Top 5 Budget Road Trip Destinations In The U.S.
Looking for a fun, affordable vacation that won’t break the bank? It’s road trip time!
Not sure where to start planning? Check out our top 5 recommended budget road trip destinations – especially the ones located near your neck of the woods!
Southeast: Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
This is one of the most scenic drives in America, especially in the fall. As leaves start to change, you’ll get a chance to see the Appalachians smothered in red, gold, and green. The Parkway runs from Virginia all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cherokee, North Carolina.
With breathtaking overlooks and no large trucks allowed, it’s no wonder this is considered one of America’s favorite drives. It offers tourists an opportunity to slow down for a little while and simply enjoy the views.
You’ll also find plenty of trailheads for hiking and exits where you can soak up the art, culture, and crafts native to the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains.
Northeast: Route 100 Vermont
You can enjoy this drive year-round, from stunning spring flowers to winter skiing hotspots. Route 100 takes you through the Green Mountains, where it’s not unusual to find camping at the state park for as little as $20 a night.
There’s plenty of stops to make along the way for those with a sweet tooth, including Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and Couture’s Maple Shop & B&B in Westfield, near the Canadian border.
Southwest: Escalante, Utah
This is a joy ride you’ll remember the rest of your life. Escalante is located along Utah’s “All-American Road:” Scenic Byway 12 in southern Utah. Whether it’s spring, summer, or fall, you’ll find sun-drenched canyons, cool rivers, miles of soft-sand hiking trails, and evidence of humans who walked the same land centuries ago.
Nearby is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument featuring other-worldly rock formations and abandoned Western movie sets. From hiking, camping, overnight backpacking, and paddleboarding, to taking a drive along the area’s abundant scenic backways, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy.
Midwest: Route 66 Via St. Louis, Missouri
We couldn’t forget to include the Main Street of America in our top 5 budget road trips. And the city of St. Louis makes a great place to start (or end) your Route 66 epic adventure. From delicious, yet surprisingly affordable eateries to the iconic Gateway Arch, the tallest man-made monument in the U.S., this city is full of fun surprises.
During baseball season, you can catch the Cardinals playing at Busch Stadium, then head over to Bailey’s Range for burgers and shakes (it’s worth splurging this one time). Kids of all ages will freak over The City Museum, which is more like a 10-story, 600,000-square-foot playground than a museum.
After you’ve got your kicks in St. Louis, hop on Route 66, which will take you along a scenic drive all the way to Chicago!
Pacific Northwest: Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
If you’re in the mood for scenic backdrops and world-class wineries, the Columbia River Gorge is a truly gorgeous road trip.
From Portland, you’ll pass through Oregon and Washington along I-84 East and WA-14 on your way to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Following the river on its way to the Pacific, you’ll find plenty of photo ops in the Cascade Mountains, as well as waterfalls and hiking trails.