Epic road trips, from Route 66 to Pacific Coast Highway

Expedition Cruises
By Linsey McNeill
Home » Epic road trips, from Route 66 to Pacific Coast Highway

America is one of the best countries for a self-drive holiday; the roads are straight, the gas is cheap(ish) and hiring a car means you have the freedom to explore at your own speed.

One of the most iconic road trips in the world is Route 66, which once stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Immortalised by the song Get Your Kicks on Route 66, it was one of the original US highways, established as long ago as 1926. While it was officially removed from the US Highway system in 1985, parts of the original route remain.

Travelpack recommends hiring a motorhome for a three-week drive along the route from Chicago to Yosemite, with stops in St Louis, Oklahoma, Elk City, Tucumcari, Albuquerque , Williams, Las Vegas, Nevada, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Petaluma. In 2024, it costs from £2,239 per person, including return flights from the UK and motorhome hire with unlimited mileage.

The Pacific Coast Highway ­– sometimes called the PCH or Highway 1 is another legendary US road trip, which takes you from the majesty of the Golden Gate Bridge to the glamour of Hollywood with some jaw-dropping scenery in between. You can drive the whole route in 10 to 12 hours, but Highway 1 is all about the stops, so recommend to clients they take three days to complete the journey and spend at least a night in LA and San Francisco too.

G Adventures offers a nine-day Best of Cali group trip, beginning and ending in LA, that incorporates the drive along Highway 1 to San Francisco but also includes Yosemite National Park. It costs from £1,879 per person, not including flights.

The impossibly romantic-sounding Great River Road follows the Mississippi for some 3,000 miles, passing through 10 states from Minnesota to Louisiana. While your clients might not want to cover the whole route from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, tour operators, including Travelpack, can tailormake shorter self-drive itineraries.

Another US road trip, recommended by Audley Travel, is a 15-day Western USA drive from the Spanish city of Santa Fe, which takes in America’s first national park, Mesa Verde, the Ute Mountain Indian Reserve and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon among other attractions on route. It costs from £3,885pp including flights, car hire, accommodation and excursions.

A drive through Georgia and the Carolinas that takes in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as Atlanta, Asheville, Charleston, Savannah and Jekyll Island is also recommended by Audley. Its 13-day Historic South Carolina self-drive costs from £6,340 per person.

For music lovers, a road trip through America’s Deep South is a must, and USAirtours has a fly-drive that takes in Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Jackson and Mississippi from £1,379 per person.

American Affair has numerous off-the-shelf self-drive holidays, including a 17-day Rocky Mountaineer Wonders trip through America’s west, which takes in several national parks, including Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore.

You’ll find lots more suggestions in Kuoni’s Epic Road Trip Collection too.