The best East Coast road trips

From the Blue Ridge Mountains in the South to Maine's Atlantic coast, these four routes have spectacular scenery and vibrant towns for stopovers—perfect for a road trip!

Blue Ridge Parkway

While driving along the winding roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. There's no better time than spring to venture here when the trees are in full bloom and everything is coming back to life after the cold winter months.

Try heading south past Waynesboro, Va., for a panoramic view as the roadway makes it way through the Pisgah and Black mountains before ending in Cherokee, North Carolina. Off of Route 221, between Linville and Marion, you’ll find the perfect photo opprotunity at the Linville Falls Visitors Center. It offers a hiking path with two waterfalls plunging into Linville Gorge. Don't forget to stop at the beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville. The home was built by the Vanderbilt family and mimics a French chateau.

blue ridge best east coast road trip vacations
blue ridge best east coast road trip vacations
blue ridge best east coast road trip vacations

Historic National Road

Historic National Road stretches for 170 miles through Maryland. It starts in Baltimore and makes its way through Garret, Allegheny, and Washington counties. You'll have the best views if you drive east toward the coast. This journey back in time will send you through this mid-Atlantic hot spot that's perfect for any history buff.

You'll definitely want to stop in Little Meadows to visit Tomlinson Inn. The inn was built in 1816 by Revolutionary War veteran Jesse Tomlinson and once served as a stop for travelers looking to rest. Presidents James K. Polk and William Henry Harrison are believed to have stayed at Tomlinson Inn.

Along Historic National Road is Frederick, one of the most famous historic districts in the country. There's Civil War history here, including the National Museum of Civil War Medicine as well as background into the life of Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner.

Kancamagus Scenic Byway

While driving along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway in New Hampshire, don't forget to enjoy a trip to the White Mountain National Forest. This 34.5-mile stretch of Route 112 offers spectacular views and is unspoiled by homes and other developments.

The best route is from Conway, N.H., through Lincoln where Interstate 93 and Highway 112 meet. Trail maps are available at the White Mountains Gateway Visitors Center as well as a list of historic sites along the route. If you're planning on stopping by Flume Gorge, don't forget about the former site of the Old Man of the Mountain. There was once what was believed to be a face on the natural rocks until it collapsed in 2003.

Be sure to see the Russell-Colbath Homestead, a farmhouse built in the 1800s in what used to be the logging community of Passaconaway. Kancamagus Pass is a must-see and the highest point on the highway. There are a number of scenic lookouts including the Sugar Hill, Pemigewasset, Falls Pond, Rocky Gorge, Sabbaday Falls and Hancock overlooks.

Acadia Byway

acadia best east coast road trip vacations
acadia best east coast road trip vacations
acadia best east coast road trip vacations

If you're a seafood lover, then a road trip on the Acadia Byway in Maine is where you'll want to head. The route is 40 miles long and can be completed in about 4 hours, although there's no harm in spending an entire week there to really visit the region.

The Acadia Byway starts at Route 3 near Trenton, Maine. Upon starting the route, you'll cross a bridge onto Mount Desert Island on Maine's north central coast. The route makes its way along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and meanders through Acadia National Park as well as Cadillac Mountain.

The main village on Desert Island is Bar Harbor. It's also the starting point for Acadia National Park and is especially popular during the warmer months. It was once the vacation destination for the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Vanderbilts in the mid-19th century with the same village feel that is still there today. While staying in Bar Harbor, be sure to eat at Stewman's Lobster Pound and Galyn's Restaurant to fulfill your lobster and seafood cravings.

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