10 Epic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Summer

Spend a few days or even a week or two exploring these exciting East Coast destinations.

By Gwen Pratesi, ContributorJune 11, 2018
By Gwen Pratesi, ContributorJune 11, 2018, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

10 Epic East Coast Road Trips to Take This Summer

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East Coast road trip in Pennsylvania
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(Getty Images)

Pennsylvania's Route 30

Kick off your itinerary with several days in Philadelphia, then head west to Lancaster. Once known for its Amish farmland, this ever-changing area is now home to artists and numerous galleries, plus a nationally acclaimed Italian restaurant, Luca. After Lancaster, head to Susquehannock State Park to hike then venture to Gettysburg, where you can tour the battlefield on horseback with Confederate Trails and stay at the landmark Federal Pointe Inn. Farther west, in picturesque Ligonier, you can visit Fort Ligonier then journey on to Ohiopyle State Park, a region comprising 20,500 acres of pristine scenery and outdoor activities.
East coast road trip in the Virginia Shore
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(Getty Images)

Virginia's Eastern Shore

Begin exploring this unspoiled region of Virginia's coast with a visit to the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore. View the wild ponies, then head to Onancock, a quaint harbor town. Next, hop the ferry to Tangier Island where the locals speak in a rare British dialect. After that, take an eco tour or kayak out of Wachapreague to a wild Atlantic barrier island or stroll along the beach and stay a few days in Cape Charles. For an off-the-grid experience, reserve a cabin on a remote island.
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East Coast road trip in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
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Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

Chose one or several iconic routes to explore the beauty of this 140-mile region surrounded by the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains. Take in awe-inspiring vistas, watch wildlife and birds, and experience the picturesque mountain towns, craft breweries and local wineries along the way. Two of the best-known roadways are the Blue Ridge Parkway, which extends from Afton to Natural Bridge, and Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive cuts across the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, which offers 500 miles of hiking trails and 75 scenic overlooks.
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Grab the keys and hit the road for a summer vacation to remember.

There's no better time than the summer to pack up the car and hit the road for an adventure. Some of the best road trip routes in the USA can be found along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. Whether you're looking for a relaxing beach break, a foodie-focused experience, a cultural and historical itinerary or an active outdoor vacation, these 10 routes offer something for everyone. So, pack your bag, toss in the flip-flops and sunglasses, and head off on an epic adventure.

Baltimore, Annapolis, Md., and Washington, D.C.

Explore the Inner Harbor, feast on Maryland crab cakes, visit the National Aquarium and tour Fort McHenry (the stronghold of the War of 1812) while in Baltimore. Next, make your way to the Chesapeake Bay and picturesque town of Annapolis, Maryland. Here, you can experience a bay cruise on the Harbor Queen, book a historic walking tour and dine along the beautiful waterfront. And in the nation's capital, you'll want to visit major attractions like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and Smithsonian museums including the National Museum of the American Indian.

New York's Hudson Valley

The scenic Hudson Valley is rich in history. Located about 150 miles north of New York City, it's a National Heritage Area that spans 10 counties. Learn about Revolutionary War times while road-tripping through small towns and farmland. Top stops include Saint Paul's Church in Mount Vernon, Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh and the Bronck Museum in Coxsackie, where you can see well-preserved colonial Dutch houses and barns. Then, take time to sample the wines produced in the country's oldest wine region and dine on farm fresh local cuisine.

The lowcountry: Hilton Head, Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina

Experience gracious hospitality, ample outdoor activities, local seafood and regional specialties with a trip through the seaside towns and coastal plains of South Carolina. Spend several days in Hilton Head lounging on the various beaches. Then, head north to Beaufort for a stay at the historic Anchorage 1770, where guests have incredible views from the rooftop patio. Meanwhile, foodies should scout out the Lowcountry Oyster Trail and downtown Beaufort. Afterward, head to Charleston, a bustling town and a gourmand's delight, where you'll find a seemingly endless number of extraordinary restaurants and cocktail bars.

Boston to Portland, Maine

Spend time in Boston on the Freedom Trail, visit the New England Aquarium or take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Then, work up an appetite and begin your quest for the best of a New England favorite: the lobster roll. Savor your first sandwich at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine, then stroll through charming Dock Square. Journey on to the Lobster Shack at Two Lights in Essex, Maine, and finally, sample Eventide's brown butter steamed lobster roll in Portland. Conclude your trip with an Odyssey Whale Watch cruise to experience the beautiful Casco Bay.

Florida's First Coast: Amelia Island to St. Augustine

Begin your visit to this historic region in northeast Florida on Amelia Island, where you can relax on the beach. However, the best way to enjoy this barrier island, which is renowned for its abundant wildlife and natural beauty, is via its scenic waterways. Take a tour with Backwater Cat Adventures, a sunset cruise with Amelia River Cruises or hop on the ferry to view wild horses and tour Cumberland Island, Georgia. Next, make your way to St. Augustine, America's oldest city, to explore its historic sites and museums.

Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

Chose one or several iconic routes to explore the beauty of this 140-mile region surrounded by the Allegheny and Blue Ridge mountains. Take in awe-inspiring vistas, watch wildlife and birds, and experience the picturesque mountain towns, craft breweries and local wineries along the way. Two of the best-known roadways are the Blue Ridge Parkway, which extends from Afton to Natural Bridge, and Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive cuts across the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, which offers 500 miles of hiking trails and 75 scenic overlooks.

Pennsylvania's Route 30

Kick off your itinerary with several days in Philadelphia, then head west to Lancaster. Once known for its Amish farmland, this ever-changing area is now home to artists and numerous galleries, plus a nationally acclaimed Italian restaurant, Luca. After Lancaster, head to Susquehannock State Park to hike then venture to Gettysburg, where you can tour the battlefield on horseback with Confederate Trails and stay at the landmark Federal Pointe Inn. Farther west, in picturesque Ligonier, you can visit Fort Ligonier then journey on to Ohiopyle State Park, a region comprising 20,500 acres of pristine scenery and outdoor activities.

Virginia's Eastern Shore

Begin exploring this unspoiled region of Virginia's coast with a visit to the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore. View the wild ponies, then head to Onancock, a quaint harbor town. Next, hop the ferry to Tangier Island where the locals speak in a rare British dialect. After that, take an eco tour or kayak out of Wachapreague to a wild Atlantic barrier island or stroll along the beach and stay a few days in Cape Charles. For an off-the-grid experience, reserve a cabin on a remote island.

Miami to Key West, Florida

Start this Florida road trip with several days in South Beach, then hit the road for one of the country's most scenic drives. The famed Overseas Highway crosses a 113-mile chain of Caribbean-like islands connected by 42 bridges. All of the Florida Keys are known for first-class fishing, outdoor water sports and abundant fresh seafood. In Key Largo, visit Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. Finally, reserve an oceanfront suite and relax at the stylish Cheeca Lodge in Islamadora when you need to rest before driving on to the lower Keys and Key West.

Connecticut to Rhode Island

Interested in exploring New England? Seek out the beaches and state parks on Connecticut's jagged coastline from Greenwich to Groton on Long Island Sound. You should also visit Mystic Seaport, a historic seafaring village with an impressive maritime museum, then journey north to the Ocean State, Rhode Island, to explore the 400 miles of coastline along Narragansett Bay. Begin with a short ferry ride to Block Island to see the quaint town and its impressive cliffs. And end your journey with a picturesque drive from South County to Blackstone Valley, located just north of Providence.
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Gwen Pratesi, Contributor

Gwen Pratesi is a James Beard Finalist in Journalism, award-winning food and travel writer, ...  Read more

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