The “Perfect Road Trip”– USA

Another bucket list!  🙂   I’ve been wanting to do this but I have no idea when . I was thinking maybe after I’m done visiting cities in Europe, Asia and South America that I would love to see. Anyway, it can wait…this is not going anywhere… I live here.


I was just checking out google maps with my daughter, Jazz, coz she’s going to Las Vegas this weekend for her birthday. Then they’re going to the Rise Festival. I decided to include a slideshow for you guys coz it looks awesome. I wish I could go. Another bucket list but it’ll be like level 3. Not top priority for me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyway, Jazz says, “Mom I wanna go on a perfect road trip” and Mom gives her a puzzled look. So she says, Mom google it, which I did and voila! I didn’t know that it’s called the “perfect road trip”. I’ve heard about this before and have seen it briefly… and I thought “Hey! An answer to my prayers! I just need a group of friends who would want to join me.


So what is the “Perfect Road Trip”?  It all started when Tracy Staedter from Discovery News proposed an interesting idea to Randy Olson. She thought that it would be nice to have a map that hit landmarks in every state… she also thought it would be great if the map represented the optimal, most efficient route across the country? So she thought of someone who could create such a map, then she contacted Dr. Randy Olson, a doctoral student at Michigan State University at that time. (NOTE: Dr. Randy Olson is a Senior Data Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, where he develops state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms with a focus on biomedical applications.)

Planning the road trip: What had to be considered?

  1. The trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the contiguous U.S.
  2. The trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks, or National Monuments.
  3. The trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S.

With those objectives in mind, Tracy compiled a list of 50 major U.S. landmarks — one in each state excluding Alaska/Hawaii and including D.C., and two in California. Tracy wrote about that process on Discovery News here. (Source: Randal Olson)

The result is not the absolute best route between all of the landmarks, but rather a route that’s pretty darn good.

Here’s the map.

Dr. Olson created this map using a sophisticated algorithm (genetic algorithm card) to plot the optimum route across the USA — this path allows you to hop at any point  on the map as your starting point. This map represents a mix of history and natural wonder. If you had the road all to yourself, it would take 9.33 days to drive it, Dr. Olson estimates, but in reality it will take 2-3 months to complete this adventure.

Read more @ There are several maps, options,  Google Maps of the routes, the full list of landmarks and/or cities in order, etc.  Don’t forget your travel bingo cards. 🙂


You’ll find other options on how to tweak your road trip not just here in the US but in Europe, too.

Make your own road trip: If you’d like to customize your own road trip, Dr. Olson has released the Python code he used in this project with an open source license and instructions for how to optimize your custom road trip. You can find the code here.

Other parts of the world: Dr. Olson made another version for Europe here and for South America here. He also made a road trip for Michigan, and optimized walking tours for NYC and Philadelphia. Check  them out!


I cannot wait to go on this epic road trip with my daughter. I promise to blog about it and take you all every step of the way.    ♥ ♥ 






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