The US State Department estimates that only around 36% of Americans have valid passports, meaning that many will have never gone abroad. In some cases surely, they never felt the need. After all, when your homeland is as diverse as the US, it’s not as though you’re ever likely to get bored of it.
From the tropic temperatures, golf courses and sport fishing of Florida to the volcanos, laidback lifestyle and paradise beaches of Hawaii; the wilds of Alaska to the vast open spaces of Montana and Wyoming, the ski resorts of Utah and Colorado to the spectacular coastal beauty of Oregon – whatever kind of holiday you’re looking for, whatever kind of scenery you prefer, you’ll be able to find it in the United States.Of course for many people, taking a road trip is the quintessential American holiday, almost a rite of passage, and one that promises adventure, a variety of landscapes and experiences, and the opportunity to leave the highway to get off the beaten track whenever you feel the urge.
Here are five of the all-time great American road-trips…Route 66
“Come get your kicks on Route 66” – 2000 miles of asphalt stretching between Chicago and Los Angeles, Historic Route 66 is deeply ingrained in the American psyche – this was the journey from the Rust Belt to the Sunshine State which many thousands of families took in search of work during the Great Depression. To drive along Route 66 is to take a road trip into classic Americana: kitsch in places, breathtakingly beautiful in others, and always worth paying attention to what’s passing on the side of the road. It might be a 50s-style diner with its neon sign still flashing, a rusted giant billboard advertising a bizarre rural attraction, or a quirky little motel that might not be the height of luxury but still proves a welcoming sight to the weary traveler.Going-to-the-Sun Road
Taking its name from the mountain which dominates the eastern view, the Going-to-the-Sun road is a classic route over the Rocky Mountains, through Glacier National Park in Montana. If you’ve ever seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining – this is the road that Jack Torrance is driving during the opening credits. The mountain scenery is simply awe-inspiring, and the road is an awful lot of fun to navigate too, with plenty of hairpin turns and opportunities to pull over and enjoy the dramatic vistas.Overseas Highway
The “highway that went to sea” is the southernmost section of US1, 113 miles of road suspended on bridges, and connecting Miami with Key West. You can make the journey in four hours if you’re pushing it, but unless you’ve got an urgent appointment to keep, we recommend going at half the pace to enjoy the stunning views on either side. The sun-dappled sea in varying shades of blue and green, immaculate coral and limestone islets, mangrove swamp that hides shy alligators, and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. Try planning your drive to coincide with sunset, when the Overseas Highway is often at its most heart-achingly beautiful.Pacific Coast Highway
Another iconic road trip is of course the Pacific Coast Highway, otherwise known as Route 1, with its spectacular Pacific Ocean views that wow you all the way from California, through Oregon and up into Washington. This is another road that really ought to be driven at leisure in order to drink it all in. Most people who’ve done it will agree that the stretch that really shouldn’t be missed is 17-Mile Drive which crosses the Monterey Peninsula in California from Pacific Grove to Carmel, via Pebble Beach, but further up, above San Francisco, the charming coastal community of Eureka has some splendid beaches.Route 12
Extending over 120 miles, at elevations of some 9000 feet, Route 12 encompasses some of the planet’s most jew-dropping scenery. You drive through red rock territory in the Capitol Reef National Park to the red, orange and white hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, through immense natural rock amphitheatres. Again, this is a journey that really does reward you if you make it at sundown, when the light transforms the colours of the rock into a vibrant pink.