The Ultimate East Coast Road Trip
It’s the perfect season to plan your quintessential East Coast road trip. From New England to DC and beyond, I-95 connects some of our country’s most beloved cities and attractions, making for a great multi-day journey for the whole family. Ready to pack up the car and hit the road? Check out our guide, which features stopovers in destinations from Boston to Manhattan, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Washington.
THE CAPITAL OF MASSACHUSETTS AND LARGEST CITY IN NEW ENGLAND, BOSTON IS A GLOBALLY RENOWNED HUB FOR CULTURE, EDUCATION, MEDICINE, SCIENTIFIC INNOVATION, UNIQUE CUISINE, AND HISTORY-MAKING CITIZENS.
Borrow one of the complimentary bikes available for guests at The Boxer Boston Hotel to explore the town. Stop by Boston’s famed historic landmarks, or go for a spin around some of Boston’s best bike routes. Another family favorite: walk the Freedom Trail to see history come alive in Downtown Boston; this 2.5 mile-long path has 16 locations that represent major sites that played a pivotal role in creating American democracy.
EATING IN BOSTON
As the unofficial capital of New England, Boston is unsurprisingly home to a thriving restaurant scene that celebrates the region’s unique culinary heritage, especially seafood. Legal Seafood is a beloved local high-end chain, with multiple locations around the city. And oyster lovers should stop by Island Creek Oyster Bar, which sources its bivalves from nearby Duxbury, Massachusetts. And in the North End, one of America’s most charming neighborhoods, you’ll find dozens of authentic Italian options in this historic immigrants’ district. La Summa is a staple (get the ravioli), while a bitter rivalry exists between two top-notch Italian bakeries, The Modern and Mike’s. And for a casual, contemporary dinner, Finch is a standout American restaurant located within The Boxer Boston Hotel.
SHOPPING IN BOSTON
Take advantage of the rich shopping scene in Boston. Newbury Street, Boston’s prettier, quainter take on 5th Avenue, is the prime destination for high end retailers—both local and international (check out our Guide to Newbury Street). Throughout the rest of the city, you can find original boutiques specializing in fashion, books, greeting cards, jewelry, and everything else you can imagine. Learn more in our Boston Shopping Guide.
STAYING WITH THE BOXER BOSTON HOTEL
Rest your head at The Boxer Boston, conveniently located in the heart of the city, within walking distance to major sites along the Freedom Trail, the waterfront, and Beacon Hill. The central location and luxurious accommodations at The Boxer Boston Hotel combine to make it an ideal place to rest your head after spending a day about town.
NEW YORK, NY
NO EAST COAST ROAD TRIP IS COMPLETE WITHOUT A STOP IN NEW YORK CITY, ONE OF THE WORLD’S TRULY GLOBAL CITIES.
With Boston in our rear view, our East Coast road trip heads to arguably the most iconic city in the world: NYC. First, enjoy the drive through southern New England, which takes around four to five hours. Once you arrive in the city, it’s time to explore. Will you focus on the quintessential Big Apple experience with a stay in Manhattan, or cross the East River and check out the buzz in Brooklyn?
EATING IN NEW YORK AND BROOKLYN
In New York, you can fuel up on any food that jumps into your mind’s eye. In Tribeca, right at Duane Street Hotel, Graffiti Earth is a veggie-forward restaurant helmed by Next Iron Chef alumnus Chef Jehangir Mehta. The elegant, flavorful dishes come with a strong emphasis on sustainability. Beyond the onsite spot, there are countless foods and foodie trends to indulge in when exploring Manhattan. Treat yourself to some iconic pizza at a well-known staple like Joe’s Pizza in Greenwich Village. Grab a bagel and lox from the century-plus old stronghold that is Russ & Daughters. And indulge at any of the city’s Michelin-starred temples to fine-dining. For more recommendations on delicious places to eat in Tribeca and Manhattan, check out our Manhattan Restaurant Guide.
And in Brooklyn, the smorgasbord of cuisines continues. The borough is, even more than Manhattan, famous for its pizza. Legendary spots like Sottocasa, Lucali, and Spumoni Gardens are critically adored, helping give BK its pie reputation. Of course, there’s more than pizza, and many of the city’s top chefs have their eyes on Brooklyn. Nate Adler’s Gertie, in Williamsburg, melds deli and Greek diner staples with an upscale twist. Pilar Cuban bakery in Bedstuy has also been receiving a lot of hype for its traditionally delicious Cuban baked dishes, while A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow have raved about the rustic-chic dining at Olmsted. Read our guide to Brooklyn’s best restaurants here.
SHOPPING IN NEW YORK
Celeb-studded Tribeca is a hub for some of New York’s best shopping, and within walking distance to other retail meccas like SoHo, the West Village, and Nolita. And the world-famous Fifth Avenue, with its flagship boutiques, is a convenient subway ride away. For more examples, check out our Tribeca Shopping Guide.
Brooklyn, too, is a shopper’s paradise, with both global brands and unique local finds that bring their own flair that’s emblematic of the area’s spirit and creativity. We’re huge fans of shopping destinations like Brooklyn Flea, and the boutique-filled streets of Williamsburg and Bushwick. For some more unique examples of favorites like Brooklyn Industries and Exit 9 Gift Emporium, check out our Brooklyn Shopping Guide.
CULTURE FIXES IN NEW YORK
The Met Museum, Carnegie Hall, the MoMA…Manhattan is home to some of the world’s most celebrated cultural attractions. Theater-lovers the world over flock to Broadway to see the latest and greatest shows. Meanwhile, Brooklyn is attracting big-name arts shows to its renowned Brooklyn Museum, and has a vibrant theater-scene all its own. Plus, Central Park and Prospect Park are the city’s two lungs, offering lush landscapes surrounded by bustling neighborhoods.
STAYING WITH THE DUANE STREET AND NU HOTELS
Wrap a bow on top of any New York City visit with a stay at the Duane Street Hotel in Tribeca, a stylish oasis of calm in Lower Manhattan, conveniently within striking distance of all of the city’s major attractions, including those across the river in Brooklyn.
If you prefer a home base in BK, arts-centric NU Hotel offers a sleek escape in downtown Brooklyn, at the crossroads of the borough’s subway lines, allowing for easy transport around Brooklyn and back into Manhattan. Plus, both hotels are easy to reach from highways, making them ideal stopovers on an East Coast Road Trip.
THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE OFFERS TRAVELERS ANOTHER URBAN HAVEN FILLED WITH UNIQUE CULTURE, DYNAMITE FOOD, AND AMAZING PEOPLE. AFTER THE BIG APPLE, HEAD DOWN TO OUR PROPERTY IN PHILADELPHIA AT THE INDEPENDENT HOTEL, AND TAKE YOUR ULTIMATE EAST COAST ROAD TRIP A BIT FURTHER.
One of the best parts about taking a road trip down the East Coast of the United States is how easy it is to hop from one major metropolis to another. The drive from New York City to Philadelphia cuts straight down I-95, takes just two hours (If you’re interested in some detours to say the Jersey Shore, or a state forest—opportunities and appealing stop offs are abound. For some more specific insights, check out our post on the Best Day Trips for Nature Lovers in Philadelphia).
EATING IN PHILADELPHIA
Eating in Philadelphia is an absolute whirlwind of flavor, culture and history. To get the obvious out of the way, you’ll definitely want to try out some of the city’s world-famous cheesesteak offerings. You can find some introductions to seasoned staples like Campo’s Deli, and Joe’s Steaks & Soda Shop on this post featuring 5 Can’t-Fail Cheesesteaks in Philly.
Another hallmark of Philly dining is Reading Terminal Market, a bazaar-style marketplace featuring vendor booths run by the best restaurants in town. You can find delicious eats from all over the world here. Beyond the markets and cheesesteaks, there’s so much more to explore. Hardena in South Philly does classic Indonesian fare, and is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the city. Philadelphia is also well known for its Italian restaurants, and al fresco spots in the summer.
SHOPPING IN PHILADELPHIA
The variety of places to shop in Philadelphia is a strong reflection of the city’s population and culture. You can find contemporary housewares at fashion-forward boutiques like Open House, the latest unique literary creations at Giovanni’s Room Bookstore, and gorgeous clothes at Rikumo Japan Made fashion shop. The city has a large representation of both old and new, which makes it an appealing place for shoppers. To learn more about shopping in Philadelphia, and to discover more specific recommendations, check out our Philadelphia Shopping Guide.
CULTURE FIXES IN PHILADELPHIA
The city of Philadelphia has one of the strongest arts and performing arts scenes in America. Just have a look at The Independent Hotel Blog and you’ll find tons of postings on the greatest exhibits to hit our museums each month. Among the various institutions listed in these posts, you’ll see The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation, and The African American Museum in Philadelphia.
In addition to all of the visual arts here, Philadelphia is also home to a number of excellent theater and live music venues. The Kimmel Center is an extraordinary hub of world-class theatrical productions, musicals, dance recitals, festivals, orchestral performances and more. You can catch amazing bands at spots like Union Transfer, World Cafe Live, and The Fillmore Philadelphia. To see what’s coming up, check out The Independent Hotel Events Calendar.
STAYING WITH THE INDEPENDENT HOTEL
The Independent Hotel, in visitor-friendly Center City, is within walking distance to most of Philadelphia’s major historic and contemporary attractions. Plus, its renowned friendly service and is a welcome reminder that you’re in the City of Brotherly Love.
OUR NATION’S CAPITAL, WITH ICONIC MUSEUMS AND A VIBRANT RESTAURANT SCENE, MAKES A FITTING END TO YOUR EAST COAST ROAD TRIP.
From the Independent Hotel in Philadelphia to Washington, you’re looking at a three-hour drive straight down I-95, passing by the historic port city of Baltimore on the way, if that piques your curiosity and you want to make a stop for a crab cake. D.C. itself is a city of neighborhoods, each offering a unique lens through which to experience the capital. Two of our favorites are Capitol Hill, just east of the Capitol Building, and Dupont Circle, north of the White House. Both are conveniently close to must-see sights like the National Mall and Smithsonian museums, and plant you firmly in the local scene.
THE NATIONAL MALL
The National Mall is, perhaps, the most American attraction one can find. The sprawling greenway is surrounded on all sides by bastions of U.S. heritage: The Capitol Building and Lincoln Memorial bookend its eastern and western sides; while multiple branches of the Smithsonian Museum, the White House, the Tidal Basin (and its Jefferson Memorial), the MLK Memorial, and major government offices flank the northern and southern sides. Interrupting the grassy expanse are the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Memorial, the WWII Memorial, and the shimmering Reflecting Pool. To see it all in a day, head out on a bicycle, or consider the entire Mall your DC running route.
Staying in Capitol Hill and Dupont Circle puts you in a nice position to explore the city’s many outdoor attractions beyond the Mall as well. Check out this guide to Exploring The Parks of NW DC. You’ll find some gems in there, including Rock Creek Park, a 2,000-acre urban space with horseback riding trails, live music events, and the National Zoo. And for Capitol Hill, take a peek at this bicyclist’s guide to DC.
EATING IN D.C.
Washington, DC is an internationally recognized destination for foodies —Bon Appetit magazine named it the best food city in the country in 2016. Explore our Foodie’s Guide To Capitol Hill for a number of choice recommendations, from French bistro Montmartre to new age cocktail dens. And by Dupont, the restaurant scene is eclectic in the best of ways. It has high-end options with international flavors and influence, such as Le Diplomate on 14th Street, and Tredici Enoteca, inside The St. Gregory Hotel. The Mediterranean bar and grill serves Greek and Italian dishes, plus a progressive list of cocktails and wines, both in its striking dining room and sidewalk seating. Here’s our full guide of Where To Eat in Dupont Circle. And don’t miss options further afield, like Bad Saint and Tail Up Goat, two neighborhood restaurants away from the typical visitor’s map that helped earn the city its Bon Appetit call-out.
SHOPPING IN D.C.
Washington is an international city with a constantly evolving population of politicos and diplomats. As such, it’s home to a vibrant retail scene that looks near and far for inspiration. Among our Favorite Capitol Hill Shops, Woven History & Silk Road features weavings, hand-spun wool, rugs and antiques sourced from the likes of China, Pakistan, and Turkey. There’s also Boutique on the Hill, which is simply a well-curated shop with jewelry, accessories, and unique clothes. Dupont Circle is one of the city’s premier shopping neighborhoods, a longstanding destination for those looking for high fashion from the major international brands and local designers like Betsy Fisher. Read our full shopping guide to Dupont for more tips.
STAYING WITH CAPITOL HILL HOTEL AND THE ST. GREGORY HOTEL
Located in two of D.C.’s most sought-after neighborhoods, Capitol Hill Hotel and The St. Gregory Hotel both make for elegant bases during the last leg of your East Coast Road Trip. From the quaint, historic residential streets of Capitol Hill to the wider streets, taller buildings and bustle of Dupont Circle—travelers are well poised to take on the District from either location. Learn more about both of them and choose the property that seems right for you!