5 East Coast Road Trip Ideas
While some travelers enjoy a highway route that detours through charming small towns with eclectic shops and restaurants, the scenic routes on the East Coast also offer breathtaking views of mountains and towns rich in American history. Before planning your next road trip, check out these five routes on the East Coast that might check off something on every passenger’s “must see” list.
The Brandywine Valley is home to many mansions and gardens — so many gardens, in fact, that it’s considered part of “America’s Garden Capital,” according to U.S. News and World Report. But there is more than just the beauty of sprawling mansions and nature for travelers to see along the 12-mile drive. Stretching from the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania through Delaware, the Brandywine Valley also features an array of museums and historic sites. The well-known du Pont family founded their business and dynasty in the area, making the Nemours Mansion owned by Alfred I. du Pont, a 72-room chateau on 200 acres of woodlands, a must-see destination. Road trippers can also visit the Winterthur Museum, featuring an American decorative arts collection with over 90,000 pieces, including ceramic items owned by George and Martha Washington.
Maine Coast, U.S. Route 1
VisitMaine.net reports that Maine boasts 3,478 miles of coastline — exceeding the California coastline by about 50 miles. With so many miles to explore, there are endless opportunities to sight-see and explore along U.S. Route 1, which runs along the entire coastline of Maine. Those who love small towns will enjoy the first 30 miles of Maine’s southern coast, as it’s comprised of eight historical towns — one being home to the oldest jail in the country. Like many small towns situated along U.S. Route 1, travelers will be welcomed by quaint shops, small family-owned restaurants (many known for their fresh East Coast seafood) and sandy beaches. If you’re looking for charming or historic lodging accommodations, Norumbega (a restored seaside mansion) and Whitehall (a hotel with roots dating back to the 1830s) are worth considering, says Yankee Magazine.
Massachusetts’ Mohawk Trail is one of the oldest and most traveled routes in the country, with its origin dating back to the post-glacial age, says MohawkTrail.com. There are over 100 attractions situated among the trail, from country inns and camping areas to rivers and waterfalls. Like many routes along the East Coast, the Mohawk Trail is also home to a number of environmental and historical destinations. You may want to visit the Bridge of Flowers — its history dates back to the 1920s and you’ll see a vast variety of brush and flowers — or Salmon Falls, which features the largest array of glacial potholes in the country.
The Seaway Trail in New York and Pennsylvania stretches for 518 miles along the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and the Saint Lawrence River. While traveling on the Seaway Trail, you have the opportunity to visit popular destinations such as Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands region. Along with some of these well-known destinations, you can also enjoy landscape dotted with small villages and farms and take in the breathtaking scenery along the way. In fact, the Seaway Trail was deemed a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
George Washington Memorial Parkway
Running along the Potomac River from Maryland through Virginia, the George Washington Memorial Parkway links sites rich in American history while preserving the area’s natural habitat, according to the National Park Service. While the length of the parkway is only 27 miles, MyScenicDrives.com says there is an abundance of history and nature to fill hours on your trip. For the history lovers in your traveling party, the parkway provides easy access to make stops at Mount Vernon, the White House and Arlington Park. As you drive further south, nature lovers can experience the beauty, stunning landscapes and wildlife of Lady Bird Johnson Park and Turkey Run Park. Turkey Run Park is also home to a portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail, which offers great access to nature and wildlife viewing.
If you’re like many others, you picture a road trip full of beautiful scenery and unforgettable experiences. The next time you’re planning a road trip, consider these destinations on the East Coast for an abundance of natural beauty and historic landmarks, which are sure to please all travelers along for the ride.
Originally published on May 4, 2011.