The Road Trip Bucket list: Where to Visit in Each State
The United States covers a wide variety of geographical landscapes and cultural experiences but here is a brief list of at least one spot to hit in each state on your next road trip.
Located in Huntsville, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center museum showcases rockets, achievements, and artifacts of the U.S. space program. Travel south through the Heart of Dixie to check out the museum at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church and the Rosa Parks museum in Montgomery.
If you head north from Anchorage into the heart of Alaska you will find yourself in the shadows of Denali, North America’s tallest mountain. Be sure to check out Hubbard Glacier while exploring the over six million acres of this beautiful park.
Sprawling across northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a geologic wonder known throughout the world offering breathtaking views. This is one that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Covering over 1.2 million acres in the Ozark mountains in the northwestern corner of Arkansas, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest features natural beauty and opportunities for wildlife sightseeing.
California’s urban areas offer incredible experiences to try different cuisines whether you’re in San Diego, San Francisco, or anywhere in between. If you’re looking to get out of the city and explore the state’s natural beauty, you can’t go wrong with Redwood National Park in the north and Death Valley National Park in the south.
Colorado is home to beautiful mountain towns, world-class ski resorts, and the tallest sand dunes in North America. If you want to see the stereotypical mountainous scenery of the Rockies, you won’t be disappointed by Rocky Mountain National Park with its mountain views and ample wildlife.
If you find yourself in the quaint southern New England state of Connecticut, seek out the village of Mystic for its Seaport Museum filled with centuries-old ships and the beluga whale exhibits at Mystic Aquarium. New Haven sits on Long Island Sound and is the home of Yale University and its acclaimed Peabody Museum of Natural History.
Often overlooked as the First State of the United States, Delaware offers some of the best beaches on the Atlantic Ocean along its southwestern coast. Walk along the classic Mid-Atlantic boardwalks and enjoy the beach life with fresh seafood.
Boasting a number of coastal towns along both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, Everglades National Park on the southern coast of Florida to view the incredible wildlife unique to the wetlands of the area.
The Peach State spans coastal beaches, farmland, and mountains in addition to interesting cities like Atlanta and Savannah. Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta or venture to the coast to walk through Savannah and admire the 18th- and 19th-century architecture.
A difficult road trip destination, catch a plane to Hawai’i to view its gorgeous beaches and explore the stunning blend of mountain and ocean views. Visit HawaiI Volcanoes National Park to view one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the world’s most massive shield volcano before soaking up the sun at Waikiki Beach.
Often overlooked among other states in the mountain region, Idaho offers its own share of breathtaking views like Lake Coeur d’Alene sitting among the mountains in northern Idaho. Venture further south to take in the beauty of Boise and Sawtooth National Forest just to its east.
The third largest city in the country, Chicago sits alongside Lake Michigan in Illinois and offers an abundance of activities for anyone visiting. Check out Millennium Park and Navy Pier to get a taste of the city and admire the iconic skyline or visit the Art Institute of Chicago to appreciate internationally-renowned works of impressionist art.
Located in the heart of the US, the Hoosier State offers plenty to do for all ages. Make your way to Indianapolis and visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum (or catch the Indy 500 itself if you time it right), before exploring the Indianapolis Zoo and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis for your younger crowd.
You may not be as familiar with Iowa, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find fun things to do there. Visit their capital, Des Moines, to take in the 19th-century, gold-domed State Capitol Building, Pappa john Sculpture Park and the Des Moines Art Center. If you’re looking to explore nature, visit the eastern border along the Mississippi River to see beautiful bluffs.
Often overlooked as a flyover state, you may be surprised enough by all the experiences available to think you’re not in Kansas anymore. Visit the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson before exploring their largest city, Wichita, and their botanical gardens.
Kentucky is often known by name but many may not realize all they have to offer. Start in their largest city, Louisville, and swing through the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory before making your way to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby and its accompanying museum. Be sure to head south for your nature fix and check out Mammoth Cave National Park or Daniel Boone National Forest.
The Big Easy is always a bustling city, especially if you find yourself in town for Mardi Gras. No matter when you visit, however, explore the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and the National WWII Museum. Don’t miss the incredible jazz scene while you’re in town, too.
The northeasternmost US state, Maine features rocky coastlines along its southern border. Take in these sights by visiting Acadia National Park and viewing the many lighthouses along the coast, such as the Portland Head Light, a circa-1791 lighthouse and museum.
Boasting one of the more unique state flags, Maryland is full of waterways and history. Start in Baltimore and explore its Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium. Then make your way to Chesapeake Bay and stroll through Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy and historic 18th century architecture.
A commonwealth instead of a state, Massachusetts has rich history and beautiful coastal cities. Explore the historic streets of Boston around Fenway Park and Boston Common before making your way to the coast to enjoy fresh seafood in Cape Cod.
Surrounded by Great Lakes, Michigan boasts miles and mile of lakeshore featuring places like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Mackinac Island. Don’t overlook Detroit, though, and check out the Detroit Institute of Arts, Motown Museum, and Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation while in town.
Known for its many lakes, Minnesota has a diverse geography and is the source of the Mississippi River. Get your lake fix by traveling up to the Canadian border and exploring Lake of the Woods, heading west to the North Shore along Lake Superior, or visiting central Minnesota and relaxing on any of the over 10,000 lakes in the state. Make your way to Minneapolis to admire the Mall of America and take in the growing art scene at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Nestled deep in the south, the Mississippi Delta Region is considered the birthplace of blues music so be sure to visit the Delta Blues Museum, the birthplace of Elvis Presley, and the B.B. King Museum. History buffs should head to Jackson for the Vicksburg National Military Park and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and nature lovers should go further south to the Davis Bayous Area Gulf Islands National Seashore.
The Gateway to the West, Missouri’s two largest cities sit on opposite sides of the state. St. Louis is on the Mississippi River and is home to the Gateway Arch and Missouri Botanical Garden. Head west to Kansas City to take in the National WWI Museum and the city’s famous BBQ.
Renowned for its natural beauty, Montana is home to no shortage of mountains and clear-blue lakes. Glacier National Park covers more than 1 million acres and is home to hundreds of different plant and animal species, not to mention the mountains and lakes. Head south to hit the slopes at Big Sky Resort or examine dinosaur fossils at Museum of the Rockies.
The Cornhusker State spans across central US and has attractions from border to border. In the northwest corner, visit features like Scotts Bluff National Monument, Chimney Rock Museum, and Carhenge. On the eastern side, explore the state’s two largest cities, Lincoln and Omaha, and their museums such as The Durham Museum and the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum.
Known for its most famous city and all it has to offer, Las Vegas, Nevada is also home to natural features like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. If you find yourself enjoying the thrills of Sin City, make the 40 minute drive southeast to the Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona border.
The Granite State lives up to its nickname with its rocky wilderness in the north, highlighted by White Mountain National Forest and Polar Caves Park. In the south, explore the quaint towns of Concord and Manchester to experience a taste of New England.
Tucked along the Atlantic coast, visit the Jersey Shore to take in all the resort towns to offer. Make your way north and inland to Jersey City to visit Liberty State Park for views of the Statue of Liberty.
Featuring vast natural beauty, take it all in at White Sands National Park and Bandelier National Monument. If you find yourself in New Mexico during October, don’t miss the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, boasting over 500 balloons and the most photographed event on earth.
The largest city in the US, New York City has something for everyone. Appreciate the skyline featuring the Empire State Building, explore Central Park, or see a show on Broadway. If you’re looking to get out of the city, head west to view Niagara Falls or north to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. Don’t overlook New York’s nature, either, with many parks and forests sprawled across the state.
Home to a number of entertaining cities and beaches, North Carolina has attractions across the entire state. Visit Biltmore, an historic mansion, and Chimney Rock on its western side near Asheville before enjoying the city and its live music scene. Head west and stop in Charlotte to tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame on your way to the coast, where you can tour the Battleship North Carolina and Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Covering the northern parts of the Great Plains, North Dakota boasts vast landscapes including Theodore Roosevelt National Park on its western border. Head north to the Canadian border to take in the International Peace Garden and its flowering park before heading to the eastern border along the Red River, which interestingly flows north, to explore Fargo and its art and craft brewery scene.
Covering the southwestern corner of Lake Erie, Ohio boasts an impressive number of attractions. Starting in Cleveland, visit the Cleveland Museum of Art and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before heading south to check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Further west you can find the National Museum of the US Air Force and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
The Sooner State boasts Native American and Old West history that can be explored further at places like the Museum of the Great Plains and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Oklahoma City is home to countless museums and sights, including the Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Science Museum Oklahoma, and 45th Infantry Division Museum.
A staple of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon features beautiful landscapes that can be see at places like Smith Rock State Park, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and Siuslaw National Forest. Portland proudly exclaims its weirdness, but don’t let that scare you away. Visit Washington Park and the Portland Japanese Garden for more natural beauty before swing through the planetarium OMSI and Powell’s City of Books.
Spanning from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic, the commonwealth known as the Keystone State is full of history. Visit Gettysburg National Military Park and Valley Forge National Historical Park before diving into Philadelphia to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Stop by Hersheypark on your way west to Pittsburgh, where you can see the Andy Warhol Museum.
The smallest state in the country, don’t let its size trick you into thinking there isn’t anything to do in Rhode Island. Tour the Gilded Age mansions in Newport such as The Breakers and The Elms. Visit Bowen’s Wharf in Newport before venturing north to see the RISD Museum and WaterFire in Providence.
Known for its beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina is a premier vacation destination. Coastal Charleston is home to Old South plantations and Fort Sumter. Make your way north along the coast through the Grand Strand to explore the vacation town of Myrtle Beach and the many beaches and golf courses along the way.
Home to the infamous Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota has sights from border to border. Visit the aforementioned memorials in Badlands National Park before heading east to stop at Wall Drug Store and the Corn Palace on your way to Sioux Falls, where you can view Falls Park and the SculptureWalk.
Featuring some of the best live music in the country, Tennessee is a growing tourist destination. The heart of the country music scene, Nashville is home to the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. Make your way to Memphis to experience Graceland and the blues clubs of Beale Street. Venture out to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to take in the sights of the Appalachian Mountains.
The Lone Star State is the second largest state in the US by both population and area. Remember the Alamo and stroll along the River Walk in San Antonio, catch the Space Center in Houston, or explore the expanding cities of Austin and Dallas. Take a break from the city life and relax in Big Bend National Park along the Mexico border.
Often associated with its religious influences in Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country in its national parks. Explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks near Moab or make your way further south to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. If you’re further north near Salt Lake City, visit Temple Square downtown or hit the slopes at Park City just to the east of town.
Covered in forests, the small New England state of Vermont boasts expansive forests rich with maple syrup. Visit Church Street Marketplace in Burlington in the north before making your way south to explore Green Mountain National Forest and the nearby Bennington Battle Monument.
Rich in history, visit Mount Vernon, Monticello, or Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Make your way to the northeast corner to visit Arlington National Cemetery or jump across the river to take in the monuments and memorials of Washington, DC. For nature lovers, visit Great Falls Park in the east or Shenandoah National Park in the west.
Representing the Pacific Northwest, Washington is known for its spectacular landscapes and vibrant city life. Go to Seattle to see the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and Puget Sound. Ditch the city to take in Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier or make your way to Olympic National Park North Cascades National Park.
Nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia is covered with dense trees and flowing water. Explore the Blue Ridge Mountains in Blackwater Falls State Park, New River Gorge National Park, or Monongahela National Forest. Stroll through Harpers Ferry at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers to view the town as it looked in the 19th century.
Bordering Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, Wisconsin offers a mix of bustling cities and gorgeous landscapes. Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Milwaukee Public Museum in Milwaukee or the waterpark capital of the world in Wisconsin Dells. Make your way north to Door County on the peninsula in Lake Michigan for breathtaking views over the Great Lake.
Gaining popularity recently, people are starting to notice all the beauty Wyoming has to offer. Visit Devils Tower National Monument in the northeast of the state before venturing west to see Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. Scoot south to see Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park or hit the slopes at Jackson Hole or Grand Targhee ski resorts.