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9 Iconic USA Road Trips for Women Over 50

By Sandra Roussy July 17, 2023 Travel

Do you love to pack a bag, get in your car, and hit the road? Solo or with friends, road trips are a great way for women over 50 to explore and enjoy the beauty of the United States.

Here are some iconic road trip routes that cater to different interests and offer memorable experiences.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway (California) – This scenic drive along California’s coastline offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, charming coastal towns like Monterey and Santa Barbara, and iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
  2. Route 66 (Chicago to Los Angeles) – Known as the “Mother Road,” Route 66 is a classic American road trip. It stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through eight states, and offers a nostalgic journey through small towns, quirky roadside attractions, and stunning landscapes.
  3. Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia and North Carolina) – This picturesque drive winds through the Appalachian Mountains, showcasing spectacular vistas, lush forests, and fascinating mountain communities. It’s particularly beautiful during the fall when the leaves change colors.
  4. Great River Road (Mississippi River) – Following the course of the mighty Mississippi River, this road trip takes you through 10 states and offers a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. You can explore historic towns, visit antebellum plantations, and enjoy scenic river views.
  5. Historic Route 1 (Florida Keys) – Driving the Overseas Highway, which is part of Route 1, allows you to explore the gorgeous Florida Keys. You’ll drive across a series of bridges and experience the vibrant marine life, white sandy beaches, and unique island communities.
  6. Going-to-the-Sun Road (Montana) – Located in Glacier National Park, this mountain road offers jaw-dropping views of glaciers, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. It’s a great choice for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  7. Outer Banks Scenic Byway (North Carolina) – This coastal road trip takes you through a series of barrier islands along the North Carolina coast. You can visit historic lighthouses, relax on beautiful beaches, and explore the many fishing villages.
  8. Skyline Drive (Virginia) – Located in Shenandoah National Park, this scenic road trip showcases the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The drive offers numerous overlooks, hiking trails, and opportunities to spot wildlife like deer and black bears.
  9. The Black Hills and Badlands (South Dakota) – This road trip takes you through the rugged beauty of the Black Hills and Badlands region. You can explore Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, and the charming town of Deadwood.


Why These Road Trips Are Epic

These road trips were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Popularity, iconic status, and appeal to women over 50.
  • Scenic beauty, cultural significance, historical landmarks, and unique experiences.
  • Diverse range of attractions and activities catering to different interests.
  • Coastal drives, mountain vistas, historic sites, and charming towns.
  • Recommendations by travelers, including women over 50.
  • Memorable adventures and exploration opportunities in the United States.

Most Iconic Road Trips in the USA

Pacific Coast Highway (California)

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, is a legendary road trip route that stretches along California’s picturesque coastline for approximately 655 miles (1,055 kilometers).

This iconic highway offers a mesmerizing journey with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, towering cliffs, rugged shorelines, and pristine beaches.

Traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway allows you to visit charming coastal towns like Monterey, Santa Barbara, and Malibu. You can explore iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the historic Hearst Castle.

Route 66 (Chicago to Los Angeles)

Route 66, often referred to as the “Mother Road,” is the most iconic road trip route that spans approximately 2,448 miles (3,940 kilometers) from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California.

This historic highway holds a special place in American culture and offers a nostalgic journey through a bygone era. Traveling along Route 66 allows you to explore small towns, experience the charm of roadside diners and motels, and encounter quirky roadside attractions that have become symbols of American roadside culture.

The route takes you through eight states, including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, each offering unique landscapes and cultural experiences. From the urban bustle of Chicago to the sun-soaked beaches of California, Route 66 showcases the diversity and spirit of America, making it a cherished road trip for adventurers and history enthusiasts alike.


Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia and North Carolina)

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic road trip route that winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Spanning approximately 469 miles (755 kilometers), this iconic parkway offers sensational vistas, dense forests, and several mountain communities.

As you travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of rolling mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant fall foliage during the autumn months. The route also provides access to numerous hiking trails, allowing you to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding national parks and forests.

Along the way, you can visit historic sites, such as the Folk Art Center and the Blue Ridge Music Center, which celebrate the rich Appalachian culture. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a perfect choice for those seeking tranquility, stunning landscapes, and a connection with nature.

Great River Road (Mississippi River)

The Great River Road is a scenic road trip route that follows the course of the mighty Mississippi River for approximately 2,340 miles (3,765 kilometers) through 10 states.

This route offers a captivating journey filled with history, culture, and natural beauty. As you travel along the Great River Road, you’ll encounter charming river towns, picture-perfect landscapes, and fascinating landmarks.

The route takes you through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Along the way, you can explore historic sites like Fort Snelling in Minnesota, visit antebellum plantations in Louisiana, immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene of Memphis, and experience the unique charm of New Orleans.

The Great River Road offers a diverse range of experiences and a deep connection to the culture and heritage of the Mississippi River region.

Historic Route 1 (Florida Keys)

Historic Route 1, also known as the Overseas Highway, is a scenic road trip route that traverses the stunning Florida Keys archipelago.

Spanning approximately 113 miles (182 kilometers), this highway takes you from the mainland of Florida to Key West, the southernmost point of the US.

Driving along Historic Route 1 offers a fascinating journey with astonishing views of crystal-clear turquoise waters, tropical landscapes, and bridges connecting the islands. Along the way, you can stop at beautiful beaches, visit historic sites like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, and indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants.

The Florida Keys are renowned for their marine life, making the route ideal for snorkeling, diving, and fishing enthusiasts. Historic Route 1 provides an unforgettable experience, combining natural beauty, rich history, and the laid-back island atmosphere of the Florida Keys.

Going-to-the-Sun Road (Montana)

Going-to-the-Sun Road is another breathtaking road trip route located in Glacier National Park, Montana. Spanning approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers), this scenic highway takes you through the heart of the park, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

As you journey along Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas of snow-capped peaks, untouched alpine meadows, and sparkling glacial lakes.

The road winds its way through towering forests and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, offering panoramic views and opportunities for wildlife sightings, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and grizzly bears.

The engineering marvel of the road itself, with its narrow curves and cliffs, adds to the sense of adventure and thrill.

Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must-do for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, providing an unforgettable experience immersed in the unspoiled beauty of Glacier National Park.

Outer Banks Scenic Byway (North Carolina)

The Outer Banks Scenic Byway is a road trip route that stretches along the North Carolina coast, encompassing a series of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks. This scenic byway offers approximately 138 miles (222 kilometers) of coastal beauty, history, and coastal communities.

As you travel along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, you’ll encounter picturesque beaches, towering sand dunes, and the mesmerizing Atlantic Ocean. The route takes you past historic lighthouses like Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island, providing glimpses into the area’s maritime heritage.

You can explore quaint fishing villages, sample fresh seafood, and visit attractions like the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, commemorating the birthplace of aviation.

Skyline Drive (Virginia)

Skyline Drive is a scenic road trip route that spans approximately 105 miles (169 kilometers) through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. This iconic drive is located within Shenandoah National Park, offering stunning vistas, serene forests, and abundant wildlife.

As you travel along Skyline Drive, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of rolling mountains, deep valleys, and cascading waterfalls. The route features numerous overlooks where you can pause to appreciate the breathtaking scenery and capture memorable photos.

Along the way, you can embark on hikes to explore the park’s pristine trails, discover the beauty of wildflowers, and possibly spot wildlife such as black bears, deer, and songbirds.

Skyline Drive is particularly captivating during the fall season when the foliage transforms into a vibrant display of colors. It provides a tranquil escape into nature and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Black Hills and Badlands (South Dakota)

The Black Hills and Badlands region in South Dakota offers a road trip route that showcases the unique beauty and rich history of the area. Spanning approximately 125 miles (201 kilometers), this scenic drive takes you through a diverse landscape of towering granite peaks, deep canyons, and vast grasslands.

As you explore the Black Hills and Badlands, you’ll encounter iconic landmarks such as Mount Rushmore. You can also visit Custer State Park, home to a thriving population of wildlife including bison, elk, and pronghorn.

The route leads you to Badlands National Park, characterized by its rugged rock formations, otherworldly landscapes, and fossil-rich areas. Here, you can hike through unique trails, witness stunning sunsets, and explore the park’s ancient geological history.

The Black Hills and Badlands offer a blend of natural wonders, Native American culture, and rich historical heritage, making it a road trip destination that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

How to Prepare for an Epic Road Trip

Preparing for an epic road trip involves several key steps to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here are some essential preparations to consider.

Plan Your Route

Decide on the destinations you want to visit, map out the route, and estimate the driving times between each stop. Research attractions, scenic viewpoints, and accommodations along the way.


Check Your Vehicle

Ensure your vehicle is in good condition by scheduling a maintenance check-up. Check the tires, brakes, fluid levels, lights, and wipers. Pack a spare tire, jack, and necessary tools. Also, make sure your roadside assistance is up to date.

Pack Wisely

Make a packing list of essentials such as clothing, toiletries, medications, electronics, and travel documents. Consider the climate and activities at your destinations. Pack light but include necessary safety and emergency items like a battery pack for your phone.

Book Accommodations in Advance

If you plan to stay overnight at specific locations, book accommodations in advance to secure your desired options and avoid last-minute hassles. This is especially important when you are traveling during the peak tourist season.

Prepare Entertainment and Navigation

Load up on road trip playlists, audiobooks, or podcasts for entertainment. Make sure your GPS or navigation system is up to date or use a reliable navigation app on your smartphone.


Research Local Regulations and Attractions

Familiarize yourself with traffic laws and regulations specific to the areas you’ll be driving through. Research local attractions, dining options, and any special events happening during your trip.

Budget and Expenses

Set a budget for your road trip, including fuel costs, meals, accommodations, and activities. Keep some extra cash or a credit card for emergencies or unexpected expenses.

Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Carry a roadside emergency kit, first-aid supplies, and a basic toolset. Share your travel itinerary with a trusted person and keep them informed of your progress during the trip.

Snacks and Drinks

Pack a cooler with water, snacks, and drinks to keep yourself hydrated and energized during the journey. Consider portable and non-perishable options.

Enjoy the Journey

Embrace the flexibility and freedom of a road trip. Leave room for spontaneous detours and enjoy the unexpected discoveries along the way.

Remember, thorough preparation and flexibility will contribute to a successful and enjoyable road trip experience. Happy travels!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you done an iconic road trip? Have you driven any of these routes? Are you planning an epic road trip? Do you like to road trip solo, with your partner, or with friends? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Gilda Lorensen

Thanks for this great list. I want to make a small correction — the “antebellum plantations” along the Mississippi are better called “slave labor concentration camps”. The Black people who suffered, lived and died in those places deserve clear recognition. There’s nothing charming about those places where whites profoundly abused and profited from others’ suffering, for generations. As a white American I’m tired of pretending otherwise. Thanks for understanding and listening.

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