Highway 395 Road Trip- Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe

The scenic Highway 395 makes for one of the best road trips you could take in this part of California. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to drive across diverse landscapes and endless natural beauty, with two of the area’s most spectacular National Parks just a small detour away?

What car is best for this road trip?

Like any other road trip, the answer is largely subjective. If you’re a fan of sports cars, you’ll surely enjoy a lavish roadster or a classic American muscle car. No matter what car you’re after, Rentalmoose has got you covered. Browse through options from the industry leaders and ensure you get the best deal with Rentalmoose.

If you’re hesitant about renting a car for the Highway 395 road trip and would rather use your own vehicle, check out this blog post. It may just change your mind.

What to see on Highway 395?

That’s the crucial question. Some of the attractions along this road trip include Red Rock Canyon State Park, Lone Pine, Mount Whitney, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Bishop, and Mammoth Lakes. There are also optional detours to Death Valley and Yosemite NPs!

Without further ado, let’s dive into this Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe road trip itinerary!

Los Angeles

by David Mark

This road trip begins in the legendary City of Angels. It’s hard to think of a better place to begin a Highway 395 road trip!

For your maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from LAX. Note that airport pickup is usually subject to an extra fee added on top of your rental bill. If you want to avoid a premium location surcharge, it’s best to pick up your rental car somewhere in the city.

While Los Angeles may not be the best place to drive around, the traffic is not as bad as you may have heard. The notorious “LA Traffic” is nowhere near as bad as rush hour traffic in Paris, for example.

What are the best things to do in Los Angeles?

Despite what some first-timers may think, there is a lot more to Los Angeles than just Hollywood or the Walk of Fame. Mulholland Drive, for example, is easily one of the best driving roads in this part of California. You can spot hundreds of bikers and petrolheads enjoying this chicane-filled drive each day.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Don’t forget to stop at the Mulholland Scenic Overlook for those classic views of the skyline! Check the map for the exact location.

The two LA attractions listed below are simply ideal for fans of the outdoors. We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city every now and again.

Runyon Canyon Park

Runyon Canyon Park is the perfect getaway located in the Hills above the city. You can enjoy an early morning jog, or simply hike up to admire unbeatable views of the Los Angeles skyline.

The North Entrance of the park can be accessed directly off the Mulholland Drive. That way, you can stop for a hike while driving down LA’s favorite scenic drive. What a fun way to spend the day!

The park is open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week. Entrance is free of charge. Your vehicle can be parked at the North Entrance off Mulholland Drive.

Griffith Observatory & Griffith Park

Griffith Park isn’t exactly a hidden gem. In fact, you have probably already seen it plenty of times in various Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows. Nonetheless, the iconic Griffith Observatory is the place to admire those picture-perfect views overlooking the LA skyline.

You can find more great things to do in Los Angeles in this travel guide.

After a memorable night in one of the best hotels in Los Angeles (these are our favorite picks in town), it’s time to hit the road and begin your Highway 395 road trip!

Next stop on your road trip: Red rock Canyon State Park, 2 hours

Red Rock Canyon State Park

by Matthew Dillon

To be completely honest, the Southernmost tip of Highway 395 is a little underwhelming. The route starts in the town of Victorville and the first stretch isn’t exactly picture-perfect. That’s why we recommend taking the chicane-filled Angeles Crest Highway via the Angeles National Forest. You will then reach Red Rock Canyon State Park via Lancaster instead. It is a much more exciting drive.

The scenic Red Rock Canyon State Park is located roughly 2 hours north of Los Angeles. Once you’re here, you can admire jaw-dropping natural beauty. The park borders the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada, it’s filled with scenic canyons and hiking trails that overlook it all.

You can access the hiking trails via the park’s dirt road network. It’s open to any street-legal car, so you can safely drive around in your rental car!

Camping at Red Rock Canyon SP

Moreover, travelers who wish to spend the night here can set camp at one of the 50 campsites situated at the Ricardo Campground. Up to 8 friends can share one campsite at $25 per site, no campgrounds for larger groups are available.

Next on your Highway 395 road trip: Lone Pine & Mt Whitney, 1 hour 20 minutes

Lone Pine & Mount Whitney

by Khun Hans Photography

After spending some time at the Red Rock Canyon SP, it’s time to head north into the beautiful landscapes of Sierra Nevada. A short 20-mile drive up will take you to the iconic Highway 395. Follow it for around an hour, until you reach the cute town of Lone Pine.

A slight detour to Death Valley National Park is an absolute must, especially if you haven’t been to this park before. You could even extend the trip further to see the Grand Canyon over in Arizona, too!

The village is a well-known spot for fishing. It’s also surrounded by some more spectacular natural beauty, complete with winding hiking trails to take it all in. These are some of the must-do attractions in Lone Pine.

Museum of Western Film History

Movie buffs have to drop by the Museum of Western Film History. The museum gallery is full of Western memorabilia that any enthusiast will love. Visitors can get an insightful look at how some of the most iconic Western movies were made.

You can watch a Western movie at what is perhaps the world’s best Western cinema, located within the premises. The cozy theatre can sit up to 85 guests.

The museum is open 10AM to 4PM Thursday to Monday.

Fishing in Lone Pine

Like we mentioned previously, the Lone Pine area is a popular spot among fishing fans who visit Sierra Nevada. There are plenty of fishing spots to choose from in and around Lone Pine, such as:

  • Independence Creek
  • George Creek
  • Diaz Lake

Check out this blog post by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for a guide on fishing in the Lone Pine area.

Hiking & Enjoying The Outdoors

Without a doubt, the best thing you can do in Lone Pine is simply enjoying the outdoors. There are lots of hiking trails, such as the Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead that will take you to the iconic Mobius Arch rock formation.

The Mt. Whitney Trailhead is worth paying a visit, too. From there, you could hike over to the Lone Pine Lake, which is around 6 miles (10km).

Whitney Portal Road Scenic Drive

Don’t let the short length of Whitney Portal Road fool you, this scenic drive is an absolute must-visit! The 13-mile (19km) scenic drive will take you through the heights of Alabama Hills. Movie buffs will instantly recognize this scenery from hundreds of Western films that were shot here. This area was also featured in High Sierra, an absolute classic from 1941 starring Humphrey Bogart.

Stay The Night

Before continuing further, Rentalmoose recommends spending the night in Lone Pine. Consider checking in at the cozy Dow Villa Motel. This family owned business has been welcoming guests ever since its opening in the 50s! Make the most out of the outdoor pool while you’re here.

Next on your Highway 395 road trip itinerary: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, 1 hour 45 minutes

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

by Fred Moore

Technically, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest does require a small detour off of Highway 395. However, much like the Death Valley NP, it is highly recommended to visit it along the way. You will not regret adding merely an hour of driving, that’s for sure!

If, somehow, you’re still not convinced about adding Bristlecone Pine Forest to your road trip itinerary, you’ll definitely want to keep reading.

This precious spot is home to some of the oldest trees found on our planet. What exactly does that mean?

Well, many of the trees found in the Bristlecone Pine Forest are more than 4000 years old!

You can get more information about the area at the visitor center located at Schulman Grove. It’s open throughout the summer between 10AM and 5PM Thursday to Sunday.

After a hike through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, it’s time to continue along Highway 395 until you reach Bishop.

Next on your road trip: Bishop, 1 hour

Bishop

by Jay Huang

Bishop is yet another cute town that’s situated along Highway 395. It makes for one of the favorite local getaways from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Its beautiful surrounding area makes for a great destination to visit on your drive up to Lake Tahoe.

Climbing the Buttermilks

Those who are into climbing are probably well aware of what Bishop has to offer. The nearby Buttermilks feature some of the region’s most accessible and diverse climbing areas. Every climber can have a great time enjoying these impressive boulders, no matter the skill level.

The climbs here range from beginner-friendly ones, all the way to some of the country’s most challenging routes. The Buttermilks are located only a short drive west out of Bishop. Simply follow the appropriately-named Buttermilk Road along the McGee Creek.

You can learn more about bouldering and climbing in Bishop in this guide.

Nature in Bishop

As Bishop is famous for its scenic natural setting, it is an absolute must to visit at least a few of the best sites in the area. Hike up and down the challenging trailheads, go on a thrilling mountain biking adventure, or simply take in the views from the comfort of your vehicle. Either way,you simply have to enjoy the outdoors when in Bishop.

The Four Lakes in the Bishop Creek Basin

The scenic Bishop Creek Basin is home to four spectacular lakes. Ideally, you’d want to visit all of them as each one offers a different landscape. If you only have the time to see one of them, we recommend going to the South Lake.

  • North Lake
  • Lake Sabrina
  • Intake II
  • South Lake

Next on your Highway 395 road trip: Mammoth Lakes, 45 minutes

Mammoth Lakes

by Jeff Sullivan

A short 45-minute drive along Highway 395 will take you to the scenic town of Mammoth Lakes. Without a doubt, this may just be the most exciting stopover during this road trip. If you only had the time for one break between Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles, I’d strongly recommend to make it here.

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Lakes is full of attractions, no matter the time of the year. During the magical winter, you should definitely head up to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. This resort is often considered to be the best of its kind in all of California!

Mammoth Mountain is easily the best place to go skiing in California. First-timers, as well as experienced skiers and snowboarders are all bound to have a good time here. If you’re not particularly into skiing, you can simply take the scenic gondola ride up to the summit. The views from there are magnificent.

Mammoth Mountain is a year-long destination. During the summer, travelers can play a game of golf or try out mountain biking. You can find more details about Mammoth Mountain on its official website.

Detour to Yosemite National Park

Did you know that one of the US’ best National Parks is just a small detour away? If you haven’t been to Yosemite NP before, it is strongly recommended to add a few days to your itinerary and visit it. You will not regret it, that’s for sure.

You can check out a guide around Yosemite National Park right here. Note that reservations are no longer required to enter the park!

Play Golf High Above Sea Level

Golf enthusiasts will surely have a good time when in Mammoth Lakes, as the town is home to two spectacular alpine golf courses:

You cannot go wrong with the Snowcreek golf resort. It was the first golf course in Mammoth Lakes, and is often considered to be the best one around. However, its elevation isn’t as high above sea level as the Sierra Star course.

Travelers can enjoy a game of golf accompanied by dramatic backdrops at each of the resorts. In addition, the Sierra Star golf course is also the highest-elevation 18-hole course in the entire state. You can see a driving increase of up to 10% when playing at this altitude, according to some experts.

Next on your Highway 395 road trip: South Lake Tahoe, 2 hours 30 minutes

Lake Tahoe

by m01229

This is it, the longest driving segment of your Highway 395 road trip. Follow the road up north for a little over 2 and a half hours, all the way until you reach the spectacular Lake Tahoe. The equally-amazing drive is perhaps the prettiest part of California’s stretch of Highway 395, too.

Welcome to one of the most beautiful lakes in the West part of the US! There are so many great attractions and fantastic things to do in this part of Lake Tahoe, it’d be impossible to list them all. Nonetheless, these are our top picks.

Vikingsholm Castle

Did you know that Lake Tahoe has its very own castle? The magical Vikingsholm is tucked away in the Emerald Bay, down at the southern tip of the lake.

Emerald Bay was the first destination where wealthy Californians would build their holiday homes in the late 1800s. The land where Vikingsholm is has seen summer cabins for over two centuries, though the beautiful castle erected in the late 1920s. It still remains here today, making for a truly magnificent spot.

by Mike McBey

You’ll probably quickly realize that Vikingsholm doesn’t exactly look like your typical North American building. The unique name is another giveaway of the property’s Scandinavian descent. In fact, Vikingsholm was commissioned by Mrs Lora Josephine Knight who had been in love with Scandinavian fjords. The natural setting of Lake Tahoe reminded her of Northern Europe.

Today, Vikingsholm welcomes tourists from across the planet. You can learn more about the property and all of its secrets during a guided tour.

Note that the property is 1-mile away from the car park, it is only accessible on foot or by boat.

Swimming & Sunbathing

Unwinding at a sandy beach does sound like the ideal way to spend the day. A well-deserved afternoon of relaxation isn’t exactly a road trip essential, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt. You should make the most out of the fact that swimming is permitted in Lake Tahoe. Enjoy the crystal-clear waters and impressive alpine backdrops!

These are some of the best beaches at South Lake Tahoe.

  • Kiva Beach
  • Zephyr Cove Beach
  • Conolley Beach
  • Emerald Bay
by Carandoom

Where to stay in South Lake Tahoe?

Travelers who wish to stay at a fun-packed resort should certainly consider booking a room or suite at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Resort. The 3-star property features spacious and modern rooms, though those who stay here will probably hang around the casino downstairs. Moreover, you can expect tons of live shows, cool bars to spend the evening at, and much more!

Alternatively, you could opt for the waterfront Beach Retreat & Lodge. At first sight, you may mistake the sandy beach of this hotel with an oceanfront resort on a Greek island or in Costa Rica. The 3-star property boasts modern rooms that overlook the lake, three waterfront restaurants, and a marina with kayaks and boat rentals.

Drop-off

After you’re done with your Highway 395 road trip, you could drive over to San Francisco and drop your rental car off there. Alternatively, you could drive back from Lake Tahoe to Los Angeles via the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, one of the best driving roads on the planet.

Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to find the best rental car deal for this road trip!

Post your pictures from your Highway 395 road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in our travel guides.

Get your car from Rentalmoose, we plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

The Best Instagrammable Places in NYC- Local Guide

Looking for the best spots to step up your photo game? Check out our comprehensive guide around our favorite instagrammable places in NYC.

New York City is filled with great photo opportunities that are scattered all over the city. Our list consists of 30 of our favorite picks. These are both well-known landmarks, as well as the not-so-famous spots in The Big Apple.

These are our top picks for the 30 best Instagram spots in New York City (click to jump to each section):

Manhattan

  1. Guggenheim Museum
  2. Central Park
  3. Radio City Music Hall
  4. Top of The Rock- Rockefeller Center
  5. Times Square
  6. Grand Central Terminal
  7. The Vessel at Hudson Yards
  8. Empire State Building
  9. High Line
  10. Flatiron Building
  11. Greenwich Village
  12. Washington Square Park
  13. L’Appartement Sézane
  14. Pietro Nolita
  15. NoMo Soho
  16. The Crown
  17. Doyers Street
  18. Staple Street Skybridge
  19. One World Observatory
  20. The Oculus

Brooklyn:

  1. Brooklyn Bridge
  2. Jane’s Carousel
  3. DUMBO
  4. Brooklyn Bridge Park
  5. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
  6. Domino Park
  7. Westlight Rooftop
  8. Luna Park in Coney Island
  9. TWA Hotel

Queens:

  1. Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Check out this interactive map of all of these photo opportunities in NYC.

Keep reading to learn more about the best places to take pictures in NYC!

Best Instagrammable Places in NYC- Manhattan

Manhattan is home to the vast majority of Instagrammable places in the Big Apple. Take a look at some of our favorite picks!

The Guggenheim Museum

You cannot miss the iconic Guggenheim Museum! It is hard to find a museum that gets better than this. Travelers are in for a double-treat, as the building itself is just as spectacular as the art inside.

The stunning state-of-the-art architecture draws in thousands of visitors every day. The unique building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is beloved among both tourists and locals alike.

It is no surprise that the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Address: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, United States

Hours: 11AM to 6PM Thursday-Monday

Central Park

Central Park is perhaps the most recognizable park in the entire world. We have all seen it, either in blockbuster movies or on social media. Now is the perfect chance to see Central Park in real life.

There are so many places to see within the park that it would require an entire blog post to cover them all. Wherever you go in Central Park, you’re bound to see amazing photo opportunities to step up your Instagram game.

Why not drop by the Sheep Meadow for a picnic while you’re at it, too?

Address: Heart of Manhattan. You can enter the park at 59th Street, for instance

Opening hours: 6AM-10PM, 365 days a year

 
 
 
 
 
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Radio City Music Hall

by Fernando Gonzalez

Once you’re in front of the iconic Radio City Music Hall, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. The exterior of this building is nothing short of spectacular. What’s more, you can always book tickets and step inside to catch a live gig.

The fascia of the Music Hall is best admired after dusk falls, as the neon lights create a spectacular backdrop for your photos.

Address: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020

Hours: Temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Best admired from across the street after sunset.

Top of The Rock- Rockefeller Center

by Monika Hafliger

Remember the Christmas Tree scene from Home Alone 2? The enormous tree can be admired every year at the Rockefeller Center, yet another Instagrammable landmark in NYC.

The seasonal Christmas tree display is far from the only reason to visit the Rockefeller Center. The Top Of The Rock offers unforgettable views of the city’s legendary skyline. Not to be missed when in New York City!

Out of all the viewpoints in NYC, this could very well be our favorite one. Afterall, when you’re at the Top Of The Rock you can still admire the Empire State Building, as well as the One World Trade Center.

Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112

Opening hours (Top of the Rock): Sunday-Saturday 11AM-7PM

Times Square

Times Square needs no introduction. It makes for one of the instantly-recognizable landmarks of NYC, along with the Statue of Liberty and perhaps Central Park, too.

If you post a photo taken here, there will be no doubt that you are indeed in The City That Never Sleeps.

Expect tons of tourists from all corners of the planet squeezing through this iconic intersection, all while being entertained by street performers. Love it or hate it, you have got to visit Times Square at least once during your NYC trip.

Address: Manhattan, NY 10036

Best time to visit: After sunset

Grand Central Terminal

Photo by Pexels

The Grand Central Terminal is as iconic as a train station can possibly get. The history of it dates back to 1913 when Grand Central Terminal first opened its doors to the public.

Step inside the station’s Main Concourse, which you’ve definitely seen in at least one movie before. The station’s jaw-dropping interior makes for a perfect backdrop for portrait photography. Filmmakers can set up a timelapse capturing the as the crowds go by during the afternoon.

Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017

Best time to visit: Midday for the crowds or late at night to avoid them.

The Vessel

Want to feel as if you are in a science-fiction movie? Be sure to drop by the Vessel at Hudson Yards, one of the most famous instagrammable places in NYC.

Some of your followers may even think that this futuristic structure is photoshopped.

Travelers can climb the stairs to the top of the tower and enjoy a whole different perspective of the Vessel. What’s best, free entry tickets are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. Get there early to make the most out of this spectacular location!

Address: 20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001

Opening hours: Closed (as of March 2021) due to COVID-19.

Empire State Building

by Paulo Corceiro

Visiting the observation deck at the top of the Empire State Building is a must-do when in NYC, no doubt. From a photographer’s point of view, however, there are better spots to see the city.

The largest issue when you’re at the top of the Empire State Building is that the majestic tower is not a part of the skyline anymore.

While it’s worth visiting the top strictly for the bragging rights, you may want to head to the Top of The Rock for a better photo.

Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001

Opening hours: 12-9PM daily

The High Line

by Brandon W.

Apart from being one of the best Instagrammable places in NYC, the High Line is also one of the best free attractions in town!

The High Line connects the Meatpacking District to Hudson Yards. Once a busy train line, the High Line hosts art exhibits and colorful plants today. Expect some of the best views of NYC stretched across this 1.45-mile long attraction.

Address: enter at Gansevoort Street, 23rd Street, or 30th Street

Opening hours: 7AM-7PM on weekdays, 10AM-6PM on weekends. Reservations are required to enter on the weekend.

The Flatiron Building

by Fernando Gonzalez

The Flatiron Building is yet another iconic landmark in The Big Apple. Once again, if you post a photo of this building on your Instagram feed, your followers will instantly recognize that you are indeed in New York City.

Step across the street from the Flatiron Building, or grab a shot as you’re crossing the junction directly in front of it. Beware of oncoming traffic!

Address: 175 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

Greenwich Village

 
 
 
 
 
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Greenwich Village is a quite part of the Big Apple that sits north of Lower Manhattan. It is quite a contrast from the hustle and bustle of its neighboring districts, to say the least.

This cute part of the city is home to beautiful residential buildings made from iconic red brick. You’ve definitely seen Greenwich Village in some of your favorite films, perhaps without knowing where it was. Now’s the perfect chance to see them in person!

You can continue strolling over to West Village, which is arguably just as scenic yet nowhere near as popular among travelers. Treat it as somewhat of a hidden gem, if you will.

The next spot sits in the heart of Greenwich Village!

Washington Square Park

by Oltion Kola

This is the spot to go if you want to fool your friends and followers that you’re in Paris. The Washington Square Arch overlooks Washington Square Park, right in the heart of Greenwich Village.

On a sunny day, you can get an awesome shot of the Empire State Building seen through the arch. Give it a try! Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose.

Great photos aside, this park is the ideal place to watch the daily life of New York City. If people-watching is your thing, you’ll love hanging out here.

Address: Washington Square, New York, NY 10012

Opening hours: 6AM-12AM

Renwick Triangle

If you’re looking for a photo opportunity that’s a lot less common than the landmarks such as the Empire State Building or the Flatiron, the Renwick Triangle may be the ideal spot for you.

This cute Instagrammable spot in NYC lays on the corner of Stuyvesant & East 10th streets. The townhouse situated between the trees makes for a year-round backdrop, ideal for your photos.

Address: 100-138 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

L’Appartement Sézane

L’Appartement Sézane is a cute store located just a few blocks away from Greenwich Village. The facade of this shop has become a favorite among photographers and influencers from across the globe.

You can always pop inside and pick out some new clothes, too.

Oh, the fun Museum of Ice Cream is just a stone’s throw away! It is quite literally the Instagram haven of NYC.

Address: 254 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

Pietro Nolita

 
 
 
 
 
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If we had to pick the most Instagrammed restaurant in NYC, Pietro Nolita would certainly take the crown.

This trendy Italian eatery is a must-visit for any fan of pink. It is filled with pink-colored decor both inside and out. Bring a matching outfit!

After a photoshoot outside of this bright eatery, why not step inside for a delicious meal? Choose from a selection of Italian dishes, or order a refreshing cocktail.

Address: 174 ELIZABETH STREET NEW YORK, NY 10012

Opening hours: Thursday-Saturday 12pm–11pm Sunday 12PM–close

NoMo Soho

Similar to Pietro Nolita, this is yet another trendy eatery that doubles as a famous Instagrammable place in NYC. NoMo Kitchen is a spectacular restaurant located within the NoMo Soho hotel.

The restaurant features vivid greenery that serves as a perfect photo backdrop. Guests can dine both inside and outdoors, though even the indoor area feels like a forest.

Don’t miss NoMo on your tour of New York City, especially if you enjoy taking photos in a beautiful setting.

Address: 9 Crosby St, New York, NY 10013

Opening hours: until 9PM on weekdays, 10PM on weekends

The Crown Rooftop Bar

There are tons of different rooftop bars in NYC that offer jaw-dropping views, though only a handful are as spectacular as The Crown. Afterall, what could be as Instagrammable as the skyline of New York City?

Enjoy an upscale night out with your friends, all while admiring the bustle of Manhattan from above. Indoor dining is available too, with an equally unbeatable view of the city.

Address: 50 Bowery, New York, NY 10013

Opening hours: Wednesday-Sunday 4-11PM

Doyers Street

by David Yu

While Chinatown is home to many underrated Instagrammable places in NYC, Doyers Street remains the most iconic spot in this part of Manhattan.

Don’t let the photos fool you- Doyers Street is merely 200 feet (60 meters) long!

While the street is favored among photographers and influencers alike today, it certainly wasn’t the case in the early 20th century. Back then, Doyers Street was actually infamous as the “Bloody Angle” where countless killings among the Tong Gangs took place.

Despite a spooky past, there is no need to worry about the safety of Doyers Street in the 21st century. It’s just a stone’s throw away from The Crown over at Bowery.

Staple Street Skybridge

This is a real gem for photographers, which is surprisingly easy to miss when walking around the Tribeca. You have to know what you’re looking for, otherwise you could end up missing this marvelous photo opportunity!

The charming cast-iron bridge connects two buildings over Staple Street. Back in the day, the bridge would connect two different buildings that made up the New York Hospital back at the beginning of the 20th century.

Today, the hospital is gone, yet the cute bridge remains. In fact, it was once listed for sale for a whopping $35 million around two years ago. Fancy a new place to stay in the heart of NYC?

Address: 9 Jay St, New York, NY 10013

One World Observatory

by KatiaKatia

This is the creme de la creme of all observation points in New York City. One World Observatory is in fact the highest of them all. Note that there is no outdoor deck here, though.

Just like the top of the Empire State Building, however, the biggest downside of the One World Observatory is that the iconic structure will not be in your photos taken here. If you want to capture NYC above the heart of it all, this is the place to go.

Address: One World Trade Center 117 West Street New York, New York 10007

Opening hours: check official website

The Oculus

By Shire777

If you’re already at the One World Observatory, don’t miss the Oculus. Much like the Grand Central Terminal, the Oculus is a busy transit hub. Its unique architecture makes the Oculus one of the best Instagrammable places in NYC.

The spectacular structure was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and it is supposed to resemble a dove leaving a child’s hands.

The impressive train station cost $4 billion dollars to build, making it the most expensive one in the whole world. Yet another reason to pay it a visit!

Address: 4-minute walk from the 9/11 Memorial. New York, NY 10007

Best Instagrammable Places in NYC- Brooklyn

After making the most out of the best photo opportunities in Manhattan, it’s time to cross the Brooklyn Bridge over to Brooklyn! Check out our favorite photo spots in Brooklyn below.

Brooklyn Bridge

by Foundry Co

Virtually anybody who has been to New York City will have posted a photo of the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Afterall, this piece of architecture is easily just as much of a landmark as the Statue of Liberty. The bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn, and crossing it on foot is one of the must-do things in NYC.

Once you’re on the Brooklyn Bridge, you may seem overwhelmed with incredible photo opportunities to step up your Instagram game. Portraits of you and the bridge in the background, capturing the Manhattan skyline from the bridge, or grabbing shots of the Statue of Liberty. The possibilities here are simply endless, so get creative!

As this is one of the most famous places to visit in NYC, expect tons of like-minded tourists to be there too. Getting a shot with virtually no other people, like the photo above, is a difficult task. Especially when traveling during the peak season.

Address: Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038

Jane’s Carousel is yet another spectacular Instagrammable place in Brooklyn, just a short walk away from the Brooklyn Bridge.

This vintage carousel dates back to 1922 when it was first opened, and its waterfront setting makes for a scenic backdrop for your pictures.

Make sure to stroll around the surrounding area to find even more photo opportunities! One of the most iconic spots, Dumbo, is just a short stroll away.

Address: DUMBO section of the Brooklyn Bridge Park

Opening hours: Temporarily closed due to COVID-19

Dumbo

by Leonhard Niederwimmer

Looking at the amount of people who take pictures at Dumbo, you may think that it is a legal requirement to post a photo taken here. If there was an Instagram rulebook for New York City, a stop at Dumbo would likely land in its first section.

It is easy to see why so many aspiring Instagrammers choose this location. The symmetrical shot you can capture here is nothing short of legendary, even if it is slightly overdone by now. Nonetheless, Dumbo is another must-visit in Brooklyn.

Where is that iconic Manhattan Bridge photo spot?

All of these photos are taken on Washington Street. Here, the Manhattan Bridge is perfectly framed by NYC’s iconic red brick buildings.

If you’re an early bird and want to avoid the crowds while getting that sweet golden hour look, consider coming to Dumbo during sunrise.

Address: 39-21 Washington St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Brooklyn Bridge Park

by Uwe Conrad

After a visit to Jane’s Carousel and Dumbo, why not head to the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park? This location is full of wonderful photo opportunities, where you can capture the Manhattan skyline with the East River in the foreground.

Consider coming here after the sun sets, as the lights from Manhattan’s skyscrapers will illuminate the water. It’s truly magical!

Address: 334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Opening hours: 6AM-1AM, 365 days per year

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

If you’re looking for a hotel in New York City that offers some of the best views in town, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge may be the perfect pick for you. This trendy property features rooms with tremendous views of the Manhattan Skyline. You can also head up to the rooftop pool to get your one-of-a-kind photo of Lower Manhattan.

Don’t want to splash out on a room here? Well, you can always head up to the Harriet’s Rooftop that’s located within the hotel. This bar is known for its outdoor seating area that opens up to spectacular views of Manhattan. Indoor seating is available, too.

Address: 60 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Opening hours (Harriet’s Rooftop): Tuesday-Friday 5PM-2AM, Saturdays 12PM-2AM, Sundays 12PM-12AM

Domino Park

Domino Park is one of those up-and-coming Instagrammable places in NYC. It is nowhere near as popular as the park near Brooklyn Bridge, hence it is also not as crowded.

Domino Park is the place to go for photos of the Manhattan skyline from a slightly different perspective. If you crave a lesser-known location, this is it!

The waterfront greenery is perfect for a picnic.

Address: 300 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Opening hours: 6AM-1AM all week long

Westlight

Westlight is a trendy rooftop bar in Brooklyn that is known for beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline.

This is the perfect spot to get your sunset photos of NYC, as the bar features 360 degree views from 22 floors above ground level.

A wide selection of refreshing drinks only make the experience more worthwhile. Indoor seating is available, too.

Address: 111 N 12th St 22nd floor, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Opening hours: 5-11PM weekdays, 1-11PM weekends

Luna Park in Coney Island

by Bruce Emmerling

Coney Island offers many unique photo opportunities, hence it lands on our list as one of the best Instagrammable places in NYC. The Luna Park here is simply iconic.

The 100-year-old Wonder Wheel makes for a great backdrop, especially when taking pictures from the sandy beach.

After you’re done taking in the atmosphere, feel free to step inside Luna Park and enjoy some of the thrilling rides! Don’t miss the legendary wooden coaster, one of the oldest in the country!

Address: 1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Opening hours: Vary depending on the weather. Check the official website for details

TWA Hotel

The TWA Hotel is the only on-airport hotel at the NYC JFK Airport. However, it is far from your regular airport hotel!

Once you step inside, you’ll be transported back to the 1960s. The interior design is one-of-a-kind, featuring a display of classic art exhibits, vintage cars, and more. You’re bound to be mesmerized by this incredible property. There’s even a restored TWA jet here!

You can book your room at the TWA Hotel and enjoy the best of what this unique property has to offer, including a rooftop pool or the airplane-turned-cocktail lounge.

Don’t skip this place, as it’s truly one of the most amazing Instagrammable places in NYC.

Address: John F. Kennedy International Airport, JFK Access Road, One Idlewild Drive, 11430

Best Instagrammable Place In Queens- Bonus

While many of the best Instagrammable places in NYC are scattered around Manhattan and Brooklyn, there are quite a few of them in Queens as well. We’ve picked Flushing Meadows as our go-to spot in this part of town.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park

by Robert Jones

Though this park is far from the most famous in NYC, you’ve probably seen its highlight at least once in an American movie. The Unisphere is a 140-foot high globe that is a perfect photo oppportunity, and one of our favorites in this part of the city.

The spacious park is full of other, lesser-known Instagrammable places as well. Don’t miss them!

Address (unisphere): Avenue of the Americas, Flushing, NY 11354

Opening hours: 6AM-9PM all week long

There you have it, these are the 30 best Instagrammable places in NYC! Are you going to see them all on your next trip to The Big Apple?

Don’t forget to tag your New York City photos on Instagram using #Rentalmoose. Some of our favorites may even make it on our list!

Check out other curated travel guides around the US.

El Capitan boulder in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park. You can see this park along one of our curated road trip itineraries around the best national parks in the United States.

The 7 Best National Park Road Trips You Need To Take

El Capitan boulder in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park. You can see this park along one of our curated road trip itineraries around the best national parks in the United States.

In this blog post, we will cover 7 different road trip itineraries perfect to explore different National Parks around the US. Feel free to use this blog post as a National Park road trip planner for your next adventure!

These are the road trip ideas that will be covered in this blog post:

  1. Best of Utah’s National Parks- 5-day road trip itinerary
  2. Death Valley, Yosemite, Great Basin & more- Nevada road trip itinerary
  3. The Ultimate Colorado road trip itinerary for nature lovers
  4. The Great Smoky Mountains by car- Scenic Drives
  5. The Ultimate Grand Teton & Yellowstone Itinerary by car
  6. These are the best day trips from Seattle for nature lovers
  7. The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

What are the must-see National Parks in the United States?

There are 62 National Parks in the United States, scattered all around the country. As much as we recommend experiencing each and every single one, these are the national parks that we find to be the best in the US.

  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Great Canyon
  • The Great Smoky Mountains
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion National Park

Before you go- America The Beautiful Pass

Before you set off on your National Park road trip, take a look at the America The Beautiful Pass.

This annual pass covers admission to over 2000 federal recreational sites, including entry passes to the majority of national parks in the country.

If you’re planning to visit multiple parks, it may be worth purchasing the America The Beautiful Pass.

For example, if you’re planning to go on a road trip around the parks in Utah (look below), you would have to spend nearly $200 on admission fees to National and State parks along the way. Instead, you could purchase the annual pass for just $80 per year (pricing as of November 2020).

What’s more, you can go to even more national parks within a year of purchasing the pass.

Do keep in mind, however, that most parks charge admission fees per vehicle. If you split the cost between you and your passengers, it may turn out cheaper (per person) than purchasing an annual pass.

Your America The Beautiful Pass can be purchased here.

Note that day use fees, plus fees for any activities, are charged separately.

1. Best of Utah’s National Parks- 5 Day Road Trip Itinerary

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The unique rock formations are famous around the world. Canyon seen on a hot summer day.
Bryce Canyon photographed by Oskaline

Starting point: Salt Lake City, Utah

Finishing point: Las Vegas, Nevada

Driving distance: 740 miles (1190km)

Highlights: Zion, Arches, Bryce Canyon

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Fall, Winter

Click here for the detailed travel guide.

Which parks will you see during this Utah road trip?

  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
  • Grand Staircase National Monument
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park

This 5-day road trip itinerary is an absolute must for any traveler who wants to see some of the best National Parks in the western United States. The trip begins in Salt Lake City, Utah. Then, you will head on a 740-mile road trip to Las Vegas via Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the scenic parks around Moab.

The road trip to these parks is perfect for travelers who want to enjoy hiking, drive down Scenic Byways and go off-roading!

What’s more, if you’re planning your ultimate road trip to see every National Park in the US, Utah can be a great place to set off!

From here, you can cross into Nevada to see Death Valley and Yosemite, or head east into Colorado to see the Great Sand Dunes and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Yellowstone and the Grand Teton are just a 5-hour drive

2. The Ultimate Nevada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Death Valley National Park, wonderful rock formations and otherworldly scenery seen from an outlook at Artists Drive. Drive down the scenic drives in Death Valley on our Nevada road trip.
Death Valley

Starting point: Las Vegas, Nevada

Finishing point: Las Vegas, Nevada

Driving distance: 1400 miles (2300 km)

Highlights: Death Valley, Yosemite, Great Basin

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Fall

Click here for the detailed travel guide around the best National Parks in and around Nevada.

What are the must-see parks in Nevada?

The following National and State parks are all included in our detailed road trip itinerary.

  • Death Valley National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Cathedral Gorge State Park
  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds

This road trip itinerary forms a great loop around Nevada (and brushing up on California, specifically Yosemite National Park) and its most spectacular parks. It’s a great getaway for both locals as well as travelers who are crossing Nevada during a long road trip.

This itinerary can easily be extended to see Arizona and the Grand Canyon, Utah and the state’s spectacular parks, or even further into Colorado and the Rockies.

3. The Ultimate Colorado National Park road trip itinerary for nature lovers

the great Sand Dunes National Park on a cloudy day. Amazing scenery in Colorado, enjoy it during our national park road trip through the best parks in the US.
The Great Sand Dunes by Sid Litke

Starting point: Denver, Colorado

Finishing point: Denver, Colorado

Driving distance: 1200 miles (2000 km)

Highlights: The Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde

Best time of the year to visit: Summer, Winter

Click here for the comprehensive travel guide.

What National Parks are in Colorado?

Colorado is home to four national parks, and all of them are included in this road trip itinerary!

  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • The Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park

During this road trip, you will also visit the following state parks and other POIs.

  • Garden of The Gods
  • Pikes Peak Scenic Drive
  • Roxborough State Park

This road trip itinerary is ideal for travelers who want to thoroughly explore the must-see natural beauty in Colorado. The trip departs in Denver, The Mile High City.

The 1200-mile long loop will take you through Garden of The Gods, Pikes Peak, The Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and the Rocky Mountain before heading back to Denver.

Some of the attractions along the way include the scenic drive up Pikes Peak, off-roading at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and spectacular lookouts at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

The curated itinerary includes some of the best lodgings you can find in Colorado, along with some really quirky attractions. Have you ever heard of the UFO watchtower? Or a drive-in cinema with an attached motel? Check out the Rentalmoose travel guide and plan your ideal road trip!

Visit Colorado during the winter to see the scenery transform into a magical, snowy wonderland!

4. The Great Smoky Mountains by Car- Scenic Drives

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to many scenic drives. The scenery looks the most magical during Fall Foliage in Autumn.
The Smokies photographed by Airren Parsons

Starting point: Atlanta, Georgia

Finishing point: Atlanta, Georgia

Driving distance: 1000 miles (1600 km)

Highlights: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Best time of the year to visit: Summer, Fall

Click here for the detailed itinerary!

What is the best national park on the east coast?

The Great Smoky Mountains are an absolute must, it’s one of the best national parks in the east part of the US! Click here for our curated travel guide to visiting this national park by car.

Although this road trip starts in Georgia, the itinerary actually focuses just on the Smokies and the park’s countless attractions. However, if you are planning to visit the park via a rental car do consider flying to Atlanta, as the major international airport here has more rental cars to choose from. Use Rentalmoose to find your ideal rental car for this road trip.

This road trip is perfect for travelers who want to visit the Smokies by car. Apart from must-see attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the guide focuses on scenic driving roads scattered around the park. A combination of chicane-filled scenic drives plus awesome attractions to stop by and stretch your legs will make this road trip a great adventure in the east part of the US!

Unarguably, the best part of the year to visit the Smokies is during the magical Fall Foliage (mid-October to November). The weather is pleasant during the summer, though it is also the peak of the tourist season. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during winter and spring to avoid the crowds.

5. The Ultimate Grand Teton & Yellowstone Itinerary By Car

Grand Prismatic Thermal Spring in Yellowstone National Park. The geothermal activity can be seen during our itinerary for Yellowstone & Grand Teton.
Thermal Spring in Yellowstone by WikilImages.

Starting point: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Finishing point: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Driving distance: 430 miles (700 km)

Highlights: Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Fall

Click here for our itinerary!

During this road trip, you will see the following National Parks.

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park

Where is Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is located in the north-west tip of Wyoming, directly north of the Grand Teton National Park. For this road trip, it’s best to fly to Jackson Hole Airport, which is the only airport located inside a National Park in the country, and continue by car from there.

Alternatively, you can drive from a major city. Salt Lake City in Utah is around 5 hours away from Yellowstone National Park.

This road trip is an absolute must! Yellowstone is the oldest National Park, the most popular, and perhaps the best one to visit, too. What’s more, Grand Teton National Park is just a stone’s throw away! During this road trip, you can see both of these stunning parks.

As for extending this trip itinerary, consider adding a trip south to Utah. From there, you can easily drive over to Colorado or Nevada.

6. The Best Day Trips From Seattle For Nature Lovers

Mount Shuksan and its reflection in a crystal clear alpine lake seen in North Cascades National Park. The beautiful park is driving distance from Seattle, making for a perfect day trip from the city.
North Cascades by WikilImages

Starting point: Seattle, Washington

Finishing point: 3 beautiful National Parks, 1 National Monument, and a coastal scenic drive

Driving distance: 1300 miles (2100 km)

Highlights: Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Click here for our itinerary!

These are the National Parks you can expect to see on this trip.

  • Olympic National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park

This travel guide isn’t exactly a traditional road trip itinerary. Instead, we showcased some spectacular natural sites all within driving distance from Seattle, Washington. That way, you can pick one or two of these destinations for a quick getaway from Seattle. Alternatively, you can simply drive between each of the points we’ve listed and turn it into one long road trip instead!

Washington State is home to some amazing natural beauty, Olympic National Park simply cannot be missed. A drive along the scenic North Cascades Highway deserves a spot on your bucket list, and seeing the alpine landscapes in Mount Rainier National Park is joyful for the entire family.

You can extend this Washington road trip and head to Yellowstone National Park over in Wyoming. The drive is a little over 11 hours, and you can stop by the Glacier National Park (Montana) along the way.

7. The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

Large boulders and rock formations in Yosemite national Park seen through fog.
Yosemite photographed by Pexels

Starting point: Los Angeles, California

Finishing point: Los Angeles, California

Driving distance: 1800 miles (2900 km)

Highlights: Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreational Area

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Click here for the road trip itinerary.

These are the must-see parks in California.

  • Yosemite
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park

A lengthy California road trip sounds like the plot of a mediocre movie, though in reality, it is an absolutely unforgettable experience! Our itinerary for this trip stretches for nearly 2000 miles and loops from Los Angeles, passing the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, Monterey, San Francisco, Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, and more!

During this trip, you can take a small detour to see other national parks in California, like the Joshua Tree National Park or Kings Canyon National Park.

For a dramatic change of scenery, consider extending the trip further into Nevada, Utah, or even Colorado and Washington.

Bonus: The Great National Park Road Trip

If you’re the ultimate road tripper, you can combine all of the itineraries above and plan your epic road trip! That way, you’ll see over 20 different parks in total, scattered around the entire United States!

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

These Are The Best Day Trips from Seattle For Nature Lovers

We all need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of a city as busy as Seattle, Washington. This blog post will cover the best day trips from Seattle, perfect for both locals and tourists visiting the area.

What are the best things to do outside of Seattle?

Seattle is one of the most frequently visited cities in the United States. Many visitors stay within the city, overlooking some of the great attractions that are accessible just a drive away from town. These are the best day trips from Seattle.

Beautiful sunset and Mount Rainier National Park make the perfect backdrop for the skyline of Seattle, Washington.
Sunset in Seattle

What is the best way to travel around Washington?

Unarguably, the best way to see all of these spectacular attractions around Washington State is by car. If you’re here by car, that’s great!

However, if you flew into Seattle, or you don’t have access to a car, it’s best to get a rental car for these day trips. Use Rentalmoose to browse tens of rental cars available in the city and pick your ideal car for this trip.

Olympic National Park

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes one-way.

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington, United States of America. Spectacular rock formations on a dark, sandy beach
Photo by Roger Mosley

The Olympic National Park is one of the best parks in the entire nation, and an absolute must on a day trip from Seattle. Take note that the drive to this National Park is around 2 and a half hours one-way, though you can easily add an overnight stay around the park.

Before visiting the park, check the official website for any closures and safety alerts. The entrance fee, as of October 2020, is $30 per vehicle.

Note: If you love National Parks, check out this blog post where we showcase the 7 best National Park road trips!

What are the best things to do in Olympic National Park?

Kalaloch

The first stop on your drive from Seattle to the Olympic National Park will be Kalaloch, one of the most popular destinations within this park. Kalaloch Beach is a perfect spot to catch the sun rising or setting. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the park’s diverse wildlife.

If you wish to stretch your legs after the drive from Seattle, hike the mile-long Kalaloch Nature Trail through the vibrant forest.

Don’t miss the spectacular Tree of Life, located near the Kalaloch Campground. The tree is alive despite its roots being clearly visible, creating a truly impressive sight.

Kalaloch is home to a campground, as well as the waterfront Kalaloch Lodge, where you can spend the night.

Ruby Beach

Before you head back inland, make a stop at Ruby Beach. This spot is a beach like no other. Instead of sunbathing or swimming in the ocean, travelers come here to admire the spectacular rock formations, photograph wildlife, and hike the nature trails.

Ruby Beach is worth at least a short stop on your day trip from Seattle.

Hoh Rain Forest

After a drive along the coast, turn right into Upper Hoh Road and drive into the vibrant rainforest. The winding road will take you to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, where you can pick up a comprehensive map ideal for your self-guided tour of the Olympic Park.

Hike along one of the trailheads and explore this lush forest. There are two pleasant hiking trails that form 1-mile loops around the forest: The Hall of Mosses (0.8 miles/1.3km) and The Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles/1.9km). If you’re down for a longer stroll, hike The Hoh River Trail which is over 17 miles long (27.4km) in total.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is a perfect destination in the Olympic National Park, where you can observe the breathtaking force of the ocean. Waves crash against the coastal rocks, putting on a spectacular show to admire.

Don’t miss the Hole In The Wall, this location is perfect for exploring tide pools and makes a great photo opportunity. Beware of high tides, as the area may quickly become accessible. Click here for details.

Lake Crescent

This deep-blue lake, carved by a glacier, is another incredible spot at this National Park. It’s a perfect getaway, located just west of Seattle.

During the summer and autumn, travelers can rent a canoe and explore the lake on their own. There are different hiking trails that you can hike to take in the serene vibe of this part of the park.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is yet another must-see during a day trip from Seattle. Drive down the Hurricane Ridge Road to get here. Leave your car and admire the panoramic views. Afterall, Hurricane Ridge is the most accessible mountain area in the park.

During the glorious winter season, you can enjoy snowshoeing or skiing. You can get more information about the winter activities and equipment rental right here.

Note that Hurricane Ridge Road is only open on weekends during the winter (if the weather permits it), and all-week during the summer season. Consult the park’s website for information on current closures.

Alternatively, check out the other day trips from Seattle listed below.

Mount Rainier National Park

Travel time: below 2 hours one-way.

Reflection of snow-covered Mount Rainier seen in crystal-clear alpine lake surrounded by tall, green trees. Washington State
Photo by Skeeze

Mount Rainier National Park is another must-visit destination, ideal for day trips from Seattle. The park is located just south of Seattle. Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in all of Washington State.

Check for any closures and safety alerts on the park’s official website right here. The admission fee costs $30 per vehicle, as of November 2020.

What are the best things to do at Mount Rainier?

Paradise

Take the scenic chicane-filled Paradise Valley Road until you reach Paradise. As the name suggests, this area looks straight out of a fairytale. Expect truly spectacular scenery, including tall waterfalls and wildflower meadows. Take in the view at Inspiration Point, this pullout offers amazing mountain views.

Rental Moose mascot sitting happily on a wooden bench overlooking the forest in Washington, United States. See Mount Rainier with the best Seattle day trips with Rentalmoose

You can pop by the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center and pick up a comprehensive pamphlet to learn more about the park.

This part of the park is home to exciting hiking trails, such as Nisqually Vista Trail, Alta Vista Trail, or Pinnacle Peak.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Drive up to the Reflection Lake and take the perfect photo, capturing the mountain’s reflection in the deep-blue water. Remember to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

Grove of The Patriarchs Trail

This fascinating 1-mile (1.6 km) trailhead will take you to a fairytale-like island, via a fun swinging suspension bridge. Once on the island, travelers are surrounded by thousand-year-old Douglas fir trees.

The grove is easily accessible, perhaps the easiest hike in the entire national park. Don’t miss it on your day trip!

Silver Falls Trail

The Trail to Silver Falls is a moderate, 3-mile (4.8km) loop ideal for an afternoon stroll. The total duration to cover this loop is around 2 hours, the easy hike is child-friendly and perfect for a family adventure.

What’s more, you will also see natural hot springs when hiking along this trail. After the hike, feel free to pop by the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center to learn more about the area.

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park, beautiful autumn colors on green hills, alpine lakes and snow-covered mountains in the distance.
Photo by E. Thorsen

Travel time: 2 hours one-way.

The North Cascades National Park is widely regarded as one of the best National Parks you can visit in this part of the United States. It is just 2 hours away from Seattle, making it the perfect destination for one of your day trips from Seattle.

You can easily spend one day to cross this scenic park by car, stopping at different overlooks, and completing a few hikes.

Before visiting the park, make sure to double-check the current safety alerts and closures on the official website. North Cascades can be visited free of charge!

What are the best things to do in North Cascades National Park?

North Cascades Highway Scenic Drive

Enter the park via the scenic North Cascades Highway. Expect wonderful panoramic views during this 30-mile (50km) drive, scattered with pullouts and overlooks where you can stop by to take in this wonderland. Pretty much all of the park’s attractions are situated along this drive.

If you’re short on time, make sure to at least see Diablo Lake from the Diablo Lake Vista Point.

Sterling Munro Trail

This trailhead is the perfect chance to get an unobstructed view of the impressive mountains. Trust me, the views are simply unbeatable!

The 300-foot long (90 meters) boardwalk is worth at least a short visit. Its easy accessibility makes it perfect for the entire family.

What’s more, you can pop by the North Cascades Visitor Center which is right at the beginning of the trail.

Diablo Lake Vista Point

The Diablo Lake Vista Point is unarguably one of the prettiest sights in the entire park, you simply have to see it on your day trip from Seattle. The picturesque Diablo Lake is known for its unique, nearly turquoise shade of water. It makes for a perfect photo opportunity, with the enormous mountains as a backdrop.

Ross Lake Overlook

The point that overlooks Ross Lake may not be as impressive as the one overlooking Diablo Lake, though it is still worth at least a short peek. This overlook is located right on the North Cascades Highway, no detour required.

Rainy Lake

Continue further down the North Cascades Highway and stop at the Rainy Pass car park. Leave your car here and follow the 2-mile (3.2km) paved trailhead to enjoy a perfect view of the serene Rainy Lake.

Take note that you need to be a Northwest Forest Pass holder to hike down this trail. It is sold for $5 at the trailhead.

Washington Pass Observation Point

The final must-see in the North Cascades during your Washington day trip is the Washington Pass Overlook. You can admire the view as Highway 20 twirls around the monstrous Liberty Bell Mountain. It is the perfect sight to take in before heading back to Seattle.

Mount Saint Helens National Monument

Travel time: 3 hours one-way

Mount Saint Helens National Monument, erupted back in the 1980s causing enormous damage to the state of Washington. Snow covered mountain seen during sunset on a clear day
Source: Public Domain Pictures

Mount Saint Helens is a volcanic site, infamous for its eruption back in May 1980. This eruption, the most catastrophic in US history, claimed 57 lives and ruined hundreds of homes.

What are the best things to do at Mount St. Helens?

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

Before heading to see the Volcanic Monument itself, be sure to pay a visit to the Visitor Center located in Silver Lake. Inside, you can learn about the history of the mountain, and the terrible effects of its eruption.

You can check the opening hours and the admission fee on this website. As of October 2020, the visitor center remains closed due to COVID-19.

Coldwater Lake

Coldwater Lake is a fun recreational area at the foot of Mount St. Helens. During the summer season, visitors can enjoy canoeing on the waters, or go for a picnic at one of the tables near the parking area.

If you wish to stretch your legs after the 3-hour drive from Seattle, hike down the Birth of A Lake. The 0.6 miles (1km) trail is easily accessible and opens up to panoramic views of the lake.

Windy Ridge Viewpoint

Don’t miss the Windy Ridge Viewpoint during your day trip from Seattle. From here, visitors can get a true sense of the scale of the volcano’s eruption. This eerie sight, although beautiful, is a chilling reminder of what nature is capable of.

The access road to Windy Ridge Viewpoint is closed in winter.

Chuckanut Scenic Drive

Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes

View of the Pacific Ocean seen from Chuckanut in the northern part of Washington State. Chuckanut is famous for its scenic coastal drive
Photo by E. Thorsen

The Chuckanut Scenic Drive is a Scenic Byway less than 90 minutes north of Seattle, and it is the perfect destination for day trips from Seattle. It is the only spot where the Cascades meet the ocean, providing some spectacular natural beauty.

Oyster Dome Trailhead

One of the must-see stops on this coastal drive is the beginning of the Oyster Dome trail. This scenic hike will take you up to the Samish Overlook, where you can admire the perfect views from an elevated perspective. On a clear day, you should be able to see San Juan Island!

Larrabee State Park

Pass the town of Chuckanut and turn right into the Larrabee State Park, Washington’s first-ever State Park. This area is known among locals for its great hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and shellfish harvesting. Off the coast, the waters are a popular dive spot.

Bellingham

The scenic drive finishes in the cute town of Bellingham, which is another must-see during a day trip from Seattle. This small town is the northernmost city in the United States (excluding Alaska, of course). Pop by the town and peek inside its local museum, shops, or head for lunch to one of the cozy restaurants.

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Ultimate Grand Teton & Yellowstone Itinerary by Car

This road trip itinerary will take you around Yellowstone as well as Grand Teton. Explore what could very well be North America’s most picturesque National Parks. Explore both parks with our insightful Yellowstone itinerary by car.

Before You Go

What is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park?

This National Park is open all year long, and the best time to go to Yellowstone largely depends on what you would like to see in the park.

If you visit the park during the Summer (June-August), expect the hottest weather and hordes of tourists. You can catch a glimpse of the Summer’s weather when visiting during the shoulder season (right before June and directly after August).

The weather is milder during Spring and Fall, and there are fewer tourists around the park. Most of the seasonal attractions close down around the end of October.

Yellowstone is magical during the Winter. Do expect, however, that you will have to alter your itinerary as some of the attractions and roads will be inaccessible. What’s more, only the North and Northeast entrances operate during the winter.

On the other hand, you can enjoy seasonal activities such as snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins, and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are the only two lodges open during winter.

What is the closest airport to Yellowstone National Park?

If you’re flying in from within the United States, arrive at the Jackson Hole Airport, located only around an hour away from Yellowstone. As this is a small airport, international visitors can try flying into Salt Lake City in Utah. The drive is around 5 hours one-way.

Road Trip Extension to Utah

If you’re a fan of Yellowstone and national park itineraries in general, consider extending your trip further into Utah. You can see more of the country’s best National Parks, such as Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches.

Click here for our itinerary.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our Grand Teton and Yellowstone itinerary by car!

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton national park seen from Snake River. Beautiful summer day, tall trees and deep blue river, teton is covered by clouds.
Photo by Klaus Stebani

Welcome to one of the most spectacular parts of the United States! Your Yellowstone road trip begins in Grand Teton. Spend at least a day here before continuing on to Yellowstone, and feel free to extend the itinerary to spend some more time in this park.

Getting to Grand Teton

For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from Jackson Hole Airport as you arrive. Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is the nearest airport to Yellowstone, it is located within the Grand Teton National Park.

If you can’t find flights to Jackson Hole, try flying into Salt Lake City in Utah and driving over from there.  The drive from Salt Lake City to Grand Teton will take you below 5 hours.

Did you know that Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport located within a National Park?

Grand Teton National Park has an admission fee of $35 per vehicle. The entry is valid for 7 consecutive days. Consult the park’s website for information on current closures and safety alerts.

What are the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park?

The following attractions are the absolute must-see on your Yellowstone itinerary!

Jackson Hole Aerial Tram

Before diving into the heart of this National Park, drive over to the Teton Village right outside of the park. This resort is home to great eateries, lodging, and equipment rentals. During the winter season, grab a pair of skis and rush down the slopes.

No matter what time of the year you’re here, a trip up to Rendezvous Peak is an absolute must. Take the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram up to the peak, where you can admire panoramic views from what seems like the top of the world.  At the top, a portion of hot waffles served at Corbet’s Cabin is not to be missed, either.

Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

Begin your tour of the Grand Teton National Park with a visit to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Inside, you can pick up a pamphlet with the park’s trailheads, obtain a boating permit, or enjoy the screening of a video showcasing the park.

You can go on a program led by one of the park’s rangers, click here for details.

Note that the Center is closed between November and March.

Menor’s Ferry Historic District

Another must when in Grand Teton is a trip to Menor’s Ferry Historic District, just a few hundred yards north of Moose. Hike the .5 mile (800 meters) trailhead for an authentic look back at the early days of Jackson Hole, homesteading, and a replica of the ferry that crossed the Snake River back in the early 1900s.

Pay a visit to the Chapel of the Transfiguration, a wooden Chapel with the Grand Teton serving as its spectacular backdrop.

Check out more details on the Menor’s Ferry Historic District on the park’s official website.

Mormon Row Historic District

Before heading further north into the park, stop at the Mormon Row Historic District, just minutes away from Menor’s Ferry Historic District. This settlement dates back to the 1890s when Mormons established nearly 30 homesteads in the area.

Today,  the Moulton Barns, as well as the Chambers homestead, are adored by both tourists and photographers. Read more about their history here.

Wooden barn in Mormon Row Historic District, part of the attractions at Grand Teton national park. The barn is illuminated by the setting sun, grand tetons can be seen in the distance
Photo by Mike Goad

Taggart Lake Trailhead

The Taggart Lake Trailhead is a moderate, 3-mile (4.8km) hike to the shore of a crystal-clear alpine lake, with the Teton Range as a breathtaking backdrop.  The trail begins right by Teton Park Road. A convenient car park makes it hard to miss, too.

Hikers should dedicate between 1 and 2 hours to complete this trail.

This trailhead is open year-round.

Amphitheater Lake Trail

Anyone looking for a longer hike should definitely consider the 9-mile (14.5 kilometers) Amphitheater Lake Trail. At the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with the Amphitheater and Surprise Lakes.

If you still want to continue further, hike beyond the two lakes all the way up to Disappointment peak. Don’t be fooled by the name, the panoramic views from here are nothing short of amazing!

Jenny Lake

Continue along the Teton Park Road and turn left into the Jenny Lake complex.  Depending on the weather, guests can boat the lake’s crystal-clear waters, swim, and fish.

If you’re up for a long hike, consider the 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) Jenny Lake Trailhead that loops around the lake. That way, you’ll get unobstructed views of the Cascade Canyon, Storm Point, and Symmetry Spire. The hike is easy to complete, despite its length.

Hike up to Hidden Falls, the trailhead is around 2.5 miles round-trip (4 kilometers). Follow the Jenny Lake Trail and turn left into the Cascade Canyon Trailhead. Alternatively, you can use the seasonal boat shuttle. The departure dock is practically by the car park.

hiking trail next to Jenny Lake. Cloudy day in grand teton national park, the grand tetons can be seen in the distance behind a green hill.
Photo by Laserdad

Signal Mountain

If you’re a fan of scenic, chicane-filled driving roads, the road up to the peak of Signal Mountain is definitely the perfect pick for you. As you continue along Teton Park Road north of Jenny Lake, turn right into Signal Mountain Road. At the peak, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Tetons.

Signal Mountain Road remains closed during winter.

Where to stay at Grand Teton National Park?

Jackson Lake Lodge

If you want to stay in the heart of the Grand Teton National Park, consider booking a room or cabin at the upscale Jackson Lake Lodge. The property is located just 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Yellowstone National Park. Some of the local activities include horseback tours, rafting, and a heated outdoor pool.

Colter Bay Tent Village

Traveling on a tighter budget? Consider spending the night at the Tent Village inside Colter Bay. This property features rustic tent cabins at an affordable price.

Camping in Grand Teton National Park in 2021

It is finally say goodbye to the first come, first serve rule in campgrounds around Grand Teton!

Starting on the 26th of January 2021, you will be able to book campgrounds online via the recreation.gov website.

That way, travelers will have a guaranteed spot at the campground when visiting Grand Teton National Park in the 2021 season.

Online reservations will be available between the 26th of January up to the 26th of July, 2021. Afterward, the time frame will be updated for the next six months of the year.

Travelers will be able to book the following campgrounds online:

  • Signal Mountain
  • Gros Ventre
  • Colter Bay
  • Lizard Creek
  • Jenny Lake

 

 
 
 
 
 
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After a visit to Grnad Teton, it’s time to explore Yellowstone.

Next on your Yellowstone itinerary by car: Yellowstone National Park, 10 minutes

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Geothermal hot spring in magical blue, green, yellow and red colors. Sunny day in yellowstone national park in wyoming
Photo by Mike Goad

After spending at least a couple of days exploring the Tetons, it’s time to visit Yellowstone! This spectacular park is famous around the world, it is America’s first National Park and the most popular attraction in all of Wyoming.

You will drive into the park through the Yellowstone South Entrance.

The entry to Yellowstone, as of October 2020, is $35 per vehicle. The admission pass is valid for 7 consecutive days.

Click here to learn about current closures and safety alerts within Yellowstone.

What are the best things to do in Yellowstone?

Old Faithful

Old Faithful is undoubtedly the first thing many travelers have in mind when they think of Yellowstone. The spectacular geyser attracts countless tourists every year, and seeing its eruption is an absolute must on any Yellowstone trip.

How often does Old Faithful erupt?

Old Faithful Geyser erupting, spectators are observing on the wooden boardwalk. Trees in the background and overcast weather, cloudy day in yellowstone national park.
Photo by Mike Goad

This geyser erupts on a surprisingly predictable schedule. The Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes, on average.  Each eruption typically lasts around 4 minutes. You can check when the next predicted eruption will take place right here.

To view the famous eruption, you can either sit down at the boardwalk near the geyser or hike up to the viewing area across the Firehole River. The elevated viewing area at the end of the Observation Point Trail tends to be less-visited by tourists than the accessible boardwalk, hike there if you wish to avoid the crowds.

Alternatively, you can walk inside Old Faithful Inn and wait for the eruption while enjoying a refreshing drink. You can spend the night at the cozy Old Faithful Inn if you wish. Click here for details on Old Faithful Lodge.

Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful may be the world’s most famous geyser, but the Upper Geyser Basin nearby deserves some credit, too! The area is made up of over 150 geothermal features, all of which can be seen from the wooden boardwalk. The stroll will take you up to two hours to complete. If you’re lucky, you might catch the Castle Geyser’s eruption. It only occurs up to two times per day!

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

After a stroll around the Upper Geyser Basin, drive North until you see the Fairy Falls parking lot to your left. Follow the Fairy Falls Trail until you reach the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, and admire the unbeatable views of the hot springs. The round-trip hike will take you less than an hour to complete.

Fairy Falls

Once you’re at the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, continue hiking the trail until you reach Fairy Falls, the largest waterfalls in Yellowstone. This moderate hike is around 5 and a half miles, or 8.9 kilometers, round trip.

Midway Geyser Basin

Leave Fairy Falls and turn into the Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot just a few hundred yards down the road. Drop your car off and continue on foot.

Explore the Midway Geyser Basin via the wooden boardwalk. Don’t miss the iconic Grand Prismatic Spring, this hot spring is an absolute highlight of Yellowstone. There are smaller hot springs worth taking a look at, too, such as the Opal Pool, the Turquoise Pool, and the Excelsior Geyser. The scenic hike will take you around an hour to complete.

Norris Geyser Basin

As you continue through Yellowstone National Park, be sure to stop by at the Norris Geyser Basin. This is yet another hotspot of geysers and hot springs. If you’re lucky, you might see the eruption of the unpredictable Steamboat Geyser. This is the world’s tallest active geyser, it can erupt over 300 feet (90 meters) in the air!

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is another must-see during your Yellowstone road trip. The complex is located at the north tip of the park, in the town of Mammoth.

Stroll down the boardwalk and enjoy the viewpoints, or go for a longer hike along the Beaver Ponds Trail.

Mammoth hot springs, water dripping from the top and large mountains in the distance. beautiful spot in yellowstone national park in wyoming
Photo by Holtzter

Boiling River Hot Springs

The Boiling River Hot Springs is a popular swimming spot, located just north of Mammoth Hot Springs. The hot springs enter the river, giving the water a pleasant, enjoyable temperature. Go for a dip!

You can drop your car off at the roadside parking lot.

Lamar Valley

After a dip in the hot spring (if the weather allows it, that is), drive towards the northeast entrance. After roughly one hour behind the wheel, you will reach the large Lamar Valley. This seemingly endless valley is the best place to spot wildlife in the park, it simply has to make an appearance on your Yellowstone itinerary. The best time of day to visit Lamar Valley is directly after sunrise and right before sunset.

What kind of wildlife can you see in Lamar Valley? There are countless opportunities to see the following animals around the valley, get your camera ready!

  • bison
  • bear
  • coyotes
  • wolves
  • elk
  • pronghorn

If you have the time, drive down the valley all the way until the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone for the absolutely best views.

Dunraven Pass

As you make your way back towards Mammoth, turn right onto the scenic Dunraven Pass. This great driving road will open up to absolutely otherworldly views of Yellowstone. What’s more, there are lots of opportunities to stop and take in the view. Simply take a break at one of the many overlooks and admire the scenery.

Note that the Dunraven Pass remains closed during winter.

Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone

We’ve all heard of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but did you know that you can find a spectacular canyon in this National Park? It’s another must when visiting Yellowstone.

First, drive along the one-way North Rim Drive. There are great viewing points along this part of the canyon, including:

  • Brink of The Lower Falls
  • Lower Lookout Point
  • Lookout Point
  • Grand View
  • Inspiration Point

If you have the extra time, consider dropping your car off at the car park and hiking between each viewing point. Alternatively, you can get around the North Rim Drive by car. If you’re short on time, prioritize seeing the Brink of The Lower Falls, as it’s arguably the best point.

Next, make your way to the South Rim of the canyon. These are the viewpoints along South Rim Drive:

  • Upper Falls View
  • Uncle Tom’s Trail
  • Artist Point

If you’re short on time, be sure to at least visit Artist Point to get a great perspective on the Grand Canyon. Spend some more time by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and spend the night in one of the lodges in the Canyon Village.

beautiful dramatic landscape at Grand Canyon of the yellowstone. Yellowstone river in the bottom, and tall canyon surrounding it. Sunny day in Wyoming
Photo by Skeeze

Hayden Valley

As you head towards Lake Yellowstone, stop by at the picturesque Hayden Valley. Much like Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley is the perfect place to encounter wildlife. Do keep in mind that Hayden Valley tends to be more crowded than Lamar Valley, as it’s closer to the center of the park.

Don’t be surprised if you get stuck in a traffic jam, bison love crossing the road and jamming it!

West Thumb Geyser Basin

The final must-see spot in Yellowstone National Park is the West Thumb Geyser Basin, located at the foot of Yellowstone Lake.  This complex of geysers is famous for its gorgeous backdrop: Lake Yellowstone. Any trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t possibly be complete without a visit here!

Stroll along the wooden boardwalk and admire the geothermal activity right next to the large lake.

Where to stay in Yellowstone?

There are a total of 9 different lodges within Yellowstone National Park. Continue reading to find out the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful Inn

If you are willing to splash out on the best accommodation in Yellowstone, check-in at the Old Faithful Inn. It’s located right by the Old Faithful area and offers cozy rooms with private bathrooms. Click here for more details on this property.

Once you get hungry, you can head to the famous Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.

Wooden interior of the Old Faithful Inn. The beautiful lodge is expensive and has rooms that offer a view of old faithful geyser, here in yellowstone national park in wyoming
Photo by Steppinstars

WorldMark West Yellowstone

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, consider staying outside of Yellowstone National Park. The pricing for accommodation within the park can get crazy, especially during peak season, and it is not always worth the hefty price tags. WorldMark West Yellowstone is a cozy property that features well-equipped rooms, an indoor pool, and various activities.

A car park is available free of charge.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Grand Teton & Yellowstone itinerary by car and tag #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Ultimate Nevada Road Trip Itinerary

This travel guide will take you on a journey across the best places to visit in Nevada, United States. The 1200-mile road trip will take you to Las Vegas, The Great Basin National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Yosemite National Park. You’ll also see some of the area’s less-popular, yet equally beautiful State Parks. Check out our ultimate Nevada road trip itinerary!

Before you go: What are the must-see National Parks in the west US?

The West of the US is home to nearly 30 different National Parks. You can find the most parks around California, Utah, and Nevada. Some of the best National Parks on the West side of the US include:

Are you a fan of National Parks?

National Park lovers should definitely take a look at this blog post, where we list out the 7 best National Park road trips you need to add to your bucket list next year!

Road Trip Extension to Utah’s National & State Parks

Why not extend your road trip to see even more spectacular National and State Parks? Utah is home to some otherworldly parks, such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. Click here to check out our road trip itinerary around Utah’s best national parks and extend your road trip further!

Road Trip Extension to Arizona and The Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon National Park is an absolute must-see for any tourist visiting this part of the US. Click here to check out our curated travel guide to The Grand Canyon National Park and extend your road trip further!

Las Vegas

scenic driving road next to lake mead recreational area, on the outskirts of Las Vegas Nevada.
Lake Mead, right outside of the city. Photo by Esudroff

Your National Park Road Trip begins in Las Vegas, dubbed the Sin City. For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from the McCarran International Airport. Find the perfect rental car for this road trip via our online platform.

What is Las Vegas known for?

The unarguable highlight of Las Vegas is the city’s countless casinos, extravagant resorts, and vivid entertainment venues. If you’re looking for the best nightlife in Vegas, take a look at this travel guide. As this road trip itinerary is made especially for nature lovers, we’ll skip out on the city’s craze and instead focus on the spectacular natural beauty around Las Vegas.

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

The Tule Springs Fossil Beds is a spectacular site just north of Las Vegas. The area, once home to mammoths, camels, and lions, is a fresh addition to the list of the American National Monuments. In fact, it was recognized as a National Monument in 2014.

As the park has only been open for a couple of years, there is no visitor center and the facilities are rather limited. You can leave your car by the side of the road and reach the monument on foot. On the other hand, admission is free of charge.

The Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is open between sunrise and sunset from Monday through Sunday, 365 days a year.

You can find more details on the park at the official website.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead is an artificial reservoir that was America’s first-ever National Recreation Area. It is only about 25 miles out of the center of Las Vegas, and is definitely worth the slight detour!

This National Park is packed with fun attractions to spend the day (and night!). You can hike around the massive slot canyons, swim in the clear waters, or get a different perspective during a boat tour of the lake. After dusk falls, the night skies are ideal for stargazing.

When in Lake Mead, you can’t skip the iconic Hoover Dam!

Consider spending the night at one of the local campgrounds. Keep in mind that there is no reservation system, spots are subject to a first-come, first-serve availability.

You can learn more about Lake Mead and its local attractions on the park’s official website.

An entrance pass to Lake Mead costs $25 per vehicle, it is valid from 7 days from the date of purchase.

Rentalmoose insider tip: be sure to see the Valley of Fire State Park, located pretty much right after the Lake Mead park. Alternatively, you can drive through both of these parks on your way back to Las Vegas from the Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is perhaps the favorite local escape from the Las Vegas craze. On top of tens of various hiking trails, Red Rock Canyon is known for its spectacular 13-mile-long Scenic Drive. Scenic driving roads are the highlight of any proper road trip, and this is no exception.

The stunning Scenic Drive is open all year from 6 AM until the late afternoon. A 1-day entry pass costs $15 per vehicle.

Learn more about the Red Rock Canyon on the park’s website.

Where to stay in Las Vegas?

Within Las Vegas itself, the majority of the extravagant resorts, casinos, and restaurants have reopened since the COVID-19 outbreak. Room rates for the city’s iconic hotels are still lower than last year, this could be the perfect time to try out a 5-star resort that would usually be out of the budget.

The Venetian

Consider booking a room at the lavish 5-star Venetian Hotel, right on the famous Las Vegas Strip. The resort is full of attractions, including a casino, an outdoor pool, restaurants, as well as spacious rooms and suites.

Flamingo Las Vegas

Staying along the world-class Las Vegas strip does not have to break the bank, and the 3-star Flamingo Hotel proves it. The renovated hotel is situated between lavish resorts, yet the rooms here are available for a fraction of the price. Some of the amenities include a variety of restaurants, an outdoor pool, and a spa.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Death Valley, 2 hours

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park, wonderful rock formations and otherworldly scenery seen from an outlook at Artists Drive. Drive down the scenic drives in Death Valley on our Nevada road trip.
View from Artists Drive.

Head towards California, leaving behind the lively city of Las Vegas. After roughly 2 hours behind the wheel, you will arrive at the Death Valley National Park.

Admission to the Death Valley National Park will cost you $25 per vehicle (with unlimited re-entry). The pass is valid for 7 days from the date of purchase. Consult the park’s official website for details and local alerts.

What is there to do in Death Valley?

Badwater Basin

Once you’re inside the National Park, be sure to stop by the famous Badwater Basin. The giant salt flat spans across the horizon, it is also one of the hottest spots in all of the United States! Be sure to stay hydrated, it is not recommended to stay in the Basin for too long during the hottest months.

Artists Drive

Artists Drive is a spectacular one-way scenic driving road. The drive is around 9 miles long and takes below 30 minutes to complete. The panoramic views along the way make Artists Drive an absolute must-see when visiting Death Valley.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is the most popular lookout in the park, be sure to drop by when driving around Death Valley. For the best views and absolutely magical experience, come here during sunrise or sunset.

Ubehebe Crater

Drive up to the Ubehebe crater located in the Northern part of Death Valley National Park. Admire the views from the car park, you can even walk around the rim of the crater during the winter months. The drive up to the crater itself is an attraction on its own, as well.

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

Drive up the scenic Emigrant Canyon Road. At the end of the road, at around 5000 feet (1500 meters) above sea level, you will find a complex of 10 charcoal kilns. These are believed to be the best-preserved examples of such kilns in this part of the country. Charcoal kilns aside, the drive up the mountain will provide unbeatable views, too.

Rainbow Canyon

As you drive across Death Valley National Park, be sure to stop at the Father Crowley Overlook. Leave your car at the car park and admire a panoramic view of the Rainbow Canyon. If you’re lucky, you might see low-flying fighter jets, as the area is frequently used for military training.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Yosemite National Park, 3 hours

Yosemite National Park

green pinetrees and small river with grand boulders in the background. The scenic beauty of Yosemite Valley in California attracts thousands of tourists every day.

Leave Death Valley behind and continue North towards Yosemite. Death Valley is around 3 hours away by car from Yosemite National Park, and it is the third stop on your road trip itinerary.

Is Yosemite open?

YES! From the 1st of March onwards, reservations are no longer required to enter Yosemite National Park! Find out more about visiting Yosemite during COVID-19 right here.

Can you drive within Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park can be accessed by private vehicles, making it the perfect park to see during a road trip. However, some of the roads can remain closed during winter. Consult the park’s website for current closures.

How much does it cost to go to Yosemite?

As of 2021, the admission cost to enter Yosemite National Park is $35 per vehicle. An admission ticket is valid for 7 days from purchase, with unlimited re-entries.

What to see at Yosemite National Park?

Although there are tens, if not hundreds, of beautiful spots worth visiting in Yosemite, we have listed the major must-see attractions below. Be sure not to miss these activities during your road trip to Yosemite National Park!

Tuolumne Meadows

Once you enter Yosemite National Park, make sure to pay a visit to the Tuolumne Meadows. This peaceful Highland is home to wonderful, moderate hiking trails.

You can learn about the local history at the Parsons Memorial Lodge, right by the Pacific Crest Trail.

Keep in mind that Tuolumne Meadows is only accessible between June and October.

El Capitan

Next, drive to the heart of the Yosemite Valley. Stop by the El Capitan Meadows and photograph El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith.

Take a pair of binoculars and try to spot rock climbers as they try to reach the top of El Capitan. Travelers can stretch their legs and enjoy a hike along the El Capitan trail. Afterward, you can enjoy a picnic at the El Capitan Picnic Area just off Northside Drive.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls are divided into the Upper, Middle, and Lower waterfalls. The three waterfalls combined make up the highest waterfall in all of North America, spanning a whopping 2425 feet (739 meters).

If you’re a beginner hiker, be sure to stroll around the easily-accessible Lower Falls. Advanced hikers can take the advanced trailhead to reach the Upper Falls.

When visiting Yosemite Falls during Spring and early Summer, be sure to take rain gear and dress appropriately.

Half Dome

The Half Dome is perhaps the most famous landmark in Yosemite and an absolute must-see on any road trip to this National Park.

Travelers can admire the Half Dome during a hike down to Mirror Lake, the trailhead begins by the Yosemite Valley Stables by the Merced River.

If you’re an experienced hiker, you can hike along the hard Half Dome Trailhead. Note that a permit is required to access the trailhead, it is recommended only for highly-advanced hikers.

Glacier Point

Before leaving Yosemite National Park, be sure to drive up to Glacier Point. Drive down Wawona Road, leaving behind Yosemite Valley (don’t worry, you’ll pass it again on your way out of the park!). Then, turn left into Glacier Point Road. Drive until you reach the end of the road.

Glacier Point will provide you with unbeatable views of Yosemite Valley, more than 7000 feet above sea level. For the most magical experience, consider heading to the overlook during sunset.

Keep in mind that Glacier Point Road, the only way to access the overlook by car, remains closed during winter. What’s more, the drive will be closed to all traffic in 2021 and the only way to access the overlook will be via hard trailheads, such as the Four Mile Trail.

Consult the park’s official website for current closures.

Wawona Tunnel

As you return back from Glacier Point, enjoy the view as you pass the Wawona Tunnel. The scenic Wawona Tunnel opens up to panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. You can stop by the Wawona Tunnel View to enjoy the view, it’s located right by the exit of the tunnel.

The Ahwahnee Dining Room

A day of exploring Yosemite National Park will surely make you hungry. Don’t miss the grand Dining Room located in the famous Ahwahnee Lodge. Movie fans might find this lodge familiar, as the monumental interior of the Ahwahnee inspired Stanley Kubrick when creating The Shining’s Overlook Hotel.

The Dining Room is open all year long for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. Despite suspending tableside service, guests can still enjoy their delicious meals while admiring panoramic views of the Valley.

Click here for details on the Dining Room.

The Ahwahnee

Before setting off back to Nevada, consider spending the night in Yosemite National Park. You can’t go wrong with the iconic Ahwahnee. Enjoy cozy rooms with unbeatable views, as well as luxurious facilities such as a heated pool and legendary dining at the Dining Room.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Lunar Crater, 5 hours 30 minutes

Lunar Crater

Nevada is famous for empty, deserted roads. Empty two-lane road in the middle of nowhere, red rocks in the distance. Nevada, USA
Photo by Esudroff

Leave Yosemite National Park and drive back to Nevada. Although the next National Park on this road trip is the Great Basin, around 7 hours from Yosemite, there are lots of cool spots around Nevada worth dropping by along the way.

Detour to Goldfield

You can make a small detour and head south from the town of Tonopah. Continue driving for around half an hour until you reach Goldfield. This small town is home to quirky attractions, such as the International Car Forest.

Enjoy a refreshment at the Santa Fe Saloon in Goldfield, the town’s oldest continuously-run business. It has been welcoming guests since 1905!

Nevada’s Lunar Crater

The Lunar Crater was first recognized as a National Natural Landmark back in 1973. Turn right off of the US-6 and follow the dirt road that will take you around the crater.

The crater is 430 feet (130 meters) deep and makes a cool sight to see. Perhaps it’s not as impressive as the Yosemite Valley, but it can make a great addition to your National Park road trip.

For the best views, stop at the elevated overlook along the east rim of the crater.

The drive to Great Basin National Park is around 3 hours. If you’re tired, consider spending the night at Lane’s Ranch Motel by Preston. There isn’t much of a choice, as the cozy 3-star motel is essentially the only hotel in the area. Click here for directions.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Great Basin National Park, 2 hours 50 minutes

Great Basin National Park

Skygazing at the clear skies in Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Milkyway can clearly be seen as the sky remains free of light pollution
Great Basin is a great destination for skygazing, photo by Skeeze

The last major stop before heading back to the south of Nevada is the spectacular Great Basin National Park, an absolute must during your Nevada road trip. The Great Basin provides a dramatic change of scenery compared to the rest of Nevada.

The entrance to the Great Basin National Park is free of charge. However, do note that some activities within the park may require a special permit. Admission to the Lehman Caves is not free of charge, either.

What to do in Great Basin National Park?

Lehman Cave Tours

Once you drive into the Great Basin National Park, be sure to stop at the Lehman Caves. Admire impressive rock formations while strolling around two natural caves within the complex.

You can enjoy a tour of the two caves guided by the park rangers. Check the park’s website for information on ticketing and the opening hours. The cave tours are available year-round.

Keep in mind that the temperature in the cave is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Dress appropriately. Admission to the Lehman Caves is not free of charge.

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

The route to Wheeler peak is yet another Scenic Drive during this road trip to national parks. This wonderful road stretches for 12 miles and will take you up to the majority of the attractions in this national park.

Drop by Mather Overlook, a viewpoint around halfway up the road, for a great photo opportunity. Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car for your next trip!

Note that the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is closed during Winter. Consult the park’s official website for current closures and other safety alerts.

Once you reach the end of the drive, drop your car off at the Bristlecone Parking Lot and continue exploring on foot!

Alpine Lakes Trailhead

Drop off your car at the car park and follow the Alpine Lakes Trailhead. The trail forms a 2.7 mile (4.4km) loop, passing two pristine Alpine lakes: Stella Lake and Teresa Lake. What’s more, the trail offers panoramic views of Wheeler Peak for that perfect photo from your road trip.

Bristlecone Trailhead

Before heading back to your car, hike up the Bristlecone Trail. This trailhead is famous and an absolute must-see during your visit to the Great Basin National Park.

When following the Bristlecone Trail, you will stumble upon the oldest organisms on Earth. Bristlecone pines are significant trees that can be found in this part of the park, they date back to ancient times!

Stargazer Inn

Great Basin National Park has some of the darkest skies in all of the US. Why not take advantage of the dark skies and enjoy some stargazing before continuing on your road trip?

Book your room at the Stargazer Inn, located just minutes outside of the park itself. The small hotel features quiet rooms and a seasonal restaurant. Check their website for details.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Cathedral Gorge State Park, 2 hours

Cathedral Gorge State Park

unique rock formations are what makes Cathedral Gorge State Park in nevada famous. Unique landscapes in this part of the USA
Photo by Natalie Faulk

Your final stop on this road trip before making your way back to Las Vegas is the monumental Cathedral Gorge State Park. This State Park is only around a 2-hour drive away from the Great Basin National Park.

Cathedral Gorge State Park features otherworldly slot canyons that were formed over thousands of years. It is also one of the original State Parks in Nevada.

Find information regarding current pricing and closures on the state park’s official website. As of October 2020, the admission fee to the park is $5 per vehicle.

What to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park?

Cathedral Gorge State Park Visitor center

Be sure to drop by the visitor center during your road trip to the Cathedral Gorge State Park. Inside, you can gather insight about the park and its local history before setting off to explore it yourself.

Bullionville Cemetery Trailhead

After a short peek in the Visitor Center, it’s time to explore the park! Follow the Bullionville Cemetery Trail, it will lead you to an eerie cemetery that’s been around since the early 1900s.

Miller Point

Miller Point is perhaps the best trail and attraction within this state park. If you’re only dropping by for a short visit, be sure not to miss this beautiful trailhead. You’ll get to see the absolute best parts of the park, including breathtaking slot canyons. Not to mention that an elevated overlook will open up to spectacular, panoramic views, perfect for another photo opportunity in the Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Next: Las Vegas, 2 hours 30 minutes

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for this Nevada road trip.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Nevada road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Drive- Ultimate Itinerary

This curated road trip itinerary will take you along the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. Explore the best driving roads, as well as the best things to do in the Smokies. Check out our curated travel guide around the Smokies.

This is what you can expect to find in our blog post.

Before You Leave

Photo by Airren Parsons

If you’re a fan of National Parks, check out this blog post to learn about the top 7 National Parks you need to visit as soon as possible!

Can you drive through the Smoky Mountains National Park?

Absolutely! The Smokies are one of the best parks in the United States to be explored by car. The must-see attractions are scattered around the large park, and the best way of getting around is by car, either your personal vehicle or a rental car.

Find your ideal rental car for this road trip via Rentalmoose.

How long does it take to drive through the Smoky Mountains?

Technically speaking, you could drive through the Smokies in just a day. However, seeing the Smoky Mountains in just a day means lots of driving, as well as having to miss out on some great attractions.

Rentalmoose recommends spending at least three days driving around the Smoky Mountains. Some of the attractions in the park can only be accessed by a long hike, it’s best to spend at least three days here if you want to see all of what the park has to offer.

Can you drive to the top of the Smoky Mountains?

Yes! Don’t miss Clingman’s Dome Road. This scenic road will take you right up to the summit of the tallest mountain within the park.

This road is seasonal and remains closed during winter.

What is the closest airport to the Smoky Mountains?

McGhee Tyson Airport- Knoxville, TN

Domestic travelers can fly into the McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, around an hour away from the Smokies. Keep in mind that this is a regional airport with a limited amount of facilities. International travelers might have a hard time trying to find flights here.

Hartsfield Jackson- Atlanta, GA

Wait a minute, isn’t Atlanta all the way in Georgia?

Yes, Atlanta is in another state. However, the drive from Atlanta to the Smokies will only take you around 3 and a half hours!

What’s more, Atlanta is home to the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. This is a major airport with lots of facilities for travelers, including a selection of rental cars. Click here to check out rental cars at this location.

Drive: The Best Scenic Drives in the Smokies

Photo by Airren Parsons

Driving down the best scenic drives is an essential part of any great road trip. You’ll be happy to know that the Smoky Mountains are home to tens, if not hundreds, of different scenic drives. Although nearly every road in the park is scenic, make sure you don’t miss the following 8 scenic drives when driving in the Smoky Mountains.

For the ultimate experience, it’s best to pair the following scenic drives with the best attractions in the Smokies (you’ll find them further below).

Newfound Gap Road

If you follow our road trip itinerary precisely, the Newfound Gap Road (US 441) will be the scenic road you’ll drive on in the Smokies. This 31-mile (50 kilometers) Great Smoky Mountains scenic drive will take you to the heart of the Smokies, passing many of the park’s best attractions along the way.

Pullouts and parking lots are plentiful, paired with panoramic overlooks that guarantee the best views of the Smokies. Some of the best attractions that you’ll find while driving down this road include the Newfound Gap, Alum Cave Bluffs, and Chimney Tops.

Rentalmoose insider tip: When driving down this scenic road, don’t miss the seasonal Clingman’s Dome road, too!

Newfound Gap Road can be accessed free of charge, just like the rest of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Little River Road

Little River Road is a great scenic drive that will take you from Gatlinburg to Townsend. This scenic drive spans 18 miles(29 kilometers) and ends at the Cades Cove Loop Road, another drive that’s a worthy addition to your road trip itinerary.

Along the way, you will see lots of trailheads and attractions, such as the Laurel Falls Trail. You can even spot a waterfall that’s directly next to the road! The Sinks waterfalls are hard to miss, as the scenic drive passes directly next to them.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Cades Cove Loop Road

The 11-mile (18 kilometers) long, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road is perhaps the most popular scenic drive in the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s a fantastic way to explore some of the park’s wonderful scenery, especially the Fall Foliage if you’re here during Autumn, all from the comfort of your car. There are plenty of pullouts where you can stop to take in the panoramic views.

If you wish to stretch your legs, stroll down one of the many hiking trails located off of Cades Cove Loop Road. Some of the best attractions along this scenic drive include Abrams Falls Trail and Cades Cove.

Cades Cove Loop Road can be accessed free of charge, like the entire national park.

Rich Mountain Road

Rich Mountain Road is one of the best-kept secrets of the Smoky Mountains. This one-way, gravel scenic drive stretches for 8 miles (13 kilometers). Drive down the road all the way, and you will end up in Tuckaleechee right by Townsend.

If you want to stretch your legs, hike the Rich Mountain trailhead right off the gravel road. Note that there isn’t any car park by the trail, make sure you won’t block the road if you choose to leave your car along Rich Mountain Road.

Rich Mountain Road is closed during winter.

Foothills Parkway

The Foothills Parkway is another absolute must-drive on your Great Smoky Mountains itinerary. This elevated scenic road begins in Wears Valley, and can take you all the way to the Tail of The Dragon. It’s a great way to take in the spectacular views around the Smokies.

Foothills Parkway is open all year long.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Wears Valley Road

This 15-mile (24 kilometers) scenic drive will take you from Townsend down to Pigeon Forge. As Wears Valley Road is away from the center of the park, you can expect less traffic and a calmer experience overall. This scenic drive is the best scenic route to Pigeon Forge, TN.

Getting hungry? Drop by the charming Friendly Falls for a quick snack accompanied by the glorious waterfalls.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a beautiful scenic drive. The 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) long one-way loop begins in Gatlinburg. Along this scenic drive, you will be able to see the spectacular scenery of the Smokies, as well as well-preserved historic cabins and grist mills.

There are various overlooks where you can stop and take in the scenery. There are some more great hiking trails that begin at the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, such as the Noah Bud Ogle Place Nature Trail.

The Tail of The Dragon

The Tail of The Dragon is a scenic route that’s an absolute treat for any petrolhead visiting the Smoky Mountain roads. This 11-mile (18 kilometers) driving road features over 300 curves! This drive is a real treat for any car enthusiast or biker who is on a Smoky Mountain road trip.

See: What are the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains?

Photo by Airren Parsons

As much as we all love driving down the best scenic drives on any proper road trip, it’s crucial to get out of the car and experience the natural wonderland of the Smokies up close. Below, you’ll find a list of the absolute must-see attractions and the best things to do when visiting the Smoky Mountains.

Clingman’s Dome

Pass the village of Cherokee and enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The scenic driving will begin as soon as you enter the park! Follow the Newfound Gap Road and turn left into Clingman’s Dome Road. This seasonal road (closed during winter) will take you up to the summit of Clingman’s Dome, the tallest mountain in the entire park.

Once you’re at the end of Clingman’s Dome Road, find an empty parking spot and enjoy the panoramic views at nearly 6500 feet (2000 meters) above sea level! Take the short hike up to the observation deck for the most breathtaking view.

Drop by the visitor center to pick up a handy map of the park.

You can see up to six states from the summit of Clingman’s Dome on a clear day.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Andrews Bald

Andrews Bald is a picturesque field, the highest in all of Smoky Mountains, that can only be accessed on foot. The 3.5-mile hike is worth it to admire the panoramic views. Visiting Andrews Bald is a great way to escape the crowds that you might run into at the peak of Clingman’s Dome!

To get to Andrews Bald, you have to make your way to the summit of Clingman’s Dome. The trailhead is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) round-trip.

Newfound Gap

After you return back down from Climgan’s Dome, don’t miss the Newfound Gap. Turn left from Clingman’s Dome Road and enter the nearest car park on your right, along the Newfound Gap Road. Drop your car off at the spacious Newfound Gap Car Park and admire the views.

The view from Newfound Gap is arguably less exciting than the view from the summit of Clingman’s Dome, though it is a great alternative if the Clingman’s Dome Road is inaccessible.

Alum Cave Trail

As you make your way along the chicane-filled main road, enter the small Alum Cave Bluffs Parking Area. From here, you can follow the Alum Cave Trail up to the summit of Mt. LeConte, the third-tallest mountain in this national park. Along the way, you will pass by the 100-feet high Alum Cave Bluffs and the Arch Rock.

The Mount LeConte Lodge is located near the summit, it’s the only lodge within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The total round-trip distance of this trailhead is 11 miles.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Chimney Tops

The Chimney Tops Trail is infamous for its steep final section.

There are two ways to access the Chimney Tops: you can approach it from the northern end of the trailhead located right off the main road, or take the longer route that begins at the Newfound gap.

The hike, starting at the northern end, is 3.3 miles (5.3 km) round-trip. It is a moderate hike, not recommended for novice hikers.

If you want to enjoy similar views without the difficult hike, consider going to the Chimney Tops Overlook further down the road.

Laurel Falls

As you continue further into the Smokies, don’t miss the left turn into Fighting Creek Gap Road. Drive down the scenic road until you reach the Laurel Falls parking area. Drop off your car and follow the Laurel Falls trail.

This intermediate 2.6-mile (4.2 km) round-trip trailhead will take you up to the stunning Laurel Falls. It is very accessible, the entire hike is paved. Keep in mind that due to its proximity to Gatlinburg, the trailhead tends to be crowded.

Elkmont

After hiking to Laurel Falls, continue driving along the Fighting Creek Gap Road and turn left into Elkmont Road. This part of the park is a must-see for history fans, it was first established in 1840 and became a ghost town overtime. Today, some of the historic buildings are preserved and can be visited by the general public.

Elkmont is also home to some more hiking trails, including the Elkmont Nature Trailhead, as well as a campground where you can spend the night. Get more details on the campsite here.

The Sinks

Drive back down Elkmont Road and turn left into Little River Gorge Road. Follow the hairpins and chicanes until you see The Sinks Parking Lot on your left.

The Sinks are the most accessible waterfalls in the Smokies, they’re practically right next to the road! If you have limited time, or don’t want to hike up to Laurel Falls, The Sinks are your best bet.

From here, you can also hike the Meigs Creek Trail. This moderate trailhead will take you along the calm Meigs Creek. The total length is 7 miles (11 kilometers) round-trip.

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls is a spectacular site off of Cades Cove Loop Road, a scenic drive here is already an attraction in itself. As you drive down the loop road, turn right into Abrams Falls Road. You can leave your car at the large car park right by the end of the road and follow the Abrams Falls Trail on foot.

The Abrams Falls Trail is around 5 miles (8 km) long round-trip.

You can also pop by Cades Cove down the one-way road, where you will find well-preserved historic homesteads.

Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is located off the scenic Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a picturesque driving road which is a major attraction in its own right.

You can leave your rental car at the Grotto Falls Parking and continue along the 3-mile (5 kilometers)Trillium Gap Trail to reach Grotto Falls. This easy hike is perfect for families.

Ramsey Cascades

The northern part of the park is home to the Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Ramsey Cascades Trail begins at the end of Ramsey Prong Road, you can access it by driving down on Greenbrier Road from East Parkway.

The trail is 8 miles (13 kilometers) long round-trip, and it is one of the most difficult hikes in the park. The total elevation gain is 2190 feet (670 meters), and the trailhead features some really steep sections! It is only recommended to reach Ramsey Cascades for experienced hikers in good shape. Otherwise, this may not be the best spot for you.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Stay: Where can you stay in the Great Smoky Mountains?

The smoky Mountains and the surrounding area provide lots of great accommodation options. Find anything from camping under the stars up to a luxurious lodge.

Under Canvas

If you want to try out glamping (a luxurious form of camping), give Under Canvas a shot. The award-winning resort, situated between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, welcomes guests between May and November. The luxurious property features lavish tents, as well as an array of complimentary camping activities during your stay.

The Appy Lodge

The Appy Lodge is a luxurious lodge located in Gatlinburg. The lodge, beautifully situated right by the heart of the Smokies, features spacious and well-equipped rooms, as well as amenities such as an outdoor pool.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from the Great Smoky Mountains scenic drive online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

Sunrise at crystal clear alpine Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Beautiful pine trees and snow covered mountain in the distance

The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Itinerary For Nature Lovers

This road trip itinerary will take you on a picturesque Colorado road trip around the state’s best National parks. See the state’s best natural beauty with this curated travel guide.

Driving directions:

Denver to the Garden of The Gods– 70 miles (120 km) 

Garden of The Gods to Great Sand Dunes – 230 miles (370 km) 

Great Sand Dunes to Mesa Verde– 200 miles (330 km) 

Mesa Verde to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison– 240 miles (380 km)

Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Rocky Mountain– 450 miles (720 km) 

Rocky Mountain to Denver– 70 miles (120 km) 

2000 miles (3200 km) in total

Before you go

Are there any National Parks near Denver?

Yes! Denver itself is known as a city that provides a great mix between urban life and natural beauty, and the Rocky Mountain National Park is only around 90 minutes away from the city center. This park is a must on any Colorado road trip.

What National Parks are in Colorado?

Colorado is home to four different National Parks:

  • Great Sand Dunes
  • Mesa Verde
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison
  • Rocky Mountain

This Colorado road trip itinerary will take you across all four of these parks, along with some other great attractions!

Road Trip Extension to Utah

Why not combine this road trip with a drive around Utah and the state’s spectacular parks, such as Zion or Bryce Canyon? When in Mesa Verde, you can continue west into Utah and explore some of the best natural beauty in this part of the US! Click here for the itinerary.

Denver

Denver colorado, often called the mile high city, seen from above. Aerial view of the city, rocky mountains in the distance, clear skies
Photo by David Mark

Your road trip begins in Denver, the largest city in all of Colorado. For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from the Denver International Airport. Unless you’ve driven here in your private vehicle, of course.

What is Denver known for?

Denver, often referred to as the Mile High City due to its elevation precisely one mile above sea level, is a fascinating city where culture meets the outdoors. The city’s countless outdoor attractions are overlooked by the iconic Rocky Mountains. Proximity to parks makes Denver the perfect destination for a road trip.

Continue reading to check out some of the best attractions for nature lovers in and around the city of Denver.

Denver City Park

The City Park is a peaceful park near downtown Denver that dates back to the 1880s.

Some of the attractions within the City Park include a selection of trails ideal for a stroll or cycling, a golf course, tennis courts, and the world-class Denver Zoo.

If you’d like to spend your day actively, consider renting a bicycle from Wheel Fun Rentals directly within the park.

Admission to the City Park is free of charge, though some of the attractions inside may require a ticket. Tickets to the Denver Zoo have to be booked online, consult the official website for details.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

The Red Rocks Amphitheater is a one-of-a-kind attraction that’s an absolute must during a road trip in Colorado. Come by for one of the live shows (check the calendar on the venue’s website) or to simply enjoy the spectacular backdrop.

If you get hungry, grab a bite to eat at the Ship Rock Grille, all while taking in the spectacular views.

Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park is a great scenic getaway around 40 minutes away from Downtown Denver. Admire red rock formations as you stroll along the winding hiking trails. Choose from a large network of trailheads, each ranging between .5 to 8 miles in length. For more details, check out the park’s official website.

Admission to this state park costs $9 per vehicle.

The Fort Restaurant

A day of exploring the city will surely make you hungry. In this case, head over to The Fort Restaurant, dubbed Denver’s favorite Western eatery. This restaurant features delicious regional dishes with an elegant twist.

Tasty food aside, The Fort is worth visiting even just for its authentic decor.

Check the restaurant’s website for opening hours, reservations, and the menu.

Four Seasons Denver

Consider spending the night in town before continuing on your road trip. Luxury seekers should check-in at the elegant Four Seasons Denver. The 5-star property features upscale rooms and suites, as well as countless amenities such as a rooftop pool, a spa, and a fitness center. Add in a perfect location in the heart of the city, and you get one of the best stays in town.

Warwick Denver

Travelers on a slightly tighter budget should consider spending the night at the Warwick right in the heart of Denver. This classy property features modern rooms & suites, along with facilities such as an outdoor pool.

Next: Garden of The Gods, 1 hour

Garden of The Gods

spectacular red rock formations in garden of the gods park in colorado springs near Denver. Pikes peak can be seen in the distance.
Photo by B Wellensiek

The first leg of the journey is a short drive to the Garden of The Gods, a State Park near Colorado Springs. The drive from Denver to the Garden of The Gods will take you around an hour. Admission to the park is free of charge, and it is not to be missed during a Colorado road trip!

Consult the park’s official website for current opening hours as well as any closures.

What to do at Garden of The Gods?

Visitor Centre

Begin your visit to this public park by dropping by to the visitor center. In here, you can pick up a map of the park with a highlighted 15-mile trailhead network within the park.

Once you’ve picked up your map, drive inside the park and admire the spectacular rock formations from the comfort of your car. There are lots of different photo opportunities and lookouts throughout the park. Follow the one-way Juniper Way Loop.

Kissing Camels

After you drive into the park, a walking tour of the Kissing Camels rock formation is an absolute must during your road trip. Drop your car off at the car park and follow the paved trailhead. The moderate hike is wheelchair accessible and provides breathtaking views along the way.

Siamese Twins

Next, continue along the one-way Juniper Way Loop, then turn into Garden Drive. Next, leave your car at the Spring Canyon car park and follow the Palmer Trailhead until you reach the Siamese Twins rock formation. The elevated rock formation is known for panoramic views of the rocks, as well as Pikes Peak in the distance.

The Palmer Trail is a little more challenging than the previous, paved trailhead. The hike is around 0.5 miles (800 meters) round trip.

Balanced Rock

The final must-see point in the Garden of The Gods is the Balanced Rock formation at the southern tip of the park. The gravity-defying rock formation is hard to miss- it’s directly next to the road. Stop by for a great photo opportunity.

Balanced Rock is a popular tourist attraction in Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs near Denver.
Photo by Beverly Lussier

Don’t forget to post your photos from this trip online using #rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

Pikes Peak Highway Scenic Drive

Before you continue to the next point on this road trip, consider driving up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway up to the summit of America’s Mountain. It is the essential point of any road trip in Colorado, it’s one of the best scenic drives in the country!

The scenic drive is open all year round, as long as the weather allows it. Admission costs around $15 per adult as of October 2020. Check this website for current information on pricing and closures.

Next: Great Sand Dunes National Park, 2 hours 40 minutes

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park are a spectacular sight not to be missed on a Colorado road trip.
Photo by Mike Goad

The second leg of this road trip is a drive from the Garden of Gods to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, into the heart of Southern Colorado. It should take you below 3 hours to complete this leg of the journey.

The admission fee to the park is $25 per vehicle for a 7-day visit. Note that the fee is not charged when the visitor center and entrance station is closed.

Check for current closures and updated pricing information on the park’s official website right here.

What are the best things to do in Great Sand Dunes National Park?

These are some of the best must-see attractions in the newest National Park in the United States.

Hike the sand dunes

Pass the Visitor Center and enter the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drop your car off at the large car park off of Medano Creek Road and explore the dunes on foot!

The great thing about this National Park is that pets are, unlike most parks, allowed to roam the area with you.

If you want the absolute best panoramic views of the area, hike the 750-feet (230 meters) High Dune. Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car for your next road trip.

Rent a Sand Board

Sandboarding and sledding are great activities for all ages. Rent your equipment from the Oasis Store and hit the dunes! It’s an experience like no other to be able to go sledding in the sand.

A full-day board rental costs around $20 as of October 2020.

Drive down the Medano Pass

If you came here in a 4WD vehicle, why not drive down the Medano Pass Primitive Road? The 22-mile road will prove challenging for any off-roading enthusiasts, and a great adventure for the entire family. Pass through creeks, admire the panoramic views, and don’t get stuck in the sand!

A 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance is required to drive the Medano Pass Primitive Road. For current conditions, check the park’s website and consult the Visitor Center before departing.

Are you a fan of camping? There are 21 camping sites along the pass, each one is free of charge. Free spots are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Zapata Ranch

If you want to spend more time in the area, consider checking-in at the Zapata Ranch. The working ranch features upscale accommodation, great cuisine, and a wide array of activities. Explore the natural wonderland during a horseback tour, or give rock climbing a shot. After dusk falls, enjoy stargazing at one of the darkest skies in the country.

Note that the Zapata Ranch requires a 2-night minimum stay during the winter, and at least three nights during the summer season.

Best Western Movie Manor

It is no secret that Colorado is filled with quirky stays and attractions, and the Movie Manor is definitely one of them. Located less than an hour west of the Great Sand Dunes, the Best Western Movie Manor is an absolute must-see for any cinema enthusiast on this Colorado road trip.

This is possibly the world’s only drive-in cinema with an attached motel. Yes, you read that right. Instead of a small TV in the room, guests can peek outside the bedroom window and enjoy a movie screening.

UFO Watchtower

If you’re a fan of quirky attractions like the Movie Manor, be sure to drop by the UFO Watchtower. It only requires a small detour on the way to the drive-in motel, yet it is arguably even quirkier. The small watchtower features panoramic views of the San Luis Valley, infamous for UFO sightings.

Admission, as of October 2020, costs $2 per person. For the ultimate quirky experience, spend the night at the campground by the tower for just $15 per tent.

Next: Mesa Verde National Park, 4 hours 20 minutes

Mesa Verde National Park

cliff dwellings in mesa verde national park, colorado.
Photo by Kristy Lee

This is the longest leg of this Colorado road trip. The drive will take you around 4 and a half hours.

Rentalmoose insider tip: This part of Colorado is very close to Utah. Take a look at this national park travel guide to Utah and extend the trip further.

The fee to enter Mesa Verde National Park is $20 per car between May & October and $15 outside of those months. Take a look at the park’s official website prior to visiting to see current information on pricing, closures, and any safety alerts.

What to do at Mesa Verde National Park?

These are the must-see attractions in Mesa Verde during your Colorado road trip.

Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

Pay a visit to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum when visiting this Colorado park. That way, you can learn about the history of the region before exploring it for yourself.

The museum itself dates back to 1922, when it replaced a small cabin that had previously stored the park’s precious artifacts. It’s one of the oldest archeological museums in any national park in the US.

You can check the opening hours on the park’s website.

Petroglyphs

Did you know that Mesa Verde National Park is home to some of the best-preserved Petroglyphs in all of Colorado? You can admire them along the Petroglyph Point Trail. The moderate hike is around 2.4 miles (3.9 km) long. The hike begins right next to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

Cliff Dwellings

Don’t miss Mesa Verde’s famous cliff dwellings, the park is known for these sites that date back as far as the 13th century.

The best way to see these dwellings is during a guided tour. You can book your tour in advance at the park’s official website, or pop by the Visitor Centre at the park’s entrance. Note that the tickets are given on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s best to book them online during peak season.

The most popular dwellings in this park are:

  • Cliff Palace
  • Long House
  • Balcony House

COVID-19 Update: As of October 2020, the Cliff Dwelling tours are suspended until further notice. Check the park’s website for updates.

Mesa Top Loop Road

If you have a limited amount of time, be sure to at least drive around the scenic Top Loop Road within the Mesa Verde National Park. The 6-mile driving road features at least 12 different stops along the way, either to admire archeological sites or to enjoy the panoramic views from overlooks.

Don’t be fooled by the road’s short length. Expect to spend plenty of time here, you’ll be stopping practically every few hundred yards to take in the breathtaking landscape.

Metate Room

Before departing, consider booking a table at the Metate Room restaurant for dinner. This upscale eatery features a selection of delicious meals served with a panoramic view of the park.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Walk-ins may be possible based on availability, though it is highly recommended to book a table in advance!

Spend the night

Looking to spend extra time in Mesa Verde? Stay the night at one of the park’s lodges. The Metate Room is located within the Far View Lodge.

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, check out some accommodation alternatives in Cortez, a town just a stone’s throw away from Mesa Verde. Consider checking-in at the Holiday Inn, for example.

Next: Black Canyon National Park, 3 hours 30 minutes

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

black canyon of the gunnison, stunning canyon and rock formations seen during a colorful sunset in colorado.
Photo by rjdoc

The 3-and-a-half hour drive to Black Canyon is one of the most scenic highways in this part of Colorado. The road, full of exciting turns and elevation changes, will take you across green hills and mountains.

Million Dollar Highway Scenic Drive

When going to the Black Canyon, check the driving directions carefully. The shortest route will be the 145, however, one of Colorado’s most scenic drives is just a stone’s throw away. Drive along the 160 to Durango, and head north along the Million Dollar Highway. The detour will only add 10 minutes to your trip, and it is well worth it!

This park got its name from the monstrous dark cliffs that plummet 2000 feet down (600 meters) into the Gunnison River. It’s an otherworldly view that’s a must-visit point on any Colorado road trip itinerary.

The entrance fee for the Black Canyon National Park is just $15 per vehicle. Check the park’s official website for current closures and safety alerts before coming.

What to see at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

These are the best attractions in Black Canyon National Park. The majority of the park can be seen by driving down the roads listed below.

South Rim Road

Begin with driving down the South Rim Road. This 7-mile road hosts 12 panoramic overlooks of the Black Canyon. Make sure to stop at the following overlooks for the best views in Black Canyon National Park:

  • Gunnison Point
  • Pulpit Rock Overlook
  • Chasm View
  • Painted Wall View
  • Sunset View

The South Rim Road finishes at the High Point, the short trailhead offers some more panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Note that the South Rim Road is closed beyond Gunnison Point during winter.

East Portal Road

The East Portal Road is an exciting driving road that will take you down to the Gunnison River. This steep road (16% grades) features lots of chicanes and tight hairpins. Once you’re down by the river, you can relax at the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Here, road trippers can enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, and picnicking.

During the summer, you can take part in a ranger-led boat tour of the Gunnison River.

Note that vehicles longer than 22 feet (6.7 meters) are not permitted to enter the East Portal Road. The drive is closed during winter.

North Rim Road

Before continuing to the next destination on your Colorado road trip adventure, drive down the North Rim Road. This road offers 6 different viewing points. The best viewpoints and overlooks along the North Rim Road are:

  • The Narrows View
  • Exclamation Point
  • Island Peaks
  • Kneeling Camel View

Much like the majority of this park, the entire North Rim Road remains closed throughout winter.

The Inn at Tomichi Village

After dusk falls, consider booking a room at The Inn at Tomichi Village. This well-rated property features cozy rooms with complimentary wifi, a pool, a gym, and free parking.

Next: Rocky Mountain National Park, 4 hours 40 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunrise at crystal clear alpine Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Beautiful pine trees and snow covered mountain in the distance
Lake Haiyaha by Skeeze

The last leg of this Colorado road trip is a drive up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Follow the scenic driving road as you cross the mountains and approach Denver.

A 1-day pass to the Rocky Mountain National Park will set you back $25 per vehicle. For current closures and safety alerts, consult the park’s official website.

What are the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Trail Ridge Road

Arguably, the best way to enter the Rocky Mountain National Park on your Colorado road trip is via Trail Ridge Road. This picturesque drive is one of 10 America’s Byways in Colorado, and a national All American Road. You can’t miss it!

Driving along the Trail Ridge Road, you will see unbeatable views of the Rockies virtually everywhere you look. Expect to make many stops along this 48-mile road, the route is packed with overlooks to take in the unbelievable views.

Old Fall River Road

The Old Fall River Road is a piece of local history, it was the first road constructed within this National Park back in 1920. The narrow road has a speed limit of just 15 miles per hour, it is definitely worth a drive if you have the time. The road passes through the subalpine forest and offers an intimate, one-on-one experience with the local nature.

Beware, the road is relatively safe for motorists but there are no guard rails.

Old Fall River Road is closed during winter.

Hiking- Bear Lake, Glacier Gorge & Emerald Lake Trail

Stretch your legs after hours of driving during this road trip. Drive up to the beginning of the Bear Lake Trailhead, right by the Bear Lake Comfort Station. From here, you can stroll around the picturesque Bear Lake, or choose from one of the other trails.

Alberta Falls is worth dropping by, too. Follow the Glacier Gorge Trailhead until you reach the spectacular waterfall. Alternatively, follow the 3.5-mile Emerald Lake Trail and see crystal-clear lakes along the way.

Check out more details about the local trailheads here.

Next: Denver, 1 hour 30 minutes

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

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Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

red rocks canyon landscape and desert in foreground at arches near moab in utah usa

The Best Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

Discover the Natural Beauty of Utah on a road trip across the state’s most popular National and State parks.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Salt Lake City to Moab- 230 miles (370km) 📍  

Moab to Goblin Valley- 100 miles (160km)📍 

Goblin Valley to Capitol Reef- 60 miles (100km) 📍

Capitol Reef to Escalante- 70 miles (110km) 📍

Escalante to Bryce Canyon- 50 miles (80km) 📍

Bryce Canyon to Zion- 70 miles (110km) 📍

Zion to Las Vegas- 160 miles (260km) 📍

740 miles (1190km) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Drop-off at another location, Scenic Driving

Witness some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet. Follow the trails along red rocks, squeeze between narrow canyon slots, and hike in a river. This adventure-packed guide will take you on an epic Utah road trip through the best of what this state has to offer, before finishing off in Las Vegas.

This travel guide takes you on a road trip starting in Salt Lake City in the northern part of Utah. Then, head south to Moab and explore Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point, and Arches National Park, where you can make the most out of a 4×4 car.

Drive down the Scenic Byway 12, hike in the spooky canyon slots in Escalante, take in the otherwordly view at Bryce Canyon National Park and continue along the Scenic Drive in Zion National Park, all before a grand finish in Las Vegas over in Nevada.

Planning- Before You Leave

Before setting off on your Utah National Parks road trip, be sure to read through the information below.

Which National Parks are in Utah?

“The Big 5” in Utah refers to the state’s 5 national parks, all of which are covered during this road trip. These are the National Parks in Utah:

  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Zion National Park

What’s more, the following state parks and monuments are also included in this road trip itinerary in Utah.

  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Escalante Petrified Forest
  • Grand Staircase National Monument

All of the parks above are covered in this Utah road trip itinerary!

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

The total distance of this Utah road trip is below 750 miles. Rentalmoose recommends dedicating at least 5 days for this road trip.

Consider that you will be stopping at viewpoints and overlooks a lot, especially on the Scenic Byway 12 and the Scenic Drive in Zion National Park.

In order to be able to see each spot thoroughly, spend a few extra nights in Moab, and add an overnight stop in Zion National Park.

When is the best time to visit Utah?

The best time to visit Utah is between April and May or September and October. That’s when the weather is pleasant, attracting many tourists in the National Parks.

If you choose to visit in winter, keep in mind that some of the parks may be closed and the roads may not be accessible.

On the other hand, the heat does get unbearable in the peak of summer.

Road trip extensions

Your American adventure doesn’t have to end in Las Vegas!

Why not extend the trip to sunny California? Drive down the Big Sur, see the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and more! Click here for our California road trip itinerary, you don’t want to miss it!

You can also choose to extend the trip to see spectacular natural beauty in Nevada. Visit Death Valley National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Great Basin National Park during our Nevada road trip. Click here for the road trip itinerary to Nevada.

Salt Lake City is just a few hours away from Yellowstone National Park over in Wyoming. Click here for our road trip guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and extend your trip to Wyoming.

Why should I book a rental car in Utah?

Driving through Utah is an absolute dream for any road trip fanatic. The panoramic landscapes along the scenic routes are simply unbeatable. What’s more, if you rent a 4×4 you can explore some of the world’s finest offroading trails that are otherwise inaccessible.

Remote parts of Utah are best accessed with a private vehicle, not to mention the ability to alter your itinerary without any limits that can only be achieved when traveling by car.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car. Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the vehicle to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Can tourists drive in Utah? 

Tourists are allowed to drive in Utah using a foreign driving license as long as they are at least 16 years old, and the license covers the type of vehicle they are driving. It is recommended to get an International Driving Permit if your driving license is not in English. 

Furthermore, some car rental companies may require foreign tourists to obtain an International Driving Permit, it’s best to check the company policy before booking your rental car.

Don’t know how to obtain an International Driving Permit, how much it costs, or what countries require you to have one? Check out this blog post to find out all you need to know about IDPs.

When you begin driving in Utah, you will quickly notice that the locals don’t stick to the speed limit too strictly, mainly around freeways.

Keep in mind that the police can still pull you over, even if you are caught going just a few miles per hour over the limit.

If you do happen to get stopped by the police during your Utah road trip, be sure to stay calm. Put both hands on the steering wheel, avoid sudden movements, and present your license when the officer tells you to do so. 

Driving under influence, or DUI in short, is a serious crime in the US. Police enforce drink-driving related rules very strictly. Do not drink and drive, offenders can even land in prison.

The US has right-hand side traffic.

Now that you’re all set, let’s dive into your Utah road trip itinerary!

Salt Lake City

salt-lake-city-temple-square

Salt Lake City’s Temple Square. Photography by WikiImages.

Welcome to the largest city in the state! Your Utah road trip begins here, for maximum convenience pick up your rental car directly at the Salt Lake City International Airport when you arrive.

Browse through car rental companies that support airport pick-up via Rentalmoose. Once you’ve got your rental car, it’s time to explore the city.

What can you do in Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City may not be on every traveler’s bucket list, but the town’s fun attractions scattered around the region’s natural beauty and a unique downtown area might just surprise you. 

Temple Square

Be sure to drop by Temple Square, a complex that hosts over 20 attractions related to Christianity right in the heart of the city.

Although the Temple itself is closed for renovation until 2024, the majority of the attractions are still open!

Admire the monumental church, or step inside the Tabernacle where you can attend the weekly choir rehearsals every Thursday night at 7:30 PM.

History fans can visit the Church History Museum, open between 9 AM and 9 PM on weekdays and 10 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays. The museum is closed on Sundays.

The Great Salt Lake

When in Salt Lake City, you can’t skip visiting the Great Salt Lake itself. Drive up to Antelope Island and enter the State Park, where visitors can hike down numerous scenic trails, watch the spectacular lake views or spend the night at one of the secluded campsites.

If you’re looking for a unique way to see the island while getting a bit of exercise, consider renting a bike with Antelope E-Bikes. Apart from bike rentals, the company offers guided cycling tours. Check their website for more information.

Park City

Get your skis on and drive up to Park City, a winter getaway just half an hour away from the city. Park City is home to two major ski resorts lined with slopes for both skiers and snowboarders.

If you’re visiting outside of the winter season, head to the Canyons Golf Course.

Pretty Bird Chicken

When you get hungry, head over to Pretty Bird Chicken in downtown Salt Lake City. The eatery, often considered the best places to eat out in the city, is known for its signature fried chicken.

Rentalmoose order tip: Try the juicy Sando fried chicken sandwich.

What are the best hotels in Salt Lake City?

Spend the night at The Grand America Hotel, an elegant property right in the heart of Salt Lake City. The classy rooms feature retro decor and balconies. Guests can relax at the indoor and outdoor pools, work out at the fitness center or dine at the restaurant.

A car park is available at an extra cost.

Traveling on a tighter budget? Consider checking in at The Carlton Hotel. The charming, historic property is located near the heart of the city. The moderately-priced hotel features cozy rooms and free wifi.

Once you’ve explored Salt Lake City, it’s time to start your car and begin your Utah road trip! The first leg is a 4-hour drive to Moab.

Next: Moab, 3 hours 50 minutes

Moab

moab-arches-national-park-red-rocks-nature-utah

Arches National Park. Photography by Adam Derewecki.

Your Utah National Park road trip begins! Drive southeast from Salt Lake City for roughly 4 hours until you reach Moab, a small town in the south of the state which is home to some of the best national parks in Utah.

What is there to see in Moab?

Moab Museum

To be honest, Moab in itself may not be the most interesting town in the world. If you’re very curious about exploring it, drop by the Moab Museum where you can learn about the region’s local history through a variety of fascinating exhibitions.

The recently renovated museum welcomes visitors all week except Mondays.

Arches National Park

The natural beauty around Moab can’t be missed. Be sure to visit the monumental Arches National Park (photographed above), the park should land on any Utah National Park road trip itinerary.

A 7-day admission fee costs only $30 per vehicle and can be paid either when entering the park or online prior to your visit. Current fees can be checked on the official website.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Don’t miss the breathtaking view from the Dead Horse Point State Park, just 40 miles away from the city. Admire the landscapes that truly look out of this world, observe as the Colorado river twists between the canyons all from 2000 feet above.

Visit the viewing point when the sun sets and illuminates the red rocks in magical colors. Capture the incredible landscapes and post your photos online #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a rental car free of charge!

The park is open daily between 6 AM and 10 PM, a 3-day admission pass costs $20 per vehicle as of 2020. Click here to learn more about the fees.

Canyonlands National Park

Another absolute must-see near Moab is the Canyonlands National Park. Inside, make sure to see the Island in the Sky where you can get the best views and hike around scenic trails.

Don’t miss the 100-mile (160km) White Rim Road. This trail is one of the best driving roads in all of the US.

Similarly to the Arches and Dead Horse Point parks, there is a fee to enter the Canyonlands National Park. A 7-day admission pass costs $10 per vehicle and can be paid directly upon entrance.

utah-shafer-canyon-road-canyonlands-trail-4x4-offroad

The White Rim Road in Canyonlands is not for the faint-hearted. Photography by Mike Goad.

Did you rent a 4×4 for this trip?

If you came to Moab in a 4×4 or another kind of off-roader, be sure to explore the backroads and trails around Canyonlands National Park.

Some of the drives are a lot more challenging than others, but spectacular views are guaranteed no matter which trail you pick. You can find more information on offroad driving around Moab right here.

Moab Adventure Center

Adrenaline junkies can explore the area’s fascinating landscapes while getting exercise. You can book a mountain bike tour with Moab Adventure Center and cycle around the Dead Horse Point, Arches National Park or the La Sal Mountains.

Moab Adventure Center also offers river rafting if you would rather get wet. Check their website for details on available activities and pricing information.

Glamping

The region is a popular glamping (luxury camping) destination. If you’re not familiar with glamping, or you’re not a fan of it for any reason, spend the night at Under Canvas Moab to change your mind.

The property features well-equipped tents within Arches National Park, a spectacular secluded setting and complimentary parking. As the name may suggest, glamping does come at a hefty price tag.

Hotel Moab Downtown

Check-in at Hotel Moab Downtown for traditional, budget-friendly accommodation. The 2-star hotel features a retro interior and a heated outdoor pool. Exceptional service and a convenient location with a view of La Sal Mountains make this property one of the top picks in town.

A car park is available at no extra cost.

Next: Goblin Valley State Park, 1 hour 40 minutes

Goblin Valley

goblin-valley-state-park-rock-formations

Goblin Valley State Park photographed by Steppinstars/Pixabay.com

Drive northwest from Moab, then hop on the I-70 and take the exit 149 to get on route 24. Roughly an hour and a half after departing from Moab, you will reach the Goblin Valley State Park.

What can you see in Goblin Valley?

Goblin Valley is one of the most fascinating parks in the country, perhaps even in the entire world. Afterall, where else can you see crazy rock formations like the one in the photo above? Once you’re inside the Goblin Valley State Park, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled to another planet. It is truly spectacular!

Thousands of unique-looking rocks (nicknamed the goblins) are waiting for you. Drive till the end of the Goblin Valley Rd, drop off your car by the campground and explore on foot. Hikers can stick to the existing trails, such as the Carmen Canyon Trail or the Curtis Bench Trail.

Are you looking for that extra adventurous touch? Get off the official trails and discover the natural beauty on your own.

Did you know that Goblin Valley is one of the best spots for stargazing on the entire planet?

The dark skies are free from light pollution and provide stunning views at night, as long as there are no clouds. Regular stargazing-related events are hosted within the park, such as full moon hikes or telescope tours guided by the park’s rangers. Click here to check out the upcoming events.

You probably noticed a trend among parks in this part of the United States: none of them can be accessed for free. Goblin Valley State Park is no different, a 2-day admission pass costs $15 per vehicle. You can find detailed fees for other types of vehicles and camping fees on the park’s official website.

Goblin Valley State Park is open all week between 6 AM and 10 PM.

Next: Capitol Reef National Park, 1 hour

Capitol Reef

capitol-reef-empty-road-canyons-red-rocks-utah

Photography by Sos8_6 via Pixabay.com

As you set off from Goblin Valley, you will begin the most scenic part of the journey. Route 24 will take you between red rocks, across valleys, and through countless twists and turns constantly overlooking the spectacular landscapes.

Is Capitol Reef worth visiting?

The number of parks in Utah might be overwhelming for some travelers, to the point where you might be wondering whether they are worth seeing or not. Trust me, Capitol Reef National Park is most certainly worth a visit!

As you’ve probably guessed by now, travelers visiting Capitol Reef need to pay an admission fee. A 7-day entry fee to Capitol Reef National Park costs $20 per vehicle. 

The Scenic Drive

Make sure you drive down the Scenic Drive, a picturesque paved road just below 8 miles in length. Don’t get fooled by the seemingly short length and dedicate around an hour and a half for the entire drive, as there are many spots worth visiting along the way.

Keep in mind the Scenic Drive costs an extra $20 on top of the park’s entry fee.

Offroading in Capitol Reef

If you happen to be in Capitol Reef in a 4×4, you can head to some thrilling offroad trails around the park.

One of the most scenic routes is the 68-mile Burr trail. The first section of the road stretches from the town of Boulder and is paved and smooth for nearly 20 miles. The rest of the trail is a natural surface backroad, though most passenger cars should be able to handle it unless there is rain.

Of course, it is highly recommended to drive down the Burr trail in a 4×4.

Are you more experienced in offroading?

If you’re looking for a slightly more challenging trail, consider driving down the Blue Benches. Although nowhere near as extreme as some of the other trails in the park, this 20-mile loop is perfect for intermediate offroad fanatics. There are a couple of river crossings along this trail, though they are only around 1-2 feet deep.

You can find all trails in Capitol Reef National Park using the online trail finder. Sort trails by difficulty, location, and trail type. Did you find a trail that’s worth mentioning in this travel guide? Comment below and let me know!

Capitol Reef will surely keep you busy all day, that’s why Rentalmoose recommends spending the night here before continuing further.

Cougar Ridge

Consider checking in at the Cougar Ridge, a luxury ranch just minutes south of Torrey. Guests can choose to stay at the prestigious lodge, filled with facilities such as a bowling alley, theater room, a spa, and a hot tub.

You can also choose to stay in the Casitas, equally luxurious buildings lined across the property.

Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, spend the night at Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel in Torrey. The cozy motel features rooms, cabins, and suites, as well as an outdoor pool and a well-equipped store.

A complimentary car park is available.

Next: Escalante Petrified Forest, 1 hour 40 minutes

Escalante

escalante-rural-trail-fields-red-rocks-utah

Photography by Mike Goad.

Byway 12 Scenic Drive

The most scenic drive of your adventure begins as soon as you get on Byway 12 in Torrey. The route is considered one of the best picturesque drives in the country, perhaps even on the entire planet.

Follow it for less than an hour and a half until you reach the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. There are countless viewpoints along the way that overlook spectacular landscapes, be prepared to spend more time driving down Byway 12.

What can you do in Escalante?

Hiking through canyon slots

The region is best known for the thrilling natural hiking trails through canyon slots.

Rentalmoose recommends hiking along the Zebra Slot Canyon Trailhead and the Spooky Gulch. Squeeze through the tight gaps between the stones, and enjoy the views from a unique perspective.

Whether you’re a hiking fan or not, a walk through the slots is an unforgettable experience. However, it’s not recommended for travelers suffering from claustrophobia.

Grand Staircase National Monument

Don’t miss the Grand Staircase National Monument. Although nowhere near as popular among tourists as the canyon trails, the monument is most certainly worth a quick peek at the very least.

Hike along the routes or explore the landscapes from the comfort of your car while following the offroad trails. Like most natural surface trails in this part of Utah, paths around the Grand Staircase might become inaccessible during heavy rainfall, even in a 4×4.

There is no admission fee for the Grand Staircase National Monument.

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

When passing Escalante, be sure to drop by the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.

The park is home to some of the finest petrified wood in the world. Hike along the trails through the petrified forest until you get to the shores of the crystal-clear Wide Hollow Reservoir. Here, you can wander around the campground, go for a refreshing swim, rent a canoe or observe petrified dinosaur bones and shell fossils at the nearby visitor center.

Admission to the park costs below $10 per person for a day pass.

Next: Bryce Canyon National Park, 50 minutes

Bryce Canyon

bryce-canyon-red-rocks-utah

Is this the surface of another planet? Bryce Canyon photographed by Ton W.

Follow the Scenic Byway 12 for almost an hour. Turn left onto Route 63, right before the Bryce Canyon Resort. Continue along Route 63 until you reach Bryce Canyon National Park.

What is there to see in Bryce Canyon?

Main Viewing Points

First, get a good look at the otherworldly landscapes from the four main viewpoints: Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. Each of the viewing points opens up to breathtaking natural beauty of countless hoodoos (spiral rock formations), valleys, and local flora.

For the absolutely best experience, visit the points when the sun sets or rises. You can also hike the Rim Trail between the Sunset and Sunrise Points.

Keep in mind that you need to purchase a 7-day pass to enter Bryce Canyon National Park. The admission costs $35 per vehicle as of 2020 and includes all occupants in a single vehicle. You can pay directly when entering the park. Find detailed information on current fees here.

Next, follow the 18-mile main road that will take you along further viewpoints and hiking trails. You can find a map of all the trails and walking routes on this website.

Stone Hearth Grille

For dinner, drive over to the Stone Hearth Grille a few miles east of Tropic. The charming restaurant serves juicy local steaks as well as other delicacies, such as scallops or grilled swordfish. Best of all, you can enjoy your meal while admiring a panoramic view of the park from the restaurant’s outdoor terrace.

Open daily between 5 PM and 9 PM.

Best Western Plus

In the evening, check-in at the Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon. The property features luxurious rooms, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a bicycle rental.

A complimentary car park is available, too.

Quality Inn

Travelers on a slightly tighter budget can stay at the Quality Inn. The Western-themed hotel features mountain view rooms with complimentary WiFi access, a breakfast buffet, and a free car park.

Next: Zion National Park, 1 hour 20 minutes

Zion

zion-scenic-drive-road-national-park-canyon-red-rock-utah

Photography by Egor Shitikov.

Head south on Route 89, leaving behind Bryce Canyon National Park. Don’t worry, as what’s coming up ahead may very well be even more spectacular. Turn onto the Mt Carmel Highway (UT-9 W) and continue along another one of the most spectacular drives in the United States.

What is special about Zion National Park?

Not many tourists know that Zion is the first National Park in Utah! The main attraction is the spectacular Zion Canyon, begin your tour of the park there.

The Narrows

Head down into The Narrows. The narrowest part of the Zion Canyon is home to the popular 16-mile hike in the Virgin River, where travelers can choose to walk either from the bottom up or the other way around.

The most popular starting point of the hike is the Temple of Sinawava, you can get off the shuttle bus essentially next to the river.

The Observation Point

Get the best panoramic view of the spectacular landscape from the Observation Point. You will have to hike for roughly four miles along The Weeping Rock Trailhead to reach the viewing point.

The trail begins at The Weeping Rock, which is the 7th stop for the free shuttle bus. The hike is fairly steep and can be very exhausting, but the rewarding view is absolutely worth the effort.

Scenic Drive

Before you leave, make sure to drive down the 54-mile Scenic Drive. The drive starts at Mt Carmel Junction (if you’re coming from Bryce Canyon, you most likely entered the park from here) and continues up to the I-15 on the western tip.

The scenic drive is a must, not just for the driving enthusiasts, as the scenery is simply extraordinary. Rentalmoose recommends saving the drive for last, as you can continue to Vegas directly from the western end of the Scenic Drive.

During the high tourist season, private cars are banned from the park’s main roads. In that case, you will need to drop off your car at one of the car parks near the gates and take the complimentary shuttle to Zion’s attractions. Click here for more details on the park’s shuttle system.

Zion National park is open all year long. Opening hours depend on the season, check current operating hours here. A 7-day admission pass to Zion National Park costs $25 per vehicle and can be purchased directly upon entrance.

Next: Las Vegas, 2 hours 30 minutes

Las Vegas

dodge-challenger-las-vegas-skyline-sunset

An American muscle car and a view of the Sin City during sunset. Isn’t this the perfect way to conclude this adventure? Photography by Kevin Schmid.

Depart Zion National Park and head southwest towards Las Vegas, leaving Utah behind. Remember to set your watch an hour back, as Vegas is in a different timezone. After taking in the natural beauty of Utah, it’s time to party your heart out in the city of sin.

What can you do in Las Vegas?

Fremont Street Experience

We have all heard of the Vegas Strip, but did you know the city has another go-to entertainment street right in the center? Don’t miss the Fremont Street Experience, the busy street is lined with flashy casinos, hotels, eateries and is packed with endless entertainment.

Watch the street from above as you zoom past on the Slotzilla zipline, go gambling inside the casinos or step inside one of the restaurants and take in the vibrant vibe.

Red Rock Canyon

The first things that come to your mind when you think of Las Vegas are probably the intense nightlife, gambling, and resorts. If you need to catch a break from all the craziness, consider heading out to the Red Rock Canyon.

Relax and enjoy the natural landscapes of the Mojave Desert as you drive down the 13-mile scenic drive, stopping along to stretch your legs at over 25 different trails that can be explored.

A day pass to the park costs $15 per vehicle. For more information on ticketing, click here.

Speed Vegas Race Track

Adrenaline junkies should visit the Speed Vegas racetrack. Choose from a variety of exciting cars, such as the Lamborghini Huracan, Porsche 991 GT3 RS or even a Baja Truck, and lap the race track!

You can also ride shotgun with a professional instructor instead. Check the Speed Vegas website for available packages, pricing, and terms and conditions.

Las Vegas is packed with so many attractions that it would take forever to list them all. Check out The Ultimate California Road Trip travel guide, where I mention some of the best places to visit in Las Vegas, including the famous Strip.

The Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

The number of restaurants in Las Vegas is quite overwhelming, and picking the best place to eat can be a challenge. If you’re looking for the best fine dining experience in town, book a table at the Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, the world-renowned chef’s first and only restaurant in the United States.

Indulge in delicious French cuisine while admiring spectacular views of the Strip from the 23rd floor.

The restaurant is open until 10 PM all week except Sundays and Mondays.

Caesars Palace

Luxury seekers have plenty of 5-star hotels to splash out on during a trip to Las Vegas. Consider checking in at the Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino along the Strip.

The glamorous hotel, often featured in Hollywood blockbusters, offers prestigious rooms and suites, as well as a wide array of facilities and activities for guests, such as a spa, pools and world-class dining.

The ideal location along the Strip, among with the countless facilities and world-class service all make the Caesars Palace the perfect choice in town.

The Golden Nugget

Naturally, most travelers will want to save their money for the casinos and live shows in Vegas as opposed to splashing out on a hotel. In that case, consider booking a room at the Golden Nugget.

The famous hotel is all you can expect in Vegas: a flashy facade, plenty of onsite activities and a casino, of course. Step outside the hotel and explore the busy Fremont Street, or relax at the pool.

Did I mention the hotel pool has a shark tank? What’s more, guests can ride a waterslide through the shark tank!

Drop-off

Your American adventure doesn’t have to end here! Read the Ultimate California Road Trip travel guide, and continue your journey onwards to the Grand Canyon, San Diego, and the Pacific Coast Highway. Combine the two trips into an epic road trip through the western US.

If you choose to finish your trip here, drop off your car directly at the McCarran International Airport. You can browse through car rental companies that support drop-off at another location and airport drop-off via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on your National Park road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your National Park road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

wooden pier at secluded sandy beach and calm blue ocean in key west florida during sunset

The Sunshine State- Florida Road Trip Itinerary

Pristine beaches, vibrant cities, and prestigious resorts all prove that you can’t go wrong with a road trip in The Sunshine State. Read this travel guide to plan your dream Florida road trip.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Miami to Key West- 170 miles📍 $6 Toll

Key West/Miami to Daytona Beach- 430 miles📍 $25 Toll

Daytona Beach to Orlando- 60 miles📍 $5 Toll

Orlando to Tampa- 90 miles (145km)📍 $5 Toll

Tampa to Naples- 170 miles (274km)📍  

Naples to Everglades National Park- 90 miles (145km)📍 

Everglades National Park to Miami- 30 miles (48km)📍 

1040 miles (1674km) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Florida, Beaches

This travel guide takes you on a road trip across the Sunshine State starting in the bustling city of Miami. Drive south across the scenic Florida Keys to the Southernmost Point in the Continental US before making your way up north to Daytona Beach, a city known for its motorsport heritage and “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.

Then, enjoy an adventure-packed day at one of Orlando’s theme parks and head to the state’s west coast, stopping in Tampa and Naples. After a night in a prestigious resort, admire the world’s biggest reptiles in Everglades National Park and return to Miami.

Planning- Before You Go

Here is all you need to know before you set off on your unforgettable Florida road trip!

How long does it take to complete this road trip?

This Florida road trip is a little over a thousand miles in total. As there is a lot of driving ahead, Rentalmoose highly recommends going to Key West on a day trip from Miami.

As you get on the road, spend at least two nights in Orlando and Naples respectively.

In order to get the most out of each destination, allocate at least 7 days for this exciting road trip around Florida.

When is the best time to visit Florida?

The best time to go on a road trip in Florida is anywhere between late November through the middle of May, when the average temperature during the day is around 20-25 Celsius (68-77 Fahrenheit).

Keep in mind that the tourist season tends to peak between late December and May.

If you want to avoid the biggest crowds consider booking your trip outside of said months.

Why book a rental car in Florida?

Scenic driving roads, well-developed infrastructure, cheap petrol, and a large distance to cover all make a private car the perfect means of transport for a road trip in Florida. Not to mention the freedom to alter your itinerary on the go that can only be achieved when traveling by car.

Miami has a wide variety of rental cars from numerous companies available for pick-up directly at the airport. Alternatively, you can always go on a Florida road trip in your own car.

Find the perfect rental car for you via Rentalmoose, whether that means a budget-friendly hatchback, a large comfy SUV, or an exciting drop-top muscle car.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding excess coverage when booking your rental car, just in case anything happens during your Florida road trip.

Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the vehicle using the Rentalmoose app to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Can tourists drive in Florida? 

Absolutely! Tourists with domestic driver licenses issued outside of the US may drive in Florida without an International Driving Permit for up to one year.

However, some car rental companies may require extra documentation, be sure to check with the company prior to leaving to make sure what paperwork is necessary. 

Are you looking for more information about International Driving Permits? Read this blog post to find out when you need an IDP, how to obtain it, and more! It will surely come in handy for your other road trips.

Remember to keep your passport with you when driving in Florida, as it is required for identification alongside your foreign driver’s license.

If you do happen to get stopped by the police during your Florida road trip, be sure to stay calm. Put both hands on the steering wheel, avoid sudden movements, and present your license when the officer tells you to do so. 

Be careful not to pass the speed limits when driving in Florida! If you’re caught going just 6MPH (~10km/h) over the limit, you can be fined around $150 (137 EUR).

Driving under influence, or DUI in short, is a serious crime in the US. Police enforce drink-driving related rules very strictly. Do not drink and drive, offenders can even land in prison.


How do toll roads work in Florida?

Keeping up with all the toll roads in Florida can get tricky, especially for tourists and short-term visitors. Most rental companies will automatically add any toll fees to your credit or debit card, that way you won’t have to worry about paying the fees in cash, it’s best to contact your rental company to make sure.

Paying by cash? You can check the SunPass Toll Calculator for the most recent toll fees.

Florida, like all of the United States, has right-hand side traffic.

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to begin your exciting Florida road trip!

Miami

miami beach skyscrapers city skyline and water in foreground during colorful sunset in florida. See this coastal city during a Florida road trip

Photography by MustangJoe.

Welcome to Miami, one of the most famous cities in the entire world! For maximum convenience, pick your rental car up directly from Miami International Airport as soon as you arrive. Find companies that support airport pick-up via Rentalmoose.

What is Miami best known for?

Miami is one of the world’s most popular getaways, and after a day in town it’s easy to see why. The city’s pristine coastline and miles of sandy beaches are absolutely perfect for sunbathing, swimming, watersports and diving. Once dusk falls, you can head to the heart of Miami Beach and indulge in one of the planet’s most exciting nightlife scenes. What more could anyone ask for?

Miami Beach

Cross the bridge from mainland Miami to Miami Beach and enter the city’s tourist and nightlife hotspot. Drive down the spectacular Ocean Drive, lined with all sorts of bars and restaurants.

Try to find an on-street parking spot as you make your way down to South Beach, arguably the best (or at least the most popular) beach in town.

You may be out of luck on weekends or during the holiday season. In that case, drop off your car at this car park along Collins Avenue.

Expect to pay up to $5 per hour for parking in South Beach.

Art Deco Historic District

After relaxing by the ocean, go for a stroll in the Art Deco Historic District. The neighborhood is known for its picturesque architecture and is loved by photographers. Admire the colorful buildings or take part in an insightful walking tour.

Looking to gather even more knowledge about the architecture of Miami Beach? Visit the Art Deco Museum situated along Ocean Drive.

Enjoy a trip back to the 80s when you visit The Anderson. This trendy neighborhood bar offers artful drinks and a casual, welcoming vibe. The 80s-inspired interior makes for a perfect backdrop for your insta pics, too.

Where to party in Miami

A trip to Miami wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the city’s vivid nightlife scene. What is the best club in Miami? Which club do the celebrities visit?

The best spot to party in Miami has got to be the vibrant Club Space. Get on the dance floor at The Terrace at Space or have fun at a live concert at The Ground downstairs. 

If nightclubs are not your thing, consider heading to a beach club instead. Visit the world-class Nikki Beach Miami for an unforgettable, exquisite beach club experience.

Sunbathe on the day beds, order a delicious lunch, or simply sip on a cocktail while listening to the music and admiring the Atlantic Ocean.

Where to eat in Miami

Once you get hungry, make your way to Pura Vida Miami. The cozy restaurant features some of the best healthy dishes in town and beautiful, bright decor. Open daily from 7 AM to 10 PM.

Try local, fresh seafood at The River Oyster Bar. The venue, considered one of the best eateries in town, offers a wide selection of seafood dishes. An absolute must-try is the stone crab, a regional delicacy.

The best hotels in Miami

Luxury travelers will find themselves in paradise, as there are countless prestigious hotels and resorts scattered all around Miami.

If you can’t take your pick, consider booking a room at The Miami Beach Edition. The 5-star beachfront hotel features rooms and suites with either ocean or city views, and a selection of luxurious facilities including a pool, a nightclub, a fitness center, and an open-air cinema.

There are plenty of attractions in Miami to splash out on.

If luxury accommodation isn’t your main priority, Urbanica The Meridian Hotel might be the perfect fit for you. The stylish hotel features well-equipped, modern rooms as well as an outdoor pool and a unique decor, all at a price tag that won’t break the bank.

Once you’ve spent enough time in Miami, head south towards the scenic Florida Keys. It’s the first driving segment of your Florida road trip!

Next: Key West, 3 hours 30 minutes $6 Toll

Key West

wooden pier near clean sandy beach palm trees and calm blue ocean in key west florida. See it on a road trip with Rentalmoose

Photography by Don Stelmaszek.

Here it is, the first leg of your Florida road trip!

Make your way down to Key West along one of the most scenic driving roads in the entire country. The Overseas Highway is a mix of bridges connecting tiny islands (Florida Keys) that makes for absolutely spectacular views.

As Key West is below four hours away from Miami, Rentalmoose recommends making a separate day trip there before setting off on your road trip up to Daytona Beach.

Is Key West worth visiting?

Absolutely! Unlike most of the Sunshine State, Key West may not be popular for its beaches. It still is worth at least a quick visit, at least to drive down the scenic Florida Keys. Here is why you should visit Key West.

The Southernmost Point of the Continental United States

Begin your Key West adventure with a photo by the Southernmost Point of the Continental US, located at the corner of Whitehead Street and South Street.

The iconic spot is a must-see when in town, and is situated just 90 miles north of Cuba. Post your photos online using #Rentalmoose to stand a chance to win a Rentalmoose discount or even a free rental car!

Ernest Hemingway’s Home

Find out about the region’s most famous artist, Ernest Hemingway. The artist’s Key West Home is situated within the Old Town and is open to visitors daily between 9 AM and 5 PM.

Inside, guests can find all kinds of Hemingway memorabilia. As the house does tend to get crowded, it is highly recommended to visit around the opening time or late in the afternoon. Guided tours are available, too.

Mallory Square

Don’t forget to pay a visit to Mallory Square, a vibrant seafront plaza in the heart of Key West’s Historic District.

Mallory Square is especially worth visiting right before the sun sets, as the Sunset Celebration takes place every evening.

Watch as the street performers try to catch tourists’ attention, grab a snack at one of the eateries and admire the magnificent sunset.

As Key West is situated less than a hundred miles north of Cuba, Rentalmoose recommends trying out Caribbean and Latin cuisine.

One of the best Caribbean eateries in Key West is Bien, a cozy restaurant a short walk away from Mallory Square. Pick from a selection of affordable sandwiches and seafood.

Next, it’s time to drive up north to Daytona Beach!

Next: Miami and then Daytona Beach, 7 hours 20 minutes $25 Toll

Daytona Beach

wide sandy beach small waves clean blue water and hotels in background in daytona beach florida

Daytona Beach photographed by Paul Brennan.

Depart Miami and head north towards Daytona Beach, a city most praised for its motorsport heritage and home to “The World’s Most Famous Beach”. If you’re driving from Key West, the journey will take around 7 and a half hours.

What can you do in Daytona Beach?

The famous Daytona International Speedway

When in Daytona Beach, you can’t skip the Daytona International Speedway. The iconic track has become the city’s symbol and is a fascinating attraction no matter if there are ongoing events.

Petrolheads can purchase tickets to one of the races that take place on the track, check the official event calendar for more details.

Even if there are no events, visitors can take part in guided tours of the speedway and explore the Motorsports Hall of Fame museum.

Daytona Lagoon

Adrenaline junkies, as well as families with kids, can spend a day at the Daytona Lagoon waterpark. Dare to ride down the thrilling slides or relax in the gentle Lazy River.

No matter how old you are, you will find a fun attraction in this waterpark.

Do you prefer “dry” attractions?

Head to the park’s dry section, where you can find go-karts, an arcade, laser tag, and much more. Purchase your tickets here.

The World’s Most Famous Beach

Don’t forget to visit the beach itself, dubbed the “World’s Most Famous Beach”. The 23-mile long, wide beach used to be the racing ground for motorsports in the early 1900s.

Today, tourists can follow in motorsport pioneers’ footsteps and drive their own cars across the beach, as long as the weather allows it.

You can always go for a dip in the ocean, stroll along the beach or head to the busy waterfront pier filled with eateries and bars.

When you get hungry, head to Caribbean Jack’s waterfront restaurant, one of the favorites in Daytona Beach. Head to the stunning outdoor deck, where you can have a delicious Caribbean lunch while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean.

The next stop on your Florida road trip is a city known for its theme parks and a vibrant art scene.

Next: Orlando, 1 hour $5 Toll

Orlando

walt disney and mickey mouse partners black and gold statue in crowded walt disney world orlando theme park

Disney World in Orlando photographed by HenningE.

Orlando is home to some of the best theme parks in the country that successfully steer most tourists outside of the city itself. That’s why Rentalmoose suggests exploring at least a bit of the city as well as the famous theme parks during your Florida road trip.

Orlando’s famous theme parks

Walt Disney World has indubitably become a symbol of Orlando, and not paying it a visit is essentially like going to New York City without seeing Times Square or the Statue of Liberty.

Park guests can choose from 4 theme parks and 2 water parks within the massive complex, as well as countless shops and restaurants on the premises.

If you would rather go to a different theme park, consider spending the day at Universal Studios Orlando instead, where you can pick from two theme parks and a water park to spend your day. 

What is there to do in Orlando except for theme parks?

Kennedy Space Center

Don’t forget to visit the Kennedy Space Center outside of the city, where you can learn all about NASA and the US space programs, both past and present. Visitors can admire rockets and explore interactive exhibitions, or even go on a tour guided by astronauts.

If you’re lucky, you can even catch a rocket launch live. Check the launch schedule here.

The Orlando Museum of Art

Head to the Orlando Museum of Art to get a break from all the theme park craze.

Guests can pick from a selection of temporary and permanent art collections presented at the venue. Learn about the region’s underrated local art scene.

Open until 4 PM all week except Mondays and holidays. Purchase your tickets to skip the queues right here.

The Mall at Millenia

Shopping freaks shouldn’t miss The Mall at Millenia. The large shopping venue is Orlando’s go-to spot for the best luxury and upscale goods. The entire complex is indoors, making it perfect for a rainy day.

Getting hungry? Consider going to Prato for lunch or dinner. Although not exactly regional, this restaurant offers a modern interpretation of traditional Italian cuisine, with a truly delicious outcome. Some specialties include Italian meatballs, a selection of pasta and pizza, of course.

Luxury seekers will most definitely enjoy their stay at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando. The picturesque 5-star resort features spacious rooms and suites with balconies, as well as luxurious amenities such as 3 heated outdoor pools, a golf course, and countless activities in the resort’s scenic surroundings.

Traveling on a tighter budget? Consider checking into the affordable Surestay Plus International Drive. The 3-star hotel offers cozy rooms, as well as facilities such as an outdoor pool and a bar.

The next leg of your exciting Florida road trip is a drive down to the west coast of the state!

Next: Tampa, 1 hour 20 minutes $5 Toll

Tampa

two modern glass residential skyscraper buildings and three green palm trees on a clear summer day in tampa florida

Photography by Chalo Garcia.

Leave Orlando and make your way to the west coast of Florida. After around an hour and a half, you will arrive in Tampa, the biggest city in the Tampa Bay area.

Where to go in Tampa?

Busch Gardens

Tampa’s most famous tourist attraction is the Busch Gardens park. The park is a combination of theme park roller coasters and rides, an exotic zoo and live performances.

Adrenaline junkies will find themselves at home, as the park is famous for its adventure-packed roller coasters.

There is also a wide selection of kiddie rides, water rides, animal viewing platforms and a night safari that welcomes guests in the evenings.

More details on the live performances and shows can be found here.

The Tampa Theatre

Art enthusiasts should definitely visit The Tampa Theatre for a unique cinematic experience.

Rentalmoose loves one-of-a-kind art venues. That’s why I consider the Astor Film Lounge a must-see when in Berlin, read about it in The Heart Of Central Europe travel guide.

Similarly to Berlin’s Astor Film Lounge, the Tampa Theatre is a glamorous movie palace in the heart of the city. Catch the latest Hollywood production or travel back in time when you watch a timeless classic from the fifties. The cinema’s decor makes for an unforgettable vibe.

Check the current film schedule here.

Ybor City

Head to the historic Ybor City, the neighborhood is the center of Tampa’s Latino community. Learn about the district’s history at the Ybor City Museum, or stroll around the area during a guided tour.

Columbia Restaurant

In the historic Ybor City neighborhood, even the foodies can get a taste of the local heritage. Go for lunch at the Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest continuously-operated restaurant.

The eatery has been serving guests for over a century and is the city’s favorite Latin food heaven.

Rentalmoose order tip: Try anything from a wide range of regional delicacies, including what could very well be the best Cuban Sandwich in the entire state.

Next: Naples, 2 hours 30 minutes

Naples

wooden pier atop blue wavy ocean during sunset in naples florida

Naples Pier photographed by Waldo Malan.

Continue south along the west coast until you reach the upscale city of Naples, a must on any Florida road trip itinerary. The city’s beach is often ranked as one of the best in the state, don’t miss it!

What is Naples known for?

The Naples Pier

Begin with a visit to the Naples Pier (pictured above). The pier, located just a stone’s throw away from downtown, is a picturesque spot perfect for a sunset stroll, people-watching or simply relaxing after a lengthy drive.

You should be able to find an on-street parking spot for below $3 per hour, pay at the nearest parking meter.

Naples Beach

Walk down from the pier and turn onto Naples Beach, repeatedly ranked as one of the best beaches in the state.

Go for a swim in the breathtaking emerald-green Gulf of Mexico, stroll on the pristine white sand, soak up the sun (remember to put on sunscreen!) or watch the local fishermen as they fish from the historical Naples Pier.

Make sure you stay to watch the sunset, too!

Tin City of Naples

Go for a unique shopping spree at the waterfront Tin City of Naples, a selection of quirky locally-owned shops and eateries. Visit one of the many businesses selling clothing, jewelry, toys and all sorts of accessories.

Open Monday through Saturday until 9 PM and Sundays till 5 PM.

Enjoy a Cuban meal at the Van Van Cuban Cafe, located along Tamiami Trail in the north of the heart of Naples. Choose from a selection of Caribbean dishes on either the lunch menu or the all-day dinner menu.

Rentalmoose order tip: Don’t know which Cuban dish to pick? Give the Ropa Vieja a try, it’s a shredded flank steak covered in tomato sauce.

Where to stay in Naples?

For your night in Naples, consider checking in at the Inn On Fifth. The stylish hotel features elegant, well-equipped rooms and suites, as well as luxurious amenities such as a spa, an outdoor pool and an ideal location in the heart of Naples.

Naples’ upscale and prestigious reputation is reflected in the town’s hotels and resorts. However, it certainly does not mean that Naples has zero affordable accommodation options. Travelers on a tighter budget can stay at the Gulfcoast Inn. The 2-star hotel features spacious rooms and a heated outdoor pool and is conveniently located just a few blocks away from the local beach.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Spend the night in Fort Myers, a city less than an hour north of Naples. The average hotel price is lower than in Naples, and the city is equally beautiful.

Next: Everglades National Park, 1 hour 30 minutes

Everglades National Park

alligator crocodile reptile hidden in yellow leaves swimming in water in everglades national park florida

Photography by Skeeze.

As you make your way back to Miami on the eastern side of the state, be sure to drop by the Everglades National Park. The most popular National Park in the Sunshine State, and one of the iconic symbols of the United States, is home to fascinating wildlife such as alligators and crocodiles. You don’t want to miss it during a road trip in Florida.

Iconic airboat tour

Arguably, the best way to explore the Everglades wetlands is on a guided airboat tour. There are various tour operators to choose from, Rentalmoose recommends going with Coopertown Airboats. The operator has been welcoming guests since the 1940s and has earned its reputation as the go-to Everglades airboat operator. Get a first-hand look at both crocodiles and alligators during a private airboat tour.

Go for lunch at the Coopertown Restaurant following your airboat tour. Inside, you can enjoy Floridian delicacies, including alligator tail and frog legs. Incredible and welcoming service is included with every order. 

Cycling in Everglades National Park

You can rent a bicycle through Flamingo Adventures and explore Everglades’ best cycling trails. The detailed biking guide around Everglades can be found on the park’s official website.

Next: Miami, 30 minutes

Drop-off

For maximum comfort, Rentalmoose recommends dropping off your rental car directly at Miami International Airport when you finish your Florida road trip. Car rental companies that support drop-off at MIA can be found via Rentalmoose.

Don’t have a car you can take on this Florida road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Florida road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

busy hollywood boulevard lots of tourists in front of chinese theatre on a sunny day in hollywood california

The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

The ultimate road trip around California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Click here for detailed directions

Summary (click the red pins for directions) :

Los Angeles to Santa Barbara– 100 miles (160 km) 📍 

Santa Barbara to Monterey– 230 miles (370 km) 📍

Monterey to San Francisco– 120 miles (190 km) 📍

San Francisco to Yosemite & Death Valley– 520 miles (840 km) 📍

Yosemite & Death Valley to Las Vegas– 130 miles (210 km) 📍

Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon– 130 miles (210 km) 📍

The Grand Canyon to San Diego– 450 miles (720 km)📍

San Diego to Los Angeles– 120 miles (190 km) 📍

1800 miles (2900 km) in total

Tags: Travel guide, Long Trip, USA, California

Planning- Before You Go

What is the best road trip in the Western US?

North America’s West Coast is one of the world’s most iconic hotspots for an epic road trip. There are tons of attractions across California, Nevada, and Arizona. 

The best California road trip begins in Los Angeles, going along the Pacific Coast Highway up until San Francisco. 

Then, continue south-east through Yosemite and Death Valley until you get to Las Vegas. After a memorable night in Vegas drive, a stop at the Grand Canyon is an absolute must. Later, head back to Los Angeles through San Diego.

The length of this California road trip is just below 2000 miles, or 3000 kilometers, in total.

How much does a California road trip cost?

There are a couple of factors worth considering when budgeting your ideal California road trip. A rental car in California can cost as little as $40 per day. 

Gas prices in the US, compared to Europe, are rather affordable. California, Nevada, and Arizona have some of the highest prices in the US at roughly $3 per gallon (a gallon is 3.785l), which equals to about $0.79 per liter. 

Current gas prices can be found here.

The average daily cost for a California road trip that includes a rental car, fuel, accommodation, food and beverages, and attraction tickets will be around $200.

Of course, the prices will rise depending on the amount of luxury you desire during the road trip.

How long does it take to complete this California road trip?

This ultimate California road trip is rather long, at around 2 000 miles (3200km) in total.

The route is divided into segments between 100 and 520 miles (160km and 840km) each, there is a lot of driving ahead. 

In order to have enough time to discover each of the stops along the way, Rentalmoose recommends dedicating 7 days for this road trip at the very least.

When is the best time to visit Western USA?

The US West Coast is famous for its beaches and sunny cities. If you want to be able to go for a swim in the Pacific Ocean, it is best to visit between June and August. The weather is still more moderate between April and June as well as September and October.

panoramic view beautiful secluded california sandy beach and wavy ocean surrounded by green hills on a clear day. See the beautiful coast of California during a california road trip

Why should I book a rental car in the US?

 The United States of America is perfect to be discovered via a rental car. The country is full of beautiful, scenic driving roads and well-developed road infrastructure, making it ideal for a road trip.

Petrol is cheap compared to Europe, the US has absolute perfect conditions for a rental car.

For extra peace of mind during your road trip, Rentalmoose recommends adding the excess cover when booking your rental car.

Once you’ve picked up the car, don’t forget to take photos of the car to qualify for a 50% discount from the excess coverage fee.

Road Trip Extensions

Why not extend your road trip even further? Consider adding a few days to your road trip and driving over to explore the scenic states of Nevada, Utah, or Colorado.

As far as extensions go, consider adding a day to spend some time at the Joshua Tree National Park.

Can tourists drive in the USA? 

Yes! Tourists are allowed to drive in the United States using a foreign driving license as long as they are at least 18 years old, and the license covers the type of vehicle they are driving. 

It is recommended to get an International Driving Permit if your driving license is not in English. For more info regarding IDP’s, check out this blog post.

While driving around California, you will soon realize that practically nobody follows the speed limits strictly. Going 5-10 MPH over the limit is common on freeways, for example.

Keep in mind that the police can still pull you over, even if you are caught going just a few miles per hour over the limit.

If you do happen to get stopped by the police during your trip, be sure to stay calm. Put both hands on the steering wheel, avoid sudden movements, and present your license when the officer tells you to do so. 

Driving under influence, or DUI in short, is a serious crime in the US. Police enforce drink-driving related rules very strictly. Do not drink and drive, offenders can even land in prison.

The US has right-hand side traffic.

Now that you’re all set, it’s time to dive into this exciting California road trip itinerary!

Los Angeles

los angeles city skyline view at night time. See the city of angeles during a California road trip

Photograph from Pixabay.com

Your California road trip begins in one of the most iconic travel destinations in the world, known as the city of angels. 

I recommend picking up your rental car directly at the LAX Airport and driving into town. If you are planning to stay in LA for a few days consider renting your car a day before leaving the city, as Los Angeles is infamous for notorious traffic jams. 

What is LA famous for?

Los Angeles, specifically Hollywood, is the heart of the American film and entertainment industry. Begin your US adventure with a drive to Hollywood, where you can spend some time at the Hollywood Boulevard, stroll down the Walk of Fame or drive up the hills to get panoramic views of the city.

What are the best attractions in Los Angeles?

Universal Studios Hollywood

Adrenaline junkies can enjoy a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood. This attraction first opened in the 60s as a studio tour, a first-hand look at real film sets for Universal Studios productions. 

The studio tour has gained lots of popularity over the years and has developed into a full-size adventure-packed theme park, filled with roller coasters and rides for all ages. 

The iconic studio tour still remains as one of the highlights of the park. Admission tickets start at $109 and can be purchased here.

Santa Monica Pier

Don’t forget to visit the famous Santa Monica Pier. You have probably seen it at least once in a Hollywood blockbuster or TV show. 

The pier is one of the vibrant hotspots of LA. Park your car and stroll along the vivid pier, go inside one of the restaurants, enjoy a hot dog, or ride the rollercoaster (tickets between $5 to $10 per ride). 

You can use the Spot Angels app to find the cheapest car parks in the area. After the Santa Monica Pier, walk over to the next attraction.

Venice Beach

You will find Venice Beach just a 30-minute walk away from the pier. The neighborhood is known for its artistic atmosphere, luxury shops, and delicious restaurants. 

Walk along the sandy shore, sunbathe or go for a dip in the Pacific Ocean. Go for a seaside jog or a workout at Muscle Beach Venice. A day pass costs $10.

Los Angeles’s cultural diversity is reflected in the city’s delicious cuisine. For an authentic Venice Beach vibe, head over to Hinano Cafe

Open since 1962, this spot is known for being Jim Morrison’s favorite hangout in Venice. Delicious burgers, a wide selection of drinks, pool tables and live music every weekend. Open daily till 2 AM.

What are the best hotels in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is packed with attractions worth visiting, I highly recommend staying at least one night in town before departing further. Spend the night at the Hollywood Roosevelt,

It’s one of the best and most famous hotels in town. Once home to the Academy Awards Gala, the Roosevelt is a 4-star hotel with various bars, a pool, and a perfect location on Hollywood Boulevard.

A more affordable alternative within Hollywood is the BLVD Hotel and Suites. The venue offers rooms and suites just a 10-minute walk away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

After a good night’s sleep, it is time to begin one of the best road trips of your life!

Next: Santa Barbara, 1 hour 50 minutes

Santa Barbara

santa barbara whitewashed buildings and tile rooftops and green palm trees with ocean in background california

Santa Barbara. Photo by Lela Khajadourian from Pixabay.

The next highlight of the trip begins as soon as you set off from Los Angeles. The route to Santa Barbara is the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, arguably the best driving road in the US, and an absolute must-visit for your California road trip.

There are lots of panoramic views guaranteed along the way, leave LA in the morning to make sure you have enough time to discover them all. 

Is Santa Barbara worth visiting?

Santa Barbara is one of the most scenic cities in this part of the United States. It is certainly worth a visit during your road trip! The region is known for its beautiful landscapes, great weather, and local wineries. 

Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf is the perfect point to begin exploring Santa Barbara. Explore the vivid pier lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. 

If you are craving local seafood, look no further. Head inside the Shellfish Company, a delicious eatery where you can enjoy grilled shrimp, crabs, and various fish. Click here for the menu.

Arroyo Burro County Park

For a relaxing hike, visit the Arroyo Burro County Park. The park is perfect for a barbecue, jogging along the shoreline, or hiking along one of the trails. You can also go for a swim in the Pacific, it’s a quieter setting than Venice Beach.

After some time in Santa Barabara, continue the road trip over to Monterey.

Next: Monterey, 5 hours 10 minutes

Monterey