Hey, America! Are you ready for the ultimate USA road trip across our incredible country? I know you’ve dreamed of traveling the country to see all the famous landmarks and cities. After all, freedom is the foundation of the United States, and what’s more freeing than the open road and no obligations? From the Grand Canyon to the French Quarter, Mount Rushmore to Mount Vernon, Randy Olson has compiled a geographically diverse road trip that perfectly represents just how awesomely varied the landscape and culture of America is.

In fact, he used an advanced algorithm he created to come up with the perfect route that would appeal to everyone. His only rules were 1) the road trip could not leave the US, 2) you had to be able to take the entire trip in your car, and 3) it would only stop at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments. From there, his calculations were used to put them in the best order and timing.

As you’ll see below, the result is the ultimate USA road trip that will leave you with enough memories to last a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?

2. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Continue the majestic offerings of the Grand Canyon by heading to southern Utah. Bryce Canyon is known for its rock formations and amazing overlooks.

3. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho. The open rift cracks of the 3 massive lava fields at the preserve are a sight to behold.

5. Pikes Peak, Colorado. This 14,115-foot mountain peak is filled with so much to do. Block off plenty of time for Pikes Peak.

6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. The cavern is the primary attraction here because water has created an unbelievable array of limestone decorations within.

8. The Platt Historic District, Oklahoma. There are plenty of reasons this is on the ultimate road trip, but don’t miss the waterfalls.

9. Toltec Mounds, Arkansas. The state’s tallest American Indian mounds can be found here.

10. Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Tennessee. Curious and Suspicious Minds must stop here.

11. Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi. Stand where the famous Civil War battle once took place, lasting from May 18, 1863-July 4, 1863.

13. USS Alabama, Alabama. Now a museum ship, it served our amazing country from 1942-1962.

14. Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Rockets have been launched from here. Need I say more?

16. Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina. Famous (infamous?) for two Civil War battles, this seafort in Charleston is a historical must-see.

18. Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, North Carolina. “First In Flight” being NC’s motto, this one is a no-brainer for the road trip.

19. Mount Vernon, Virginia. Why here? Because the plantation house of this country’s first president, George Washington, is here.

21. Colonial Annapolis Historic District, Maryland. There’s so much to do in this part of the state’s capital. Don’t miss it.

22. New Castle Historic District, Delaware. Continue your historic exploration in Delaware.

23. Cape May Historic District, New Jersey. Over 300 acres and 600 buildings await you here with more things to discover than you can imagine.

25. Statue of Liberty, New York. Another obvious one, but it would be criminal to leave it off of the list. She is perhaps our nation’s most incredible sculpture.

26. The Mark Twain House & Museum, Connecticut. After the crowds in NYC, check out the home of Samuel Clemens in Hartford. Literature fans especially.

27. The Breakers, Rhode Island. This Vanderbilt mansion is a historic landmark with an area of 125,339 square feet and 62,482 square feet of living area on five floors. Wow.

30. Mount Washington Hotel, New Hampshire. Why a hotel? Because it’s centered around a 1902 Spanish Renaissance building.

32. Fox Theater, Detroit, Michigan. After all the parks and historic homes, check out the Fox Theater in the Grand Circus Park District of Detroit.

33. Spring Grove Cemetery, Ohio. The 2nd largest cemetery (and garden) in the U.S. has a design that will blow you away.

35. West Baden Springs Hotel, Indiana. This “resort” has a history, some of it dark, that’s too long to explain here. Stop there and you’ll learn all about it.

36. Abraham Lincoln’s Home, Illinois. Widely considered the best President we’ve ever had, it’s surreal to stand where Lincoln once lived.

38. C.W. Parker Carousel Museum, Kansas. A carousel museum? Yes, please.

39. Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, Iowa. This has been the residence of the state’s governors since 1971 and guided tours are available.

40. Taliesin, Wisconsin. This is the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most famous and impressive architect who ever lived.

42. Ashfall Fossill Bed, Nebraska. Bring out your paleontology side where a Yellowstone eruption preserved an ecological snapshot. It’s like going back millions of years.

44. Fort Union Trading Post, North Dakota. This is actually one of the earliest declared national landmarks.

46. Hanford Site, Washington. In 1943, this became a site of the Manhattan Project, which led to the first ever nuclear weapons created by the United States.

47. Colombia River Highway, Oregon. This part of the trip truly embodies “road trip” as you take in the most beautiful scenery not only in Oregon but the country.

48. San Francisco Cable Cars, California. This should be on everyone’s bucket list. There’s nothing like the San Francisco cable cars.

49. San Andreas Fault, California. When you hear San Andreas Fault, you think of earthquakes. This 810 mile continental transform fault terrifies many people – it’s extraordinary.

More details on how Olson computed the trip can be found on his website.

Now that the ultimate U.S. Road Trip has been laid out for you, will you take it? If nothing else, try to take them in sections as time allows. You won’t regret it!

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More to Explore

ultimate USA road trip

What one-of-a-kind destinations can I visit in the U.S.?

Travelers seeking to immerse themselves in unique American cultures will find exciting destinations across our nation. The Acadiana region of southern Louisiana is a gem of preserved heritage offering a wealth of excursions, natural and cultural activities, and friendly small towns. Settled in the 1700s, Cajun country is steeped in fascinating history with enduring traditions that influence its distinctive cuisine, musical heritage, and French Cajun dialect. Dominating the region’s lush wetland landscapes, massive palmettos, knobby cypress knees, and drapes of Spanish moss transport visitors to an otherworldly atmosphere. The 3 million-acre network of Louisiana’s bayous are alive with native wildlife where visitors will spot white egrets, statuesque blue herons, and alligators. Exploring this one-of-a-kind destination is not only easy to navigate but packs a wealth of experience without breaking the bank.

What food trails can I take in the U.S.?

In nearly every region of the U.S., you can discover unique food trails to satisfy your culinary wanderlust. In the south, the Historic Barbecue Trail in North Carolina tempts visitors with smokey delights, delicious regional sauce recipes, and beloved local BBQ spots. A trip to Wisconsin isn’t complete without traversing the Great Wisconsin Cheese Trail. With a 175-year-old tradition of cheese making, Wisconsin travelers are afforded opportunities to tour factories and sample artisan cheeses from some of the most renowned producers in the country. Head down to the Delta for an unforgettable trip along the Mississippi Culinary Trail. Deeply rooted in African, Native American, French, and Spanish heritage, touring the Mississippi Delta’s culinary range is an education in melting pot culture.

What are the most unique places to spend the night in the U.S.?

From sea to shining sea, travelers can discover an exciting range of remarkable destinations offering unique overnight stays. Visit Fairbanks, Alaska from August to April and spend an unforgettable night in a cozy yurt viewing the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Northern Lights. When you are planning a relaxing beach getaway, Tybee Island off the Georgia coast is an ideal destination for fun in the sun. Rent an adorable cottage as your home base to explore this charming island’s wide, sandy beaches and delicious local cuisine. Go glamping in Montana and sleep under the stars surrounded by majestic mountains. Big Sky Country’s stunning natural landscapes and wealth of outdoor activities has made it a popular spot for adventure-seeking tourists and offers an abundance of unique glamping grounds.