Washington, D.C. is the perfect city to start a road trip from. Not only does the nation's capital provide plenty of entertainment and adventure from the get-go, but its central location along the East Coast also opens up many cities as potential road trip destinations. What better city is there to travel to than New York City. There are so many East Coast highlights along the way that you can craft nearly any type of getaway as you make your way toward the Big Apple. Try this intriguing itinerary for some added fun on the way to NYC. Be prepared for the open road by visiting our checklist of road trip essentials.
Drive Time from Washington DC to New York City: approximately 4 hours
Distance from Washington DC to New York City: approximately 225 miles
Best car for this trip: Full-Size Car Rental
Incredible history, spectacular restaurants and photo opportunities around every corner, Washington, D.C. is a beautiful place to spend a couple of days exploring before venturing on your journey.
The National Mall is a must-see for any first-time visitors. Take in the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, The Washington Monument, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and many Smithsonian museums, all walkable from each other for a day full of enlightenment.
All that walking will undoubtedly get your appetite going. World-class chef Jose Andres’ restaurant, Jaleo, is a small-plates, Spanish tapas establishment that serves playful fair and never takes itself too seriously. Don't let that attitude mislead you though; the food is impeccable.
Looking for something a little more low-key and relaxing? Head over to Georgetown and do a little shopping and relaxing on the riverfront.
Day 1: The drive from Washington, DC to Baltimore covers 38.5 miles in about an hour via the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and MD-295. It’s tough to get going on a road trip without a little grub, so swing by a District Taco location and pick up a few breakfast tacos for the road before making the short trek to Baltimore.
In Baltimore, you can take in top highlights like The National Aquarium, B&O Railroad Museum, and Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. The city is also filled with historical significance and sites to see. Step back to the 19th century with a visit to the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House.
Did you get your fill of history in DC? Children will love the Port Discovery Children's Museum, which offers a terrific opportunity for them to get out of the car and stretch their legs as they explore hands-on exhibits. For something a little out of the ordinary, check out the American Visionary Art Museum, featuring works by self-taught artists. Many of Baltimore's attractions are found in the Inner Harbor but don't be afraid to venture out to other areas of the city.
After a morning filled with exploring the city’s best attractions, you’d be doing yourself and your family a favor if you grabbed some crab cakes for lunch. Others may come close, but you probably won’t find better crab cakes than the ones at Pappas.
From Baltimore, take the quick trip to Wilmington via I-95. You'll cover over 75 miles in an hour and 15 minutes on the way to this picturesque city in the Brandywine Valley.
This city is a prime destination for art enthusiasts, with attractions like the Brandywine River Museum of Art, The Delaware Art Museum, and The Delaware Contemporary, Delaware’s only museum dedicated to Contemporary Arts. Make sure you visit the Brandywine Zoo, home to burrowing owls, golden lion tamarins, and capybara.
Wilmington will be your stop for the night, so make your way to your hotel, recharge and head out for dinner. Swing by 8th and Union Kitchen for gastropub fare that excels at a little bit of everything. You can get a bowl of pho, Peruvian shrimp tacos, or even Moroccan chicken. Whatever you’re craving, 8th and Union Kitchen can likely accommodate.
Day 2: Just 33 miles from Wilmington on I-95, you'll find Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. This city is a must-see for history buffs. If you're fascinated by America's past, plan plenty of time to explore highlights like the Liberty Bell Center, National Constitution Center, and Independence National Historical Park. Independence Hall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can see the inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence and the Assembly Room set up just as it was for the Constitutional Convention.
Other essential "must do's" include walking and eating around the Reading Terminal Market, South 9th Street Italian Market, Capitolo Playground and eating Philly cheesesteaks from Geno’s or Pats…Enjoy a hearty lunch and see some of the city’s best offerings on foot before finishing the last leg of the drive to New York City.
The last stretch of highway is the longest but still comes in under two hours, covering 94 miles via I-95. If you’ve been to New York before, you’ll know what to expect, but if this is your first time, get ready for a sensory overload. It’s best to take a minute to adjust to the hustle and bustle of the city and the constant bombardment of stimuli your system will receive.
You can follow up on your history lesson from Philadelphia with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and New York Historical Society on arrival, or extend your art-themed road trip with visits to the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Art Museum. Central Park is a crowd favorite, and if astronomy is your thing, the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum is a neat stop to explore. For a grand view of the Manhattan skyline during the day or at night, take the free commuter Staten Island Ferry which runs 24 hours a day.
These attractions are just a small sample of New York's many adventures. Professional sports, Broadway, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, 5th Avenue shopping, Empire State Building, Times Square, and so much more fill the city with something to do around every turn.
And don’t forget about the pizza. New York Style pizza is the best in the world and Joe’s Pizza, a few blocks from Washington Square, is top notch. Order fast, eat it hot and perfect the art of the fold.
Whatever you're looking for, New York City is a final destination that's sure to deliver something for everyone.