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Home » North America » USA » US East Coast Highlights – New York to Key West | Roadtrip USA (19)

US East Coast Highlights – New York to Key West | Roadtrip USA (19)

Over the past few months we have had a fantastic roadtrip Made on the East Coast of the United States of America. The route we drove is quite easy! We started our journey in New York City and after we get our RV picked up in Baltimore we drove mostly along the east coast of the US all the way to the southernmost point of Florida: Key West. We have dedicated no less than 18 (!) blogs to this trip along the east coast and number 19 will be about the route we roadtrip but especially the highlights that we have seen and experienced along the way.

This article will regularly link to the various previous articles, in which you will of course go deeper into the place and see more information and photos.


Plan your vacation to America here


Our journey through the United States and Canada

This article is part of a major one-year journey that we (Chris and Malou van Wereldreizigers.nl), are currently making by the United States en Canada† We started in New York City and are through Washington DC en Baltimore (where we shipped our RV), first traveled south (Florida) and then made a full round of the country.

Organizing this trip took a lot of time and energy. So we had to US B1/B2 visa of one year and we spent weeks working on it renovating our 4×4 camper† Then we got to work on the RV to America to ship and in hindsight it turned out to be a Dutch vehicle insurance in America to be one of the biggest challenges.

When that was all over, we could finally focus on the anticipation: figuring out and planning all the beautiful places we want to visit. I built the ultimate roadtrip route through America and Canada of roughly 50.000 kilometers in Google maps and we are now making our dream come true! The interactive map can be viewed below.

More blogs from our trip through America and Canada

Itinerary East Coast US – New York to Key West

The itinerary of this great roadtrip does not cover the entire east coast of America. This is because we started our journey in New York City. And since it was winter (early March), we decided to quickly head south to escape the winter. Unfortunately, we were unable to see everything north of New York City on this trip. Maybe next time!

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Our roadtrip route from New York City to Key West in Google Maps | Every red dot is a place we've been (you can ignore all the red dots to the left of Florida for now). More on that later ;)
Our roadtrip route from New York City to Key West in Google Maps | Every red dot is a place we've been (you can ignore all the red dots to the left of Florida for now). More on that later

Two weeks or two months

Starting in New York City, we managed to travel up the East Coast to Key West in about two months. We had plenty of time to really discover the different places. But, I am also convinced that it can be done in less time. After all, we took it really easy.

This roadtrip along the east coast of America is already very doable from a period of about two weeks. You can of course take as long as you want, for example 3 or 6 months, but we thought two months was the perfect time.

7 states and 63 cities

We see the roadtrip along the US East Coast as the first leg of our trip (we are currently in Colorado). In this first part, 7 states and Washington DC are crossed.

Who in one go this roadtrip want to do along the east coast of the US and drive from New York city to Key west, it takes about 24 hours without breaks. The total distance you will cover will then be approximately 1500 miles, or 2500 kilometers.

7 states, 63 cities, 171 places of interest and 16 state forests & state parks

Roadtrip east coast US in two months

However, we did not drive the ideal route! We visited 7 states, 63 cities, 171 places of interest, 16 state forests & state parks and countless other beautiful places at a leisurely pace. In total we drove about 3800 kilometers.

Thank you Google Timeline for this info!

These are the states we drove through during this roadtrip.

  1. New York
  2. New Jersey
  3. Delaware
  4. Washington DC (is not a state but separate territory, see: Washington DC Travel Guide)
  5. North Carolina
  6. South Carolina
  7. Georgia
  8. Florida

Highlights roadtrip New York to Key West

Two months, 63 cities and more than 171 places of interest. That's quite a bit, but which were the best and the most beautiful? As far as we're concerned, these are the 11 clear winners - these are the 11 absolute highlights of a roadtrip along the east coast of the US!

1. New York City

New York (city) has turned out to be an amazing, sometimes hectic, but above all amazing city in the US. Famous for its fashion, crazy nightlife, art scene, museums, incredible restaurants and world-class theater productions.

Malou on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Malou on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

Every culture, language and cuisine is represented here. You could spend your whole life exploring the city and never really see everything. I have to be honest with you: I'm normally not a big city fan. But wow! New York, you are truly fantastic!

The Freedom Tower (One World Center) from the ground | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
The Freedom Tower (One World Center) from the ground | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

There is an endless list of things to do in the city. No amount of time you spend here will be enough. Don't worry, in about 5 days you can visit a lot of beautiful places and experience the real New York culture.

Manhattan, New York City with sunset from Top of the Rock | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Manhattan, New York City with sunset from Top of the Rock | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Also read: New York City Travel Guide | Must sees, travel tips and budget

2. Annapolis

After New York City, we thought the town of Annapolis was the first new highlight of the roadtrip to Key West. While Washington DC and Baltimore grew into major cities for American politics and logistics over the past century, Annapolis remained unchanged for a long time. You don't see any high-rise buildings and virtually no industry in this town. And because so little has changed about this town, much of its history and culture has been well preserved, making it all the more fun to visit.

The main street of Annapolis, here's always something to do | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The main street of Annapolis, here's always something to do | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West
The old center of Annapolis is well preserved | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The old center of Annapolis is well preserved | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Annapolis is located on the sea, has good hotels and is therefore a popular place for sailors to come ashore and relax for a few days. The city's economy relies mainly on tourism, fishing and the US Naval Academy which is located there, where countless marines are trained.

Also read: Annapolis mini travel guide | Maryland's Capital

3. Washington DC

Washington DC is the capital of the United States† America's political heart has a rich history and the city is named after its first president, George Washington.

Malou in front of the Capitol in Washington DC | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Malou in front of the Capitol in Washington DC | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

This district does not belong to any state, because they did not want a state to exert influence over the capital. As a result, the residents of Washington DC do not participate in the elections of the US Congress, because after all, that represents the states. They do take part in the presidential elections.

The Supreme Court in Washington DC with Japanese Blossom | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
The Supreme Court in Washington DC with Japanese Blossom | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

To avoid confusion with the state of Washington, the Americans often do not speak of Washington, but of Washington DC, or DC for short

In The Netherlands we often see the city on the news. Important decisions are made that affect the entire United States and sometimes the entire world.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

You also know the city from countless historical moments, such as Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech. This is one of the reasons why it is great to visit this city!

Also read: Washington DC Travel Guide | The American capital

4. Savannah

Savannah is the oldest city in the state of Georgia and it's on the Savannah River. The city was founded in 1733 by English settlers and it was the capital of the colony of Georgia at the time. The city is surrounded by swampland. The climate is subtropical and that is immediately apparent from the vegetation.

The green you see here is no exception, all of Savannah looks like this! † Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The green you see here is no exception, all of Savannah looks like this! † Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West
One of the so-called green squares (parks) in Savannah | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
One of the so-called green squares (parks) in Savannah | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Savannah is heavily frequented by tourists. More than 2019 million people came in 14! We understand that very well, because in addition to the 'Forrest Gump' roots of the city, it is just fantastic to walk around here. It's so beautiful, so green! The city breathes European history and all colonial buildings are very well preserved. You have to see it to believe it.

One of the many beautiful colonial buildings in Savannah | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
One of the many beautiful colonial buildings in Savannah | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Also read: Savannah Georgia Travel Guide

5. Amelia Island and City

After we were mentally and physically recharged in the nature of both Barrington and Blythe Island county parks, it was time for some variety. We wanted the beach and fun and that's why we went looking for a place where we could hang out with our 4×4 camper could drive onto the beach! This is possible on Amelia Island, a peninsula in the north-east of Florida. Here you can go to the beach in many places with your car. The beaches here are really fan-tas-tic!

Chris approves the spot on Amelia Island beach | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Chris approves the spot on Amelia Island beach | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West
Malou enjoys the sunrise at Amelia Island | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Malou enjoys the sunrise at Amelia Island | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

We had already seen those nice beach bikes a few times in Amelia City. They looked comfortable, with those fat tires! We decided to rent this one too and we did that at The Beach Store & More† This bike rental company is the best rated in town and also the cheapest. In other words, highly recommended!

Malou by bike in Amelia City | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Malou by bike in Amelia City | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

Cycling around here past all the beautiful colonial beach houses and stopping at one beautiful beach after the other, was really no punishment. This part of our trip through America really felt like a vacation within a vacation!

Also read: Amelia Island | 4×4 camper on the beach
Also read: Amelia City | Cycling, saloons and good food

6. Beach Hopping in Florida

This is not one city or place where you roadtrip from New York to Key West, but actually the entire state! You can find or say a lot about Florida (or America), but oh how well they have it together here. Florida is as flat as a pancake, just like the Netherlands. But what makes this state so great are the 570 beautiful beaches which in total is an astonishing stretch 1450 kilometers.

As long as you stay away from the big cities, Florida's beaches are unbelievably beautiful and peaceful | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
As long as you stay away from the big cities, Florida's beaches are unbelievably beautiful and peaceful | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

What also makes Florida so great is how bizarrely clean and well-kept it is here. All the beaches we have seen are all spotlessly clean. And that's not all. The countless free facilities are usually well-maintained and even on the verges of the roads or in the parking lots you will hardly see any litter.

The beaches in Florida are spotless, what a relief | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The beaches in Florida are spotless, what a relief | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

What a relief. Especially in northern and central Florida, beach hopping is a really great experience, preferably far away from the big cities.

Wild camping is done in many places directly on or on the beach in Florida | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Wild camping is done in many places directly on or on the beach in Florida | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Choose from one of the thousands of free parking spaces right on the sea in Florida. Many of these places have covered picnic tables, free (outdoor) showers and toilets. Ideal!

Also read: Why Florida is so great

7. Kennedy Space Center

The John F. Kennedy Space Center (often abbreviated to KSC) is NASA's launch site and space complex at Cape Canaveral in Florida† In the past, from this launch site, the Apolloflights prepared. Also here were the space shuttles launched.

SLS Space Launch System
De Wereldreizigers.nl 4×4 camper, an American flag and a space rocket | Kennedy Space Center

The complex is approximately 55 by 10 kilometers in size. This means that the complex has an area of ​​no less than 56.600 hectares. For comparison: this is approximately the surface of the Dutch province of Flevoland!

One of the coolest experiences and things to see at the Kennedy Space Center is the Atlantis Space Shuttle† The Atlantis is one of six Space Shuttles ever built.

The Space Shuttle boosters and fuel tank | Kennedy Space Center
The Space Shuttle boosters and fuel tank | Kennedy Space Center
The Space Shuttle: Atlantis | Kennedy Space Center
The Space Shuttle: Atlantis | Kennedy Space Center

This is also the only place in the world where you can admire the Saturn V / Apollo rocket. The 3-stage rocket that completed the moon missions is only here on display in a truly gigantic hall.

The Saturn V / Apollo rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The Saturn V / Apollo rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

I've seen several rockets, including the huge Space Shuttle. Yet my mouth falls open here in surprise. This really is a rocket of a completely different order. The Saturn V is no less than 110.6 meters long and therefore does not even fit in a professional football field when lying down! You have to see it to believe it.

Attend a rocket launch | Kennedy Space Center
Attend a rocket launch | Kennedy Space Center

As icing on the cake, you can even see a rocket launch here. It may sound silly, but it just got us emotional. When the rocket lifted off and the deafening sound was heard 25 seconds later, we struggled to keep our emotions in check. Just goosebumps!

Also read: Kennedy Space Center + Rocket Launch

8. Wynwood, Miami

Wynwood is just a neighborhood in Miami, but it still gets its own place in this list of highlights of the city next to the city itself roadtrip New York to Key West, because it's so special.

Wynwood is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood in Miami | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Wynwood is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood in Miami | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

This up-and-coming neighborhood is great to discover. In fact, Malou and I liked the neighborhood so much that we went there a total of three times! Wynwood was previously known in the 80s and 90s as a working-class neighborhood, which slowly slipped into a ghetto. The district therefore had a bad image for a long time. However, this has been changing rapidly over the past 10-15 years. Wynwood has become a hip part of town where young people love to shop and go out.

The streets here are all beautifully decorated with Street Art | Wynwood, Miami
The streets here are all beautifully decorated with Street Art | Wynwood, Miami

Numerous beautiful outdoor Street Art creations can also be admired here. The whole neighborhood is an open air museum! You can continue shopping to your heart's content, because more and more big brands can be found in this hip part of Miami.

Welcome to the hood | Wynwood, Miami | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Welcome to the hood | Wynwood, Miami | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Tip:: curious about what I shoot with while travelling? See the display below for more information.

The ultimate world travel camera
Fujifilm X-T4 Silver + 16-80mm
5.0

The Fujifilm X-T4 with 16-80 is the ultimate all-round world travel camera† This camera has been declared several times by both the consumer association and Tweakers.net the best system camera you can buy.

Even on the automatic mode you suddenly feel like a professional photographer! You can effortlessly shoot the most beautiful photos, and thanks to the versatile zoom range of the 16-80 lens, you can easily get closer to the action anywhere in the world.

We have also owned the Fuji X-T4 for some time now and can confirm that it takes really fantastic photos! Check out the photos we took with this camera in .'s recent blogs New York City, Washington DC en Savannah.

Pros:
  • The best tested camera
  • Fantastic photos
  • 4k video at 60 fps
  • IBIS image stabilization
  • 5 year warranty
Cons:
  • Get used to it, many options!
  • Price

The hip Street Art center of Wynwood basically only covers a few blocks and streets. Anyone visiting Miami should set aside at least one day for the Wynwood neighborhood.

The entire Wynwood neighborhood is almost an open-air museum | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The entire Wynwood neighborhood is almost an open-air museum | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Nowhere in the world have we seen so many beautiful works of art in such a small area. It is therefore a unique part of the city that you cannot miss. The entire district is a vibrant and colorful open-air museum.

Also read: Street Art in Wynwood, Miami

9. Miami

Florida isn't nicknamed for nothing The Sunshine State† Located at the tip of this state, Miami is a sun-drenched city, where you can enjoy it in different ways.

Miami beach from the air with a drone | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Miami beach from the air with a drone | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

With the Central and South American influences and the sun, you are surrounded by color in Miami. The city has countless sights and activities for every type of traveler. It is simply a city that you must visit once in your life! It's really fantastic to be here in a rented convertible to drive around.

Rent a cool car in Miami! † Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Rent a cool car in Miami! † Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West
Favorite
Sunny Cars | All-inclusive car rental on holiday
4.5

Sunnycars is based in the Netherlands and is by far our favorite choice for car hire when traveling.

At Sunnycars you can rent a car carefree without having to worry about conditions and insurance.

Sunnycars only offers all inclusive car rental. This means that all prices you see include all other costs, coverage and insurance.

Pros:
  • All inclusive car rental
  • Dutch company
  • Worldwide offer
  • Rent a car without worries
Cons:
  • Not always the cheapest

Miami is big and the possibilities endless. It's just where your heart is! You can easily spend your days on the beach or by the pool, but getting more active is certainly no problem either.

Picnic in South Pointe Park as the Cruise Ships pass by
Picnic in South Pointe Park as the Cruise Ships pass by | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

South Pointe Park is the place to go at sunset. Bring a blanket and pack some cheeses, olives and a bottle of red wine. The locals come here to do the same before and during sunset. Enjoy the (sporty) people around you and watch the huge cruise ships pass by, while the sun slowly falls in the distance behind the buildings.

South Pointe Park
South Pointe Park | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Want to experience something different? Then visit a sports competition! Baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American football are the most popular sports in Miami. There are several competitions on and around the weekend. Think of the famous NBA basketball team Miami Heat, the baseball team Miami Marlins, the Florida Panthers (ice hockey) and the Miami Dolphins. All to be seen in their home-town.

Miami Marlins | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Miami Marlins | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

Ready for a shot of adrenaline? Bee Lock & Load Machine Gun Experience & Range, you can fire automatic weapons. What makes Lock & Load Miami so unique is that it is only one of two places in the United States where you as a tourist (in a safe environment!) fully automatic weapons may shoot. The other place is in Las Vegas.

Lock & Load Miami | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Lock & Load Miami | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

Also read: Miami Travel Guide | Must sees, travel tips and budget | Roadtrip USA (18)

10. Everglades national park

If you have never been to a swamp area in your life, you should not miss this park. Got a few days in Miami? Then definitely set aside one or more days, because you will find yourself here in a unique piece of nature that you cannot see anywhere else in the world.

Everglades National Park | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Everglades National Park | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

You don't even have to get out of your car if you don't want to. The many unique animal species are easy to spot when you drive the Loop Road Scenic Drive.

Alligator in Everglades National Park | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York - Key West
Alligator in Everglades National Park | US East Coast Highlights: roadtrip New York – Key West

If you want to experience the real Everglades feeling, definitely book an airboat tour. It is clumsy, noisy and very American, but a lot of fun to experience once. It is a bonus that you can also spot alligators and other beautiful wild animals during such a tour.

Airboats in Everglades National Park | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Airboats in Everglades National Park | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Also read: Everglades | Airboats, alligators and other wildlife

11. The Keys to Key West!

South of Miami, at the very bottom of Florida, are the Florida Keys. It is an archipelago of about 1700 small islands! There is a road called Route 1 from Key Largo, the most northerly island, to "the last" island of Key West in the south-west. On the islands you are not far from the Bahamas and Cuba. The tropical atmospheres will meet you!

Tropical atmosphere on the Keys | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Tropical atmosphere on the Keys | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

A roadtrip Making over The Keys to the tip in Key West is an insanely popular activity and I can see why! The Florida Keys are a truly unique piece of America. Not only because of its history (because it was always an important, strategic point because of its location), but also because of the bizarre bridges and roads that connect the islands. Driving here is an experience in itself.

The Keys from the air | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
The Keys from the air | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Stop at the various islets along the way and you will be treated to the best the Keys has to offer. Numerous restaurants, bars and manatees! The cute animals are really everywhere here.

And manatee on one of the Keys | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
And manatee on one of the Keys | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

Those who want to stay longer in Key West can sample the nightlife on the island or take a snorkel and dolphin tour. The latter is a unique experience that you will never forget.

Dolphin Watching at Key West | Highlights roadtrip New York - Key West
Dolphin Watching at Key West | Highlights roadtrip New York – Key West

The Keys and Key West are therefore the perfect ending to a truly bucket list worthy roadtrip along the east coast of America. Whether you rent a car or camper or like us your own motorhome shipped to the American continent for this roadtrip it won't disappoint you at all!

Also read: The Florida Keys: Dolphin Watching and Island Hopping

Finally – a thank you

This whole trip has of course taken quite some time to organize. And while we asked a lot of questions to experts and planned a lot in advance, maybe even more we just did what we felt like at the time!

Nevertheless, this trip would not have been possible because of the various USA communities on Facebook, where we received a lot of great reactions and tips, which have helped us a lot.

I would therefore like to personally thank everyone from these communities. And if you don't know these groups yet or are not yet a member, don't hesitate! Click on the links below to follow the USA communities, see you there!


Plan your vacation to America here


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Chris – Wereldreizigers.nl

Chris

Owner of Wereldreizigers.nl † Discover the world!

✔️ January 2021 - Friesland
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➡️ 2022 - 1 year United States ? & Canada ?

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