Road trips are a fabulous way to get out and see the country you live in (or the one you’re visiting) while learning more about the geography and cultures that contribute to the rich tapestry of a country.
We’ve advocated for taking road trips across America, from eco-friendly road trips and last-minute getaways to pet-friendly vacations. This time, we’re proposing something a little different. The next time you plan a road trip, set yourself up for breathtaking views the whole length of the trip by committing to any of these coastal drives. There’s something special about spending so much time close to the water—it affords a serenity you can’t really find anywhere else. So slow down the pace of life and soak up the scenery as you wind your way along America’s coasts.
1. Cape Cod Scenic Drive, MA
This 160-mile road trip will allow you to soak up virtually everything Cape Cod has to offer, from the luxury of resort towns to the local flavor of lobster and clam shacks, to the serene beauty of the outer Cape’s dunelands, to (of course) miles upon miles of beaches. Start the trip on the northern coast of the Cape at Cape Cod Canal, then follow the Cape Cod Bay to the Cape’s so-called “elbow” before heading on toward Provincetown, Orleans, Chatham, Hyannis, and eventually Falmouth. If you don’t have multiple days to spare, you can hop onto the circuit virtually anywhere to enjoy gorgeous views of the Cape.
2. Delmarva Peninsula from Annapolis, MD, to Virginia Beach, VA
More than 200 continuous miles of wetlands and coastal vistas await any road trippers who find themselves on Highways 50 and/or 13 between Annapolis, MD, and Virginia Beach, VA. The Delmarva Peninsula encompasses the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River, Delaware Bay, Elk River, Cape Charles, and the Atlantic Ocean (not to mention countless fishing towns), so if waterscapes are what you’re after you are guaranteed to have your visual interests satisfied. If you prefer crashing waves to wetlands, then hop on Delaware State Rd 1 to travel between Rehoboth Beach, DE, and Ocean City, MD.
3. Outer Banks National Scenic Byway, Outer Banks, NC
Beaches, beaches, more beaches, plenty of sand dunes, and a load of bird watching opportunities: These are the views that await drivers along North Carolina’s Outer Banks Scenic Byway. It takes approximately 6.5 hours (including 3.5 hours on two different ferries) to traverse the road’s 142.5 driving miles, which pass from Whalebone Junction to Beaufort by way of the state’s gorgeous barrier islands.
4. Overseas Highway, Miami, FL, to Key West, FL
Many travelers are familiar with the nationally renowned California State Route 1, which promises an amazing road trip in its own right. But fewer people realize that if you head to Route 1 in Florida, you’ll find the East Coast drive gives the Western one a run for its money. As you journey along the 160-mile stretch from Miami to Key West, you’ll pass between a variety of islands while ogling coral reefs and marinas as well as one of the longest bridges in the world (dubbed “Seven Mile Bridge”). And if you ever tire of driving, there’s plenty of fun to be had at the area’s beachside bars.
5. Pacific Coast Highway, Oregon and California
The 101 is renowned among road trippers and travelers of all stripes, and for good reason. As you wind slowly along the Pacific Coast Highway’s sharp twists and turns, you’ll be accompanied by gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean the entire way. It’s hard to take your eyes away from the waves crashing just below the car, but do look out the other window occasionally—there, tree-dotted hills add to the road’s gorgeous setting.
6. Road to Hana, Maui, HI
Also dubbed “Hana Highway,” this 50-mile Maui road places you smack dab between the Pacific Ocean and hibiscus-lined cliffs and mountainsides. If you follow the entire length of the highway, you’ll pass through 620 curves, over 59 bridges, and past countless waterfalls, rocky cliffs, scenic overlooks, jungle valleys, and crashing waves. It’s an experience not to be missed.
The best part about these drives? They allow you to enjoy the beauty of the ocean at any time of year. So if you find yourself in beach withdrawal as the weather turns colder, simply hit the road and enjoy the ocean from your car instead.