Road trips are always a helluva time, and if you can't go on one personally, the next best thing is to watch a few of the movie classics that have been created. Road trip aka open road movies have been a staple of the film industry for decades now, with some of the most memorable movies in history are technically classified as being a "road trip" film. From the National Lampoon's series all the way to legendary one-offs such as 2004's Johnson Family Vacation and 2000's Road Trip, open road movies remain some of the most entertaining and hilarious out there due to the fact that the participants hardly ever make it to where they plan on going in one piece. With us still being in the thick of summer, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the best road trip movies of all time. Buckle up and get the popcorn ready. You're going to need it.
Vacation Vibes: The 31 Best Road Trip Movies of All Time
Ready to go on a road trip?
1. Johnson Family Vacation (2004)
- Directed by: Christopher Erskin
- Written by: Earl Richey Jones, Todd R. Jones
- Stars: Cedric the Entertainer, Bow Wow, Vanessa Williams, Solange Knowles, Steve Harvey, Shannon Elizabeth
- Where They're Headed: Missouri
We've got be on I-10 by 10. Johnson Family Vacation has so many memorable one-liners that have become even more popular with time. Obviously getting two of the most funny men in comedy, Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey, is going to result in some foolishness, and foolishness was indeed delivered. If you are in the mood to laugh your a$$ off, turn on Johnson Family Vacation.
2. Almost Famous (2000)
- Directed by: Cameron Crowe
- Written by: Cameron Crowe
- Stars: Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Anna Paquin
- Where They're Headed: All over the place
Sometimes you'll do anything (and put up with anything) to make your dreams come true. 2000's Almost Famous was all about the journey of a young aspiring rock journalist who catches the eye of a Rolling Stone editor who sends him on the road to cover a rising band named Stillwater. A fun little early 2000s film that's cool to watch during a relaxing weekend at home.
3. Easy Rider (1969)
- Directed by: Dennis Hopper
- Written by: Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Terry Southern
- Stars: Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper
- Where They're Headed: New Orleans
Earning an Academy Award nomination for "Best Original Screenplay," 1969's Easy Rider is a must-see film that everybody should watch at least once in their lives. Starring Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, and Dennis Hopper, the movie is about two motorcyclist hippies who decide to travel cross-country in search of spiritual truth after completing a drug deal in Southern California. What follows next is a wild ride. Literally.
4. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
- Directed by: Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton
- Written by: Michael Arndt
- Stars: Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin
- Where They're Headed: Redondo Beach, California
The interesting Hoover family are described as "putting the fun back in dysfunctional," so that should tell you all that you need to know about this movie. Showcasing an all-star cast that also includes Steve Carrell and Bryan Cranston, Little Miss Sunshine is another fun road trip film from the 2000s.
5. The Blues Brothers (1980)
- Directed by: John Landis
- Written by: John Landis, Dan Aykroyd
- Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd
- Where They're Headed: In and around Chicago
A cult classic considered to be one of the greatest comedies of all time, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd aka The Blues Brothers, hit the streets on a self-proclaimed mission from God in the attempt to get on a good path after getting out of prison. The first task? To save the orphanage the brothers grew up in from closing. The only thing they need to do is raise $5,000 to pay the back taxes on the property (which they plan to do through playing gigs), but as expected, everything goes...wrong.
6. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
- Directed by: Harold Ramis
- Written by: John Hughes
- Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo
- Where They're Headed: Wally World (California)
After re-watching National Lampoon's Vacation, we can effectively conclude that this is one of the best and funniest road trip movies of all time. Chevy Chase steals the show with his wit, sarcasm, and foul sailor mouth, which will keep you entertained from start to finish. The entire National Lampoon's series is worth watching, so we recommend setting aside a day where you can knock them all out.
7. Thelma & Louise (1991)
- Directed by: Ridley Scott
- Written by: Ridley Scott, Callie Khouri
- Stars: Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon
- Where They're Headed: Mexico
Directed by Ridley Scott, Thelma & Louise is a classic example of a movie taking an unexpected turn you never saw coming. Thelma (Davis) and Louise (Sarandon), intend to go on a short fishing trip, however those plans get put to an end when Louise shoots and kills a man at a bar who attempts to rape Thelma. The two decide to flee to Mexico, and embark on a journey that includes running from the law and falling for hot guys.
8. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
- Directed by: Hal Needham
- Written by: Hal Needham, Robert L. Levy
- Stars: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Jackie Gleason, Paul Williams
- Where They're Headed: Atlanta
Atlanta has a way of sometimes bringing the chaos, as demonstrated by 1977's Smokey and the Bandit. Anybody who calls themselves Bandit (Reynolds) is probably a person who's done some questionable in their lifetimes, which is probably why he's given the duties of transporting an illegal beer shipment from Texas to Atlanta. If Bandit had stayed on task he probably would have been able to easily accomplish the mission, but because he decides to pick up a rather hesitant bride to be (Field), things get a little complicated.
9. Into the Wild (2007)
- Directed by: Sean Penn
- Written by: Jon Krakauer
- Stars: Emile Hirsch, Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn
- Where They're Headed: Alaska
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless (Hirsch), 2007's Into the Wild is about the son of a wealthy couple who despite graduating from Emory University as a top student and athlete, instead decides to donate his savings to charity, get rid of all of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness.
10. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
- Directed by: Peter Farrelly
- Written by: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly, Bennett Yellin
- Stars: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels
- Where They're Headed: Aspen, Colorado
The partially hilarious and partially annoying Dumb and Dumber is always worth a watch. Quite possibly the two dumbest pair of friends to ever exist, Lloyd Christmas (Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Daniels), decide to go to Aspen, Colorado to return a suitcase full of money left behind by a woman in Harry's car. Somehow (don't ask), this leads to the duo being hunted by both the police and killers. Needless to say, the pair find themselves in a unique jam that they have to get out of.
11. It Happened One Night (1934)
- Directed by: Frank Capra
- Written by: Frank Capra, Robert Riskin
- Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
- Where They're Headed: New York and beyond
The concept of open road movies have been experimented with since practically the inception of film, and with five Academy Awards along with an induction into the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, we'd say It Happened One Night deserves its ranking as one of the best road trip films of all time.
12. College Road Trip (2008)
- Directed by: Roger Kumble
- Written by: Emi Mochizuki, Carrie Evans, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
- Stars: Martin Lawrence, Kym Whitley, Raven-Symoné, Brenda Song
- Where They're Headed: Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.
2008's College Road Trip starring Raven-Symoné and Martin Lawrence remains underestimated in our book. Obviously Martin Lawrence is one of the funniest people to ever do it, and so is Raven. Put the both of them together, and you'll be laughing non-stop.
13. Road Trip (2000)
- Directed by: Todd Phillips
- Written by: Todd Phillips, Scott Armstrong
- Stars: Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Paulo Costanzo, and DJ Qualls
- Where They're Headed: Austin, Texas
Road Trip is stupid, but in a good way. The film is about four college friends who embark on a trip from Ithaca, New York, to Austin, Texas after mistakenly sending a rather illicit tape mistakenly mailed to the girlfriend of one of the guys in the crew. The goal is for them to retrieve the tape before she gets it. Can they do it? You'll have to watch the movie for that.
14. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
- Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
- Written by: Alfonso Cuarón, Carlos Cuarón
- Stars: Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Maribel Verdú
- Where They're Headed: Boca del Cielo
Y Tu Mamá También is about two seventeen-year-olds, Julio (Luna) and Tenoch (Bernal), who set out on a road trip with an older woman (Verdú), and together they learn lessons about self discovery, engage in escapes with the older woman, and learn more about the world around them.
15. The Bucket List (2007)
- Directed by: Rob Reiner
- Written by: Justin Zackham,
- Stars: Morgan Freeman, Jack Nicholson
- Where They're Headed: Everywhere
The Bucket List is a touching story about two terminally ill men who set out to accomplish the things on their bucket list before they die. One of the things on their list is backpacking/traveling the world. So what do they do? Backpack and travel the world.
16. Rain Man (1988)
- Directed by: Barry Levinson
- Written by: Barry Morrow, Ronald Bass
- Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino, Tom Cruise
- Where They're Headed: Cincinnati, Ohio
Long before Tom Cruise was in Mission Impossible, he was in a rather poignant road trip drama called Road Man. Portraying a car dealer named Charlie Babbitt who returns home to Cincinnati, Ohio after learning that his estranged father has passed away, Road Man is a bit sad compared to what we know as the "traditional road trip film," but still a good watch.
17. Crossroads (2002)
- Directed by: Tamra Davis
- Written by: Shonda Rhimes
- Stars: Britney Spears, Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning
- Where They're Headed: LA to Tucson, Arizona
Dammit! We're putting this here because Crossroads didn't get enough credit at the time of its release in 2002, and it doesn't get enough credit now. This is a good movie, and we will forever stand by that!
18. Midnight Run (1988)
- Directed by: Martin Brest
- Written by: George Gallo
- Stars: Robert De Niro, Charles Grodin
- Where They're Headed: All around the West Coast
1988's Midnight Run has a case for being one of the all-time great action films from the 1980s. A not-so-traditional "catch the bad guy" movie, the film is about bounty hunter Jack Walsh (De Niro), being hired to bring a mob accountant (Grodin) to Los Angeles. Walsh gets told ahead of time that the job will either be an easy one or a midnight run (meaning a chase), and, well, the latter happens.
19. My Own Private Idaho (1991)
- Directed by: Gus Van Sant
- Written by: Gus Van Sant
- Stars: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves
- Where They're Headed: Idaho
Ah! A baby Keanu Reeves in an early acting role. My Own Private Idaho is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry IV that centers around a gay hustler that struggles with narcolepsy (Phoenix) and the rebellious son of a mayor (Reeves) who travel from Portland, to Idaho, and finally the coast of Italy in the quest the hustler's estranged money. As expected, along the way they encounter...a lot.
20. Harry and Tonto (1974)
- Directed by: Paul Mazursky
- Written by: Paul Mazursky and Josh Greenfield
- Stars: Paul Mazursky, Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn
- Where They're Headed: Chicago and beyond
A classic 1970s film, Harry and Tonto (which Art Carney won an Oscar for by the way), is about a man named Harry in his 70s (Carney), who is evicted from his Manhattan apartment when the building is set to be demolished. After staying with his son for a while, Harry to travel across the country with his cat Tonto to visit the various important people in his life.
21. Logan (2017)
- Directed by: James Mangold
- Written by: Scott Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green, James Mangold
- Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Robert E. Grant
- Where They're Headed: Eden
Would do you get when you make Wolverine/X-Men an open road movie. Logan. That's what you get. There's a reason why this movie is considered one of the best X-Men movies as a whole, and now is the perfect time to watch it if you haven't already.
22. Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)
- Directed by: Mike Judge
- Written by: Mike Judge, Joe Stillman
- Stars: Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Robert Stack, Cloris Leachman
- Where They're Headed: All round the U.S.
Want to watch another set of dumb a$$es embark on a cross-country road trip? Here ya go. 1996's Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. Thank us later.
23. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
- Directed by: Terry Gilliam
- Written by: Terry Gilliam, Alex Cox, Toni Grisoni, Tod Davies
- Where They're Headed: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro
The legendary Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas aka the movie that inspired the music video for Quavo and Takeoff's single "Hotel Lobby" from 2022. Want to talk about madness, trips, and trippyness? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is all that and a bag of chips.
24. Lost in America (1985)
- Directed by: Albert Brooks
- Written by: Albert Brooks, Monica Johnson
- Stars: Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty, Garry Marshall
- Where They're Headed: Cross Country (West Coast)
An early Albert Brooks comedy, Lost in America is about a Los Angeles yuppie (Brooks) who convinces his wife Linda (Hagerty) to quit her job and join him on a cross country road trip. Since that's not exactly the smartest ideas, something is bound to go wrong. That said, something indeed does go wrong...in Vegas at that.
25. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
- Directed by: Tim Burton
- Written by: Paul Reubens, Phil Hartman, Michael Varhol
- Stars: Paul Reubens, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger
- Where They're Headed: All Over
Pee-wee get his precious bike stolen, so he decides to go on a road trip aka a "big adventure" to retrieve what's rightfully his. You have to admire the dedication here people.
26. Magic Mike XXL (2015)
- Directed by: Greg Jacobs
- Written by: Reid Carolin
- Stars: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer
- Where They're Headed: Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In 2015, the Magic Mike show went on the road after Mike Lane (Tatum) decided he missed the business and wanted to get back out there. Lane and Co. decide to go on a road trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a stripper convention, providing an interesting twist on the series.
27. The Muppet Movie (1979)
- Directed by: James Frawley
- Written by: Jerry Juhl, Jack Burns
- Stars: Jim Henson, Dave Goelz, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt
- Where They're Headed: California
Kermit the Frog said by any means necessary dammit! In pursuit of a movie career, Kermit decides to go on a cross-country trip from Florida to California, meets some cool friends like Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and rock musicians Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and sets out to prove his worth in Tinseltown.
28. Over the Top (1987)
- Directed by: Menahen Golen
- Written by: Sylvester Stallone, Stirling Silliphant
- Stars: Sylvester Stallone, David Mendenhall
- Where They're Headed: Las Vegas
Lincoln Hawk (Stallone), a trucker and arm wrestling pro, needs to get to his World Arm Wrestling Tournament, and he needs to get his estranged son to go see his dying mother at the same time. An interesting dynamic to say the least, but it is the ultimate bonding trip to say the least.
29. The Straight Story (1999)
- Directed by: David Lynch,
- Written by: John Roach, Mary Sweeney
- Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek
- Where They're Headed: Wisconsin
A road trip not in a car, but on a lawnmower. Sound crazy, but you'll do anything when it comes to the people you love. We're not going to spoil this incredible film, so we'll just say watch it.
30. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
- Directed by: Jim Marusch
- Written by: Jim Jarmusch
- Stars: Cecillia Stark, John Lurie
- Where They're Headed: Cleveland, Ohio
Stranger Than Paradise being black-and-white film in the 1980s should be enough of a reason to watch it alone. Going against the grain and being unconventional is something that will always have our respect.
31. Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
- Directed by: John Hughes
- Written by: John Hughes
- Stars: Steve Martin, John Candy
- Where They're Headed: Chicago
A control freak and a talkative fellow link up and what do you get? Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. Oh my.
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