Atlantic Coast road trip from New York to Miami

  • Post last modified:October 31, 2023
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Glide away on this New York to Miami road trip itinerary to discover one of the most legendary American journeys. Along the Atlantic Coast, tour colorful cities, uncover stirring monuments and inspect oak-fringed plantations — all while enjoying that famous southern hospitality. Then, at the drive’s end, reward yourself by kicking back on Florida‘s seemingly endless stretches of soft white sand.

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  • Total distance: 1551 mi / 2496 km
  • Total driving time: 28 h

1. New York, NY – Start your journey in The City That Never Sleeps

Touring New York City is a great way to start off the Atlantic Coast road trip. Walk Brooklyn Bridge, admire its tall skyscrapers and make final plans in Central Park before departing.

Walk Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge in New York is one of the most famous bridges in the world. The iconic bridge spans East River to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. From the Brooklyn Bridge you have panoramic views over the Manhattan skyline.

As you can walk the famous bridge, it also offers a great chance to stretch your legs before you hop into the car and begin the NYC to Miami drive. So make sure that you put on your favorite walking shoes and walk Brooklyn Bridge before you begin the Atlantic Coast road trip.

Cross Brooklyn Bridge and start the road trip
Brooklyn Bridge with view over Manhattan.

Humbling skyscrapers on Manhattan

When you walk on Manhattan it’s hard not to be humble when the high skyscrapers tower over you. The impressive skyscrapers reflect different periods of time. Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building are older buildings compared to the much newer and more modern One World Trade Center.

A fun way to appreciate the city before you take off on the New York to Miami road trip is to observe its buzz from the bird eye perspective. The view from the top of the Empire State Building or any of the other huge buildings is unforgettable.

Review the Atlantic Coast itinerary in Central Park

Central Park is a lush oasis surrounded by the towering buildings in the busy NYC. The famous park is the most visited urban park in the US and it’s also known as one of the most filmed locations in the world.

Still Central Park allows you to escape the NYC crowds. It’s a place where you can find peace even the busiest of days. Central Park is the perfect place to make any final adjustments to the Atlantic Coast itinerary before you begin the road trip from New York to Miami.

Central Park making New York City green
Central Park, the green oasis in New York City.

2. Washington D.C. – Say hello to the president

  • Driving distance: 227 mi / 365 km
  • Driving time: 4.5 h

The capital of the US is next up on the New York to Miami road trip itinerary. Washington D.C. is characterized by wide avenues, green parks and impressive white buildings. And of course the most famous of them all is the White House.

See the White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is one of the most famous addresses in the world. It’s the place of the primary workplace and official residence for the President of the United States.

To get a view of the White House is certainly an unforgettable experience on the Atlantic road trip. The beautiful, historic and important building is a highlight on the NYC to Miami itinerary. And after the stop at the White House there is much more to explore just a stone’s throw away in the National Mall.

The White House and its green garden in Washington D.C.
The White House, Washington D.C.

Explore the rest of the National Mall

The National Mall is a landscaped park in the central part of Washington D.C. It’s full of monuments celebrating heroes from the past. The area stretch from Lincoln Memorial in the west to the United States Capitol in the east. In between you find the Washington Monument with the White House to its north.

So there is much to explore and the things to see are positioned compactly, meaning that walking is the best way to explore the National Mall area. The park is very elegant and pedestrian friendly. You can peacefully take in the monuments as you walk it. As the entrance is free the National Mall is also a good stop for a New York to Miami road trip on a budget.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

3. Outer Banks, NC – The secluded banks where the first human flight was made

  • Driving distance: 286 mi / 460 km
  • Driving time: 5.5 h

The Outer Banks is not right on the way when you take the New York to Miami road trip. On the contrary, the detour adds a few hours to the itinerary. Still it’s easy to find reasons to explore the northern part of the North Carolina coastline.

Kick back in a secluded seaside setting

On an Outer Banks vacation, there’s a lot to discover. From the Virginia border in the north to Ocracoke Island in the south there’s 125 miles (201 km) of stunning coastline to see as you road trip from New York to Miami.

The so called Northern Beaches includes the busier towns Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. Further north and south you find quieter communities and a more natural setting.

But in every area of the Outer Banks you find stunning beaches. From north to south there are also five historic lighthouses to admire when you visit on the New York to Miami road trip.

Bodie Island Lighthouse at sunset, NC
Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Outer Banks.

The Wright place to explore the history of flight

Most remarkably the Outer Banks is also where the first human flight ever was made. In 1903 the Wright brothers took the first powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight in the Outer Banks.

Today there’s no better place to celebrate that than the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Where the first historic flights once took place the memorial teaches about the achievements of the brothers.

With markers on the ground the memorial shows the locations and lengths of the first flights. The memorial is truly a unique attraction to add to the Atlantic Coast road trip itinerary.

Where to stay

The best places to stay in the Outer Banks offer easy access to crashing waves and quintessential lighthouses. Look towards Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head if you prefer a livelier area, while you find more seclusion in the north and south.

Markers at Wrights Brothers National Memorial in the Outer Banks, NC
Wright Brothers National Memorial.

4. Wilmington, NC – Absorb a historic city with surrounding beaches

  • Driving distance: 235 mi / 378 km
  • Driving time: 4.5 h

Wilmington is a historically important port town full of southern charm. The city’s surrounding beaches are also great for lazy days on the dunes. So Wilmington is a great choice on the Atlantic road trip itinerary for both interesting history and peaceful beach time.

Stroll Wilmington’s Historic District

Wilmington’s Historic District contains beautiful and memorable buildings, from mansions to museums. It spans over more than 200 blocks throughout the heart of Wilmington and is a great place to explore on the New York to Miami road trip.

The extraordinary houses and tree-lined streets in Wilmington’s Historic District are very pretty. In the historic district you find different types of establishments blended into the unique and pleasant atmosphere. The stunning residential areas, shops, restaurants and bars complement each other very well. Wilmington is not that far south, but the city certainly captures you with its southern charm.

Relax on the Wilmington dunes

A nice contrast to the historic district in Wilmington is to head to the beach. Conveniently so you find a great beach not far away from Wilmington. Wrightsville Beach beautifully sits on the Atlantic Ocean just a short drive from the Historic District in Wilmington.

To go to Wrightsville Beach is a great idea if you want to have some peaceful time away from it all. The beach is known for its blue waters and stunning surroundings. And its sandy dunes are certainly appreciated by both adults and kids on an Atlantic Coast family road trip.

Wrightsville Beach is not the only beach in the area. Further away but also popular for beach days are Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. So when you visit Wilmington on the road trip from NYC to Miami you have all the beach options you need.

Wrightsville Beach sunset
Sunset at Wrightsville Beach.

5. Charleston, South Carolina – Have a good time in one of America’s favorite cities

  • Driving distance: 176 mi / 283 km
  • Driving time: 3.5 h

When you arrive in Charleston in South Carolina you are already more than halfway to Miami from the road trip’s starting point in New York. Back in the days the city’s name was Charles Town and not Charleston. When it was founded in 1670 the name Charles Town was decided to honor the English king at the time, Charles II.

Today it’s Charleston and the picturesque city with its beautiful location on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, makes visitors feel like they have come to exactly the right place. Charleston is year after year mentioned as one of America’s favorite cities.

Enjoy the Battery in Charleston

The Battery is a seawall and scenic promenade located at the very southern part of the Charleston peninsula. It’s truly a place full of history and one of the most picturesque places in Charleston. From the promenade lined with historic antebellum homes and elegant palm trees you get beautiful views over the city’s harbor.

You can even spot Fort Sumter, the fort that used to protect Charleston, from the waterfront promenade. Fort Sumter is especially famous for being the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

Colorful buildings in Charleston, SC
Historic and colorful Charleston.

Visit South Carolina plantations

South Carolina’s plantations offer another surreal glimpse of the storied past. The Magnolia Plantation in Charleston was founded already in 1676 by the Drayton family. It has survived the centuries and witnessed the history unfold.

Nowadays it’s very different times compared to when the Magnolia Plantation first was built. But still to this day the Magnolia Plantation is a landmark in the Charleston region. When you visit you can walk the grounds and learn about the history of the plantation. But you don’t need to be a history buff to appreciate the well kept plantation and its beautiful garden.

Other famous plantations in the area are Middleton Place, Drayton Hall Plantation and Boone Hall Plantation. Hollywood has used the South Carolina plantations for various movies including the Patriot and the Notebook.

Huge oak tree in Charleston, SC
The Angel Oak Tree in Charleston.

6. Savannah, Georgia – Treat yourself to history-steeped southern hospitality

  • Driving distance: 107 mi / 172 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

Savannah is another historic place to explore on the Atlantic Coast road trip itinerary. The Georgia city was established in the year 1733 and is located on Savannah River, upriver from the Atlantic Ocean. Savannah is often named as one of the most picturesque cities in America.

But times have not always been so great in Savannah. During the Civil War the Union General William Tecumseh Sherman entered the city after having burned Atlanta and many other cities down on his march to the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily, Sherman was too impressed by Savannah to burn the city down. So instead Sherman offered Savannah as a Christmas gift to President Abraham Lincoln.

Wander Savannah’s Historic District

It’s with all right that Savannah has won its reputation as a very beautiful city. The historic downtown area really is something special. The architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries is very well accompanied by greenery. The roads and avenues are more often than not lined by characteristic trees.

Probably more than any other tree type the live oak is closely associated with Savannah. The trees planted out in the streets and squares provide necessary shade in the summer and picturesqueness all year round. The growing Spanish moss adds to the beauty in the historic city.

Street in Savannah lined with oak trees
Tree-lined street in Savannah, Georgia

Spread out a towel on a historic beach

If but only if you want to leave Downtown Savannah while you’re in town you should take the car and drive out to Tybee Island. The 18-mile (29 km) takes you from the Savannah’s historic downtown to the great sandy dunes on the popular Georgia barrier island.

On Tybee island you find wide beaches that are excellent to enjoy when you need a healthy dose of the ocean on the New York to Miami road trip. But Tybee Island is also a place where you can indulge in more history. Tybee Island Light Station & Museum, Fort Pulaski National Monument and Fort Screven are popular historical places to combine with a Tybee Island beach day.

Pier at sunrise on Tybee Island.
A new day begins on Tybee Island.

7. Orlando, Florida – Marvel at huge entertainment complexes

  • Driving distance: 281 mi / 452 km
  • Driving time: 4.5 h

When you arrive in Orlando what you have experienced in Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah meets a real contrast. Orlando is not about history, but more about modern amusement. The city is known as the theme park capital and the best things to do in Orlando of course include its famous parks.

Tour world-famous theme parks

Orlando faced a fundamental change in the 1960s when Walt Disney revealed his plans to create a Walt Disney World in Orlando. The location of the city in central Florida was perfect for a huge theme park. The weather is good for outdoor activities more or less all year round. And the inland location makes it less exposed to hurricanes than coastal regions.

Disney World is certainly not the only major theme park option when you visit Orlando on the NYC to Miami road trip. After the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 more theme parks have arrived. Disney World, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Sea World and more could keep you busy for weeks if not months. Orlando is the wet dream for theme park enthusiasts.

Walt Disney World castle in Orlando
Disney World, Orlando.

Target the moon at Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center is located in Cape Canaveral so it isn’t in the city of Orlando. But that the space center is located about an hour by car away means that it’s on great day trip distance from Orlando.

When you visit Kennedy Space Center you get the chance to learn everything there is to know about human space flight. The space center takes you from the early days of space exploration to current day advancements. A Kennedy Space Center visit is a great educational contrast to what you experience at the theme parks in Orlando.

NASA is a fun place to visit near Orlando
Welcome to NASA.

Finding a hotel in Orlando

The theme park capital is known for its great selection of hotels with Lake Buena Vista, International Drive and Kissimmee all great choices for where to stay in Orlando. Select your dates and search for your hotel on the map below, or press search to get all the hotels in Orlando listed.

Additional stops: From Orlando going south you can take the shortest route directly to Miami as on this Atlantic Coast itinerary. Or, for more Florida fun on the way continue on the Orlando to Key West road trip itinerary which includes stops along the west coast of Florida in Clearwater, Sanibel Island and Naples.

Maximize Florida: Bookmark our ultimate Florida guide too.

8. Miami – Celebrate as you finish the Atlantic Coast road trip

  • Driving distance: 239 mi / 384 km
  • Driving time: 3.5 h

You have reached the last destination on the Atlantic Coast road trip, Miami. But Miami and its surroundings certainly offer more unique places to visit before the trip is over.

Live your best life on Ocean Drive

The Miami metropolitan area is one of the largest in the US. Its warm climate and the buzzing nightlife attract millions of visitors each year. Top of the list to many visitors is to see Ocean Drive and the adjacent South Beach.

Ocean Drive is probably the most iconic street in Miami. The street’s Art Deco architecture, fancy cars and lined palm trees are closely associated with the city. Ocean Drive is a buzzing place where something always is going on. And next to the iconic street you find South Beach, a great place to get away from the buzz that surrounds Ocean Drive.

Art Deco Avalon Hotel on Ocean Road in Miami, FL
Ocean Drive, Miami.

Take in spectacular nature in Everglades

From Miami the awe-inspiring wetland Everglades is easily accessible. So to mix up city life you can go out there on a day trip and explore the spectacular nature in the diverse Everglades ecosystem.

The environment in Everglades National Park is truly unique. Its wild environment represents Florida’s traditional and untamed side. The alligators that call Everglades their home are Florida symbols just like the sunshine, beaches and palm trees. A trip to Everglades and the alligators is the perfect way to finish off the New York to Florida road trip.

Alligators in Everglades
Alligators in the Everglades, FL.

Upgrade Everglades: For a more complete Everglades experience than just a day trip you can make the longer drive to Everglades City. The small city sits right where the huge wetland begins on the western end of Everglades National Park. There you can even stay at Everglades accommodation with waterfront view.

Additional stops: It’s popular to extend the New York to Miami road trip and make it a New York to Key West road trip instead. If that sounds like something you want to do, just continue south on the Miami to Key West road trip itinerary.

Road trip from New York to Miami FAQ

How long does it take to drive the ultimate New York to Miami road trip?

The ultimate Atlantic Coast road trip from New York to Miami is 1551 miles (2496 km) long. To drive it takes about 28 hours, not including any stops along the way.

Can you take a quicker New York to Florida road trip?

It’s certainly possible to take a quicker New York to Florida road trip . If you never leave the highway, it under normal traffic conditions takes roughly 19 hours to drive from New York City to Miami.

Where should I stop on a road trip from New York to Miami?

The main stops included on the ultimate New York to Miami road trip are New York, Washington D.C., Outer Banks, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Orlando and Miami. You also find several appreciated additional Atlantic Coast road trip destinations along the way.

What states do you pass from New York to Florida?

The New York to Florida road trip includes 10 states plus Washington D.C. After New York you in order pass New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

How long time do you need to take the New York to Miami road trip?

It’s recommended to have two weeks or more to fully enjoy the New York to Miami road trip. With an estimated driving time of 28 h you will drive 2 hours a day if you have two weeks to make it. That gives you the time you need to explore the things along the way on the New York to Miami itinerary.

Should you take the road trip New York to Miami or Miami to New York?

It doesn’t matter if you decide to drive New York to Miami or if you make the road trip Miami to New York. But if you start in early summer, it could be smart to go from Florida to New York to avoid the summer heat and humidity in South Florida.

How was the estimated driving time from New York to Miami calculated?

The estimated driving time was calculated with Google Maps by taking the shortest amount of time from point A to point B and rounding upwards to the next half hour. Stops between New York and Miami are not included in the driving time.

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