The Northeast offers some of the most beautiful roads in the country for your family road trip. Not only is the scenery stunning, there are plenty of activities to suit a range of interests, so everyone is happy at the end of the day. There’s also history to discover, with some roads tracing their origins back to early settlers.
Here are some of the best Northeast road trips for families to explore, whether your ultimate goal upon arrival is a group hike at a mountainside escape or lounging beside a seaside vista.
The Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
It’s impossible to pronounce, so just call it “The Kanc” like the locals and you’ll be fine. This scenic highway is stunning any time of year, but especially during the fall when the leaves change color. The Kanc is a section of Route 112 that runs between the towns of Conway and Lincoln – right through the White Mountain National Forest.
There are plenty of places to stop along the 34.5-mile route that takes you up to an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet. Scenic overlooks provide lots of opportunities to stretch you legs along with hiking trails suited to every skill level. Take time for a picnic lunch along the Swift River or plan a longer stay and spend the night at one of several campgrounds along the route.
Park Loop Road, Maine
Acadia National Park is the home of Park Loop Road, which starts at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and winds along the rocky Maine coastline for 27 miles. It’s slow-going in the summer when crowds are at their peak, but that simply gives you more time to relax and enjoy the fabulous view.
Started in 1922 and financed in part by John D. Rockefeller Jr., this stretch of road takes you all the way to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. If the family is up for an early start, it’s a breathtaking spot to catch the sunrise.
The Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts
The first scenic road in New England, The Mohawk Trail officially opened in 1914 with 63 miles of road and 50,000 acres of forest. It harks back to the days of the early settlers and runs from Williamstown to Athol in rustic western Massachusetts.
There are activities for the whole family along the Mohawk trail, making it the perfect place for a weekend family getaway. Explore hiking trails, book a campsite for an outdoor adventure or stop in a classic New England town where you can stay at an inn and enjoy browsing shops with antiques, clothes and one-of-a-kind crafts.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
There isn’t a seacoast in Vermont, but there’s still a waterfront thanks to Lake Champlain, one of America’s largest lakes. You can drive the coastline, but for something a little different try island-hoping through the Champlain Islands. This route takes you across bridges with panoramic views of the water you simply cannot get from the shoreline.
This drive takes you along U.S. Route 2 for roughly 37 miles with plenty to do and see along the way. There’s snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter, wondrous foliage in the fall and farms and trails to explore in the warmer months. Don’t miss Sand Bar State Park, a natural sandbar with beaches perfect for swimming with the kids.
Coastal Drive, Connecticut
The Northeast has endless forests to explore, but it also has a beautiful seacoast perfect for summer vacations. The Connecticut coast from Stonington to Greenwich runs more than 100 miles, lined with villages and a quaint New England vibe. That might seem like a long route, but this is one where you can pick and choose which parts to explore.
There are beaches where the kids can run off some energy along with shops and restaurants for when you’re ready to take a break and slow down. Wander through New Haven and check out the beautiful grounds at Yale University or stop at Five Mile Point Lighthouse in Lighthouse Point Park and challenge yourself to climb to the top.
Adirondack Trail, New York
This route winds for 188 miles and takes your from just south of the Canadian border, through Adirondack Park, to the town of Fonda. It’s a beautiful and rugged landscape that includes many historic stops along the way.
You will pass through Johnstown, the location of one of the final battles of the Revolutionary War, and get the chance to experience colonial history. There’s also Great Sacandaga Lake where the family can enjoy fishing and boating or just stop for a picnic to take in the scenery.
Old King’s Highway, Massachusetts
No trip to Massachusetts is complete without a visit to Cape Cod and Old King’s Highway is the perfect route. Also known as Route 6A, this stretch of highway gives you a chance to explore the Cape and get a taste of history at the same time.
Start your drive in Sandwich and enjoy the scenery from farmlands to salt marshes to cranberry bogs over the course of a 34-mile route. There’s plenty to see and do with myriad beaches, shops and restaurants. Take a break from the road and rent a bike to cycle one of the many bike paths, which are easily manageable even for the kids.
Green Mountain Byway, Vermont
Traveling the Green Mountain Byway allows for views of meadows, forests and farms. There are three state parks along the route so you can stop to hike and explore when it’s time for a break from the road.
The route starts in Waterbury and makes its way across the state to Stowe with plenty of small towns and recreational opportunities. The journey also includes Mount Mansfield, which is Vermont’s highest peak. It’s the most frequently visited mountain in the state and one of the few places in Vermont where you can find Arctic Tundra.
Plan your drive with maps and AAA-recommended lodging, food and activities.
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