3 Ultimate Road Trip Guides for Travelers on a Budget

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.


pacific coast roas trip map

1A-1B: San Francisco to Monterey

Stay: San Francisco, CA

signature san fran exterior

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

beach and ocean

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.

people kayaking on river

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.

elverhoj museum

This museum explores Solvang's Danish heritage through personal stories and photographs. 


2-3: Santa Barbara to Long Beach

Stay: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

food on table

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

beach pier

A fantastic place to gaze at the ocean and people-watch—check out the outstanding Fisherman's Restaurant on the pier.

Nick's restaurant

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.

taco food

Taste some delicious fish tacos, and then explore the beautiful neighborhood of La Jolla.


Four Corners Road trip map image


1: Albuquerque, NM to Gallup, NM

Stay: Gallup, NM


Chaco cultural park

View the most extensive collection of prehistoric buildings and pueblos on the continent.

el morro

Check out the petroglyphs that adorn the ancient sandstone cliffs of the monument.


1-2: Gallup, NM to Flagstaff, AZ

Stay: Flagstaff, AZ


couple at grand canyon

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.

lowell observatory

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 


zion park

Visit this rugged and beautiful park for ​​unparalleled hiking, canyoneering, and climbing.

bryce canyon

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 


provo canyon

Take an awe-inspiring drive through the canyon, stopping to hike or for a picturesque picnic under giant shade trees.

bridal veil falls

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 


rocky mountain national park

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.

Kauffman musuem

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


Coors Field

Take a break from hiking and catch a baseball game with friends and family.

denver botanic garden

This spectacular spot hosts a variety of gardens and collections that illustrate an ever-widening diversity of plants from all over the world.


east texas road trip map


1: North Houston, TX

Stay: Porter, TX


lake houston

Discover over 20 miles of wooded parkland ideal for hiking, biking, and horse riding.

burger, fries, milkshake at pete's


1-2: North Houston, TX to Livingston, TX

Stay: Livingston, TX


hitch-n-post bbq restaurant

Place an order at the walk-in window for delicious smoked meats and tasty sides before checking out their eclectic decorations.

Lake Livingston

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


sabine national forest

Head here for peaceful relaxation and fishing and water sports galore. Some travelers say this forest reminds them a bit of the Pacific Northwest.

azalea garden

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


brisket sandwich and fries

Stop in for outstanding burgers, but leave room for dessert—this spot is famous for its fresh-baked pastries and cakes.

Paul Boorman trail

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


Dallas arboretum and botanical garden

Nestled on the shores of beautiful White Rock Lake, you can see breathtaking floral displays all year long.

sundance square

Sundance Square spans 35 blocks in downtown Fort Worth and boasts over 30 places to eat, from sushi to steaks.