17 Best Road Trips From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

road trips from philadelphia
| 7 min read

Philadelphia has lots of interesting things to see and do. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or the reserved type who would rather visit museums, party at night and sleep during the day, your itinerary will always be full if your next destination is beautiful Philly. There are also plenty of accommodation options such as Airbnb vacation rentals and kid-friendly hotels. In addition to having its gorgeous charms, the city’s location also puts it in close proximity to a plethora of top attractions and places to visit by car. With either a road trip or a weekend getaway, you are always within striking distance of some of the region’s top attractions. If taking a break from Philly or using it as a base to explore the nearby attractions sounds like a good idea to you, scroll down to learn about the best road trips from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1. Jersey Shore, NJ

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Infinite Glory</div>
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jason Knauer used under CC BY 3.0

Jersey Shore makes for an ideal driving vacation from Philadelphia as it offers a perfect blend of coastal charm, natural beauty, and vibrant attractions, all within a relatively short distance of approximately 50 miles (80.47 kilometers) depending on your destination along the shore. Along the journey, travelers can soak in the scenic views of the Delaware River and Atlantic coastline.

Jersey Shore boasts an array of picturesque beach towns such as Ocean City, Wildwood, and Cape May, each with its unique character and attractions. Visitors can lounge on pristine beaches, stroll along iconic boardwalks, savor fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants and explore charming historic districts. Cape May, known for its Victorian architecture and charming streets, offers a glimpse into the past, while Wildwood’s vibrant amusement parks and water parks promise family fun.

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2. Shenandoah National Park, VA

Skyline Drive in the Fall (21852619608)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Shenandoah Natio... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Shenandoah National Park, located approximately 200 miles (321.87 kilometers) southwest of Philadelphia is a perfect road trip destination for those seeking a serene escape into nature’s embrace. Almost a 5-hour drive from Philadephia, the park offers picturesque views of rolling hills and charming rural landscapes. Upon arrival, visitors can immerse themselves in the park’s 200,000 acres (80937.20 hectares) of wilderness, characterized by the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.

Shenandoah National Park offers an array of outdoor activities, including hiking along the famous Skyline Drive, where one can revel in panoramic vistas of the Shenandoah Valley and hike to cascading waterfalls such as the Dark Hollow Falls and Whiteoak Canyon. Camping, wildlife watching, and birding are popular pastimes, and the park’s extensive trail system caters to all levels of hikers.

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3. Boston, MA

Boston, MA Skyline Sunset Image Staking
Source: Photo by Flickr user Trenten Kelley used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Get out of Philly for a bit and go on a weekend getaway at one of the country’s best cities: Boston. With a distance of around 315 mi (507 km), the road trip will take approximately 5 hours, passing by the New Jersey Turnpike if you take I-95 North. Take a few stops along the way, either in New York or Connecticut, before you arrive at your destination. Boston’s best attractions include Fenway Park, the Harborwalk, Quincy Market, and the New England Aquarium. Of course, don’t forget to try some of their signature baked beans too!

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4. Williamsburg, VA

The Governor's Palace -- Williamsburg (VA) September 2012
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ron Cogswell used under CC BY 2.0

Go back in time and witness the daily workings of the Colonial era when you take your road trip to Williamsburg in Virginia. The drive from Philly will take about 5 hours, with the distance being approximately 300 mi (483 km). The city used to be the capital of the English colony in North America and the political center in the state leading to the American Revolution. Its main tourism area is located in Colonial Williamsburg, which is the fully restored historic district in the city. Other notable landmarks include Virginia Musical Museum, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, and Williamsburg Botanical Garden.

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Philadelphia Tour Guide

Annie Leguennec

Annie Leguennec

My name is Annie. I am a local Tour guide based in Philadelphia enjoying fully what the city has to offer with its deep history, street arts, murals, architecture, traditional food, black history, Farmer Markets, green space, a melting pot of neighborhoods and its great locals. I am looking for to welcome you and show you this incredible city where you will gain a better understanding of the city's rich heritage and its continuing legacy as the birthplace of the United States of America. Book my tour. Explore and learn about this unique city where you will walk on the footsteps of our America's founding Fathers. My tours are conducted in English, French and Italian.

Tours by Annie

Philadelphia Tour Guide

Stephanie Eley

Stephanie Eley

I'm a graduate of ITMI, International Tour Management Institute and 17 years as a licensed Tour Director and Program Director. My expertise began in NYC and Washington, DC where I'm a licensed guide and has expanded to Europe, South America, Cuba and the Western / Southwestern National Parks of the US. I'd love to introduce you for a day or a week to Denver, Colorado and the 4 corners region of the US: Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona! Let's GO!! stepheley@gmail.com

Tours by Stephanie

Philadelphia Tour Guide

Vance Lehmkuhl

Vance Lehmkuhl

Tour operator and tour guide for American Vegan Center in historic Old City Philadelphia, administering walking tours focusing on Philadelphia's "veg history" - the vegans and vegetarians through history that started the US vegetarian and vegan movements in this city. Author of "Eating Vegan in Philly" (2016) and also "V for Veg: The Best of Philly's Vegan Food Column," a collection of my columns for the Philadelphia Daily News 2011-2016. Also a proficient musician (founded eco-conscious pop band Green Beings, 1999) and cartoonist (Philadelphia City Paper, VegNews, New York Times Syndicate). Developing french-language walking tour focusing on Anthony Benezet for March 2024.

Tours by Vance

5. Outer Banks, NC

Outer Banks, NC
Source: Photo by Flickr user James Willamor used under CC BY-SA 2.0

There’s no arguing that one of the best drives on the East Coast is Outer Banks. It’s a 200-mi (321 km) stretch or barrier island on the coast of North Carolina. The travel time is a whopping seven to eight hours, but all that driving fatigue will melt away once you step foot in this majestic destination. There’s nothing but breathtaking views all around you. Take the time to explore every inch of the islands and climb up the various lighthouses and snap a few photos. When it’s time to check out of your hotel or vacation rental in Philadelphia, set forth a new adventure. Come to Outer Banks. Every imaginable beach-related activity is possible here!

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6. Blue Ridge Parkway

beautiful blue ridge parkway fall colors 2016
Source: Photo by Flickr user Niemand für Polyp... used under CC BY 2.0

An East Coast road trip sure calls for a drive through Blue Ridge Parkway. It is an all-American Road and a national parkway that is known for stretches of picturesque beauty. The drive will be approximately 7.5 hours, and you may even make a stop at Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The parkway is about 469 mi (755 km) and runs through 29 counties between North Carolina and Virginia. When you choose this as your next road trip, the journey itself is the destination, and you’ll be glad that you took the time to make the drive. The natural beauty of the mountains, especially in autumn, will blow you away.

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7. Washington, D.C.

Source: Photo by Flickr user Pedro Szekely used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of traveling far just to experience a nice road trip from Philly. For a change of pace that does not take half a day of driving, consider the 2.5-hour travel to Washington, D.C. Besides being the US political capital as we know the city to be, its other attractions include the Smithsonian Institution, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington Ballet, and U Street Corridor. Washington DC is also where National Parks, home of the Washington Nationals, is located. Philly has its fair share of history tours, and D.C. is the perfect place for more!

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8. Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC
Source: Photo by Flickr user James Willamor used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Philadelphia and Charleston are separated by a distance of about 670 miles (1,078.3 km), and if you were to drive non-stop, it could take over 10 hours. But what is the point of driving non-stop when you can make lots of stops to admire the natural scenery, beautiful land formations and the plethora of attractions between the two cities?

Upon reaching Charleston, you will find lots of interesting stuff to see and do, including a visit to the Fort Sumter National Monument, Historic Charleston City Market, Waterfront Park and the South Carolina Aquarium, among others. Make your driving trip from Philadelphia worthwhile by including these places to your itinerary!

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9. Columbus, OH

Downtown Columbus OH
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ron Reiring used under CC BY 2.0

Columbus is about 380 miles (611 km) from Philadelphia and you can reach it in less than 6 hours. A road trip to Columbus from Philadelphia will not be tiring since you won’t have to spend a lot of time on the road and, apart from the scenic views you will enjoy along the way, you will be pleased by the range of attractions that await you. They include, but are not limited to, a visit to Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Center for Science and Industry, Columbus Museum of Art and the German Village, among others.

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10. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, New York
Source: Pixabay

It’s no secret that this place is one of the best road trip ideas from Philadelphia. Niagara Falls is only 230 miles (370 km) from Philly and it will take you approximately 4 hours to reach it by road.

Once here, the most iconic attraction is the majestic Niagara Falls, but after you are done admiring its beauty and splendor, there are several other attractions worth checking out. They include a visit to the Cave of the Winds, Bridal Veil Falls, Niagara Falls Observation Tower and an excursion to the Goat Island, among others.

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11. Knoxville, TN

100th Block Gay St Knoxville, TN - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user yourmanstan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

To get to Knoxville, TN, from Philadelphia, you will have to cover a distance of about 630 miles (1,013 km), which you can comfortably do in about 10 hours if you were to drive non-stop. But what’s the beauty of not stopping when you have lots of attractions to check out along the way?

Upon reaching Knoxville, you will have a thrilling range of things to do and see and you will particularly love this city if you are an outdoors enthusiast. Some of the top attractions here include the Ijams Nature Center, Zoo Knoxville, Sunsphere, excursions along the Little River, a visit to the Knoxville Art Museum and a trip to the Market Square for a great shopping experience.

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12. Tampa FL

Downtown Tampa, Florida
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Clément Bardot used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you were to drive without stopping from Philadelphia to Tampa, FL, you will need at least 17 hours to cover the over 1,210 miles (1,931 km) between the two cities. However, doing so will beat the essence of a road trip because you will not only get tired, but also miss out on the plethora of interesting attractions along the scenic routes you will be driving through.

Upon arriving in Tampa, you will also have lots to see and do. The Florida Aquarium, Adventure Island, Henry B Plant Museum and the Tampa Bay History Center are just but a few of the attractions you shouldn’t miss during this road trip.

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13. Dallas, TX

Downtown Dallas TX 2013-06-08 077
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Thomas R Machnitzki used under CC BY 3.0

A distance of about 1,420 miles (2,285.3 km) stands between Philadelphia and Dallas, TX, and if you are to drive, you will need at least 20 hours to get there. Though such an experience may be grueling, you can break the journey into various parts over several days, so you get enough time to sample the plethora of attractions between the two great cities. You can browse through some of the similar day trips from Philadelphia in the above-mentioned list.

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14. Myrtle Beach, SC

Myrtle Beach ferris wheel
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user The ed17 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Looking for the best driving vacations from Philadelphia? If you can conquer the 645 miles (1,038 km) between Philadelphia and Myrtle Beach, you will gift yourself a whole world of interesting fun opportunities. Whether you love having loads of fun on the beach, or you need some peace and serenity found in the parks, or maybe you would love to entertain your kids on the water, Myrtle Beach has more than enough options for you.

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15. Iowa City, IA

Mann, Iowa City, IA, USA - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chao W used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Iowa City is about 800 miles (1,287 km) from Philadelphia and, if you are to go by road, you will need at least 12 hours of non-stop driving. But since it is a road trip, you don’t have to do the entire trip at once. In addition to the magnificent scenery you will encounter on the road, some of the other interesting things you can do in Iowa City include a visit to Amana Colonies, a tour of Coralville Lake, a visit to the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, a tour of the Gaslight Village and a visit to the Hickory Hills Park to encounter nature and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.

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16. Savannah, GA

forsyth park 1
Source: Photo by Flickr user Britt Reints used under CC BY 2.0

Philadelphia and Savannah, GA, are separated by a distance of 785 miles (1,263 km) and you will need at least 12 hours to cover the distance by road. But upon arriving in Savannah, you will be interested by an incredible variety of things to see and do, including a visit to Forsyth Park, the Old Savannah Trolley Tours, City Market, a tour of the Owens-Thomas House, Telfair Museum of Art and a visit to the historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, among others.

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17. Portland, ME

Commercial Street, Portland ME
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user John Phelan used under CC BY 3.0

Portland, ME, is another great destination for a road trip from Philadelphia. The distance is only 485 miles (780 km) and, with a non-stop drive, you can access it in about 8 hours. Some of the attractions you may consider to keep you busy here include visits to the Tate House Museum, Portland Museum of Art, Casco Bay Lines, the Old Port, the Allagash Brewery, Peaks Island, the Eastern Promenade and the Historic House Museum – Victorian Mansion, among others.

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Enjoy the epic road trips from Philadelphia

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Meihe Chen used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Philadelphia offers plenty of things to do, from a simple hangout at a cafe to a fun day with the family at the top theme parks. Whether you have exhausted all the road trips within Philadelphia or you just need a breather, venturing out of the city will not just give you a new perspective, but also expose you to incredible attractions within reach from Philly. Go through our recommendations above of the best road trips from Philadelphia and choose the ones you think will be most satisfying for you.

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Frequently asked questions about road trips from Philadelphia

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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