Driving cross country: road trip routes

Need help finding the best routes across the U.S.?

With health and travel restrictions lifting in many areas, now is the perfect time for a cross county road trip! But since lines on a map don’t tell you everything you’ll be able to do and see along the way, planning the best route can take a little more work than entering your destination into your phone or GPS. Use the steps below to find the perfect route and get ready to hit the road!

Planning a trip as part of a cross country move? Be sure to check out these extra tips on turning your move into a fun family vacation.

Wide open road on a cross country road trip.


How to map out your ideal cross-country trip

No matter how you like to travel or where you’re starting and ending your trip, there are multiple ways to get across the country. To have the best experience, you’ll want to consider the weather, sight-seeing opportunities, the states you’ll travel through and the amount of time you have. 

Plan around the weather

If you want to sit back and enjoy some tunes on a relaxing trip, it’s best to drive in optimal weather, so you don’t run into any seasonal issues. If you’re planning a summer road trip when temps hit 100+ degrees in parts of the country, your A/C will appreciate a northern route like I-90, going from Boston to Seattle. If you’re planning a Fall trip, foliage is fantastic on Route 50, which takes you through some prime leaf-peeping in New England and wide-open views of the mountains in Nevada.

If you’re hitting the road during colder months, stick to southern routes like Route 70, which take you from North Carolina to Arizona, avoiding places that get heavy ice and snow. In the Spring, northern areas can still be frozen over, but southern areas are warm and blooming.

Find unique sights along the way

If the journey is the exciting part of a drive for you, then finding great spots to stop along the way will make all the difference. There are routes with interesting landmarks for everyone.

If you want quirky attractions and photo-worthy stops, I-70 is excellent. It winds through stretches in the Midwest where there are nearby sights like the largest ball of twine (in Cawker City, KS), the Kaskaskia Dragon (in Vandalia, IL) and the Palace of Gold, often called America’s Taj Mahal (in Moundsville, WV).

Sports lovers should travel down I-90, which is nicknamed Hall of Fame Highway. The eastern leg has over 15 different sports halls of fame and museums within an hour of the route. You can stop at some expected places, like the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, along with some unexpected ones like the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI. You’ll also pass by iconic stadiums like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

To see the great outdoors, trek down Route 66 from Missouri to Arizona, which takes you by Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas, the Santa Rosa Blue Hole in New Mexico, and the Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks in Arizona.

Cross states off your list

If you’re trying to visit a lot of states, there’s one route that takes you through 15 (and Washington, D.C.). I-95 connects the Canadian border in Maine to Miami, FL. You can see sights like the oldest city in the U.S. (St. Augustine, FL), the Rocky steps in Philadelphia, PA and Central Park in New York City.

Spend the right amount of time

If you’re looking to get to your destination quickly, you’ll want to take Interstate 10 — the shortest cross-country drive at 2,460 miles from east coast to west coast, taking you from Jacksonville, FL to Santa Monica, CA. While this route will bypass many towns and landmarks, there are still unique places to stop and stretch your legs, even if the goal isn’t lingering on the drive. You can stop at Saguaro National Park in Arizona (just 4 miles off the interstate) to see the untouched Sonoran Desert and the colossal saguaro cacti. This route will also take you along Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway, with 18 miles of elevated road crossing the Atchafalaya River, basin and swamps in Louisiana. And in Mississippi, the route passes right by the NASA Stennis Space Center.

If you’re looking for a fast route somewhere besides the southern U.S., these plans cover the country in other areas:

Tell us about the route you took on your cross-country road trip

Have a route suggestion or a must-see attraction we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Still planning your move? Check out our cross-country moving info.