Original open uri20150605 24615 k6x0j0?1433545658?ixlib=rails 0.3

The Thirteen U.S. Road Trips We Love the Most

Whether you’re with friends or flying solo, nothing beats an open road to somewhere, a killer playlist, and lots and lots of road snacks, random diners, and even more random encounters. Here, a few of our all-time favorite drives to make in the U.S., plus a little visual inspiration to fill the tank (er, charge the Prius) and power down Google maps.

“In 1977, we took a cross-country trip in a packed-to-the-gills 1977 Honda Civic, camping all the way (I was doing research for a PhD dissertation in history). The unexpected life-changing moment? The best ham-and-eggs breakfast I’ve ever had, in Dubuque, Iowa, after driving through the dawn of the rolling Iowa farmland.” —Derk Richardson, senior editor

“I took a solo trip from Greenough, Montana to Jackson Hole, Wyoming via Yellowstone National Park. I grew up in Brooklyn, so you can imagine how surprised-slash-frozen I was at the wheel when moments after paying park entry fee I was faced with a bison in my path that was bigger than my rental car! On the same trip, I took a solo adventure across Teton Pass from Jackson Hole to Victor, Idaho purely in pursuit of a famous huckleberry milkshake from Victor Emporium. Sadly, Victor Emporium was closed that day, but I did see a moose! And the Amangiri chefs whipped up a huckleberry shake upon my return when I told them of my failed voyage.” —Mary Garvin, AFAR Collection director

“Heading from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. with a fellow graduate student I had met the weekend before. We took the southern route and had great time driving along parts of I-40 and old Route 66. We also made a stop at Graceland to visit the King. Experiencing this part of the country for the first time and ending the trip in our nation’s capital was truly an amazing experience.” —Sean Nakamura, digital audience marketing director

“All road trips are memorable with an 86′ Volvo!” —Tara Guertin, photo director

“My dad and I drove a Vespa from Big Bear, CA to Boulder, Colorado.  It was a 1,200 mile journey that we did in 4 days and was just us, the open road and our red Vespa…a trip and experience of a lifetime!” —Katherine Kneier, East Coast sales director

“Cruising on a hot summer’s night through the Utah desert on the back of a Harley, with Monument Valley silhouetted and looming above. Magical!” —Jill Greenwood, director of events

“With a car packed full of friends, we were driving from New York to the Poconos when we decided to pull over for a deer standing in the middle of the road.  An animal lover indeed, I naturally rolled down the window, called it over and gasped as it stole a french fry right out of my hand.” —Rachel Novick, sales coordinator

“I took a big road trip around the U.S. by myself. I started in California and went along all the southern states (going all the way to Key West), then I came back up along the south-east coast and cut across the middle (Missouri, Oklahoma, etc.) back to California. No itinerary, no smartphone. I thought it would take two weeks—it ended up taking two months!” —Diana Smith, digital intern

“As a little kid, my mom and I took regular road trips from South Carolina through the Great Smoky Mountains to Kentucky to see her parents (stopping along the way for plenty of milkshakes and photogenic vistas).” —Andrew Richdale, senior editor

“After our first year of college my best friend and I took a traditional west coast road trip beginning at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA and ending in her hometown of Portland, OR. Over a few days we sped through the eerie quiet of west Texas, marveled at the Grand Canyon, spent a long night in Las Vegas and enjoyed the sunshine on the California coast with tons of memories in between.” —Grace Montgomery, AFAR Collection marketing coordinator

“Coming from pipsqueak England, driving anywhere in California is an epic road trip. First time swerving through the alternately claustrophobic and expansive scenery of Big Sur was mind blowing.” —Nick Rowlands, guides editor

“From metro New York to Manchester, TN for Bonnaroo Arts & Music Festival in June. I had the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia all to myself at 3 a.m., I discovered the foreign Walmarts of the South picking up supplies, and conquered 16 hours of driving to camp in the comfy grasslands of a Tennessee farm. The festival afterwards was okay, too. *understatement alert*” —Juliette San Fillipo, associate marketing manager

“A motorcycle, a good friend, and buckets of springtime rain in the national parks of the Pacific Northwest.” —Lou LaGrange, AFAR Custom director

Photo at top by Flickr user @rheinitz

Ready to hit the road? Check out our road trip primer, from how to pick the perfect partner to finding the packing equilibrium to the right tunes to kick the whole thing off.