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If you’re ready to hit the road for the ultimate adventure on a Florida to New York road trip, you’re in for a treat. This East Coast road trip uncovers hidden gems and picturesque stops that make this long drive an unforgettable experience. From charming small towns and iconic landmarks to breathtaking views along the Atlantic Ocean, this post is full of the best places to see along a Florida to New York drive. Get ready to hit the scenic route and explore the beauty that unfolds!
Of course, it depends on traffic and your starting and ending points, but in general, the most direct route from South Florida to New York City is along I-95, taking about 21 hours (1,307 miles) from Miami, the start of I-95. From Orlando, home to some of the world’s most recognizable theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, the drive takes about 16.5 hours (1,129 miles).
The longest North-South road in the United States is US 1. It runs 2,370 miles (3,810 km) from Key West, FL, to Fort Kent, Maine, paralleling I-95 most of the way. Near Jacksonville, FL, US 1 heads more inland, and 95 hugs the coast. Both roads meet up again near Petersburg, VA, and continue into Maine. US 1 to 95 is the most popular route when making a Florida to New York road trip, and one I’ve done multiple times.
Most people drive the direct route in 2-3 days. If you want to take in the views, visit some amazing historic cities and unique museums, and make a real road trip out of it, I recommend two weeks (14 days) to complete the drive from Florida to New York. This will give you enough time to visit some of the country’s most iconic East Coast landmarks.
In this post, I will unveil some of my favorite stops and the best sights to see along the coast and recommend another Florida to New York route that is perfect during fall. This inland route takes you through the gorgeous Finger Lakes Region, many historic sites, stunning state parks, a few National Parks, and the amazing natural phenomena, Linville Caverns. This route is perfect for anyone who loves outdoor activities, natural beauty, and vibrant fall colors.
Florida to New York via US 1 / I-95
The Atlantic Coast route starts in vibrant Miami or Key West, Florida. It passes through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey before reaching New York City. Some major areas along this route include New York City, Atlantic City, the National Mall in D.C, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Savannah, Charleston, Amelia Island, St. Augustine, Dayton Beach, Miami, and Key West.
Don’t sleep on the enchanting Florida Keys, a string of coral cays and barrier islands wrapped in a unique blend of tropical paradise, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere.
Picture scenic drives across the iconic Overseas Highway, connecting the islands with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. With each key offering its own charm, visitors can savor vibrant coral reefs for snorkeling, fishing, nightlife, and the tranquility of secluded beaches.
Highlights include the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, the sport fishing capital of the world; Islamorada, the Turtle Hospital in Marathon; and the charming streets of Key West, known for its colorful architecture, lively Duval Street, and historic sites like the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Don’t miss the nightly Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square or a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is a must-see on a Florida road trip, offering an immersive journey into one of the world’s most diverse and fragile ecosystems. This expansive wetland, often called the “River of Grass,” boasts an array of extraordinary experiences. Visitors can take a thrilling airboat tour through the sawgrass prairies, hoping to encounter the park’s iconic inhabitants, such as alligators, manatees, and various bird species. The wildlife trails, scenic drives, and boardwalks offer panoramic views of the vast landscapes and natural habitats, perfect for anyone craving a peaceful and reflective experience.
Four hours north of Key West, is Miami, a vibrant city with a mix of culture, arts, and attitude. From the Art Deco era of South Beach to high-end shopping in the Design District to Cuba’s little cousin, Little Havana, and everything in between, Miami is a powerhouse when it comes to things to do. Enjoy the lavish yachts cruising through the bay, bougie rooftops, electric nightlife, and Michelin Star Restaurants, or chill with the locals in artsy Wynwood or, better yet, enjoy live Cuban-salsa music at the iconic Ball & Chain (one of my personal favorites).
Central Florida Beaches
Central Florida’s East Coast beaches offer an array of attractions and iconic landmarks, making some of them an essential stop on any East Coast road trip.
Head to Cape Canaveral, home to the Kennedy Space Center, where visitors can explore the fascinating world of space exploration through exhibits, interactive displays, and even witness rocket launches. Just a hop away is Cocoa Beach, a laid-back surf town with a vibrant atmosphere, where you can catch some waves or simply unwind by the shore. Make sure to visit the legendary Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop at over 52,000 square feet, offering everything from surf gear to beachwear.
Head further north to Daytona Beach, known for Daytona Bike Week and the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Both events draw quite the crowd (which may or may not be your kind of crowd). Whether or not you want to avoid Daytona altogether, Central Florida’s East Coast beaches deliver a memorable and diverse experience, adding a splash of excitement to your road trip adventure!
If you are a theme park lover, you may want to take the one-hour detour from the coast to head inland. Orlando, Florida, is renowned for being a hub of world-class amusement parks, offering a variety of thrilling attractions and entertainment for visitors of all ages. From dining, shopping, countless restaurants, and unique entertainment, Orlando makes a perfect detour for anyone seeking an unforgettable mix of fantasy, adventure, and entertainment. The most talked about theme parks include Walt Disney World Parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom), Sea World, Lego Land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios.
I love this coastal city with its oak tree-lined streets and historic downtown charm. St. Augustine is one of the oldest cities in the United States, exuding with Spanish colonial influence. Here, you’ll be able to meander along the cobblestone streets and admire centuries-old architecture with an unmistakable sense of the past. A stop at Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth is a must-do, just to say you drank the water at the mythical spring. Next door is the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, a historical chapel with a gift shop and mission museum marked by a 208-foot cross. Finally, don’t forget to drive down one of the most beautiful streets in America, Magnolia Avenue.
Amelia Island, FL
Nestled along Florida’s northeast coast, Amelia Island is a captivating seaside town attracting vacationers with its rich history, 13 miles of pristine beaches, and charming Southern hospitality. Enjoy shelling, bird watching, and water sports like kayaking and stand-up paddle board right from the beach. Some of the top sights include Fort Clinch State Park which houses a well-preserved 19th-century fort, hiking trails, fishing spots, and a beautiful beach known for its shark teeth. Climb the tower at Florida’s oldest lighthouse, Amelia Island Lighthouse. Its tower dates back to 1838 and offers panoramic views of the island and Atlantic Ocean. If you love shopping and historic architecture, Amelia’s Island Historic District in Downtown Fernandina Beach is lined with colorful Victorian houses, art galleries, boutique shops, and a range of dining options, perfect for stretching your legs on a long drive from Florida to New York.
One of the most iconic southern cities, Savannah, is beloved for its stunning coastal landscapes, well-preserved 18th and 19th-century architecture, oak-tree-lined streets and vibrant cultural atmosphere. The city is a haven for food enthusiasts with a delectable fusion of Southern traditions and innovative flavors that reflect the city’s rich history. Wander through the historic district’s cobblestone streets, visit famous Forsyth Park, and explore an array of historic sites, including the Mercer-Williams House and the hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery. If you love the water, enjoy a scenic waterfront walk or boat excursion along the scenic Savannah River. You could easily spend a full weekend in Savannah soaking up its iconic southern hospitality!
Similar to Savannah, Charleston is an iconic southern town known for its antebellum architecture, oak-lined, cobblestone streets, and renowned culinary scene featuring fresh seafood and iconic dishes like shrimp and grits and fried chicken and waffles. The city’s waterfront, including the Battery Promenade and Waterfront Park, allows roadtrippers to relax by the harbor and soak in stunning coastal views. With unique attractions, miles of coastline, a vibrant nightlife, and a welcoming atmosphere, Charleston exudes southern hospitality, making it a fun pit stop for your Florida to New York trip itinerary.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Family-friendly Myrtle Beach is known for its lively boardwalk lined with amusement parks, arcades, festive entertainment venues, shops, and restaurants.
Golf enthusiasts can indulge in the city’s numerous world-class golf courses, while seafood lovers can savor the fresh catches at waterfront restaurants. Whether it’s a leisurely beach day, a thrilling waterpark adventure, or a night out on the town, Myrtle Beach offers a diverse range of experiences, perfect for anyone looking for an active beach experience.
As the capital of the United States, Washington DC is home to iconic landmarks such as the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the U.S. Capitol, which symbolize the nation’s history and values. The National Mall, with its museums, monuments, and memorials, offers a powerful narrative of American achievements and struggles. Beyond its political and historical significance, Washington, D.C. boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with world-class museums (many are free), galleries, and performing arts venues.
The city’s diverse neighborhoods contribute to a rich tapestry of experiences, from the bustling streets of Georgetown to the intellectual ambiance of Dupont Circle and the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring. Full of interesting things to see and do, DC is one of the best major cities to visit on your Florida to New York road trip.
This major seaport town is a fun and electric destination on your Florida to New York road trip. The city’s Inner Harbor serves as a focal point, with Fort McHenry (the birthplace of the U.S. national anthem) and plenty of waterfront activities. Explore the historic Civil War–era warship, USS Constellation, and enjoy the lively atmosphere at Harborplace.
With its diverse neighborhoods, such as Fells Point and Hampden, renowned seafood cuisine, and cultural institutions like the National Aquarium and the Baltimore Museum of Art, the city provides a multifaceted experience that caters to history enthusiasts, food lovers, and art aficionados, making it a must-see destination along the country’s east coast.
Atlantic City, NJ
A side trip might be in order if you are into gambling, shopping, live entertainment, and world-class shows. Glitzy Atlantic City, renowned for its vibrant casino scene, with iconic establishments such as Caesars, Borgata, and Harrah’s, draws visitors from around the globe. It’s the Vegas of the East Coast but with sandy beaches and the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk, complete with stunning ocean views, and the iconic Steel Pier, a 1,000-foot-long amusement park. You may need three days to see it all, with additional attractions like the Absecon Lighthouse, the New Jersey Korean War Memorial, and the Atlantic City Aquarium, but even a day in Atlantic City makes a fun pit stop.
Known as the birthplace of American independence, the city proudly showcases iconic landmarks such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the nation’s founding history. The cobblestone streets of Old City add a charming backdrop to the city’s rich history and historical sites. Beyond its revolutionary roots, Philadelphia boasts a dynamic arts and food scene, with world-class museums, galleries, and a diverse array of culinary experiences. Ascend the iconic “Rocky Steps” at the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art and explore one of the largest and most renowned art museums in the country.
With its lively neighborhoods, passionate sports culture, and the famous Reading Terminal Market offering a culinary journey, Philadelphia makes a memorable and fulfilling road trip experience for history buffs, families, and anyone looking for an enriching cultural experience.
Your next stop, and possibly final stop of the road trip, is just 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, in colorful New York City. This bustling metropolis is accentuated by its iconic landmarks, including the esteemed Statue of Liberty, the towering Empire State Building, the sprawling greenery of Central Park, and the timeless elegance of the Brooklyn Bridge. The High Line, a unique elevated park built on an old railway track, and the Vessel, a 150-foot-high sculpture in the shape of an inverted beehive, adds a modern twist to the city’s historical significance while offering a serene escape and panoramic urban vistas.
With over 1,300 miles of road behind you, you have traversed the country and seen a lot of great sights along the way. Your final destination may take you further into New York, and if you have time, I recommend visiting the Finger Lakes Region or the 1,000 Islands along the St. Lawrence River. Two areas I visit often and never get tired of!
Florida to New York (inland stops)
For the past few years, I’ve journeyed from Miami, Florida, to Redwood in upstate New York during early summer and headed back south during fall, my favorite time of year! On this road trip, I always head inland to take advantage of the beautiful forests and mountains that transform into vibrant leaves full of Fruity Pebbles colors. I recommend the inland route for anyone who loves scenic drives, foliage hikes, and mountain views.
Some of the best stops on this fall foliage road trip are the Finger Lakes region, Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Asheville, with optional adds in Tennessee.
I easily spend 3-4 weeks on this route, but I recommend at least 10- 12 days. This epic road trip can be driven directly in 20-ish hours, but of course, you’ll want extra time to soak in that quintessential New England charm. This route works best heading south from New York to Florida.
Finger Lakes Region, NY
The Finger Lakes region is no stranger to breathtaking landscapes, world-class wineries, and a wealth of outdoor activities. Its 11 glacier-fed lakes offer plenty of water sports and outdoor recreation, from boating, fishing, and kayaking. The region is known for its award-winning Rieslings and world-renowned wineries. Hundreds of wineries find their home along the shores of the Finger Lakes offering picturesque vineyards, stunning lake views and a delicious farm to table food scene. The area’s charming small towns, cultural attractions, and a variety of recreational opportunities from hiking and waterfall chasing to exploring charming villages, add to the region’s allure, especially when complimented by the beautiful shades of autumn. The Finger Lakes are ideal for those seeking a blend of natural beauty, culinary delights, and relaxation.
Leonard Harrison State Park, PA
Leonard Harrison State Park, located in Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon region, offers a mesmerizing natural panorama with its expansive vistas of Pine Creek Gorge, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” The park features well-maintained trails and overlooks, providing visitors with breathtaking views of the lush greenery and the winding creek below.
Gettysburg is steeped in historical significance and is known for the pivotal Civil War battle fought on its grounds in 1863. The town preserves the essence of that era with its well-preserved battlefield, historic sites, and museums, offering a profound and educational experience for history enthusiasts.
Harpers Ferry, WV
Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia is a picturesque and historic town at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Known for its charming 19th-century architecture, the town offers a unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. Visitors can explore the well-preserved historic district, hike through the surrounding national park, and immerse themselves in the rich Civil War history that unfolded in this scenic location.
Shenandoah National Park, VA
Take a detour for breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking trails, and the scenic Skyline Drive. This park is perfect for adventure seekers and nature lovers and offers multiple campsites and trails to waterfalls and scenic viewpoints. If you want to use the trails in the Old Rag area (Saddle, Ridge, and Ridge Access), you’ll need a day-use ticket from March through November. The best time to visit Shenandoah for fall colors, is usually mid to late October (the 3rd-4th week), but higher elevations can see first signs of color starting in late September to early October.
Blue Ridge Parkway, VA and NC
The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches for 469 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, connecting the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It provides a picturesque journey with numerous overlooks, hiking trails, and opportunities to appreciate the region’s diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature, enjoy stunning vistas, and experience the cultural heritage of the Appalachian region. One of my favorite sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway is from Blowing Rock to Linville, where you can visit Blowing Rock State Park, the Mile High Swing Bridge at Grandfather Mountains, and the iconic Linn Cove Viaduct, a scenic spot overlooking a winding road surrounded in foliage. There are a lot of great fall towns along the parkway, including Boone, Banner Elk, and Ashville, all perfect for an overnight stay.
Linville Caverns, VA
Linville Caverns is a fascinating underground attraction in Marion, North Carolina, just south of Linville. The limestone caverns offer visitors a chance to explore an intricate network of subterranean chambers adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique geological formations. Guided tours take visitors through well-lit pathways, providing insights into the geological history of the caverns and the fascinating formations that have developed over thousands of years.
The caverns are open year-round and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Guided tours last 35-40 minutes and are the only way to enter the caverns.
One of the best small towns nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is Ashville, a vibrant city known for its eclectic culture, arts scene, and natural beauty. The downtown area is filled with unique shops, art galleries, and diverse dining options, creating a lively atmosphere.
Visitors to Asheville can explore the historic Biltmore Estate, enjoy the thriving music and craft beer scene, or discover the numerous artist studios and galleries showcasing a variety of art forms in the River Arts District. Enjoy hiking trails and outdoor adventures in the nearby Appalachian Trail and Pisgah National Forest while enjoying the picturesque surroundings.
Your road trip isn’t over yet! From Asheville, you have many more options to continue enjoying the southern U.S. states with a visit to Tennessee and the world-renowned Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the country.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Smoky Mountains is a breathtaking natural haven straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Renowned for its mist-covered peaks, the park is part of the Appalachian Mountain range and is characterized by lush forests, diverse plant and animal life, and cascading waterfalls.
Visitors can explore over 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails, revel in scenic drives like the Cades Cove Loop, and appreciate the preserved historic structures that offer a glimpse into the region’s past. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also the most visited national park in the United States, attracting over 14 million nature enthusiasts annually.
Gatlinburg, the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, is known for its exciting family attractions like the iconic Space Needle and the Sky Bridge, North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. The bridge offers an exhilarating stroll with spectacular mountain vistas, made more beautiful in the heart of fall. It is an exciting experience, with a partial glass walkway making you feel like you are walking on air!
Pigeon Forge, TN
Nearby Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood, a fun amusement park perfect for visitors of all ages. The park combines thrilling rides with a celebration of Appalachian culture and music, featuring roller coasters, live entertainment shows, themed areas, and a water park called Dollywood’s Splash Country.
While Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are fun, inviting cities for families, their proximity to the Smoky Mountains makes them very touristy and busy, especially in the fall, so plan accordingly.
When you are ready to head back east, pick up the coastal trail in vibrant Charleston, about a 4-hour drive from Gatlinburg. You can also stay inland, go through Chattanooga and Atlanta, and eventually back to Florida along I-75.
No matter your route, a road trip from the Sunshine State to the Empire States is a one-of-a-kind drive, allowing you to immerse yourself in the vibrant East Coast culture with many exciting stops along the way!
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