The top things to do on an East Coast road trip

Beach boardwalks, informative museums, and quirky roadside attractions from Boston to Miami

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Created by williamhuth - September 19th 2021

A road trip down the Atlantic Coast will take you past the historic towns of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Newport, Rhode Island, through the hustle and bustle of New York City, along Maryland's Chesapeake Bay coast to Virginia Beach and North Carolina's Outer Banks. From there, you'll pass through the gorgeous, sleepy hamlet of Savannah, Georgia and down to the oldest city in the U.S., St. Augustine, Florida. Then it's an oceanside cruise along the Space Coast to vibrant Miami Beach and finally, colorful Key West. Sure, you could take I-95 all the way from Boston to Miami, but with several detours and scenic byways this trip is more than 2,400 miles full of beaches, woodlands, two-lane country roads, vintage diners, charming small towns, and urban adventures.

Freedom Trail
4.5

139 Tremont St, Boston, MA, US

Freedom Trail

You'll want to plan at least half a day to accomplish the 2.5-mile Revolutionary Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts. Afterwards, the best place to grab a bite to eat is historic Faneuil Hall, which features dozens of food stands. If you have time (or you're traveling with kids) visit the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science.

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42mi 00h 45m
Plimoth Plantation
4.5

137 Warren Ave, Plymouth, MA, US

Plimoth Plantation

1

From Boston, head south to historic Plymouth and experience the harsh reality of 17th-century life at Plimoth Plantation. The plantation is "a living history museum," showcasing the original 1627 English settlement complete with costumed colonists.

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42mi 00h 48m
Battleship Cove
4.5

5 Water St, Fall River, MA, US

Battleship Cove

2

As you leave Massachusetts, take a detour to Fall River and see Battleship Cove, which features the world's largest collection of WWII naval vessels.

3
20mi 00h 31m
White Horse Tavern
4.1

26 Marlborough St, Newport, RI, US

White Horse Tavern

3

When you're hungry, head over to White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island for delicious regional, upscale cuisine in a historic building that dates back to 1673.

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119mi 03h 58m

2000 Montauk Highway (On The Point By Montauk Liighthouse), Montauk, NY, US

Montauk Lighthouse Museum

4

The entire East Coast is dotted with beautiful lighthouses, and one of the best is the Montauk Lighthouse Museum in East Hampton.

5
183mi 03h 32m
New Haven Lighthouse
3.7

2 Lighthouse Road, New Haven, CT, US

New Haven Lighthouse

5

Once you reach New Haven, Connecticut, visit the New Haven Lighthouse, a gorgeous historic lighthouse from the mid-1800s, featuring a beautiful, antique carousel built in 1916.

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84mi 01h 41m

Gansevoort Street, New York, NY, US

The High Line

6

When you reach New York City, see a different side of the city with a mile and a half walk along the High Line, an elevated park built atop an abandoned section of the New York Central Railroad.

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1mi 00h 09m
Lombardi's
4.3

32 Spring St, New York, NY, US

Lombardi's

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Lombardi's has been serving perfect thin-crust New York-style pizza since 1905.

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35mi 00h 42m
Bamboo Forest
4.2

Log Cabin Road, New Brunswick, NJ, US

Bamboo Forest

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After the hustle and bustle of NYC, head over to New Brunswick, New Jersey's serene and lush Bamboo Forest, which is open year round. A walk through the garden is the perfect way to relax after driving, or to stretch your legs.

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60mi 01h 14m

7619 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, US

Trolley Car Diner & Deli

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If Lombardi's pizza wasn't filling enough—or if you're ready for dinner—The Trolley Car Diner & Deli in Philadelphia serves breakfast and beer next to a trolley car that serves ice cream.

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11mi 00h 24m
Morris House Hotel
4.3

225 S 8th St, Philadelphia, PA, US

Morris House Hotel

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10

If you need a place to spend the night, Philadelphia's Morris House Hotel is set in a colonial home built in 1787. The boutique hotel is just a block from Washington Square Park and a few minutes from Independence Hall.

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1mi 00h 07m
The Mutter Museum
4.0

19 S 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA, US

The Mutter Museum

11

The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia showcases medical oddities including wax models, a wall of human skulls, slices of Albert Einstein's brain, and the world's largest colon.

12
146mi 02h 39m
Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland)
4.5

7206 National Seashore Ln PO Box 38, Berlin, MD, US

Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland)

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Once you reach Maryland, visit the 41,000-acre Assateague Island National Seashore, a refuge for wild ponies.

13
148mi 02h 43m
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
4.5

10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, US

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

13

If you head into Washington, D.C. the National Museum of Natural History is not to be missed.

14
1mi 00h 05m
The Hay-Adams Hotel
4.8

800 16th Street, Washington, DC, US

The Hay-Adams Hotel

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14

If you're looking for a place to spend the night in the nation's capital, the Hay-Adams Hotel in D.C.—built in 1928—is located on Lafayette Square and looks out directly over The White House.

15
54mi 01h 03m

120 Chatham Ln, Fredericksburg, VA, US

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania

15

A short drive south of D.C. is the historic Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

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54mi 00h 52m
Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue
4.0

1119 N Arthur Ashe Blvd, Richmond, VA, US

Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue

16

When you've got a hankering for some delicious southern barbecue, head to Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue in Richmond, Virginia. They're famous for their ribs, pork, and brisket, and refreshing microbrews.

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143mi 02h 21m
Foreman House Bed and Breakfast
3.4

311 West Church Street, Elizabeth City, NC, US

Foreman House Bed and Breakfast

17

Once you hit North Carolina, spend a night at the Foreman House Bed and Breakfast in Elizabeth City. The historic bed and breakfast is located just a mile off of Route 17.

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77mi 01h 32m
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
4.5
18

When you want to stretch your legs, pull over at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This is a must-stop along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, especially for bird lovers.

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7mi 00h 10m
Inn at Rodanthe
3.6

23288 Beacon Rd E, Rodanthe, NC, US

Inn at Rodanthe

19

The Inn at Rodanthe, made famous in the movie Nights in Rodanthe, almost fell into the ocean—it's since been moved to a safer location off the beach, but still makes for an impressive photo op.