Explore the US East Coast by car

Jenna Maxwell


When most people think of an American road trip, they usually imagine cruising along a highway with the blazing sun glistening of a shiny Mustang, passing cactus plants along the way. Great American road trips have inspired countless songs and films and turn simple holidays into experiences. But you shouldn’t just look to the deserts of America when planning your own trip. The East Coast has some fabulous routes that will allow you to visit some of the country’s most famous cities and sights on your own terms and in your own style. From the bright lights of New York to the scenic splendour of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Exploring the East Coast by car allows you to tailor your trip to see the sights you want.

The Route

A good place to start is right at the capital of the United States, Washington DC. Flights are available direct from most UK cities and you can enjoy the first few days of your trip on foot visiting iconic places such as The White House and Lincoln Memorial. When you’ve finished exploring, it’s very easy to pick up a hire car and drop it off in another city (and state) so it couldn’t be easier to tailor your trip. From Washington, you could drive down to Virginia and visit Colonial Williamsburg, then head straight up to Philadelphia, New York, Cape Cod and finish off in Boston where you can return the car and fly home.

If you want to stick to city sights, you could fly into Washington and then drive up towards New York, or if it’s a more scenic adventure you’re after, Maine and Massachusetts ae the perfect places to enjoy picturesque drives and delicious food.

Or if you’re more of a thrill seeker, you could go right down to Florida and experience some of the best theme parks in the world in Orlando and then shopping, beaches and nightlife aplenty in Miami. 

Sights to See

Exploring the East Coast by car means that you can tick off several of America’s best sights in one trip. Depending on what cities you decide to visit, you can sip a cosmopolitan in Manhattan one day and then run up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (aka the Rocky steps) the next!

If you follow our route and start in Washington, you can spend a few days discovering the city visiting the White House, Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian.

Heading up towards New York you’ll have countless famous sights to choose from including Times Square, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. A city bus tour might work best to see the famous Big Apple highlights in a short amount of time.

Philadelphia is home to the famous Liberty Bell, the Museum of Art and Rocky statue and the Franklin Institute.

In Boston, you can experience The Boston Tea Party as well as a ball game at Fenway Park and you can even grab yourself a beer in the city’s most famous bar and TV show, Cheers.

There is also Virginia to see Colonial Williamsburg if you choose to do down that far and Cape Cod on the way to Boston that is home to the famous Martha’s Vineyard – where the Steve Spielberg classic Jaws was filmed.

Disney World and Universal Studios await you in Orlando, Florida or you can do like Will Smith and spend ‘all night at the beach ‘til the break of dawn’ in Miami. 

The Roads

There may not be deserts to drive through on the East Coast of America, but the route makes up for it with impressive bridges, highways and gorgeous scenery. It makes for a once in a lifetime driving experience. Some drives to consider are:

Skyline Drive is a stunning 105-mile road that runs the entire length of the National Park Service’s Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It takes around three hours to drive the entire length of the road and you’ll be rewarded with views of beautiful mountaintops and rivers.

Route 6 is a short 18-mile drive that links all of Cape Cod’s towns, beaches and sand dunes. Described in the Smithsonian Magazine as ‘the most appealing stretch of America’, what used to be known as the Old King’s Highway is a unique experience for visitors thanks to its historic character.

The Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway runs through the Shawangunk Mountains in New York State. The towns along the route are a blend of past and present offering historic sites and attractions for visitors. It’s the perfect drive to escape the hustle and bustle of NYC.

When in Boston, try the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway for the best of coastal New England. This drive is 10 miles outside of Boston and passes historic seaports, colonial era farms, villages and cities.

Of course, these are all suggestions. The best part about a road trip is that you make it your own and the roads on the East Coast won’t let you down. 

Where to Stay

Resting your head after hours on the road is important so we've rounded up the most beautiful, luxurious and convenient places to stop on your adventure to avoid the inner-city traffic.

Washington D.C. – The Mandarin Oriental is ideally located near all of Washington D.C.’s attractions close to Capitol Hill. This five-star hotel has fantastic dining and a world class spa and is spacious and offers easy parking. The perfect base to explore the US capital.

Cape Cod – Reguarded as the Cape Cod’s finest B&B, The Captain’s House Inn is located on two beautifully landscaped acres of English gardens in Chatham, Massachusetts. It is centrally located in Chatham making it the ideal home base for day trips to Provincetown, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

New York – Finding a luxury hotel with parking can be a challenge but The Dominick ticks every box. As the only independent Five-Diamond property in New York City, the hotel offers guests luxurious amenities with unobtrusive service to match. At your service 24 hours a day, feel a sense of welcoming sophistication and mindful attention to detail befitting our one-of-a-kind hotel.

Philadelphia – When in Philadelphia, the Kimpton Hotel really embraces the city’s rich history. The stunning building is located on the country’s most historic mile and is home to 268 rooms, a grand ballroom, a rocking rooftop lounge and a praised neighbourhood restaurant.

Boston – The Row Hotel is the perfect base for Boston as it’s located on the outskirts of the city and offers parking. The urban-forward neighbourhood of Assembly Row in Somerville is close enough to the city but far enough from the hustle and bustle so you can truly relax. It has a notable design, offers genuine hospitality and an uncompromising attention to detail.

Miami Florida – The El Paseo Hotel is located right on South Beach and offers beautifully styled rooms and suites just steps from a charming Mediterranean style promenade, quaint boutiques, sidewalk cafes and a vibrant food and nightlife scene.

Extra Special Experiences

From sampling delicious seafood and whale watching in New England to catching a Broadway show in New York City, there are many experiences you can book to make your East Coast trip even more special.

Catching a show on Broadway is a must for any theatre fan in New York but you can make it even more special by booking a VIP experience. Broadwayplus.com allows you to request backstage tours, meet and greet actors and grab premium seats.

If you’re more of a sports fan and are stopping by Boston, a VIP baseball game is just the ticket. The Boston Red Sox have VIP packages available where you catch the game in comfort and style and even tour the stadium.

Wildlife lovers can book an exclusive whale watching trip in Cape Cod. Boats leave from the popular Provincetown from mid-April to October and trained naturalists will be onboard to give you facts and information about several breeds of whale. Minke, humpbacks and finbacks can be seen in the waters.

And for foodies, the East Coast is full of some of the best culinary experiences money can buy. Sample fresh seafood in Maine, delicious cheesecake in New York and the fantastic Philly cheese steak in Philadelphia. There is something for everyone. 

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