How to Make the Most of a Scenic Drive on the East Coast

Do you like to travel the scenic route?

The drive along the East Coast of the United States is perfect for a road trip with lots of great restaurants and things to do along the way.

We traveled from Atlantic City to the Outer Banks in North Carolina as part of our multi-state summer road trip.

We decided that we wanted to enjoy the scenery and also have the freedom to stop whenever and wherever we wanted along the way.

We were guests of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

view of Cape May from Cape May Lewes Ferry

I’m sharing tips and places to visit along the Atlantic Coast to make the most out of your scenic drive.

Cape May Lewes Ferry

Take a Ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry

Our journey started with a one-way ferry ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. We started our ride in Cape May, New Jersey which was about an hour away from Atlantic City.

departing view of Cape May Lewes Ferry

It’s recommended that you purchase your tickets ahead of time to make sure that you get your desired time (especially during peak season) and arrive 45 minutes to an hour before your scheduled departure time.

cars on the Cape May Lewes Ferry e1561954076847

We arrived an hour before our 10:30 am departure time and lucked out because they put us on the 9:30 am ferry because they still had room.

If you just show up without a reservation, you can be put on stand by if there isn’t space but you could risk having to wait several hours until the next available ferry.

The ferry runs year round in all types of weather and holds around 100 vehicles.

You can bring your motorcycle, vehicle up to 13’6 in height, and you can even bring your RV or just be a passenger for a one-way or round trip ride.

Pets are allowed on the exterior decks and need to be kept on a leash.

Cape May beach

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry won’t save you a ton of time in the summer months but it does provide a more scenic option that’s relaxing versus driving on the turnpike. The ferry takes about 85 minutes for a one-way trip.

Cape May Lewes Ferry bar

Can you eat on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry?

You can pack snacks and non-alcoholic drinks to bring with you for your ride.

There are also places onboard where you can purchase food and drinks with an outside bar on the top level and concession and bar inside on the lower level.

top deck seating Cape May Lewes Ferry
seating Cape May Lewes Ferry
Cape May Lewes Ferry indoor seating

There is plenty of seating available throughout the ferry on both the top level and the lower level. There are also tables on both levels if you need more room.

family on Cape May Lewes Ferry e1561954044684

We stayed outside on the top deck of the ferry so that we could enjoy the views and weather.

Lewes Delaware Cape May Lewes Ferry

We also wanted to watch the process for docking the ferry when we arrived in Lewes. We really enjoyed our ferry ride because it was a nice way to break up the driving for our trip.

Downtown Lewes Delaware

Discover Downtown Lewes, Delaware

We decided to walk around downtown Lewes for a little bit and make a lunch stop after our ferry ride.

Jerrys Seafood downtown Lewes

Lunch at Jerry’s Seafood

108 2nd St. Lewes DE

Jerry’s Seafood was a recommendation from someone on the ferry who had visited Lewes often. Jerry’s is Home of the Crab Bomb so of course, I had to try it.

crab bomb at Jerrys seafood Lewes e1561953066421

What’s a Crab Bomb at Jerry’s Seafood?

A Crab Bomb is made with 10 ounces of jumbo lump crab, lightly seasoned with Old Bay ®, baked to golden brown perfection with no filler.

Firecracker crab bomb at Jerrys Seafood

I opted for their Firecracker™ version of the Crab Bomb that’s seasoned with black pepper and dry mustard because I’m a HUGE fan of spice and it was delicious.

lobster roll at Jerrys Seafood Lewes
chicken caesar salad Jerrys Seafood e1561953179867
Jerrys Seafood in Lewes Delaware e1562341876266

The salads at Jerry’s are really large and my son ordered the lobster roll. We arrived for lunch a little early which worked out well because we beat the crowds.

We sat in the front section of the restaurant but there is additional seating past the bar.

Notting Hill Coffee Roastery

Coffee and Sweets at Notting Hill Coffee Roastery

124 2nd St, Lewes, DE

After lunch, we walked around for a bit and decided that we needed a caffeine stop before continuing on the next leg of our trip.

coffee blends Notting Hill Bakery

Once we were inside we quickly got distracted by all of the baked goods in the front cases…so we had to try them…in the name of research.

famous Lewes Sticky Buns Notting Hill Bakery
famous Lewes sticky buns at Notting Hill Bakery Lewes Delaware

We opted to try the giant cinnamon roll, Famous Lewes Sticky Buns, and Ooey Gooeys.

ooey gooeys Notting Hill Bakery

The Ooey Gooeys were my favorite because they tasted like a longer version of the inside of a giant cinnamon roll which is the best part.

Lewes Delaware e1562340415705

Visit Local shops in Downtown Lewes

Lewes has lots of cute shops to check out ranging from art, antiques, toys, decor, and clothing.

The historic district also has lots of great architecture and history to check out on this self-guided tour. 

shop in downtown Lewes Delaware

After spending a few hours in Lewes we decided to make our way down the Atlantic Coast.

Fenwick Island State Park in Delaware e1561954011734

Enjoy a Beach Day at Fenwick Island State Park

DE-1, Fenwick Island, DE

We decided that we wanted to allow a few hours to enjoy the beach along the way.

We discovered that Delaware is definitely an underrated state along with its beaches.

Fenwick Island State Park

We loved that the state park wasn’t very crowded and had lifeguards on site.

It was definitely worth the $10 for the out of state entrance fee.

air lounger on the beach

This also gave me an opportunity to test out the air lounger that I purchased from Aldi. I was skeptical that it would work but it was so easy to set up and it was REALLY comfortable.

We didn’t have a lot of extra space in our trunk for large beach chairs which is why the small bag for the air lounger was perfect. You can find similar air loungers here. 

Fenwick Island State Park has a bathhouse for changing and a snack bar if you get hungry during your visit.

I would definitely recommend making a stop here for a few hours of beach time.

Wild horses at Assateague Island

Ocean City, Maryland and Assateague Island National Seashore

During another Roadtrip, we spent time in Ocean City, Maryland we found lots of fun the things to do and we also got to see the wild horses in Assateague Island National Seashore. You can read more of my tips for visiting Ocean City, Maryland here.

road for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge e1562337667277

Take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

If you are continuing to travel down the Atlantic Coast you can take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The bridge connects the area between Virginia’s Eastern Shore and South Hampton Roads, Virginia.

view of the bridge for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

We entered from the Eastern Shore side and stopped at the scenic viewing area before we continued on the bridge.

The toll is $18 and thankfully they take credit cards because we had already used our only remaining cash on hand. Why don’t all toll booths let you use debit/credit cards??!!!

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel takes about 30 minutes to drive and is 23 miles from end to end during your time on the bridge with a shore to shore length of 17.6 miles.

Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel consists of 12 miles of low-level trestle, 2 one-mile-long tunnels, 2 bridges, 2 miles of causeway, 4 manmade islands, and 5-1/2 miles of approach roads. The two-way traffic in the tunnels definitely feels tight but don’t worry, it doesn’t last too long.

An affordable hotel on your way to the OBX

Our original hotel was booked in Norfolk near the beach but the hotel ended up being less than desirable (to the point where the clerk had no problem giving us a refund).  We arrived after dark anyways which defeated the purpose of paying more for a location near the ocean.

We opted to drive the extra hour to stay in Elizabeth City, NC because it got us closer to the Outer Banks.

Hampton Inn Elizabeth City NC

Hampton Inn – Elizabeth City, NC

I knew that we couldn’t go wrong with the Hampton Inn because I’ve never had a bad experience at one…and this case was no different.

We found a great local pizza shop (Big Daddy’s Pizza– 103 Capital Trce, Elizabeth City, NC.) We called ahead to pick up when we arrived in town and just ate the pizza in our room. We were so hungry that I didn’t even bother with a picture but just know that they have REALLY good pizza.

We got a great night’s sleep and there were plenty of options on the complimentary breakfast buffet.

You can find deals on area hotels here.

You can read more about other destinations on our summer road trip below.

Things to Do in the Area After Your Visit to The Wilds

What You Need to Know for Your First Visit to Hersheypark

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How to Make the Most on the East Coast

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