Here’s a list of spring road trip ideas to explore the United States.
We’ve asked fellow travelers to share their favorite spring road trip destinations, activities and tips to help you plan your vacation.
Use our list of spring vacation ideas and the information below to know what to pack, where to stay and more to create your itinerary!
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What to Pack for a Spring Vacation
Packing for a trip in the spring means being prepared for any type of weather!
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE US National Park Packing List!
2. Hiking Gear
- Spring hiking at some national parks may mean wet trails, and even some patches of snow! You’ll want waterproof hiking boots.
- Hiking socks that breathe … and if they prevent blisters, that’s even better: → Check out the BEST SOCKS by Darn Tough!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
3. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece or insulated jacket: → Columbia fleece jackets are our favorite!
- Waterproof rain jacket
- WATER: → Use refillable water bottles or a hydration backpack
- FOOD: → Check out our list of healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Guide books
- Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD the free camera gear checklist!
- Photography gear for hiking
Spring Road Trip Ideas in the US
When looking at US road trip ideas to take in the spring, keep in mind that spring is a busy time of year when people take advantage of time off for spring break. Try to avoid the holidays around Easter, spring break and Memorial Day. Those times are especially busy!
Here are additional ideas and resources for planning your spring break vacation:
- 20 US Spring Break Vacation Ideas
- Spring Break Ideas that Avoid the Beach
- US National Parks in the Spring
- Spring Packing Lists for National Parks
- Family Road Trip Items to Pack
- Healthy Road Trip Snacks
- Spring Landscape Photography Gear
Spring Road Trips in the Western US
Utah National Parks
Visiting Utah National Parks in the spring is a popular time of year so be prepared for crowds!
There are 5 National Parks in Utah to enjoy beautiful views and outdoor adventures like hiking, biking, climbing, and off-roading.
We’ve created a handy Utah National Park road trip itinerary to help you know what to pack, where to stay, things to do and how many days to stay at each park.
- Arches National Park in the Spring
- Bryce Canyon National Park in the Spring
- Canyonlands National Park in the Spring
- Capitol Reef National Park in the Spring
- Zion National Park in the Spring
Here are more things to do in Utah during spring break:
Rocky Mountain National Park
In need of some spring road trip ideas in the US? Then head to Rocky Mountain National Park and take the 48-mile long trail ridge road through the park’s magnificent landscape.
This stunning byway is a designated All American Road that takes you from Estes Park in the east to Grand Lake in the west. In fact, at its highest point, this road soars 12,183 feet in the air and makes for an ideal road trip for spring travelers who want to avoid the crowds of the summer.
Plus, animals give birth at this time of year. So, you’ll see baby elk, moose, and bighorn sheep frollicing around the park. Snow also melts at this time of year so local waterfalls will be at their most impressive.
Embark on a gorgeous road trip that doubles as one of the best things to do in Colorado since you’ll drive through mountains where you can see wildflowers bloom, between late-April through early-May, on trails like Nymph Lake, Cub Lake, Ouzel Falls, and Ute Trail.
Just note that due to snow, this road doesn’t typically open until May. And that’s fine since you can enjoy a stay at the famed Stanley Hotel in Estes Park before grabbing some hearty mountain fare at Bird & Jim. (Recommended by Meg, Fox in the Forest)
Did you know that Idaho was home to more than 60 officially named waterfalls? Why not spend a few days in the spring, when the waterfalls flow at their strongest, for a waterfall chasing road trip?
Start your road trip in Twin Falls, where you can admire the Shonefall Falls. If the weather is great, renting kayaks or paddleboards to paddle at the base of the waterfall will make your road trip memorable.
Then, head to the Perrine Coulee where you can walk behind the waterfall. Be careful as it can be slippery, but totally worth it to get a little wet.
Then, you’ll want to make your way to Niagara Springs Falls and Lemon Falls in the Ritter Island unit of the Thousands Springs State Park. If time allows, try to visit Ritter Island and learn about the history there.
End your road trip in Idaho Falls where you can walk along the Idaho Falls. There’s a nice pedestrian path. From Twin Falls, make a small detour to Craters of the Moon before reaching Idaho Falls. You’ll get to walk on lava fields and lava tube caves. (Recommended by Emilie from Love Life Abroad)
One of the best drives to take in the spring is a road trip along the Oregon Coast – the gorgeous cliffs over the ocean, adorable seaside towns, and the scenic beaches and forests will have you picking your jaw up off the floor of the car! Spring is a great time for this road trip because summers are incredibly busy on the Oregon Coast, and it’s hard to enjoy the views with so many people around – spring is much quieter.
Keep in mind that it’s often rainy on the coast, so you’ll need some waterproof gear! The good news is that it’s rarely more than a light drizzle, so with a good rain jacket you’ll get to enjoy the lush greenery and stunning views, and have the scenery all to yourself.
You can start your road trip in Portland – explore the city for a bit before driving west to Cannon Beach. In the town of Cannon Beach you’ll find one of the most iconic beaches on the coast, along with lots of great places to stay and eat. Stay at the Surfsand Resort, or in a private cottage by the beach. Head south, and check out the hikes in Oswald West State Park, the cute town of Lincoln City, the Sea Lion Caves, and the remote Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor on your trip! (Recommended by Anna from Anna Tee)
- Oregon Bucket List
- Oregon with Kids
- Portland Bucket List
- Portland with Kids
- Oregon Photography Locations
One of the best spring road trips in the United States is along the California Coast. From Big Sur down through southern California, the coast is beautiful and there are so many fun things to see and do along the way.
Spring is a great time for this road trip because you will be ahead of the busy summer travel season but still have really nice weather. Temperatures are starting to increase so you’ll have plenty of sunny days to enjoy on your road trip.
One part of the coastline that you should spend a day or two exploring is Big Sur. There are so many fun things to do in Big Sur. This part of the California coast has beautiful cliffs, amazing ocean views, and great hiking trails. Be sure to take a picture with Bixby Bridge and check out the purple sand at Pfeiffer Beach.
If you’re headed north from Big Sur, some other fun stops are Point Lobos, Point Reyes Station, the Crescent City Lighthouse, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The more scenic and outdoorsy stops for the most part are going to be north of Big Sur.
Some of the fun stops south of Big Sur are Point Loma in San Diego and the Santa Monica Pier.
Depending on how much of the coast you want to drive, you can start in Los Angeles and make your way north to depart out of San Francisco. This section of the coast covers about 440 miles taking about 8 hours to drive. This is a great road trip route if you have about seven days. (Recommended by Candice from CS Ginger)
Southern California Desert Loop
A road trip from Los Angeles to the desert is the quintessential Southern California experience. After visiting Los Angeles, it’s only a 2 hour drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Explore the interesting landscape and take advantage of the many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking and rock climbing. Catch the sunset before checking into your lodging or camping under the stars in this Dark Sky park, if you are up for the adventure.
A quick 45 minute drive will take you past the infamous windmills to the oasis of Palm Springs where you can soak up the sun all day before retreating to cooler temperatures at night. Whether it’s golfing, grabbing dinner with friends, or taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the snow, there are plenty of things to do here that you’ll never forget!
Next up is the Salton Sea, and a stop at the once thriving resort community Bombay Beach, now the home of post-apocalyptic art installations. From there it’s only a 20 minute drive to Salvation Mountain, a man-made hill made entirely of colorful paint and religious messages. It’s a popular tourist destination, and well worth a visit on this quick road trip. (Recommended by Jenifer from The Evolista)
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon
If you want to see some of the most iconic landscapes in the Southwest without enduring the triple digit heat, plan your visit for spring, the best time for hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
One of the best road trips in the region is Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park. Spring is the perfect time to visit these iconic venues before the high season begins in summer and hot temperatures move in.
You can easily spend a few days in Grand Canyon hiking and exploring scenic vistas like Havasupai Falls, North and West Rim. For best experience consider spending a few nights in the park so you can explore all of the incredible hikes in the area.
Consider adding Page to your road trip. Page is a town in Northern Arizona that is home to Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the iconic Lake Powell.
This small town on the border of Utah and Arizona is a true adventurer’s paradise thanks to its magnificent desert scenery and many opportunities for hiking and boat activities on the lake.
Summer is a very busy time in Page and you will have a much experience in spring, before the peak season. (Recommended by Daria from The Discovery Nut)
Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon
Phoenix is the ideal place to start a fantastic Arizona road trip. Go for a hike up Camelback Mountain, explore historic downtown Scottsdale, or wander the botanical garden.
The drive from Phoenix to Sedona may take 2 – 2.5 hours. Montezuma Castle National Monument, the old west town of Black Canyon City, and Jerome, the largest ghost town in America, are all worth a stop.
Sedona is one of the prettiest places on earth, with its dramatic red rock landscape against the bold blue skies. It is a true outdoor paradise with plenty of hiking trails and fun excursions. Sedona is also strong with healing and rejuvenation. Home to several energy vortexes, and incredible spas, you will leave Sedona feeling better than when you arrived. Stay at Sky Rock for some of the most spectacular red rock views.
It is a two-hour drive from Sedona to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, through incredible scenery that will show you why Arizona has earned the nickname “The Grand Canyon State”. Self-drive the south rim and enjoy some hiking to see it from different perspectives. The size and scale of the Grand Canyon will blow your mind.
Road tripping in Arizona during spring, you’ll have more comfortable weather while still being able to enjoy the sun and warmth. (Recommended by Debbie from World Adventurists)
San Diego to Phoenix
Spring is the perfect time to go on a road trip from San Diego to Phoenix. Since Phoenix gets very hot in the summer months, and you will be driving through the desert, it’s best to go on this road trip during the spring, since the weather is just perfect!
There are many adventures and places to explore on your way from San Diego to Phoenix, here are some of my favorite:
Sunrise Highway – one of the prettiest spots in San Diego, and is a great place to start your road trip to Phoenix! There are plenty of hike options out here, my favorite hike is the Garnet Peak.
Goat Trestle Canyon – another beautiful hike between San Diego and Phoenix. There are two routes to this hike, a 5-mile route and a 16-mile route.
Yuma State Prison Museum – stop here to experience what a prisoner would have gone through in the 1800s at Yuma State Prison. This prison has turned into a museum, and you can explore it for $8 per person.
Dateland – another super fun stop along the way is Dateland. This place is known for its world-famous dates! You can pick up delicious milkshakes and explore the place! (Recommended by Chelsey from Chelsey Explores)
A road trip through New Mexico is one of the best spring road trip ideas in the United States. New Mexico has a ton of outdoor wonders and Native American sacred sites. The weather in New Mexico is perfect during the springtime. It is not overly hot yet and the winter weather has turned warmer.
To start off the New Mexico road trip, you will want to fly into Albuquerque. In Albuquerque make sure to check out the views of Sandia Peak and take a hike through Petroglyph National Monument.
After Albuquerque, head to Alamogordo to visit White Sands National Park. This 145,762 acre park is made up of gypsum crystals giving it the white appearance. The Alkali Flats hike is the most picturesque and takes you through many sand dunes.
Next, head to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This cave is full of calcite formations and is known for its 4000 foot long limestone “Big Room.” Visitors will not be sorry spending time wandering through the ah-inspiring formations.
From Carlsbad, pass through Rosewell on the way to Santa Fe. Roswell is a kitschy alien town known for its alien themed decor. Visitors can stop at the UFO Museum, stroll around Downtown, and check out the flying saucer McDonalds.
Once in Santa Fe, make sure to check out the capitol building, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Loretto Chapel. From there, you can head back to Albuquerque to complete this New Mexico road trip. (Recommended by Francesca from Homeroom Travel)
Austin to San Antonio
If you’re in need of spring road trip ideas in the US, then embark on a magical, 80-mile long drive between Austin and San Antonio. Not only will this iconic route take you past some of the state’s best scenery, but you’ll enjoy amazing food and stunning historic sites as you make the 1.5 hour drive between two of the state’s most popular cities.
After you walk around Lady Bird Lake and enjoy some live music on Austin’s East 6th Street, continue south to San Marcos. See stunning Spring Lake before continuing south to New Braunfels and admiring the area’s historic German district.
Along the way, be sure to take lots of photos as you marvel at the gorgeous Texas bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, and other wildflowers that proliferate throughout the area at this exquisite time of year.
Finally, end your epic Texas road trip in magical San Antonio. Once here, you can take a stroll along the stunning San Antonio Riverwalk before enjoying some decadent, Tex-Mex inspired cuisine from the outdoor patio at Acenar. While you’re here, you can also shop at El Mercado and visit the Alamo before spending the night at Hotel Valencia with its chic, Spanish-inspired decor. (Recommended by Keti from Enchanted Texas)
Texas Hill Country
Now I don’t know about you, but one thing I love is a good road trip. What makes a good road trip even better? Having a destination that doesn’t take that long to get to, yet you feel as though you’re transported to a different place when you arrive.
Marble Falls, Texas, also known as the Texas Hill Country, does just that. Marble Falls is about an hour away from Austin (sometimes longer depending on traffic) and it’s the perfect weekend getaway. Upon arrival, you’ll be blown away by rolling hills, rivers, and history.
While visiting, I decided to go to Flat Creek Estate Winery & Vineyard for a fun wine tour. This wine tour is convenient because you can actually stay and enjoy a delicious three course meal. However if wine isn’t your thing, there are a plethora of options you can partake in. Such as visiting one of the many delicious restaurants, going rock climbing, fishing, splurging at one of the many shops, or listening to music downtown at Brass Hall.
The best time to visit by far would have to be in spring due to the weather. Texas can get very hot in the summer so I’d suggest visiting the Texas Hill Country in spring where the temps are much milder and pleasant. I hope I piqued your interest in visiting the lone star state and taking a quick road trip outside of Austin with your friends, family, or special someone. (Recommended by Lenore from The Nitty Gritty Travel OT)
Spring Road Trips in the Eastern US
Shenandoah National Park
Looking for a great spring road trip idea? Why not visit Shenandoah National Park in Virginia? This beautiful park offers stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are plenty of things to do in Shenandoah National Park, including hiking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding. You can also visit one of the many historic villages in the area, or go wine tasting at one of the local vineyards.
Spring is the best time to visit this national treasure due to its mild temperatures and lush greenery. Shenandoah National Park is located in the Shenandoah Valley, which offers spectacular scenery year-round. The park has over 500 miles of hiking trails, including ones for all levels of experience from beginner to expert. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for camping throughout Shenandoah as well!
For a great after-hike meal, check out The Mountain Taproom where you can enjoy Shenandoah Valley microbrews and wood-fired pizzas. When you are ready to turn in for the night, a unique place to stay is at the Lewis Mountain Cabins where you will be surrounded by Shenandoah National Park.
No matter what time of year you visit, Shenandoah National Park is a beautiful and unique destination for a road trip. So pack your bags and get ready to explore! (Recommended by Cortney of Tin Can Living)
Minnesota’s North Shore
The North Shore is one of the best locations in the state of Minnesota. Butting up to beautiful Lake Superior and flanked by the fun town of Duluth, MN you’re sure to have a fantastic time hiking and exploring. Spring is the perfect time to visit the North Shore of Minnesota because of all the beautiful state parks boasting rushing waterfalls.
Start by making your way to Duluth, grabbing some food and a beer at one of their many amazing breweries or cideries then make your way up the North Shore on the beautiful scenic Minnesota highway 61. Gooseberry Falls is a little over 40 miles north of Duluth along Lake Superior. It’s a perfect location for a short hike to see some beautiful rushing waterfalls.
The next iconic stop on your roadtrip is Split Rock Lighthouse. You can choose to go up the lighthouse and get really close to it but there are several lookouts nearby for great photos with the lighthouse in the background.
Up next located in Silver Bay, MN Tettegouche State park is an amazing place to hike with many vantage points of waterfalls. This is one of the best state parks in the state. Spring is a perfect time to visit!
Make your way north to Lutsen Mountains where there is a seasonal alpine slide! This attraction opens toward the end of May and is weather dependent. Lutsen is a great place to stay and there are plenty of lodging opportunities here. (Recommended by Heather from Wanderlust in Real Life)
New York City to Washington DC
Exploring the East Coast of the United States in spring is perfect for those looking for cool and comfortable weather. The trip from New York City to Washington DC is just over 220 miles long and will take around four hours if done in one trip.
However, to truly enjoy the stops along the way it’s highly recommended to make some stops as you go and take at least a weekend or maybe even a week to do the trip.
In New York City you need to visit the Highline Park which is a beautiful elevated park built on an old railway line. During spring you can see the first flowers and enjoy sunny days if you get lucky. There are also lots of flea markets to enjoy and shop for antiques or thrifted clothing.
In Philadelphia spend the afternoon in Gold Star Park and have a picnic if the weather is nice. The Museum of Art is another great place to visit.
When you reach Washington DC there will be lots of things to see and do. The Capitol and the White House are some of the most iconic tourist attractions as well as the Lincoln Memorial. If you’re up for an adventure you should join a guided segway tour and explore the city in an unusual way. (Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel)
Virginia’s Eastern Shore
There’s a lot to love about Virginia’s Eastern Shore, including the 70-mile drive north to south from Chincoteague to Cape Charles. Spring is a great time for this road trip when the air is warm, the bugs are few and the shore-loving crowds are sparse.
Start at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to miles of hiking and biking trails. Walk the Woodland and Bivalve Trails for sensational views across Toms Cove. The Chincoteague Lighthouse Trail is a must to see the red-and-white striped Assateague Lighthouse.
Take a guided paddle tour across coastal waterways with Assateague Explorer. Keep your eyes open for wild ponies. Stop at Island Creamery for a scoop of Mint Chip or Pony Tracks. Overnight at the Refuge Inn, a mainstay in Chincoteague since 1973.
Continue on to the waterfront town of Onancock. Pop in and out of shops and galleries as you stroll tree-lined streets with colorful Victorian-era homes. Tour Ker Place, a historic Federal-style home, then walk the fragrant herb garden on the property.
On the south end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore is Cape Charles, which is home to kid-friendly beaches and colorful sunsets. Snap a photo with the LOVE sign, then order hush puppies at The Shanty. Stay the night at the Sunset Beach Hotel on the Chesapeake Bay. (Recommended by Erin from Go Hike Virginia)
Asheville to Outer Banks
Spring is the best time for a road trip from Asheville to Outer Banks, North Carolina. The weather is still warm, but you won’t have the sweltering heat of summer, or the crowds.
Stay in picturesque Asheville with views of the Great Smoky Mountains to enjoy nature, art, history, and lots of good food! The Marriott Hotel is centrally located so that you can walk to most of the attractions, restaurants, and breweries.
The shortest route to Outer Banks takes about 6 1/2 hours if you drive straight through, but you’ll want to make a stop about halfway. Chapel Hill is a great place to stretch your legs. And whether you want a quick bite, or a sit-down lunch, Chapel Hill restaurants will not disappoint!
Once you’ve fueled up, continue to OBX where check-in times at vacation rentals are commonly as late as 6:00 pm. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the sound on the other, these barrier islands provide ample opportunities for all sort of beach and water activities. Beautiful sunrises can be seen on the ocean side, and the bay side offers amazing sunsets. (Recommended by Denise from Chef Denise)
Miami to Key West
One of the best spring road trip ideas in the USA is the Miami to Key West drive.
Spring is a great time to do this road trip because there’s minimal rain and the temperatures will be mild compared to what they are in the summer. Plus, the crowds are fewer which means you get to enjoy the places you want to visit with fewer interruptions.
You’ll start the road trip in Miami, where you’ll find great food, sun, and sand. South Beach, Wynwood Arts District, and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are great places to stop along the way.
After you leave Miami, your next stops will be in Key Largo, Islamorada, and Marathon. Each one of these islands is unique and has plenty of activities and beautiful places to stop. There are great snorkeling and diving spots along the way such as Bahia Honda State Park.
The final stop is Key West, which features tons of history and amazing views. Take some time to visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Ernest Hemingway’s House, Duval Street, Sunset Pier, Mallory Square, and more. Spend the night at the DoubleTree Resort and grab a lobster pizza for dinner at the Southernmost Mansion. (Recommended by Disha from Disha Discovers)
Anna Maria Island, Florida
One of the best spring road trip ideas is to head to Anna Maria Island, Florida. This amazing island off the coast of Tampa, Florida, is PERFECT for families, and spring is a wonderful time to enjoy all Anna Maria Island has to offer.
Anna Maria Island is about an hour from Tampa, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Not far from St. Petersberg and Siesta Key, this island is ideal for a spring road trip because it is less hectic than some of the more traditional Florida spring break locations. With few hotels, and many more rental homes, the beaches are less busy and it is a more relaxed, family friendly atmosphere.
The teal waters are often calm (depending on the weather at sea) and the crystal clear ocean water and pale beige sand mirrors beaches of the Caribbean. You may even see a manatee swim by!
The vast majority of accommodations are rental homes, so families can safely enjoy the privacy of their own space, eat in their rental, order groceries, and many have private pools. If you are looking for some of the best things to do on Anna Maria Island, there are great activities including mini-golf, fishing, shopping, dolphin spotting, bike riding, and more. But you can also easily avoid the bustle and carnival atmosphere of traditional spring break spots.
You’ll also find fantastic restaurants for dining, watching the sunset, or getting a great seafood meal. Anna Maria Island, Florida, makes a perfect spring road trip destination for anyone needing some spring sunshine and beach time! (Recommended by Keri from Bon Voyage With Kids)
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