Are you itching for an adventurous journey that perfectly blends breathtaking landscapes, charming towns, and a dash of history? Look no further than the best road trips East of the Mississippi! From the picturesque coastlines of the Atlantic to the majestic peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, this region is teeming with endless possibilities for unforgettable road trips. In this guide, we will explore some of the most scenic routes, hidden gems, and must-visit destinations that span from the New England states down to the sunny shores of the Southeast. So buckle up, grab your map, and get ready to embark on an epic road trip adventure like no other!
Exploring Scenic Routes and Hidden Gems
The eastern region of the United States is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes, charming towns, and historical landmarks. Embarking on a road trip in this part of the country allows you to immerse yourself in the rich history and natural beauty that awaits at every turn. From the picturesque coastal drives to the enchanting mountainous routes, here are some of the best road trips east of the Mississippi.
1. The Blue Ridge Parkway: A Journey through Nature’s Masterpiece
Stretching for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic road trip that showcases the breathtaking beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. This iconic route offers stunning vistas, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant foliage during the fall season. Along the way, you can explore charming mountain towns, hike through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and visit historic sites such as the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
2. The Coastal Maine Road Trip: A Maritime Adventure
For those seeking a coastal getaway, the road trip along the coast of Maine is a perfect choice. Starting from Kittery and winding up to Acadia National Park, this journey takes you through picturesque fishing villages, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches. Stop by the charming towns of Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor, sample delicious seafood, and enjoy outdoor activities like whale watching and kayaking. Don’t miss the chance to explore the iconic lighthouses dotting the coastline, such as the Portland Head Light and the Bass Harbor Head Light.
3. The Great River Road: Following the Mighty Mississippi
Spanning ten states from Minnesota to Louisiana, the Great River Road is an epic road trip that follows the path of the iconic Mississippi River. This route offers a glimpse into the heartland of America, with scenic vistas, charming river towns, and fascinating historical sites. Explore the vibrant music scene of New Orleans, visit the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and immerse yourself in the rich history of Civil War battlefields along the way. Don’t forget to indulge in delicious Southern cuisine and experience the unique cultures that thrive along the river.
4. The Outer Banks Scenic Byway: Coastal Beauty and History
The Outer Banks Scenic Byway in North Carolina is a road trip that combines stunning coastal scenery with a rich historical heritage. This route takes you through barrier islands, picturesque beaches, and quaint fishing villages. Visit the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, explore the dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park, and learn about the fascinating history of the Wright Brothers at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Don’t miss the chance to try some fresh seafood and experience the laid-back charm of the Outer Banks.
5. The Appalachian Trail: A Hiker’s Paradise
While not a traditional road trip, the Appalachian Trail offers a unique and immersive experience for nature enthusiasts. Stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, this legendary trail takes hikers through some of the most stunning landscapes in the eastern United States. Whether you choose to hike a section of the trail or complete the entire journey, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views, serene forests, and a sense of accomplishment like no other. Along the way, you can explore charming trail towns, meet fellow hikers, and connect with the beauty of the natural world.
Planning Your Road Trip
Before embarking on any road trip, it’s essential to plan and prepare to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your adventure:
Research the Route: Familiarize yourself with the roads, attractions, and accommodations along your chosen route. Consider using online resources, guidebooks, and maps to get a comprehensive understanding of the area.
Pack Essentials: Make sure to pack essentials such as a spare tire, first aid kit, snacks, water, and a roadside emergency kit. It’s also a good idea to bring a GPS or a detailed map to navigate unfamiliar roads.
Choose Accommodations: Depending on your preferences, decide whether you’ll be camping, staying in hotels, or opting for a mix of both. Booking accommodations in advance can help ensure availability, especially during peak travel seasons.
Embrace Flexibility: While it’s important to have a general plan, allow room for spontaneity and detours. Some of the best experiences on a road trip come from unexpected discoveries along the way.
Stay Safe: Observe traffic laws, wear seatbelts, and practice safe driving habits. Take breaks regularly, especially on long drives, to avoid fatigue. It’s also wise to have a roadside assistance plan in case of any unexpected car troubles.
By following these tips and embarking on one of the best road trips east of the Mississippi, you’ll create unforgettable memories, discover hidden gems, and gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse landscapes and cultures that make up this remarkable region. So, fuel up your car, pack your sense of adventure, and hit the road to explore the wonders that await you on the eastern side of the Mississippi.
FAQs for Best Road Trips East of the Mississippi
What are some of the best road trips to take east of the Mississippi River?
There are several fantastic road trips to explore east of the Mississippi River. Some popular ones include the Blue Ridge Parkway, stretching from Virginia to North Carolina, where you can experience stunning mountain vistas and charming rural towns. Another great option is the Historic National Road, which runs from Maryland to Illinois, offering a glimpse into America’s past with its historic sites and small towns. Additionally, the Great River Road, following the Mississippi River, provides a scenic drive through ten states, showcasing the river’s beauty and rich cultural heritage.
How long should I plan for a road trip in the eastern region of the U.S.?
The duration of your road trip will depend on the specific route you choose and the time you have available. For shorter trips, like the Blue Ridge Parkway or a segment of the Historic National Road, you can complete them within a week. However, if you intend to embark on a longer journey, such as the full length of the Great River Road, you should plan for at least two weeks to fully enjoy the experience. It’s important to consider your desired stops, attractions, and the amount of time you wish to spend at each destination when planning the duration of your road trip.
What are some must-see attractions along these road trips?
Along the road trips east of the Mississippi River, you’ll encounter a plethora of captivating attractions. On the Blue Ridge Parkway, don’t miss the stunning views from landmarks like the Linn Cove Viaduct and the spectacular waterfalls of Pisgah National Forest. While traveling the Historic National Road, make sure to visit historic sites such as the National Road Museum, Gettysburg National Military Park, and the charming town of Vandalia, Illinois. For those exploring the Great River Road, highlights include the stunning Clingmans Dome, the charming city of New Orleans, and the legendary bourbon distilleries of Kentucky.
Are there any precautions I should take when road tripping in the eastern U.S.?
While road tripping in the eastern U.S., it’s essential to stay prepared and take certain precautions. Make sure to check weather conditions before you start your journey, especially during hurricane or winter seasons when inclement weather can affect road conditions. Ensure that your vehicle is in good working order and carry a spare tire, toolkit, and emergency supplies in case of any unforeseen circumstances. It’s advisable to have a detailed map or a reliable GPS system and to familiarize yourself with the route you plan to take. Additionally, research any road closures, construction zones, or detours that may affect your chosen itinerary.
Can I camp or find accommodations along these road trips?
Yes, you can find a variety of accommodation options along these road trips. There are numerous campgrounds located near each of these routes providing an opportunity for a memorable outdoor experience. Additionally, you will come across hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts in nearby towns and cities where you can enjoy more comfortable lodging. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. Some popular locations might have limited availability, so planning ahead ensures you have a place to stay that suits your preferences.
Is there anything else I need to know for these road trips?
Before embarking on any road trip, it’s recommended to do thorough research on the specific route you plan to take. Familiarize yourself with local traffic regulations and laws, as they may vary between states. Consider creating a flexible itinerary that allows room for spontaneous explorations and unexpected discoveries. Ensure you have snacks, water, and entertainment options available during the trip to make the journey more enjoyable. Lastly, check for any seasonal events or festivals along your route, as they can offer unique cultural experiences and add extra charm to your road trip adventure.