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When I lived in Boston, it often felt like all the road trip action was on the west coast. It took me a lot of research (and convincing!) to finally realize that the great American road trip is alive and kickin’ on the east coast too!
For my east coast friends, this post shares some of the best East Coast road trip ideas. This includes suggested road trips from some east coast road trip experts, so get ready to add some vacation ideas to your bucket list!
North East Road Trips
As a former Bostonian, I may be a lil’ biased, but I could never get sick of the North East. Here, you’ll find both bustling cities (hello NYC!) and quiet leafy towns famous for their New England charm.
You’ll learn about the beginnings of the American Revolution, but you won’t go hungry in the process while you enjoy a lobster roll (or two).
1. A Coastal New England Road Trip
Boston, MA – Ogunquit – Kennebunkport – Portland – Camden – Bar Harbor – Acadia National Park
Recommended no. of days: 3 -5 days
This coastal road trip begins in New England’s busiest city, Boston, but takes you through some of Maine’s most well-known coastal towns before finishing at Acadia National Park in Maine.
For those who’ve never had a chance to explore New England, this is the best way to do it!
Highlights include the famous town of Kennebunkport, which is the well-known summer retreat for the Bush family (yes, that Bush family) and the hip city of Portland, perfect for the foodies in your life.
Smaller towns like Ogunquit (perfect for walking along the beach) and Camden are great for stretching your legs.
The road trip finishes at Acadia National Park (and nearby town, Bar Harbor), where you’ll get to really stretch your legs and go for a hike or two. Acadia National Park is an incredible place to visit during the summer and fall seasons.
2. A Historial East Coast Road Trip
Boston, MA – Providence, RI – New Haven, CT – New York City, NY – Princeton, NJ – Philadelphia, PA
Recommended no. of days: 7 – 10 days
Boston, Massachusetts to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the perfect historical road trip. Start in Boston and spend at least 3 days seeing what Boston has to offer. Boston is the birthplace of the American Revolution and many of the sites from the war are located along the Freedom Trail.
After Boston, head south to Providence the capital of Rhode Island. Make sure to stop at the capitol building and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Then, head to New Haven, Connecticut the home of Yale University. New Haven contains a plethora of delicious pizza parlors, so it is the perfect place to spend the night.
From there, spend at least 3 days in New York City exploring what the city has to offer.
After NYC, stop in Princeton, New Jersey to check out Princeton University before ending this east coast road trip in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia visit historical sites important to the birthplace of the United States such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
Submission by Francesca Makana of Homeroom Travel
3. Classic New England Road Trip
Boston, MA – Grafton Village, VT – Woodstock, VT – Stowe, VT – Burlington VT
Recommended no. of days: 3-4
With its hills, lakes, farms, breweries, and state parks, Vermont is a charming state to visit in every season. Its proximity from Boston makes it a great long weekend getaway as it is sure to transport you to the countryside.
Start your road trip in Boston and drive 2 hours to Grafton Village for a taste of Grafton Village cheese. Vermont’s dairy industry is one of its mainstays, and the quality of its milk products is supreme.
Next, head over to the town of Woodstock, one of America’s prettiest towns. No visit to Vermont is complete without a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream factory. Take a tour to see how this iconic brand makes its world-famous ice cream.
From here, you could opt to visit another quintessential New England town, Stowe, which looks beautiful in the fall season or drive over to Burlington, located near Lake Champlain. Overlooking the Adirondack Mountains, this town has tons to offer. You could choose to take a cruise on the lake, bike along the trails, or even take a food tour for a perfect ending to your New England road trip.
Submission by Supriya of Fun Travelog
South East Road Trips
One of my regrets from when I lived in Boston was not having the chance to explore more of the South East.
While my travel adventures in the South East were mainly in Miami, the following road trips show that there are so many more fun road trips to be had in this part of the US!
4. Savannah, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina
Savannah – Hilton Head – Beaufort – Charleston
Recommended no. of days: 5 days (2 days in Savannah, 1 day in Hilton Head and Beaufort, 2 days in Charleston)
A road trip from Savannah to Charleston offers a glimpse into the best of Southern culture. Savannah is one of the most elegant cities in the United States, known for its fascinating history and delicious food.
Moving on from Savannah, the roughly three-hour drive to Charleston includes notable stops along the way such as the lowcountry beach town Hilton Head and the charming antebellum town Beaufort.
Finally, this road trip finishes in Charleston, a city known for its beautiful architecture and history.
Submission by Dale of Wander Her Way
5. The Queen City to The Music City
Charlotte – Asheville – Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg – Knoxville – Nashville
Recommended no. of days: 8 – 10 days
Enjoy a variety of destinations on a road trip starting with Charlotte, North Carolina, and ending in Nashville Tennesee.
Charlotte offers amazing restaurants, sporting events, and adventurous activities, so plan for 3 – 4 days of fun in the city. Go to the US National Whitewater Center where you can go on a white water adventure through man-made rapids, visit the Charlotte Motor Speed Way and Nascar Hall of Fame, and spend a day at Carowinds Theme Park.
Your next two stops will take you through the Smoky Mountains stopping at Asheville and the Pigeon Forge area. Both are perfect for enjoying the great outdoors.
In Asheville, check out some of the unique glamping options and give yourself 2 days to visit the Biltmore Estate, shop at the indie stores downtown, go on a food tour, and find a few hikes. Stay at a cabin in Pigeon Forge while visiting Dollywood and Splash Country.
On your way to Nashville, a stop in Knoxville is perfect for stretching your legs. Finish your road trip in the Music City, visiting the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Submission by Dan Bagby of Cabin Critic
6. St Petersburg to Miami, Florida
St Petersburg – Fort De Soto – Sarasota – Everglades National Park – Miami
Recommended no. of days: 6
Florida is famous for being home to a wide range of landscapes. On one side, you will find the white sandy beaches, on the other, you will get the wetlands in the Everglades National Park.
A road trip from St Petersburg to Miami through the Everglades is ideal to get the best of both worlds. Your trip will start in St Petersburg, an artsy and sunny city. You will drive south and stop at Fort De Soto State Park. This beautiful state park is perfect to go sea kayaking or paddling.
After that, head to Sarasota. If you love white sandy beaches, Siesta key will be your paradise – the sand is so smooth!
Hit the road again towards the Everglades. You will drive on Highway 41, through Shark Valley where you can stop for an airboat ride. Finally, you will arrive in Miami. In Miami, you can visit the famous South Beach, Little Havana, and the neighborhood of Wynwood.
Submission by Pauline Vergnet of BeeLoved City
7. Hidden Gems of Florida’s Gulf Coast
Tallahassee – Wakulla Springs – Cedar Key – Crystal River – Tarpon Springs – Tampa
Recommended no. of Days: 5 – 7 days
If you think Florida is resorts and theme parks, think again. The majority of Florida is in fact still wild and rustic, with nature and wildlife galore. There are many Florida road trips you can take, but the route from Tallahassee to Tampa takes you right through some of the hidden gems along the Nature Coast.
Spend a day or two in the state capital of Tallahassee, and learn about Florida’s native inhabitants and the Spanish culture that settled here. The Tallahassee Museum is a great stop to take it all in.
From Tally, make your way south to Wakulla Springs, one of the many natural springs in this part of Florida, then on to Cedar Key, a unique Gulf Coast community seemingly untouched by time. An hour south of Cedar Key is Crystal River, where you can swim with manatees (in winter) or scalloping in the warm Gulf waters. The Plantation on Crystal River is a great place to stay overnight.
Your last stop before Tampa is the Greek community of Tarpon Springs, home to the sponge diving culture that’s unique to Florida.
Along the way, you’ll pass nostalgic roadside stands, orange grove stands, and Old Florida-style kitschy tourist attractions. By the time you reach the bustling city of Tampa, you’ll have seen some of the state’s hidden gems — now it’s time to hit the beach, some of the best in Florida!
Submission by Lori Sorrentino of Travelinmad
8. Miami to Key West, Florida
Miami – Key Largo – Marathon – Key West
Recommended no. of days: at least 2 days
No visit to Miami would be complete without road-tripping to Key West. This road trip takes you from Miami through the archipelago of the Florida Keys and finishes at Key West, Florida’s southernmost point.
Here, you’ll get to see incredible beaches, beautiful coastal views and The Overseas Highway (a 113-mile highway which stretches over the water!)
Highlights of the Florida Keys include: the beautiful island of Key Largo, Marathon which is home to the turtle hospital (a worthwhile stop, the turtles are adorable to see and learn about!)
9. The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Asheville – Burnsville – Galax – Meadows of Dan – Lyndhurst – Shenandoah National Park
Recommended no. of days: 5 days
This road trip will take you along the entire length of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, covering over 450 miles of picturesque views in the mountains. It can be driven easily in either direction, both starting and ending in a national park.
Once you’re on the parkway, keep your eyes open for scenic overlooks, black bears, deer, and other wildlife.
Top picks include Clingman’s Dome and Cade’s Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park.
Notable stops for hiking and scenic views include Craggy Gardens in Asheville (there are also many more Asheville hiking options), Mt. Mitchell State Park, and Humpback Rocks. These stops have trails to stretch your legs or simply rest stops to enjoy the scenery.
Pull over for some Appalachian culture at the Blue Ridge Music Center, Mabry Mill, and Biltmore Estate where you can tour, listen, and learn more about the area’s history.
There are camping and quaint lodging options all along the parkway and you can easily shorten or lengthen this road trip depending on your time frame!
Submission by Stephanie Woodson of Explore More Clean Less
10. Outer Banks Road Trip, North Carolina
Corolla – Currituck National Wildlife Refuge – Kitty Hawk Pier – Wright Brothers National Memorial – Bodie Island Lighthouse – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – Hatteras Village
Recommended no. of days: 7 days or more
An Outer Banks vacation road trip is a great way to explore this 100 mile stretch of barrier islands on the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina. Each of the towns along Highway 12 has its own vibe, local history and attractions.
In Corolla, rent bikes to see the wild horses and spend time enjoying family friendly beaches. Travel south to spend a couple more days in the Kitty Hawk area, visiting historic landmarks and traditional beach town attractions.
From there, head to Hatteras VIllage, stopping to visit the US Coast Guard’s Chicamacomico Historic Site in Avon along the way. Finish up the trip climbing the lighthouse for stunning views and riding horses on the beach. For this road trip, stay at small hotels along the way. Or, rent a beach house in Kitty Hawk to use as home base for exploring north and south.
Submission by Karen Dawkins of Family Travels on a Budget
Regardless of where you live in the US, the east coast is home to some incredible road trips.
Which road trips have you been on in this list? Share your recommended road trips below for your fellow road trip enthusiasts!
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