Even though other scenic coastal parts of the United States have amazing road trips, the Southeastern Coast should be considered a “must see”. Taking a road trip through the coastal towns and cities that are near the seaboard from Maryland to Florida offers an entirely different experience. Along the way, you’ll find white sand dunes, expansive beaches, and warm water most of the year. Couple the landscape with southern hospitality and delicious cuisine and your trip is complete.
Although some parts of the Southeastern seaboard are closed during winter while summertime is usually quite busy, the best time for a visit is spring or fall when the crowds are more manageable. Below are eight (8) stops you should not miss on the approximate 1,000-mile-long journey along the Southeastern Coast.
1. Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is home to the U.S. Naval Academy as well as Maryland’s capital city. The Maryland State House has the honor of being the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use. It was once the nation’s capitol building. George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the same building in 1783.
After a visit to the Naval Academy, be sure to spend some time walking along the City Dock. Stroll past art galleries, pubs, fashion boutiques, and gift shops. The highlight is “Ego Alley,” named for the parade of incredibly expensive yachts that sail past this waterfront walkway. You can’t leave Annapolis without feasting on world-famous Maryland blue crabs, either steamed, fried soft shell, or crab cakes.
2. Ocean City, Maryland
Head east out of Annapolis on Highway 50 across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and you’ll in find yourself in Ocean City which is a stunning beach town with a three-mile boardwalk. Have a blast on the historic Trimper’s Amusement Park rides, sample candy from iconic candy stores, and sip a craft beer at Backshore Brewing Company.
If you are searching for a more serene experience, go about eight miles south on Route 611 to the north entrance of Assateague Island National Seashore. Famous for its herds of wild ponies and beautiful beaches, this 37-mile-long island’s ecosystem is very well-preserved. Wild horses have lived here for hundreds of years, purportedly descended from shipwrecked horses in the late 17th century. This 48,000-acre island that spans into Virginia is a birdwatcher’s dream come true, with a large number of sea and land birds.
3. Virginia Beach, Virginia
As you drive across the 20-mile-long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on US-13, be certain to stop at the scenic overlook where you can view the Chesapeake Bay combining with the Atlantic Ocean. There is an opportunity that you might see harbor seals, whales, dolphins, and dozens of bird species. As you approach the Virginia mainland, off to the left you can see the two Cape Henry lighthouses. George Washington authorized the first lighthouse’s construction in 1792. Interestingly, it was the first construction project and lighthouse authorized by the U.S. government. In 1881, a second one was built about 350 feet away. You can tour the original lighthouse and enjoy spectacular 360-degree views from the top.
Virginia Beach also has a bustling, three-mile boardwalk during the summer months. You’ll find plenty of enjoyable, water-based activities from surf lessons to dolphin kayak tours to touring an oyster farm where you can sample fresh oysters harvested almost immediately.