The phrase “road trip” has a particular resonance to those eager to embrace an adventure that’s long on possibility and limited only by time and how much gasoline you can afford. That’s especially true these days, when we’ve been cooped up at home for almost two years and even now may be reluctant to face a crowded airport or plane.
For many Americans, a road trip has long meant a drive along some of the nation’s most spectacular coastal routes. Though visitors flock to the national parks, majestic mountains, verdant forests, and soothing streams, no getaway quite fires the imagination as much as a seaside journey. (We still love our national parks, of course. These were the most visited U.S. national parks in 2020.)
To compile a list of some of North America’s most beautiful seaside road trips, 24/7 Tempo consulted numerous travel websites and guides, assembling a shortlist of 50 highly recommended itineraries, then narrowing down the selection to 22 based on their visual appeal.
Our list includes trips in expected places, like California, Oregon, and Hawaii, as well as some in states you wouldn’t associate with escapist jaunts, like Illinois and Texas. Some excursions follow famous routes, like 17-Mile Drive in Northern California, or travel along seaside roads such as those in Oregon, which were deliberately designed to provide motorists with better ocean views and greater access to the beaches. (Don’t take our beaches for granted. These are 30 American beaches that may soon disappear.)
Other drives on our list are less well-known, and the stunning vistas they can provide might be coincidental. But all are well worth considering when a road trip beckons. Here they are, in no particular order.