East Coast Road Trips

From leaf-peeping along the Blue Ridge Parkway to driving down Florida's coast on US 1, these are our favorite East Coast road trips. Choose your own adventure: explore the coastline or set off through mountain byways.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway

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Drivers have little choice but to take their time enjoying the serpentine Blue Ridge Parkway connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The route's speed limit is a strictly enforced 45 mph, which at some points is lowered to a mere 25 mph. Traffic builds up on this popular byway during October when leaf-peepers glimpse nature’s colorful display outside their car windows.

2. Kancamagus Scenic Byway

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Photodisc / Getty Images
New Hampshire's Kancamagus Scenic Byway, a 34.5-mile section of Route 112 running through the White Mountain National Forest, is renowned for its autumn leaves, making it one of the top road trips during the fall leaf-viewing season. As a National Scenic Byway, the "Kanc," as the locals call it, remains unspoiled by homes or service stations, allowing visitors to watch the maple, beech and birch trees burst into color without distraction.

3. Historic National Road

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Panoramic Images / Getty Images
Maryland's stretch of the 170-mile Historic National Road -- originally built to foster settlement into the West by aiding the movement of people and goods -- takes road-trippers on a journey through 300 years of history. The lush region and towns surrounding the highway have become a mid-Atlantic hot spot for fall foliage viewing and offer plenty of historic interest to travelers.

4. US 1

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US 1 runs between the beach and Interstate 95 along Florida's east coast, allowing easy access to A1A (the road closest to the coast) while letting you hightail it past cities that don't pique your interest. The 2,376-mile stretch of highway between Fort Kent, ME, and Key West, FL, may bear plenty of neon signs, billboards and even a few seedy motels and pawnshops, but it makes for a quirky cruise through south Florida with charming diners and scenic seascapes.

5. Acadia National Byway

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Universal Images Group / Getty Images
Designated an All-American Highway by the US Department of Transportation, the Acadia Byway winds along Maine’s coastline for 40 miles past granite peaks, craggy outcroppings, coastal fishing villages and lush old-growth forests. Fresh lobster feasts and the chance to be among the first people in America to see the sunrise are just a few of the reasons to put the Acadia Byway in Maine on your road-trip radar.

6. Gulf Coast Road Trip

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From Florida to Mississippi, the Gulf Coast is not only a beautiful spot for a beach vacation, but an important ecosystem that’s home to thousands of sea turtles, seabirds and other wild creatures. Set off on a road trip along Route 98 through the region’s best state and national parks, and appreciate the wonders of the Gulf Coast and its unique ecosystems.
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