10 Most Scenic Summer Drives in the U.S.

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HD in the sunsetIn a popular song, written by Marvin Gaye and originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas, the lyrics state that “Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets.” I don’t know about dancing in the streets but it is certainly right for hitting the streets for a scenic drive or a full-blown road-trip. Whether you ride (motorcycle) or drive (car, truck, van, or SUV), you’ll enjoy your vacation more by taking a scenic route to your destination.

Here is a list of 10 popular scenic highways in the U.S. Maybe it’ll help you get some ideas for a summertime vacation destination.

  1. Hawaii Belt – Hawaii

Hawaii BeltLet’s face it; if you can make it to Hawaii, virtually everything is beautiful. As far as scenic highways, there is nothing like what locals call the Hawaii Belt. State routes 11, 19, and 120 form a circle around the perimeter of Hawaii’s Big Island. The trip is about 300-miles and you can expect to see snow-white beaches, huge volcanic lava formations, lush jungle, farmland, and mountainous terrain with deep valleys.

  1. Overseas Highway – Florida

Overseas HighwayThis 113-mile series of roads and bridges stretches from the U.S. mainland to our country’s southernmost point. The focal point of the journey is the Knight’s Key Bridge (now called the Seven Mile Bridge). It spans 7-miles of water and is breathtaking to traverse.

  1. Finger Lakes – New York

Finger LakesEleven lakes make up the Finger Lakes of New York. They stretch from Syracuse to Rochester and feature many beautifully cascading waterfalls and stunning gorges. The loop around the lakes is best begun near Ithaca and covers around 175-miles. Lovely lakefront homes, wineries, and farmland are among the attractions along the way. Allow yourself a couple of days to enjoy the surroundings.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway – California

Hwy 1 CaliforniaThis route offers what is arguably the most beautiful scenery on the planet. The Pacific Coast Highway hugs the cliffs and coastline of southern California for 123-miles. Also known as California State Highway 1, this route presents hairpin turns, narrow shoulders, and steep drop-offs but the scenery that you will encounter along the way is unforgettable.

  1. Going-To-The-Sun-Road – Montana

Going-to-the-Sun RoadThis 2-hour long trip bisects the Glacier National Park in Montana. It is a little off the beaten path but offers iconic views of glacial lakes and valleys, alpine tundra, and alpine forests. It also crosses the continental divide at Logan Pass which has an elevation of 6,646-feet.

  1. Skyline Drive – Virginia

Skyline DriveCresting the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is a 105-mile stretch of road called Skyline Drive. The paved road winds gently through the Shenandoah National Park, takes three-hours to drive, and offers 75 scenic overlooks along the way. Cars, recreational vehicles, and trailers are all welcome; providing they can clear the 12-foot 8-inch Mary’s Rock Tunnel.

  1. Seward Highway – Alaska

Camper on Exit Glacier RoadThis scenic 127-mile byway connects the Alaskan cities of Anchorage and Seward. In addition to steep cliffs and deep gorges, you might also expect to see gorgeous waterfalls, glaciers, sheep, eagles, moose, and beluga whales. You will pass through numerous fishing villages and mining towns on this five-hour trek and you may even want to try your luck panning gold.

  1. San Juan Skyway – Colorado

San Juan SkywayKnown as “the road to the sky” by local citizens, this 233-mile journey will take you about 5-hours to drive (if you go straight through). Most people make it a two-day trip to enjoy the beautiful culture and scenery. A picturesque view of the San Juan mountains is complimented by quaint mountain towns, Native American pueblo ruins, steep cliffs, alpine forests, and cascading waterfalls.

  1. Brandywine Valley – Pennsylvania and Delaware

Brandywine ValleyAlthough this scenic excursion (through the Brandywine Watershed) is only 12-miles, it passes through 2-states. The extravagant mansions and gardens along the way offer life-changing scenery and the Brandywine River Museum hosts many classic pieces of art available for your perusal. The rolling green hills and lush forests inspire images of the many historical events that have unfolded there.

  1. Patchwork Parkway – Utah

Patchwork ParkwayThis 51-mile highway connects Utah highways 89 and 12. The route includes historic pioneer communities at either end and takes about 2-hours to drive. The Patchwork Parkway is named after historic pioneers who laid quilts over the snow to protect their feet from freezing. It offers many scenic overlooks where one may pull over and take-in the scenery.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.