Looking to take a short and affordable road trip through the Northeast, but aren't sure where to make your stops? Well, look no further! We’ve compiled a list of the five must-see sites on any road tour and, even better, the majority of the stops are completely free to visit! (Well, besides the gas and snacks of course.) We’ve even put them in the best driving order for you, though feel free to go backward or mix them up in order to suit your needs.
1. York, Maine
This charming little beach town towards the northern tip of the eastern United States is a great place to start off your road trip. York offers beautiful coastal views, a combination zoo and amusement park, as well as the Nubble Lighthouse, which is the most photographed lighthouse in America. The sightseeing attractions are generally free, but entry to York’s Wild Kingdom—New England’s only Zoo and Amusement Park—starts around $15 for adults and $1 for infants and children.
2. Ice Castles, New Hampshire
Ready to be dazzled by professional icy creations such as LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and fountains? Then the second stop on your journey should be to New Hampshire's brilliant Ice Castles attraction! Show up in the daytime to marvel at the magnificent deep natural blues of the ice and show up at night to see the LED lights cast the castles in a rainbow glow. Entry fees start at $12, however, it’s highly recommended that you purchase your tickets online beforehand as they are often sold out and standby tickets tend to be more expensive.
3. The Seven Sisters Mountain Range, Massachusetts
The lesser-known Seven Sisters Mountain Range is located in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts will be a great third stop on your adventure. The range provides tons of hiking and mountain biking trails with beautiful scenic routes as well as the Horse Caves near the Notch Visitor Center.
There’s free parking available and no entry fees for the trails, plus if you’re looking for a quick stop over, then you can always head to the neighboring Eric Carle Museum — yes that Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar — where entry costs $9 for adults and $6 for children, seniors, teachers, and students.
4. Bigelow Hollow State Park, Connecticut
This state park located in Union, Connecticut is the next perfect stop on your journey and a great place to enjoy a fun, happy family day out in nature. There are plenty of scenic hiking trails and if you’re looking to have a cookout, then you’ll have a gorgeous view of the Bigelow Pond. There are seasonal and weekend parking fees, however, free entry is available on the weekdays.
5. Mount Tammany, New Jersey
The last stop on your Northeastern road trip should be to Mount Tammany in New Jersey, which is the southernmost peak of the Kittatinny Mountains. There are three different hikes ranging from easy to very difficult. The easiest of the three heads along the Dunfield Creek on the Appalachian Trail and still provides nice scenic views for those who aren’t able or don’t want to make the strenuous hike up the mountain.
The two other hikes go up the mountain. Both are short, but the hardest route is incredibly steep and rocky with amazing views on the way up, while the medium difficulty hike is still breathtaking at the top, but a bit easier on the body. Entry into the area is free, so just be sure to bring some trail mix along!