The East Coast provides an incredible diversity of landscapes and experiences for vacations within relatively short drives. From the old charm spread across the original thirteen colonies to busy cities like Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., and from the forests and mountains to the rolling hills and farms to the beaches, the East Coast has so much to offer. Plus, it's perfect for road trips where you can see a lot in relatively short drives. Here are three road trips not to miss.
A Cozy New England Tour
No matter what season you drive through New England, there’s just something cozy about the region, and this road trip is perfect for leaf peeping in the fall, escaping the heat and enjoying the woods in the summer, or going on a snow vacation in the winter.
Start in the Boston area and drive north for breakfast or lunch at Parker’s Maple Barn, a Southern New Hampshire staple for maple-syrup meals. Continue northeast and stop in the historic town of Peterborough, home of the famous MacDowell Artists’ Colony (which is open to the public on the second Sunday of August for Medal Day). Or you can continue north and hike or ski in the beauty of the White Mountain National Forest.
From the mountains, go south to the coast and Portland, Maine. The small city is a historic waterfront town with rocky beaches and cruises into the Casco Bay for whale watching. On Route 1 driving south towards New Hampshire, stop into antique shops and used book stores, and make sure to get a lobster roll on the water in Portsmouth.
Big Cities, Big History Tour
If you’re from a less densely populated part of the U.S., it’s hard to imagine that within a 5-hour drive, you can see New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
Starting in New York, experience the history of the city at the New-York Historical Society, which interprets the state’s history through Native American inhabitants, the Dutch colonists, and modern modern history, then visit a reconstructed tenement house at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and explore immigration to the United States at Ellis Island.
From there, drive south on the New Jersey Turnpike to Philadelphia, where the nation’s founders are celebrated at Independence Hall and the Museum of the American Revolution. On your way to the nation’s current capital, take a detour in Baltimore to visit Ft. McHenry, a historic fort and inspiration for the Star Spangled Banner. You’ll need a few days in Washington, D.C. to take in the monuments on the National Mall, and the museums that the Smithsonian has to offer, including the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Mountain Momma Tour
While John Denver’s famous song might be a little misleading about where the Blue Ridge Mountains are in relation to West Virginia’s geography, his words about the beauty of the area are definitely correct.
One of the best ways to see the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains in western Virginia and North Carolina is by taking a drive starting on Skyline Drive. Starting in Shenandoah National Park near Front Royal, Virginia, drive south along the winding two-lane road and stop at the overlooks with gorgeous views of the mountains. After a few hours drive, you’ll arrive at Big Meadows, where the lodge offers rooms and a restaurant. Hike trails around the area and spend the night, or continue south to camping at Loft Mountain.
Near Waynesboro, Skyline Drive becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is considered one of the most scenic drives in America. As you continue south, visit the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax, Virginia to learn more about Appalachian music, go for a rafting trip in the Cherokee National Forest, stop by the hip beer-loving town of Asheville, North Carolina, and hike and camp in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the perfect drive for active adults with a camper since there are lots of campings spots with hookups to stay along the way.