The romance of the open road is a notion that seems to resonate through US culture.
In a country that promises freedom to bold pioneers, America’s endless network of highways presents an existentially charged passage to adventure and self-discovery. If you want to discover the American Dream you’ll need to take the highway.
Beyond such mythologising, it’s also true that, simply put, the US is built for drivers. Not only is America’s endless sprawl extremely well-covered by roads, it’s also a country that’s less well disposed to public transport than we tend to be in Europe. To explore this country properly you really do need a car.
California is a driver’s paradise. The Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Barbara and San Francisco is justly regarded as one of the most soul-stirring and dramatically scenic drives on the planet but there are many more driving delights to seek out in this sprawling coastal state.
The Tioga Pass Scenic Byway, which snakes through Yosemite’s vertiginous mountain scenery from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass, is another undoubted highlight, while driving the Silverado Trail is a great way to explore the Napa Valley’s beautiful countryside and take in the rolling vineyards of its many wineries.
In a country of epic scenery, the stretch of North Western territory dominated by the Rocky Mountains still stands out as an especially vast and awe-inspiring terrain. Spanning Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, there are numerous noteworthy routes through its many dramatic landscape and a thorough exploration will reveal remarkable natural variety. Yellowstone, America’s best-known national park and home to some of the country’s most jaw-dropping scenery, is an unmissable highlight of the region.
There remains a strong sense of the America’s past in Virginia, the state where its colonial history began when early settlers formed Jamestown, just off the Chesapeake Bay, in 1607. The state, which was also heavily impacted by the Civil War, is full of interesting historic sites that are well worth a look - the ‘Historic Triangle’ composing Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown is especially popular - and there’s no shortage of beautiful scenery to take in along the way. Shenandoah is among America’s most beautiful national parks and stunning vistas are easy to come by in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The famous Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds through the Appalachian Highlands, is widely regarded as one of the country’s most spectacular driving experiences.
New York City may not be much of a town for driving in but the lure of the Big Apple is hard to resist and a few days this iconic, endlessly exciting city is well worth incorporating into any American adventure. Once you’re done with the bright lights of America’s most celebrated city it doesn’t take long to escape into the surprisingly remote natural beauty of upstate New York. The Catskill Mountains, which tower above the Hudson River little more than an hour’s drive from Manhattan, are an easy escape for New Yorkers and offer wonderful hiking opportunities and, during the winter, some of America’s best skiing.