The ultimate coast to coast USA road trip, created by Randy Olson, is estimated to take 6 months to a year to complete. With that in mind, we better get started. The following road trip takes you across 48 US states, where you’ll see some of the most important landmarks at every stop.

The Ultimate Coast to Coast Road Trip That Covers 48 States 

Not sure yet if you’re gonna drive your own car, rent one, or buy a used car for the long trip? Many travelers embarking on the challenge of a 6-month coast-to-coast road trip across the United States prefer to purchase a used car for several reasons. 

The extensive journey, covering 48 states, demands a reliable and comfortable vehicle, which may not be readily available with their personal cars. Investing in a well-maintained, spacious used car through reputable companies like EchoPark offers assurance in terms of style and comfort, catering to the demands of long-distance travel.

Economically, buying a used car provides flexibility and potential savings compared to renting or relying on personal vehicles, which could lead to additional maintenance costs. The convenience of acquiring a road-ready vehicle with a detailed service history significantly reduces the risk of breakdowns during the journey. Selling the used car at the trip’s end is a practical move, especially if the travelers’ final destination differs from the starting point, ensuring a hassle-free conclusion and a chance to recoup part of the initial investment.

Here are some more tips to consider before embarking on the trip:


So without further ado, here are the the ultimate stops for your coast to coast road trip:

Grand Canyon, AZ

Start your day with a sunrise hike on the South Rim, for an incredible start. Then, proceed to the visitor center for information and facts about the canyon. If you’re up for adrenaline-pumping activities, try white water rafting in the Colorado River. End your day stargazing.

Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

Bryce Canyon National Park is world-famous for its distinctive geological structures known as hoodoos. Start with a scenic drive traversing the park, then embark on a hike down Queen’s Garden Trail. Don’t forget to admire the stunning sunset casting colors over the landscape.

Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID

At the Craters of the Moon National Monument, you’ll find fascinating volcanic landscapes and vast lava fields. Make sure to take an underground exploration of the Indian Tunnel, a lava tube! On a clear night, this park transforms into a stargazer’s dream due to its minimal light pollution.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


Yellowstone National Park, WY

While at Yellowstone National Park, revel in the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Old Faithful geyser eruption or explore Mammoth Hot Springs’ travertine terraces. Then, enjoy a drive through Hayden Valley. This park is overflowing with natural beauty waiting for you to discover.

Pikes Peak, CO

At Pikes Peak, you can’t miss a ride on the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway, offering breathtaking panoramas of the Rocky Mountains. One must also visit Crystal Reservoir for a tranquil retreat. The altitude might be challenging but reaching the summit is rewarding enough!

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

Carlsbad Caverns National Park gives you a peek into the remarkable world beneath the earth’s surface. Delve deep into the caverns to marvel at stalactites and stalagmites. And don’t miss out on experiencing the stunning phenomenon of the bat flight at dusk from the cave entrance!

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


The Alamo, TX

Venturing into The Alamo, steep yourself in American history. As a historic mission, it played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. Reflect on the stories of heroism within its iconic limestone walls. And before you leave, don’t forget to appreciate the lush oasis that is the Alamo Gardens!

The Platt Historic District, OK

Here’s a hidden gem, the Platt Historic District. Enjoy a little peace at the quiet Travertine Creek, perfect for picnics. Explore the park’s fascinating limestone structures created by mineral-rich waters of the creek. Wrap up your visit with peaceful strolls around this natural haven.

Toltec Mounds, AR

Experience a bit of ancient history at Toltec Mounds. As home to one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Lower Mississippi Valley, it’s intriguing. Wander around the remaining earthen mounds and interpretive exhibits to discover the lost culture of Native Americans.

Elvis Presley’s Graceland, TN

Now, let’s rock ‘n’ roll to Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Once the home of the King of Rock and Roll himself, it’s now a monument to his life. Explore rooms adorned with Elvis’s possessions. Walk around the garden where he rests. Graceland truly embodies the charisma and spirit of Elvis!

Vicksburg National Military Park, MS

Vicksburg National Military Park is saturated with Civil War history. Examine the park’s 1,325 historic monuments and markers or study the restored USS Cairo gunboat. As you traverse the park, sense the echoes of one of America’s most impactful military engagements.

French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

Let’s immerse in the lively ambiance of the French Quarter, New Orleans. Known for its vibrant nightlife and colorful buildings, it’s the heart of the city. Explore historical sites like Jackson Square or indulge in Creole cuisine. In the evening, head to Bourbon Street for jazz music.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


USS Alabama, AL

Set sail for the USS Alabama. Acting now as a museum, this historical battleship played a role during World War II. A walk on its deck gives you a sense of life at sea for the crew. There’s also an aircraft pavilion displaying vintage planes to complete your military history experience.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL

Blast off to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a real treat for space enthusiasts. Explore the history of American space exploration with its impressive rocket launches and missile testing sites. Don’t miss out on witnessing an actual rocket launch if one is scheduled during your visit.

Okefenokee Swamp Park, GA

Dive into the extraordinary wilderness of Okefenokee Swamp Park. This park offers a close encounter with diverse wildlife and exotic plants in their natural habitats. Navigate through dark water trails on a guided boat tour or keep your eyes peeled for alligators basking in the sun.

Fort Sumter National Monument, SC

Anchors away to Fort Sumter National Monument. Known as the site where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, this sea fort has a lot of stories to tell. Visit the museum for a deeper understanding of the events that transpired here and prepare for a captivating history lesson!

Lost World Caverns, WV

In the Lost World Caverns, venture down into the depths of these caves and marvel at the majestic stalactites and stalagmites. For those seeking more thrills, sign up for the wild cave tour. This subterranean world will leave you with a sense of wonder and a lasting memory!

Watch this video to learn more:


Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center, NC

The Wright Brothers Visitor Center commemorates where mankind’s first powered flights took place. Step into recreated workshops where Orville and Wilbur Wright changed history. Don’t forget to pay homage to their achievement at the soaring monument overlooking Kill Devil Hill.

Mount Vernon, VA

Our road trip leads us to Mount Vernon, once George Washington’s home. Delve into the history of America’s first president walking through 18th century rooms. Engage in hands-on activities at the Pioneer Farm. Stand on his piazza for the view over the Potomac River.

White House, Washington, DC

We’ve arrived at our nation’s capital with the iconic White House. This symbol of presidential power offers guided tours that showcase its illustrious history and architecture. If scoring a tour invite proves tricky, stroll around President’s Park to enjoy views of the president’s residence.

Colonial Annapolis Historic District, MD

The cobblestone streets and Georgian buildings of the Colonial Annapolis Historic District simply ooze old-world charm. Take a leisurely roam around the Maryland State House or stroll past intricate colonial homes. Immerse yourself in 18th-century ambience and enjoy!

New Castle Historic District, DE

Discover the colonial charms of New Castle Historic District. This district is essentially an open-air museum where history comes to life. Wander around beautifully preserved 17th-century houses and public buildings. Visit the old court house, while you’re at it!

Cape May Historic District, NJ

Known for its Victorian charm with pastel-painted houses and lace-draped verandas, the picturesque Cape May Historic District is a step back in time. You can opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride or simply enjoy a relaxing walk. Don’t forget to visit their vintage candy shops!

Liberty Bell, PA

Let’s ring in some history at Liberty Bell. You should definitely visit this iconic symbol of American independence. Learning about its past and rich symbolism will make you appreciate its importance in our history. Don’t forget to get a photo with the bell. It’s an essential Philly keepsake!

Statue of Liberty, NY

We’ve reached the dynamic city of New York. Here stands the majestic Statue of Liberty, a universal symbol of freedom. You can admire her from afar or take a ferry ride to Liberty Island for a closer look. The stunning skyline view from her crown is truly unforgettable!

The Mark Twain House & Museum, CT

Set course for The Mark Twain House & Museum. This home once belonged to America’s beloved writer Samuel Clemens or better known as Mark Twain. Take a guided tour through beautifully preserved rooms. It’s a place that provides a rare insight into the author’s life!

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


The Breakers, RI

Next, we journey to the opulent Breakers Mansion. This iconic symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence is a sight to behold. Explore its richly adorned rooms and stroll around its Italian-inspired gardens. A visit here is like stepping into an extravagant era!

USS Constitution, MA

Get ready to set sail with USS Constitution. Known as ‘Old Ironsides’, it’s the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel still afloat. Discover its past through interactive exhibits at the museum or embark on a guided tour. It’s an intriguing day out for any maritime enthusiast!

Acadia National Park, ME

Let’s explore the magnificent Acadia National Park. Offering a unique blend of mountains and seacoast, it’s truly a hiking paradise. Ascend Cadillac Mountain for panoramic views or stroll along Sand Beach to feel nature’s rhythm. At day’s end, watch an unforgettable sunset.

Mount Washington Hotel, NH

Experience grandeur at the Mount Washington Hotel. This hotel boasts splendid architecture and beautiful interior design. Take a history tour to learn about its rich past, or simply enjoy high tea in its dining room. Its synthesis of luxury, history, and scenic beauty makes it a must-visit!

Shelburne Farms, VT

Next, feel the rural charm of Shelburne Farms. This working farm was once a Gilded Age estate. Now as an educational resource, it offers insights into sustainable farming and local food production. Visit for scenic walks, interactive exhibits, or sampling cheese made on site.

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


Fox Theater, Detroit, MI

Let’s now head to the Fox Theater, Detroit. Immerse yourself in the neon lights and stunning architecture of this historic venue. With a range of performances from Broadway shows to rock concerts, there’s something for everyone. Just being inside this theater is an experience!

Spring Grove Cemetery, OH

Our next stop is Spring Grove Cemetery. More than just a cemetery, this place is a beautiful arboretum housing diverse species of trees and flowers. Take a self-guided tour to discover its monuments amidst the landscape. It’s picturesque and carries an air of tranquil reflection!

Mammoth Cave National Park, KY

Pack your sense of adventure for Mammoth Cave National Park. This world’s longest known cave system stretches over 400 miles! Join a guided tour to navigate through fascinating subterranean landscapes and learn about the cave’s formation, residents, and history. 

Watch this video to learn more:


West Baden Springs Hotel, IN

Experience luxury at West Baden Springs Hotel. This historic hotel, known for its massive dome, was once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Luxuriate in its beautifully appointed rooms, relax in the spring-fed spa or simply admire the hotel’s stunning architecture. 

Abraham Lincoln’s Home, IL

Let’s step into history at Abraham Lincoln’s Home. Explore the residence where Lincoln lived before his presidency, beautifully preserved in its 1860s state. Wander through historical rooms full of original items, bringing you closer to understanding the man behind the legacy. 

Gateway Arch, MO

Prepare for a high point at the Gateway Arch. This iconic monument symbolizing the westward expansion of the US offers a tram ride to its top. From 630-feet above, enjoy breathtaking views of St. Louis cityscape and Mississippi River. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

C. W. Parker Carousel Museum, KS

Take a spin at the C. W. Parker Carousel Museum. This charming museum is dedicated to the celebration of classic American carousels. From antique carousels to restored versions ready for a ride, you’ll feel an old-world charm here. It’s a delightful stop on your journey!

Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion, IA

Stroll over to Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion. This architectural masterpiece, built during the Victorian era, is now the official gubernatorial residence. With its elaborate furnishings and manicured gardens, the mansion showcases a period of elegance and grandeur. 

Taliesin, WI

Let’s discover the stunning Taliesin. This estate designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright is a testament of his genius. With its harmonious connection to nature, it is often called Wright’s autobiography in wood and stone. Wander around his home for a unique architectural delight.

Fort Snelling, MN

Next, gear up for Fort Snelling. Dating back to the 1820s, it’s a great place to learn about military history from before statehood through World War II. Engage with interactive exhibits or walk around interactive stations. It’s an opportunity to experience history where it was made!

Ashfall Fossil Bed, NE

Dig into the past at Ashfall Fossil Bed. As the “Pompeii of prehistoric animals,” remnants of ancient creatures are fossilized in volcanic ash. Watch paleontologists uncovering these bones or observe displayed fossils. The mix of geology and paleontology is a sight to behold.

Watch this video to learn more:


Mount Rushmore, SD

Our drive takes us to Mount Rushmore, an iconic American landmark. Marvel at the colossal sculptures of four US presidents sculpted into the face of the mountain. Enjoy interpretive walks or participate in a ranger-guided tour. As dusk falls, attend a moving illumination ceremony.

Fort Union Trading Post, ND

Journey next to Fort Union Trading Post. As one of the most significant fur trading sites in American history, it offers a step into the frontier era. Roam around reconstructed sites while reenactors bring history to life or navigate through exhibit-filled rooms in the Bourgeois House. 

Glacier National Park, MT

Explore the pristine beauty of Glacier National Park. The park features glacial-carved peaks and valleys, crystal-clear lakes, and diverse wildlife. Whether you take a drive on Going-to-the-Sun Road or hike a trail amidst spectacular landscapes, it’s pure nature therapy aimed to impress!

Hanford Site, WA

Venture into the Hanford Site with caution. This former plutonium production complex played a significant role in the Manhattan Project during World War II. Visit the B Reactor Museum to learn about its historical significance. But remember, it’s still an active nuclear cleanup site. 

Columbia River Highway, OR

Take a picturesque drive on the Columbia River Highway. This historic highway weaves through forests, waterfalls, and magnificent vistas of the Columbia River Gorge. Don’t miss out on stopping at iconic sights like Multnomah Falls and Vista House. It’s a delightful journey!

San Francisco Cable Cars, CA

All aboard the San Francisco Cable Cars. These trams provide a charming way to traverse the city’s steep hills. Experience breathtaking views of the bay from the heights of Powell Street or hold on tight for a ride down into Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s quintessentially San Franciscan!

Watch this video to get a glimpse:


San Andreas Fault, CA

Prepare for a tremor of excitement at San Andreas Fault. This infamous earthquake zone traverses through various landscapes that bear evidence of tectonic activity. Grab a guide for a 4WD tour and admire the unique ecosystems and geological formations here. 

Hoover Dam, NV

Let’s venture to the magnificent Hoover Dam. This engineering marvel is nestled between the cliffs of Black Canyon. Take a guided tour inside the dam to understand its workings or simply admire it from observation decks. Don’t forget to enjoy the panoramic views of Lake Mead!

In Conclusion… 

While this ultimate road trip misses out on Alaska and Hawaii, it should still give you just about everything American history-buffs would want to see in the shortest period of time. Remember that you can start this roadtrip at any point in the journey, so you won’t have to miss out!