Heading South on i95: An East Coast Road Trip

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My East Coast road trip started in Connecticut. The goal: get my aunt’s car all the way down to Fort Lauderdale so she’d have it for her winter home. With my flexible work schedule and passion for road trips, saying yes to the trip just came naturally. I’ve done pieces of this road trip before, including driving through Florida a handful of times, as well as a handful of New England road trips. But the full trip I’d never done before. Google Maps made it seem pretty straightforward.

Savannah

From my starting point to final destination, it was truthfully only going to take 22 hours or so of drive time. But I had the time and the passion, so my goal was to make this a true road trip.

There are so many cool destinations and things to see along the Eastern Seaboard, many of which I hadn’t been to before. Below, a few of the best places to stop along the East Coast on an I-95 road trip.

Best Places to Stop on an I-95 East Coast Road Trip

Philadelphia, PA

philadelphia

They call it the “City of Brotherly Love,” and as the birthplace for so much of American democracy, there’s little dispute of Philadelphia’s place in history. That’s what makes it such a perfect pitstop on a proper American road trip.

It’s relatively easy to see Philadelphia’s top tourist attractions in a few hours. The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are across the street from one another, with the National Constitution Center and U.S. Mint also in walking distance. If you plan it right, it’s easy to hit up those main attractions in a few hours, grab a Philly cheesesteak to eat, and be on your way!

Top 5 Things to Do in Philadelphia on a road trip

  1. Visit the Liberty Bell and learn about freedoms around the world
  2. Learn American history at the Independence Hall museum
  3. Take a selfie at the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  4. Have a real Philly cheesesteak
  5. Refuel at Wawa (and enjoy cheap Tastykake treats & surprisingly great coffee)

Alexandria, VA

48 Hours in Alexandria, VA - Travels of Adam - https://travelsofadam.com/2017/03/48-hours-alexandria-virginia/

Part of the Washington, D.C. metro system, Alexandria is a taste of pure Americana. Its charming city center & main street have plenty of cute and quaint shopping and eating options. It’s also a great place for an overnight stay as the accommodation options are a little cheaper than staying directly in Washington, D.C., though it’s still accessible if you did want to do some sightseeing.

Top 5 Things to Do in Alexandria on a road trip

  1. Shop local small businesses in Alexandria’s Old Town (along King Street)
  2. Check out the local artists’ workshops at the Torpedo Factory Art Center
  3. Learn American history at Gadsby’s Tavern – where George Washington & the first five USA presidents spent time
  4. Stock up on fresh fruit & snacks at America’s oldest farmers market (every Saturday from 7am to noon)
  5. Stay at one of the hotels in Alexandria’s Old Town and take the D.C. metro into Washington, D.C. for a night out

Richmond, VA

Hipster Guide to Richmond, Virginia - Travels of Adam - https://travelsofadam.com/city-guides/richmond-va/

Just a further two hours south on I-95, Virginia’s capitol city Richmond is great for a quick city break. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses an impressive collection of classic and contemporary arts, while the Valentine and the Edgar Allen Poe offer unique historical exhibitions.

And thanks to a healthy population of young adults, Richmond has a thriving foodie scene with plenty of craft breweries and cool hipster dining spots.

Top 5 Things to Do in Richmond on a road trip

  1. Visit the Valentine museum which documents, collects and preserves Richmond’s 400-year history
  2. Check out the latest art exhibitions at the prestigious Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  3. Take a selfie in front of the Virginia State Capitol—one of the oldest legislative bodies in America
  4. Explore the Arts District for trendy restaurants and quirky shops
  5. Don’t miss the street art, many part of the extensive Richmond Mural Project (especially in the Carytown neighborhood

Charleston, SC

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a bit further from I-95 so isn’t a typical stopping point on this well-traveled road trip route, but I’m a sucker for adventure and have been curious about South Carolina for a while, so was happy to go out of my way to visit. I think I was also swayed to visit because I watch Stephen Colbert a lot, and he’s always talking about it. I was curious.

About an hour off of I-95, Charleston is that charming kind of Southern town. Beautifully colored houses in classic colonial styles line every street—with blossoming flowers in the windowsills, friendly neighbors, and large porches & verandas. The main tourist attraction is the Fort Sumter National Monument which can be visited on a tour accessed by ferry.

charleston road trip

Top 5 Things to Do in Charlestown on a road trip

  1. Grab a coffee and food, or shop, at one of the many places along King Street in Old Town Charlestown
  2. Shop local at the historic Charlestown City Market
  3. Get an Instagram pic in front of Rainbow Row
  4. Walk the Old Town and learn local history from the state historical markers
  5. Spend a few hours learning select history at Fort Sumter National Park

Read more Charleston travel tips at www.Charlestoncvb.com. 

Savannah, GA

savannah, georgia

Just off I-95, Savannah is easily accessible from the highway. Home to one of the region’s largest art schools, the Savannah College of Art & Design, the city has a proclivity for creativity—not to mention its extensive history. The Historic District is home to southern Americana sights along cobblestoned & tree-lined streets.

The charming city offers a lot of history with its unique local architecture reminiscent of a “small town America” you’d see in the movies. It’s a quiet town, so don’t expect too much buzzing activity, but day or night the area in and around Forsyth Park is always bustling with the young and the old. The park also hosts a weekend flea market on Sundays.

Top 5 Things to Do in Savannah on a road trip

  1. Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere & southern charm of the Savannah Historic District
  2. Take a stroll through Bonaventure Cemetery (also great for Intsagram)
  3. Visit the large & green Forsyth Park in the city center—a popular place for meetups and a sunset walk, most famous for its iconic fountain at the park’s center
  4. Explore the local contemporary art scene at the SCAD Museum of Art, part of the Savannah College of Art & Design
  5. Shop on Broughton Street for fashion & food

Read more Savannah travel tips at visitsavannah.com. 

From Savannah, it’s a long few hours to Florida. And once in Florida, there are plenty of places to stop for a short visit. The I-95 runs several miles in-land from most of the beach cities, so the stretch of driving in Florida can be a bit boring. Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Fort Lauderdale make for good stopping points during a Florida road trip down I-95, but the Gulf Coast, Panhandle,  and central Florida (Orlando) are all decent destinations besides Miami and the Florida Keys at the tip.

 

• • •

Road trips are the kind of travel you’ll either love or hate. They’re often best with a group of friends or (sometimes) with family, but it’s also pretty manageable on your own. So long as you’ve got a budget and a passion for exploration, road trips are a lot of fun.

How much does an East Coast road trip cost? I managed the above road trip with stops in each of those cities and managed to keep my budget under $700 including hotels, gas, food, and activities. That was with plenty of fast food stops along the way, but hey—that’s part of the joy of an American road trip!

Adam Groffman
In 2009, Adam Groffman quit his job as a graphic designer in Boston and went on a 15+ month trip around the world. The life-changing journey took him to places like North Africa, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Since 2011 Adam has been living in Berlin—Europe's most hipster city.

Travels of Adam is a hipster travel & lifestyle blog for sharing his personal experiences and alternative & indie travel tips from around the world. He also is the editor of My Gay Travel Guide—a gay travel website written by gay travelers for gay travelers.
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