4 EPIC East Coast Road Trip Routes for Outdoor Adventure

east coast road trip routes

There’s nothing like hitting the open road and feeling the freedom of the wheel in your hands! If you think road trips are only for the wide-open West Coast, think again! The East Coast of the United States is filled with adventures. 

We’ve laid out tons of options for totally epic East Coast road trips you can take for your next adventure!

The Must-See Sights for an EPIC East Coast USA Road Trip

We know these places are worth the detour and will fill your East Coast road trip with amazing experiences. Believe us, you do not want to miss these incredible East Coast destinations!

Mount Washington, New Hampshire

mount washington road trip

Did you know you can DRIVE to the top of the highest mountain in New England?! Mount Washington stands at 6,288 feet in elevation in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire. Reach the top via a strenuous but totally rewarding day hike, the famous Cog Railway Train (the world’s first!), or by driving yourself up the Mount Washington Auto Road in the warm months. Talk about epic East Coast road trip routes!

Newport Cliff Walk, Rhode Island

view from newport cliff walk

A must-see stop for incredible Atlantic Ocean views on the East Coast is the Rhode Island Newport Cliff Walk. Stroll down the mostly flat path that winds between rugged, rocky coastline and the elegant colonial mansions of one of New England’s best beach towns. 

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

blue ridge parkway road

“America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway has got to be part of your route on an East Coast road trip. The Parkway runs 469 miles and winds through 29 counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains across Virginia and North Carolina, and through sections of Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Miami Beach, Florida

Miami Beach Florida

Do you have your swimsuits and sunscreen ready?! To fully take advantage of this jaw dropping spot, those two things need to make the packing list.

Known as “Magic City,” Miami and its popular South Beach neighborhood are always hot spots for southern East Coast road trips. With unbelievable food, wild nightlife, and close proximity to beautiful beaches and places like Everglades National Park, Miami makes a fun and lively Florida road trip stop!

The Best Outdoorsy East Coast Road Trip

Mountains from North Carolina to Maine

Total distance: ~1,330 miles
Suggested # of days: 12
Best time of year: June – September
Key points of interest: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Adirondack Park,  White Mountain National Forest, and Acadia National Park

On this outdoor-focused East Coast road trip you’ll hit three major national parks along with two INCREDIBLE mountain ranges!

Start in North Carolina by choosing from hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spanning the state line of North Carolina and Tennessee. 

Next stop, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, where you can link up with the Blue Ridge Parkway to experience views of the area’s rolling mountains and access the park’s gorgeous waterfalls.

A few days in these mountains will hardly be enough, so if you want to get the most from your visit join an Explorer Chick tour and we’ll get you on some of the best hikes!

Head north on the next leg of your East Coast road trip for a full day’s drive to Upstate New York and Adirondack Park. The park is home to the famous Lake Placid and some of the highest and most stunning mountain peaks east of the Rocky Mountains!

New Hampshire’s White Mountains are next on your trek, chock full of hiking trails and opportunities for camping, alpine-inspired adventures, and scenic views. After your outdoor adventure fun, stop in to refuel (for your car and your body) in the small town of Littleton at one of their top-rated breweries.

Finally, end your East Coast road trip hiking in Acadia National Park. Top it off with famous Maine blueberry pancakes in Bar Harbor, a quaint town just outside Acadia National Park, where the mountains meet the Atlantic Ocean for a beautiful and unique addition to outdoorsy East Coast road trips!

The Best New England East Coast Road Trip

Connecticut Coast to Maine Road Trip

Total distance: ~390 miles
Suggested # of days: 7
Best time of year: May – October
Key points of interest: Downtown Mystic Connecticut, Cape Cod National Seashore, Portsmouth New Hampshire, and Portland Head Light in Maine

Road tripping on the East Coast means close proximity to tons of destinations, especially on a New England road trip. In just a few days you can see so many different areas and adorable small towns!

Start your northern East Coast road trip by enjoying Mystic, Connecticut’s excellent dining, nearby vineyards, and the quaint town feel of one of the best small towns in New England.  

East Coast Road Trips have to include a visit to Cape Cod, where you can walk along the beautiful beaches and rolling sand dunes of the eastern shore protected and managed by the National Park Service. Water fans — bring your swimsuit! (Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the place for skinny dipping…)

Visit Portsmouth, New Hampshire next, one of the adorable East Coast cities with waterfront views and a picturesque downtown. Prepare for cute shops and awesome dining — your stomach and your friends back home receiving souvenirs will thank you 😉.

A few hours’ drive north over the state line will let you visit Maine’s oldest lighthouse, Portland Head Light, and enjoy the natural beauty of the New England coast.

The Best Southern East Coast Route

Virginia Beach to Florida

Total distance: ~710 miles
Suggested # of days:
Best time of year: April – August
Key points of interest: Virginia Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Savannah Georgia, and Amelia Island Florida

Start your Southern East Coast road trip in beautiful and bustling Virginia Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, known for beautiful beaches and exciting entertainment and dining. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out surfing here as well!

Continue to your next road trip destination, heading down the coast with the option to stop in North Carolina East Coast cities like Raleigh, Fayetteville, or Wilmington.

Next stop is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Known as the mini gold capital of the world, you know this place is all about vacation mode and good times!

Keep on truckin’ down the South Carolina Coast and into Savannah, Georgia, a southern city dripping with charm and beautiful coastal architecture. The fountain in Forsyth Park is one of the most photographed places in Savannah! 

After that, continue south toward the eastern shore of Florida to Amelia Island, a tranquil gem of the southern East Coast, and the southernmost point of the Sea of Islands chain for a relaxing end to your Southern coastal road trip.

The ULTIMATE End-to-End East Coast Road Trip

Northern Maine to Key West Road Trip

Total distance: ~2,220 miles
Suggested # of days: 14 
Best time of year: June – September
Key points of interest: Maine’s Baxter State Park, Boston’s Freedom Trail, Central Park in New York City, Historic Washington, D.C., Charleston South Carolina, and Key West Florida 

The East Coast offers so much more than you probably imagined. Trust us when we say you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to see as much as you can on this ultimate East Coast road trip! A few days in each place really gives you a chance to make the most of your visit.

Start in Maine at Baxter State Park and explore the hiking trails around the beautiful and rugged Mount Katahdin, the state’s highest peak. Head for the coast of Maine to visit Acadia National Park or Camden Hills State Park for amazing coastal recreation!

Pack up and pop in some road trip tunes as you head south to Boston for some history along the famous Boston Freedom Trail, connecting 16 nationally significant historic sites in one of the country’s oldest cities. Enjoy a nice cup of tea, if you’re feeling throwback-y (don’t throw it in the harbor though).

Another half day’s drive will land you in New York City! It’s pretty much a rule that the best East Coast road trips have to stop in the Big Apple. Enjoy to-die-for worldly cuisine in Manhattan and visit Instagram-worthy Belvedere Castle in Central Park.

The iconic East Coast adventure continues as you swing through Washington D.C. and visit famous historic sites of the nation’s capital, like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, or the National Aquarium!

Next, explore the history of the Deep South through the cobblestone streets in the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina. History buffs will love the civil war era history and the elegant southern feel of the historic town. You can easily spend 4 days in Charleston, exploring everything it has to offer.

Your East Coast USA road trip finale takes you to the famous Florida Keys toward the west coast of the state. The Overseas Highway will take you the 113 miles to the most-visited parts of the Keys, including Key Largo and as far as Key West.

Ready to Grab Adventure by the Steering Wheel?

explorer chick zip lining
Zipline tour in Virginia.

Are you ready to get driving?! Fill up the tank, grab a co-pilot (yes, this can be your dog), and go have your adventure! Want to find a new friend to explore with? Join one of our East Coast trips or hit up our inclusive community of adventure-loving gals over on Facebook!

Meet the Writer

April Brightman

April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.

Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!

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