The great American road trip is a rite of passage—the feeling of freedom when you hit the open road is unparalleled. Best of all, planning your ideal adventure doesn't have to break the bank. Whether you're craving beach time and sunshine or you want to explore some National Parks, it's easy to plan an epic road trip on a budget.
We've partnered with Red Lion Hotels family of brands to curate this guide to affordable road trip experiences that are definitely worth the trip.
1A-1B: San Francisco to Monterey
Stay: San Francisco, CA
Stay at Signature San Francisco for an ideal mix of value, comfort, and convenience. This family-friendly hotel is located a short distance from SF hotspots Lombard Street and Little Italy.
Stay: Pacifica, CA
Stop here for a fantastic beach pit stop before hitting Hwy 1 to Monterey. This pristine beach is easy to access from the main road, and you can park for free for 30 minutes.
While in Monterey, visit Cannery Row, a vibrant waterfront street full of shops and restaurants and the site of now-defunct sardine canning factories.
1B-2: Monterey to Santa Barbara
Stay: Solvang, CA
Relax with a glass of wine in this picturesque vineyard nestled among the oak-studded rolling hills of beautiful Ballard Canyon.
This museum explores Solvang's Danish heritage through personal stories and photographs.
2-3: Santa Barbara to Long Beach
Stay: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
With so many seafood dishes to choose from, San Pedro Fish Market is a must-try. It was named the 5th most Instagrammed restaurant in the US and has inspired the creation of 3 additional fast-casual restaurants.
Enjoy gorgeous views of rugged cliffs and expansive ocean as you walk the 1.6-mile trail from the Interpretive Center to the lighthouse.
3-4: Long Beach to San Clemente
Stay: San Clemente, CA
A fantastic place to gaze at the ocean and people-watch—check out the outstanding Fisherman's Restaurant on the pier.
Share dinner on the patio at this delicious seafood and steak spot.
4-3: San Clemente to San Diego
Stay: San Clemente, CA
Home to the only panda bears in the US, visiting this world-famous family-friendly attraction is a must.
Taste some delicious fish tacos, and then explore the beautiful neighborhood of La Jolla.
1: Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM
Stay: Gallup, NM
View the most extensive collection of prehistoric buildings and pueblos on the continent.
Check out the petroglyphs that adorn the ancient sandstone cliffs of the monument.
1-2: Gallup, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
Stay: Flagstaff, AZ
On Route 66, you'll be in easy reach of the majestic Grand Canyon, a bucket-list experience and vast and beautiful World Heritage Site.
Stargaze through world-class telescopes and see incredible views of the cosmos at this leading astronomical and planetary science research institution.
2-3: Flagstaff, AZ to Cedar City, UT
Stay: Cedar City, UT
Visit this rugged and beautiful park for unparalleled hiking, canyoneering, and climbing.
Check out Bryce Point and the Natural Bridge for incredible hiking trails and stunning views that astound and amaze.
3-4: Cedar City, UT to Provo, UT
Stay: Cedar City, UT
Take an awe-inspiring drive through the canyon, stopping to hike or for a picturesque picnic under giant shade trees.
Visit this breathtaking natural waterfall in scenic Provo Canyon by hiking a short trail that connects to the parking lot.
4-5: Provo, UT to Grand Lake, CO
Stay: Grand Lake, CO
Explore one of the highest-elevation parks in the US, with peaks reaching over 14,000 feet. Experience exceptional scenery, from evergreen forests and meadow valleys to alpine tundra and small cirque glaciers.
Once a rustic log house in Grand Lake, this museum now features historic house displays, clothing, furniture, stereopticon photos, and more from the town's past.
4-5: Grand Lake, CO to Denver, CO
Stay: Denver, CO
Take a break from hiking and catch a baseball game with friends and family.
This spectacular spot hosts a variety of gardens and collections that illustrate an ever-widening diversity of plants from all over the world.
1: North Houston, TX
Stay: Porter, TX
Discover over 20 miles of wooded parkland ideal for hiking, biking, and horse riding.
1-2: North Houston, TX to Livingston, TX
Stay: Livingston, TX
Place an order at the walk-in window for delicious smoked meats and tasty sides before checking out their eclectic decorations.
Stroll around the lake and enjoy the beautiful scenery, with fantastic trails around the woods and waterfront.
2-3: Livingston, TX to Center, TX
Stay: Center, TX
Head here for peaceful relaxation and fishing and water sports galore. Some travelers say this forest reminds them a bit of the Pacific Northwest.
Take a guided tour through lush display gardens, including camellias, Japanese maples, and over 7,000 azaleas.
3-4: Center, TX to Longview, TX
Stay: Longview, TX
Stop in for outstanding burgers, but leave room for dessert—this spot is famous for its fresh-baked pastries and cakes.
Follow this serene wooded trail and find fresh air, two dog parks, and some exercise equipment.
4-5: Longview, TX to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Stay: Hurst, TX
Nestled on the shores of beautiful White Rock Lake, you can see breathtaking floral displays all year long.
Sundance Square spans 35 blocks in downtown Fort Worth and boasts over 30 places to eat, from sushi to steaks.