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16 Beautiful Stops to Explore on Your East USA Road Trip

One thing is for sure road trips are the best way to travel anywhere. It is perfect for traveling in your comfort zone with your people, maybe family, friends, or alone.

What matters is the fun and contentment you experience along with your destination or throughout the journey. Isn’t it??  Many people travel to the East side because of the affordable prices, open roads, and great places of attractions along the way.

Everybody is familiar with Washington DC Boston New York, or San Francisco, but in the lights and fireworks of these big cities, we often miss the small East Coast towns, which are worth giving time to maybe for once at least.

Well, nothing to be worried about. It’s better late than never. Here are the most curated options available for you to go on a USA road trip.

Best Road Trip

We seriously have no idea why people usually are more inclined toward the West Coast of the USA. But now it’s time to give the east side the much-needed attention as it provides a lot more options for you to explore, so add it to the list right away.

Some of the big names for you to consider on an East USA road trip are:

  • Washington DC to Charleston, South Carolina
  • Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive, West Virginia
  • Boston, MA to Miami Beach
  • Boston, MA to Acadia National Park, Maine
  • Boston, MA to Maine
  • Miami to Key West

This is a reference and not the end. Once you start your road trip, you will not want it to end and want to keep exploring as much as you can.

1. Baltimore, MD

This city is located 1 hour from Washington, DC (39 miles) and is on the Chesapeake Bay, where the Patapsco River flows. This classic city has excellent shops, restaurants, and hotels. It is situated in the middle of the route between Washington DC and Philadelphia.

Every place in the world has tourist stops to offer, and so does this city. Baltimore is also known as the “city of neighborhoods.”

There’s a lot to explore in Baltimore. For instance, the U.S. National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, was inspired by one famous location Fort McHenry which became famous after the 1812 war. So you must stop by Fort McHenry.

The Baltimore Museum of Art is a great stop too. It has a collection of Matisse and Andy Warhol art and prominent Maryland painters.

A little walk by the Inner Harbor is a lot more relaxing. Then you can see the National Aquarium and enjoy some local beers or Maryland wines readily available in some restaurants and bars.

2. Harpers Ferry, WV

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This lovely city is about an hour and 15 minutes from Washington D.C. (67 miles). The historic town is located in West Virginia. Here the Shenandoah River flows into the Potomac River. And that very point offers panoramic views of Maryland and Virginia. 

So you have to make a stop here. 

It has been designated a National Historic Park due to its significance in the run-up to and during the Civil War.

If you are out for an East Coast road trip, then remember parking is a serious issue here. So you either park your car at the Visitor Center or get the shuttle service. The Appalachian Visitor Center has hiking Trails that pass through Harpers Ferry and crosses over the bridge.

So, while on the road trip, you might want to hike a bit too, to shake a few calories off. 

3. Richmond, VA

The capital of Virginia, Richmond, is 1 hour and 50 minutes from Washington D.C. (109 miles) is another historic city, and was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Most of the town was burned down during independence, but yet there is a lot to see.

Richmond’s Main Street Station is an excellent example of local industrial architecture. So, for those with keen eyes for architecture, this is your stop. 

To reach here, all you have to do is follow the I-395 Expressway out of D.C. and then continue along the I-95. If you want to learn about Richmond’s history, visit the American Civil War Center with five historic buildings.

The Church Hill Historic District, the State Capitol building, and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture. You can have a long walk along the Kanawha Canal on the James River.

Their cuisine is fantastic, and they have local breweries and a lot of activities to do in the parks.

4. Philadelphia, PA

It is about a 2 hours and 30 minutes drive from Washington, DC (139 miles). The state of the United States tells us the significance of Philly during the days of the American Revolution. It will forever be remembered as the meeting place of the nation’s founding fathers before the Declaration of Independence.

It has recently been declared a UNESCO world heritage site, so it’s not a surprise to see that this is one of the most visited places in the country today. Make sure to visit the Independence National Historical Park while here.

The main historic place to visit is Independence Hall and the George Washington Statue. Other historic sites include the Liberty Bell, City Hall, and Society Hill Historic District.

Lastly, try to explore the Reading Terminal Market. This market offers fresh meat and fish. Also, you will find everything from fresh BBQ food to ice cream and donuts.

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5. Atlantic City, New Jersey

Atlantic City is the liveliest destination on the East Coast and is 3 hours and 15 minutes from Washington, DC (190 miles). It is often compared to Las Vegas without the heat because its never-ending nightlife, casinos, and beautiful hotels are what this place is all about.

It is a popular resort destination, and you will have the opportunity to enjoy a walk by a boardwalk and a beach carnival if organized.

Summer is the best time to visit so that you can relish the best of both worlds.

The Boardwalk along the beaches is vast and full of shops, restaurants and bars, and evening entertainment. Atlantic City is home to the world’s oldest beachfront boardwalk, so how can you miss being here? 

6. Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park

Skyline Drive is a 3-hour 30-minute drive from Washington D.C. (175 miles) and has the best scenic routes all along the road in the United States. The two roads that follow the Appalachian Trail are Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, which goes to Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina.

To reach Skyline Drive, follow I-66 west from DC and then turn for the Shenandoah National Park through the overseas highway. This road trip is just very soothing, with miles and miles of twists and turns followed by mountain peaks, valleys, and forests.

Skyline Drive is a beautiful country to drive through the gorgeous mountain valley. The presence of wineries, a craft brewery, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Monticello and the University of Virginia.

There are many overlooks to stop by with amazing views but make sure your speed is low as wild animals cross through it more often. This natural beauty is also the home of wild ponies and wild horses and is taken special care of by the national park service.

7. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and is 4 hours 15 minutes drive from Washington, D.C. (278 miles). It may not be the first choice of tourists but do visit, as the place is abundant in history, culture, and amusement.

Raleigh is an excellent city for a weekend trip or as a stopover point. Having chilled here, you can move south to Charleston tea garden or Savannah. But make sure to stop by in the daylight and not in the dark.

There are plenty of museums, breweries, and food halls here. Music is thoroughly enjoyed here, and outdoor concerts are a thing in the summer.

8. Tour of Long Island, wineries, and Montauk

The Montauk lighthouse is a landmark here, and the island is situated 6 hours 30 minutes from Washington D.C. (360 miles). It is a favorite spot for weekend parties and dates and is worth the drive.

You can either go through the Lincoln Memorial Tunnel or bypass Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge to reach the island.

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The sun-rise view from the beaches of this island is just out of this world. Moving towards the north is the wine country, one of the best wines is available here.

9. New England Road Trip to Boston, MA, and Providence, Rhode Island

The distance of New England is approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes from Washington D.C. (455 miles). New England is a little far from Washington D.C., but once you are out to New England, you get to explore so many places at a stretch, including places like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and even Maine and New Hampshire. Be a little ahead of time to avoid getting traffic in New York.

The historic towns of New England are mostly at the coast, and you can find places like Mystic in Connecticut and Providence and Newport in Rhode Island. Boston is a fantastic city to visit and make sure to stay in February so that you can drive through thick snow.

From Boston to Rhode Island is a one-hour drive, roughly depending on traffic. Rhode Island is a very walkable island, and there are a lot of pedestrian paths. It is a big college town, a perfect taco spot, capitol building, national park areas, and food scene.

The way the city lights up in golden colors in the evening is a magical experience. Cruise down the 10-mile drive road in Newport, Rhode Island, see mansions along the coast, stop by the beach, or go to Fort Adams state park and explore some of the old forts.

See all these in a pretty efficient amount of time. The 10-mile drive to the cliff walk, along a relatively flat hike on the coastline, right along the ocean, are some of the country’s most expensive places for real estate.

10. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina

A road trip of 8 hours from Washington D.C. (500 miles) leads you to the view of the blue haze of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina is the most visited national park in the United States, with over 11 million people every year.

One can easily reach here following the I-81. The most preferred outdoor activities here are hiking and kayaking. 

Roadtrips shouldn’t be restricted to just driving and exploring, and you must come out and feel free in the wilderness. 

11. Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC

A drive-by road from Washington DC to Charleston, South Carolina, takes approximately 7 hours 50 minutes. Charleston has in store a lot of American history, theme parks, and relaxing sandy beaches. The drive is just perfect when the leaves change color during the fall.

Charleston is a city on the South Carolina coast. It is a long drive to Charleston, so you can break your journey and stop by Richmond, Raleigh, and Myrtle Beach. The historic Charleston City Market has been standing here for over 200 years.

Myrtle Beach, along the way to Charleston, is a relaxed beachside town. You can either walk along the boardwalk, build a sandcastle or try some of the best wines.

12. Drive the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway

The views of the entire length of the route from the Blue Ridge Parkway are stunning. This parkway is 17 hours 30 minutes from Washington D.C. (610 miles) by road trip.

As one moves along the Blue Ridge mountains and bends through the longest linear park in the United States, the view goes on turning majestic, slowly moving towards the natural bridge parkway.

It was initially known as the Appalachian Scenic Highway. Its primary purpose was to connect two of its most beloved conservation areas– North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.

13. New York, NY

New York is 4 hours drive from Washington D.C. (225 miles) from I-95 and is a fantastic road trip destination. It is said that the city never sleeps. A new york city experience is hard to compile in just a paragraph or two. Being the most populated city in the United States, this megacity has people from every country, culture, and ethnicity.

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The architecture of the city is undeniably remarkable. However, the Cayuga Lake wine trail makes the most tourist noise for its authenticity. It will require days to explore and over the abundance of landmarks that are scattered throughout this metropolis.

If you are pressed for time, consider a day trip because you cannot afford to skip New York if you plan to visit the East Coast.

These should be enough reasons to go on a road trip to New York, but it’s not the end you get here the best of the world’s cuisines and the world’s best musicals in music clubs to suit every taste.

14. Boston to Acadia National Park

It takes five hours of driving on a road trip from Boston to Acadia National Park in Maine. In Boston city itself, you can explore one of the oldest cities in the USA, the charming neighborhoods, nearby Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and the North End, sample delicious Italian food, and swish around the freedom trail.

No visit to Acadia National Park is complete without a visit to Jordan Pond House, a lobster roll, and of course, blueberry muffins to blueberry wine.

15. Boston to Maine

Boston to Maine Road Trip is a trip along with the tiny Atlantic coastal towns. The favorite stopover is the Perkins Cove and Marginal Way walk with beautiful beaches, huge mansions, erotic seafood, and Kennebunkport, a popular vacation spot for politicians overlooking the cliff & the Atlantic Ocean.

Portland, Maine’s largest city famous for its dining scene, shopping, and beautiful historic lighthouse, an excellent choice for bikers & hikers as well, is a must-visit. 

You can also travel to the southernmost point of the east coast of America towards Miami. It is famous for its south beach. The barrier islands at the various sites of the east coast and Jersey City are a sight to watch.

16. Annapolis

Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, is the nearest east coast road trip option from Washington along the historic Route 50. It is on the shore of Chesapeake Bay and is a perfect place to explore the Bay of many rivers, streams, creeks, and bays that feed into it. It is an ideal picnic spot and best for the ones in water sports.

Several tour boat options or kayaks or paddleboards are available if you pay for them along the Atlantic coast. The specialty of this place is local seafood, oysters, rockfish, and crab, and it’s mouthwatering.

It is considered a historic town as George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army.

Closing Thoughts

From Bahia Honda State Park to Everglades National Park even Bar Harbor and Central Park, the East Coast USA road trip is a perfect getaway to see everything the USA stands for!

After all, you can’t see it all at once, right? These little towns and cities on your road trip will make your trip one hell of a ride. 

We would love to hear from you. 

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