Best Summer Road Trip Destinations of 2024

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Ready to set out on an epic adventure but not sure which corner of the country to explore? We get it. America is full of eye-popping scenic drives, making it hard to decide which direction to head first! A recent report from MarketWatch Guides considered total mileage, diversity of available attractions, and days of travel when choosing our top recommendations for 2024. You’ll find destinations on our list offering everything from outdoor adventures to relaxing beach getaways. 

Washington State: Olympic Peninsula Loop

Olympic Peninsula
Image Credit: welcomia | Canva

Washington State is home to a wide array of attractions for locals and visitors, with each region catering to a different set of interests. Washington’s wine country has more than 200 wineries within a two-hour drive, while the area surrounding Seattle offers a mix of urban and outdoor adventures.

The Olympic Peninsula is another star attraction in the Evergreen State, with most visitors heading for Olympic National Park. The loop around the park on U.S. 101 offers some of the most scenic stretches of highway in America. This road curves along the peninsula’s perimeter, passing by charming cities such as Port Townsend and Sequim, the latter of which boasts sprawling fields of lavender throughout the summer.

We suggest making your way through one of the largest temperate rainforest systems on Earth, the Hoh rainforest. Less than an hour away from the town of Forks, it’s accessible from Route 101 and has a campground open year-round. 

Washington’s tourism site offers plenty of helpful information.

RELATED: 28 Essentials for the Ultimate Seattle Packing List

Florida Keys: Miami to Key West

bridge in Florida Keys
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Starting in Miami and driving through the Florida Keys is a great pick for a summer road trip. You’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking views as you drive down Florida’s Overseas Highway. While this drive technically takes only four hours each way, you’ll want to allow several days for stops along the way.

Traveling through the Keys in the earliest days of summer will keep the humidity at a bearable level while affording you great deals on hotels and activities. Interested in fishing? You’ll find charter guides in Key West who specialize in catching snapper, grouper, and tuna.

If you’re looking to learn more about road-tripping through the Florida Keys, check out the region’s official tourism site. You’ll find plenty of information on things to do and places to stay.

California: Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Hwy
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Whether you begin your road trip in Dana Point or Leggett, traveling along the California coast via state Route 1 is a classic choice. Better known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), the road provides over 650 miles of stunning views and winds past numerous attractions along the California coast.

Route 1 is the second-longest state highway in the U.S. and travels through San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Big Sur. When in Santa Barbara, we recommend stopping by Stearns Wharf, which is California’s oldest working wharf. It’s home to unique shops, fresh seafood restaurants, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. As you reach the end of the road in Humboldt County, you’ll have the opportunity to drive through an ancient forest of massive redwood trees that are known as the Avenue of the Giants.

To help you plan such a long trip down the open road, Visit California has recommendations for must-see spots along the PCH.

Maine: Portland to Quebec City

Rockland, Maine
Image Credit: Courtesy of Glenn Cove Inn and Suites

Wanting to travel north beyond the U.S. border and into Canada? Starting off in Portland, Maine, and ending your travels in historic Quebec City makes for a great road trip. Kids will love the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, which was named one of the top 12 children’s museums in America. For museum lovers, the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, specializes in American and contemporary art.

If you’re looking for more adventurous stops on your road trip north, you’ll find white water rafting tours and campgrounds in West Forks. About 40 minutes later, you’ll cross the border into Canada’s French-speaking province of Quebec.

After making it to Quebec City, you’ll be greeted by Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history and plenty of summer events to enjoy. Those interested in music will enjoy the Festival d’ete de Quebec, which is held in July and features some of the biggest artists of today.

Ready to start planning a road trip through this region? Take a look at the tourism sites of Portland and Quebec City for more information on attractions.

Nevada: Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada

Lake Tahoe Nevada
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Nevada is home to much of Lake Tahoe, which is known as the “Jewel of the Sierra Nevada” and ranks as one of the clearest bodies of water on Earth. As you head toward Lake Tahoe, stop by Reno and Virginia City to discover rodeos, art shows, and hiking opportunities. You’ll even find hot-air balloon tours that take you high above the lake if you’re looking for a little extra adventure.

Once you’re out on Lake Tahoe, you can enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding or a lake cruise. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, along with campgrounds galore if you’re road-tripping through the region in an RV.

Learn more information to help you plan your Sierra Nevada road trip via the region’s visitor site.

Summer Road Trips 2024: Wrap Up

Boosting your car insurance policy and getting an extended warranty can offer peace of mind before heading out on a road trip. High-quality car care for your vehicle’s tires, fluids, and cooling system will prepare it for long hours on the road. No matter where you’re looking to road trip, planning ahead is the best way to start your summer vacation off right.

Summer Road Trips 2024: FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about getting ready for a summer road trip:

How do I prepare for a summer road trip?

You can prepare for a summer road trip by performing any necessary maintenance or repairs on your vehicle before hitting the road. It’s also a good idea to boost your insurance coverage limits and consider whether an extended warranty could be the right move.

Should you wash your car before a road trip?

Washing your car before a road trip can provide a more comfortable ride for both the driver and passengers. Clean both the interior and the exterior of your car, as a dirty windshield or windows can affect your visibility while driving.

How often should you change your air filter?

The air filter in your car should be inspected at least once per year but may need to be replaced at a varying rate. How quickly your vehicle’s air filter becomes dirty depends on your car model as well as your driving environment.

According to The Vacationer’s 2023 Summer Travel Survey, around 78% of respondents in the U.S. are planning some sort of road trip this summer. If you’re planning your own road trip, make sure that your car is fully insured, covered, and prepared to hit the road.

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Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.