The people and places of New England — in all their lobstah love, wicked pissah sports, and outdoor beauty — are connected by a winding network of picturesque highways that make for an excellent road trip. From beach routes in Rhode Island to jaw-dropping fall foliage in Maine, exploring the region by road offers a little something for everyone. Here’s a quick list to help you start drumming up plans for your next New England road trip.
Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
Starting off strong with the clear favorite for scenic drives among local natives, the Kancamagus Highway is one of the prettiest drives in New Hampshire and one of 6 Great East Coast Road Trips. Starting out from the small town of Conway, take the “Kanc” 34 miles west through the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest and eventually end up in Lincoln. Visiting while fall foliage is in full effect is highly recommended, but visiting during the summer heat or after a heavy snowstorm is equally as beautiful. 34 miles doesn’t sound like much, but be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stop at all the ranger stations and scenic overlooks.
Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, Maine
This horseshoe-shaped route winding through Maine’s stunning scenery is one of the state’s best for adventurous types. Start out on route 4 and drop into the town of Rangeley, the hub of the region’s 112 interconnected lakes and ponds. The route scales up into the Appalachian Mountain Range before dropping into rolling valleys and hills. As you take route 17 back south, stop for the lookouts over Lake Mooselookmeguntic and Upper Richardson Lakes, which are the highlight of the trip. Along the way, there are a good handful of places for hiking, camping, biking, hunting, moose watching, and cross-country skiing. Check out the Best Places to See Maine Fall Foliage for other ridiculously beautiful spots in the state.
Route 100, Vermont
Route 100 has all the components of a road tripper’s paradise: long straight roads, the gorgeous Green Mountains, and plenty of fun stopping points. The entire road stretches about 200 miles from Massachusetts to the Canadian border, but the most scenic section lies between Ludlow and Waterbury. Highlights include the funky arts and crafts stores in Wilmington, the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream tour in Waterbury, and the mountain resort town of Stowe.
Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Maine
You can wander around a National Park eating nuts and berries and fending off wild animals, or you can tour the beauty from the comfort of your own car. The Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park makes the latter seem a bit more appealing. Start out at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and take the 27-mile loop around the perimeter of the park, stopping along the way to scope all the natural beauty. Most of the route is one-way, so you won’t have to worry about headlights and oncoming traffic. Be sure to stop at the lookout over Jordan Pond and the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
Shore of Dreams, Rhode Island
History and expansive beaches are the stars of this perfect New England road trip. Start out in Narragansett, a charismatic surf town, and head 25 miles south on the US 1. Pass by timeless Victorian cottages and feel free to stop at any of the sandy and rocky beaches along the way. Summer is the best time of year for this drive, and be sure to make a stop at Georges of Galilee, one of the region’s most delicious seafood restaurants where you can overdose on lobster rolls and clam chowder. If we’ve piqued the interest of your inner beach lover, check out the 9 Best Beaches on the East Coast.
Old King’s Highway, Cape Cod
No east coast road trip list would be complete without a mention of Cape Cod. There’s a reason the region has been a backdrop for the lifestyles of the rich and famous for centuries — it’s gorgeous. While most people will get from A to B via US 6, we suggest hopping off the highway and taking the scenic route. US 6A, or the Old King’s Highway, will make your trip one for the books. Roll the windows down and feel the summer breeze as you whiz past coastal towns en route to the edge of the peninsula. Start out at the very old and unfortunately-named town of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and feel free to pull over at gems like Yarmouth Port, Dennis, Scargo Tower, Nickerson State Park, and the Cape Cod National Seashore.