Posted: 7/15/21 | July 15th, 2021
The great American road trip — it’s the kind of multimonth adventure many dream about but few actually do.
While numerous of us have bucket-list goals of exploring this large and diverse landscape, much more often than not, we end up heading abroad instead. international travel just seems much more alluring, exotic, and exciting.
But this country has much more than enough eclectic cities, small towns, regional culinary traditions, historic sites, fascinating museums, and natural wonders to keep any intrepid traveler busy.
I’ve done five big us road trips (two that completely crisscrossed the country and three in various regions) that cumulatively add up to a year on the road (and that doesn’t count all the “regular” trips, vacations, and weekend getaways). I’ve seen a lot of the United States.
As COVID-19 has caused us to consider our backyard much more and more, numerous Americans are turning to domestic travel. We’re finally exploring all the wonders our own country has to offer.
So, because of that, I’ve created an epic four-month schedule for traveling around the States. I think it balances time in cities with that spent unwinding in nature.
It may seem like a lot but four months just scratches the surface. And, because I don’t expect many of you to have four months, you can easily break this trip into smaller portions. It’s much better to concentrate your focus rather than try to see a lot in a short amount of time.
One note before we begin: There are so numerous routes you could take that it’s impossible to have one “best” route. The us is just too big. The route below is just one of my favorites. use it as a starting point for creating your own schedule that mixes reasonable drive times, national parks, and incredible cities.
Table des matières
Month 1: east Coast, southern US
Month 2: South, Southwestern US, West Coast
Month 3: Pacific Northwest, Western US
Month 4: Midwest, Northeast US
Month 1: east Coast, southern US
Days 1-3: Boston, MA
Start your adventure off in the historic new England city of Boston. home to die-hard sports fans, lots of history, stellar food (especially seafood), beautiful architecture, and a lively nightlife, Boston has been a commercial hub because the 17th century. It’s also where I was born and raised so I might be slightly biased when I say it’s really an amazing destination. here are some of my favorite things:
Walk the freedom trail – This 2.5-mile (4km) route links numerous historic sites, including the Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the state House, and Bunker Hill.
Relax in Boston common – This is one of America’s oldest parks and was once used as communal pasture land by Puritan settlers. Today, it’s a great place to relax, people-watch, and picnic.
See the Bunker hill Monument – The battle of Bunker hill (1775) was one of the first major battles of the Revolutionary War. While the British won it, the Americans wore British forces down much more than was expected. The monument stands 221 feet tall; you can climb to the top to delight in the best view of Boston.
Visit the museum of fine Arts – This museum has over 450,000 pieces of fine art, covering everything from the pre-Columbian era to Italian Impressionists. It’s one of the most significant collections in the country. It’s totally free after 4pm on Wednesdays.
For much more things to do, check out my totally free guide to Boston. And, for places to stay, here are my hostel recommendations.
Days 4-8: new York City, NY
NYC is one of my favorite cities in the world. home to over eight million people and located just 3.5 hours southwest of Boston, new York would take you numerous lifetimes to see. There’s just too much to see and do here. You’ll certainly want at least three nights, but if you can squeeze in an extra night or two, do so. here some suggestions:
Take a walking trip – To get a feel for the city, take a walking tour. There are myriad totally free and paid trips on a variety of subjects. nothing is too obscure. Here’s a list of suggested walking trip companies in NYC.
Wander central Park – This massive, 51-block-long, 843-acre park is the best totally free attraction in town. There are plenty of places to bike, walk, jog, read, picnic, and people-watch. during the summer, there are totally free concerts and theater productions too. totally free trips are run by the parks service on Saturdays at 11am from the spring to the fall.
See the Statue of liberty – You can pay to visit Ellis Island ($19.25 USD) if you want to see the statue up close. However, you can also take a totally free ferry to Staten Island instead if you just want to see it while passing by.
Visit the 9/11 Memorial & museum – At the base of the freedom Tower is a park celebrating the victims of 9/11. inside the museum, there are over 14,000 artifacts from that day, as well as 3,500 recordings from survivors, first responders, and family members of those killed. It’s a sobering, eye-opening exhibit.
Walk the High Line – The High Line is an elevated urban walking park on the west side of NYC. made from a converted train track, it runs for 22 blocks and is lined with overlooks, gardens, public art, food stalls, and greenery.
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge – For a view of the Manhattan skyline, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a long walk (around 40 minutes if you stop for photos), but the view is worth it — especially at night. It’s totally free too!
Explore the met – The Metropolitan museum of Art is one of the foremost fine art collections in the world. You can easily spend an entire day here if you wanted to see it all.
If you want much more ideas for things to see and do in NYC, here’s a comprehensive suggested schedule that can come.
For accommodation suggestions, here is my extensive list of hostels in NYC, as well as a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to the city.
Days 9-11: Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia, aka the City of Brotherly Love, is just under two hours from new York. I used to spend a lot of time there going to my mother’s family. The city is currently reinventing itself; despite the dire stories you hear on the news, it’s dynamic and full of good people. like Boston, the city is packed with colonial history (the first Continental Congress was held there in 1774). here are five suggestions on what to do during your visit:
See the liberty Bell – This bell, which dates to 1752, is an renowned symbol of American freedom. It’s said to have been rung when the declaration of independence was read in July 1776. Today, the bell is located in independence national historical Park, which you can visit for free.
Wander around independence Hall – learn about the founding of the united states at independence Hall, and wander around the area’s historic colonial buildings.
Exlpore Franklin Court – This is where Benjamin Franklin lived while serving in the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention. While his house was broken down after his death in 1790, a hollow structure stands where it was located, and there’s a museum nearby with information about his life and works.
Climb the Rocky stairs – The stairs from Rocky, the classic boxing film, are located at the museum of Art. You can’t visit Philadelphia without running up them and doing your best Stallone impression.
Visit the Magic gardens – This quirky art gallery is one of the most distinct attractions in town: a collection of indoor and outdoor art and mosaics made from broken tiles, glass, and all kinds of odds and ends. Indoors, there’s a much more conventional art gallery and space for events and concerts.
Days 12-14: Washington, DC
Head 2.5 hours south to Washington, which I’ve went to because I was a kid. thanks to all the embassies here, there is an amazing international food scene (and a solid cocktail bar culture too). throw in dozens of totally free museums on any subject and tons of green space and you get a diverse, educational, and fun city to explore. Some must-dos activities are:
Visit the Holocaust museum – The Holocaust museum is informative and heart-wrenching. Its permanent exhibit takes up three entire levels and tells the story of the Holocaust through films, photos, artifacts, and first-person stories. L’entrée est gratuite.
Tour the Smithsonian – The Smithsonian institution is a group of world-class museums and research centers. all of them are totally free to enter. some of the best museums are: the Air and space Museum, the African American Museum, the Smithsonian Castle, and the American Art Museum.
See the Lincoln Memorial – This renowned 19-foot statue is located on the national mall and pays tribute to America’s 16th president. built in 1914, it’s surrounded by 36 columns, each of which represents a state in the union at the time of his death in 1865.
For tons much more ideas on what to see, here’s my totally free comprehensive guide to DC!
Days 15-16: Shenandoah national Park, VA
This massive national park spans 200,000 acres. Encompassing the blue Ridge Mountains (as well as 100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail), the park was recognized in 1935 and is located just one hour west of DC. Shenandoah sees over 1.6 million visitors every year and has a plethora of hiking, biking, and camping options. There are 516 miles trails to choose from so, regardless of your skill level, there’s plenty to explore!
Days 17-19: Asheville, NC
Asheville is known for craft beer, delicious food, and hipster cafés. located in the blue Ridge Mountains less than five hours from Washington, Asheville also has a lot of green space and nearby hiking trails. It’s also near the beautiful great Smoky Mountains (though, with all the trails there, it’s better to do that as an overnight rather than a day trip). While in Ashville, don’t miss these attractions:
The Biltmore Estate – This is America’s largest house. It’s a whopping 178,926-square-foot mansion surrounded by 8,000 acres of land. The massive estate has over 250 rooms (including 33 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms). Je l’aime!
Enjoying craft beer – Asheville has over 25 breweries (and there are another 50+ outside town too). Take a brewery tour, or just hop around and sample some local offerings. My two favorites are Bhramari and Wicked Weed.
Hiking the blue Ridge Mountains – parts of the Appalachian trail can be found here, and there are lots of day or multiday hikes. You can also climb mount Mitchell, the highest summit east of the Mississippi River.
Days 20-22: Atlanta, GA
Next, head south to Atlanta (just over three hours away). It’s one of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas and has a thriving food scene, cool museums, parks, and everything else you’d expect from a sprawling urban center (including awful traffic). here are a few things you shouldn’t miss:
See the center for Civil and Human Rights – opened in 2014, this museum highlights the struggles and accomplishments of the civil rights movement as well as human rights around the globe.
Wander the Atlanta Botanical garden – escape the urban hustle and bustle with a trip to this 30-acre oasis in the heart of the city. In addition to its orchids and tropical plants, there’s a 600-foot canopy walk that lets you delight in the gardens from 40 feet in the air.
Take a street art trip – Atlanta is one of the best destinations for street art. There are tons of murals along the Krog street tunnel and the Belt Line. Take a guided trip or use the site streetartmap.org for self-guided suggestions.
Days 23-27: Nashville, TN
Nashville is one of my favorite cities in the country. located just under four hours from Atlanta in the Deep South, it’s home to amazing music (you can’t walk anywhere without hearing really good country or bluegrass), delicious food (don’t miss the hot chicken), cool people, and a robust cocktail bar scene. Plus, there are lots of cool parks to wander around. Win-win! Don’t miss these activities:
Attend the Grand Ole Opry – opened in 1925, this is one of the most well-known country music venues in the world. Today, the Opry hosts regular live performances, TV broadcasts, and radio shows.
See the Parthenon – This full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was built in 1897. It was created to celebrate Nashville’s 100th anniversary and chosen because Nashville is called “the Athens of the South” (due to its historic focus on l’enseignement supérieur).
Explore the country music Hall of fame and museum – This museum has one of the largest music collections in the entire world. There are over 200,000 recordings here, including 98% of music released before world war II.
Visit Franklin – located just 25 minutes outside of Nashville, many people assume Franklin is just another suburb. However, it has a lot going for it: it’s bursting with small-town charm, has stellar food and drink (it’s where I discovered my favorite Bourbon, HC Clark), is full of history (there was a major Civil war battle here), and has one of the best-preserved historic main streets in the country. I’d spend two nights here.
Days 28-30: Memphis, TN
Next, head to Memphis, home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, a three-hour drive from Nashville. While Memphis has a gritty exterior, don’t let its rough façade trick you. like Nashville, it is home to some killer food (Memphis BBQ and fried chicken is well-known worldwide), a growing brewery scene, and a lot of live music. here are a few things not to miss during your visit:
Visit the national Civil Rights museum – This museum traces the history of civil rights from the 17th century to today. It’s housed in the former motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It’s powerful and poignant. Don’t miss it.
See the rock ‘n’ soul museum – This museum highlights the musical pioneers of blues, rock, and soul music from the 1930s to the 1970s. There are costumes and recordings, interactive media, and exhibitions on