It’s hard to think of the phrase “road trip” without thinking of the USA.  With so many thousands of miles to explore, you could probably hire a car and take a different US road trip every year and still not experience everything that the country has to offer.   At Smart-Traveller, we’re going to take a look at some of the best road trips that the USA has to offer, starting with what’s probably the most famous of them all – Route 66.

Route 66 was one of the USA’s first highways and was established in 1926. It originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, in the American MidWest, to downtown Los Angeles. The route changed many times, however, and the end-point later became Santa Monica in California.

Unfortunately, Route 66 was decommissioned in 1985, but a number of groups have campaigned for it to be preserved and returned to the maps. You can’t drive all the way from Chicago to Santa Monica along Route 66 any more, but about 85% of the 2,400 mile route is still driveable. You’ll need to allow at least two to three weeks for the trip if you want to drive the whole route, but if you don’t have that much time to spare, you can drive a section or two of it as a taster.

Route 66 will take you through eight States – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. If you want to drive your hire car back to Chicago from Santa Monica taking a more direct route, you’ll also be able to travel through a further five States (Nevada, Utah, Colarado, Nebraska and Iowa), giving you a fantastic US experience. You may be able to drive from to Chicago to Santa Monica and then fly back to Chicago from Los Angeles, but you’ll need to check this with your car hire firm.

The great thing about travelling along Route 66 is that even if you only take a day or two of your holiday to explore part of the road, you’ll get to see some historic buildings and great scenery. A great Route 66 road trip will take some planning, so check out sites like Historic Route 66 before you go.