DC To NYC: The Ultimate Checklist For A Perfect Road Trip

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A road trip from Washington, D.C., to New York City is a must-try if you’re not in a hurry to reach your destination. You may be taking the weekend off or visiting a family member from the East Coast—either way, taking this pit stop is an excellent time to see and enjoy some of the incredible stops that the journey has to offer. Passing through multiple states isn’t something you often do, and when an opportunity presents itself, why not grab it?

Whether taking a bus from DC to New York or driving your own vehicle, here’s an ultimate checklist you can use for a perfect road trip to look forward to: 

1. Baltimore, Maryland

If you live in DC, it only makes sense to leave it out of your road trip itinerary. That is assuming you’ve already had your fair share of sightseeing and history fix that the country’s capital has to offer. But if you haven’t, here’s a quick list of what you may want to visit or check out in DC, just for the sake of setting the mood for your upcoming road trip:

  • Pennsylvania Avenue (where you can see the White House and Capitol Building)
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • National Mall
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Gallery of Art

There’s a lot to see and experience in DC, but if you don’t have enough time to make it happen, you can skip the DC part and head to your first destination, Baltimore. Being Maryland’s largest city, you’d definitely want to make a stop here in Baltimore. Be sure to visit the Inner Harbour, which is quite a spectacle regardless of the time of the day or night you drop by. If you have the luxury of time, you can try one of their sightseeing cruises.

Other spots to see in Baltimore include the World Trade Center, Fort McHenry National Monument, American Visionary Art Museum, and Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. If you have kids, don’t forget to take them to the Port Discovery Children’s Museum and the National Aquarium.

Washing pin on a map

2. Wilmington, Delaware

After Maryland, you’ll be passing through the state of Delaware. Delaware may not be as large as the other US states, but there are plenty of things to do and sights to see, especially if you enjoy visiting gardens, estates, and mansions. If you’re coming from Baltimore and want to stop by Wilmington, the fastest way is to take the I-95.

Wilmington has a lot to offer, and it’s also almost the halfway point of your road trip, so it only makes sense to stop by the city. Walk down memory lane as you tour around the New Castle area, where you’ll be amazed by several historic homes, colonial buildings, and cobblestone streets. For a quick fix of mansions and gardens, don’t forget to drop by the Nemours Mansion and Gardens and Longwood Gardens.

Art enthusiasts will also have a great time exploring the Delaware Contemporary, Brandywine River Museum of Art, and the Delaware Art Museum. If you plan to stay in Wilmington for the night (which will most probably be the most practical decision if you’ve spent most of the day touring around Baltimore and this city,) you can enjoy your sumptuous dinner downtown. You’ll find a variety of restaurants, bars, and pubs that serve different cuisines and drinks too.

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

After hitting the sack in Wilmington, you’d want to wake up early and prepare to get on with your road trip adventure. Right ahead of Delaware is the state of Pennsylvania, the Keystone State. Stopping by Philadelphia is a good idea if you’re a history buff and like to get a taste of American history.

Some places to include in your PA itinerary are the following:

  • Liberty Bell Center
  • Independence National Historical Park
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Eastern State Penitentiary
  • Independence Hall
  • The LOVE Park
  • Reading Terminal Market
  • The Franklin Institute

While you’re there, don’t miss trying out the famous Philly cheesesteak, unquestionably the most famous food in Philly. You’ll find countless restaurants serving the sandwich, but if you want recommendations on some of the best ones, be sure to check the intersection of Passyunk Avenue and South 9th Street.

Road trip

A Road Trip To Remember

There are more than enough places to see and things to experience when you’re on a road trip from DC to NYC. Covering at least three states should be a good start, especially if you’re not ultimately familiar with the itinerary. If you want, you can also drop by New Jersey before hitting New York. But it’s also OK to head straight to the City of Dreams after you’ve gotten your fill of history and food in Philly.

Having a checklist can help you stay on track and schedule while exploring different places. Be sure to have this list right before hitting the road. Pack enough food and water, take a lot of pictures, and have a great time!

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Meghan Waters Mbaye

Meghan is a contributor for Backpacker Travel. She is an avid traveler who is always up for a new adventure. Meghan loves exploring new parts of the world, especially in Africa and Latin America.

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