There’s nothing like a road trip to let you get up close and personal with the country. While flying might be the fastest way to get from one point to another, driving lets you get an immersive feel for the character of a town, city or state. There are a few roadways in the United States that have reached legend status. If you’re still trying to squeeze in a road trip this summer, consider these iconic roadways.
Of course, Route 66 tops this list. Nothing sounds more American than this roadway. It reached cult status when it was treated like an additional character in the movie "Easy Rider" that followed two motorcyclists as they wandered around the countryside. Route 66 was first established in 1926 and was designed to connect the West Coast with the Midwest. Originally you could navigate the route directly from Los Angeles to Chicago without having to transfer to any other roads or highways.
Over the years, the start and end points shifted. And as the number of major interstates began to increase, Route 66 was truncated and eventually decommissioned. However, you can still create a road trip that incorporates this historic route. You just need to research which interstates were created to replace portions of this highway. For example, if you want to begin at the west end in Los Angeles and head east toward Chicago, you would need to drive on the 110 Freeway. Luckily, the Historic Route 66 website will give you turn-by-turn directions to access the old highway.
Pacific Coast Highway
So, maybe you don’t want to deal with the stress of creating a road trip that requires as much research as a drive on Route 66. And we get it. That’s a lot to manage. So, maybe opt for a very scenic drive on the Pacific Coast Highway. The Pacific Coast Highway covers 147 miles of gorgeous scenery along California’s coastline. If you’re driving northbound, you’ll start in Monterey and finish in Morro Bay. But the views and historic stops along the highway make this particular road trip a “must-do.” The highway got its start in 1911 as a way to connect Santa Barbara and Ventura. But over the decades — and especially as a revitalization project during the New Deal Era – the highway project grew to create a more direct route for coastal cities in California.
Officially, the Pacific Coast Highway is part of the State Route 1 highway system which also includes Cabrillo Highway, Shoreline Highway, and the Coast Highway. Popular attractions along the Pacific Coast Highway include Hearst Castle, Mission San Carlos Borroméo del Río Carmelo (the second oldest mission in California), Bixby Bridge, and Morro Rock to name a few. If you’re looking for a thorough overview of all the sites and state parks along this route, "National Geographic" offers a comprehensive itinerary for this scenic road trip.
Imagine being able to drive – rather than travel by boat or plane – from the U.S. mainland to an island. This is possible in several places across the country, but only one major highway is most often pictured when we mention this feat: the Overseas Highway. If you’re dying to go to the Florida Keys, then you’re going to become intimately familiar with this particular highway. The Overseas Highway is an impressive 113-mile long roadway that connects the Florida mainland to the Keys.
Officially, this highway is part of U.S. Route 1, a continuous highway that connects the East Coast from Fort Kent, Maine, to Key West, Florida. But the connection between mainland Florida and the Keys includes 42 overseas bridges like the Seven Mile Bridge that connects the 43 inhabited islands of the total 1,700 islands within the archipelago. A drive on the Overseas Highway will treat motorists to beautiful water views and takes roughly four hours to complete if you start in Miami and drive the full length to Key West.