Your Guide to 21 East Coast Destinations for a Road Trip

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You may have recently read our latest guide to NJ towns that are perfect for a summer day trip and now we’re kicking it up a notch. We know that lately, getting on a plane can seem daunting, but taking a trip beyond the four walls of your home is quite embraced, as long as it’s socially-distanced, of course. If you want to take a weekend trip or simply take your “office” on the road for a few days, read on for your guide to East Coast destinations that are ideal for a summer road trip, ordered by state from North to South.

Disclaimer: All suggested activities and destinations are dependent on the state’s guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. We suggest checking in with the destinations ahead of time before booking a stay/excursion and following all state requirements for quarantine upon returning.

maine road trip east coast

Maine

Maine is a state that is chock full of things to do and places to explore. It makes sense that the farther North you travel {think New England vibes}, the more beautiful sweeping landscapes there are to discover.
Portland

Portland {5 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

maine road trip east coast

Portland is Maine’s biggest city by population and offers plenty of art, history, and food to experience. We recommend kicking off your Portland tour in Old Port, full of beautiful historic buildings and cobblestone streets, perfect for a stroll and a meal at one of their many restaurants. And speaking of restaurants, you simply cannot cross the state lines of Maine without ordering a lobster roll to devour on the coast. Andy’s Old Port Pub {94 Commercial Street} is arguably the best one in town.

If you’re looking for something to wash that lobster roll down with, head over to Allagash brewery, a great local spot with plenty of outdoor space to enjoy a flight. If you’re worried about Fido, don’t be — it’s dog-friendly! Wrap up your time in Portland with a little art and history at the Portland Museum of Art {7 Congress Street}. This museum is the largest and oldest public art institution in the entire state so whether you’re into art or just plan on wandering aimlessly around, it’s a can’t-miss destination.

Bar Harbor + Acadia National Park {8 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

acadia national park maine

{Photo credit: @acadianps}

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are two Maine destinations that often go hand-in-hand. If you’re looking for a day full of hiking, Cadillac Mountain’s trails are second to none, with sweeping views of the Maine coastline. However, if you’re more of the laid-back active type {we see you}, Jordan Pond is for you. The old carriage roads you’ll encounter are beyond charming and *pro tip* – the popovers at Jordan Pond House Restaurant {2928 Park Loop Road} are out of this world. It is definitely worth the stop for these crispy on the outside, soft and airy on the inside, pastries with a side of tea and jam.

maine lobster restaurant

Maine is known for killer lobster rolls and, you guessed it, beer. Stop at another Maine brewery, Atlantic Brewing Co. {15 Knox Road} for a pint. The tasting room is open seven days a week until October 24th. There you can take a tour of the brewery then taste the classic beers as well as samples of the “Small Batch Series.” If you prefer vino over beer, Bar Harbor Cellars Winery {854 ME-3} is the place for you. This spot offers wine tasting experiences and be sure to pick up a bottle of your favorite on the way out.

Kennebunkport {4 hour 45-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

Unlike other Maine beach towns with rock-filled coasts, Kennebunkport offers long, smooth beaches to relax on and soak up the sun. Not only is this town pretty as a postcard, but it also contains the famous compound of President Bush. Walk along the coast and take a peek from afar at the gorgeous development.

Kennebunkport is also home to many artists and galleries that show pieces of art you’ll definitely want to take home as a keepsake. Explore Homeport Pottery and Artisans Gallery {131 Beachwood Avenue}, The Galleries at Morning Walk {134 Port Road}, Northlight Gallery {33 Ocean Avenue}, and more. Make sure your camera is at the ready as you stroll around because this Maine town will not disappoint.

New Hampshire

The next East Coast destination is New Hampshire. Though much smaller in size than Maine, New Hampshire is bursting with a variety of landscapes to choose from. If you’re looking to get outdoors and stay active, New Hampshire is your state.

Concord + Manchester {4 hour 20-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

concord craft brewing new hampshire

{Photo credit: @concordcraftbrewing}

Concord is a charming little town that just so happens to be the capital of New Hampshire and Manchester is the largest city in the state, but the two are so close to one another that the combination offers a perfect blend of the small-town and big-city vibe for a weekend getaway. Concord is often associated with orchards and farms galore so if you visit, Carter Hill Orchard {73 Carter Hill Road}, Diamond Hill Farm {314 Hopkinton Road}, and Apple Hill Farm {580 Mountain Road} are a few of our favorites. Of course, if we’re talking about apple cider, we wouldn’t dare leave out the hard libations. Concord is home to the Concord Craft Brewing Company {117 Storrs Street} and Litherman’s Limited Brewery {126 Hall Street} and we’ll let you in on a little secret – Litherman’s has a banana vanilla porter beer that may just be one of the best beers you’ll try, trust us.

Manchester brings more of the city vibe to balance out Concord’s small-town feel. If you’re feeling artsy, stop by Currier Museum of Art {150 Ash Street} and East Colony Fine Art Gallery {55 South Commercial Street}. Wash down your day of culture at Manchester’s 2nd Bridge Brewing Company {642 Hilliard Street} or Labyrinth Brewing Company {148 Forest Street} before heading home.

Lake Winnipesaukee {5 hour 30-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

lake winnipesaukke new hampshire

{Photo credit:@lifeatlakewinni}

This famous NH lake is the sixth-largest in the country. The lake’s beaches are perfect for relaxing in the sun or for the more active, swimming and sailing are a few of the water sports you can take advantage of on Lake Winnipesaukee in the summer.

White Mountain National Forest {6 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

Arguably one of the most popular destinations in all of NH, White Mountain National Forest is home to endless hiking trails, wild species, and views galore. Whether you visit in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, it is worth the few hours of driving. Be sure to bring your camera and stop at the ranger station before beginning an excursion because they will fill you in on all of the things to keep an eye out for on your trek.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts is a state that everyone yearns to visit in the summer. With every type of scenery from picturesque islands {think Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket} boasting sailboats and beautiful hydrangea bushes to a city with an old, cobblestone street vibe, you can do and see it all in MA {and you may even consider taking more than just one weekend to do so!}.

Boston {3 hour 30-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

fenway park boston

{Photo credit: @fenwaypark}

It would be remiss to visit Massachusetts without at least passing through the bustling city of Boston. Unlike the NYC we’re used to, Boston is a city with old-time charm and a lot of history. As you walk through the town you encounter cobblestone streets, old buildings, and the waterfront of the harbor. Be sure not to miss iconic stops like Fenway Park {home of the Boston Red Sox at 4 Yawkey Way}, Quincy Market {206 South Market Street in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace}, and Boston Public Garden {4 Charles Street} for gorgeous park views.

If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, Newbury Street is bursting with designer shops and quaint brownstones that will have you strolling for hours {not to mention, great brunch spots can be stumbled upon as well}. For the history buffs out there, pick up a map of the Freedom Trail for a self-guided history lesson. And speaking of history, Castle Island is an amazing landmark off the coast of South Boston where you can tour the famous Fort Sumter that provided harbor defenses for Boston and is one of the oldest fortified sites of English origin in the U.S.

harpoon brewery boston

{Photo credit: @harpoonbrewery}

Before leaving this incredible city, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend more incredible New England breweries based in Boston. Of course, the well-known Samuel Adams Brewery {30 Germania Street} is a must-see. If you’re in the mood for incredible craft beers and deliciously fluffy pretzels {made from the actual hops of the beer}, then Harpoon Brewery {306 Northern Avenue} is the brewery for you. And finally, if you’re more of a cider-lover, Downeast Cider House {256 Marginal Street} is a refreshingly tasty stop to conclude your day of Boston adventure.

Cape Cod {4 hour 15-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

Known for the beach, this seaside town is the perfect place for fun in the sun. The Cape Cod National Seashore boasts over 40,000 acres of protected shorelines for you to enjoy so lather up on sunscreen, pack up your cooler, and hit the beach.

Martha’s Vineyard {5 hour 20-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

island alpaca-company marthas vineyard

{Photo credit: @islandalpaca}

While Martha’s Vineyard does offer day-trips from Boston, we recommend spending more than just an afternoon for a visit. Grab your camera {or your iPhone} and snapshots of sights like the Edgartown Lighthouse {121 North Water Street}, the Flying Horses Carousel {33 Lake Avenue}, and even the furry creatures over at the Island Alpaca Company of Martha’s Vineyard {1 Head of the Pond Road, Oak Bluffs}. Seafood lovers can dine out on the water at a local favorite like Garde East {52 Beach Road}, Lucky Hank’s {218 Upper Main Street}, and The Seafood Shanty {31 Dock Street}.

Nantucket {6 hour 30 minute trip from Hoboken + Jersey City}

nantucket bucket museum

{Photo credit: @ackbasketmuseum}

This picturesque island is not completely driveable but the ferry ride you need to take makes it all the more special. This town is full of talented artists so visiting one of the museums like the Whaling Museum {13 Broad Street} or the Nantucket Basket Museum {49 Union Street} is a must.

Of course, since Nantucket is an island, there are beaches galore for you to take advantage of. Hit the Madaket Beach, Surfside Beach, or Siasconset Beach and stare in awe at the many lighthouses Nantucket has to offer {namely the Brant Point and the Great Point Lighthouses}. Conclude your day of beaching it with a cold one at Cisco Brewers {5 Bartlett Farm Road}. Sightsee, beach, beer, repeat.

Rhode Island

Newport {3 hour 15-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

salve-regina university newport

{Photo credit: @salveregina}

Possibly best known for its timeless mansions, the Cliff Walk is a must-see upon entering Newport. Beautiful estates like the Breakers {44 Ochre Point Avenue}, Rosecliff {584 Bellevue Avenue}, The Elms {367 Bellevue Avenue}, and more are available for walking tours. You can purchase tickets for one or multiple estates at the Breakers upon arrival and you can walk or drive amongst each one. Along the Cliff Walk, you will also pass the beautiful Salve Regina University {a perfect photo-op if you ask us}.

New York {Upstate}

Yes, we’re a hop, skip, and a jump away from NYC but New York is a massive state and when you enter upstate NY, it’s like a whole new world from the concrete jungle we know and love {but also want to escape}. Full of quaint small towns with boutiques and beautiful scenery, Upstate NY is not a destination to be missed.

New Paltz {1 hour 30-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

new paltz new york weekend getaway

New Paltz is a Hoboken Girl favorite, all starting with the quaint Watergrasshill Bed and Breakfast {105 Phillies Bridge Road}. This B&B, named after an old Irish town, is the perfect place to stay for either a romantic getaway or a fun weekend with the pals. While in town, you might consider buying a day pass to hike the Mohonk Preserve trails, all leading up to one breathtaking peak. After a fun-filled day of hiking, visit the famous Angry Orchard cider brewery {2241 Albany Post Road, Walden} for crisp ciders, tons of outdoor seating space, and food trucks galore. Also, the cider donuts they make on-site are unreal.

A trip to New Paltz is not complete without walking the famous Huguenot Street. You can stop for cocktails at Huckleberry {21 Church Street}, dine outside, do a little antique shopping, and grab a scoop at Huguenot Creamery to end the night {78 Main Street}.

Saratoga Springs {3 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

Saratoga is most notably known for the Saratoga Race Course {267 Union Avenue}. Although races may not be happening during this time, consider simply making the trip to walk around the massive grounds or perhaps wait until horse racing is back in action to visit. During the summer, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market is in full swing, making for the perfect summer activity. And of course, the sweeping hills of New York contain many well-known wineries and Saratoga is no exception. If you’re feeling in the mood for a glass of vino, wrap your trip up at The Saratoga Winery {462 Route 29} or the Halfmoon Cellars Winery {24 Caroline Street}.

Connecticut

Connecticut is a popular destination as part of the tri-state area because it’s a quick trip from home {Hudson County} and offers a variety of landscapes, things to do, and towns to visit.

New Haven {1 hour 45-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

yale university art gallery connecticut

{Photo credit: @yaleartgallery}

This Connecticut city plays host to the prestigious Yale University, a gorgeous campus to stroll around on. And with the campus comes the Yale University Art Gallery {1111 Chapel Street} to add a touch of culture to your trip. New Haven is bursting with parks and greens to take advantage of in the summer or fall {for best photo opportunities} and nestled amongst them is the breathtaking Five Mile Point Lighthouse {2 Lighthouse Road}, a must-see in town. End your day with a meal at one of New Haven’s finest restaurants. For farm-to-table fare, try ZINC {964 Chapel Street}, for an Italian meal at a wine bar, Skappo {59 Crown Street}, or for an upscale French dinner, Union League Cafe is the way to go {1032 Chapel Street}.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is known for its popular cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that contain a ton of historical value and things to do. However, PA is quite a large state so where you end up visiting may depend on how far you’re willing to travel.

Philadelphia {1 hour 30-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

eastern state penitentiary philadelphia

{Photo credit: @easternstate}

Philadelphia is one of the first things to come to mind when we think of Pennsylvania, and the list of things to do in this city does not disappoint. First of all, when fans are allowed back at sporting events, Philadelphia certainly has no shortage of sports teams to route on from football to hockey to baseball and more. If you enjoy living on the edge, Eastern State Penitentiary {2124 Fairmount Avenue} is a popular tourist attraction, standing hauntingly empty where there once used to be a prison.

And for the Rocky fans out there, the Philadelphia Museum of Art {2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway} plays host to yes, art, but more importantly, the famous steps debuted in the Rocky films. Whether you’re going for a run up and down them or actually using them to spend the day in the museum, they are an iconic Philly sight. For lunch or dinner plans, pay a visit to the Reading Terminal Market {12th and Arch} which features over 80 food vendors.

Pittsburgh {5 hour 45-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

pittsburgh zoo and aquarium

{Photo credit: @pghzoo}

Pittsburgh simply doesn’t get enough credit living in the limelight of Philadelphia as “the other major city in PA” but this city has a lot to offer. From sports like football and hockey to the famous Pittsburgh Zoo {7370 Baker Street}, there is truly something for everyone. Pittsburgh is also known for its second-to-none food scene. Enjoy dining outdoors at fantastic spots like Noodlehead {242 South Highland Avenue}, Point Brugge Cafe {401 Hastings Street}, Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette {4613 Liberty Avenue}, and so many more.

Delaware

Delaware is a tiny state but again, one that is full of culture. Enter Wilmington. Delaware’s most-known city and a quick two-hour trip from HC.

Wilmington {2 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

nemours estate delaware

{Photo credit: @nemoursestate}

Wilmington is a city that has never-ending sites to see. For starters, the Nemours Estate {1600 Rockland Road} will transport you to France and make you feel as if you’re standing in the Chateau de Versailles garden. Exercise the cultural part of your brain by visiting the Hagley Museum and Library {200 Hagley Creek Road}, the Delaware Children’s Museum {550 Justison Street}, or the Delaware Art Museum {2301 Kentmere Parkway}. For those who are more active and looking to be outside, explore the Wilmington Riverwalk {0 North Market Street}, Bellevue State Park {800 Carr Road}, or Brandywine Park and Zoo {1001 North Park Drive}.

Maryland

Maryland is a very well-known destination for us New Jerseyans. Known not only for its city of Baltimore {home of the Orioles for all you baseball fans or the Ravens for the football fans out there} but Maryland is also full of beaches, which you may not have known before reading this article.

Baltimore {3 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

baltimore national aquarium

{Photo credit: @national_aquarium}

Baltimore is another city that is full of history and the fact that it’s located right on a harbor is even better. Fort McHenry and Fell’s Point are two locales that offer up historical tidbits around every corner. Baltimore is also known for its National Aquarium {501 East Pratt Street}, which is considered to be one of the best in the world. Conclude your trip to this Maryland town with an outdoor dining reservation at one of the harbor’s favorite restaurants such as McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood and Steaks {711 Eastern Avenue}, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company {301 Light Street}, or Phillips Seafood {601 East Pratt Street}.

Ocean City {4 hour drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

thrashers french fries maryland

{Photo credit: @thrashersfries}

The Ocean City beach and boardwalk are by far the biggest draw of this Maryland town. Enjoy a beautiful day on the beach riding the waves and end it on the boardwalk where you can eat, play, and stroll. Don’t even think about leaving this beach town without hitting up Thrasher’s Fries on the boardwalk, finished off with an ice cream cone at one of the many creamery destinations. Later on, hit up the Seacrets Distilling Company {111 49th Street} for hand-crafted spirits that will certainly lift yours.

Washington D.C.

Of course, D.C. is not a state of its own but it is a territory that is quite well-known because, well, it’s the capital of our country. With that comes endless opportunities to brush up on history {and politics, if that’s your cup of tea}.

{3 hour 40-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

smithsonian museum washington dc

{Photo credit: @smithsonian}

Pretty self-explanatory, this destination is technically not a state but contains just as much to do as anywhere else on this list. Obviously, if you’re in our nation’s capital and have yet to see these sights, stopping by the White House, The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and National WWII Memorial are a must. D.C. also plays host to museums of all types. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History {10th Street and Constitution Avenue} holds the world’s most extensive collection of natural history specimens, the United States Holocaust Museum {100 Raoul Wallenberg Plaza SW} is a living memorial to the Holocaust, and the Newseum {555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW} provides an interactive experience that details the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. While these are just our recommendations, you could walk around this city all day and never run out of things to do or see.

Virginia

Virginia is the most southern state we’ll be taking you to in this guide but certainly not of least value. VA is home to a variety of city types but we feel that Williamsburg has it all – history, culture, family fun, and more.

Williamsburg {5 hour 50-minute drive from Hoboken + Jersey City}

colonial williamsburg virginia

{Photo credit: @colonialwmsburg}

The last stop on the East Coast destination tour, but certainly not the least. While Williamsburg is great for all ages if you have younger kids you really can’t go wrong here. This town is an extremely interactive way to engage your little ones in the rich history of our country. If you don’t already know, Williamsburg served as the capital of the Colony and Commonwealth of Virginia from 1699 to 1780 and acted as the center of political events leading to the American Revolution. That being said, Colonial Williamsburg is a must-see during your trip. You will be transported back in time through “townspeople” willing to tell their stories and include you in interactive experiences that tell a tale of Williamsburg long ago. If you want to stay away from a day full of history, Busch Gardens {although currently closed due to the pandemic} makes for a great, fun-filled day of amusement for the whole family.

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Originally from Essex County, Alexa is a born-and-raised Jersey girl who moved to Hoboken two years ago. A teacher by day, Alexa is certified in elementary and special education and has her master’s degree in literacy. In 2018 she started @AlexaMartinDesigns, her small business side hustle focusing on all things creative and loves to collaborate with other small and local businesses. Alexa is currently an intern for Hoboken Girl and in her free time, you can find her painting all the things, traveling the world with her fiancé, or relaxing at her family’s beach house in Spring Lake, NJ.