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This tour along the East Coast is one of the most impressive road trips I have taken in the USA. In October 2016, my father and I started this trip in New York (where else?!) because I wanted to show him why I have, for many years, loved this city so much, and introduce him to the spots that are close to my heart.
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In total, this route took us through 12 US states with a travel distance of 1,600 miles. I have detailed the highlights of our road trip on the East Coast of the USA and I’ll share them here with you in the travel review!
Our route on the map
You can see a map with our route and all of our stops on our road trip here:
Our day-by-day itinerary
Days 1 to 3: New York to New England via Providence, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod
Length of the tour: 362 miles.
After two hours of driving, our first stop was New Haven, which has a beautiful city center with many small cafes, bars, and restaurants. New Haven is best known for Yale University, and the city is young as a result; you will notice many students sitting in the cafes with their laptops, working on something.
We then bought some coffee for the ride and drove all the way to Providence. Providence is perfectly located to explore Cape Cod, Boston, or the island of Martha’s Vineyard. If you don’t have time to visit all three spots, I highly recommend Martha’s Vineyard and Boston.
Our hotel was the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Providence. At this point of the road trip, the question on our minds was whether the colorful fall foliage was better in the White Mountains or the Green Mountains.
We got into a conversation with a family at Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar (address: 65 Weybosset St #108, Providence), United Stateswhile eating burgers and drinking IPA (it’s right across the street from the hotel), and they recommended the White Mountains to us. That was a good tip, as you’ll see later on from the pictures we took. The town is laid back and you can go out in the evening for an enjoyable time. Don’t forget to visit the Capitol, especially when the sun is low, as it offers incredible light, which is great for photos.
We went to Martha’s Vineyard by ferry, a small but beautiful island off the coast, which is known for being a popular vacation spot for US presidents. The ferry ride takes about 45-60 minutes and you can get to the island from New Bedford (ferry tickets here) or from Woods Hole (tickets for the ferry are available on this page) (destination: Oak Bluffs).
Be sure to note the times they leave beforehand!
We were lucky to be there during the last week of peak season, but fewer ferries go to Martha’s Vineyard during the off-season. The ferry ride is incredibly beautiful, and you will see many small bays, islands, and lighthouses.
While on Martha’s Vineyard, be sure to visit the Harbor View Hotel restaurant (address: 131 N Water St, Edgartown, MA 02539; you can check it out at booking.com here) located at the lighthouse in Edgartown, and my good friend Mikhail in his coffee shop called Behind the Bookstore (address: 46 Main St. – really behind a bookstore, website). Believe me, the man is one of the most passionate coffee enthusiasts I know! He spends 3-4 months during the off-season visiting coffee plantations around the world to explore great new coffees.
Take advantage of the drive from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs by traveling on the Beach Road. The road always takes you right along the coast and through small towns that are simply gorgeous.
In the evening, we took one of the last ferries from Martha’s Vineyard back to the mainland, where we enjoyed an incredible sunset. The next destination? Boston!
Day 4: Boston
Boston was a highlight for us; we visited the Skywalk Observatory (currently closed, unfortunately), the Charles River with its adjoining meadows, and the old town, and we had plenty of time to sit in the Boston Common Park and listen to the musicians. Our hotel, Loews Hotel Boston, was terrific; perfect value for the money and the best steakhouse in town, Grill 23 & Bar, was right across the street.
Day 5 & 6: Fall foliage in New England & Kancamagus Highway
Length of the tour: 184 miles.
After just about three hours of driving from Boston, we arrived at the White Mountains in North Conway. This little town was our first coffee stop; be sure to go to The Metropolitan Coffeehouse (address: 2680 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway, NH 03860, website). In addition to free Wi-Fi, the coffeehouse is also a small gallery, the location is great and – of course, also important – the coffee is delicious.
From here, we wanted to go to Mount Washington; the highest mountain not only in the White Mountains, but in the entire Northeast USA. We were there in October and were lucky to have accessed the webcam beforehand via the website (here’s the link). The road there was not passable due to snow drifts; unbelievable, because we were sitting in the sun at 26°C!
The Kancamagus Highway 112, which leads from Conway to Lincoln, is one of the most impressive roads on the East Coast of the USA. Here you can expect thirty miles of pure nature, crystal clear water, and incredible fall foliage. Plan ahead, as there is little to no cell phone reception. As you travel, you can find parking lots and lookouts like the Sugar Hill Scenic Vista, from which you can enjoy wonderful views.
Lincoln itself is a small town with its own charm and the selection of hotels is not large, rather you will find many motels, some with sensational locations. We stayed at the Indian Head Resort, which had an unobstructed view of a lake and the mountains. It has been family owned for decades and the entire staff is super nice. This was a perfect spot to kick back and relax as we rounded out day 6 of our trip.
By the way, you can go up the tower for $1 per person, which has a few years under its belt. The view is worth the climb!
Day 7: Burlington on Lake Champlain
Length of the tour: 142 miles.
Burlington is right on Lake Champlain, which is in between the states of New York and Vermont. Our hotel was the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain, which is close to downtown with its many restaurants and bars.
If you want to try ramen, go for Gaku Ramen (address: 144 Church St.) or go to Sixty Battery (address: 60 Battery St., table reservations recommended!). The best craft beer in town is at The Farm House Tap & Grill (address: 160 Bank St.) and the food is just as good as their beer.
We sat outside in the sun for two hours and used the time to plan the next phases of our trip and send photos we had taken thus far. Be sure to try the sandwich with bacon, pear, and blue cheese! Be sure to also take the time to go to the shore of Lake Champlain at Waterfront Park, either to just enjoy the view or even take a tour by boat. You can get great coffee at Uncommon Grounds Coffee & Tea, free Wi-Fi included (address: 42 Church Street).
Day 8 & 9: Niagara Falls
Length of the tour: 386 miles.
Today we had to get up early because we had to drive more than 380 miles.
Our road trip took us all the way to Canada to see Niagara Falls – definitely one of the absolute highlights on our tour along the East Coast of the USA!
The idyllic drive to Niagara Falls took us on small roads past many lakes and rivers. We even crossed the Hudson River, which goes all the way to New York City. After seven hours of driving, we could see Niagara Falls because the swirling water can be seen from far away.
Which side of Niagara Falls is better?
You can see Niagara Falls from both the American side and the Canadian side. We think that the Canadian side is more beautiful, because the view of the falls is much more impressive.
For accommodations, I recommend the Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview & Spa (book in advance!!!). All rooms have a view of the falls and the breakfast is great; you can have your breakfast omelet prepared any way you like it.
From the hotel, the Falls Incline Railway takes you down to the viewpoint right at the base of the falls. Also fun is the Behind the Falls tour and the Mistress of the Sea boat ride that takes you right up close to the falls. You’ll definitely get wet, but protection is provided.
Impression of the Niagara Falls
The culinary landscape was surprisingly not that good, as tourist-motivated restaurants outnumbered culinary-oriented restaurants. What I can recommend to you, however, is the Terrain Grille Fallsview restaurant, from which you can see the waterfalls. If you go to Niagara Falls during the winter, you might be lucky enough to see them frozen.
If you still have time, you should visit the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. You will pass many wineries that offer wine tasting, the town is very beautiful, and you will definitely feel at home here.
Day 10 & 12: Washington D.C.
Length of the tour: 407 miles.
Via Philipsburg, we traveled along Interstates 99, 76, 70, and 270 to our destination: the JW Marriott Washington D.C.. The hotel is really brilliant; all major sights are within walking distance, from the White House to the Lincoln Monument and Museum Mile. The rooms are big, it has a great lobby, and the breakfast is really good, too. To end the day, here’s a tip: visit the rooftop bar P.O.V. Rooftop Lounge & Terrace (address: 515 15th St. NW in the W Hotel); from here you can even see the White House!
Washington D.C. has a lot of important sights that you should definitely see. Starting with the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the United States Capitol, and the Reflecting Pool, known to many from the scene in the movie Forrest Gump. Also on the list: the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the National Air and Space Museum. Plan to spend about four hours on this walking tour of the monuments.
Of course, there is another bar that I would like to recommend to you: The Lucky Bar (address: 1221 Connecticut Ave, corner of 18th Street). It’s a sports bar with a great selection of beer (bottle and tap) and lots of screens on the wall.
Day 13: Via Baltimore and Philadelphia back to New York
Length of the tour: 225 miles.
The last leg of our road trip along the East Coast of the USA took us through Baltimore and Philadelphia on our way back to New York. Baltimore is quite a beautiful place that we have already visited on previous tours.
My conclusion of this road trip from New York
We had planned this road trip along the East Coast of the USA for a long time and it was just great! We took almost two weeks, but the tour can also be completed in a little more than a week.
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!