The best summer road trips in the US take full advantage of the country’s stunning scenery, whether that’s beautiful beaches or iconic mountains. Summer is a great time to hit the sand and work on your tan, with the East Coast providing plenty of options. Alternatively, you could use the good weather to get the best out of some of the world’s most iconic national parks.

    The Great American Road Trip is a fantastic way to see the best that either of these settings has to offer. Fill up your tank, grab some snacks and hit the road to any of these outstanding destinations this summer for a wonderful vacation.

    1

    Yellowstone National Park, WY

    Take a tour around the Grand Loop

    The Yellowstone National Park is easily one of the most iconic destinations for a summer road trip in the US. There is such a huge amount to see in the 3,468.4-square-mile park that driving is the only way you’ll stand a chance of seeing it all. The 142-mile-long Grand Loop is a convenient route to take, as it hits most of the park's highlights.

    Don’t forget to stop by Old Faithful, the Upper Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Grand Prismatic Spring, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Lake, and Artist Point. And that’s barely scratching the surface of what there is to see. Be sure to arrive early because you will need a full day to explore the Yellowstone National Park. Read more…

    Phone: +1 307-344-7381

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    2

    Myrtle Beach, SC

    Explore the Grand Strand

    Myrtle Beach is one of the main hubs and highlights of the Grand Strand. It's a 60-mile stretch of beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Coast. This makes it an excellent place for a summer road trip as you can explore each beach in turn until you find the one that’s right for you.

    You might not have to travel far as Myrtle Beach itself has a lot to offer. With theme parks, a wide range of activities, great hotels and, of course, a fantastic beach, it’s a great choice for families seeking some summer fun. There are also at least half a dozen golf courses around the city itself and plenty more straddling the Grand Strand. Read more…

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    3

    Atlantic City, NJ

    Take a drive to the East Coast version of Vegas

    Atlantic City has been one of the most popular beach getaway destinations on the East Coast since the 1800s. To this day, it still attracts sun-seeking road trippers from New York and Philadelphia. It also serves as a good starting point for a drive south along a shore lined with little beach towns all the way down to Cape May, each offering something different.

    Of course, people don’t just visit Atlantic City for the beach. The city is famous for its iconic Boardwalk, casinos, luxurious hotels, and trendy nightclubs. It’s basically an East Coast version of Las Vegas, with the desert sand replaced with a beach. Read more…

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    4

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Drive from First Landing Beach down the Outer Banks

    Virginia Beach combines historical interest, natural sights, and modern attractions to create a popular beach destination. The city covers a large area, especially if you include the various wildlife refuges and state parks to the south. It also marks the start of the Outer Banks, which feature even more famous and striking spots. In other words, it’s a great place to start a coastal road trip.

    First Landing Beach and the nearby state park are naturally among the city’s star attractions, and the city has plenty of other museums to discover. On the other hand, the 3-mile-long boardwalk and Atlantic Fun Park are great for those less interested in history. Read more…

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    5

    Ocean City, MD

    A great family beach destination

    Ocean City is a classic summer beach destination, with everything you need conveniently packed into a tiny area at the southern end of Fenwick Island. The beach is obviously the main attraction, but close behind are must-sees like the Boardwalk, Trimper Rides, and the Jolly Roger Amusement Park. There’s the popular Assateague Island if you’re looking for some outdoor adventures in Maryland.

    Of course, if you’re looking for a road trip, you can’t just stay in one place. You can drive north along the coast road to reach Delaware Seashore State Park, stopping at beautiful beaches and coastal towns along the way. Read more…

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    6

    St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

    Explore some of Florida’s most beautiful beaches

    St Petersburg and Clearwater are the 2 main hubs on the Pinellas County, which is effectively one giant beach-lined city neighboring Tampa. With an average of 361 days of sunshine per year, it’s not hard to see why this area would be ranked among the top summer road trip destinations in the US.

    Other than outstanding beaches, of which there are many, St Petersburg and Clearwater provide a great base for exploring the central part of Florida. Orlando’s many theme parks are just a short drive away. The coastal road south towards Sanibel Island is very beautiful, especially when you drive on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Read more…

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    7

    Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge, TN

    The gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains

    While Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge offer very different vibes, they both act as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. America’s most popular park spans an impressive 816.28 square miles, with 384 miles of roads to explore. Along the way, you can see Cade’s Cove, hike the Chimney Tops Trail, and enjoy the view from Clingman’s Dome.

    The towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are not without attractions themselves. Pigeon Forge, in particular, is packed with family-friendly attractions, including Dollywood, Rowdy Bear Ridge, and the Titanic Museum. There are also several ziplines and mountain coasters in the surrounding hills.

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    8

    Sedona, AZ

    Hiker’s paradise and New Age mecca

    Sedona is something of a New Age mecca, as well as a great hub for outdoor adventures among Arizona’s iconic towering buttes and steep-walled canyons. Within short drives of the city, you have the Coconino National Forest, Red Rock State Park, Palatki Heritage Site, and dozens of similar spots, each with plenty of hiking trails to explore.

    The city itself is very compact – an inevitable result of the surrounding terrain. It means you can find great hiking trails without even needing a car, including the Airport Mesa Trail, Thunder Mountain Trail, and Cathedral Rock, among others. Some of the trails are even wide enough for 4x4 journeys, which puts a new spin on the concept of a summer road trip! Read more…

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    9

    Mount Rushmore, SD

    Base yourself in Rapid City to explore the South Dakota wilderness

    Mount Rushmore is one of the most iconic places in the US – practically a must-see at least once in your life. The impressive carving of 4 of the nation’s most famous presidents is obviously the star attraction, though it’s surrounded by the hiking trails, picturesque picnic areas, wildlife preserves, and adventure parks of the Black Hills National Forest.

    Rapid City, about 23 miles to the northeast, makes an excellent base for exploring the area. It’s got the shops, hotels and other distractions you need for a comfortable break, but it’s right on the doorstep of the beautiful scenery. For a change of scene, the Badlands National Park is about an hour’s drive east of Mount Rushmore.

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    10

    Bozeman, MT

    A great base for exploring the Rocky Mountains

    Bozeman is a great place to base yourself if you love outdoor adventures. Located in the Rocky Mountains, you’ve got the Yellowstone National Park a short drive south, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest to the west, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest to the north, and dozens of other smaller spots in every direction.

    The city itself is extremely compact, to the extent that about 13% of its total area is taken up by the Montana State University. Bozeman had a remarkable impact on popular culture – it's frequently mentioned in many TV shows. More importantly, it’s got everything you’ll need to start a road trip around the Rockies, including shops, hotels, and a few interesting museums. Check out the Museum of the Rockies to give your adventure a little more context.

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    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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