East Coast Road Trip: See Big-City Life, and More

Planning an east coast road trip? My first thought is that you must have business to do in a large city. But that's an unfair assumption.

The east coast has much more to offer than just urban life. And if time and direction are not a big concern, you can see a lot without leaving the Eastern time zone.

What's the best way to plan an east coast road trip? We recommend you pick a general theme and tailor it to your wants and needs. Here are some ideas:

  • I-95: Like big cities? Craving good shopping, good restaurants, museums, and maybe a ballgame or two? Just hopping on I-95 is an efficient way to get from one east coast city to another.

    Depending on where you start, you can see Savannah, Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence, Boston, and Portland. Though taking I-95 means missing out on much small-town beauty, you'll never be far from the coast.

  • Charleston and Savannah: These two cities are full of history. They're little more than two hours apart. They're delightful, if you don't go in the summer. And they can be your base for lots of little side-trips, including Hilton Head Island and the many other islands off the Carolinas.

  • Civil War: History buff? Doing a Civil War road trip is a great way to get your history fix, see some gorgeous scenery, and break up your driving with frequent stops at battlefields.

    If you go north to south, you could start in Gettysburg, which lies just a bit south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. From there, it's mostly state highways to Sharpsburg, Maryland (Antietam) and Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Virginia state highways will then take you to Manassas.

    If you're up for a longer drive down to Lynchburg, Virginia (Appomatox), you'll have smooth sailing on Interstate 29 for much of the way.

  • Atlantic Coast: Want to hit the best Atlantic beaches and beach towns? Virginia Beach lies right off Interstate 64. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a bit more of a haul, perched two hours away from I-95.

    Whatever you do, don't underestimate southern New Jersey. Cape May is about 90 miles from Philadelphia via the Atlantic City Expressway and Garden State Parkway, but well worth the drive (and tolls).

Use one of these themes to plan your east coast road trip - but be sure to customize it to fit your timeline, budget, and interests.

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