If you’re thinking about taking a road trip this summer, you have essentially two options when it comes to planning. You could either not plan your trip at all and just go wherever the road takes you or you could plan the entire trip, including each stop you want to make. There is middle ground, too. You could simply decide where you want to end up, and make your way there without any set of plan of when you want to get there or how you are going to get there. If you’re interested in some of the very best destinations on the east coast, here are ten of them:
1. Shelter Island, New York – New York isn’t that far away, but when most people visit this state, they do so to visit New York City. Why not branch out and see what else this state has to offer. Shelter Island is located somewhere between the Hamptons and North Fork, and it gets none of the touristy attention that either of those two locations get. There are lots of places to stay, miles of beach to hang out on, and plenty of delicious places to eat, all tucked away on a small island.
2. Nantucket, Massachusetts – This is one of the lesser known beach destinations for the rich and famous. That, of course, doesn’t mean that you have to be rich and famous to visit. Besides being fun to say, there’s lots to do in Nantucket and it makes an ideal beach destination. After a long drive, there will be nothing better than feeling the sand between your toes. Famous for its swanky bars and upscale eateries, you’ll never go hungry or thirsty. Though there are plenty of accommodations and amenities, this place also has a serious small-town vibe that makes it a great destination for your east coast road trip.
3. Kennebunkport, Maine – Have you ever heard of Kennebunkport? If not, you’re not alone. This is a village in Maine, complete with antique stores and little mom and pop boutiques. If you’re interested in seeing lighthouses, there is probably no better seaside destination than this one. There are even tours that you can go on, to see where local osprey and eagles make their nests along the shoreline.
4. Montauk, New York – Another destination that is not exactly that far away, Montauk makes a great road trip for those who might be short on time. It’s essentially the last place you can drive to on Long Island, and has been made famous for hosting the likes of Paul Simon. This is a surfing beach area, but there’s lots of sand to go around, even if you are not interested in catching a few waves. There are places to dive, as well as places to find great food and drink before you head back home.
5. Outer Banks, North Carolina – This area is reportedly the last home of Blackbeard, the pirate. Today, there are some pirate-themed restaurants, but the real draw is, of course, the beach, the swimming, the diving, and the lighthouse. There’s lots to see and do if you choose this as the final destination for your road trip, including diving around the barrier islands, where many people believe there are ancient shipwrecks still teeming with gold.
6. Brewster, Massachusetts – If you are interested in having a truly east coast experience, Brewster is a great choice of destination. Though it is technically part of Cape Cod, it is not as busy as the rest of the area, despite there being just as much to do and just as many great places to eat. Nickerson State Park, for example, is located in Brewster, where you will find acres of thick woods and ponds that were formed by the glaciers that were once in this area. Of course, there is also a sandy beach that is ideal for swimming or just getting a tan.
7. Long Beach, New York – You’re probably familiar with Long Beach as a beach in California, but what about the one on the east coast? It’s not too far from New York City, so if you want to make NYC the final destination of your trip, you could always just make a road trip out to Long Beach on a day when you have nothing else planned. The historical boardwalk and clean beaches definitely make this worth a visit.
8. St. Michael’s, Maryland – If you’re going to be taking the American history route on your road trip (visiting Philadelphia, Baltimore, and D.C.), St. Michael’s is a logical destination—not because it has anything to do with American history, but because it’s close to these three locations and boasts a wide variety of activities, including a beach. There is a great Frederic Douglass walking tour that does make this destination on-theme.
9. North Fork, New York – This is another great destination if you only have a few days for your road trip. You literally cannot find a more quaint New England town, right down the roads lined with fruit stands and the sprawling country farms that neighbor the area.
10. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – If you’ve never been, summer is the perfect time to go. You’ll enjoy your drive getting there, too, which would take you through some of the prettiest parts of the east coast. Touring the island by bike is a favorite of all who visit, and there are plenty of trails and side streets to explore if you do pick this as the destination for your east coast road trip.