The Best American Travel Books Ever Written (USA)

best american travel books ever written

A collection of USA travelogues, guide books, tales of adventure and the great outdoors.

We bring you a selection of the best American travel books ever written.

Land of the free; home of the brave; the land of milk and honey; the melting pot; los Estados Unidos; or as we Brits say “The land across the pond”; whatever you may call the land of opportunity you will surely agree with the Chinese name for the U.S.A: “Mei-Guo” which literally means – beautiful country.

Probably the worlds only real super power (Vladimir Putin’s words, not mine), it is also an incredibly super country, with especially lovely people. Fifty exceedingly diverse states, could just as easily be fifty individual countries with their own separate cultures.

From a travel writers perspective the ‘States’ has everything you can imagine or ever need. From mountains to beaches; some of the biggest cities and urban metropolises, to quaint rural towns and villages; epic geology and landscapes, a wealth of flora and fauna, and food and drink across the spectrum. It may lack the age of its Europeans cousins, but it has certainly crammed a lot into such a short period. A wealth of material, for any type of travel book.

Without further ado lets crack on with our list of best American travel books –

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Best American Travel Books –


Travels-Charley-Search-America-Steinbeck

Travels with Charley: In search of America by John Steinbeck

“To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colors and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.

With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & Audible Formats


on the road jack kerouac

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

“Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s adventures with Neal Cassady, On the Road tells the story of two friends whose cross-country road trips are a quest for meaning and true experience. Written with a mixture of sad-eyed naiveté and wild ambition and imbued with Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz, On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope, a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & Audible Formats


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

“This cult classic of gonzo journalism is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, eBook & Audible Formats


Im Stranger Here Myself Returning to america after twenty years away bill bryson

I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson

“After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliensas he later put it, “it was clear my people needed me”). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & Audible Formats


Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

“Life on the Mississippi” (1883) is a memoir by Mark Twain of his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War, and also a travel book, recounting his trip along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans many years after the War.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & eBook Formats


In Search of Nice Americans by Geoff Steward

In Search of Nice Americans by Geoff Steward

“Turning his back on the British legal profession and the requirement to account for every six minutes of his time, Geoff Steward ventures off-grid and on the road across America. From New York to Alaska, he tries to fend for himself without his trusty PA, the unflappable Charmaine, for whom contentment lies in Jesus Christ and custard creams.”

Available in Paperback & Kindle Formats


Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, eBook & Audible Formats


A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins

A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins

“I started out searching for myself and my country,” Peter Jenkins writes, “and found both.” In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970’s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago — from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day — and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, eBook & Audible Formats


Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild Frontier by Stephen E. Ambrose

Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America’s Wild Frontier by Stephen E. Ambrose

“This was much more than a bunch of guys out on an exploring and collecting expedition. This was a military expedition into hostile territory’. In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a pioneering voyage across the Great Plains and into the Rockies. It was completely uncharted territory; a wild, vast land ruled by the Indians. Charismatic and brave, Lewis was the perfect choice and he experienced the savage North American continent before any other white man. UNDAUNTED COURAGE is the tale of a hero, but it is also a tragedy.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & Audible Formats


In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter's Immersion in Wild Yellowstone by Rick Lamplugh

In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter’s Immersion in Wild Yellowstone by Rick Lamplugh

“This Amazon best seller is written by a wolf advocate who spent three winters living and working in a remote corner of Yellowstone National Park, home to some of the best wolf watching in the world.”

“… the perfect read for all who dream of wolves, winter and wilderness. Though Rick doesn’t shy from exposing the unsettling realities of the natural world and wildlife tourism, his skilled balance of humor, reverence and natural history enlightens and entertains…”
(Andrea Lankford, author of Ranger Confidential)

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas

Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas

“In this frank and witty memoir, Ken Ilgunas lays bare the existential terror of graduating from the University of Buffalo with $32,000 of student debt. Ilgunas set himself an ambitious mission: get out of debt as quickly as possible. Inspired by the frugality and philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ilgunas undertook a 3-year transcontinental jour¬ney, working in Alaska as a tour guide, garbage picker, and night cook to pay off his student loans before hitchhiking home to New York.

Debt-free, Ilgunas then enrolled in a master’s program at Duke University, determined not to borrow against his future again. He used the last of his savings to buy himself a used Econoline van and outfitted it as his new dorm. The van, stationed in a campus parking lot, would be more than an adventure—it would be his very own “Walden on Wheels.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, eBook & Audible Formats


Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada by John Muir Laws

Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada by John Muir Laws

The most comprehensive field guide to the natural wonders of the Range of Light! The Sierra Nevada.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback Format


Driving Miss Norma: One Family's Journey Saying "Yes" to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt

Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living by Tim Bauerschmidt

“When Miss Norma was diagnosed with uterine cancer, she was advised to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But instead of confining herself to a hospital bed for what could be her last stay, Miss Norma—newly widowed after nearly seven decades of marriage—rose to her full height of five feet and told her doctor, “I’m ninety years old. I’m hitting the road.”

And so Miss Norma took off on an unforgettable around-the-country journey in a thirty-six-foot motor home with her retired son Tim, his wife Ramie, and their dog Ringo.

As this once timid woman says “yes” to living in the face of death, she tries regional foods for the first time, reaches for the clouds in a hot air balloon, and mounts up for a horseback ride. With each passing mile (and one educational visit to a cannabis dispensary), Miss Norma’s health improves and conversations that had once been taboo begin to unfold. Norma, Tim, and Ramie bond in ways they had never done before, and their definitions of home, family, and friendship expand. Stop by stop, state by state, they meet countless people from all walks of life—strangers who become fast friends and welcome them with kindness and open hearts.”

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & eBook Formats


The United States of Laughter: One Comedian's Journey Through All 50 States by Andrew Tarvin

The United States of Laughter: One Comedian’s Journey Through All 50 States by Andrew Tarvin

“At the age of 31, Andrew Tarvin made the very practical decision to rid himself of most of his belongings, leave his Midtown apartment in NYC, and travel the country out of two carry-on bags. In 12 months, he traveled 92,358 miles, did 215 events, and spoke or performed in all 50 states (yes, even Wyoming).

Along the way, he collected 50 stories from 50 states. Stories of adventure, like fending off a bear in Alaska, stories of deliciousness, like eating a Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo Burrito in Montana, and stories of people, like meeting his newest fan in Pringle, South Dakota, population: 112.

Through his journey, he discovered that, despite what we may see on the news or read on the internet, there is one thing that unites all Americans: laughter. As he traveled around the country, he found connection through comedy and realized we are all more alike than we are different, no matter what state we call home.”

Available in Paperback, eBook & Audible Formats


In Search of America's Heartbeat: Twelve Months on the Road by Robert H Mottram

In Search of America’s Heartbeat: Twelve Months on the Road by Robert H Mottram

“They lived the secret dream of countless American couples; a year on the road that took them more than 30,000 miles into the far-flung corners of the nation. Along the way they came face-to-face with grief, but also with the warmth and humanity of America and its people. A grandson of Russian immigrants and award-winning journalist celebrates America in a wonderful, upbeat story chock-full of Americana. It will tell you things about your country that you probably didn’t know.”

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


Live It: Riding the Highs and Lows of a Cross Country Dream by Tracy Draper
Live It: Riding the Highs and Lows of a Cross Country Dream by Tracy Draper

“Long sidelined from any kind of athletic endeavors in order to manage the demands of motherhood, Tracy Draper quietly harbored a dream to ride her bike more than 3,000 miles across the country. Every year, hundreds of cyclists ride register with private touring groups to travel by bike from coast to coast.

But instead of taking a credit-card tour, this longtime supporter of a myriad of causes recruited and organized her own team of cyclists to tackle the continental challenge in support of America’s wounded veterans. Her story perches readers on the front lines of a monumental challenge that tested everything from the rubber on desert-scorched tires to the group dynamics of herding sometimes-exhausted cyclists across a continent. In a voice both humbling and inspiring, she tells a story of hardships and life-defining moments.

Her trek takes readers across the country and introduces them to a cast that includes selfless Navajo Indians, unsung heroes of military sacrifice, and middle-class Americans who opened their homes and checkbooks to a band of strangers. It is also a story that takes us from a comfortable spot on the couch to place where we can envision what is possible when you have a bike and a dream.”

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith

One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey by Sam Keith

This best-selling memoir from Richard Proenneke’s journals and with firsthand knowledge of his subject and the setting, Sam Keith has woven a tribute to a man who carved his masterpiece out of the beyond.  To live in a pristine land unchanged by man . . . to roam a wilderness through which few other humans has passed . . . to choose an idyllic site, cut trees by hand, and build a log cabin. . . to be self-sufficient craftsman, making what is needed from materials available…to be not at odds with the world, but content with one’s own thoughts, dreams and company.  Thousands have had such dreams, but Richard Proenneke lived them. This book is a moving account of the day-to-day explorations and activities Dick carried out alone….alone in the wilderness…and the constant chain of nature’s events that kept him company.

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


Temperance Creek: A Memoir by Pamela Royes

Temperance Creek: A Memoir by Pamela Royes

In the early seventies, some of us were shot like stars from our parents’ homes. This was an act of nature, bigger than ourselves. In the austere beauty and natural reality of Hell’s Canyon of Eastern Oregon, one hundred miles from pavement, Pam, unable to identify with her parent’s world and looking for deeper pathways has a chance encounter with returning Vietnam warrior Skip Royes. Skip, looking for a bridge from survival back to connection, introduces Pam to the vanishing culture of the wandering shepherd and together they embark on a four-year sojourn into the wilderness. From the back of a horse, Pam leads her packstring of readers from overlook to water crossing, down trails two thousand years old, and from the vantages she chooses for us, we feel the edges of our own experiences. It is a memoir of falling in love with a place and a man and the price extracted for that love.

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook by Andrew Doughty

Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook by Andrew Doughty

“The finest guidebook ever written for the Big Island. Now you can plan your best vacation ever. This all new eighth edition is a candid, humorous guide to everything there is to see and do on the Big Island.

Best-selling author and longtime Hawaii resident, Andrew Doughty, unlocks the secrets of an island so vast and diverse that many visitors never realize all that it has to offer. Explore with him as he reveals breathtaking trails, secluded beaches, pristine reefs, delicious places to dine, relaxing resorts, an active volcano and so much more. Every restaurant, activity provider, business and resort is reviewed personally and anonymously. This book and a rental car are all you need to discover what makes the Big Island so exciting.”

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America’s Two-Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen

“Jamie Jensen was immersed in road trip culture from an early age. He grew up in Southern California, back when freeways were new, cheeseburgers cost a quarter, and every beach had a beachfront amusement park. After a three-year stint bumming around the country, making hay in Kansas, and ghostwriting a book for the Grateful Dead, Jamie set to work researching and writing Road Trip USA. Since then he’s traveled more than 400,000 miles in search of the perfect stretch of two-lane blacktop.”

Available in Paperback Format


Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting by Reader’s Digest

Off the Beaten Path spotlights over 1,000 of the United States’ most overlooked must- see destinations.  Plan an unforgettable vacation with this best-selling travel book-a super-easy reference that shows you where to go, how to get there, and what you need to know before you begin your adventure.

Available in Hardcover Format


Roadfood – 10th Edition: An Eater’s Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America by Jane Stern

“A cornucopia for road warriors and armchair epicures alike, Roadfood is a road map to some of the tastiest treasures in the United States.

First published in 1977, the original Roadfood became an instant classic. James Beard said, “This is a book that you should carry with you, no matter where you are going in these United States. It’s a treasure house of information.” The 40th anniversary edition of Roadfood includes 1,000 of America’s best local eateries along highways and back roads, with nearly 200 new listings, as well as a brand new design.”

Available in Paperback, eBook and Spiral-Bound Formats


Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 59 National Parks by Michael Joseph Oswald

“This award-winning guide, completely updated for the 2017 edition, includes more than 450 new photographs, 160 revised maps, and 50 hiking tables, making it the only guidebook you’ll need to explore the United States National Parks.”

Available in Paperback & eBook Formats


We hope you found our list of the best American travel books useful. If you have any feedback or suggestions please let us know in the comments section below.

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