The Perfect Road Trip For Traveling America
Science has calculated the perfect road trip for traveling America.
We have listed all of the landmarks mentioned in the route here, but you can find out more about how this trip was calculated on Randy Olson's website.
Discovery News, with the help of Michigan State University doctoral candidate, Randy Olson, posed the question: is there such a thing as the perfect American road trip? According to their findings, there is.
Created using a sophisticated algorithm, this path allows you to start in any state – just hop on at the point that runs through yours and keep going until you’re back at your starting point!
We have listed all of the landmarks mentioned in the route here, but you can find out more about how this trip was calculated on Randy Olson's website.
1. Visit the Grand Canyon ARIZONA
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.
2. Visit Bryce Canyon National Park UTAH
Bryce Canyon National Park is a national park located in southwestern Utah in the United States. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon which, despite its name, is not a canyon but a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by wind, water, and ice erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks.
3. Visit Craters of the Moon National Monument IDAHO
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a national monument and national preserve located in the Snake River Plain in central Idaho, U.S.A. It is along US 20, between the small cities of Arco and Carey, at an average elevation of 5,900 feet (1,800 m) above sea level. The protected area's features are volcanic and represent one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. The Monument was established on May 2, 1924.
4. Visit Yellowstone National Park WYOMING
Yellowstone National Park, established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, is a national park located primarily in the U.S. state of Wyoming, though it also extends into Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, and is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features, especially Old Faithful Geyser, one of the most popular features in the park.
5. Visit Pikes Peak State Park IOWA
Pikes Peak State Park is an Iowa State Park located in northeastern Clayton County, situated on the limestone bluffs overlooking the Upper Mississippi River, opposite the confluence of the Wisconsin River. It is operated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It is nearly a thousand acres (4 km²) in extent. The nearest city is McGregor, Iowa. Iowa Highway 76 approximately defines its northern boundary.
6. Visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park NEW MEXICO
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a United States National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park for most visitors is the show cave, Carlsbad Caverns. Visitors to the cave can hike in on their own via the natural entrance, or take the elevator (the exit for everyone) directly to the Underground Lunchroom some 750 feet (230 m) below.
7. Visit The Alamo TEXAS
The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound, site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, and now a museum, in San Antonio, Texas. The compound, which originally comprised a sanctuary and surrounding buildings, was built by the Spanish Empire in the 18th century for the education of local Native Americans after their conversion to Christianity. In 1793, the mission was secularized and soon abandoned.
8. Visit The Platt Historic District OKLAHOMA
Chickasaw National Recreation Area is a National Recreation Area situated in the foothills of the Arbuckle Mountains in south-central Oklahoma near Sulphur.
9. Visit the Toltec Mounds ARKANSAS
Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park (3 LN 42), also known as Knapp Mounds, Toltec Mounds Site or Toltec Mounds, is an archaeological site from the Late Woodland period in Arkansas that protects an 18-mound complex with the tallest surviving prehistoric mounds in Arkansas. The site is on the banks of Mound Lake, an oxbow lake of the Arkansas River. It was occupied by its original inhabitants from 600 to 1050 CE. The site is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
10. Visit Graceland TENNESSEE
Graceland is a large white-columned mansion and 13.8-acre estate that was home to Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee. It is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the vast Whitehaven community about 9 miles (14.5 km) from Downtown and less than four miles (6 km) north of the Mississippi border. It currently serves as a museum. It was opened to the public on June 7, 1982.
11. Visit Vicksburg National Military Park MISSISSIPPI
Vicksburg National Military Park preserves the site of the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, waged from May 18 to July 4, 1863. The park, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Delta, Louisiana, also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign, which preceded the battle. Reconstructed forts and trenches evoke memories of the 47-day siege that ended in the surrender of the city. Victory here and at Port Hudson gave the United States control of the Mississippi River.
12. Visit the New Orleans French Quarter LOUISIANA
The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré, is the oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. When New Orleans (La Nouvelle-Orléans in French) was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, the city was originally centered on the French Quarter, or the Vieux Carré ("Old Square" in French) as it was known then. While the area is still referred to as the Vieux Carré by some, it is more commonly known as the French Quarter today, or simply "The Quarter.
13. Take a tour of the USS Alabama Battleship ALABAMA
USS Alabama (BB-60), a South Dakota-class battleship, was the sixth completed ship named Alabama of the United States Navy, however she was only the third commissioned ship with that name. Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and served in World War II in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. She was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to the reserve duty. She was retired in 1962. In 1964, Alabama was taken to Mobile Bay and opened as a museum ship the following year.
14. Visit Cape Canaveral Air Force Station FLORIDA
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) is an installation of the United States Air Force Space Command's 45th Space Wing, headquartered at nearby Patrick Air Force Base. Located on Cape Canaveral in the state of Florida, CCAFS is the primary launch head of America's Eastern Range with four launch pads currently active. The facility is south-southeast of NASA's Kennedy Space Center on adjacent Merritt Island, with the two linked by bridges and causeways.
15. Visit Okefenokee Swamp Park GEORGIA
Okefenokee Swamp Park, located near Waycross, Georgia, United States, is an entry point to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
16. Visit the Fort Sumter National Monument SOUTH CAROLINA
Fort Sumter is a Third System masonry coastal fortification located in Charleston harbor, South Carolina. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.
17. Visit the Lost World Caverns VIRGINIA
Lost World Caverns, located just outside of Lewisburg, West Virginia, is an underground natural series of caverns. In November 1973, the caverns were registered as a National Natural Landmark as they "feature terraced pedestal-like stalagmites, flowstone, curtains, rimstone, domepits, and waterfalls. " Originally named "Grapevine Cave", the only entrance was a long vertical drop into which farmers used to dump dead livestock and other trash.
18. Visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center NORTH CAROLINA
Wright Brothers National Memorial, located in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, commemorates the first successful, sustained, powered flights in a heavier-than-air machine. From 1900 to 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright came here from Dayton, Ohio, based on information from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the area's steady winds. They also valued the privacy provided by this location, which in the early twentieth century was remote from major population centers.
19. Visit Mount Vernon VIRGINIA
Mount Vernon, located near Alexandria, Virginia, was the plantation home of the first President of the United States, George Washington. The mansion is built of wood in neoclassical Georgian architectural style, and the estate is located on the banks of the Potomac River. Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
20. Visit the White House WASHINGTON, D.C.
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. , the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical style. It has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams.
21. Visit the Colonial Annapolis Historic District MARYLAND
Colonial Annapolis Historic District is a historic district in Annapolis, Maryland that was created as a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and was expanded in 1984. Capital of both the Colony and the State, and one of the first planned cities in colonial America. Many elements of the original town plan, surveyed in 1695, and about 120 18th-century buildings remain.
22. Visit the New Castle Historic District DELAWARE
New Castle Historic District is a site significant for its architecture from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. New Castle was founded by Peter Stuyvesant. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1967. The historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and it was relisted, perhaps with expanded boundaries, in 1984.
23. Visit the Cape May Historic District NEW JERSEY
The Cape May Historic District is an area of 380 acres (1.5 km) with over 600 buildings in the resort town of Cape May, New Jersey. The city claims to be America's first seaside resort and has numerous buildings in the Late Victorian style, including the Eclectic, Stick, and Shingle styles, as well as the later Bungalow style.
24. See the Liberty Bell PHILADELPHIA
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of American Independence, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Formerly located in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House, the bell was commissioned from the London firm of Lester and Pack in 1752, and was cast with the lettering "Proclaim throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.
25. Visit the Statue of Liberty NEW YORK
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence.
26. Visit the Mark Twain House in Hartford CONNECTICUT
The Mark Twain House and Museum was the home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) from 1874 to 1891 in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. Before 1874, Twain had lived in Hannibal, Missouri. The architectural style of the 19-room house is Victorian Gothic.
27. Visit The Breakers RHODE ISLAND
The Breakers is a Vanderbilt mansion located on Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island, United States on the Atlantic Ocean. It is a National Historic Landmark, a contributing property to the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, and is owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County.
28. Visit the USS Constitution MASSACHUSETTS
USS Constitution is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. Named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America, she is the world's oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. Launched in 1797, Constitution was one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed.
29. Visit Acadia National Park MAINE
Acadia National Park (ANP) is a National Park located in the U.S. state of Maine. It reserves much of Mount Desert Island, and associated smaller islands, off the Atlantic coast. Originally created as Lafayette National Park in 1919, the first National Park East of the Mississippi, it was renamed Acadia in 1929.
30. Visit the Mount Washington Hotel NEW HAMPSHIRE
The Mount Washington Hotel is a hotel near Mount Washington, in the town of Carroll, New Hampshire. The area is better known as Bretton Woods, and includes the Bretton Woods ski resort nearby. It is located at the northern end of Crawford Notch, 6 miles (10 km) east of the village of Twin Mountain, New Hampshire, along U.S. Route 302.
31. Visit Shelburne Farms VERMONT
Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit education center for sustainability, 1,400 acres (570 ha) working farm, and National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont. Shelburne Farms was created in 1886 by Dr. William Seward Webb and Eliza Vanderbilt Webb as a model agricultural estate.
32. Visit Fox Theater in Detroit MICHIGAN
The Fox Theatre is an ornate performing arts center in the United States, located at 2211 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit, Michigan, near the Grand Circus Park Historic District. Opened in 1928 as a flagship movie palace in the Fox Theatres chain, it is noted as the first theater designed and built to include a speaker system for sound films. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
33. Visit Spring Grove Cemetery OHIO
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum (733 acres) is a nonprofit garden cemetery and arboretum located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the second largest cemetery in the United States and is recognized as a US National Historic Landmark.
34. Visit Mammoth Cave National Park KENTUCKY
Mammoth Cave National Park is a U.S. National Park in central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world. The official name of the system is the Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave System for the ridge under which the cave has formed. The park was established as a national park on July 1, 1941. It became a World Heritage Site on October 27, 1981, and an international Biosphere Reserve on September 26, 1990.
35. Visit West Baden Springs Hotel INDIANA
The West Baden Springs Hotel is a historic landmark hotel in the town of West Baden Springs in Orange County, Indiana, United States, known for its vast domed atrium. It is currently part of the French Lick Resort. Prior to the completion of the Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1955, the building had the largest free-spanning dome in the United States and was the largest in the world from 1902 to 1913.
36. Visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site ILLINOIS
Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves the Springfield, Illinois home and an historic district where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861, before becoming the 16th President of the United States. The presidential memorial includes the four-blocks surrounding the home and a visitor center. The house, purchased by Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln in 1844, was the only home that Lincoln ever owned.
37. See the Gateway Arch in St. Louis MISSOURI
The Gateway Arch, also known as the Gateway to the West, is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri. It is 630 feet (192 m) wide at its base and stands 630 feet (192 m) tall, making it the tallest monument in the United States, and the tallest habitable structure in the state. It was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947. Construction started on February 12, 1963, and ended on October 28, 1965, costing $13 million.
38. Visit the C. W. Parker Carousel Museum KANSAS
The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum, also known as the Leavenworth Carousel Museum, is located in Leavenworth, Kansas and is one of several museums sponsored by the Leavenworth Historical Museum Association. Opened in 2005, the building houses carousels that are historically registered, as well as a C.W. Parker cylinder piano, an Artizan A-X-1 band organ, and a Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ. It also has several reproduced or repaired carousel horses.
39. Visit Terrace Hill Governor’s Mansion IOWA
Terrace Hill, also known as Hubbell Mansion, Benjamin F. Allen House, and Iowa Governor's Mansion, is the official residence of the Governor of Iowa. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, it is an example of Second Empire architecture. The home measures 18,000 square feet (1,600 m²). It sits on a hill overlooking downtown Des Moines, and has a 90 foot (27 m) tower that offers a commanding view of the city. The house became a National Historic Landmark in 2003.
40. Visit Taliesin WISCONSIN
Taliesin, near Spring Green, Wisconsin, was the summer home of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright began the building in 1911 after leaving his first wife, Catherine Tobin, and his Oak Park, Illinois, home and studio in 1909. The impetus behind Wright's departure was his affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who had been his client, along with her husband, Edwin Cheney. His winter home, Taliesin West, is located in Scottsdale, Arizona.
41. Visit Fort Snelling MINNESOTA
Fort Snelling, originally known as Fort Saint Anthony, was a military fortification located at the confluence of the Minnesota River and Mississippi River in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a National Park Service unit, includes historic Fort Snelling. Fort Snelling also refers to an unorganized territory in Hennepin County, Minnesota, containing the former fortification. The Census in 2000 enumerated a total population of 442.
42. Visit the Ashfall Fossil Beds NEBRASKA
The Ashfall Fossil Beds of Antelope County in northeastern Nebraska are among the rare preservation sites called lagerstätten, which preserve ecological "snapshots" from a moment in time, due to extraordinary local conditions that have preserved a range of fossilized organisms undisturbed. The Ashfall Fossil Beds are especially famous for fossils of mammals from the middle Miocene geologic epoch. The Ashfall Fossil Beds are stratigraphically part of the Serravallian-age Ogallala Group.
43. Visit Mount Rushmore SOUTH DAKOTA
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States. Sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and later by his son Lincoln Borglum, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot (18 m) sculptures of the heads of former United States presidents (in order from left to right) George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
44. Visit the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site NORTH DAKOTA
Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site is the site of a partially reconstructed trading post on the Missouri River and the North Dakota/Montana border twenty-five miles from Williston. It is one of the earliest declared National Historic Landmarks of the United States. The fort, perhaps first known as Fort Henry, was built in 1828 or 1829 by the Upper Missouri Outfit managed by Kenneth McKenzie and capitalized by John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company.
45. Visit Glacier National Park MONTANA
Glacier National Park is located in the U.S. state of Montana, bordering the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. The park encompasses over 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km) and includes parts of two mountain ranges (sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains), over 130 named lakes, more than 1,000 different species of plants and hundreds of species of animals.
46. Visit the Hanford Site WASHINGTON
The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, operated by the United States federal government. The site has been known by many names, including Hanford Works, Hanford Engineer Works or HEW, Hanford Nuclear Reservation or HNR, and the Hanford Project.
47. Travel the Historic Columbia River Highway OREGON
The Historic Columbia River Highway is an approximately 75-mile (120 km) scenic highway in the U.S. state of Oregon between Troutdale and The Dalles, built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922.
48. Ride on a San Francisco cable car CALIFORNIA
The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last manually operated cable car system. An icon of San Francisco, California, the cable car system forms part of the intermodal urban transport network operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway, or "Muni" as it is better known.
49. See the San Andreas Fault Line CALIFORNIA
The San Andreas Fault is a continental transform fault that runs a length of roughly 810 miles (1,300 km) through California in the United States. The fault's motion is right-lateral strike-slip (horizontal motion). It forms the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate.
50. Visit the Hoover Dam NEVADA
Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936, and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives.
OTHER FEATURE LISTS