Road trips are a fantastic way to explore the great outdoors and do something a little different. However, as much as we all love to go on an adventure, it’s surprisingly difficult to think of ideas for where to go. Usually, a lot of research needs to go into a road trip because the last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

But to help make things a little easier for you, we’ve put together four fantastic ideas for last-minute labor day road trips.


1. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga is a city in southeastern Tennessee that is situated along the Tennessee River and sits at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re thinking of heading out towards the south or up to the midwest, then passing through Chattanooga is something that you absolutely have to do.

If you visit Chattanooga from the south then it’s roughly a 2-hour drive from Atlanta and roughly the same distance if you approach from the north via Nashville. Being a landlocked state, approaching Tennessee usually means passing over a river and Chattanooga embodies this perfectly. The Tennessee River runs right through the city, making it a great place to visit if you love driving close to scenic views.

In terms of things to do in Chattanooga, you’ll find plenty of great locations that are unique to the area. For instance, Ruby Falls is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall that you can visit in the entire country. Many people come to Chattanooga just to see this natural marvel, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire city. There are also plenty of mountains to traverse if you’re interested in hiking, and there are loads of spots for accommodation so you’ll never be lost for ideas on where to stay.

Outdoor camping is also very popular for people taking road trips to and from Chattanooga. Even if you’re just passing by to visit another destination, camping is a fantastic option if you’re carrying the right gear with you. Just make sure you have your tent and some quality camping gear from brands like EcoGearFX to help keep you safe during your stay. For locations, consider areas such as Chester Frost, Chilhowee, DeSoto, Fall Creek Falls, and Fort Mountain. All of these locations offer beautiful and picturesque views while also offering plenty of entertainment in the form of hiking, running, biking, and even padding. A road trip to or through Chattanooga is an excellent way to escape urban life and is highly recommended as a labor day road trip idea.

Of course, if you’re looking for more typical entertainment and nightlife then Chattanooga has you covered there too. It has some top attractions including the Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Zoo, and you’ll find plenty of bars to unwind in after a long drive through the state. There’s something for everyone here, so don’t overlook the joys and wonder that the city has to offer!


2. Greenville, South Carolina

If you’re in the southeast and looking for a fantastic road trip idea, then why not consider South Carolina? More specifically; Greenville.

Greenville is one of those surprising locations in the US that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a completely different country. It’s a palace where nature and civilization have learned to coincide, so you’ll see plenty of large buildings and busy streets but they’re filled with bright green trees and dirt paths that blend with the surrounding natural environment. There are roughly 50 waterfalls to hike to and many beautiful natural scenes to marvel at as you drive across the state to reach Greenville.

Depending on where you approach Greenville, you’ll get a completely different experience. Come from the south and you can pass by Atlanta, crossing Lake Hartwell as you cross the border into South Carolina. Approach from the north and you’ll go past Paris Mountain State Park, a serene location with plenty of hiking and biking trails and dozens of campsites. So no matter where your road trip takes you, there are plenty of unique experiences to be had when you visit Greenville.

Inside the city, you’ll find plenty of cultural monuments, museums to explore, and plenty of accommodation to suit your needs. There's never a dull moment when you visit Greenville and the journey alone is enough to satisfy many road trip enthusiasts.


3. Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as State Route 1 (SR 1), is a major north-south highway that runs along the Pacific coastline of California. It passes through San Francisco all the way to San Diego with over 951 km of beautiful California views. It takes roughly 6 days to travel the entire length and even longer if you want to sit back and relax at each city that you pass through. You don’t have to go the entire length either; it’s perfectly fine to only do a small portion of the Pacific Coast Highway before turning back to go home. 6 days is a fairly long road trip, but if you’re in California and want an amazing road trip experience then we highly recommend driving up or down State Route 1.

The various cities you’ll pass through all contain something unique and exciting. San Francisco has one of the oldest Chinatowns in the country and beautiful beaches and world-class museums to explore. Head further down and you’ll end up in Santa Cruz, a scenic location with beautiful views of seaside outposts and tall redwood trees. Keep going and you’ll eventually find yourself in Cambria with its world-famous elephant seal rookery. It’s a charming location with plenty to see and a great reputation for delicious pies.

As you continue through the Pacific Coast Highway you’ll find yourself in Morro Bay, Los Olivos and Solvang, Santa Barbara, and eventually Los Angeles. As one of the most popular and populated destinations on this road trip, many people take the time to stop and admire all of the sights and sounds before reaching the final stop. Los Angeles is a glamorous city with many different faces, offering something unique to everyone that steps foot into the city. Whether it's beautiful parks, roaring nightlife, or stunning art museums, there’s something for every kind of adventurer here.

And lastly, you’ll reach San Diego. It’s one of the most popular surfing destinations, it’s home to an incredibly popular zoo, and it has some of the best food you’ll find in the entire state. Enjoy a stroll, sample some street food, and go diving in the beautiful waters of the coastline.

In short, this Pacific Coast Highway road trip is long and can be tiring, but there are just so many unique places to visit along the way. You’ll even see people come to California from other parts of the country just to rent a vehicle and make the journey up and down the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s so popular that you’ll even find itineraries for State Route 1 road trips.


4. Red Rock Country, Arizona

Red Rock Country is yet another one of the most popular road trips that people make on labor day. Rentals are perfect and even encouraged in this area thanks to its popularity, and you can really personalize the trip to your personal tastes and liking. In its entirety, a Red Rock Country road trip is roughly 145 miles along Interstate 17. People typically take a small detour on Route 179 (Red Rock Scenic Byway) and 89a to Flagstaff, Arizona.

One of the biggest draws to a Red Rock Country road trip is the outstanding views it offers. It’s completely different from the coastline views that we’ve previously talked about in this article and gives you a completely different perspective of the country. People often refer to this road trip as an open-air museum because of all the beautiful sights and picturesque views that you’ll get. With fascinating geology to uncover and beautiful landscapes to marvel at, it’s one of the most enjoyable road trips that you could embark on in the country.

There are plenty of opportunities to take a break, find some accommodation, and then just explore the surrounding area. Whether it’s hiking across canyons or exploring the many national parks in the area, there’s never a dull moment when making a road trip across Red Rock Country. There are also plenty of tours that you can take and you’ll even find campgrounds that are excellent for people that want to get a little closer to nature and spend a bit more time outdoors. It’s also a very customizable road trip where you can take as many detours as you want.

Whether you’re looking for a short 2-day road trip or something that takes several days to complete, you’ll find that there’s something for everyone in Red Rock Country.