If you’ve ever driven on I-95, you know it’s not the most scenic route for a road trip. You could take the express route all the way from New York City to Washington, D.C., but what’s the fun in that? Instead, trade highways for byways and explore the historic cities and scenic countryside along the way.
Start: New York City
Begin your East Coast road trip in the Big Apple. Walk the High Line to see public art installations, urban gardens and city views from a converted rail line or stroll through the newly opened Liberty Park, an elevated park that gives you a panoramic view of the National September 11 Memorial.
Hop off the highway in the City of Brotherly Love. The 2016 Democratic National Convention has put Philly in the political spotlight. Head to the National Constitution Center where you can follows the campaign trail from start to finish and see how the political process has evolved.
Getting wound up by politics? Blow off some steam along the city’s Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, a riverfront path with picturesque skyline views.
Afterwards, grab a cheesesteak from Geno’s Steaks or Pat’s King of Steaks – the iconic eateries are across the street from one another and have led Philly’s foodie rivalry for decades. But know the lingo before you order. Do you want one whiz wit or without?
From Philly, take a detour through the beautiful Brandywine Valley as you continue south to Wilmington. Sip local vintages on the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail, take a stroll through Longwood Gardens and tour the DuPont family mansions — all three.
Once you reach Wilmington, ditch the car for a bit. The city’s downtown is best explored by foot. Follow Market Street to the riverwalk, where you can take in a minor league baseball game or settle in for some serious people watching and good eats at the European-style market.
Continue your scenic drive through Maryland’s Eastern Shore, crossing over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Annapolis.
The best way to explore Maryland’s historic capital city is from the water — charter a yacht, learn to sail or give paddleboarding a try. Then, stretch your sea legs on a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy — just don’t forget your I.D. when you visit “the yard.”
For lunch, order a crab cake sandwich at Chick & Ruths Delly. Only Maryland’s eastern shore does this sandwich right.
End: Washington, D.C.
Finish your trip in the nation’s capital. While Washington’s best known as a political town, there’s more to it than just votes and bills. New dining and nightlife corridors are stretching into all quadrants of the city.
Make sure you spend some time off the tourist circuit to explore vibrant neighborhoods like U Street (grab a drink at one of dozens of eclectic bars) and H Street NE (shop local at Maketto, a foodie-fashion fusion market).
Itching to see the monuments on the National Mall?
If it’s hot out, skip the standard sweaty tourist walk and do your sightseeing with a drink in hand at POV, one of the city’s popular rooftop bars (and best vantage points for a view of the White House).