The Quintessential East Coast Road Trip

Something about living on the East Coast in the fall-winter seasons are magical. The way our seasons change is truly a beautiful sight to see. I never really appreciated all that the seasons – much less nature – had to offer until I met my husband. He happens to be a  photographer and I have had the chance to accompany him on some of his trips. I am happy I did because I fell in love with our country all over again.

Based on our adventures together (including many repeats that we go back to each year), I created this post to show my favorite destinations for fall.  Enjoy and Happy Travels!


 

BAR HARBOR, MAINE

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Overlooking the sand beach in Acadia National Park October 2017. Photo by Alex Vactor.

We love to road trip from Bar Harbor to Portland. Both are incredible. However, Acadia National Park steals the show with breathtaking mountains, an epic sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, and a serene coastline where pine trees meet a rocky wild coast.

Where to Stay: The Acacia House Inn. This place is walking distance to quaint shops, restaurants, and the beautiful harbor. Located ten minutes from the park entrance, it is an ideal location. The rooms are adorable, the family that owns the Inn is incredibly kind and accommodating, and this is the best breakfast I have ever had. My husband and I have stayed here three times.

Where to Eat:  You can’t go wrong in Bar Harbor food-wise. Pretty much anywhere you turn there is fresh seafood and a good meal waiting. For a life changing lobster roll go to The Travelin Lobster. With 163 reviews and 5/5 average rating you can’t go wrong.


THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY, VIRGINIA

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Shenandoah National Park at Sunset. November 2017. Photo by Alex Vactor

 

Nestled in the blue ridge mountains, Shenandoah has a certain magic about it. Sun soaked mountain sides and fall foliage that looks like a painting as far as the eye can see makes this trek worth it. The towns directly outside of Shenandoah are not very big. They are sleepy little spots that are stuck in time.

Where to Stay: In the park if you can. You can rent log cabins or camp if that is your thing.

Where to Eat: Pack food! There is not much to offer other than nature once you are in the park. There is a small rest stop in the center of the park around mile 54 but trust me the food is not that great. My suggestion is to pack a nice lunch or dinner and enjoy the views. One of my favorite things to do with my family is hike the Clear Springs Trail,  pack a picnic, a few beers, and watch the sun set over the mountains.


THE OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA

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Cape Hatteras National Seashore. July 2015. Photo Alex Vactor

 

When most people think of the Outer Banks they don’t ever think of anything other than the summer. We usually spend a good chunk of our summer in Kill Devil Hills so my family and I have found the good spots.  I also try to make a fall or winter trip each year. The tourists are gone, the air has a salty crispness to it that I love, and a once bustling summer hub is sleepy and relaxing. We love going to the Hatteras National Seashore to star gaze. In summer and fall you can see the Milky Way. It truly is an amazing sight. One thing to check is the cycle of the moon. If it is a half-full moon or more, you will not see anything.

Where to Stay: The White Doe Inn located in Manteo. This quaint town is located about 20 minutes from Kill Devil Hills.  Manteo is a classic Americana town with beautiful architecture and classic coastal vibes. Also a quick tip on where not to stay -Shutters. Trust me their marketing person is a magician. We were pretty upset that what was advertised to be a resort was a dingy motel.

Where to Eat: The Kill Devil Grill and Food Dudes. These two places are unassuming but incredible. They focus less on the kitsch other restaurants rely on and more on fresh quality ingredients. For to die for seafood, you cannot go wrong with either of these. At Kill Devil Grill, the catch of the day is the best meal on the menu. While fish tacos with pineapple salsa at Food Dudes is a cheat meal indulgence you can’t miss.

For a romantic date and a meal you can’t forget go to The Collington Cafe. This restaurant is in a old Victorian home. It is  nestled away towards the sound side between overgrown trees and palms. It is traditional French cuisine with gluten free and other menu accommodations. The decor is a bit outdated, but don’t let it fool you. It is one of the best meals you will ever eat. That is not an exaggeration.


NOTABLE MENTIONS

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Falling water courtesy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

NYC – Manhattan is stunning in the fall. I love walking around Central Park and 66th-72nd’s tree lined streets

Annapolis, Maryland – New England charm with that Mid-Atlantic nautical grit. Annapolis is a beautiful place to take a romantic sunset sail among fall foliage.

Portland, Maine – A small city with charisma and  lots of great food. It is a great mix of that New England foliage thrill and vibrant city feel.

Falling Water in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania – A Frank Lloyd Wright home that’s impeccably designed, intentionally mixing nature and minimal architecture seamlessly. This place was breath taking. I was silent walking through during our tour because I was so taken back by it’s beauty.

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