One of my favorite things about summer while I was growing up was our annual family vacation.

We would all pile into the car, with tons of snacks and entertainment, before heading off to either Myrtle Beach or North Carolina.

As we got older, those road trips would turn into mini ones, as my sisters and I began checking out colleges on the east coast.

Now that my nephew is five and obsessed with the beach, our family road trips are becoming a tradition again.

This year, we all piled into the car to head to Duck, North Carolina.

It was a fabulous time, but as an adult, I was definitely craving transportation with more space.

In fact, my sister is thinking of going all out next summer with an RV and a camping trip, to give us more space and the opportunity to explore with less of a schedule.

To help her out, I figured I’d do a bit of preliminary research on the best road trips on the East Coast.

There are tons of amazing options, though I’m partial to NYC and anywhere with a beach!

So pack your bags, grab your camera, and take the wheel for the adventure of a lifetime.

With so many awe-inspiring sights just waiting to be discovered, one of these East Coast road trips is bound to be an unforgettable experience!

Planning Your East Coast Road Trip



When planning your East Coast road trip, creating an itinerary is super important.

There are many popular routes to choose from, including the New England Coast or the one from Montreal to Miami.

Plan to immerse yourself in charming small towns or explore vibrant cities and always embrace the scenic route whenever possible!

Oh, and don’t miss out on historical landmarks, national parks, and delicious food during your trip.

Where to Stay

east coast road trip where to stay

It’s really important to book as much as you can ahead of time, especially your accommodation.

Depending on where you’re heading, most spots offer hotels, Airbnbs, and campgrounds.

For a more unique experience, think about renting an RV with RVshare. They’ve got a bunch of different models so it’s easy to pick the amenities and size that work best for your trip.

Plus, having an RV gives you the perfect combination of adventure and flexibility.

What to Pack

0. What to wear on vacation vacation outfits sisters packing for vacation

Being well-prepared for your road trip is essential for a smooth journey. Make a packing list tailored to the weather, activities, and attractions you plan to encounter. 

These are the main details to take into consideration when packing:

  • Clothing: Bring versatile, weather-appropriate attire. Include layers for fluctuating temperatures and rain gear in case of showers.
  • Navigational tools: Carry a GPS device, physical maps, or a reliable smartphone navigation app to stay on course throughout your trip.
  • Entertainment: Pack activities and snacks to keep you entertained during long drives.
  • Emergency essentials: Assemble a basic first aid kit, flashlight, and any relevant medications.

Top East Coast Destinations

New England

New England

As you journey from Boston to Bar Harbor, you’ll fall in love with all the quaint New England towns.

Spend some time in picturesque coastal towns like Cape Cod. It’s one of my favorites with its miles of sandy beaches and adorable shingle-style homes.

And you can’t miss the beautiful scenery of Maine’s famous Bar Harbor and Camden.

You should also explore Salem with its rich maritime history and famous witch trials.

Then, stop in Burlington, Vermont to enjoy all its art, food, and culture.

Looking for a beach vacation?

Check out Kennebunkport, Maine, for its breathtaking beaches, historic architecture, and tasty seafood.


Newport Rhode Island

Enjoy the rich history and bustling urban landscapes as you travel through the Mid-Atlantic region.

I never miss an opportunity to go to NYC. If you haven’t been before, you’ve got to spend at least one day here exploring. 

Manhattan is the center of New York City with cultural experiences, architectural marvels, and culinary adventures.

Or head to Newport, Rhode Island. Called the “City by the Sea”, it’s got the perfect blend of coastal beauty, rich history, and magnificent Gilded Age mansions.

Another popular spot to check out is Mystic, Connecticut.

It’s a coastal town that’s perfect for a getaway with its famous seaport, antique shops, and maritime history.


Savannah Georgia

Travel south to the warm and inviting Southeast region, with its stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and southern charm.

Miami offers a unique experience with its vibrant nightlife, cultural attractions, and famous beaches.

Or drive to Charleston. It’s famous for its well-preserved historic architecture, including antebellum homes and plantations.

Another popular spot is Savannah, Georgia. You’ll fall in love with the city’s history, beautiful squares, and tree-lined avenues.

Must-Visit Attractions

National Parks

Shenandoah National Park

Your adventure starts with the serene beauty of Acadia National Park, where lush forests meet the rugged Atlantic shoreline.

Indulge in scenic hikes, witness striking sunrises, or enjoy a mouth-watering lobster dinner on a coastal patio.

Then, go to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and drive on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

Spend a while taking in the wildflower-dotted meadows and nature while making your way through the park.

Your last stop, the Everglades National Park in Florida.

Here you’ll encounter a unique ecosystem teeming with diverse plant and animal species.

Feeling adventurous?

Hop on an air-boat tour and get up close and personal with alligators, or explore the subtropical wilderness on foot.

Historical Sites

Boston Freedom Trail

Begin your historical journey with Boston’s Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path that tells the story of the Revolutionary War.

You’ll see significant landmarks, including the Massachusetts State House and Old North Church.

Then continue your trip by visiting the opulent Newport Mansions in Rhode Island.

Leave time to walk the mesmerizing Cliff Walk. It’s a 3.5-mile coastal path offering stunning ocean views and legendary architecture.

Then, delve deeper into the past with a stop in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States.

Spend at least a day exploring the rich history of this charming town. You’ll love wandering the cobblestone streets, marveling at the Spanish-inspired architecture.


Portland Head Light

No East Coast road trip is complete without visiting the region’s iconic lighthouses.

Start by admiring the picturesque Portland Head Light in Maine, followed by the rustic Hudson Valley lighthouses in New York.

These towering beacons of light serve as landmarks and navigational aids, but also add a touch of enchantment to the coastal landscape.



Finally, unwind and soak up the sun on some of the East Coast’s most beautiful beaches.

Relax on the pristine shores of Hilton Head, South Carolina, or explore the powdery sands and turquoise waters of Florida’s beach resorts.

You should visit Duck, NC to see wild horses or Virginia Beach for its history and sunny beaches.

Whichever sandy refuge you choose, the East Coast offers a plethora of sun-kissed havens to indulge in.

Scenic Drives

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina is famous for its beautiful views of the Appalachian Mountains.

This 469-mile scenic drive is a once in a lifetime treat to drive with all its breathtaking sights, like forests, hills, and views.

Along the way, stop at some of the picturesque overlooks or take a short hike to explore the region more intimately.

New England Coastline

Cape Cod

Picture yourself driving by the beautiful coastline, with waves crashing against the cliffs and the smell of fresh sea air.

The New England Coastline provides a sight to behold, and there’s no better place to experience it than along the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Stretching for 40 miles, this scenic drive offers views of sandy beaches, pristine salt marshes, and iconic lighthouses.

Don’t forget to visit Newport’s Cliff Walk for ocean views and Gilded Age mansions.

Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley is a region rich in history, art, and natural beauty.

One of my favorite things about it is all the vineyards to check out. I’d spend at least a day or two there if you want to squeeze in some wine tastings.

Plus, it’s also just an absolutely stunning area to drive around any time of year.

Small Towns and Cities

Southern Charm

Salem Mass

Venture into the heart of the South, where you’ll discover towns brimming with warmth and hospitality.

For instance, Salem is a must-visit for history buffs, with its intriguing past of maritime adventures and its role in the infamous witch trials.

Pass the time strolling along its cobblestone streets, visiting fascinating museums.

Don’t miss the chance to visit charming coastal towns like Gloucester, Massachusetts. It’s just northeast of Salem and is a popular beach spot for locals.

If it’s not a beach day, head to Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s also a popular nearby destination with tons of seafood restaurants and galleries.

New England Villages

stowe vt

The northeastern region of the East Coast is home to enchanting New England villages, each with its own unique character.

Stowe, in Vermont, is a popular spot because it has stunning landscapes year-round.

Plus, Stowe’s artisanal shops offer perfect souvenirs for your journey.

Newport, Rhode Island, is the perfect stop for anyone obsessed with architecture. It’s got some stunning Gilded Age mansions lining Bellevue Avenue.

In fact, you can even explore inside some of them, since a few are now museums.

Outdoor Adventures and Wildlife

Hiking Trails


One highlight of your East Coast road trip could be the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. It’s got a bunch of scenic trails that are perfect for hiking enthusiasts.

The Newport Cliff Walk in Rhode Island has historic mansions and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another must-try route is Route 100 in Vermont, though you may know it as the Vermont Fall Foliage Road Trip.

Plan your visit during the fall, when the region transforms into a picturesque landscape of brilliant reds and oranges.

Beach Activities

03 Beach Hashtags

Feeling adventurous?

Kick off your sandals and explore the sandy shores of Rockland, Maine.

You can join a sailing expedition onboard a traditional Maine Windjammer, or visit nearby Camden Hills State Park.

For a more laid-back vibe, head to one of New England’s best beach towns. You can send the day strolling down the rugged coastline, dotted with elegant colonial mansions, and soak up the picturesque scenery.

Wildlife Watching

east coast wildlife

Embrace your inner naturalist on your road trip by immersing yourself in the diverse East Coast wildlife.

Keep an eye out for unique marine life on boat tours or see local wildlife on nature walks, including deer, elk, and black bears.

Renting an RV with RVshare for Your Road Trip


You can still explore new places and make memories on an East Coast adventure, even without a car.

The key to unlocking this dream vacation is renting an RV, and RVshare is your best choice for finding the perfect home on wheels.

RVshare is the top marketplace for renting RVs directly from local owners. You’ll be able to browse an enormous selection of vehicles while supporting small businesses in your area.

I love that renting gives you the option to pick up your RV in one location and drop it off at another, so you don’t waste time retracing your steps.

Plus, you’ll also have access to a dedicated representative who can help set up the rental details and provide guidance on your journey.


What are Essential Stops During a 1-Week East Coast Trip Itinerary?


When you go on a one-week East Coast road trip, be sure to visit Boston and see historic sites by walking the Freedom Trail.

Or drive up to Bar Harbor, Maine to enjoy gorgeous coastal scenery and explore Acadia National Park.

Oh, and don’t forget to explore picturesque coastal towns like Newport, Rhode Island, and Mystic, Connecticut.

Which Cities are Must Visit Destinations for a Southern East Coast Road Trip?

Southern East Coast Road Trip1

Visit Charleston, South Carolina, for a memorable Southern road trip with historic architecture and cultural significance.

Savannah, Georgia, with its lovely squares and antebellum mansions, is another must-see.

Exploring the vibrant city of Miami, Florida, or taking time to unwind on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina is also always a great idea.

How Long Does it Typically Take to Complete a North East Coast Road Trip?


The time you’ll need to complete a North-East Coast road trip can vary depending on your interests and chosen destinations.

A brief trip that focuses on the major cities of Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. can take around 5-7 days.

However, to fully appreciate all the attractions and picturesque landscapes the region offers, it’s best to plan for at least 2-3 weeks.

What’s the Best Time of Year to Go on an East Coast Road Trip?

East Coast Road Trip

The ideal time for an East Coast road trip depends on your destination and preferences.

Fall is perfect for leaf-peeping in New England, with vibrant foliage painting the landscape.

Spring means mild weather and blossoming gardens, which is great for city exploration and countryside escapes.

Summer is perfect for beach vacations and outdoor fun. While winter transforms the landscape for skiing and snowshoeing adventures.

How Much Should I Budget for a 2-week East Coast Road Trip?


When you’re planning your budget there’s a lot you want to keep in mind. 

I like to make a list with columns for accommodation, dining preferences, and activities while budgeting to stay organized.

On average, a mid-range budget needs about $100-$150 per person per day to cover accommodations, meals, and sightseeing.

Oh, and don’t forget to factor in expenses like car rental, gas, parking, and road tolls, and to save a bit for emergencies.

What are the Key Highlights of a Road Trip From NYC?

NYC Roadtrip

A road trip from NYC can be full of exciting stops if you plan it right.

Head north to explore the beautiful Hudson Valley for stunning river and mountain views. You’ll love the quaint town of Sleepy Hollow and the majestic West Point Military Academy.

Go further to explore regions like the Finger Lakes, Adirondack Mountains, or the New England Coast.

You can also drive south to historic Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and the vibrant Southern East Coast cities mentioned earlier.

Driving Into the Sunset

driving off into the sunset

I hope this article helps you create the perfect east coast road trip for your next vacation.

Let me know in the comments below where you’re most excited to check out!


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