Amazing Stops on the Drive From NYC to Washington DC

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Planning a road trip/drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York? Believe it or not, there are many incredible stops along the way on the New York to Washington DC drive or vice versa crossing through multiple states.

We’ve picked our favorite stops on this incredible journey plus road trip tips. Make your drive unforgettable by adding in some of these amazing stops. This guide covers some of the best things to do in each of these destinations as well as recommendations for overnight stays in case you plan on making a longer stop here.

Since this drive can be as short or as long as possible, we recommend planning to stop or even stay the night at a few of these destinations!

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Table of Contents
    1. New York to Washington DC Drive Tips
    2. Renting a Car for Your New York to Washington DC Drive
    3. Best Stops on Your Drive From NYC to Washington DC

New York to Washington DC Drive Tips

Manhattan view from Ikea Ferry

The total distance on your drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York is anywhere between 227 miles to 245 miles depending on the route you take and where your starting and ending points are in both cities. You could definitely complete the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York in 4 to 5 hours in one day without stops.

However, we recommend building a fun itinerary so you can make some of these incredible stops along the way of this road trip! Also, if you’re planning on exploring more be sure to check out all our picks for best stops on the Montreal to Washington DC drive plus a great 3 day Montreal itinerary to extend your trip!

You will also want to be sure to plan time to spend at both Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.

There are three main routes on the drive from Washington DC to New York and the drive from NYC to Washington DC, the quickest and shortest route is along the I-95, but this route has tolls! You’re going to want to plan for at least $40 in tolls. 

Other route options follow US 301 and I-95 / I-276. However, this may vary depending on which stops you make along your New York to Washington DC drive.

Be sure to also check out our road trip essentials for what to pack during your trip!

Spend time In NYC

Needless to say, before/after your New York to Washington DC drive or vice versa you should definitely spend time getting to know New York City and enjoy some sightseeing! We always recommend checking out our full guides to New York City including best places to see in New York City and where to stay in New York City to help you plan your trip.

We recommend checking out some of the fabulous tours to get to learn about the history, different neighborhoods, film and cinema, and the best of all the food tours!

Spend time In Washington DC

Needless to say, before/after your drive from Washington DC to New York or vice versa you should definitely spend time exploring the country’s capital and all the historic landmarks, museums, and places to explore!

We recommend checking out some of the fabulous tours to get to learn about the history and different landmarks worth checking out!

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Renting a Car for Your New York to Washington DC Drive

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If you already don’t have a car for your starting point we recommend renting a car in advance on Expedia.

We also recommend getting travel insurance for this trip. Many travel insurance plans also cover Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) coverage up to $35,000.

We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance for short trips like this since you can buy your travel insurance at any point and have coverage. 

One reason why this is one of the best travel insurance out there is that they cover CDW for up to $35,000 if you plan on renting a car and upgrade to the Explorer plan. This is an incredibly great deal if you end up in a country.

We personally used World Nomads travel insurance for years because of how quick and easy it is to get coverage anywhere and anytime and there’s 24/7 emergency assistance making claims a breeze when or if you ever get injured or sick abroad.

But if you’re looking to upgrade to a longer-term travel insurance plan like we have for frequent travelers, we recommend checking out our guide to how to pick the best travel insurance for a few different options depending on what your needs are and type of coverage you’re looking for.

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Best Stops on Your Drive From NYC to Washington DC

Princeton, New Jersey

53 miles from NYC, 182 miles from DC

Our first suggested stop on the New York to Washington DC drive or last stop on your drive from Washington DC to New York is Princeton, New Jersey.

Although this stop is best known for its renowned Ivy League University, the town has plenty more going on aside from its academic excellence and is a great place to spend a day enjoying the various attractions, museums and restaurants on offer.

The University has many years collecting fine art and the Princeton University Art Museum on campus is both free and open to the public, so you don’t have to be enrolled to get to see some amazing historical pieces.

Back in Princeton, you can take a tour to learn about the town and its community with many companies offering their services all year round. If you prefer to explore independently, a visit to Drumthwacket is not to be missed. This stately mansion is the official residence for the governor the state of New Jersey and we’d recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment as slots fill up fast.

Stopping by the Arts Council of Princeton is also a great idea to get the opportunity to view some of the best artwork by local Princeton artists. Exhibitions rotate throughout the year and you can even take an art lesson to try your own creative hand.

Princeton can also cater to nature lovers with open spaces like the 400-acre Mountain Lakes, you could really spend a whole day here strolling, hiking or cruising on a bicycle. Many people living in the Central New Jersey area like to come to the part to relax and connect with nature.


Find yourself enjoying so much of this stop on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York that you need to stay the night? Explore the great hotel options below!



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Philadelphia, Pennslyvania

philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa-skyline-from-the-ben95 miles from NYC, 143 miles from DC

Paying a visit to Philadelphia is a must on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York. You can spend your time taking in riverside views, refueling with much-loved local eats, visiting museums, and checking out historic landmarks.

Philly’s Delaware River Waterfront continues to evolve and what were once undeveloped piers are now lively areas decked out with parks, museums, restaurants, and breweries.

It’s a fun place to spend the afternoon or evening, plus you can catch some great skyline views over the water from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge that connects the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Whilst in the city, it’s non-negotiable to try the iconic Philly cheesesteak, which consists of chopped steak, a choice of cheeses and fried onion on a hoagie roll.

To cover some more culinary ground, Reading Terminal Market is a necessity. It’s located below a former railroad terminal and has now been operating as a market for 127 years and counting.

Tourists and locals alike love to pay a visit to buy or try a range of foods like seafood, meats, cheese and fresh products. To get your fill of historical sites, make sure you make it to the Liberty Bell and take a photo. The cracked inscription on the structure, proclaiming liberty for all inhabitants, became a symbol of freedom and continues to be visited by people from all around the world.

Independence Hall is also of high significance to the development of the United States and should be visited when in Philadelphia. It was here that the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Try a Tour:

Find yourself enjoying so much of this stop on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York that you need to stay the night? Explore the great hotel options below!


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Wilmington, Delaware

Wilmington Delaware

126 miles from NYC, 110 miles from DC

The New York to Washington DC drive or drive from NYC to Washington DC works great with a stop off in Wilmington, since its about exactly halfway in between both cities. 

The city is in the first established state of the modern US, Delaware. It’s also the second smallest state after Rhode Island, but don’t be fooled by the size, there’s plenty to do – especially if you like perusing mansions, estates, and gardens.

You can explore the New Castle area right on the Delaware River, one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the country. There are cobblestone streets, historic homes, and buildings dating back to 1700 with the colonial history to match.

The Read House and gardens covering 14,000 square feet can also be found in New Castle, it’s been preserved so you can see what life was like for the Reads, the family who built it between 1801-1803. The Federalist-style house has been named a National Historic Landmark and has over 20 rooms to wander through.

To continue viewing impressive homes, you can head to the Nemours Mansion Wilmington, a late 18th Century French-style mansion built by settler Alfred du Pont. You can take your time to stroll the French château style house and gardens inspired by those of Versailles, France one of the best places to see Paris.

If you have the inclination for even more manicured grounds, Longwood Gardens is a must, with over 1000 acres of flowers, plants, trees, and fountains. It’s elegant, beautiful and a delightful place to get lost for an hour or so.

For a taste of the inner-city life, you can visit downtown Wilmington. We recommend walking down the Riverfront and historic Market Street to take a look at the Art Deco style architecture.


Find yourself enjoying so much of this stop on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York that you need to stay the night? Explore the great hotel options below!



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Aberdeen, Maryland

161 miles from NYC, 70 miles from DC 

Aberdeen is a smaller city also within Maryland state and worth a visit on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or early on in your drive from Washington DC to New York.

Susquehanna State Park is around 15 minutes from the center and located on the eponymously named river. With thick forest and rocky terrain, this is a great place for a range of outdoor activities like mountain biking and hiking.

Of course, the river itself provides great fishing opportunities to catch the likes of pike, perch, and bass.

The waterfront town of Havre de Grace in the Chesapeake Bay is only a 10-minute drive from Aberdeen too. Here on the banks of the Susquehanna River, you can stroll on the boardwalk promenade and through the park to enjoy views over the water.

The Concord Point Lighthouse at the top of the Chesapeake is a beautiful spot to look over the water and take a moment to appreciate its natural beauty. This iconic light has been keeping travelers safe since 1827.

If you enjoy golf, there is also the very pretty Bulle Rock Golf Club on the edge of the town where you can take in the scenery while working on your swing.

If you feel like as spooky experience while in Aberdeen, you should head to Legends of the Fog, an imaginative inside-outside haunted world where you can have a fun and frightening experience at the haunted hayride, haunted hotel, haunted maze and sinister circus.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Maryland Skyline

200 miles from NYC, 40 miles from DC

Baltimore is a fantastic stop on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or an early stop on your drive from Washington DC to New York. This stop is the largest city in the state of Maryland.

Perhaps the most well-known landmark is the Inner Harbour, a spectacle by day or night. The historic seaport is one of the oldest in the United States and now blends the antique and contemporary with 19th Century ships in the harbor (there are also sightseeing cruises!) and attractions like the National Aquarium and Baltimore’s World Trade Center that towers up 27 floors. At the top, you can enjoy sweeping 360-views of the city below.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, three miles southeast of the city center, is famed as the inspiration for the National Anthem ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’. You can tour the fort and learn about its history including the 1814 battle of Baltimore.

Another historic area to visit is Fell’s Point. The old harbor quarter, where ships were once built, has been restored making it a lovely place to spend a few hours enjoying the cafes, restaurants, and market stalls. You can also take a water taxi between the Inner Harbor and Fell’s Point.

In Baltimore, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to art. Try Walter’s Art Gallery for pieces by international artists ranging from the third millennium BC to the early 20th century, unconventional creations by self-taught artists around the world at the American Visionary Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art for one of the United States’ most important African collections.

You can also check out the Baltimore’s baseball stadium Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which is also just a couple of blocks from the birthplace turned museum of legendary baseball star ‘Babe’ Ruth. 

Try a Tour:
  • Baltimore Inner Harbor Sightseeing Cruise – Join this 1-hour sightseeing cruise around the Inner Harbor learning about Baltimore’s history while passing historic sites from the water.
  • Baltimore City Tour with Lunch – This 4-hour tour takes you through Baltimore’s main sites, both historic and modern and includes lunch with local seafood specialties on the menu with a knowledgable guide!
  • Baltimore Helicopter Tour – Get a rare glimpse at a bird’s eye view of Baltimore in this 15-minute helicopter ride over the city, this is perfect for those short on time but want to see as much of the city as possible plus photographers!

Find yourself enjoying so much of this stop on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York that you need to stay the night? Explore the great hotel options below!



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Annapolis, Maryland

Historic Annapolis Maryland 215 miles from NYC, 32 miles from DC

Nearing the end of your New York to Washington DC drive or the beginning of your Washington DC to New York drive, don’t forget to drop by Annapolis!

Considered as the sailing capital of the U.S. – not surprising since it’s home to the U.S. Naval Academy. You can take a tour of the Academy campus and learn about its history and culture in the United States Naval Academy Museum. You’ll also get to see the ornate domed chapel with the crypt of the father of the U.S. Navy, John Paul Jones.

Another important place to learn about the past is the Banneker-Douglass Museum where you can explore African American history, with a focus on writer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass and 18th Century mathematician and astrologer, Benjamin Banneker.

The aptly named ‘Ego Alley’ is the spot to go to gawp at yachts from the dockside restaurants. It’s located in a narrow waterway right in the heart of pretty, historic downtown Annapolis. Between exploring the city, you’ll want to fill up on some of the best Maryland seafood too with crabs, fresh fish, and oysters all around.

If you happen to be in Annapolis on March 21, you’ll have the luck of experiencing a tradition established in 1978 to welcome in the springtime. Locals get together to burn their winter socks, eat oysters, enjoy live music, and celebrate the end of hibernation!


Find yourself enjoying so much of this stop on the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to New York that you need to stay the night? Explore the great hotel options below!

 



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Found this guide to the best stops along the drive from NYC to Washington DC or drive from Washington DC to NYC? Bookmark for later or share the love below on Pinterest! Let us know if we missed any too! We are always looking for new places to add to our list to visit!

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