Discover everything you need to know about the East Coast of the United States: how to get there, where to rent a car, where to sleep, tips to enjoy a great adventure on mythical roads of the US.
On this road trip, we will travel the 1820 miles from Boston to Miami, visiting and discovering the secrets of New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando, and finally Miami, in one of the most fascinating trips you can make in the US.
Although the West Coast routes are the most famous thanks to its spectacular national parks and emblematic cities such as Las Vegas or San Francisco, the East Coast of the United States has little to envy.
In this adventure, you can also enjoy nature thanks to the beaches of South Florida or the wild Everglades National Park. In addition, if you are thinking of doing this route along the East Coast of the United States with your family, the kids will surely jump for joy knowing that you will be visiting the best theme parks in Orlando.
How to get to the East Coast of the U.S.
The best way to get to the U.S. East Coast from anywhere in the world is, without a doubt, by plane. Although a few years ago the prices for this type of flight were very high, the truth is that they have dropped considerably due to the countless number of airlines that cover these destinations from anywhere in Europe, Asia, South America, or Australia. Now, for certain dates and booking in advance enough, it is possible to find flights for less than $300 round trip to Boston from Europe or from $1000 from Asia or Australia.
Boston is going to be the starting point of this great adventure of the route along the East Coast of the USA that we have prepared. This route is not circular, it is one way, so it is also a good idea to consider the possibility of buying a one-way flight to Boston and a return flight from Miami. On the other hand, as happened in Europe a few years ago, the number of low-cost airlines linking destinations within the country is also increasing in the United States, so you can buy a return ticket to Boston from Miami if you find it at a good price.
A good tip to find the best prices on airline tickets, hotels, or car rentals, is to always try to book well in advance.
Practical tips for a road trip to the East Coast of the U.S.
How many days do I need to do the East Coast route?
As we have already mentioned above, you can start this tour of the East Coast of the United States in Boston and go down until you reach Miami. The itinerary we have designed is for 22 days and with it you will be able to visit the main attractions of the cities we recommend you to visit. Even so, if you can, try to stretch it a little and cover some of the alternatives we suggest below.
You could also dedicate more days to the star destination of this tour: New York. We have allocated 4 days for your stay, but, of course, you could spend a week in New York and not be satiated with all it has to offer.
You could also make a trip along the East Coast of the United States a little shorter, without visiting the Florida area and, therefore, making a tour of about 10 days. It all depends on how much time you have and what you feel like visiting.
When is the best time to visit the East Coast of the USA?
Since this is a trip based on visiting interesting cities on the East Coast of the United States and not so much on nature, as the West Coast route does, the truth is that any time is good. However, if your budget is not very high, you could do it in those times when flights to the United States tend to be cheaper, during the low tourist season, that is, from October to February (avoiding Christmas).
If you want a little more pleasant weather to enjoy the final part of the trip, which includes the parks of Orlando and the beaches of Miami, we recommend planning your tour of the U.S. East Coast between April and June, when the heat is less sweltering.
What documents do I need to enter the USA?
- Passport and Visa. It is very important that you have your passport in order and with a minimum validity of 6 months to be able to enter the US. Also, remember that you need to have previously obtained the ESTA, a travel authorization that you will have to apply online.
- International Driving License: On the other hand, in order to be able to drive your rental car, you will need to obtain the International Driving License in advance. Consult the corresponding government department in your country on how to obtain it.
- Travel Insurance: Finally, since health care in the United States is one of the most expensive on the planet, it would be advisable to take a good travel insurance on your route along the East Coast of the USA.
Is it necessary to rent a car to make this trip? and where to sleep?
This route can be done in two ways: by rental car or by public transportation (bus, train or plane).
Renting a car is ideal when you plan to visit several cities and towns on the same trip. A great alternative to moving around at your leisure as it gives you autonomy, independence, better enjoy your trip, move when you want without depending on schedules, and above all save money and time.
If you want to do this road trip by rental car, we recommend that you book accommodation on the outskirts of the cities, and if possible with private parking; or if you book hotels in the city center, with private parking; as getting into the center of these big cities with a car can be a problem, especially for parking. Once you have arrived at your hotel, park your car and use the city’s public transport to get around (underground or bus lines).
The second option we will offer you is to use public transportation. Public transport in the US runs really well and is not too expensive, so we are going to give you information on both options for you to move between cities, and you decide how to make the trip, you can even combine them and make part of the trip by public transport and part in a rental car.
Hotels in cities like New York or Miami usually have a fairly mediocre quality-price ratio, so we recommend you to book well in advance if you do not want to pay more than you should.
You can use public transportation for the first part of the tour since it is more convenient not to have to think about where to park the car in the heart of big cities like Boston or New York and public transportation works well. However, once you leave Washington, we recommend you use a rental car and start getting around by road. It may be more convenient to get a rental car to save time and money.
Getting around Orlando’s parks with your own car is much more convenient and you will be able to get to Miami in just 3 hours. On the other hand, from Miami, you can take several excursions by car, such as the one to Everglades National Park. Take a look at the prices in our search engine, which will allow you to compare vehicles for the dates you are traveling to the East Coast.
In any case, if you travel in a group and with luggage, the rental car trip will be cheaper because you will be able to share costs.
Which car to rent for this road trip?
Whether you are traveling with your couple, family, or friends, and if you do not want to have problems with space for passengers and luggage, it is best to rent a mid-size SUV or a Van.
Let’s start our travel itinerary! 22-Day East Coast route
Boston – 2 days
Boston will welcome you to this route along the East Coast of the USA with a large dose of history. New England’s most important city was the scene of many historic events, including the so-called tea riot in 1773. To get an idea of what happened, we recommend that, upon arrival, you walk the so-called Freedom Trail, a route that will take you through the most important places of this era.
In these first two days touring Boston, we recommend walking the Freedom Trail, which will help you better understand the history of Boston and you will fall in love with the Victorian architecture of the houses on Beacon Hill.
The Freedom Trail is an itinerary that will take you to discover Boston’s main historical points of interest. Along the 2.5 mile route you will be able to visit these 16 tourist attractions:
- The Boston Common
- Massachusetts State House
- The Park St. Church
- Granary Burial Ground
- Kings Chapel
- Boston Latin School
- Old South Meeting House
- The Old Corner Bookstore
- Old State House
- The Boston Massacre
- Faneuil Hall
- Paul Revere House
- Old North Church
- Copp’s Hill Burial Ground
- USS Constitution
- Bunker Hill Monument
You can do this tour on your own, but we recommend you to take the organized and guided tour, where you will learn more about the city and you will be told thousands of curiosities about the city and its celebrities. You can find all the information about Boston and these tours at bostonusa.com
In addition, in this American city, you will not lack markets, parks, and museums to discover. As if that were not enough, very close to Boston is the campus of Harvard University and MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Next stop: New York (220 miles)
- Boston to New York by car: 3:00h drive via I-90 W and CT-15 S
- Boston to New York by bus: 4:30h trip. From $30 approx. (Greyhound, Peter Pan or Megabus)
- Boston to New York by train: 4;10h trip. From $60 to $150 approx. (Amtrak.com)
- Boston to New York by plane: 1:10min flight.
New York – 4 days
Our next stop on this route along the East Coast of the United States is the irresistible New York. The most famous city in the country deserves at least 4 full days, in which you can enjoy its most famous places that you have seen so many times in movies: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Wall Street, etc. We are not going to expand more on what to see in New York, as there are countless travel guides about this city on the internet. We leave you this article about the best things to see in Manhattan.
Next stop: Philadelphia (95 miles)
- New York to Philadelphia by car: 1 h 50 min drive via I-95S.
- New York to Philadelphia by bus: 2:00h trip. From $10 approx. (Greyhound, Peter Pan FlixBus or Megabus).
- New York to Philadelphia by train: 1h 30 min trip. From $30 approx. (Amtrak.com).
- New York to Philadelphia by plane: We do not consider this option.
Philadelphia – 2 days
Philadelphia was the capital of the United States between 1790 and 1800 and, in addition, it was also here where the country’s independence was declared. With these facts, surely you already know why we have included it in this route along the East Coast of the United States. You will need to visit it for at least two days to see important places like the Liberty Bell, which was used to call the citizens when Independence was proclaimed. It is also interesting to visit Independence Hall, where independence was declared in 1776 and the constitution was drafted 9 years later.
In addition, Philadelphia’s historic downtown is lined with cobblestone streets and historic homes. The best known of all is Elfreth’s Alley, declared the oldest residential street in the United States. You also have time to explore Chinatown, grab a bite to eat at the huge Reading Terminal Market and visit some of its museums, the most famous being the Museum of Art, where the famous statue of Rocky Balboa is located.
Next stop: Washington (140 miles)
- Philadelphia to Washington by car: 2:20h drive via I-95S.
- Philadelphia to Washington by bus: 3:00h trip. From $10 approx. (Flixbus, Megabus, Coach USA, Peter Pan Bus, Greyhound, Ourbus).
- Philadelphia to Washington by train: 2:00h trip. From $40 approx. (Amtrak.com).
- Philadelphia to Washington by plane: 1:00h flight. From $200 approx.
Washington – 2 days
We continue visiting interesting places of the country’s history in its capital, Washington DC. You will surely spend most of the first day on the National Mall, which is the huge square that stretches from the monument of Abraham Lincoln to the Capitol.
After this walk, and of course, visit the White House, head to some of its museums. The one we recommend you to visit is the Air and Space Museum, where you will find the world’s largest collection of airplanes and spacecraft. If you have time, you will also enjoy the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery.
On your second day in Washington, you can visit Georgetown, where the prestigious university of the same name is located. There you will find imposing mansions, but also plenty of stores, restaurants, and bars where the locals live.
Afterward, you can visit Arlington Military Cemetery, where many of the fallen of America’s wars and important people in its history, such as John F. Kennedy, rest.
Next stop: Charlotte (400 miles)
- Washington to Charlotte by car: 6h drive via I-95S.
- Washington to Charlotte by bus: 7:00h trip. From $30 approx. (Flixbus, Megabus, Eagle Bus, Greyhound).
- Washington to Charlotte by train: 10:00h trip. From $100 approx. (Amtrak.com).
- Washington to Charlotte by plane: 1:30h flight. From $150 approx.
Charlotte – 2 days
Charlotte is one of the largest cities in the US state of North Carolina and the capital of Mecklenburg County. It is known to many as the Queen City after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the former Queen of Great Britain.
Charlotte is very close to the South Carolina border and in recent years has become one of the most important cities in terms of air travel due to its location on the map of the United States, hence its nickname “the international gateway to the south. The Queen City is a destination that caters for everyone of all ages, and the list of things to do is long and varied.
Charlotte is known for hosting one of the biggest car racing events in the United States: NASCAR, but it is also known for its football team, the Carolina Panthers, and for having the Discovery Palace, one of the museums in the country that best combines education with fun.
But it also has botanical gardens, parks, shops, and the whole package makes Charlotte a vibrant and lively city. It also has a wealth of local breweries and farmers’ markets to whet the appetite of all foodies. In short, Charlotte is one of the most surprising cities in the United States because whatever you’re looking for, the city has it.
Next stop: Atlanta (245 miles)
- Charlotte to Atlanta by car: 4:00h drive via I-85S.
- Charlotte to Atlanta by bus: 4:30h trip. From $30 approx. (Greyhound, East West Bus, Golden Horse Bus, Flixbus, Megabus)
- Charlotte to Atlanta by train: 5:30h trip. From $60 approx. (Amtrak.com)
- Charlotte to Atlanta by plane: 1:30h flight. From $150 approx.
Atlanta – 2 days
It is the capital of the state of Georgia, in the southeast of the United States, an important economic and cultural hub with more than half a million inhabitants. It is a city to be discovered and it is worth spending at least a couple of days there.
Atlanta is surprising. For the extreme friendliness of its people, with a southern heart. For its green surroundings, in fortunate contrast with the steel of the cinematic skyscrapers. For its cheerful and noisy nightlife, full of black-faced laughter and white teeth. For its unique downtown, which seems to be immersed in a theme park of world-famous attractions. For its colorful cuisine, which eschews fast food. But that’s not all: the city where Martin Luther King was born and, with him, the civil rights movement in the United States, is today the economic engine of southeastern North America, where more and more large companies are setting up their headquarters.
Next stop: Jacksonville (350 miles)
- Atlanta to Jacksonville by car: 5:00h drive via I-75 S.
- Atlanta to Jacksonville by bus: 8:00h trip. From $50 approx. (Greyhound and Megabus).
- Atlanta to Jacksonville by train: No direct lines. We do not consider this option.
- Atlanta to Jacksonville by plane: 1:20h flight. From $140 approx.
Jacksonville – 2 days
Jacksonville is known for being the largest city in the country, occupying an area of landmass far greater than the rest of the country’s cities and with 22 miles of white sand on its irresistible beaches, it has the longest stretch of coastline in Florida.
In fact, the city has so much energy that it’s impossible not to get caught up in it, and with so much to do, see and enjoy, it’s only natural to procrastinate a little longer. From romantic river views (for those wanting a couple’s getaway) to great beaches, museums and must-see attractions, Jacksonville is a fun destination for everyone.
Visit the Zoo and Gardens; stroll along the Southbank Riverwalk, a boardwalk that winds along the river and offers a great place to walk or sit on the benches and enjoy the beautiful views; explore Riverside and Avondale, two of Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhoods, home to a young, hip population that has developed one of the city’s most captivating hotspots; visit Riverside Arts Market, a popular boulevard located one block from the Cummer Museum. Here you’ll find hundreds of artisans and vendors who fill the streets with their various booths; check out the Kingsley Plantation at the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, one of the ways to learn about the history of Northeast Florida; see the slave quarters, the barn and the rest of the property that is home to one of the last pristine wetland areas along the Atlantic coast; visit the MOCA Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art; or simply tan at the excellent Beaches of Jacksonville, one of the most beautiful beaches in Jacksonville.
Next stop: Orlando (141 miles)
- Jacksonville to Orlando by car: 2 h 10 min drive via I-95 S and I-4 W
- Jacksonville to Orlando by bus: 2:40h trip. From $25 approx. (Greyhound and PandaNY Bus) https://www.busbud.com/
- Jacksonville to Orlando by train: 3:00 min trip. From $35 approx. (Amtrak.com)
- Jacksonville to Orlando by plane: No direct flights. We do not consider this option.
Orlando – 3 days
We continue our itinerary along the East Coast of the United States by booking one of the many flights that connect Washington with Orlando. In less than 2 hours and 15 minutes, you will land at Orlando International Airport, where your rental car will be waiting for you to visit the state of Florida.
These 3 days that we have dedicated within the route are for you to recover the spirit of your childhood, and if you are traveling with children, they will have their moment of fun after seeing so many museums and monuments, because we are going to visit some of the best theme parks on the planet.
Although Orlando has a brutal variety of parks of this type, which you will not be able to see in only 3 days, this time will be enough for you to visit your favorites of Walt Disney World Resort, such as Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, or Universal Studios.
Next stop: Miami (238 miles)
- Orlando to Miami by car: 3:40 min drive via I-95S.
- Orlando to Miami by bus: 4:40h trip. From $20 approx. (Greyhound and Jet Set Express)
- Orlando to Miami by train: 5:30 min trip. From $39 approx. (Amtrak.com)
- Orlando to Miami by plane: 1:30h flight. From $100 approx.
Miami – 3 days
Miami is the final point of our route along the East Coast. The most Latin city in the country will welcome you with its imposing financial center, its neighborhoods full of street art, such as Wynwood, the most Cuban street in the United States, Calle Ocho, and above all, with the beautiful and long beaches of South Miami Beach.
In these two days you can give yourself a well-deserved rest, but do not miss the opportunity to explore the art deco on Ocean Drive and go out to explore the best national park on the East Coast of the U.S., The Everglades.
Do not forget to visit the Florida Keys. You can follow the route by car along the Overseas Highway, making it one of the most incredible drives in the United States.
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