Best car GPS for USA road trips

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Best car GPS for USA road trips

BEST CAR GPS

Taking a road trip in the US is a rite of passage for anyone, whether you’re from the continental US or coming from abroad. There are countless routes to take, so you could easily spend a lifetime navigating across these roads. It’s safe to say that using a car GPS navigation system makes this process much easier, so if you’re planning on packing your bags, hopping in your vehicle and seeking adventure, it’s worth including one of these. Whether you use the Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S, Rand McNally OverDryve or the TomTom GO 52, you’re sure to benefit from features such as lifetime map updates, traffic alerts and preloaded points of interest. Without further ado, here’s our guide to just a few of the best road trips you can take, key points of interest to explore along the way and the best car GPS to accompany you on your journey.

By Imogen Groome | 5th August 2019
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Blue Ridge Parkway

Overview of route

It’s safe to say that a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip will take you through some breathtaking scenery and fascinating landmarks. From the Appalachian mountains to the Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll find stunning picture perfect moments along the way, whether you’re driving through the mountains, hiking along one of the many trails, viewing a waterfall or getting your camera out to capture a panoramic view. It’s recommended to take this trip during fall, namely September or October, and to take it at a leisurely pace – the speed limit tends to be 45mph or less in this area. 

Points of interest

  • Smithsonian Institution – Explore the Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, National Zoo, Renwick Gallery and Smithsonian Gallery to name but a few. 
  • Shenandoah National Park – Pick one of the 75 overlooks in the park for an idea of the huge expanse of wilderness which was once covering the countryside, or hike to Dark Hollow Falls.
  • Monticello – Explore Thomas Jefferson’s home. The University of Virginia was founded by Jefferson and is also worth a visit.
  • James River Visitor Center – Located at the lowest point on the Parkway, take a walk and learn about the history of the river or the plethora of plant life.
  • Groundhog Mountain – Take in the views from the observation tower.
  • Blue Ridge Music Center – Learn about the origins of country and bluegrass music.
  • Devil’s Courthouse – Take a hike to this location, or simply take in the view of Mount Pisgah beforehand.
  • Waterrock Knob Visitor Center – Experience a view of four states, plus a panorama of the Great Smoky Mountains.
  • Cades Cove – This location used to be a mountain community. You may see bears hanging out where an apple orchard once was.
Smithsonian Institute Washington DC
National Gallery of Art West Building, Washington, D.C., USA (Picture: iStock by Getty)

Best car GPS for road trip – Garmin DriveLuxe 51 LMT-S

This car GPS works well for the Blue Ridge Parkway road trip for several reasons. Firstly, it has millions of points of interest preloaded, thanks to a partnership from FourSquare. With an integration of ratings from TripAdvisor, you can decide on the best places to stop for drinks or sleep along the way. You can also input several destinations, planning your road trip in detail and taking in several landmarks as you go. What’s more, you can operate the Garmin DriveLuxe using spoken commands, which is helpful during drives along roads which require you to pay particular attention to what’s around you.

Miami to Key West

Overview of route

If you want a road trip packed with fantastic ocean views and a massive 42 bridges, pick the Miami to Key West route. You’ll be able to drive from island to island and learn about unique places such as Ragged Key, Tea Table Key and Sugarloaf Key before rounding off the journey in Key West. This route is definitely one for the adventurous, as you can pull into as many different keys as you like, making the road trip as long as you have time for. Getting an overview of Florida’s offerings like this is probably the best way to do it. It’s recommended to take this trip outside of hurricane season, which is between June and November. Bear in mind that winter is when this route is the busiest.

Points of interest

  • Homestead – Explore the fruit and spice park, Coral Castle or enjoy wine and beers made from tropical fruit at Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery.
  • John Pennenkam Coral Reef State Park – The first undersea park to be established in the US. Explore a range of marine life, shore birds and tropical vegetation.
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary – This location protects the waters surrounding the Keys, which spans from South Miami to the Dry Tortugas.
  • Marathon Key – There is a sea turtle hospital you can take an educational tour of, or visit Sombrero Beach.
  • Ernest Hemingway’s House – During the 1920s, Key West was home to Hemingway, and you can visit his old house, along with the 50 plus cats which currently reside there.
  • Southernmost Point Buoy – As the name suggests, this is the southernmost point in the continental US. Located in Key West, it’s marked by a red and white concrete pillar.
Hawksbill Turtle - Eretmochelys imbricata floats under water. Maldives Indian Ocean coral reef.
Take this USA road trip for the sea turtles (Picture: iStock by Getty)

Best car GPS for road trip – TomTom GO 52

Taking a trip through these islands can be made much easier with the TomTom GO 52 car GPS. It features lifetime map updates, so you’ll always know what to look out for as you progress along the route. You will also know about average, mobile and fixed speed cameras, which will help you to avoid having the trip impacted by speed tickets. For times when the roads get busy, you can make use of Advanced Lane Guidance to prepare for turns and merges ahead of time. If you want smartphone messages read to you as you drive, you can connect this GPS to your phone and use its features in the safest way possible.

San Francisco – Utah

Overview of route

Enjoy some of America’s most iconic locations with points of interest including San Francisco itself, with the Golden Gate Bridge, the prison island of Alcatraz and Hayes Valley. There’s also Lake Tahoe, views of the Sierra Nevada mountains and Yosemite to marvel at. Going into Death Valley, you’ll want to crank up the air con and explore the beautiful scenery before heading into Vegas for some glitzy entertainment. This route could easily be done in a few days, so is ideal if you’re low on time, and if you don’t have decent air con, wait until the cooler times of the year to get on the road.

Points of interest

  • Arches National Park – Located north of Moab, Utah, you’ll find over 2000 sandstone arches, including the massive Delicate Arch, which features red hues.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park – Located in southern Utah, you’ll find spire-shaped rock formations called hoodoos, as well as overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Point and Inspiration Point.
  • Zion National Park – Distinguishable due to Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs, enjoy this southwest Utah nature preserve, which features forest trails along the Virgin River, the Emerald Pools and the Zion Narrows wading hike.
  • Grand Canyon – The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is where most of the Grand Canyon is located. Its layers of red rock are host to millions of years of history. You can view it from Mather Point, Lipan Point, Yavapai Observation Station and Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio to name but a few.
  • Death Valley – This desert valley in eastern California is located in the northern Mojave Desert, which borders the Great Basin Desert. It’s one of the hottest locations in the world, competing with deserts in the Middle East.
  • Yosemite Valley – Located in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California, Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley which can be found in Yosemite National Park. It’s around 7.5 miles long and is surrounded by granite summits such as El Capitan and Half Dome.
Dante's View Death Valley USA
Let your car GPS navigate you to Death Valley (Picture: iStock by Getty)

Best car GPS for road trip – Rand McNally OverDryve

Make use of numerous helpful features included with the Rand McNally OverDryve car GPS. For example, avoid certain roads if they look busy or opt to take a scenic route if you want to take in additional sights using the available functionality. Furthermore, if you find yourself in need of a hotel, store, gas station or similar, you will find millions of preloaded points of interest on this device’s map. Plus, if you want to plan several points of interest while also creating the most efficient route possible, the OverDryve will let you work out the best roads to take.

Summary

There are so many US road trips you could take that it would be impossible to list them all here. However, hopefully these routes have sparked your imagination and given you inspiration on where you want to go on vacation next. Furthermore, pairing your trip with one of the best car GPS systems out there will enhance your journey and increase the safety measures for both yourself and your passengers.

Written by
Imogen Groome
Imogen is editor-in-chief of Hot5. She is also a lifestyle blogger, author and freelance journalist, with particular interests in music, politics, psychic readings and dating. She is usually found at home with her collection of animals, drinking iced tea. Read more.
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