You’ve packed up the car and punched in a route on your GPS. All you need to do now is turn on your carefully curated Spotify playlist and you’re ready to go. Your road trip across North America starts now. An epic journey through mountains and forests, around cities and along coastlines is about to begin.
But, before you get to that point you need to have an idea of where you want to go while you cruise across the continent. The beauty of a road trip is that this only needs to be a vague idea – if you change your mind en route simply turn the car around and go somewhere else. It is a liberating experience but you should start with some semblance of a plan nonetheless so you don’t end up driving aimlessly.
North America is a huge landmass and even if you drove every day for a year you wouldn’t be able to experience all of it. So, fill your itinerary exclusively with un-missable destinations. Here are seven to get you started.
1. Fundy National Park, Canada
Before you spend hours on the road, why not start your trip surrounded by nature? The Fundy National Park is situated in New Brunswick, just across the border from the United States.
Resplendent with verdant forest as far as the eye can see, the Fundy Park is filled with trails that will take you to hidden waterfalls and craggy creeks. There’s nowhere better to fill your lungs with fresh air and feel energized before you start driving.
2. New York City, New York
Next up on your schedule is the Big Apple. New York City is where the action happens and you’d be crazy to miss it out of your road trip. From the never-ending buzz of Times Square to the chic bars out in Williamsburg, the action never stops – hence the apt nickname “the city that never sleeps”.
If the weather is good, grab yourself a bagel and stroll through Central Park or hit the stores on Fifth Ave. In the evening, treat yourself to a drink or two in the Meat-Packing District.
Check out this list of cheap things to do in New York from my friend Jessie!
3. Atlanta, Georgia
You might have heard of Atlanta in connection with the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s. This city is steeped in some of America’s most important history – all of which is chronicled in the Atlanta History Centre.
But, Atlanta is a lot more than what you read about in the history books. Today it is a thriving city with a distinct culture, conveyed through its myriad of museums, galleries and innovation centers. There are also plenty of green, open spaces to relax in the sunshine.
4. Austin, Texas
Ask pretty much anyone who has ever been to Austin and they will tell you that it’s the coolest place in the United States. There are a number of reasons the city has won this designation and one of them is its food scene. All over the city are pop-up food stands, food trucks and established eateries all serving mouth-watering cuisine from around the world.
Once you’ve stuffed yourself with grub, head to one of Austin’s numerous live music venues and catch world-class performers crooning for your entertainment.
5. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is hot. Like, really really hot. But, don’t let that deter you from visiting the city on your road trip. Besides, Phoenix has a lot more to offer than just dry heat and desert landscapes.
Those who like the great outdoors should hike to the top of Camelback Mountain. The views from up there are seriously impressive but make sure you head up before peak heat hits at midday. Once it gets too hot to be outside, hit the stores in Scottsdale or sip a cool beverage in Tempe.
6. Las Vegas, Nevada
What kind of a road trip would this be if you didn’t at least pass through Las Vegas for a spot of untapped hedonism. Famed around the world for its casinos and parties, Las Vegas is the perfect place to blow off some steam and get rid of any extra money you have lying around (I wish).
If casinos aren’t your thing then fear not, there are show, bars and even a zip-line available for those who don’t want to gamble.
7. Pacific Coast Highway, California
Although the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t exactly a destination in itself, it is probably the single best thing to do on a road trip through North America. Start in San Diego and make your way up North towards San Francisco.
Along the way, there are dozens of scenic spots for you to stop – each providing staggering views out over the ocean. Add Ventura to the itinerary if you’re interested in surfing; stop in at San Luis Obispo for lunch; and ogle the beachfront houses in Malibu.