Historic Route One runs down the East Coast of the United States and was the main North-South Road, making it the longest North-South Road in the United States; up until the late 1960s, Route One was used as the main highway until the construction of the I-95 was built. This Road Trip hits larger cities than smaller towns but remember that you can change the route to suit your needs and wants. The Historic Route One is still useable today and will be our next road trip in the Nomad Lifestyle Series. So, pack your bags and buckle in for this fantastic road trip.
Now Route One starts at the top of Maine, Fort Kent, which is boarding New Brunswick, but instead of driving to the top of our province, we will be starting in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where our closest border crossing is - it saves us gas money and time as we only have to drive down Maine then. So have your passport and all your documents ready to cross the border into Maine.
Our first destination on this road trip will be Portland, Maine, a beautiful city. It gives me the vibes that if we put Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg in Nova Scotia together to make one large city, we would have created our very own Portland, Maine, in the Maritimes. Does that make sense? Those are the vibes I get from this city; there are many attractions to do from exploring the lighthouses; now we are Maritimers, and we do love our lighthouses, so this is a must, to the local beaches as well as seeing the downtown Portland. There is so much to do here, so I would recommend staying 3-4 nights to truly get to know the city and have time to do all the exploring you want. From St, Stephen New Brunswick to Portland, Maine, it is 6 hours and 2 minutes in driving time, but if you are looking for a spot along the way, I recommend pulling into Bar Harbor, Maine, for a drink and to stretch your legs.
Setting out from Portland, Maine, we will now be dropping down into Massachusetts and heading for Boston. On Route One, it will take you a driving time of 3 hours and 55 minutes; of course, there is always the option of jumping on the I-95 if you'd like to get there faster. From Portland to Boston, there are so many little fishing towns/ villages that you can stop along the way to visit and see. Now, if you are not a fan of big cities or don't have any interest in visiting them, here are a few options in the area of Boston that you can visit instead: Manchester-by-the-Sea, Salem, Quincy, Scituate, Duxbury, Plymouth and lastly Provincetown. Instead of spending your 4-5 days in Boston, you can go from town to town with the list I have recommended. But if you want to explore the city more, there is a ton of attractions you can do and see while in Boston, from historical tours to bars and pubs - but remember the drinking age is 21 - to boat cruises. There are plenty of options to pick from depending on your lifestyle; if you want to know everything to do, I recommend going to bostonusa.com to find more information.
After taking some time to relax and recharge your driving batteries because we are heading through New York City, but if New York City isn't your thing, then this is the alternative route to take: option one) Take route US-202 W and route US-202 S this route will give you the option of becoming somewhat close to potentially seeing the city skyline but not having to deal with New York traffic, hopefully, option two) you go on route US-202 S, but I do want to warn you this does have a toll road on it, but you are entirely out of the way of New York City. Now I feel like I don't even have to explain New York City and the many many attractions you can see and do. Come on; it's New York City. If you want to hone into a specific type of attraction, I recommend doing your google search before getting into the city, where you are staying for the time you want to be in the city.
Heading out from New York City down to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will be a 3 hour and 43-minute drive, I think the shortest drive of the journey so far. Philadelphia has so many beautiful architecture buildings; does that make me old saying that I am admiring old buildings? But I can't deny the fact that Philadelphia does have some beautiful architecture as well as nature in and around the city; one thing that I do highly recommend is doing the "Philly's Schuylkill River Trail" this riverfront walk got named one of the best riverfront walks in the US And if you're not sure what to do and visit or even what events are going on around the city, head on over to visitphilly.com for all the details of their summers events. This city is a must to visit as it has the perfect mix of city life and nature.
From Philly to Baltimore, Maryland, it will be a 3 hour and 4 minutes in driving time, now Baltimore is a charming city it could be a great place to relax more and chill and put no pressure on yourself to see and do everything within a time frame plus while hitting up every major city of the East Coast can get tiring, you might need some R and R (relaxation and rest). So, in Baltimore, take your time to stroll the downtown streets and hit up some local coffee shops and stores, but if you want fun adventures, definitely head to their website to see what attraction this city can offer you. I would choose the R and R, but everyone is different!
Baltimore to Washington DC - now you know why I said to relax in Baltimore because now we are hitting Washington. Also, I lied before I think this is the shortest drive of our Historic Route One drive: with only a drive time of 1 hour and 48 minutes, you'll be arriving in Washington city. This city has always been on my bucket list to visit because of this one thing to visit the one and only night of the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, well it was filmed in British Columbia, Canada; but in the second Night of the Museum, some shots were filmed from Smithsonian in Washington DC, aka the moment where Amy Adams, who played Amelia Earhart (Amelia was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Oceans), jumps into the plane which was filmed at National Air and Space Museum. I would highly recommend doing those touristy attractions like museums and tours because Washington DC has so much to offer, and for you to see and do everything you want, I would say maybe 4 -5 days to stay in the city.
Leaving Washington DC and head further South to Richmond, Virginia- now we've gone from walking through museums to hitting the outdoor attraction; Richmond has PLENTY of outdoor fun. From different parks to explore hiking and climbing and even a whole section dedicated to The James River, you can encounter plenty of things to do. Now Richmond can be a nice little day or two to stop along the way down to the Carolinas, now that we are halfway through our Historic Route One road trip. Now we can vera off the route for a moment to go to Virginia Beach; this beautiful beach will have you never wanting to leave. Being able to feel the sunshine on your skin as you walk the boardwalk with the ocean to your left and the city to your right it will leave you speechless.
Virginia has a lot to offer a whole, from a range of outdoor activities like hiking and biking to waterfall seeking, even to explore the caverns and all the National and State parks there is. Don't just limit yourself the seeing the cities; explore all over the state if you'd have the time.
Now heading into the Carolinas, North Carolina, you'll start to feel the heat a little, but then once you drop into South Carolina, the heat will hit you like a brick wall. First, I recommend that you have lots of water to keep yourself hydrated when driving, and if you're getting too hot, pull over and head to a business with A/C to cool yourself off.
While leaving Richmond, you'll firstly jump onto Route 301 to leave the city, which will take you to Petersburg, where you'll head onto Route 460, but that will lead you back onto Route One, where you'll carry on driving South to Raleigh. Raleigh is known for the University city of North Carolina, so expect many excellent bars and breweries in the city. Just outside of Raleigh is the State Park, William B. Umstead. This State Park offers various trails of hikers, running trails and equestrian trails but remember to research the trails as many of them are multi-use trails. The State Park also has three man-made lakes where you can go canoeing and rent rowboats, and a fantastic perk about this State Park because you can fish in all three lakes and connect tributaries, as well as plenty of picnic grounds.
This Park would be a great place to stretch your legs and get moving before hitting the road or even for a morning walk to get the blood pumping before starting your day. There are many things to do while visiting the city, so I highly recommend heading to their website to learn more about the things you can see and do, from the museums to trying new restaurants and bars to even shopping the local businesses. I would recommend maybe 2-3 days here in the city; it will give you plenty of time to explore the city and State Parks close by and still give yourself enough time to relax and rest.
Now coming out of North Carolina heading South on the US- 1 to Columbia, South Carolina, this drive will take you 4 hours and 19 minutes of driving time. After just crossing the border in South Carolina, the second town you will be hitting is Cheraw. This town has been nicknamed "The Prettiest Town in Dixie." I would highly recommend stopping in this town for a stretch of the leg and to grab a drink in the prettiest of town centers, you'll ever lay your eyes on. This town will have you thinking you're in a Hallmark movie set from the grand buildings to the pristine town center landscaping. As we carry on the drive down to Columbia, you'll be driving through some beautiful small towns; if you like the town's look, you should pull over and walk around.
So here is where you have two driving options to choose from; Option one head straight from Columbia to Augusta to Jacksonville, which will take you roughly 7 hours and 12 minutes in driving town - this route is what we are calling the OG route, following along Route One through the major cities or, we have Option Two: we go from Columbia to Charleston which is still in South Carolina just heading East to the coastline, from Charleston to Savannah, Georgia and then to Jacksonville Florida. The alternative route I am calling, the Coastal Route, will take you 6 hours and 58 minutes in driving time. Each route will lead us to our destination of Florida, to head further south to Key West, Florida. I would take the coastal route - one because we have hit nearly every major city on the East coast and having a change of pace to more of a beachy vibe would be an excellent way to ease into Florida with and secondly, seeing more than just the route planned may lead you to some beautiful beach towns.
I highly recommend, like always, to research the route you want to take beforehand and find something to do in the towns/cities - especially if you are going off the planned route like we just suggested.
Now we have arrived in Florida, and we are coming close to ending our road trip down the Historic Route One. From Jacksonville to Key West is 15 hours and 4 minutes in driving time; of course, if you'd like, you can rush down in one day, but I would take it slowly to view all the little beach towns we are about to pass through. But before rushing off, I would recommend staying in Jacksonville for a couple of nights as this city has so much to offer, from relaxing on the beaches to exploring the sea with world-class fishing to be done. Jacksonville, also known as Jax, is a great spot to kick off that Florida living lifestyle - for everything you can do in Jacksonville, I would advise you to check out visitjacksonville.com for fun outdoor activities to do, because there is a lot!
If you want a little stop in the drive before setting off to Daytona Beach, I would suggest stopping in St, Augustine; this grand city has a lot of rich history waiting to be discovered. A great place to grab a warm or cold drink and walk around the city centre to take in the grand downtown buildings, and if you don't believe me, go ahead, and google image this city; you'll be taken back. Setting off from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach, you can stick to the OG route One, or if you want to follow the coastline down, stay on the A1A coastal route (this is the route I would be taking). To take in the turquoise colour sea and to be able to drive by million-dollar homes on the waterfront is something that I love to do, and then, of course, pick which house I am going live in because I could only dream of living there.
Daytona Beach, I don't know about you, but when I think of Daytona, I think of Spring break vacation and NASCAR racing, but doing more research into the city has given me more to offer than I first thought initially. From hitting up the beaches to either relax or try out a new water-sports to shopping the local boutiques to hitting the trails and, of course, going to watch some races. Daytona is a great place to explore out of your comfort zone and try some new activities; I would recommend staying in Daytona for maybe a day or two, depending on what you want to see and do. For me, I would maybe even do a drive-through, grab lunch, view the beaches, and keep driving because down the Florida coastline; there are plenty of towns and cities we will be exploring.
Driving From Daytona to Melbourne is a 2-hour drive down following Route One South; now, this is a town that I would find somewhere to camp overnight at because one, it is a lot quieter, and two, this is a place where it is more about relaxing on the beach than racing around trying to visit all the tourist attractions. A place to reboot those batteries off yours ready for the next destination Fort Lauderdale. Before rushing off to Fort Lauderdale, there are a few places that we can spot along the way to stretch our legs, get a drink, and view the towns as we carry on the journey down. From Melbourne, you can stop along the way at Vero Beach, Palm City, Jupiter, and West Palm Beach. These little slices of heaven along the way down the coast are great places to view, either from walking around the downtown centres or just driving through and viewing what they have to offer.
Fort Lauderdale has it all going on, from the family fun activities in the daytime to the nightlife for young couples and friends - this place is a great place t explore the city and take everything in they have to offer. I would recommend maybe a day or two, depending on how much you'd want to see and do, from the soft sandy beaches to cruising on a boat on the waterways to walking around the downtown centre and try local restaurants. Fort Lauderdale is a place that I would highly recommend exploring the city and truly take in that Florida lifestyle. The bonus is that if you want to explore Miami, then you are only an hour and 16-minute car ride away to explore an even bigger city.
The last leg of the Historic Route One road trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, there are two routes you can take; Option One through downtown Miami which is a driving time of 5 hours and 41 minutes, but this route will take you longer if you are driving through the centre of Miami or route two which will take you around Miami and that is a driving time of 3 hours and 56 minutes. I would recommend going around Miami unless you want to stop off in Miami to grab breakfast or lunch.
Get your cameras at the ready because you are about to experience once in a lifetime thing; the seven-mile bridge will connect our last leg of the journey to getting to Key West, Florida. Although I would like to hype up the bridge for all that it is worth, we Canadian don't mean to flex, but our Confederation Bridge to PEI is longer; but then again, we don't have turquoise water below us dolphins swimming near the bridge, so each to their own, I guess.
Key West, Florida. The drive of a lifetime from North to South on the East coast of America, and we have made it to the lowest point. This road trip has been along and tiresome as we have hit the majority of the major cities here on the East coast and explored the little beach towns along the way. Now to relax in Key West, where you can sunbathe all day long on the beaches and enjoy your evenings watching the sunset while dining in one of the many local restaurants. Welcome to paradise, a place where you can unwind and relax.
This ends our Historic Route One road trip; it's once again time to wash your clothes and pack everything again and gas your vehicle back up, and time to hit the road for our third road trip in this saga. Next, we are travelling too Cape Breton Island. Thank goodness that this road trip is closer to home this time.
Here are some travel tips:
- Planning is essential. Have your route planned out and all of your rest stops. And if you are thinking about taking a different route, plan it out.
- When in bigger cities, take advantage of everything being so close to you, try walking to your destination; that way, you can save gas money.
- Gas up. No matter if you are at half a tank or more, gas up. You don't know when the next gas station may be.
- Always have road trip snacks on hand because you always need to keep your body fuelled up when driving for long hours.
- If you are a solo traveler, try to post pictures of your camping locations after leaving. You never know who is following your journey along on social media.