New York to Miami – The Atlantic Coast Route
Enjoy the trip of a lifetime when you take this unforgettable driving route. It offers a colourful palette of scenery, attractions, towns and people. The route is about 20 hours of driving, so you could spread it over 3/4 days to make the most of it. It’s definately worth considering if your flying into New York or Miami.
The Atlantic Coast Route
This route starts you off in New York, heads south along the east coast and finishes in Miami.
So you are in New York, the biggest city in the US. Undoubtedly you’ll have a huge amount to see and do here before you set off on your trip. Go see the Empire State, visit the Statue of Liberty, go shopping on 5th Avenue, take a walk through Central Park, and stand in the middle of Time Square.
Atlantic City is located about 200 kms to the south of New York. Most of the journey would be on the Garden State Parkway. Just inland of Atlantic City towards the city of Philadelphia you could take some time to visit the million-acre Pinelands National Preserve.
Atlantic City is probably best known for the fact that gambling is legal and you can visit a large number of casinos here. There’s more to the city however, it’s located on the Jersey coast and there’s a beautiful beach to enjoy. The boardwalk between the beach and the city is very popular and a great way to do some people watching and moving between attractions.
Driving on just 150kms down the coast along Ocean Drive will get you to Ocean City. The roadway here goes over a number of coastal islands, many of which are interesting places to do some bird watching or visit on the many beaches. You will need to take the Cape May-Lewes/Lewes-Cape May ferry to Lewes.
Ocean City is a small city on the coast of Maryland (not to be confused with the Ocean City in New Jersey which you will actually pass on your way south from Atlantic City). The main attraction of the city is the high quality 10 Mile Long Beach. Get some accommodation over looking the beach and simply relax for a while.
Another 150kms to the south of Ocean City is the resort of Virginia Beach. After crossing the border into Virginia you will be passing quite close to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge which is certainly worth a visit if you are into bird watching. The journey will take you through the 30km Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel (there is also a $10 toll) which is an experience all of its own.
When you come back to the mainland after the Bridge/Tunnel, you will come to Virginia Beach. This city is reputed to have the longest pleasure beach in the world. Surfing is a popular option here, as is Dolphin and Whale watching. You might also visit nearby Norfolk which has a number of attractions that might be worth visiting including the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Naval Station Tour or the Nauticus – National Maritime Center.
Located about a 2 hour drive to the south in North Carolina is Kitty Hawk.
Kitty Hawk is the site of the Wright Brothers first flight of a heavier air aircraft in 1903. The Wright Brothers National Memorial is the main attraction of the area. You can also enjoy a variety of activities here including Hang Gliding in Jockey’s Ridge State Park which has some of the highest dunes on the east coast.
The next city on this trek south is Wilmington, some 400 kms to the south and west of Kitty Hawk.
The city of Wilmington is famed for its beautiful beaches, wonderful food and the welcoming nature of its residents. The one must see attraction for anyone passing through the city is the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. Fans of the tv shows Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill will enjoy the city as well, as these shows are shot here. You might also visit the nearby Cape Fear, though it doesn’t really live up to its name.
Continuing south west and into South Carolina, you will arrive at Charleston some 270kms later. On the way to Charleston you will pass through Myrtle Beach and Francis Marion National Forest.
Charleston is known as The Holy City due to the large number of steeples you can see overlooking the city. There are a huge number of attractions to see in this city including Fort Sumter, the Citadel, and the French Huguenot Church to name a few.
Moving on you will pass by Hilton Head Island on your way to Savannah about 170 kms from Charleston. Hilton Head Island is a very popular tourist destination; its beaches are renowned but it is especially famed for its many fantastic golf courses (in particular Harbour Town Golf Links).
Savannah was the first settlement founded in Georgia way back in 1733. The historic district is very popular with tourists as it one of the few town centres to survive almost untouched since the 19th century. So during your visit be sure to visit any of the town squares such as the original four public squares which were Johnson, Ellis, Telfair, and Wright.
Continuing south it’s just 175kms to the Florida border, with another 50kms to the centre of Jacksonville.
Once you get to Jacksonville, Florida’s largest city, you will have plenty to see and do. Some sights worth checking out include the Fort Caroline National Memorial, dedicated to the original French fortress in the area; Hemming Plaza, with its post modern architecture; and the Jacksonville Landing which is a popular area for fine dining and to do some shopping.
Heading south again you will come to Daytona Beach after about 150kms.
Daytona Beach is a very popular destination for fans of NASCAR and Daytona 500 racing. So with this in mind it might be good idea to visit the Daytona International Speedway. It’s an interesting visit even if there’s no race on the day you visit. Other activities you can avail of include Robert Strickland Shooting Range, where you can shoot all sorts of guns you would never normally get to; and the Museum of Arts and Sciences, with its Chinese, African and Cuban art; and many more.
You have an option here to take a detour inland and visit Disneyland in Orlando. Either way, when you return to the Atlantic Coast Route you will end up passing Cape Canaveral, where if you are lucky you might see a Shuttle launch.
About 240kms south of Cape Canaveral you will arrive in West Palm Beach. This town is the start of a metropolitan area that extends all the way south to Miami! All together this area has a population of almost 6 million. While in West Palm Beach you could visit any of the many beautiful beaches; or perhaps go snorkelling on Breakers Reef.
Continuing south through the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach Metropolitan area you will get to Miami after about 110kms.
Miami is a very multicultural city with over 30% Cuban, over 30% Non-Cuban Hispanic, and 40% everything else. Some interesting sights to visit include the Ancient Spanish Monastery, which was originally built in 1141 in Spain but was moved to Miami in the 50s; there is also Dolphin Stadium, home ground of the Miami Dolphins American Football team; and there is loads of other things to see and do.
This is the end of the Atlantic Coast Route though you will have the option of carrying on to Key West which is 250kms to the south and west of Miami along the Florida Keys.
This journey is obviously best taken by car, though it will probably be done as part of a one-way rental which can cost a little more. So if you do wish to rent a car have a look at our car hire USA page.
So if you have any questions why not leave your message in the comment box below.