Forget Big Sur—These East Coast Road Trips Will Fuel Your Sense of Adventure

Updated 06/05/18

Sure, a month in Italy sipping on limoncello, eating fresh pasta al pomodoro, and swimming in the clear Mediterranean waters may sound like an idyllic summer. But for many of us, even just taking two weeks off can feel like an insurmountable task. But here's the good news: Our very own backyard right here in the U.S. is filled with its own healthy dose of unobstructed ocean views, natural wonders, and local delicacies—if you know where to look. Better yet, you can visit these destinations in a week—or even just a couple of days.

So what can you do to feel like you're on vacation if you can't fly across the pond this summer? Try a good old-fashioned all-American East Coast road trip (though we've included our Canadian neighbors in this list for good measure also). The East Coast, stretching from the rugged coastlines of Nova Scotia all the way to the Florida Keys is filled with picturesque road trip opportunities—you just have to look at a map and pick one. Pack the car and turn on your auto-reply for the best East Coast road trips that are calling your name this summer.

Cabot Trail

East Coast Road Trips
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The Cabot Trail is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Canada. Yes, you'll have to cross the border to get to the Eastern end of Nova Scotia, but the sweeping Atlantic coastline views from this 185-mile rugged cliffside drive is well worth going the distance. Drive through the canyons and valleys of Cape Breton Island, visit the local fishermen villages and lighthouses, and have yourself a lobster roll with a side of fried clams. All will be well in the world.

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Coastal Maine

East Coast Road Trips: Maine
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Not too far south of the Cabot Trail, you'll find the beauty of coastal Maine: a place dotted with quaint seaside villages, marinas, and harbors like Kennebunkport and Bar Harbour. Portland, a hotbed for foodies, will satisfy your Michelin-starred cravings, while Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at the other end of your drive, will provide plenty of clam chowder and locally brewed beer. Have your fair share of Maine-style rolls on the way (and see how they measure up to their Canadian counterparts).

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The Hamptons

East Coast Road Trips: Hamptons
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Yes, the traffic to get there can be a pain, but if you haven't been to the Hamptons yet, it's something to do at least once. Drive out from New York City midweek to avoid the weekend crowds and stop in each picturesque town along the way: From Southampton, known for its charming village and beachfront billionaire's row, all the way to Montauk, a bohemian surf enclave also known for its delicious seafood, you can enjoy the multiple wineries, manicured towns, and expansive beaches along the way.

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Charleston to Savannah

East Coast Road Trips: Savannah to Charleston
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Southern charm hits its peak between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. Walk along the cobblestoned streets lined with gas-lit lanterns and towering Southern live oaks (famous for their Spanish moss). Get charmed by the manicured Colonial and Georgian architecture and the Southern hospitality. Charleston is also known for its food scene, so you won't go hungry. In between the two towns, US-17 is lined with towering oak trees, cherry-cider stands, and sweeping bucolic farmlands.

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The Florida Keys

East Coast Road Trips: Florida Keys
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The overseas highway between Miami and Key West is something to experience once in a lifetime. Each picturesque islet from Islamorada to Key Largo is filled with small local outdoor tiki bars and restaurants and places to kayak, snorkel, or swim. The southernmost part of the United States feels like a mini tropical getaway. Get ready for unobstructed ocean views and don't forget to have yourself a slice of key lime pie.

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Next up: These are the best audiobooks for road trips (or boring commutes).

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