The arrival of the interstate revolutionised the way Americans get around this enormous country. On 29 June 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway System into existence through the Federal Aid Highway Act. It set off a colossal engineering feat that changed road transportation forever in the US.
This massive country-wide road network currently stands at around 47,850 miles in length. It’s filled with great views and good pavement, so you can see the best of the USA in style. Whether you want to cruise through the Deep South, wind your way up the Atlantic Coast, or take on the big road trip from East to West, here are 7 of the best interstate travel routes in the USA.
1. Interstate 90: Seattle to Boston
Interstate 90 is the longest you can take on in the nation, crossing 13 states and 3,085 miles. It starts near Safeco Field in Seattle then passes through a tunnel under Mount Baker Ridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you leave Seattle, you’ll cross two floating bridges, including Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, the longest and widest floating bridge in the world.
You’ll then cross the scenic Lake Washington before continuing through places like Wallace in Idaho where the Battle of the Little Bighorn took place. Make a stop in the city of Cleveland, before reaching the end near the Logan International Airport in historic Boston.
2. Interstate 95: Miami to Houlton, Maine
I-95 may not be the longest interstate, but it covers the most states in the country, spanning 1,920 miles through 15 states plus the District of Columbia. This massive road takes you from the sunny shores of Miami to the cooler town of Houlton in Maine on the US-Canada border.
You’ll drive through the eastern greats of Miami, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Cruise along the Atlantic Ocean, before dipping inland through Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas. You’ll finish by humming through the gorgeous region of New England, including New Hampshire and your final stop, Maine.
GET INSPIRED BY: East Coast USA and Canada End New York
3. Interstate 80: San Francisco to Teaneck, New Jersey
Route 66 may be the most iconic path for an east-to-west road trip. But the I-80 takes the crown as the best interstate travel route through the middle of the USA, passing 11 states and 2,902 miles.
You’ll begin in the heart of San Francisco at Bay Bridge, crossing the Bonneville Salt Flats near the Great Salt Lake, and hitting parts of the California Trail in California and Nevada. Next up, you’ll climb to 8,000 feet above sea level in Wyoming and cover parts of the Oregon Trail through Wyoming and Nebraska.
You’ll then have a virtually straight 72-mile run outside of Lincoln, Nebraska – the longest of all US interstates. After that, you’ll get to explore some of the lesser-visited states like Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. Leaving the pretty cornfields behind, you’ll move through the cosmopolitan stars like Chicago and Cleveland, before ending your journey in Teaneck, New Jersey, just a few miles shy of New York City.
GET INSPIRED BY: Journey Along California’s Pacific Coast Highway
4. Interstate 10: Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida
While the I-80 takes the more picturesque, pastoral route through the middle of the United States, Interstate 10 is all about travelling coast to coast through the American South. It spans 2,460 miles, starting on the shores of Los Angeles at the iconic Santa Monica Pier. It then winds its through eight states including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
You’ll journey through flat desert roads, cruising from 5,000 feet to below sea level as you hop between famous cities like Tucson, El Paso, Phoenix, Houston and Mobile. You’ll then pass by Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans, where you’ll cross the six-mile causeway known as the Twin Span Bridge. You’ll end your boot-scootin’ trip on the beaches of Jacksonville in Florida.
GET INSPIRED BY: San Diego, Palm Springs and Orange County Beaches
5. Interstate 40: Barstow, California, to Wilmington, North Carolina
Interstate 40 also cuts through the middle of the USA, but this route starts at a junction of pioneer trails at the city of Barstow in California’s Mojave Desert. From there, it’s 2,500 scenic miles to the end at Wilmington in North Carolina. Wilmington is a port city gateway to the Cape Fear Coast beaches and Cape Fear River where the Battleship of North Carolina is moored.
Between Barstow and Wilmington, you’ll see plenty of iconic sights like Oklahoma City, historic Little Rock, and Albuquerque where you can go to the famous balloon festival. You’ll also tap your toes from Nashville, the home of country music, to Memphis, home of the blues. The most scenic part of this interstate travel route takes you to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. You’ll also get your kicks along Route 66 for the western part of the journey.
GET INSPIRED BY: Southwest Native Trails with Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
6. Interstate 70: Cove Fort, Utah, to Baltimore, Maryland
The I-70 contains the oldest section of all US interstate travel routes in Kansas and Missouri. It’s also got one of the most recently built sections of any interstate, with the last stretch finished in 1992. The route starts in Cove Fort in Uth and runs for 2,175 miles through 10 states including famous cities like Denver, Kansas City, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
Along the way, you’ll come across highlights like the Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest vehicular tunnel in the world. It’s also the highest point in the whole USA interstate system at 11,158 feet. You’ll cross quite a bit of history, as the I-70 was the first interstate to go through previously uncharted territory in Utah’s San Rafael Swell. It also has the longest stretch of interstate without any services. You’ll definitely want to stock up snacks before you take on this interstate road trip!
7. Interstate 75: Miami to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan
If you want to take an epic journey through America’s Southeast, take the I-75. It starts in Miami and crosses six states over 1,787 miles, ending in Sault Sainte Marie near the US-Canada border. You’ll pass through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, with stops in buzzing cities like Atlanta, Chattanooga, Lexington and Cincinnati.
You’ll also get a taste of America’s natural beauty, as you pass over the Cumberland Mountains and follow the shore of Lake Erie to Detroit. Once you get to Michigan, you’ll get to cross the star of I-75, Mackinac Bridge. This impressive 26,000-foot-long bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
GET INSPIRED BY: Spirit of the South
Are you dreaming of an interstate trip? What is your favourite interstate travel route in the USA? Let us know in the comments below! For more epic journeys across the USA, take a look at our new Near Not Far Limited Series of trips.