5 Classic American Drives

The open road is as much a part of American heritage as the silver screen, which is why we let the cinema—from Thelma & Louise to Sideways—guide us to our country's most inspiring drives.

How to Go Deeper: Looking to fine-tune your Easy Rider tour down to the detail? Follow this blog written by superfan Mr. Zip66. It chronicles the entire movie and its route in Google Maps glory, with accompanying photos, movie stills, and videos.

Cross-Country: Chicago to L.A. (National Lampoon's Vacation)

The itinerary for the classic family road trip.

Film Synopsis: "Why aren't we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You know that." A family vacation goes amusingly awry when Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) and clan embark on an epic road trip to Walley World.

Destination Highlights: The film traces the Griswolds' route from their home in Chicago to St. Louis, Kans., the Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles—2,408 miles, according to Clark's primitive PC. Plan your trip: Chicago to St. Louis to the Grand Canyon to Anaheim, Calif.; 2,221 miles.

Stick to the Script: The Griswold route is a quintessential cross-country tour that hits some of the top sites and cities in the U.S. Start in Chicago, where the Skydeck at Willis Tower will afford you an eagle-eyed view of Lake Michigan from atop the western hemisphere's tallest building. Next, drive down to St. Louis for a look at the Gateway Arch and its Museum of Westward Expansion. Keeping with that "westward ho" spirit, it's off to the Grand Canyon. Check into El Tovar Hotel (where Clark couldn't pay for the room; today, it's $178 per night), then take in the view from the South Rim, where the Griswold fam paused for a millisecond before skipping town. Finally, make your way to Anaheim, so that the kids can experience that real-life inspiration for Walley World that's never "closed for repairs"Disneyland.

How to Go Deeper: Chevy Chase breaks up the long haul between Missouri and Arizona with a detour to see tacky Cousin Eddie in Kansas. In that spirit, we suggest you visit to choose among numerous kitschy pit stops. In Kansas alone, there's Truckhenge, the Underground Salt Museum, and, of course, the World's Largest Ball of Twine.

Additional reporting by Jerry Soverinsky


Get your motor runnin' with these cinematic road trips.

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