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What’s the first thing that you think of when you hear “road trip”? Is it the thought of driving with the windows down and the wind blowing through your hair? Maybe it’s the thought of cranking your favorite tunes on the radio as you cruise down the road. If you could take a trip down one of the longest roads in the U.S., would you do it? Just think, you wouldn’t need your GPS and the only time you would need to take an exit is to eat or visit one of America’s unique attractions. This post is going to cover the 5 longest roads in the U.S. and throw in some unique, must-see attractions. So, sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
#5 – U.S. Highway 50
U.S. Highway 50 is a major east-west highway connecting West Sacramento, California and Ocean City, Maryland and passes through 12 states along the way. The total length of this highway is 3,011 miles making it the 5th longest road in the U.S.
Created in 1926, U.S. Highway 50 runs right through the heart of America. The states you will travel through are California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. In addition, Highway 50 runs through 4 state capitals, including the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
The Nevada portion of this highway was nicknamed the “Loneliest Road in America” by Time Magazine in 1986. Travelers were warned not to drive this stretch of highway unless they were well versed in basic survival skills. There is little more than a handful of old gold mining towns, old west saloons, mountains, and blue skies. If you plan to take this route, top off the gas tank in one of the small towns along the way. You might not see another car for a while.
While traveling one of the longest roads in the U.S., make time in your itinerary to visit one of the several attractions along the way.
The Shoe Tree, Middlegate, Nevada
One of the most unique attractions of the 5th longest road in America is in the Nevada stretch of Highway 50. Just outside of Middlegate, Nevada is a lone cottonwood tree that is full of shoes. Travelers will stop and toss a pair of shoes into the tree as a tradition of sorts.
There is a story behind the shoe tree and it goes like this. Several years ago, there was a young newlywed couple that got into an argument under the tree. The wife said she would rather walk home than to be around her new husband. In turn, the young man took her shoes and threw them in the tree and told her, “You’ll have to walk barefoot.”
As the story continues, the man drove off, leaving her there and went to a nearby bar where the bartender talked the man into going back for his wife. She was still there, they reconciled, and the rest is history.
The young couple would return every year on their anniversary and throw another pair of shoes into the tree, making it a tradition.
Today, travelers are encouraged to follow suit and toss a pair of their shoes into the tree as they pass.
Fun Fact: The original shoe tree was cut down by hoodlums in 2010. However, locals have designated a nearby tree as the new shoe tree and it already adorns hundreds of pairs of shoes.
#4 – U.S. Highway 30
With a total length of 3.073 miles, U.S. Highway 30 comes in our list as the 4th longest road in the U.S. This highway is a major east-west route connecting the Astoria, Oregon to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Running through a total of 11 states, U.S. 30 will give you plenty of opportunities to explore what this great nation has to offer.
The states that you will drive through while traveling this highway across America are Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
The Nebraska section of this highway, also named the Lincoln Highway Historical Byway, will immerse you in history and small-town charm as you cross the state. In addition, you will also travel alongside the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails.
The largest city along the 4th longest road in the U.S. is Philadelphia. While you’re there, visit the historic Liberty Bell or grab a bite to eat at one of the many sandwich shops.
Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
For the history buffs, visit the Betsy Ross House, located in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood. While visiting the Betsy Ross House, A.K.A. the birthplace of the American flag, you can tour the house, meet Betsy Ross in her upholstery shop, and learn what life was like in the 18th century.
Fun Fact: Betsy Ross lost 3 husbands, two of which were killed in the American Revolution. She kept the names of all her husbands. At the time of her death in 1836, her full name was Betsy Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypool.
#3 – Interstate 90
Although Interstate 90 is the 3rd longest road in the U.S., it is the longest Interstate highway in America. It begins in Seattle, Washington and spans 3,020 miles ending in Boston, Massachusetts. I-90 serves 13 states as it stretches across the nation from coast to coast.
The states you will travel through on this road trip across America are Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
Interstate 90 was established by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and is the northernmost Interstate Highway in America.
If scenery is what you crave on your road trip, I-90 delivers more than you can handle in the western part of the route. As you travel through Montana, Idaho, and Washington, the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, the views will not disappoint.
Jolly Green Giant Statue, Blue Earth, Minnesota
The most unique attraction of the 3rd longest road in the U.S. is the Jolly Green Giant statue located in Blue Earth, Minnesota. The 55.5 feet tall statue was erected in 1979 and still stands tall in a local park as a way to welcome visitors.
A local radio station owner would interview visitors to the city. Afterwards, he would give them cans of Green Giant vegetables. Because the veggies were canned locally, the tourists would often ask, “Where’s the Green Giant?”.
When the radio station learned that the construction on Interstate 90 would bypass Blue Earth, he thought that a giant statue would help lure visitors to the city.
Fun Fact: The Green Giant statue was manufactured at a cost of $45,000. Green Giant would not fund any portion of the statue. Instead, the bill was paid by local businesses and of course, the radio station owner, who donated the biggest portion of the bill.
#2 – U.S. Highway 6
While the other roads in this list primarily run east to west, U.S. Highway 6 crosses America somewhat diagonally from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. This highway has a total length of 3,207 miles, making it the 2nd longest road in the U.S.
Highway 6 will take you through 14 states including California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
Traveling this highway will give you the opportunity to explore middle America as it passes through handful of densely populated cities.
Also called the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, U.S. Highway 6 was once the longest road in America. However, after the Department of Transportation renumbered highways in the 60’s, it became the 2nd longest road in the U.S.
Loveland Pass, Colorado
Take in the breathtaking scenery of the Continental Divide from Loveland Pass. It is located 60 miles west of Denver, Colorado along U.S. Highway 6. Loveland Pass sits at an astonishing elevation of 11,990 feet and gets its name from the former president of the Colorado Central Railroad, William A.H. Loveland.
Loveland Pass Road was adopted by the U.S. highway system in 1919 as a connection to the town of Silver Plume, Colorado.
Thousands of travelers follow this route every year as a way to bypass the Eisenhower Tunnel. By doing so, road trippers can take a more scenic drive and gain to access the ski slopes of Basin A.
Fun Fact: The road to and from Loveland Pass has a steady 6.7% grade and contains many tight turns along the way. However, when you arrive at Loveland Pass, there is plenty of parking on both sides of the road.
#1 – U.S. Highway 20, The Longest Road in The U.S.
Route 66 may get all the attention, but U.S. Highway 20 holds the title as the longest road in the U.S. An epic road trip along this route will take you 3,365 miles from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon. In addition, you will travel through 12 states. In the easternmost part of the United States, Highway 20 runs parallel to Interstate 90 and takes you through one of America’s most popular National Parks, Yellowstone.
The states you will travel through are Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.
If you are looking to take a slow ride across the United States, U.S. Highway 20 is the way to go. Many parts of this highway have not been converted to more than two lanes. As a result, this gives you the opportunity to take it slow and enjoy the small towns along the way. In fact, some of these quiet little towns have looked the same for decades.
Field of Dreams Movie Set, Dyersville, Iowa
Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa. You might remember that famous line from one of the best movies of the late 80’s. One of the most popular and unique attractions along U.S. Highway 20 is located in Dyersville, Iowa. Built in 1988, the “Field of Dreams” baseball field is a must-see attractions on this longest road in America.
Visitors can run the bases, tour the original house featured in the movie, and visit the gift center. The gift center offers movie memorabilia and T-shirts with some of the movies famous lines, like, “If you build it, they will come.”
Fun Fact: On the occasional Sunday in the summer, a local semi-pro baseball team will dress in the old-timey uniforms and will appear from the corn field as “Ghost players.”
Taking a road trip across America is not for the faint of heart. It is especially difficult if you are in a motorhome or pulling a camper. If a road trip of this magnitude is on your Bucket List, plan ahead and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to visit some of the historic and iconic attractions across the country. Road trips are the best way to see everything this great nation has to offer, take a trip back in time, and build everlasting memories with your loved ones.
Related Post: How A Family Road Trip Can Make Lasting Memories
So, throw that GPS out the window, crank up your favorite Van Halen or Eagles song, and hit the road. Make sure to take plenty of pictures along the way.
What are your thoughts on the longest roads in the U.S.? Have you traveled across the country on one of the routes? Better yet, have you visited any of the unique attractions listed in this post? If so, leave us a comment below and tell us all about it.
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