking about planning a trip to California in late August or early September. Love the idea of driving the coast, and San Francisco is definitely on the list. I had NO idea about the “everywhere” feature in Skyscanner!! This changes everything. Usually I just type in however many places I can think of (travel is so cheap here). Hope it works from Paris, and going to try it out now! Thanks!

    April 11, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Brooke! This sounds awesome! I’ve been lucky to also have the pleasure of driving part of the Pacific Coast Hwy… Such a beautiful drive!
    I was wondering whether you paired a car and drove on your own? What are the rules in hiring a car or driving in the States, especially regarding age?

  • Weekly Love Letter For Friday, April 10th - Alyssa and Carla
    April 11, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    […] been bit by the travel bug hard, and all of these travel guides aren’t helping!  2 weeks until French […]

    April 11, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    You forgot the Grand Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Hoover Dam etc! It was my favourite, and it’s really scenic as well, especially when you pass by the Valley of Fire! 😉 x

    April 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    You HAVE to see the Great Lakes! Especially in Northern Michigan!

    April 11, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Good post if visiting the Midwest and looking for a city can’t forget Chicago. Good food, culture and history.

    April 11, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Canada like the US is huge!! And thus too divided into areas or regions. Because of its expanse territory it feels like a daunting task trying to explore an entire nation. And I kind of want to visit everywhere! The South and West is where my heart lies, but think my brain would naturally gravitate towards the east coast!
    Andrea |

    April 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

    What a great post! I’m looking forward to doing a mini-road trip on the east coast, from NY to DC stopping in Atlantic City, Philly and Gettysburg.

    April 11, 2015 at 7:53 am

    You forgot Texas as part of the south but I’m a little biased. 😉 You could do several very big road trips in Texas as well! Might be worth just one post!

    AO Cooks

    April 11, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Have fun in San Francisco! Hit up Tartine in the Mission district followed by BiRite ice cream!

    April 11, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Your photos look great! Are you going to come up to Canada this year?

    Kelly | The Wandering Blonde
    April 11, 2015 at 5:46 am

    I’ve been pretty fortunate in that I’ve done a lot of road trips across the US: the Pacific Coast Highway, a trip across the Southwest (New Mexico and Arizona), a trip from South Carolina to Texas (going through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana), a trip from North Carolina to New York City (through Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey), and many other shorter variations of those trips. That said, I have to say that the Pacific Coast highway was absolutely one of my favorites ever! Such a beautiful part of the country over there.

    April 11, 2015 at 5:16 am

    Not to be a pest but I’d say Florida is firmly rooted in the South too 😉 Miami and Ft. Lauderdale get a reputation pretty different (and rightfully so) but the rest of the state, say Tampa/Orlando north and out through the panhandle, is very southern! And would be a great part of any road trip. Thanks for the post; you’ve got me wanting to visit Cali!

    Laura McDaniel
    April 11, 2015 at 5:15 am

    So glad you did the Pacific Highway road trip – it is one of our favorites as well. In fact, doing that AGAIN during Memorial Weekend and HOPING for sun/no rain since I will be introducing The White Stallion (aka, BMW 335is convertible) to those GREAT winding roads. lol

    Always love your blog/posts and you definitely are a great example to us women!

    April 11, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Great Post! Yesterday I saw a documentary about famous routes in the USA e. g. The oregan trail and route 66 🙂 my dream is the mid (wild) west and the yellowstone national park because i love native americans and their culture. But SF and LA sounds good as well !

    Greetings from Germany xo
    Jasmin from | travel & lifestyle blog

    April 11, 2015 at 2:55 am

    What a great way to find cheap flights! I’ve been dying to go somewhere recently, and am tempted to hop on the cheapest flight that I can find. Also, I’m from Michigan and can vouch that there’s a lot to see here. On the coast of Lake Michigan is especially beautiful, and there are so many little beach towns to visit. Thanks for sharing!

    Brooke | brookewrote

    Growing Positive
    April 11, 2015 at 2:12 am

    Such a cool roadtrip! I’ve done East and South Coast and had an amazing time. The South was my favourite, everyones super friendly and such a neighbourhood feeling wherever you go! One of my friends is going road-tripping in the USA this summer, I’ll make sure to forward this list to him, give him some ideas!

    Growing Positive

    April 11, 2015 at 1:55 am

    road trips are the best! We loved the west coast road trip and being from the south we are glad you visited!

    April 11, 2015 at 1:53 am

    I did a couple of road trips in the US last year: the first, exploring Northern California (SF, Wine Country and Lake Tahoe), the second, driving around the environs of New Orleans and immersing myself in the Cajun Country. Cannot say which one I prefer – both were absolutely fabulous!

    Claire @ TallGirlBigWorld
    April 11, 2015 at 1:44 am

    Thanks so much for putting together these groupings! It’s so overwhelming trying to figure out trips like this. Now that I’m abroad and hearing various viewpoints on America, I suddenly have an urge to re-discover parts of the US that I grew up traveling.

    Susan the farm quilter
    April 11, 2015 at 1:05 am

    You did the scary drive down PCH! The gorgeous views from there are brought to you by extreme drop-offs from the highway to the Pacific, with NO guardrails and for this acrophob, it was terrifyingly beautiful! If you had gone north from San Fran you would have had an equally gorgeous drive all the way to Canada. (OK the drive through inland Washington isn’t as pretty as the coast, so go up the Olympic peninsula and take a ferry to Canada!!) Love hearing about your travels and the memories of past travels when you go somewhere I’ve been are wonderful!!

    Ashley Wanders
    April 11, 2015 at 12:53 am

    The Pacific Coast Highway looks like a beautiful drive, and it’s definitely on my travel wish list!