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Ultimate U.S. Road Trips Part Two: The Northeast

Photo by Juliancolton on Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0.

The best scenic drives in the U.S. offer adventure, romance and wonder. They reveal beautiful landscapes and give you a chance to experience different parts of our culture.

Today, we’ll be focusing on some of the most interesting routes of the Northeast. The following six routes offer unforgettable scenic drives, great cuisine, famous locations that will inspire history and booklovers alike, and places for great adventures.

This is the second part of a series on interesting routes in the United States. Let’s see what you can do in the Northeast of the U.S.

1. Rhode Island: Scenic Shoreline, Woodland and Vineyards

Hog Island Shoal Light
Photo by Timothy Burling on Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

Following the Rhode Island Route 77 south, you’ll find 13 miles of picturesque farms and vineyards, lush forests and beautiful shoreline. The route runs parallel to the Sakonnet River, a beautiful tidal strait, offering a view of the town of Portsmouth.

Although you can complete the drive in less than half an hour, it’s worth stopping along the way to enjoy delicious New England fare and appreciate the area’s natural beauty.

Dine on the famous Rhode Island ‘Chowda’ at Tiverton Four Corners. Hike through the Pardon Gray Preserve and Weetamoo Woods, or go birding at the Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge. Sakonnet Point will give you amazing views of the ocean. Venturing down Route 77 is ideal for a romantic date or a chance to relax outdoors with family and friends.

2. Connecticut: State Highlights from Norfolk to New Haven

Photo by Alec on Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Alec on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

For a day trip that shows you some of Connecticut’s most popular attractions, take a roundabout drive from Norfolk to New Haven. This is an ideal route for families and for people who want a mix of exciting experiences.

Along the route, which covers nearly 180 miles, you’ll have a wide selection of activities to choose from. Go for a stroll or swim at Hammonasset Beach State Park, enjoy dining and shopping at Foxwoods Resort Casino or explore 19th-century ships at Mystic Seaport. Take an academic tour through Yale University’s historic campus at New Haven.

The highlights in Hartford, the state capital, include Mark Twain’s picturesque home and the art collections at the magnificent Wadsworth Atheneum.

If you love fall foliage, you’ll find some of the most vivid displays on this drive, especially at Haystack Mountain State Park.

3. Massachusetts: A Boston-to-Berkshires Literary Journey

Photo by Daderot on Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0
Photo by Daderot on Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Those who enjoy books, history and natural beauty should drive from Boston to the Berkshires. The route you should take, which is roughly 120 miles in length, follows U.S. Highway 20 and Massachusetts State Highway 9. This route takes you close to a range of museums and historic sites, so go and discover beautiful places that have inspired some of the best authors in U.S. history.

The literary highlights include Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst and Herman Melville’s house in Pittsfield; also, be sure to stop at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Wayside Inn at Sudbury for some traditional favorites, such as the ‘Yankee Pot Roast’ or their famous ‘Wayside Inn Lobster Pie’.

Sample presidential history by visiting the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum or the Brookline house where John F. Kennedy was born. One of the most popular historic sites along the route is the Hancock Shaker Village, where you can visit the museum, historic village and farm, as well as their store and café. This route also offers spectacular views of fall foliage during fall season.

4. Vermont: Ethan Allen Highway Highlights

Photo by denisbin on Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by denisbin on Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

This five-hour drive from Burlington to Bennington is full of gorgeous natural scenery and cultural gems. It’s set on nearly 140 miles of U.S. Route 7, known for much of the way as the Ethan Allen Highway. People who love outdoor activities, charming towns and magnificent fall foliage will find this scenic route ideal.

Burlington hosts various popular festivals throughout the year and offers shopping venues, restaurants and breweries. Soon they will host the 50th Annual Burlington Santa Claus Parade, so make your youngest ones happy by visiting during the festival.

You can also enjoy an array of outdoor activities, including fishing on Lake Champlain or enjoying a ride down the Burlington Bike Path. One popular place along the route is the Vermont Wildflower Farm Store, where you can pick up seeds, maple syrup and goat’s milk soap.

Bennington, one of the shire towns of the county, is home to an array of lovely covered bridges, colonial-era historic sites and the award-winning Bennington Museum.

Along the route, you can stop for a hike in the stunning Green Mountain National Forest and visit Norman Rockwell exhibits in Rutland and Arlington.

5. New York: Hawk’s Nest Adventure

Photo by joiseyshowaa on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by joiseyshowaa on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

People who love dramatic views and look for adventure along the way will enjoy driving through the Hawk’s Nest, a famous section of New York Route 97.

You might have already seen Hawk’s Nest in car commercials – it’s used quite often. The twisty two-lane road that takes you along steep cliffs facing the Delaware River was named after the hawks that choose this location to nest and can often be seen circling over the area.

To reach Hawk’s Nest, drive roughly four miles from Port Jervis, N.Y. to the Hawk’s Nest Scenic Overlook. In order to take in the full experience of the area’s scenery, including beautiful views of Pennsylvania across the river, keep heading west along New York Route 97 for another 30 minutes.

Notable local sites include the Delaware Aqueduct, which is the country’s oldest surviving wire suspension bridge that was designed by John Roebling, who later worked on the Brooklyn Bridge.

6. Maine: Meandering from Portland to Pemaquid Point

Image courtesy of wikipedia.org.
Photo by Rapidfire on Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 / GNU FDL 1.2

For a Sunday drive or a weekend trip, journey along the coast of Maine from Portland to Pemaquid Point. The route, roughly 100 miles, is rich in memorable detours; you can complete the drive in three hours or stretch it out over several days to fully explore the region and everything it offers.

Photo by Maine Maritime Museum on Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo by Maine Maritime Museum on Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Ocean lovers should make this a “must go” route. Take photos of picturesque lighthouses in Portland, shop at the L.L. Bean Flagship Store in Freeport and marvel at enormous ships at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath.

Take a whale watching tour and admire the magnificent creatures or explore the hiking trails near Boothbay Harbor. Throughout the route, you’ll find excellent seafood restaurants, including Shaw’s Fish and Lobster Wharf in New Harbor.

Have you ever traveled on any of these routes?

Share your own recommendations!

Tell us about the scenic drives in the Northeast that you’ve most enjoyed.