Road Trip across America – 4 Weeks through the USA!
This road trip across America is definitely one of the greatest travel experiences you can get! You will need a lot of time for this one and it needs some planning, but it’s well worth it. I’ve done this exact road trip across America back in 2012 and drove this route from Los Angeles to New York City. This drive will take you to the great wonders of the West (like Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon), but also to landmarks like Yosemite and Mount Rushmore. Towards the end this road trip across America will take you to awesome cities like Chicago, Washington DC and Philadelphia. This surely is the trip of a lifetime!
The following itinerary is similar to the one I did back in 2011 for my own road trip across America. As personal preferences are different and you might want to spend a few days more at certain places, you can adapt it to your liking of course:
|Day||Plan for the Day||Sleeping in||Distance|
|Day 1||Land in Los Angeles, pick up rental car||Los Angeles||0 miles|
|Day 2||Full day in LA||Los Angeles||0 miles|
|Day 3||Half day sightseeing in LA, then head to Barstow for the night||Barstow||115 miles|
|Day 4||Full day in Las Vegas||Las Vegas||152 miles|
|Day 5||Scenic drive along Route66||Williams||218 miles|
|Day 6||Full day at Grand Canyon||Williams||0 miles|
|Day 7||Continue to Page in the morning, Antelope Canyon in the afternoon||Page||163 miles|
|Day 8||Zion NP & Bryce Canyon||Kanab||74 miles|
|Day 9||Zion NP & Bryce Canyon||Kanab||0 miles|
|Day 10||Continue to Salt Lake City in the afternoon||Salt Lake City||312 miles|
|Day 11||Half day at Salt Lake City, continue to Yellowstone in the afternoon||Yellowstone||320 miles|
|Day 12||Yellowstone National Park||Yellowstone||0 miles|
|Day 13||Yellowstone National Park||Yellowstone||0 miles|
|Day 14||Continue to Sheridan in the afternoon||Sheridan||199 miles|
|Day 15||Visit Mount Rushmore||Mt. Rushmore||236 miles|
|Day 16||Longer trip to Sioux Falls for the night||Sioux Falls||370 miles|
|Day 17||Driving day to Madison, enjoy the evening there||Madison||432 miles|
|Day 18||Continue towards Chicago||Chicago||147 miles|
|Day 19||Full day in Chicago||Chicago||0 miles|
|Day 20||Continue to Cleveland, visit Rock & Roll Hall of Fame||Cleveland||346 miles|
|Day 21||Continue to Pittsburgh in the afternoon||Pittsburgh||133 miles|
|Day 22||Head to Washington DC in the morning||Washington||242 miles|
|Day 23||Full day in Washington DC||Washington||0 miles|
|Day 24||Half day in Washington DC, continue to Philadelphia in the afternoon||Philadelphia||139 miles|
|Day 25||Full day in Philadelphia||Philadelphia||0 miles|
|Day 26||Continue to New York City in the morning, sightseeing in the afternoon||New York||94 miles|
|Day 27||Full day in New York City, off to the airport in the afternoon||New York||0 miles|
Los Angeles is a great starting point for this road trip across America. Although it might not be as hip or trendy like San Francisco, I really love this city. I could spend days walking around Sunset Boulevard, where the music scene of the 1980s peaked at clubs like the Whiskey-a-Gogo for example. The beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu are beautiful places to relax as well. Especially the area around Venice Beach (Muscle Beach especially) is a must-see for tourists that start their road trip across America here. If you’re looking for a panorama view of the city, head to Griffith Observatory and enjoy the view during day or night. On your way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas I can also recommend visiting Joshua Tree National Park for one day – it’s well worth it!
Las Vegas of course is a “must-do” during your road trip across America. “Sin City” is one of the most famous cities of the USA and for sure its capital of entertainment. Depending if you’ve been here before, you can also stretch your visit to Las Vegas for some days. Try to get a nice hotel at the “Strip” like the Bellagio and make sure to hit the slots! Las Vegas is also famous for its great shows you can watch (like Cirque de Soleil), the good nightclubs and the awesome food. You should also try to visit the Valley of Fire nearby and check out Hoover Dam – also a great landmark for any road trip across America.
Grand Canyon is one of the definite highlights of your road trip across America for sure! Just standing at the edge of the canyon generates such a great feeling of being small compared to some of nature’s wonders. On our road trip across America I recommend staying in Williams, Arizona after driving along Route66. You can get much nicer hotels for a lower price compared to places directly nearby Grand Canyon if you stay in Williams. It’s still close by with your rental car though. Get on one of the parking lots and use the shuttle to explore the spectacular south rim of Grand Canyon. If you have the time, you can also hike down the valley for some time. Remember to take enough water with you though. Afterwards you will continue towards Page (Arizona) to check out Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, before reaching Zion NP & Bryce Canyon.
Zion NP & Bryce Canyon
After visiting Page you will have two full days at Zion & Bryce Canyon during your road trip across America. These National Parks are two of my favorite ones: Zion NP is just one of the best places for hiking and offers breathtaking valleys full of awesome sights. Same goes for Bryce Canyon: although the scenery is quite different, it is just as fascinating as Zion. You will see the beautiful amphithreatre of Bryce and understand why I love this place. Take a full day at each park and make sure to hike some trails. Afterwards you will head North towards Salt Lake City, where you will stay for a night before heading to Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone is another highlight waiting for you during this road trip across America! As it’s quite up North it might be quite cold during spring or fall, but still well worth the drive. You will see spectacular geysirs, mineral stones of the most fascinating colors and wild animals. I managed to spot a huge bear when we were at Yellowstone, and also had a herd of bisons pass by our car. You will have two and a half days at Yellowstone in this itinerary – but you’re free to stay longer on your own trip of course. After your days at Yellowstone National Park you will continue towards the prairie town of Sheridan as your next stop.
Mount Rushmore is definitely one of the higlights of your long drives through the Midwest. After enjoying classic Western atmosphere in Sheridan this is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States. Although it’s a long drive and the entry fee is a little bit high, I still enjoyed my visit to Mount Rushmore very much. Take your time there and have a close look at all the four presidents that are carved into the mountain there. The following days will include some longer drives. You will head to Sioux Falls first and then spend a night in Madison, Wisconsin. Your destination after that will be Chicago!
Chicago will be the next major stop on your road trip across America. “Windy City” is a fascinating place to stay in and you’ll have more than a full day here (you can extend that stay of course). Especially if you’re into architecture (I am!) this is a city where you need to spend some time. You should definitely go up Willis Tower (Sears Tower) as it’s still one of the highest buildings in the world. If you also loved the show “Married with children” you need to check out Buckingham Fountain: you will definitely recognize it from that series! Additionally, there are so many museums to check out. Your next stop will be Cleveland, where I can recommend you going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before continuing to Washington DC.
Washington DC is my favorite city in the United States as I’ve lived here for quite a while. Coming from Cleveland and Pittsburgh to the capital is another highlight for this road trip across America. Of course you have to visit the White House and the Capitol where you can enjoy the new visitor center and tour. Just get to the National Mall afterwards and tour all the memorials: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. If you’re into museums, Smithsonian has it all! As you’re most probably here during summer you should take the Metro to Adams Morgan and Georgetown and enjoy these trendy quarters for some hours. As for shopping, I can highly recommend Potomac Mills Mall!
New York City
Your final stop of the road trip across America will be New York City. This place does not need much introduction as you know the most important sights: Statue of Liberty, Fifth Avenua, Central Park, Empire State Building and so on! But there’s so much more to see and do in this most fascinating city. Check out Times Square at night, wander around the Southern parts of Manattan and make sure to visit the newly opened World Trade Center Memorial. As this will be the last stop of this road trip from coast to coast, you will be quite exhausted anyway. But you should have so many awesome memories in your backpack that will last a lifetime!
Best Travel Season
This road trip across America is perfect for the summertime (June – August) as it can be quite cold in Chicago or Bryce Canyon during other months.
These are estimated costs of this road trip across America. This estimation can differ quite heavily depending on the hotels and the rental car you prefer!
- Rental Car at Hertz: 800 USD
- Flights to Los Angeles, back from NYC via Expedia: 600 USD/person
- 26 Hotel nights via Expedia: 1.700 USD
- Entrance to National/State Parks: 100 USD
- Gas: 600 USD
- Total per person when travelling with a partner: 2.200 USD
- Open-jaw flights to LA and back from NYC might be more expensive – always make sure to compare prices at Expedia and eBookers
- Chose the correct sized car for your coast to coast roadtrip – the costs can get quite high if you pay 10USD more per day.
- Buy a GPS instead of renting – use the Garmin Nüvi