Route 66 might be known as America's Mother Road, but U.S. Route 20 is called "Big Daddy" for good reason. It's the longest road in the U.S., stretching from Boston, Massachusetts, to Newport, Oregon. A mega road trip along this epic route will take you through 12 states and across 3,365 miles.
Start off by admiring the singular beauty of the Pacific Coast at Newport's Yaquina Bay. Oregon's wild beaches, with their seastacks and tidepools, are unlike anything anywhere else in the country. Then, bid adieu to the shore—for now—and prepare yourself to drive right through the beating heart of the U.S.
Looking to enjoy one of Oregon's tallest waterfalls? Since the location is about 75 miles off the highway once you exit US-20, it is a bit of a drive. However, Salt Creek Falls is worth the trek to gaze at the awe-inspiring beauty.
As you make your way through Idaho, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is one great place to see how the rocky landscape hides ancient remains. The fossil bed has been an important archaeological site since the 1920s, and it still produces thousands of fossils and shards a year. Learn about intriguing animals like massive ground sloths, saber-tooth cats, and mastodons, which are now extinct but once called Idaho home. The visitor center has great information on the site's history and finds.
You can't drive through Idaho without paying tribute to the state's most famous product. At the Idaho Potato Museum, you'll learn everything you never knew about the root veggie, including its history and various potato-related anecdotes. See a collection of potato peelers and antique farming equipment, as you learn about the potato's role in Idaho's culture. Don't miss a photo with the giant potato statue out front. Grab some fries and the "free taters for out-of-staters" before you head back to the highway.
US-20 passes through West Yellowstone in Montana. You can't miss the chance to stop by the U.S.'s first—and, arguably, most fascinating—national park. Yellowstone is a hotbed of geothermal activity, with geysers, colorful hot springs, bubbling mudpots, and more. If you don't have time to wait for Old Faithful to blow or to hike around the Grand Prismatic Spring, take a scenic drive to spot bison and make a stop at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, which features a massive waterfall.
Wyoming is also known for its pioneer past. The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is a fascinating look back at life on the prairie in the late 1800s. Hands-on, interactive exhibits keep kids engaged while adults browse the collection of artifacts. The story of Western Expansion is also told through performance and videos. You won't just learn about what life was like in a wagon or on a homestead, you'll get insight into wildlife, native cultures, and natural history, as well.
Stop to appreciate the unique roadside kitsch known as Carhenge. In addition to the collection of weird car art —think graffiti cars and a station wagon made to look like a Conestoga wagon—the crown jewel of the place is the Stonehenge homage made entirely of cars. Set in the rough Badlands scenery, there's actually a lot to see here, making it well worth the stop.
Imagine what the landscape of what is now Nebraska looked like millions of years ago—12 million years, to be precise. Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historic Park features a fascinating array of ancient remains. The bones of various prehistoric creatures can be seen here. Walk through the fossil beds, learn about paleontology, and see a dig in action. The site is quite scenic as well, so you may spend an hour or two exploring here.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Sioux City provides a free, in-depth look at the story of Lewis and Clark, following their trials and tribulations as they became the first Westerners to cross the continent. After your tour, you'll be thankful that your cross-country road trip is a bit easier than theirs.
As you make your way through the ever-changing landscapes, pay tribute to the man who was so inspired by them that he changed architecture forever: Frank Lloyd Wright. His Oak Park Home and Studio is a great way to learn about his formative years and to get a peek into how he worked. This "architectural laboratory" is where he and his team designed over 100 buildings, including some of his most famous works, like the Robie House and the Unity Temple.
Spare a day of travel to spend some time at Cedar Point Amusement Park, which is considered one of the best parks in the U.S. for roller coaster fans. The sheer number of rides and attractions here will keep kids and adults of all ages enthralled for hours. It can be somewhat pricey, between the tickets and the cost of food, but you can save money by packing a picnic and buying tickets online in advance.
US-20 makes its way through Cleveland, where you can jam out at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The collection of artifacts is absolutely legendary, including items like Lady Gaga's meat dress, Elvis's car, Michael Jackson's famous glove, and Joey Ramone's leather jacket. The list of iconic objects on display is almost endless. Even if you're not a rock fan, the amount of history here is venerable and well displayed.
As you make your way into western New York, you'll be in prime wine country. Johnson Estate Winery is a quiet slice of heaven, with rolling green hills and a cozy tasting room, where six samples of wine will only set you back a few dollars. The winery offers a huge variety, from pinot noirs and merlots to rieslings and chardonnays to ice wines, ports, and sherries. For a real taste of the region, try one of the light blush wines.
Summer is a great time for a trip along US-20. The weather might get hot, and some spots—like Yellowstone—might get crowded, but many roads and attractions close during the winter due to the northern nature of this route. Spring and fall provide mild weather, which is always nice, but plan for variable conditions, including rain. It will take you at least a few weeks to fully appreciate everything offered along US-20, so leave yourself plenty of time—and just enjoy the ride.