A quality vacation doesn’t have to be expensive to be a great time. You don’t need to book a pricey flight to appreciate all that America offers. Road trips are a great way to see the country up close and personal. To help inspire you to hit the road, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite road trips in all corners of the country. For this first trip we’re loading up the car and heading north along Route 95 for a tour of Southern New England.
We’re setting out on a trip that begins just outside of New York City on Interstate 95. We’ll be traveling East along the highway through southern Connecticut and finishing in Newport, Rhode Island. The Connecticut stretch of 95 runs along miles of southern Connecticut shoreline on the Long Island Sound. This stretch of the highway is home to multiple beaches and state parks perfect for a relaxing afternoon or a day of beach fun with the kids. Here are just a few of the many activities, as well as hotels and restaurants for your trip along the coast.
Starting in Western Connecticut, check out the prime shopping of Downtown Greenwich. Hit "The Ave" for boutiques shopping and a leisurely stroll. Enjoy local favorites like Char or the harborside hotspot, L’Escale, for dinner and drinks. This downtown district is perfect for walking and enjoying a slow afternoon.
From Greenwich we’re heading just east to nearby Norwalk and Southport. Both have the feel of a quaint New England town combined with modern dining, shopping and entertainment. Local hot spots like The Delamar Hotel, Artisan and the Gray Goose Café are a perfect way to stay, eat and drink a weekend away on the coast.
Back in the car and further on down the road we go. This time we’re passing through New Haven, Connecticut. The state capital and home to Yale University. New Haven is a great walking city that is loaded with great restaurants and bars, theater, nightlife and museums. See famous works of art at the Yale University Art Gallery or the Yale Peabody Center Museum of Natural History. After you’ve built up an appetite, enjoy a burger at Louis’ Lunch, the oldest burger joint in the country. If you’re a pizza lover, you have to stop by Frank Pepe’s famous pizzeria. His clam pie is out of this world. Just get here early, there’s usually a line for a table.
I should note that we’re staying close to the coast for this trip. In addition to miles of coastline, Connecticut's first National Scenic Byway, Route 169, runs from North Woodstock to Lisbon and is known for it’s beautiful fall foliage. The route takes you past farmlands and stone walls and nearly 200 homes built before the Civil War. This is off the beaten path for the trip we’re taking, but this is a beautiful drive - especially in the fall months.
Pressing on, we leave Connecticut and head into Rhode Island. The town of Westerly is a busy summer destination. Go back in time and ride the Flying Horse Carousel (1874) in the Watch Hill section of town. Enjoy a day of fun at nearby Misquamicut State Beach and then relax in the area’s many hotels and bed and breakfasts. Veer off the path and head up Route 1A North to the Historic Casey Farm, which was established in 1750 and still operates today. Westerly is full of beautiful Nantucket-style homes, gorgeous coastal views, and a relaxing vibe. Stay or dine at the renowned Ocean House (amazing NE Clam Chowder) or Weekapaug Inn, which are charming historical resorts. Helpful tip: These are partner resorts, meaning you can use the amenities of both properties, including Swedish massages at Relais & Chateaux in the Ocean House, which are second to none.
A short ride further down Route 1 brings you to nearby Narragansett. Narragansett Bay is a hidden gem, tucked along the Connecticut/Rhode Island border. While in Narragansett, visit the gorgeous Point Judith Lighthouse, which has had an active beacon since 1857. Nearby Narragansett Beach is busy with families enjoying the sun and some of the best surfing in the area. This area is also packed with hotels, motels and Airbnb options year round.
A tour of Southeast New England wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the beautiful town of Newport. Grab an ice-cold Del’s Frozen Lemonade and a seat in the sand at Easton's Beach. When you’ve got your share of sea and sand, it’s time to see how the other half lives… For centuries, the rich and famous used Newport as their summer playgrounds. Everyone from the Rockefellers to the Carnegies had properties in Newport, and you can see some of these amazing homes along the Cliff Walk. This National Recreational Tour goes for 3.5 miles, highlighting some of the most breathtaking historic mansions in the country. Downtown Newport is home to fantastic shopping, dining and drinking. Enjoy free summer concerts in the park or bar-hop at spots like Brick Alley Pub, The Mooring or 22 Bowen’s enjoying fresh local seafood, listening to live music and watching the sunset over the marina. Fort Adams State Park hosts historical events, as well as cultural affairs like the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival each year. I like to swing by Flo’s Clam Shack and get myself some fried clams and a quahog before I head out of town. This no-frills clam shack has been serving up amazing local seafood since the 1930s. Whether you’re a fan of bird watching or just being outdoors, the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing way to spend a sunny afternoon. It’s three miles of trails are a fantastic place to get closer to nature, hike and see some breathtaking views of the coast.
Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to New England. We’ve started along the coast, but as you’ll see in future articles, there’s a whole lot more of New England to explore. While this is just a small list of some road trip ideas, take some time and research your road trip. Find the activities, accommodations and budget that is right for you. I’ll be back with more road trip ideas soon. I look forward to finally getting back out on the road. We'll see you out there...
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!