In travel, the journey is sometimes just as important as the destination – sometimes even better. These 10 coastal drives in North America are worth a trip all on their own.
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Pacific Coast Highway | California
California’s Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway 1, is one of the most iconic American roads – and one of the most beautiful. As you make your way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the road hugs the shores of the Pacific, passing through Big Sur, Malibu and Santa Barbara along the way.
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Oregon Coast Highway | Oregon
From towering Haystack Rock to the sandy dunes outside of Florence, the stretch of U.S. 101 that winds along the Oregon Coast is dotted with quaint fishing villages, sea caves, rocky islets and miles upon miles of deserted beaches. Be sure to stop in for some fresh seafood in Yachats.
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Overseas Highway | Florida
On the opposite side of the country, you can hit the pavement of another coastal road, the Overseas Highway. This island-hopping highway stretches over 100 miles from Miami to Key West, with the most famous segment, Seven Mile Bridge, connecting Knight’s Key and Little Duck Key.
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Hana Highway | Maui, Hawaii
When you cruise along Maui’s Hana Highway, you’ll have the Pacific Ocean on one side and hibiscus-covered cliffs on the other. The most heart-stopping portion runs 38 miles from Pauwela to Hana, crossing 54 one-lane bridges and winding along some 600 curves.
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Old Mission Peninsula | Michigan
From Traverse City, scenic highway M-37 stretches for 18 miles along Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula. Take a break (or two) from the Great Traverse Bay views with stops at one of the area wineries, many specializing in white and ice wines. Find a place to pull over in the early evening to watch the sun set over the bay.
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Cabot Trail | Nova Scotia
Many travelers come to Nova Scotia specifically to take a drive along the coastal Cabot Trail. The road loops for 185 miles through the Cape Breton Highlands, with stops along the way for hiking, whale watching and grabbing a meal at one of the small roadside towns.
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Cape Cod Scenic Drive | Massachusetts
To see the beautiful shores of Cape Cod from behind the steering wheel, follow the 62-mile stretch of Massachusetts Route 6A, also called Old King’s Highway, to U.S. Highway 6, passing through Provincetown and the Cape Cod National Seashore.
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Park Loop Road | Acadia National Park, Maine
Take a break from camping and hiking to make the short and stunning 27-mile drive along Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. Beginning at the Hulls Cove Visitors Center, the road will take you past the mountains, lakes and rocky shore that make Acadia one of the country’s favorite national parks.
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Delmarva Peninsula | Delaware, Maryland, Virginia
Head south from Annapolis toward Virginia Beach, and you’ll enjoy over 200 miles of road stretching through wetlands and fishing towns along the Chesapeake Bay. Another popular – and equally beautiful – route extends along the Coastal Highway (Delaware Route 1) from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to Ocean City, Maryland.
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Outer Banks Scenic Byway | North Carolina
The view is all dunes and beaches when you drive along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway of North Carolina. Be sure to schedule time for a stop at Pea and Cedar Islands for some birdwatching – migrating waterfowl are known to stop here on their ways north and south.