Driving is a great way to get to know someone. So much time sequestered in a vehicle together, facing the open road leads to plenty to talk about!
Especially in this time of social distancing, scenic or iconic drives can be the perfect first date to get to know someone you met through online dating.
Here are scenic drives across the United States that are not to be missed! Pick your favorite or the closest to you and plan your next date.
17-Mile Drive–Monterey, CA
The name is a little misleading– this drive is only about ten miles long! But it is a beautiful drive along the Monterey Bay and you’ll be able to see seals and pelicans on the shore. It’s a great place to take pictures and isn’t a drive you’ll forget anytime soon.
My now-husband and I once took some engagement photos along this drive. Looking for a pro tip? Go after 10am so that the fog has lifted and you’ll have better views.
North Shore Scenic Drive–Duluth, MN
This drive is about 150 miles long so take it all in or take in only part of it. It’s up to you! This byway follows the shore of Lake Superior (the world’s largest freshwater lake!) and gives access to eight state parks. Drive between Duluth and Two Harbors and then admire the lighthouse in Two Harbors.
Coastal Connection National Scenic Byway–Alabama
Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, this byway offers views of beaches, wildlife preserves, and historic sites. Known for showcasing the link between the traditions of the Deep South and a laid-back island lifestyle, you’ll be able to see plenty of wildlife and cool things like gunships from past naval battles!
Bayshore Byway Route 9–New Castle to John Dickinson Plantation, DE
Delaware’s Bayshore Byway is a scenic, two-lane road that follows along the Delaware River and Bay Estuary offering views of the largest preserved coastal marshland on the east coast. Route 9 provides great views of spring and fall bird migration as well as stops in the historic cities of Old New Castle and Dover (Delaware’s Capital). The byway covers much of the state geographically and is approximately 100 miles of travel depending on your route selection.
The Overseas Highway–Key West, FL
This 110-mile stretch of highway runs the length of the Florida Keys and, therefore, goes over many bridges, giving you a drive and an experience like no other.
Take your time on this drive, especially because it’s only a two-lane highway for most of the drive and a little dangerous to pass. But that’s okay! The breathtaking views will have you wanting to spend a lot of time on this drive.
Woodpecker Trail Routes 25/121–Georgia
Here you’ll see many woodpeckers in the pine forests on this drive. They’re how this route gets its name! The whole route runs 620 miles from Charlotte, NC to St. Petersburg, FL, but the Georgia portion is 204 miles from Augusta to Folkston. This is a unique opportunity to see beautiful pine forests and their natural inhabitants.
Extra cool: The Metter Welcome Center is a fully restored 1928 Lumber Mill commissary.
Hana Highway–Maui, HI
This is the longest rain forest highway in America and therefore absolutely breathtaking (as if Hawaii wasn’t already breathtaking). This lush, scenic drive will take you through rain forests, along the coast, and beside beautiful waterfalls. But! This drive isn’t for the faint of heart.
With 617 hairpin curves and 59 unforgiving one-lane bridges, and many blind spots along the way, this can be a harrowing drive! But it’s worth it. The speed limit is 25 mph or less the entire way, putting the drive time at an average of about 2.5 hours without stops.
Historic Route 66–Chicago, IL
2400 miles of historic, scenic, and long-driven road from Chicago to Los Angeles, this is a drive everyone should do at least once. It was the first all-weather, continuously paved highway in America. This storied path is legendary for spawning America’s signature roadside architecture and attractions, vestiges of which remain today.
While this drive crosses many states (and all of it is worth the drive), start in Chicago where there is plenty to see and do.
Flint Hills National Scenic Byway–Kansas
This drive offers incredible views of the native grasses and flowers of the tall grass prairie. It’s one of the last remaining landscapes like it left in America. Much of the land along the Byway looks as it did thousands of years ago when the Kaw, Osage and other native tribes lived here. Early settlers navigated the famous Santa Fe Trail through there.
Today, the Flint Hills area is home to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and such historic venues as the Kaw Nation Heritage Park and Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Museum.
Going-to-the-Sun Road–Glacier National Park, MT
A spectacular and scenic 52-mile highway through Glacier National Park, which crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass in Montana. There are plenty of trails to explore here, too, so wear good hiking shoes! Going-to-the-Sun Road offers magnificent views of towering mountains, cascading waterfalls and verdant, tree-filled valleys. There are plenty of turnouts to stop and take in the beauty.
Remember that there are several hairpin turns and not all of the road is open year-round, so check before you go.
Kancamagus Highway–Conway, NH
Kancamagus Highway also known as Highway 112 runs from Center Conway to North Woodstock, just south of Franconia Notch. Passing through the White Mountain National Forest, it is considered one of the most scenic highways in the U.S. It’s not hard to see why! It offers one of the most beautiful routes through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, especially during the fall foliage season.
A trip across the “Kanc” is a highlight for most visitors to the White Mountain National Forest. The 34 mile long scenic byway connects with the White Mountain Trail to make a loop.
Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway–New York
Taking the Whiteface Veterans’ Memorial Highway to the top of Whiteface Mountain leads you directly to the summit of a mountain, with gorgeous views spanning hundreds of miles of wild land reaching as far as Vermont and Canada. The paved road rises over 2,300 feet in five miles from the Toll House.
At the summit you’ll find a castle built from native stone, a restaurant and gift shop, an elevator carved deep inside the mountain top itself, and a 360-degree, panoramic view of the whole area.
Newfound Gap Road–Great Smokey Mountains National Park, TN and NC
The 33-mile drive from Gatlinburg to Cherokee North Carolina along Newfound Gap Road (US 441) is the only route that completely traverses the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The drive offers a unique opportunity to enjoy an abbreviated experience of everything the park has to offer, without necessarily trekking far from your automobile.
The drive takes about one hour, depending on traffic, or several hours if you stop frequently to take in all the gorgeous sights (totally recommend!).
Highland Scenic Highway–Marlinton, WV
The Highland Scenic Highway is a beautiful corridor through Monongahela National Forest and extends forty-three miles from Richwood to US Route 219, north of Marlinton, WV. The Highway traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau, and rises from Richwood, elevation 2,325 feet, to over 4,500 feet along the Parkway.
The highway is a paved two-lane road, designated as State Routes 39 and 150. Rt. 150 is a 23-mile Parkway section that is not maintained in the winter. Travel is discouraged on Rt. 150 between November and March, sometimes April. This drive will take a little more than three hours during good weather.
Pacific Coast Highway–California
Like historic Route 66, this is another American must-drive. While this fabled highway runs the entire length of the Pacific Coast, from the southern most point in California up through Washington state, any stretch of it in California is worth the time (and possible traffic). The route includes the famous Big Sur section, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and mile after mile of incredible coast.
If you follow it north-bound, you can also take a detour off of the 101 to the Redwoods.
Million Dollar Highway–Colorado
This stunning drive climbs through the San Juan Mountains between Ouray and Silverton, including the beautiful Red Mountain Pass which lies at 11,018 feet. It’s particularly beautiful in the winter– snowy mountains!– but it can be treacherous with frequent switchbacks and the chance of avalanches blocking the road.
This route runs from Homer Alaska, up to Anchorage, then cuts east to Tok near the Canadian Border. The scenes are filled with snow-capped mountains that reached down to the sea, and immense glaciers. Be sure to explore the Matanuska Glacier on your way east of Anchorage.
You can also stop at Denali National Park or take in the Northern Lights in Fairbanks. Something completely different to do in Alaska is to go down to Seward!
What list of scenic drives to take while social distancing would be complete without a highway named Loneliest?
Highway 50 was given this nickname in 1986 and the state latched on to it in celebration. It runs across the entire middle of the state from Lake Tahoe in the west to the Utah border in the east. It crosses over seventeen mountain passes, reaching elevations of over 7,000 feet, and features steep grades and hairpin turns at times. This is an incredible and beautiful drive through a remote and wild part of America. Sand Mountain can be found along the way and is not to be missed!
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive but these are some of the great American drives that will give you plenty to take in and talk about. My now-husband and I took many drives through different parts of California while we were dating and engaged and they provided a great opportunity to discover more about each other, about the world around us, and to explore together.