Driving across the USA is one of the world’s great road trips. The country has such an amazing diversity of landscape and there are so many landmarks, small towns, roadside attractions and burgers to see and eat. To be fair, there are also some dreadfully long boring stretches of road too. But, with the right wheels, the right tunes, the right car companions and a good chunk of time, the classic cross-country road trip can be quite a ride.
Since the U.S. is so vast, there are many ways to go. I’ve made the journey three times, taking a slightly different route each time. My most recent USA road trip wound from New York City to Los Angeles on a mostly southern route. I won’t list out every stop we made—note: Cracker Barrel is on there more than once—but here are 23 notable spots to rev up your Road Trip USA.
1. Manhattan skyline view from Weehawken Waterfront Park (New Jersey)
NYC has, of course, an endless supply of bucket list things to do, but it’s always nice to catch the city skyline that is unlike any other in the world. You’ll have to go to Weehawken Waterfront Park in New Jersey for this particular viewpoint though. Luckily, my friend was moving from the Jersey side of the Hudson River to the West Coast.
2. “Virginia Is for Lovers” sign in Manassas (Virginia)
One of my favorite state slogans: “Virginia Is for Lovers.” I haven’t done a deep dive into state slogans or anything, but it’s definitely better than “If you’re looking for a merry land, go to Maryland!”
3. Route 11 Potato Chips in Mt. Jackson (Virginia)
Every great road trip needs great munchies for the car. Luckily, the Route 11 Potato Chips factory in Mt. Jackson, Virginia was right along our route.
4. The Sunsphere in Knoxville (Tennessee)
Simpsons fans may recognize the Sunsphere in Knoxville, Tennessee as the ultimate destination for Bart and his friends on their own epic road trip:
I’m happy to report that it’s not a wig outlet.
5. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville (Tennessee)
So much to explore in Music City, but we had to drop by Hattie B’s to try the famous “hot chicken.” My spice tolerance is pretty low, so the mild had the right amount of kick for me, but you can ratchet it up to “DAMN HOT!!” and “SHUT THE CLUCK UP!!!” levels if you so desire.
6. Elvis Presley statue in Memphis (Tennessee)
Memphis has the blues, the barbecue and the King. Hit up Beale Street, get those slow-smoked ribs at Central BBQ and, if you have time, take a tour of Graceland, Elvis Presley’s stately Memphis mansion. Also snap a shot of this statue of Elvis (right off of Beale), in all of his twisting glory.