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On the road again: Classic American road trip movies to inspire your next adventure

Recently updated on July 13th, 2023 at 11:03 am

If driving along Route 66 is on your travel bucket list, look no further than these classic American road trip movies for inspiration. From old time favourites like Easy Rider to modern day films like Green Book, there’s no shortage of films documenting the American road trip that will leave you wanting to hit the road yourself.

Thelma & Louise

As far as American road trip movies go, Thelma & Louise is one of the most popular — and for good reason. This 1991 classic is about two women, Thelma & Louise, who set off on a weekend fishing trip from their home in Arkansas. They get into some trouble at the start of their trip and decide to flee to Mexico, only to discover even more commotion along the way.

While the movie was set on a fictional route, it was filmed predominately in California and Utah. Thelma & Louise was nominated for six Academy Awards and took home the prize for Best Original Screenplay.

Little Miss Sunshine

When you think of an American road trip, chances are you think of a bright yellow VW camper van. In Little Miss Sunshine, this stereotype holds true. The classic van was the vehicle of choice for the Hoover family who set off from New Mexico to California to have their seven-year-old compete in a beauty pageant. This star-studded Oscar-winning indie film offers some stunning shots that will inspire you to hit the road.

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Rain Man

Starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, Rain Man is one of the most popular road trip movies out there. It follows two brothers on a journey across the country to collect a fortune left by their late father. The film resonated with viewers and critics alike. Not only was it the highest-grossing movie in 1988, it also won four Oscars, including the award for Best Picture and Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman).

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Easy Rider

Two motorcyclists set off to New Orleans from Los Angeles with a large sum of money earned from a successful drug deal. This 1969 classic, which was released the same year as Woodstock, portrays the sub-cultures of the 1960s, from hippie culture to drug use, with the American Southwest as a backdrop. It was one of the most talked-about films at the time and still remains a classic today.

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National Lampoon’s Vacation

For a family friendly classic, look no further than National Lampoon’s Vacation. It follows the Griswolds’ eventful and entertaining road trip to Walley World theme park. The success of this funny — and relatable — 1983 film led to several sequels including European Vacation and Christmas Vacation.

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Green Book

One of the more recent and notable American road trip films is Green Book. Set in 1962 and based on a true story, the plot is about a pianist and his driver who embark on a two-month long tour through the Deep South and Midwest. Uncovering important issues of family and race, it impressed critics and viewers and earned several prestigious awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018.

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Almost Famous

This film follows a young music journalist who tours with a famous rock band in the 1970s. It’s funny, romantic and has some great music. The scenes of the tour bus driving through America paired with the catchy rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack will leave you inspired to book your next adventure.

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Do you have any favourite American road trip movies that we left out? Let us know in the comments.

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