Road trips are a great way to learn about your country and explore interesting places that you may not have visited otherwise. North America has some of the greatest, most scenic routes that can make for very adventurous vacations. So buckle your seatbelts, get the kids some snacks, and charge your cameras as you roll through 10 of the best scenic routes on this continent!
Sea To Sky Highway: Vancouver To Whistler, Canada
Sea to Sky Highway will take you on a breathtaking journey from the shimmering ocean to the jagged mountain peaks. Drive by a roadside to view Howe Sound along the 75-mile drive from Vancouver to Whistler, or stop in Squamish and drive high above the blue-green waters on the Sea to Sky Gondola. From Whistler, another 22 miles takes you to Pemberton, a beautiful place where you can play golf, go mountain biking, and go fishing with the family. Sea to Sky Highway is one of the best scenic routes in British Columbia.
Insider Tip: On this scenic route, check out Shannon Falls, located just south of Squamish and approximately 37 miles from Vancouver. The falls are a whopping 335 meters tall!
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Don’t miss a chance to drive from beautiful Lake Louise in Banff National Park to Jasper, tucked away in Jasper National Park. The Icefields Parkway has scenic routes with over 100 ancient glaciers, sparkling lakes, and ample wildlife along the scenic drive. Hike up the mountains and take photos while breathing in the fresh mountain air.
Insider Tip: Drive to Columbia Icefield and explore the Athabasca Glacier, the most-visited glacier in North America, then explore the town of Jasper. Look for cars parked on the roadside and stay within your car so you can observe the majestic wildlife.
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Mt. Charleston Loop, Nevada
Head out and explore these scenic routes that provide peace and tranquility, instead of the flashing lights and the abundance of tourists that flock in the city that never sleeps. Take this scenic route through the center of the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area, where there are multiple trails to explore by foot or even on horseback. In winter, many people like to hit the slopes at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort.
Trans-Canada Highway: Revelstoke To Golden
Mountains dominate all scenic routes. You can hike through beautiful alpine flowers just a short walk from your car at Mount Revelstoke National Park. The 92-mile stretch between Revelstoke and Golden traverses is BC’s great mountain crossings: Rogers Pass. That’s where, in 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company sliced through the Selkirk Mountains and connected the country from coast to coast. In the summer, learn more at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site in Glacier National Park.
M-22 from Arcadia to Frankfort
M-22 gets its well-earned reputation for the many scenic routes along its northern reaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. These are some of the most enjoyable trips in Michigan. People usually prefer further south along this scenic highway, beginning in the village of Arcadia. In the summer, the beach at Arcadia is the perfect place for an invigorating swim along the shore.
After swimming in the “Big Lake,” go north along M-22 for scenic views from the peaks of the mountains to Frankfort. Then grab a Michigan craft beer at Stormcloud Brewing Company and walk along Frankfort’s dock to the lighthouse. Out of all of the scenic routes, this one is the most breathtaking.
Insider Tip: Head north along M-22 from Arcadia and stop outside of town at Inspiration Point. Climb the steps for a magnificent view from the top of the mountain.
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Magnolia Viewpoint – Magnolia Boulevard, Seattle
When it comes to scenic routes near Seattle, Magnolia Boulevard is the best choice if you want to stay close to the city. In beautiful Elliot Bay, you might see a couple of ferry boats on the water.
Along the way, stop at Magnolia Park for a picnic with the family. It has impressive views of the bay as well as playgrounds and picnic tables. You can walk down to the park’s edge and onto the sandy beach where the garden meets the water. Finally, make sure to be on the road when the sun sets on Magnolia Boulevard; the view is spectacular.
Insider Tip: Check out the Magnolia Viewpoint on the Magnolia Bluff. Located 300 feet above Elliott Bay, this lookout spot will leave you speechless.
Big Sur: From Carmel to Morro Bay
Take the famous California State Route 1, between Morro Bay and Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is 145 miles long and one of the best scenic routes in the world. It’s definitely the most talked about and photographed scenic route in California. It’s all about the landscape on the Big Sur drive, with the highway following the curvy coastline and the Pacific Ocean hitting the rocks below.
Driving on this road can be difficult; some of the turns are very sharp – so sharp that you feel like you will go off the road and end up at the bottom of the ocean! To reduce the chance of that occurrence, begin in Morro Bay and drive north, putting your car on the land side of the highway.
Insider Tip: The best time to visit is spring and fall when the sky is completely clear. In summer, the coast gets coastal fog called June Gloom and the road gets crowded with slow-moving cars. In winter, mudslides can shut down Highway 1 for weeks, or even months.
Read More: 10 of the Best Bed and Breakfast Places to Visit in North America
Florida Keys Scenic Highway
The Overseas Highway is the world’s best coastal scenic drive in the US and the only road from Florida to Key West. The 113-mile drive between Key Largo and Key West crosses 42 bridges and the Seven Mile Bridge. The entire Overseas Highway drive is approximately 2.5 hours. Travelers will need time to visit the serene beaches, unique shops, and restaurants with over 100 miles of captivating views of the water, old Railway bridge, dolphins, and manatees. Out of all of the scenic routes, this one is truly unforgettable.
Insider Tip: Sombrero Beach is one of the best Florida Keys beaches and an incredible nature spot to take pictures.
Central Coastal Drive, P.E.I. Canada
The Central Coastal Drive has regions along the Northumberland Strait, where the beautiful sandstone cliffs are front and center. You’ll also pass the Confederation Bridge and some of the Island’s most breathtaking ocean scenic routes situated on the north side of Prince Edward Island. This is one of the best scenic routes, full of unique landmarks you won’t want to miss on your vacation.
The Central Coastal Drive features two diverse touring areas. The Red Sands Shore has little villages and many outdoor activities for the entire family to enjoy. Green Gables Shore has gorgeous beaches, golf, and the infamous Anne of Green Gables and Lucy Maud Montgomery! Scenic routes that bring you to these two regions will give you a peek of Prince Edward Island and how extraordinary life can be.
Georgian Bay Coastal Route, Ontario
A peaceful drive along the Georgian Bay coast might be just what you need. So hop in your car and explore the serene beaches and lush forests surrounding the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay. In fall, leaves cover the coast, while the calm waters are ideal for swimming in the summer.
About 500 miles, this scenic Canadian route is worth taking your time over. Along the shoreline, explore the numerous famous lighthouses on the way, such as Janet Head Lighthouse, Big Tub Lighthouse in Tobermory, and Kagawong Lighthouse.
Georgian Bay forms part of Lake Huron. Its size means lots of wildlife can be seen near the water, including great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, and woodpeckers. If you go further inland, you can spot wolves, arctic foxes, and northern flying squirrels.
Planning a road trip can be a lot of work, and choosing the wrong scenic routes can lead to a boring travel experience. However, if you include any of these ten scenic routes as part of your vacation, you and your family will have a wonderful trip. So get your cameras ready to capture some memories!
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