Head for the highway like Carol: 3 super-scenic US road trips

We can't promise romance but these drives will give you a fresh perspective...


Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider, Badlands, Thelma & Louise, Sideway – Hollywood has long loved a road trip, and Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are the latest actors to embark on this rite of passage in Carol.

Mara plays shopgirl Therese, who first spies Carol, Blanchett’s glamorous housewife, across a Manhattan department store. When Carol invites Therese on a drive west, the journey proves life-changing – but not because of the dreary scenery of motels and drab cafés…

Here are three suggestions to make your own road-trip magic. 

Enjoy your own USA adventure with RT Travel – tours from just £999pp

State Route 1 – California

This 745-mile highway hugs the coast between the redwood-carpeted mountains in the north of California and Dana Point in the south, and takes in San Francisco, Santa Barbara’s wine country, Long Beach and San Diego. If you don’t have time to do it all, head for the region of Big Sur, a 90-mile middle stretch which offers breath-taking views of the ocean. The winding turns carry you past the fog-shrouded Santa Lucia Mountains and over Bixby Creek Bridge (picture above), which snakes almost 100m above a gorge. 

Overseas Highway – Florida

With the Gulf of Mexico on the right and the Atlantic Ocean on the left, this 113-mile highway links Florida’s string of tropical islets. The most striking section is the Seven-Mile Bridge, which is exactly that – a skinny ribbon of a road that feels more like being in a hovercraft than driving. The Overseas Highway is an easy day trip that leaves plenty of time for a fish lunch, or to swim with dolphins at the Theater of the Sea, a former rock quarry whose lagoons are also home to California sea lions, sharks and sea turtles. 

Enjoy your own USA adventure with RT Travel – tours from just £999pp

Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee

The Blue Ridge mountains are part of the Appalachian range and owe their name to the bluish haze that fringes them when seen from a distance. This 469-mile trip connects two national parks: the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina and Shenandoah in Virginia, ending in the very scenic Skyline Drive. There’s lots of opportunity for hiking, fishing, picnicking and camping if you want to take a break from the wheel. Highlights include stunning views of and from the Humpback Rocks and America’s largest private residence, the 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate.