The great American road trip is going electric.

The electric-vehicle (EV) juggernaut rolls on, and as companies continue to add new charging stations to meet demand, hitting the highway in a zero-emissions car has never been easier. 

The benefits of driving electric cars are clear. Transportation is the biggest source of planet-warming emissions in the USA, and the switch to EVs helps drivers play their part in mitigating the climate crisis by cutting back on fossil fuels. To top it off, going green saves money: electric car owners spend roughly 60% less on gas than drivers with internal combustion vehicles – a major win as gas prices continue to fluctuate

Can you do the all-American road trip in an electric car?

A woman plugs in her electric vehicle at a charging station in a desert environment, Western USA
EV charging stations are popping up all over the US – and not just in densely populated areas © Getty Images

But EV road trips still come with challenges. While gas stations are ubiquitous across the country, finding and using electric chargers on the road can be daunting and time-consuming. This leads to range anxiety – the fear of losing battery life before reaching a destination. To avoid this fear, travelers must consider their car’s range (the average is roughly 250 miles), plan excursions through areas known to have charging stations, and prepare for unforeseen fueling snafus along the way. 

Luckily, there are plenty of EV-ready road trips around the nation. All verified using Plugshare (a leading app for finding EV chargers), these are the most reliable, convenient and scenic routes for EV drivers ready to leave range anxiety in the dust.

Hit the road: America’s most iconic road trips

An aerial view of John Coffee Memorial Bridge, across the Tennessee River on the Natchez Trace Parkway, Alabama, USA
Along the Natchez Trace Parkway, you’ll cross rivers and forests as you explore the Deep South © Dennis MacDonald / Shutterstock

1. Follow the footsteps of Indigenous tribes on the Natchez Trace Pkwy 

The route: Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi
Length: 444 miles

Cruise from honky-tonk Nashville to the Mississippi River’s oldest city on this quest through America’s Deep South. The Natchez Trace Pkwy roughly follows a 10,000-year-old trading route used by Indigenous tribes, and many sites near the path pay homage to the land’s original stewards. You can channel their mindset of connection to nature and sustainability in an EV: you'll find roughly 360 chargers during the drive, with 80% supporting fast charging. 

Meander along the route’s two-lane road as it leaves Nashville and winds toward Hohenwald, where you’ll find a monument to Meriwether Lewis, who explored America’s uncharted territory with the help of native experts like Sacagawea. Once you’ve seen the Pharr Mounds – eight Indigenous burial sites built between 1 and 200 CE – spend an evening recharging in Tupelo, once home to the Chickasaw Nation (and later the birthplace of local legend Elvis Presley). 

While fueling up in Jackson, Mississippi, visit the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum to learn about The Negro Motorist Green Book. This annual guide once helped Black travelers navigate the open (or not-so-open) road in Jim Crow–era America. 

The itinerary ends in Natchez, 10 miles from the Emerald Mound – the second-largest Indigenous ceremonial mound in the US, built and used between the 14th and 17th centuries. Stand in its shadow as you ponder all that’s transpired in the country since the 35ft-high earthwork was first erected. 

Plan a budget road trips through the Southeastern US

Hwy 20 winds through Rainy Pass in Washington State, USA
Narrow roads lead through pine-covered peaks in rural Washington State © LoweStock / iStockphoto / Getty Images

2. Fall in love with Washington State on the Cascade Loop

The route: Seattle to Whidbey Island
Length: 440 miles

When it comes to EV infrastructure, Washington is ahead of the curve. This circuitous trip stretches from salty beaches to snow-capped peaks, with find plenty of places to charge up along the way. The Cascade Loop went electric in 2014, and with chargers strategically scattered around the route, even cars with ranges under 100 miles can manage the trip without worry. 

Expect a diversity of landscapes on this journey through the Pacific Northwest. Start by fueling up with caffeine at one of Seattle’s trendy cafes (skip Starbucks and opt for Analog Coffee), then roll into the wilderness outside the city limits. You’ll zoom east along the Skykomish River’s emerald banks, over the pine-topped Cascade Mountains and on to Leavenworth. This kitschy alpine village, modeled after a Bavarian mountain town, is the closest you’ll get to Munich without hopping on a plane. 

After enjoying a proper German bratwurst from München Haus, continue toward Wenatchee – the orchard-packed “Apple Capital of the World.” Lakes, rivers and rolling hills sparkle as the loop heads north through Methow Valley and mounts North Cascades National Park’s jagged peaks. Farmland comes into view while dipping toward the Salish Sea, and the route finishes along the sloping coasts of Whidbey Island. 

8 sublime road trips in Washington State

Brightly painted Cadillacs are buried head first in the ground at Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, USA
Brightly colored cars (though not EVs) are permanently parked at Cadillac Ranch, along historic Route 66 © YuniqueB / Shutterstock

3. Get your (electric kicks) on Route 66

The route: Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California
Length: 2500 miles

Not long after Route 66 opened in 1926, it spurred a manifest-destiny era for Midwestern migrants. Mythologized by John Steinbeck as the “Mother Road” in the 1930s, the long trek from Chicago to Santa Monica provided wayward travelers a promise for better tomorrows. It eventually became a symbol of America’s love affair with the car, its small towns flourishing thanks to an endless parade of automobiles destined for the Pacific Coast. 

Although officially decommissioned in 1985 to make way for faster thoroughfares, Route 66’s remnants are once again the star of a new kind of auto scene. Drivers can find around 1800 chargers along the historic trail, allowing travelers to go electric on what might be the US’ most renowned road. Allot two weeks to get the most our of this famous journey. 

After filling your culture cup in Chicago, head to St Louis and top off your EV while ogling the catenary Gateway Arch. Before leaving Missouri, charge up in Joplin – the local History and Mineral Museum pays homage to road-trip bandits Bonnie and Clyde, who sought refuge here in 1933. Tulsa and Oklahoma City are reasons to pause in the Sooner State before heading to Amarillo, Texas, where you’ll find Cadillac Ranch – an art installation with graffiti-strewn cars plunged bumper-first into the earth. (There’s a charging station 10 minutes away.) 

A Tesla charging station at the Blue Swallow Motel, a Route 66 landmark from 1939, invites EV users to stay overnight in eastern New Mexico before heading through arty, new-agey Santa Fe and toward some of the region’s most impressive parks.

Take a detour to the Grand Canyon while passing through Flagstaff, Arizona, then explore the Mojave Desert’s singing dunes after charging in Needles, California. Once you reach the road’s terminus at Santa Monica Pier, pick up a “Road Scholar” certificate at the 66-to-Cali kiosk – which will provide bragging rights after your epic expedition. 

The best driving route around the Great Lakes: hit the road on this epic round trip from Chicago

A car drives across Bixby Bridge in foggy conditions, Big Sur, California, USA
Misty Bixby Bridge is a famous landmark among California’s famed PCH © Yiming Chen / Getty Images

4. Marvel at California’s coastal landscapes 

The route: San Diego to Mendocino
Length: 600 miles

As you hug the length of California’s glorious coastline, an EV charger is never more than 50 miles away. This road trip from sun-kissed San Diego to Mendocino County’s ancient redwoods is part of the West Coast Electric Highway, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. Complete the drive along Rte 5 and the Pacific Coast Highway (Rte 1) over a few days to make the most of must-see destinations sprinkled throughout the journey. 

Kick your adventure into high gear at Hotel del Coronado, the iconic beachfront resort that’s equipped with Tesla chargers. While heading north to Rte 1, skip LA’s traffic-clogged downtown in favor of Venice, a coastal neighborhood once clogged with oil derricks and now covered in street art. Recharge your car while walking the quirky enclave’s colorful streets, especially its main drag, stylish Abbott Kinney Blvd.

As you head north, idyllic beach towns delight as the PCH winds toward San Francisco: surf-happy Ventura, historic Santa Barbara and arty San Luis Obispo – which are all equipped with charging stations aplenty. Consider recharging at Hearst Castle while touring the 127-acre San Simeon estate once owned by filthy-rich newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. A charger awaits at the visitor’s center.

The journey’s second half is California at its best: Big Sur’s rugged sea cliffs give way to ritzy Monterey Bay before reaching San Francisco’s bustle. After you glide over the Golden Gate Bridge, wild forests filled with giant redwoods flank the road to tiny Mendocino, perched on bluffs above the Pacific. If you want to go green here in a different way, you’ve ended up at the right place: Mendocino is part of the Emerald Triangle, America’s largest region for cannabis production. 

The 16 best California road trips

A golden retriever with its head out the window of a car, reflected in the rear-view mirror, against a backdrop of mountains, Colorado, USA
Colorado’s mountain landscapes will wow all the passengers in your car © chapin31 / iStockphoto / Getty Images

5. Catch your breath traversing the Colorado Rockies 

The route: Denver to Aspen
Length: 160 miles

In 2021, Colorado electrified its 26 Scenic and Historic Byways by installing EV-charging stations every 100 miles. If you only have time to choose one path, pick the Top of the Rockies byway, where visitors can climb Mt Elbert and Mt Massive, the Centennial State’s two tallest peaks. Spend a few days touring the area in summer or fall, when cold temperatures won’t affect your battery’s range. 

Begin your journey in Denver – home to hip urbanites with an itch for the outdoors – then drive to St Mary’s Glacier, an easy out-and-back hike near Idaho Springs. In summer, daredevils sled down the glacier’s snowy slopes toward the cobalt lake below. 

The actual byway begins near Frisco, known as “Main Street of the Rockies” thanks to its postcard-perfect downtown and thrilling mountain views. From here, zigzag to internationally renowned ski havens like Aspen and historic sites like Camp Hale (built in 1942 as a World War II training site). Picture-worthy vistas surprise and delight around every corner.

If you’ve got extra time, consider continuing to the Collegiate Peaks byway, an electrified route dotted with the highest number of 14,000+ft mountains in the US. 

Rockies roads: the most thrilling drives in Colorado

Newport Bridge, Taylor's Point near Jamestown, Rhode Island
Cruise across scenic Newport Bridge as you take in small but mighty Rhode Island © JJM Photography / Shutterstock

6. Roll around Rhode Island

The route: Narragansett to Providence to Newport
Length: 65 miles

A larger quantity of miles doesn’t always add up to more quality. A tour of charming towns in the country’s smallest state makes for a summertime road trip free from range anxiety. Even cars with low-range capacity can hack this haul without a problem. Split the drive into two or three days to properly enjoy all three destinations, each equipped with plenty of EV chargers. 

Start by hanging ten in Narragansett, New England’s surf capital. The town’s population balloons from roughly 15,000 to 34,000 between May and September, with visitors arriving en masse to exploit sandy beaches and coastal hiking trails that have attracted travelers for over a century. 

Providence, Rhode Island’s quirky capital, makes a good case for staying overnight. The city’s riverfront passes a lively mix of 18th-century houses and contemporary skyscrapers, all within walking distance of restaurants fit for all tastes. Plant City is a two-story smorgasbord dedicated to veganism, while Dune Brothers Seafood serves New England clam chowder from a lobster-red shack on wheels. After taking a brewery tour to spots like Bayberry Beer Hall and Moniker, you’ll need a night’s rest before retaking the driver’s seat. 

Gilded Age Newport provides Rhode Island’s grand finale. Spend the day touring opulent 19th-century summer cottages once occupied by families like the Astors and Vanderbilts, then watch the sunset while traipsing along Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile seaside promenade. The historic setting might not seem like the place to find EV charging stations – but think again: according to Plugshare, this picturesque peninsula boasts nearly a dozen. 

The best drives for leaf-peeping your way through New England

Cars along Ocean Drive at night, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
At the end of your 1600-mile jaunt down the East Coast lies Miami’s uber-stylish South Beach © Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

7. Follow the Atlantic Coast across 14 states 

The route: Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida
Length: 1600 miles

Thanks to Electrify America, one of the country's largest networks of EV charging stations, it’s possible to cover the country’s entire eastern seaboard on a zero-emissions road trip. Sail down Interstate 95 on this adventure from Maine to Miami and you’ll find charging stations nearly every 70 miles.

If the thought of a multi-state trek sounds exhausting, consider splitting the trip into three geographic sections. The first third will take you through New England’s historic coastal cities. Gobble down a lobster roll in Portland – Maine’s most populous seaside town and a culinary hot spot – before heading south past LGBTQ+-friendly Ogunquit; Portsmouth, New Hampshire (settled in 1623); and into Boston, the birthplace of the American Revolution. Recharge in Providence, RI, or along breezy Long Beach in Stratford, Connecticut, before leaving the Atlantic coastline.

New York State’s best road trips

Compare America’s former capital cities on the journey’s second leg. First up is New York City, the nonstop town that served as the nation’s first seat of power. Recharge in Fort Lee, New Jersey before passing Trenton (the capital in 1784 and 1799) and then Philadelphia, which became the country’s go-to from 1790 to 1800. Crack open a blue crab shell in scrappy Baltimore, the capital for a two-month stint, before contemplating the current state of affairs in America’s white-walled political powerhouse, Washington, DC.

The road trip’s southern section will take you through Richmond, Virginia – a town rich in history and covered in modern murals. While skirting through North Carolina and South Carolina, veer off the I-95 to experience Raleigh’s college-town charisma and sip sweet tea on a side porch in Charleston. An adults-only ghost tour to haunted pubs in Savannah, Georgia will energize your spirits before driving down Florida’s Atlantic coast. Grab lunch in Jacksonville’s Five Points, the city’s super-cool central district, then drift down I-95 through suburban beach towns to Miami. Finish the epic adventure by jumping in South Beach’s electric-blue waters. Florida’s warm ocean will be a far cry from Maine’s frigid coves. 

11 things any visitor should know about Florida

This article was first published Jul 28, 2022 and updated Apr 29, 2024.

Explore related stories

united states

Wildlife & Nature

The perfect New England fall-foliage road trip for 2023

Oct 2, 2023 • 7 min read