Have you considered taking a drive? How about a ‘real nice scenic drive’? To help you plan where you could go, here’s a list of 10 of the most beautiful and scenic drives in the United States……… Let’s hit the road!
10. Hawaii – the world-famous Hana Highway
It would be easy to make a Top 10 list of the most scenic drives in Hawaii alone, given the Aloha State’s natural beauty, but none can rival the world-famous Hana Highway. Located on the island of Maui, the 50-mile road follows the northern shore of the island, offering great views of the Pacific Ocean, mountains and beaches. Warning: The drive is not for the faint of heart, as it is full of hairpin curves and frequently narrows to one lane. Guardrails can be conspicuously absent even beside precipitous drop-offs, and many locals buzz along the road at freeway speeds. Still, the road is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the island.
9. Oregon Coast Highway
U.S. 101 stretches almost 350 miles from Astoria to the California border. It’s drivable in one day, but it’s much more enjoyable on a two-day journey. Along with Pacific Ocean views, you’ll pass numerous state parks, monstrous sand dunes, picturesque lighthouses and giant offshore rocks known as sea stacks. The most famous of these rocks is 235-foot Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, accessible via a nearby state recreational area. The highlight of the drive is just north of Florence, where one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, the Heceta Head Lighthouse, stands on a cliff above the Pacific. Just south of the lighthouse are the Sea Lion Caves, the world’s largest sea cave where you can watch these massive creatures in their natural habitat.
8. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is the image most people probably have of the American West, with weird-looking sandstone buttes standing in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape. U.S. Highway 163 runs 24 miles from Kayenta north to the Utah border, passing through some of this famous scenery. If you’re going, stop at the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park for a closer look at formations so famous, they have names: Three Sisters, Mittens, Elephant Butte, The Thumb.
The highlight of this drive along Highway 1 in California is the Bixby Creek Bridge, one of the most photographed bridges in the world, but there are plenty of other interesting attractions along the route. The road is bracketed by the Pacific Ocean on one side, with the Santa Lucia Mountains towering dramatically on the other. There are numerous scenic overlooks, and there are several California state parks right off the highway, featuring trails to waterfalls, rivers, canyons and other scenery.
6. FLORIDA: Overseas Highway
The 113-mile (181-kilometer) drive on Highway 1 from mainland Florida to Key West induces sensory overload. Besides the natural beauty along the route—tidal flats, teal waters dotted by distant islands—the so-called Overseas Highway awes you in its own right as an engineering marvel. Its concrete stretches across impossible expanses of water, the Atlantic spreading out to the left, the Gulf to the right.
5. The Maine Coast
Touring the Maine Coast is a journey. With more coastline than California (3,478 miles), it takes some time to view the entire Maine Coast. The State of Maine is larger than the other 5 New England states combined. With all that vastness, and the absence of one specific shore route, we recommend touring the spectacularly scenic Maine Coast in sections, spending several nights in each town. Get off the beaten path and explore the nooks and crannies of this remarkable coast called Maine.
The first 30 miles of coast are known as the “Southern Maine Coast Region” comprised of the towns of Kittery, The Yorks, Ogunquit, Wells, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Biddeford, Saco, and Old Orchard Beach. These eight towns offer more to see and do than one could possibly hope to accomplish in a busy week of sightseeing and touring. This first 30 miles of coast also offers 90% of the State’s sandy beaches!
4. CALIFORNIA: Yosemite and Beyond
Near the eastern border of California, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, lies the wondrous dominion known as Yosemite. Beginning near the park’s southwest corner, the drive heads north to Yosemite Valley, the most-visited section of the park, where El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and other famed attractions predominate. The route then winds northeast across an expanse of subalpine wilderness – replete with meadows, ponds, and granite domes — before leaving the park and descending steep slopes to an eerily beautiful lake.
The Natchez Trace is one of the oldest trails in North America. In 1801, President Jefferson ordered the Army to build a road along the trail to provide a route for moving troops and delivering mail. Jefferson dispatched soldiers down the road in 1803 to protect the Louisiana Purchase, and Andrew Jackson and his troops followed it to battle the British in the War of 1812. As an 1800-era link between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi, the road served as a pathway for settling much of what we now know as the South. Twentieth-century writers such as Eudora Welty later embellished its lore of heroes, bandits, and spies, inspiring Southern leaders to revive the Natchez Trace. It’s also a fascinating drive.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina & Virginia
Meandering 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. A hundred species of trees, a variety of flowering shrubs and wildflowers as well 54 different mammals and 59 species of birds live along the Parkway – more than the entire European continent! Skyline Drive connects to the northernmost section of the Parkway, winding along the crest of the mountains from Waynesboro northward 105 miles to Front Royal. Developed sites along the Parkway make it easy to stop, park, stretch, visit restrooms and exhibits, hike and get a bite to eat. Lodging and campgrounds are available with opportunities to fish and view wildlife.
1300 Rinehart Road
Sanford, FL 32771