There is something about driving a 1970s’ convertible Cadillac, with the wind in your hair on the American open road. As alluring as this all sounds, the problem is where do you start and finish? In such a diverse and vast continent, there are so many options. We’ve selected some of our top American roadies. Words by Victoria Tait
ROUTE 66: Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California
Route 66 is the most famous of all the American roads. The journey takes you through spectacular desert scenery and a host of truly American attractions, including The Big Texan Steak Ranch – not for the faint-hearted and famous for its 72oz Steak Challenge – or stop off at Shea’s Gas Station in Springfield, Roy’s Diner and the Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Joseph, Arizona. The road ends in the fine breeze of the Santa Monica Pier.
HIGHWAY 1: Miami to Key West, Florida
This stunning drive takes you far away from the hustle and bustle of Miami towards the Florida Keys that sit serenely in the Caribbean Sea. This is Hemingway country, where he spent so many years writing. The Keys also once lured pirates from the Caribbean to its chain of islands and more recently, snorkellers and deep-sea fishermen. Park the car near Key West’s Mallory Square and stroll the streets, famous for their colourful Conch houses.
NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY: Franklin, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi
For a taste of the Old South take this beautiful stretch of road that winds through the heart of the Mississippi River and Tennessee’s densely-wooded valleys. Once used by Native Americans as a major hunting trail, take in the sweeping views of antebellum houses, cypress swamps, cottonfields and forests. You can visit Carnton Plantation and its private Confederate Cemetery where you will find explorer Meriwether Lewis’ grave. As well as visiting the birthplace of Oprah Winfrey in Kosciusko, Mississippi.
THE BLUES HIGHWAY: New Orleans, Louisiana to Memphis, Tennessee
Starting in New Orleans, Highway 61 intersects the Mississippi Delta. Through your travels you will pass towns and cities that played centre stage during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Stop off at the junction 61/49 where the legendary Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil so he could master the trilling sound before detouring to Itta Bena, the birthplace of BB King. For a glimpse of history, visit Vicksburg National Military Park and the hauntingly beautiful ruin of Windsor Plantation, which thrived in Southern glory when cotton was king.