Underrated Road Trip Destinations

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  • Pacific Northwest
  • Southwest
  • Plains
  • Midwest
  • Northeast
  • The South
  • Preparation
  • FAQ
From Yachats, Oregon to Huntsville, Alabama, we’re about to blow your mind with these underrated road trip destinations. No matter which part of the country you’re exploring, there is a destination on this list for you.
There’s nothing wrong with visiting well-known cities and cultural sites, but road trips are about adventure, right?
We recommend that you channel that adventurous spirit into your road trip—and play it safe when it comes to your car insurance. If you’re looking for a new car insurance company, Jerry can provide you with competitive quotes in under a minute. Jerry takes care of all the paperwork and phone calls and even cancels your old policy on your behalf—oh, and it’s free!
Now, get ready for some incredible off-the-beaten-path adventures!
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Pacific Northwest

There’s a lot more to this region than mossy forests and craft beer. Here are some of the most underrated road trip destinations in the Pacific Northwest.

Port Angeles, Washington

Port Angeles, Washington
Port Angeles, Washington
Three hours west of Seattle, perched on the gorgeous Olympic peninsula, is the charming town of Port Angeles.
Plan to spend a few days here because there’s a lot to see (and eat) within a thirty-mile radius. There are wineries and seaside eats galore, plus plenty of charming architecture. And, you get to avoid the crowds at the busier locations in the Seattle area.
Make sure you also stop by Marymere Falls, a stunning waterfall that is just 20 miles from downtown Port Angeles. You only have to sweat for a mile or so to reach it.
Salt Creek Recreation Area is on the waterfront and the photogenic coastline is full of smooth sand and attractive trees. You can even hop on a ferry to Canada for a fun day trip.

Yachats, Oregon

Yachats, Oregon
Yachats, Oregon
For stunning natural beauty—without the flocks of tourists—head to Yachats on the coast of Oregon.
Go hiking in Cape Perpetua or stare down into Thor’s Well. If you’re into a more urban experience, there are tons of art galleries and even spas in town. Yachats is the perfect destination for a quiet and satisfying Pacific Northwest road trip.

Bear Lake, Idaho

Bear Lake, Idaho
Bear Lake, Idaho
At the southeast corner of Idaho is Bear Lake, a freshwater lake where you can swim and enjoy the beach to your heart’s content.
It’s just far enough away from major cities that you’re guaranteed to find a spot. You will be rewarded with stunning turquoise water and a plethora of watersports.
Of course, you can always catch a play or indulge in a strawberry milkshake if you need a break from the sun.
Key Takeaway Some of the most memorable road trip destinations are cities and parks you’ve never heard of.

Southwest

The desert landscape of the Southwest is easy to blaze through—if you only stop at rest stops or restaurants with AC—but the Southwest’s natural beauty deserves to be celebrated. Here are the most underrated road trip destinations in this region.

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

White Sands National Park, New Mexico
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
White Sands National Park doesn’t have a whole lot of tall mountains, however, it offers something far more unique that you cannot find anywhere else in the United States: pure white sand dunes.
Head to southern New Mexico and make sure to pack a water bottle (or five). White Sands National Park is beautiful—day or night— and there are plenty of opportunities for photography and even dune-surfing.

Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah
Moab, Utah
Just four hours from Salt Lake City is Moab, the jumping-off point for exploring Arches National Park.
Here you can discover dinosaur footprints, indigenous art, and rock canyons that will blow your mind. The city offers desert-inspired eats and homegrown breweries to keep you fueled up. Bring your hiking shoes and prepare to be amazed by this underrated road trip destination.

Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada

Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada
Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada
This desert art installation will make you feel like you tripped and fell into another dimension—and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Las Vegas.
No reservations are necessary and it’s completely free to visit this open-air attraction. It may appear to be a simple arrangement of colorful rocks, but it’s actually a thoughtful meditation on the relationship between man and nature.
Check out the Swiss artist’s website for more information.
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Plains

Take it easy and explore these underrated road trip destinations in the Plains. From the Colorado wilderness to a Texas art town, there’s no shortage of stunning beauty in this region.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
The Badlands are the quintessential American landscape: rugged and self-reliant.
At Teddy Roosevelt National Park, you can spot bison, elk, and deer—the same animals that inspired Roosevelt’s conservation efforts—which ultimately shaped the modern national park system.
North Dakota is not for the faint of heart, as seasonal weather can get intense. However, you’ll be glad you stopped by this underrated road trip destination, if only for the bison sighting.

Abilene, Texas

Abilene, Texas
Abilene, Texas
West of Dallas is the city of Abilene, an area that has a strong history of industry and pioneer exploration, but has also earned a reputation for art due to its outdoor sculptures.
In Abilene, you will find farmer’s markets, art galleries, and historic exhibitions that will paint West Texas in a new light. It’s worth the detour if you’re in the area.
Key Takeaway Learn about the history of the area you’re in. Sometimes a slow and thoughtful visit is more satisfying than a quick stopover and photo op.

Midwest

It’s easy for outsiders to think there are only cornfields and gas stations in the middle of the country. But nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to road trip destinations, the Midwest is full of satisfying yet underrated stops.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
We know what you’re thinking—Omaha, really? But this is a list of underrated road trip destinations, and we’re here to tell you that the city of Omaha deserves a chance to make your list!
Did you know that Omaha has the world’s largest indoor rainforest? Go to the zoo to experience it for yourself.
Here you can browse world-class art museums, marvel at the well-preserved historic architecture, or tour the Old market and sample farm-fresh foods.
Omaha is a city that carries itself with pride, and it’s the perfect place for an urban adventure.
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Northeast

The Northeast has some of the busiest urban centers in the country, but everyone knows that. Here are some off-the-beaten-path destinations that will delight road trippers in New England.

The Berkshires

The Berkshires
The Berkshires
At any time of year, this area is beautiful, but autumn is particularly stunning.
Pick apples from a U-pick orchard and drive slowly in the foothills as orange leaves flurry around you. Reconnect with nature here by enjoying a farm-to-table meal or a hike in the Catskills.
After all, sometimes the best road trips are not about a fancy destination, but rather creating time to savor life’s simple pleasures.

Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Head up the east coast to the rocky, artsy town of Portland Maine. This city offers the aesthetics of a fisherman’s village and the culture of a college town.
Catch a boat out to the islands and breathe the fresh sea air. Sip on a beer from a local brewery before walking the wharf and cobblestone streets.
There’s plenty for newcomers to discover in Portland, but you won’t feel like a tourist.

Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia

Assateague Island
Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia
Wild horses—that’s it, that’s the whole pitch!
Assateague Island offers stunning dunes, seaside bathing, and famous wild ponies. You’ll have to pay about $25 to access the area, but it’s well worth the price if you plan to spend at least half a day on the island.
Make sure you bring snacks so that you can enjoy this natural beauty for as long as you can.

The South

If you have good air conditioning and a taste for barbecue, then you have everything you need to enjoy a road trip through the South. But there’s no need to restrict yourself to mainstream destinations like New Orleans or Atlanta. Here are some places you may never have considered visiting—but you should.

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
If you’ve never been to Asheville, you will be positively astonished by the art and architecture bursting from every corner of the city.
This area has it all, from bluegrass concerts to waterfalls. There’s a Pinball Museum and the famous Biltmore historic building. Foodies will enjoy the breweries and bookworms will marvel at Asheville’s quirky bookstores.
Be careful, you might fall in love with this city and have to come back for more exploration. Luckily, Asheville is only four hours from Atlanta and Charleston, so you can easily return in the future.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Appalachia is beautiful, there’s no denying it. The Smoky Mountains are stunning at dawn and there are a ton of amazing cultural and natural attractions in this region.
Start by climbing Clingman’s Dome to get a view of the area from above—or walk a few miles on the Appalachian Trail to say you’ve done it.
Either travel 30 minutes to Dollywood to finish your visit, or stop by Oconaluftee to learn about farming history, the Cherokee Nation, and the earliest settlers in the region.

Road trips require preparation

Playing it by ear is a great way to discover new places. However, improvisation is not a good strategy when it comes to car insurance.
Try Jerry, the car insurance comparison app, before you leave on your road trip. Jerry compares rates and uncovers savings.
The app is free to use and it only takes 45 seconds. The average Jerry user saves $879 a year on their insurance—that could cover a lot of tanks of gas. What do you have to lose?
For your next road trip, make sure you also have roadside assistance. Jerry’s emergency roadside assistance program can help you with everything, including tire changes, jump-starts, fuel delivery, key replacement, and even car advice from certified mechanics.
“Definitely could not have found a better deal if I was hunting on my own like before”—Satisfied Jerry User
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FAQ

How much should I budget for a road trip?

Excluding gas, you should plan to budget about $30 a day at a minimum per person. This would allow you to enjoy free attractions and simple meals. If you plan to visit paid attractions and want to enjoy more expensive meals, then you should budget between $60 and $75 a day per person.
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