Road Trip

East Coast National Parks Road Trip

10 Diverse National Parks to Explore on your East Coast Road Trip

The East Coast offers a national park experience like no other, from the vast beauty of the Maine wilderness to the vibrant historical sites of the New York City area. This 636-mile road trip from down the coast makes for a great long weekend packed with memories.

Acadia National Park

Maine
Start: 0 miles, 0 hours

Hiking, biking, and rock climbing are popular ways to explore the towering forests and looming mountain peaks of Acadia National Park, one of the wildest places on the East Coast. Camping accommodations are also available if you have the time, just be sure to dress in layers. Fall in Maine can switch from warm and sunny to downright cold at the drop of a hat, but the changing leaves are nothing short of spectacular.

Things to Do

  • Arts & Culture
  • Biking
  • Birdwatching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing

Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Maine
Stop No. 1: 267 miles, 4.5 hours

Preserving the rich maritime history of colonial New England, Salem Maritime National Historic Site still feels like the bustling seaport it was in the 18th century. Bring a light waterproof jacket to guard you against the salty sea air and be sure to explore the historic buildings, seaside wharves, and reconstructed tall ships of this 9-acre park.

Things to Do

  • Arts & Culture
  • Children's Programs
  • Historical
  • Tours

John F. Kennedy National Historic Site

Massachusetts
Step No. 3: 317 miles, 6 hours

The unassuming family house at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, marks the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy. The president's mother restored and donated the building to the American people in 1967, and the public can now tour its rooms to get a feel of JFK’s formative childhood years.

Things to Do

  • Children's Programs
  • Historical
  • Tours

Weir Farm National Historic Site

Connecticut
Stop No. 4: 483 miles, 8.5 hours)

American impressionist painter J. Alden Weir arrived at what would become Weir Farm National Historic Site in 1882. The farm is nestled among the rolling hills of Branchville, Connecticut, and it's easy to see why this landscape was such an inspiration. Stop by this 60-acre site to experience the scenery and explore the historic buildings that Weir and several other artists called home.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching
  • Arts & Culture
  • Children's Programs
  • Hiking
  • Historical
  • Shopping

Stonewall National Monument

New York
Stop No. 5: 542 miles, 10 hours

Designated a national monument in 2016, the Stonewall Inn and the area surrounding the bar was the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, widely recognized as one of the most important moments in the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement. Stonewall National Monument is located at 53 Christopher Street in Manhattan.

Things to Do

  • Historical

African Burial Ground National Monument

New York
Stop No. 6: 543 miles, 10 hours

carcely a mile from the Stonewall Inn, African Burial Grounds National Monument marks another notable chapter in America's struggle for equality. An estimated 15,000 Africans, many of them slaves, were buried at this site during the 17th and 18th centuries. The mass grave was discovered in 1991 during excavation to construct an office building. Visit the monument that now stands at this site to pay tribute to the African men and women who helped shape New York City's early history.

Things to Do

  • Arts & Culture
  • Children's Programs
  • Historical
  • Tours

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

New Jersey
Stop No. 7: 559 miles, 10.5 hours

Stepping inside the laboratory at Thomas Edison National Historical Park is like being transported back in time. Tour Edison's lab in West Orange, New Jersey, to see where some of his greatest creations, including silent movies and alkaline batteries, were born.

Things to Do

  • Tours
  • Children's Programs

Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island

New York
Stop No. 8: 575 miles, 11 hours

Statue of Liberty National Monument has always been one of the must-see sites in New York City, but touring the statue and the nearby Ellis Island National Monument is more than just something to pass the time on an afternoon in the Big Apple. It's a gateway back to an age when millions of hopeful immigrants arrived in America, changing the course of our nation forever.

Things to Do

  • Children's Programs
  • Boating
  • Historical
  • Picnicking
  • Shopping
  • Tours

Fire Island National Seashore

New York
Stop No. 9: 636 miles, 12.5 hours

After a series of urban historic sites, the breathtaking coastline of Fire Island National Seashore is a fitting end to your tour of the East Coast. Look for life in the shallow water and grassy dunes, try some fishing in Great South Bay, and enjoy a beach bonfire under the stars. Be sure to check the ferry schedule—boats to the island depart throughout the day.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching
  • Arts & Culture
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Children's Programs
  • Fishing
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