Ah, summer road trips–a classic American pastime. Warm weather, sunshine, and the wind in your hair as you cruise down the highway. Just thinking about it makes us itch to get out on the road.
Last summer, we put together a list of our top US road trips to take in your lifetime, including routes on the East Coast, West Coast and everywhere in between. These are our dream road trips, but what about a route you could realistically travel this summer–one that won’t require a plane ticket and a rental car? Preferably one that starts and ends right here in Rochester?
Well, we’ve come up with a Northeast Coast road trip that meets all those requirements. We picked out four well-known, scenic routes in the area and connected them into a loop that will take you from upstate New York through parts of eight other states and back home again. The trip is a total of 1,800 miles and will take around 32 hours to complete without stopping, which means you could comfortably finish it in one week.
Of course, you may want to allot yourself more time so you can stop and explore all the cities and towns along the way!
The first leg of the trip will take you to this difficult-to-pronounce section of Route 112 in New Hampshire. The byway is 34.5 miles long and runs between the towns of Lincoln and Conway, through the White Mountain National Forest. There are no houses or buildings along this stretch, which means you’ll be alone with the forest and the rivers that run alongside the road. The scenery is especially beautiful in the fall as the leaves change color, but it will be no less breathtaking during the summer months.
To get there, take I-90 east out of Rochester and make your way to Lincoln, NH. It will take you a better part of the day to get there, so you may want to spend the night in town and set off on the byway in the morning.
Next up is Cape Cod, where you’ll find several historic fishing towns dating back to the colonial era. This would be a perfect place to get some fresh seafood, or simply enjoy the scenery and the ocean breeze. You’ll probably pass through Boston and Plymouth, MA on your way there, so you may want to make a side excursion to visit one or both.
When you arrive at the Cape, you’ll want to get on Route 6A near the town of Sandwich and follow it 32 miles to Orleans. From there you can either turn back or continue on US Route 6 another 24 miles to Provincetown at the very tip of the Cape. On your way back to the mainland, consider taking Route 28 for 64 miles to soak up the sights on the southern side of the Cape.
If you follow the major interstates to your next destination, you’ll drive through Providence, RI, travel along the Atlantic coast for 100 miles, cut through New York City, and pass near Trenton, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Any of these spots would be a good place to linger if you are so inclined.
Brandywine Valley is a 12-mile stretch of road where members of the late 20th-century American aristocracy lived and built their estates, many of which have been preserved by the local populace. Heading west on US Route 1, turn south onto Route 100 at Chadds Ford, PA. After about 7 miles, you’ll reach Montchanin, DE. From here you can continue on to visit Wilmington, the largest city in Delaware, or turn west onto Kirk Road to finish your trip through the valley. The next intersection will be with Route 52, which you should take north back up to US 1.
There are many mansions, gardens and museums to see both on the route and nearby, so spend some time here and take a look at whatever interests you.
Next, make your way to downtown Baltimore, where you’ll begin your journey along the nation’s first federal road building project. Construction began on the Historic National Road in 1811 to aid settlers headed west, and Maryland contains 170 miles of it. You’ll travel through beautiful forests, cross original stone arch bridges, and see many small towns and historic hotspots as you head west.
Start at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and take Lombard Street west until you merge onto Route 144. You’ll stay on Route 144 and US 40 for much of the trip, but be sure to follow marker signs so you don’t stray from the trail. You may also want to consult a guide like this one for in-depth directions and historical information.
Once you reach Grantsville, MD, it’s finally time to head back toward Rochester. You could cut through central Pennsylvania, but we recommend heading for Erie, PA on the shore of Lake Erie. You’ll probably pass close to Pittsburgh on the way, so make a stop there if you’re so inclined.
At Erie, get on Route 5 and follow it east for 80 miles, enjoying the view as you drive very close to the lake shore. When you reach Buffalo, either stop for a visit or continue on to Rochester.
There you have it: by the end of this trip, you’ll have toured some renowned scenic roads in the Northeast and have seen a number of its major cities, to boot. Before you embark on your trip, be sure to have your vehicle inspected and get a tune-up if needed. In addition, get your oil changed and tires rotated if you’re almost due for it. You don’t want to have car problems while you’re on the road. Finally, take a look at our article on road trip do’s and don’ts for more tips that will help you have the best possible experience.
Drive safely, and have fun!