The Best East Coast Road Trip Destinations for Foodies

Updated: May 09, 2024

From camping adventures to fancy getaways, road trips give you a chance to see new places and eat all kinds of food. Pack the car and head out on this East Coast road trip!

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The Portland Head Light in Portland, Maine, USA

Portland, Maine: Take the scenic route to one of Portland’s lighthouses

Maine is known for its lobster, picturesque coastline and its many, many lighthouses. You could spend an entire week learning the historical significance behind Maine’s many beacons. (There are six lighthouses in Portland alone!) Portland Head Light, however, is a local favorite. Voted the most photographed landmark in Maine, Portland Head is just minutes from Bite into Maine—a small food truck with a lot of flavor.

Can’t wait to experience that oh-so-buttery taste? Satisfy your craving with this quick and easy lobster dinner.

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The Old Ship in Mystic Seaport

Mystic, Connecticut: Wander the streets of a recreated 19th-century village

Nestled between Noank and Stonington sits Mystic, Connecticut—a small city bursting with historic charm. Among the many things to do in Mystic, locals recommend taking a stroll through the city’s recreated seafaring village. Comprised of authentic New England buildings staffed with creative storytellers, musicians and craftspeople, the seaport is the perfect place for kids and curious travelers alike.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, The Whaler’s Inn is only six minutes away. It’s surrounded by restaurants, including local classics like S&P Oyster Company and Captain Daniel Packer. Be sure to order the a few of the most iconic East Coast foods.

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Coast Cafe chicken
Courtesy The Coast Cafe/Facebook

Boston, Massachusetts: Eat Southern comfort food with a Boston twist

Just because you’re in Massachusetts doesn’t mean you have to eat baked beans. Boston is filled with hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are teeming with taste. The Coast Cafe, for instance, is known for its Southern comfort food—including cornbread, yams, collard greens and black-eyed peas. Be on the lookout for some of these wicked-good New England recipes around town, too.

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Historic steel railroad gantries at Hunters Point in Long Island City, Queens on March 12, 2013.
Luciano Mortula - LGM/Shutterstock

Long Island, New York: Treat yourself to sushi and Italian food

New York is packed with amazing restaurants. You could go to a different restaurant every day, three times per day for an entire year and still have places to go! Because this is an East Coast road trip, we’re putting the spotlight on a little Italian place called Cirella’s on Long Island. Cirella’s has been serving the residents of Long Island traditional Italian food more nearly 60 years. The twist? Cirella’s also offers a full sushi menu with soup, salads and apps.

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The Rusty Nail

Cape May, New Jersey: Grab a bite at The Rusty Nail

Instead of cruising past on the turnpike, stop to see what the Garden State has to offer. From legendary hot dogs to world-renowned tomatoes (Jersey is home to more than 9,000 farms!), the state is filled with culinary treasures. Cape May, for example, is one of Jersey’s best-kept secrets. Between May and December, travelers can enjoy live entertainment while dining by the sea at The Rusty Nail—a local hangout known for its Mahi tacos, among other dishes. Interested in whipping up some Jersey-style food at home? Be sure to check out our list of hand-picked recipes from New Jersey.

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Peaceful Atlantic Ocean seashore view at Cape Henlopen in the State of Delaware a popular destination for relaxation and history.
Yvonne Navalaney/Shutterstock

Lewes, Delaware: Catch a sunrise at Herring Point

Is there a better way to start the day than to watch the sunrise over the ocean? If you’re not a morning person, you’d probably say “yes.” But, believe us, the view is worth it. Herring Point is the best place in Cape Henlopen State Park to get a glimpse of the sunrise. Then, head over to the Bike Loop Trail—the path offers an overview of the entire park, including the Observation Tower, Fort Miles, the fishing pier and the Nature Center. Biking is bound to make you hungry. Luckily, Fish On!—a local favorite known for its Black and Blue Seared Steak Sandwich—is only 20 minutes away.

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Culture Cafe

Williamsburg, Virginia: Sip coffee at Culture Cafe

Travelers come to Williamsburg, Virginia, for its history and stay for the food. Culture Cafe looks like an ordinary cafe. But on the inside, an Alice in Wonderland-esque world awaits! The most unique feature of this cafe, however, is its menu. From creamy potato soup to goat cheese apricot dip to a variety of meatless meals, Culture has a meal option for everyone.

Editor’s tip: The cafe also offers an all-day breakfast, which includes one of the most mouth-watering Chicken and Waffles plates I’ve ever had. I’d recommend sipping on a creamy Blackberry Lavender White Mocha (espresso, white chocolate sauce, lavender and blackberry syrup) for dessert.

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Historic Ocracoke Light on Ocracoke Island
William Silver/Shutterstock

Ocracoke, North Carolina: Hop on a ferry to Ocracoke Island

If you’re ever lucky enough to travel to the Outer Banks, keep going until you hit the Hatteras ferry. Highway 12 may seem like a never-ending road, but the island that’s waiting on the other side is worth it. (Don’t be surprised if you see a few wild horses on your way down!) Ocracoke is a small, undeveloped playground for anything you can do in, on or around the water.

The best part? There’s not one chain restaurant in sight. Ocracoke is filled with casual waterfront spots (my personal favorite is Howard’s Pub) and breakfast spots like Pony Island Restaurant. As a North Carolina native, I’ve had plenty of biscuits and gravy at Pony Island.

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Sea Witch Cafe

Carolina Beach, North Carolina: Snack on Firecracker Shrimp

The Outer Banks isn’t the only place in North Carolina where you can enjoy the sand and the sun. Carolina Beach is another must-see destination on this East Coast road trip. The entire town has a laid-back vibe where you can always find good food and live music.

You can get both at SeaWitch—a tiny tiki bar with a big personality. From spicy Firecracker Shrimp to Megalodon Burgers topped with pulled pork and beef brisket, SeaWitch has something for everyone.

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Charleston, South Carolina, USA in the French Quarter.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Charleston, South Carolina: Enjoy a glass of wine and a steak

Charleston is known for its rich history, endless shopping and sinfully delicious dining. While there are several mouth-watering restaurants to choose from—like Charleston Grill, Fleet Landing and Martha Lou’sOak Steakhouse is the place to go for a hearty steak dinner.

Toast with a glass of cabernet sauvignon to end a successful East Coast road trip!

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