I. LOVE. ROAD TRIPS.
I was particularly excited about this one, because when I was young, my mom took my brothers and I on a 3 month RV trip around the Eastern United States. It started with her pulling out a map of the U.S., marking a line straight down the middle, and drawing a route in which we would hit every state east of that line.
Then began the research. She was determined to hit all the must-see’s, historical locations, and even local favorites. This was back before smartphones, high-speed internet, or TripAdvisor, so the library was our second home for a few months.
When my husband and I found out our friend was getting married in D.C., we thought it was the perfect opportunity to hike, see the fall foliage, and explore our beautiful country. The last time we were in D.C., my now-husband asked me to be his wife that same exact weekend. It was so much fun standing in the exact spot that he proposed at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool (any other Forest Gump fans out there?), but now we were pregnant with our first child exactly 3 years later. Although our little week-long trip did not even remotely compare to that epic RV trip, it was incredibly nostalgic to see at least a fraction of those places I visited as a child. On this post, I put together our routes, places we stopped, and my recommendations for your own east coast road trip.
1. Outbound [Mountain Side]
- Stone Mountain– located right outside Atlanta. I’ve been here a few times now and love it more each time I go. There are beautiful walking and hiking trails, attractions, restaurants, shops, glass-blowing, and of course the famous Confederate Memorial Carving. The trails are open year-round, but definitely call or check the website to check hours/days of operation for the rest of the attractions!
- Asheville– between the breweries, outdoor/adventure culture, taco shops, food trucks, and music scene- so much of this city reminds me of Austin, TX. Spend your morning & afternoon hiking in Pisgah National Forest, refuel at White Duck Taco Shop, and refer to Reddit for a recommendation on local breweries. There are some hardcore, dedicated locals who have written quite a few threads on the best breweries for your individual taste.
- Blue Ridge Parkway– considering that this parkway is 469 miles long, there are plenty of locations where you can hop on and off. The views are absolutely breathtaking, especially in the fall (before November!). In fact, I rode most of it in the bed of my truck while my husband drove, just so I could take it all in.
- Shenandoah National Park– these were my favorites hikes out of the whole trip. The trails were quiet and peaceful, and we saw so much wildlife, including bucks and coyotes. Take your time through the Skyline Drive!
- Monticello– I am so glad we made the day trip here. Read all you want about Thomas Jefferson, but there is no comparison to actually walking where he walked, reading his letters and visualizing him sitting there writing at the desk in front of you, and seeing the dream home that he designed himself. Spend a morning here before the tours get too packed, and PLEASE grab lunch at Michie Tavern– delicious, historic tavern with an authentic, 18th-century ambiance.
2. Inbound [Coastal Side]
- Washington, D.C.– I mean this is a no-brainer, right? Tips I’ve learned from locals: walk around the National Mall after dark, check out Little Serow for dinner, grab a Cuban sandwich from inside the gas station on U Street, and don’t forget to steal the Declaration of Independence while you’re there.
- Richmond– I wouldn’t necessarily stay here, but this is a great town to stop for a sandwich, grab a craft beer, or walk around before heading to Williamsburg and Jamestown.
- Williamsburg & Jamestown– YES it’s worth the detour. Colonial Williamsburg is basically one massive living-history museum. Actors dress up in 18th century costumes and depict legitimate professions and daily life in the streets, workshops, and stores. Jamestown is cool for obvious reasons- I mean you get to walk around the first English settlement in North America.
- Charleston– I adore this town and everything it offers. You feel like you stepped back in time while walking around. Some must-do’s are The Battery, Waterfront Park, Market Street, Angel Oak, Rainbow Row, and Isle of Palms. I personally think that Boone Hall is SO overpriced and not worth it, unless you’re some massive Notebook fan and want to see one of it’s filming locations.
- Savannah– gives you the same “stepped back in time” feels that Charleston does. I remember reading this tip on Reddit and thought it was genius: go to the Historic District, grab an iced tea (preferably one with alcohol, because possession and consumption of alcohol on the streets is legal in Savannah), and spend the afternoon walking around and admiring the houses. You won’t regret it!
And there’s my road trip! Let me know in the comments if you feel like I left any important places out:)