Travel Bloggers Share Their Best East Coast Road Trips.
The USA is a spectacular destination for road trips, from the Pacific to the East Coast and anywhere in between. However, with so many options to choose from, planning a road trip can be a daunting task. To help you out this season, with some insightful road trip planning, we’ve compiled 10 fabulous East Coast Road trip itineraries recommended by fellow travel bloggers.
Road trips are a quintessential America tradition and with good reason. From romantic getaways to friends and family camping adventures, road trips offer the autonomy to explore new places, food venues and attractions along the way, some of which may have otherwise remained undiscovered to this day.
We hope this fabulous compilation of east coast road trips starting in Maine all the way to the Florida Keys, provides you with new destinations to add to your USA Road trip list or maybe even a chance to rediscover old favourites along the way!
East Coast Road Trips Recommendations
Table of contents
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East Coast Road Trip #1 : Kennebunkport to Acadia National Park, ME
Recommendation from Travel with Talek
A few months ago I read on a travel site that the Maine coast was the most beautiful in the United States.
OK, I thought, why not. There is no law against hyperbole. Anyone can say whatever they want. It was a nice little article with pretty pictures that intrigued me. We had never been to this part of the east coast before so off we went. What a surprise to see that the article was not too far off.
This drive might just be the most beautiful in the U.S., or certainly one of them. If you start off at Kennebunkport and continue all the way northeast on Route 1 to Acadia National Park, the entire road trip is about 4 and half hours. But this is a trip that really should take you several days so you can savor the delicious seafood, quaint villages and charming harbors along the way.
Worthwhile stops on your way north include Freeport, Rockland and Bar Harbor. Make your final stop the wonderful Acadia National Park and you’ve got a perfect 5 to 10-day east coast road trip vacation in any season.
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East Coast Road Trip #2 : Portland, ME to Burlington, VT
Recommendation from Two Drifters
Northern New England is one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
Although it is gorgeous year-round, I would most recommend a trip in the autumn, when the leaves are seen in brilliant shades of orange, red, and gold. Late spring (May) and summer are also fabulous times for a road trip. Start in Portland, Maine, where you can enjoy the best of coastal New England. Lobster, lighthouses, and a laid-back atmosphere.
You’ll depart from Portland and head west through New Hampshire. Our route will take you directly through the White Mountains, where you’ll enjoy gorgeous views. If you like hiking, this is definitely the place to stop. There are thousands of miles of hiking trails in NH’s White Mountains. If you have time, stop over in North Conway, a quaint little resort town that has lots of fun shops and places to eat.
You’ll continue along the route heading west. In the fall, the entire road trip will be filled with lovely glimpses of the leaves; in the summer, Vermont’s Green Mountains are emeralds and lush. Burlington, VT is where you’ll end, home of glistening Lake Champlain. While in Burlington, take a lake cruise, stroll the eclectic shops on Church Street, catch live music at one of the dozens of venues, and sample local beer at one of the many craft breweries.
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East Coast Road Trip #3 : New York, NY to Amherst, MA
Recommendation from We Go with Kids
We took a great fall east coast road trip from New York City to Amherst, Massachusetts.
New York City is always a good idea, and New England is a quintessential fall getaway destination and a great place to take kids – with or without hard to predict fall color.
Although we had only 24 hours in New York City, we fit in visits to Midtown, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art before heading to New Haven, Connecticut. On prior visits, we have also enjoyed Times Square and Ellis Island. With so much to see and do in New York, it’s easy to spend several days here. New Haven is about two hours from Manhattan without traffic delays, which we experienced even on a Sunday afternoon. Because my husband attended Yale, we spent the night in New Haven and spent the good part of the next day exploring the campus.
New Haven is far less crowded than Manhattan, and we enjoyed checking out the University’s Gothic Revival architecture. Viewing a complete copy of the Gutenberg Bible on display at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library was a real treat. A drive through Yale’s campus could also be merely a pit stop between New York City and Amherst. After leaving New Haven, we drove about another two hours to Amherst, Massachusetts to visit my uncle. Highlights in the Amherst area include the view from on top of Mount Sugarloaf, which is an amazing vantage for fall foliage.
We also enjoy the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, a glass conservatory filled with absolutely beautiful butterflies. This is one east coast road trip we would definitely repeat.
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East Coast Road Trip #4 : Boston, MA to Portsmouth, NH
Recommendation from The Foodie Miles
I lived on the East Coast for a year, and while big cities like Boston and New York have always fascinated me, it is the small towns that I found truly charming.
Those towns you can cross from one end to another within half an hour. This itinerary includes stops at some of my favourite smaller towns on the East Coast.
Start in Boston, the hub of all things history, food, and culture. You’ll need at least two days here. Make sure to try out Boston’s famous bakeries: flour for cinnamon rolls, Tatte for fruit and nut boxes, and Modern Pastry for traditional Italian cannoli.
Then head to the town of Salem, MA, famous for its 1692 witch trials, during which several people were executed for allegedly practising witchcraft. You can visit the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, the Witch House, and the former house of a trial judge.
Less than an hour away from Salem is Portsmouth, NH, a port city located on the Piscataqua River. Take your time checking out its many local shops, make sure to eat some seafood (oysters at The Franklin Oyster House are amazing) and don’t miss the life-size whale mural on the wall of Cabbot House.
From Portsmouth head to the capital of Maine to try some of the best lobsters you’ll find in the country. J’s Oyster is your place to go if you are looking for a delicious lobster roll or a full boiled lobster. The place was approved by Anthony Bourdain himself.
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East Coast Road Trip #5 : Blue Ridge Parkway, NC to Asheville, VA
Recommendation from The World Pursuit
The Blue Ridge Parkway is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the United States.
It’s 469 miles of pure nature connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Along the route, you’ll find stunning mountain views, waterfalls, and hundreds of trails to stop and go hiking at. You can do the drive in a whole day, but I would recommend camping at points to make the most of the great outdoors.
During the fall season, you’ll likely be joined by many other “leafers” who are in search of stunning photos of the fall foliage. The road also passes through one of my favorite cities in the whole country – Asheville!
In case you haven’t heard, Asheville is a liberal city in the mountains full of breweries, shops, coffee shops, and a lot of hippies. With so much development it’s hard to find this much wild on the east coast nowadays, so drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
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East Coast Road Trip #6: Cape May, NJ to Assateague National Seashore Park, MD
Recommendation from us Marquestra
Our road trip recommendation starts at the southernmost tip of New Jersey’s coastline, in the quaint little resort town of Cape May.
From Victorian home tours to boating and fishing, this charming place offers loads of activities and many reasons for which to linger on, you may want to stay a few days before carrying on.
Think you’re at the end of the road and can’t go any further south? Think again. Hop onto the ferry from Cape May to Lewes, as you continue on with your east coast exploration. You may want to pack a lunch to enjoy while on this gentle 90-minute crossing. Plan ahead to cross over early and take advantage of Cape Henlopen State Park once on the other shore.
The 3-ocean side park has wildlife and bird watching stations in addition to an observation tower, which you can climb. Once you’ve reached the top, you’re rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding region. Enjoy the sites and set up camp here for a few nights.
Next stop, the Assateague National Seashore Park, the jewel of the eastern seaboard.
In our opinion, this seashore national park is one of the best-kept secrets on the east coast of the United States. On top of being Maryland’s only oceanfront park, the Assateague State Seashore National Park boasts a large number of wild horses as permanent residents. Who knew that the east coast of the United States still had free-roaming wild horses?
The national park campground is set amidst the sand dunes, all within close proximity to the ocean. This is where you’ll easily spot wild horses leisurely going about the beach. With two miles worth of beaches for swimming and beachcombing, it’s the ideal spot to relax by the sea, unwind and take in this perfect road trip destination.
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East Coast Road Trip #7: Washington, DC to Charlottesville, VA (Shenandoah Natn’l Park)
Recommendation from Pink Caddy Travelogue
For history buffs and nature lovers alike, a road trip from the nation’s capital in DC to the southernmost portion of Shenandoah National Park near Charlottesville, VA is a treat.
Start out in Washington, DC, exploring the many free museums and monuments in the city. If you get tickets ahead of time, you can even take a tour of the White House! From DC, begin your journey west towards Front Royal.You’ll be driving directly through Virginia’s wine country, so make sure to stop at one of Northern Virginia’s 50+ wineries along the way. Tarara Winery, just north of Leesburg, is one of most awarded wineries in the state and is directly on your route.
In Front Royal, get on Skyline Drive, one of the nation’s most scenic byways. Drive the entire 100 miles as Skyline Drive winds its way through Shenandoah National Park. You’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge region. While in the park, take a break from the car and enjoy some of the park’s 500 miles of hiking trails, such as Bearfence Mountain, or Dark Hollow Falls. Both Skyland and Big Meadows have full-service restaurants using locally sourced ingredients.
Skyline Drive ends at Rockfish Gap. From there, take Rt. 64 east to Charlottesville. Charlottesville is home to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate, as well as the University of Virginia. Grab lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants, such as Christian’s Pizza, along the bricked-in mall downtown. Or visit Michie Tavern for some traditional Virginia fare (hello fried chicken and greens!), after you tour Thomas Jefferson’s estate at Monticello.
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East Coast Road Trip #8: Washington, DC to Outer Banks, NC
Recommendation from Honeymoon Always
Last fall, we flew into Washington, DC, to start a road trip to the Outerbanks with loads of fun, American history along the way, ending with relaxing on the beach.
Start with the attractions in DC that are really light on your budget. Most museums are free. You can also contact your congressman to get tickets to the White House and Capitol Building tours. If it is in your budget, make your way to Rose’s Luxury for dinner and sit at the bar next to the kitchen. It was one of my favourite eating experiences of my life.
Leaving DC, stop in Williamsburg for a few days. As an added bonus, the drive is beautiful when the trees that line the highway are full of leaves and even more amazing when they are turning colours in the fall.
Take a day or two at the world-class theme park, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and a day at Water Country USA to cool down in the water and enjoy some thrills. Spend some time exploring Historic Williamsburg by taking a ghost tour at night. For breakfast, make sure you don’t miss a local diner for simple, affordable eats with a local flare like the Colonial Pancake House.
Leaving Williamsburg, you are on your way to the Outer Banks. We stopped by Virginia Beach for a few days since I grew up there. You can also make a stop new Kitty Hawk, NC where the Wright Brothers flew the first heavier-than-air powered aircraft. Arriving in the Outer Banks, it’s time to relax. Enjoy the beach, go fishing, eat some seafood.
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East Coast Road Trip #9: Savannah, GA to Outer Banks, NC
Recommendation from Our Escape Clause
The Southeastern USA is home to beautiful cities, gorgeous Atlantic coastline, and–perhaps most important for an east coast road trip–some of the best cuisine on the planet.
Drive from Savannah, Georgia to the Outer Banks region of North Carolina, hugging the Atlantic Coast where you can, for a true Southern road trip. Start in Savannah, making time for wandering around its many squares, taking a house tour of one of its famous antebellum mansions, and making your way out to Wormsloe Plantation to see a truly impressive tunnel of oak trees dripping in Spanish moss.
Along your route, stop in Charleston for the food and history, Myrtle Beach for a glimpse of the beautiful coastline, in whatever small towns catch your eye, and–in the right season–the plethora of peach, strawberries, and pecan stand you see along the way.
While making your way through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, be sure to taste North Carolina barbeque (a very different beast than what is found in Memphis or Texas), pecan pie, peach cobbler, pimiento cheese, macaroni and cheese, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, sweet tea… I could go on, but as you can see, you won’t go hungry in the south (quite the opposite). With beaches, historical cities, and food galore, a road trip from Savannah to the Outer Banks is sure to be completely memorable.”
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East Coast Road Trip #10: Miami to Florida Keys, FL
Recommendation from Noel Morata Photography
A road trip through the Florida Keys is one of those must do experiences if you are visiting the southern regions of Florida.
A perfect starting point for this road trip and place to rent a car would be Miami, which is a really quick drive to the first island of Key Largo. There’s so much stunning nature, beaches and gorgeous landscape to explore. If you’re an adventure and adrenaline seeker, there’s plenty of water sports and other recreational activities and places to explore to satisfy your every whim. Foodies will also love all the choices of food catering to fresh seafood, Caribbean, Latin-inspired and regional cuisine from the area.
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Do you have a recommendation for a fabulous East Coast Road Trip?
Please share your experiences with us, comments or questions below…
Please share your experiences with us, comments or questions below…