Whether it’s a Griswold-style family vacation or a simple Sunday cruise, road trips are classic America—especially when looking out your windows at sea upon shining sea. In a country that’s fringed with more than 95,000 miles of shoreline, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to putting the pedal to the water-view metal.
These ribbons of scenic coastal road have inspired artists to paint them, poets to praise them, and even bands to immortalize them in song. The Mamas and the Papas’s “Pacific Coast Highway” is an essential top-down driving jam whether you’re cruising that famous stretch of road or not.
However, rolling rivers and sparkling blue mountain lakes can inspire wanderlust just as much.
Kid Rock waxed about his summer, “Catching walleye from the dock, watching the waves roll off the rocks” by a lake in Northern Michigan. And Johnny Cash declared his love for Colorado’s rushing waterway when he crooned, “Oh you wild raging river like my woman’s lips you lure me.” We’ve mapped out two routes—along the shores of Lake Superior and at the Grand Lake headwaters—that will have your camera singing a similar tune (if not you as well).
From bucket-list classics down the Florida Keys and through 400 years of history on Cape Cod to more-novel waterside routes that circle Lake Tahoe, whiz by alligators in Louisiana, and ply the Maritime Highway in Alaska, it’s time to tune your radio and set your GPS for some of America’s most scenic waterside drives.