Top 4 Summer Road Trips for 2022: East Coast Edition

In a season filled with beaches, barbecues and baseball games, summer is also the picture-perfect time to gas up and hit the pavement for another favorite warm-weather pastime: the Great American Road Trip. Sure, there are other ways to get from point A to point B—but save those planes and trains for the colder months when you just want to get there fast. The true joy of road tripping is the journey—and the surprises you’ll encounter along the way. 

From stunning coastal vistas to authentic pit stops serving up delectable local fare, there’s just no better way to travel in the summer than by car (windows down, of course—but don’t forget the sunscreen). There are so many great places to explore from the open road, but these four ribbons of roadway top our list for an impromptu East Coast getaway this year.

Overseas Highway, Miami to Key West, Florida

– Photograph: Key West, FL

 Heading south from sunny Miami and its throngs of vacationers, it won’t take long before the crowds part and you begin to see why U.S. Highway 1 has been nicknamed the “Highway that Goes to Sea.” Technically, the road itself spans 2,370 miles from Fort Kent, Maine down to the Florida Keys—more or less the entirety of the east coast. But no need to do the whole thing for this road trip; just about 60 miles out from your lively metropolitan Miami starting point, you’ll reach the 113-mile stretch between Key Largo and Key West known as the Overseas Highway. 

While it’s short on distance, this scenic route is long on views, packing in an incredible 42 bridges that connect the islets and keys on your way down to Key West, home of the Southernmost Point in the Continental United States. Pack an authentic Cuban sandwich on your way out of Miami, then stop at your leisure in Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key, or anywhere else along the way. Though you can make it the whole route in about 3.5 hours, what’s the rush? Some spend several days making their way along the route, and this summer, you can too.

The Cape Cod Coastline, Massachusetts

– Photograph: Truro, MA

Few places are as quintessentially New England as Cape Cod. This hook-shaped peninsula is home to colorful clapboard towns and villages, dozens of fresh-catch seafood restaurants, and 18 stately lighthouses all its own. And that’s to say nothing of the 360-degree coastal views from just about every vantage point.. Wherever you decide to point your car, you won’t be disappointed.

For an easy start to your next Cape Cod road trip, head east on I-195 from Providence for about 73 miles, or from Boston, head south on either I-495 or MA-3 for roughly 70 miles. Either city offers a scenic launch point into the heart of Cape Cod in under an hour and a half by car. From there, this scenic peninsula is your oyster. Cruise along U.S. Route 6 to discover the many beaches and village streets that line the cape, then for a real adventure, veer off on Route 6A—the Old King’s Highway—that runs loosely parallel. This famed historic road runs 65 miles from Bourne to Provincetown on the tip of the cape, and it’s widely considered to be among America’s most scenic routes. 

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

– Photograph: Linn Cove Viaduct near Grandfather Mountain in NC

This stunning route through the east coast’s central region will give you plenty of memorable views to go with the mileage—running 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Waynesboro, VA (milepost 0) to its culmination in Great Smoky Mountains National Park outside of Cherokee, NC. And if you’re already contemplating an overnight stop considering that long mileage: plan on it. Many stretches of this road operate under 45 mile-per-hour limits, and along with various elevation changes, this road trip could easily take you 11 hours or more if you were to drive straight through.

Still, this is one east coast road trip that pays off big. You’ll begin and end at two of the country’s most widely known and loved National Parks, with opportunities to explore breathtaking mountains, lush green valleys and spectacular canopies of mist along the way. Be sure to stop at a few of the many sites along the way, taking time to explore Asheville, Pigeon Forge, Roanoke and more at your own pace. 

The Lowcountry, Hilton Head to Charleston, South Carolina

– Photograph: Charleston, SC

Antebellum Charleston draws visitors each year with its lovely architecture, dripping moss, genteel hospitality, and of course, its world-renowned culinary scene. Make your way there from stunning Hilton Head Island, just a bit north of Savannah, GA, and cruise north on U.S. Highway 17 for about 98 miles. This relatively short drive—2 hours if you go straight there—will take you along some of the most scenic stretches of the coastal Carolinas you’re likely to find anywhere.

Stop in historic Beaufort along the way to sample a taste of authentic Lowcountry cuisine—a uniquely southern experience blending fresh local seafood with distinctly southern flavors. Then ride on through to Charleston, where you’ll be spoiled for choice on where to have your next incredible meal outside beneath the stars.   

These East Coast road trips are sure to please even the pickiest passengers—but the United States is filled with beautiful routes from coast to coast. Check back on our blog in the months ahead as we continue to highlight the best summer road trips of 2022, located all around the country.