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Boston to Miami: Road trip down the Atlantic Coast (1 Week)

The Atlantic Coast is renowned for its beach boardwalks, amazing museums and quirky roadside attractions.

  • 32
  • 48:54
  • $263
  • 2,583 mi.

Created by Roadtrippers - March 1st 2016

A road trip down the Atlantic Coast will take you from very early historic towns, like Plymouth in Massachusetts and Newport in Rhode Island, through the hustle and bustle of New York City, down Maryland's Chesapeake Bay 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 America's oldest city, St. Augustine Florida. Then it's an oceanside cruise along the Space Coast to vibrant Miami Beach, and you can finish off your trip in colorful Key West. It could be the trip of a lifetime, if you know where to find the can't-miss spots along the route. Sure, you could take I-95 all the way from Boston to Miami, but there are loads of detours and scenic byways that will take you on and off the highway. From Boston to Key West, you're looking at 2,400 miles of beaches, woodlands, two-lane country roads, vintage diners, charming small towns and urban adventures.

4.5

Boston, MA

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Beginning in Massachusetts, walk through history along the Revolutionary Freedom Trail in Boston. You'll want to plan at least half a day to accomplish the trail. It's 2 and a half miles long and takes about 2-3 hours to walk. Plus, you're definitely going to want to stop at a lot of the historic sites. While in Boston, there's also loads of great places to grab a bite to eat, but the best place is historic Faneuil Hall, where dozens of local merchants have food stands, so you can take your pick of the best that Boston has to offer. If you have time, and you're traveling with kids, the New England Aquarium and the Science Museum are two must-visits in the city.

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1
Plimoth Plantation

From Boston, head south to historic Plymouth and experience the harsh reality of 17th century life at Plimoth Plantation. It's a great way to learn about the life and times of America's earliest European settlers. The plantation is "a living history museum," showcasing the original 1627 English settlement. All the colonists you see walking around are actors who will answer your questions authentically in character.

2
Battleship Cove

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
White Horse Tavern

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

4
4.5

Montauk, NY

The entire East Coast is dotted with beautiful lighthouses, and one of the best is the Montauk Lighthouse Museum in East Hampton. There's also the nearby beach town of Cape May in New Jersey, which is home to another stunning historic lighthouse, the Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859. But, the charming seaside hamlet of Cape May alone is worth a detour.

5
New Haven Lighthouse

Once you reach New Haven in Connecticut, definitely visit the New Haven Lighthouse. Not only is this a gorgeous historic lighthouse from the mid-1800s, it also features a beautiful, antique Carousel that was built in 1916.

6
The High Line

When you reach New York City, see a different side of the city with a mile and a half walk along The High Line. What makes the High Line so cool is that it's an elevated walking park that was built atop an unused section of the New York Central Railroad!

7
Lombardi's

For some great pizza there's Lombardi's, which has been serving up scrumptious thin-crust pizza since 1905.

8
Bamboo Forest

After the hustle and bustle of NYC, head over to New Brunswick, NJ's serene and lush Bamboo Forest, which is open year round. The bamboo grow to be in excess of 30ft in height, and the walk through the garden is the perfect way to relax after driving, or to just stretch your legs.

9
Trolley Car Diner & Deli

If Lombardi's pizza wasn't filling enough, or if you're ready for dinner, The Trolley Car Diner & Deli in Philadelphia is an old-school diner serving breakfast and beer, next to a trolley car that dispenses ice cream.

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10
Morris House Hotel

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.

11
The Mutter Museum

For a more sophisticated, but very quirky stop, there's the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, which showcases medical oddities, using actual specimens and wax models.

Once you reach Maryland, visit the 41,000+ acre Assateague Island National Seashore, where you can go for a long walk on the beach and see wild horses playing in the ocean. The seashore is also a wildlife refuge for wild ponies, and you can camp on the beach with them!

13
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

If you head into Washington D.C. there's clearly an abundance of museums to visit, but a classic that's not-to-be-missed is the National Museum of Natural History.

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14
The Hay-Adams Hotel

If you're looking for a place to spend the night in the nation's capital, the Hay-Adams Hotel in DC built in 1928, is perfect and the location is to die for. The hotel is on Lafayette Square and looks out directly over The White House. There's also an onsite restaurant and roof terrace bar.

15

Fredericksburg, VA

A short drive south of DC is the historic Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where many military historians argue was the site of the Civil War's bloodiest climax. Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania are known collectively as "America's Battleground." The park itself is impeccably maintained and incredibly rich with information on the pivotal battles that occurred there.

16
Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue

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

17
Foreman House Bed and Breakfast

Once you hit North Carolina, a great place to spend the night is the Foreman House Bed and Breakfast in Elizabeth City, which dates to the turn of the 20th century. The historic inn is an antebellum-styled bed and breakfast, just a mile off Route 17.

18
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

When you want to stretch your legs, pull over at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This is a must-stop along Cape Hatteras National Seashore, most especially for bird-lovers! There's 13 miles of seashore land to explore and tons to do, besides bird watching. It's a very peaceful and relaxing wildlife refuge, and a great stop along an Atlantic Coast road trip.

19
3.6

Rodanthe, NC

While stopping at Rodanthe, check out the Inn at Rodanthe, a whimsical and beautiful inn that almost fell into the ocean. When the beach house, which was nicknamed "Serendipity," was first built, there were more than 400-feet between it and the ocean. Those 400 feet kept the Serendipity safe from the crashing waves, rocks, erosion, and anything else that could possibly threaten to topple it into the ocean. Now it's moved to a safer location, but still makes for an impressive photo op, or you can rent it out for a holiday.

20
Bodie Island Lighthouse

Since this is a road trip focused on features of the Atlantic Coast, one last lighthouse that's absolutely worth a visit is the striking black and white-striped Bodie Island Lighthouse, in Nags Head, in North Carolina's Outer Banks, which offers tours and climbs (but, be warned, it's also rumored to be haunted).

21
Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

Next up, is Myrtle Beach, a classic East Coast holiday town. The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is a little over a mile long and a fun stop to make while exploring beautiful Myrtle Beach.

22
South Of The Border

As you head deeper south, and if you're on I-95, you're going to start seeing some peculiar and kitschy billboards advertising a place called "South Of The Border" in South Carolina. This place is every bit as quirky and cheesy as the billboards suggest. But, kids seem to enjoy it, and it's right off the highway so it's pretty easy to hop off and check it out.

23
4.5

Savannah, GA

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For a quieter stop, there's Savannah, Georgia, just down the road. This gorgeous historic town features an absolutely breathtaking public park, Forsyth Park, loads of restaurants and cute places to spend the night, a town further south with a similar feel is St. Augustine, the oldest town in America, and one of the most charming places in the country.

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24
Tybee Island Inn

Just seventeen miles from Savannah's vibrant downtown is Tybee Island. A great place to stay on the island is Tybee Island Inn, which is just a four minute walk to the beach. There's also a gorgeous garden to walk through onsite. There are only seven rooms, but each is decorated with a nautical theme, and there's free wifi. TIP: Request an upgrade to a room with a private deck and whirlpool tub. Breakfast is free and so is parking.

25
The Gourmet Hut

Once you reach Florida, you're in the home stretch of your Atlantic Coast road trip. Definitely, plan on stopping at St. Augustine, and if you're hungry, The Gourmet Hut is the perfect spot, right in the historic downtown, off Cuna Street. Plan to hang out in the garden with a fantastic cup of coffee, a great mimosa, and a perfect eggs Benedict.

26
The Old Powder House Inn

If you want to spend the night in St. Augustine, The Old Powder House Inn is a fantastic choice for lodging. They provide a delicious breakfast, and the charming historic inn is also very affordable, and within easy walking to shops, restaurants and the historic district.

27
4.5

Titusville, FL

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As you drive down Florida's Space Coast, check out the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour in Titusville, it will seriously make you wish you became an astronaut. Only an hour outside Orlando, it's easily accessible and is a wonderful hands-on educational experience for everyone in the family.

28
John U. Lloyd Beach State Park

When you want to soak up some of the Florida sun, head to John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach, FL. This is an underrated beach, but a great stop for your Atlantic Coast road trip. Here you can picnic, canoe, swim, fish or boat through Port Everglades, between mangroves and palm trees. There's an admission fee of $6 per car. If you boat, jet ski, or kayak, you can pull your boat right up to Whiskey Creek. There's some small reefs that you can snorkel to. Overall it's a great park for families. And there's very conveniently-located bathrooms.

29
4.3

Miami Beach, FL

Next up is Miami! In Miami's South Beach Art Deco District you'll find the world's largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s historic architecture. It's an absolute pleasure to just walk around and gawk at the gorgeous buildings, which have been loving restored and preserved. Plus, the beach is just across the street, and there's tons of places to eat along this stretch. Be prepared if you're driving that it's very busy in this area and you'll mostly be driving 10-20 mph through, which is cool if you're traveling with someone who can take photos of everything, since you're driving slow enough through.

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30
Freehand Miami Hostel

Lastly, the Freehand Miami Hostel is a "reinvention of the historic Indian Creek Hotel," which was one of Miami Beach's "classic 1930s Art Deco buildings." It's just a short walk to the beach and has a killer pool and outdoor bar.

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Southernmost Point Buoy (90m To Cuba)

After leaving Miami you'll head to the A1A, overseas highway to Key West. Here enjoy some seafood, walk around and gawk at the beautiful historic Floridian homes, and visit the Southernmost Point Buoy. This concrete buoy was anchored in 1983 as the southernmost point of the East Coast.

Best Time to Travel the Atlantic Coast: During winter the road conditions can vary, but in the Northern part of your trip be prepared for weather delays from December through mid-March. Spring is off-season, so you should be able to score some good rates at hotels along the route. Summer is high tourist season all up and down the Atlantic coast, which means hotel rates will be high and crowds at stops along your route will also be a factor. Fall however, is an ideal time to travel up and down the coast. Not only is the fall foliage particularly gorgeous from end of September through early November in New England, but once you get down to Georgia and Florida the temperature up north will be chilly, so you'll welcome the warmth of the south.

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