Scenic Routes: Exploring America's Greatest Coastal Drives
Experience stunning coastal views and sandy beaches on the greatest US scenic drives, including popular and lesser-known routes. Discover soft sand beaches, rugged cliffs, majestic bridges, and winding roads.
The Pacific Coastal Highway (PCH), California
If you are into beach destinations, I bet you've read much about the legendary Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), spanning over 900 kilometers (600 miles) of California's stunning coastline. It is a must-drive road to experience a movie-like road trip. This marvel of human effort offers breathtaking views of mountains, beaches, and endless skies and a chance to experience California's diverse character, from pioneer outposts to Hollywood glitz. You can drive the PCH year-round, with the best weather from late spring through fall and the busiest travel season in July and August. The entire length of the Pacific Coast Highway without stopping typically takes around 10 hours. But we highly recommend taking your time to see the sights and stay overnight along the way at one of the beach towns, stretching your vacation out to at least six days. If you shorty of time, make the shorter version of the PCH: the starting point of this coastal drive should be Carmel, and then go south through Big Surf. This way spans over 112 kilometers (70 miles) and can be done in a few hours.
The Overseas Highway, Florida Keys
The Overseas Highway, also called US Highway 1, is a picturesque road trip spanning 113 miles from mainland Florida to Key West. This breathtaking route boasts of 42 bridges that offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Initially constructed in the early 1900s as part of Henry Flagler's plan to connect mainland Florida with Key West by rail, the highway became an alternative mode of transport after a hurricane destroyed much of the railway in 1935. Today, the Overseas Highway is one of the most popular road trips in the US, offering visitors an array of attractions such as state parks, museums, beaches, and charming island towns. You'll find plenty of chances for water sports and fishing, delicious seafood restaurants, and colorful architecture along the way. Whether you're planning a relaxing beach getaway or a thrilling road trip adventure, the Overseas Highway is a destination you won't want to miss, sure to leave you in awe.
Gulf Coast Scenic Road, Florida
The Gulf Coast Scenic Road or simply the US-98 Scenic Highway is a 150-mile coastal drive in Florida that boasts marvelous landscape views. The road trip passes through charming towns such as Pensacola Beach, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Destin, Seaside, and Panama City Beach, as well as other interesting communities like Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, and Apalachicola. The Gulf Coast Scenic Road is a great way to experience Florida's unique flora and fauna, and offers something for everyone, whether you're a nature lover, a history buff, or just looking for a relaxing beach vacation.
Highway 101, Oregon
Were you planning to take a road trip through Oregon? While it may only take about eight hours to drive through Highway 101, you won't want to rush it. Trust me; it's worth taking at least three to five days to soak up everything this beautiful Highway 101 offers. Take some time to relax on the beaches, hike in the old-growth forests, explore the charming waterfront towns, and try exciting activities like driving through the blindingly-white dunes on a buggy. Even though it's not very needed, cause you might only want to chill on the beach and count waves.
Acadia Coastal Route, Maine
This scenic drive takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of Acadia National Park and the surrounding coastal areas. Along the way, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, rugged coastline, and forested hills. You'll also have plenty of opportunities to stop and explore charming seaside towns, indulge in delicious seafood, and take part in exciting outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and biking.
The San Juan Skyway Route, Colorado
The San Juan Skyway Scenic and Historic Byway in Colorado is an absolute must-see for road trippers! As you wind your way through the stunning San Juan Mountains, you'll pass through fascinating historic towns like Durango, Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray. And let's not forget about the views - the San Juan Skyway is famous for its incredible million-dollar vistas that will take your breath away. It's no wonder this scenic drive is considered one of the best in the country! So grab some snacks, hit the road, and get ready for a journey you'll never forget!
Outer Banks Scenic Byway, North Carolina
The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway is one of the best coastal routes to rewind yourself! It is a 138-mile route in North Carolina that passes through beautiful coastal landscapes, including tidal marshes, dunes, and sounds. The byway begins in the Outer Banks region and ends in the Crystal Coast region, and takes about 6.5 hours to drive, including two ferry rides. Along the way, you'll witness breathtaking views of tidal marshes, wind-swept dunes, and enchanting sounds that will leave you in awe.
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