If you are thinking of taking a vacation along the East Coast of America, consider journeying from New Haven, CT, the home of Yale University, to Hampton, VA, which sits close to the original Jamestown colony. Along the way, visit national and state parks that retain the character of the land that greeted the first colonists. While passing through the region, stop and visit communities large and small to discover new people and places. To explore what the region offers, create a road trip itinerary from New Haven to Hampton that includes visits to sites of historical interest and to many of the unique places along the way. A vacation like this reveals the foundations of a nation that rests on ideas.
Acadia National Park
Before embarking on your New Haven to Hampton RV road trip, take a detour 230 miles north to visit Acadia National Park. One of two national parks that sit on the Atlantic coast, Acadia appears to leap out of the ocean and onto the rocky shores of Maine to climb 1,530 feet to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. The park includes the ocean shores from which it climbs and the mountains that are at its top as well as lakes, rivers, high hills, ridges, and deep valleys. Trails wander through the hillsides, along creeks, and up rocky slopes to lakes, some of which are full of native trout that seldom see a baited hook or fly.
New River Gorge National Park
When you reach Philadelphia — 172 miles into your road trip from New Haven to Hampton — take a detour of 462 miles westward to see the New River Gorge National Park. One of the newest national parks in the system, this park features the New River, a massive gorge, and forests as far as you can see. The gorge rivals the famous canyons out west — the Grand Canyon and the Columbia River Gorge — for scenic value. The dense forests that cover this park are reminiscent of those the first European explorers experienced. Hiking the trails here makes you realize how such a barrier thwarted many of the first attempts to move westward from the original colonies.
Shenandoah National Park
After taking in the impressive sites at New River Gorge National Park, travel 301 miles east through the mountains to visit Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah is another example of the impediment those who wished to move westward found in the early days of colonization. Encompassing over 300 square miles, this park protects a vast chunk of the Blue Mountains from development. The forested hillsides, deep valleys, and high ridges are just as the early explorers found them. Hikers and bicyclists find miles of trails here with stunning views around every corner.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
From Shenandoah National Park, journey 443 miles through western Virginia and into North Carolina to Cherokee, NC, to enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 500,000-acre park got its name from the perpetual fogs that cover the area. As you approach, the mists open, revealing a beautiful series of hills and mountains. Visitors come to enjoy the hiking trails, the fishing streams, and the lakes. No matter which way you turn in this park, the views are fantastic.
Black Rock State Park
Before you leave on an extended journey like this road trip from New Haven to Hampton in an unfamiliar RV, find a campground where you can familiarize yourself with the equipment. Only 32 miles north of New Haven at Black Rock State Park is the perfect spot to do so. Visitors to this 444-acre park are welcomed by breathtaking views of forests from horizon to horizon. Angling and swimming are allowed in Black Rock Lake and Black Rock Pond. Hiking trails run throughout the park with interpretive markers informing how Native Americans lived and thrived in this landscape.
French Creek State Park
Just 63 miles northwest of Philadelphia, near Reading, PA, sits French Creek State Park. It is located deep in the Hopewell Big Woods, the largest forest in southeastern Pennsylvania. Covering 7,526 acres, the park is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including pheasants, squirrels, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and rabbits. Over 40 miles of hiking trails run through the park and into the surrounding forest. Scotts Run Lake and Hopewell Lake provide excellent fishing and allow swimming in designated areas.
Chippokes Plantation State Park
Chippokes Plantation State Park, located 40 miles west of Hampton, is on the route from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Hampton. The park covers 1,945 acres of farmland that is still under operation. It sits on the shore of the James River, directly across from the original Jamestown colony. The main house is used as a museum, and several slave quarters are scattered throughout the property. This park is a great place to stay to learn more about the history of the area while resting from your New Haven to Hampton road trip.
The Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park
Take the family to Lighthouse Point Park, set against the background of the Atlantic Ocean, in New Haven to see one of the few remaining original carousels. Of the 10,000 recorded carousels on which children played in the 1920s, only 100 remain. The Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park is one of the most famous. It has 72 characters on which to ride on a 60-foot-wide platform. Take the kids and enjoy a piece of fun history.
Another piece of history that you encounter on your New Haven to Hampton RV road trip is Independence Hall. This historic building lies in the heart of Philadelphia. The Second Continental Congress met here in 1776 to determine the future of the 13 colonies subject to Britain's rule. The result was the Declaration of Independence, rebellion, and establishing a lasting democracy, the first of its kind.
Visit the Yorktown Battlefield, where America finally won its independence from Britain, bringing an end to the American Revolutionary War. Located 20 miles north of Hampton, VA, this park remains a National Historic Site. History wrote a thrilling and tragic tale here of heroism, hardship, and victory taken from the mouth of defeat. It is an important reminder of where America came from and the sacrifices made to make it possible.
New York, NY
About 80 miles into your New Haven to Hampton RV road trip, you get to New York City. Any visit to this town is special and points of interest seem to spring out at you wherever you go in this city. As the designated “melting pot of the world,” New York is home to restaurants that provide excellent examples of pretty much every cuisine that there is. The shops here are legendary, and museums are everywhere. No one should leave this city without a view of its skyline — the most famous in the world. Make sure to visit one of the many dump stations available for your use. To stay close by for a few days while you explore this city, find the campgrounds that best suit your needs.
Philadelphia, the location that saw the creation of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of a major rebellion, has an incredible mix of points of interest, restaurants, and shops that keep guests busy for days, if not weeks. Museums, monuments, and memorials are everywhere. Take the time while you are here to visit one of the dump stations to clean your tanks before moving on to New River Gorge National Park. If you wish to stay a few days, check out the surrounding campgrounds.
On the return leg from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to finish your road trip from New Haven to Hampton, you pass through the suburbs of historic Richmond. Take the time to stop and visit some of the Civil War memorials scattered throughout the city. While you are in the area, take advantage of the dump stations to clean your tanks. To stay comfortably for a day or two, check out their numerous campgrounds.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from New Haven to Hampton, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in New Haven or Hampton.