The West was made for road trips. Flat, open roads, wildlife, mountains, beautiful sunrises and sunsets – what more do you need to inspire you to hop in the car and explore? Scenery aside, there’s a lot of history in the West; American Indians, settlers, covered wagons, trails, you name it.

This summer, pack up your trail mix and plan a road trip out West. We’ve compiled a list of destinations that travel through some historic sites that help tell the story of settlers traveling West.

A Brief History of Going West

Have you ever wondered why America decided to expand westward? It wasn’t because of the beautiful scenery and open skies. Instead, folks mainly moved to the West because of population pressures, personal economic gain, political motivation, or to start fresh.

More specifically, Americans wanted to begin their journey westward because of the gold rush and mining opportunities, the chance to work in the cattle industry, options to purchase cheap land, and just plain old adventure with the lure of the “wild west”.

You’ll get the real stories of the West from these sites. They’ll provide you with the full story from all points of view; the American Indians and enslaved people who also inhabited the sites; and those who made history.

So let’s begin our journey!

America Goes West: Best Sites East of the Mississippi

Starting in Kentucky, you’ll begin your road trip to the West through the best states on this side of the Mississippi. The sites in this region focus on historic homes surrounded by magnificent sights and history from different points of view.

You’ll tour Kentucky’s Liberty Hall Historic Site, where you’ll learn about Senator John Brown, his family’s elegant lifestyle in the 1800s, and the enslaved family that made that lifestyle possible. Next, you’ll visit Travellers Rest Historic House Museum located in Nashville, Tennessee. Here, you’ll cover over 1,000 years of American Indian occupants, enslaved families, and the story of Judge John Overton, lawyer, judge, banker, and close advisor to President Andrew Jackson.

Further into the mid-western states, we’ll take you through the Gateway of the West: Missouri. Here you’ll stop by the Centre for French Colonial Life to learn about the early French settlers and the development of the unique French Creole culture in the region.

Continuing through the states, you’ll tour Wisconsin’s Historic Indian Agency House, one of the state’s first houses to learn the story of the indigenous Ho-Chunk tribe and American settlers.

Begin Your Journey Through the Best States This Side of the Mississippi

The Continental Divide

Our Beyond the Continental Divide itinerary provides road trip lovers with a journey through some of the more westward states!

Starting in Colorado Springs, you’ll venture over to the McAllister House Museum to learn about the family who developed the town into what it is today. Then, while you’re in the state, pop over to Georgetown, Colorado, to take in the French inspiration and lavish amenities the Hotel de Paris Museum once offered its patrons.

Directing our road trip north, stop by Newberg, Oregon, to visit the Hoover-Minton House Museum to see where President Hoover spent his childhood. Finally, if you happen to be soaking up the sun and the magic that is Hawaii, stop by the Hawaiian Mission Houses to learn about the culture and history of the state.

Begin Your Journey Beyond the Continental Divide

Stay Tuned for More Itineraries

If the western states don’t scratch your road trip itch, no worries! We’ll be rolling out more helpful guides for enjoying the Great American Treasures all year!

Don’t want to wait? Then, use our Create an Adventure tool to plan your own!