As many of you know I spent the month of June road tripping down the East coast of America. The plan had originally been to do the West coast but due to a few complications we concluded that the east coast made most sense. Anyone who knows me knows I love having a plan, so to make things interesting we decided not to plan anything and just take one day at a time. Although it was pretty stressful for a few hours of everyday it was definitely the best way to do it and I would encourage anyone setting out travelling not to have a definite plan. Anyway, keep reading to find out more about my trip, what I thought of all of the places we stopped and some tips for you if you happen to be doing a road trip or visiting any of these places.
Stop 1: Provincetown, Massachusetts (Very end of cape cod)
We stayed in this little guest house called The Masthead Resort. It was absolutely perfect for the one night we stayed there. We shared a bathroom with one other room. We were a short 15 minute walk to the main town area and the guest house had it’s own little private beach and deck area with beach chairs. I couldn’t recommend this guest house anymore. It was by far one of the best value places in Provincetown and was just what we wanted.
We got a takeaway from a restaurant called Bubalas By the Bay, which we had planned to take to Race Point Beach to watch the sunset. When we got to the beach it started raining, so no sunset – nearly as disappointing as the food.
We both absolutely loved this place, it had an old fishing town vibe but was filled with new and trendy shops, cafés and restaurants. It is a great people watching area. You feel as though you are on a little greek island rather than 2 hours outside the rustle and bustle of Boston.
Stop 2: Newport
We only stopped here for a few hours to look around but I really wish we had spent a bit longer here. If you don’t know anything about Newport it is known for it’s stunning mansions. You can get tours around the inside of some of the mansions, which I have heard only great things about. In the short time we spent here we went for a walk around the headland surrounding the mansions.
Stop 3: Providence, Rhode Island
Our stay at Hotel Dolce Villa was a bit of a disaster. We arrived at around 5 in the evening to find that the hotel ‘parking’ was an alley way that could fit only 2 cars, and that was full. When I went to the reception to find out what was going on they said we could get the car valet parked on an offsite location once we had checked in. So we had to find parking (which took us around 20 mins) for us to give our keys into reception to be valeted later on – kind of defeated the idea of valet parking, but anyway. The hotel room was clean and I can’t say many bad things, apart from the fact that I was woken at 6am by what I thought was an earthquake. There seemed to be either construction or a lot of bins that needed to be emptied in the area, it went on all morning so if you are staying here you will be up bright and early.
One of the main reasons we stayed in Providence was due to the amazing recommendations we had been given about a restaurant called ‘Hemenway’s’. It is a fancy enough seafood restaurant. I was impressed with their selection of starters, everything sounded amazing. I was less impressed with their selection of main courses. Being on a budget we said we would only have one course as opposed to two as it wasn’t the cheapest. Looking back I really wish I had got two starters instead of the Yellowfin Tuna. It was very plain and seriously lacked flavour. It wasn’t cheap and I know if I would have paid half the price for it I still would have been disappointed. Josh, went for the lobster Mac and Cheese which a friend of his had recommended. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a blonde moment and didn’t realise is was priced per pound of lobster… budget out the window. The Mac and cheese was divine, we ended up sharing most of it. It was presented really well and I would definitely recommend it if you go. The service was really good, the staff were really attentive and super friendly. I don’t know whether I just got unlucky with my choice or josh just got lucky with his but based on the Mac and cheese I would rate the restaurant 8/10. Based on my tuna I would rate 5/10.
The breakfast in ‘Nick’s on Broadway‘ restored my faith in Providence’s food. Our breakfast was really tasty and good value. Although it was off the beaten track it is well worth a visit. I would recommend getting the buttermilk bread with your breakfast. It was amazing. Overall: 7/10
We weren’t in providence for very long, we drove around the downtown area and there were some lovely buildings and parks. Our waitress had said that boat rides on the river was a popular tourist activity. Since we didn’t see a huge amount to Providence I don’t feel like I can give a well rounded summary or judgement of the place. Having said that there was nothing pulling us to extend our stay like some of the other locations we stopped at.
Stop 3: Assateague Island
This was one of the most magical places I have ever been to. I totally fell in love with Assateague Island and would have happily stayed there for the full 3 weeks. It is completely off the beaten track but shouldn’t be missed. I did a separate blog post on Assateague Island which you can read here, and if you decide to camp there you can find tips for camping first timers here.
Stop 4: Outer Banks
We stayed in a Travelodge in the Outer Banks. I was really disappointed with this place. I know there is only so much you can expect from a budget hotel but this one wasn’t clean and was a lot more expensive than other hotels of it’s type. The one good thing was that breakfast was included, which surprisingly had a pretty good selection. The hotel was directly opposite a beach, so can’t fault it’s location but wasn’t our most pleasant stay.
While the Outer Banks were nice. I personally didn’t think they were anything special and honestly would have preferred to have used our night here as an extra night in either Assateague Island, Key West or Sanibel. A good stop over but probably not worth a nights stay.
Stop 5: Charleston
We stayed in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Suites in the Historic District. We used Hotwire for this place, (I spoke about Hotwire and my favourite cheap ways to book accommodation of one of my recent instagrams. This hotel was lovely, it had a small gym and laundry facilities – which if you end up doing a road trip you will become very familiar with. Overall our stay was lovely and were lucky enough to be upgraded when we arrived at the hotel so that is always a lovely surprise. The hotel was in a really good location and would definitely recommend it, it was on the expensive side if you aren’t getting it on Hotwire.
If you appreciate good quality, fresh food and don’t mind paying a bit extra for it this is the place for you. SNOB (Slightly North of Broad) gave us our best meal on our trip to date. An elderly couple we met that had holidayed in Charleston for years recommended it to us along with ‘Fig and Husk‘.
You can tell it was a good menu when you are struggling to choose between more than two options. I honestly would have eaten anything on the menu. In the end I went with the New Bedford Scallops. They melted in mouth, and although I didn’t want the meal to end it was the perfect size portion, after I had devoured half of the bread basket. I usually try to avoid the bread basket but cornbread. Southern heaven – a bread I can’t resist. There is only so strong someone’s will power can be when the bread basket is fully of what looks and tastes like cake. Josh had the BBQ Tuna which was really good, however I preferred my scallops.
We both loved Charleston, the only issue was that due to the torrential rain we didn’t get so see as much of it as we wanted. It was such a cute little city with loads of old buildings and a daily market which is filled with souvenirs, jewellery and other bits and bobs. High street shoppers not to worry. Charleston had a great selection of high market stores scattered through it’s seasoned streets.
Stop 6: Savannah
We stayed in the Holiday inn in the Historic District, it was in the perfect location and was good value. The hotel was clean and modern and the staff were good fun. There was a small gym and an outdoor pool with some sun loungers. It was our favourite accommodation this far in on our trip.
Food & Drink:
We went and got ice-cream in a famous old ice-cream parlour called Leopold’s we had read about it and had to check it out for ourselves. It was like something out of an old American movie. The ice-cream was divine and the line was out the door the duration of our stay. Very generous portions.
If you are lucky enough to grab a table at ‘Rocks on the Roof’ roof top bar around 6pm on a clear night, prepare for an evening of beautiful oranges and pinks as the sunsets behind the bridge. We sat there for hours having a few drinks. It looks over the river so you might be lucky enough to spot some dolphins like we did.
We did a walking tour one morning. Which I think are a great and inexpensive way really get a feel for the city you are in. Especially when through the eyes of a local. We found this one online by just googling ‘Savannah walking tours’. The tour was about an hour and a half long and was free apart from tips. The tour was really interesting and we enjoyed it, a lot of the tour was history based which I usually love just as Irish people it was hard to keep up as we didn’t have a good background knowledge on American history.
This place is seriously overlooked. We loved Savannah, it was really pretty and in some areas it felt as though you had jumped back in time. There was a lot of history about it and was definitely our favourite city on the trip. Well worth the visit.
Stop 7: St. Augustine
St. Augustine is the oldest town in the states, we stopped here for some dinner and a walk around. The place is totally geared towards tourists, it is really commercial and honestly the few hours we spent there were enough. The food options seemed okay, we were starving and ended up in The Floridian. The food was fine nothing special, would have kept looking if we weren’t so hungry.
Stop 8: Orlando
We stayed in The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Orlando Lake Buena Vista. The hotel was everything you would want from an Orlando hotel, it was clean, cheap, had a swimming pool, a shuttle bus to all of the theme park and free parking – the most under appreciated thing. Disneyland can end up being very expensive and they last thing you want to do is be spending a fortune on a hotel as well. Our hotel was about a 20 minute drive from Universal Studios and a 15 minute drive to The Magical Kingdom.
This place is what dreams are made of … We went to a pizza place called Giordano’s. There are two in Orlando and they are known for their deep dish pizzas. I have never had a deep dish pizza so I can’t judge if it was good in comparison to other deep dish pizzas. The one thing I do know is that it was unbelievable, words don’t even begin to describe how good it was. All ill say is we took a 2 hour detour to get it again on the way home…
In Orlando we went to Universal Studios, mainly because I am a huge Harry Potter fan. For those of you who don’t know Universal Studios has a huge Harry Potter attraction which was amazing. I felt as though I was stepping straight into the movie. Having said that I have been to Disneyland in Paris and in California and both of those times I went to the Magical Kingdom (the one with the big castle). If you are planning your first trip to any of the Disneylands I would definitely recommend going to the Magical Kingdom as opposed to any of the other parks. It is the main one and is based on all of the classic Disney movies.
From what I saw, Orlando is nothing but a city built around Disney world. I have never been to Las Vegas but Orlando is exactly what I had expected Vegas to be like. The place is filled with tall buildings, tourist attractions and bright lights.
Stop 9: West Palm Beach
We stayed just north of West Palm beach in yet again another Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott West Palm Beach, Jupiter. It was a nice hotel, clean. Again, you know the drill, all budget hotels are pretty similar. There was a free breakfast included at this hotel which was really handy for us when we were constantly on the road.
Out in Jupiter near our hotel we went and got a takeaway from Food Shack. A friend had recommend it saying it was his favourite restaurant and obviously everyone else’s too, there was already a line out the door at noon. So we decided to skip the line and get it to take away. We were told by a local that the menu varies on a daily basis based on what fresh produce they have in. We got the ‘Shack Bowl’ which was mixed veggies basil cilantro toasted garlic noodles coconut milk lemongrass kaffir lime broth. They had a range of fish that you could add. The food was really tasty and super fresh.
Avocado grill was in downtown West Palm Beach, close to the water front. Their large outdoor seating area and huge tapas style menu makes this place the perfect spot for an evening bite to eat after a day at the beach. Their menu was filled with interesting and inventive dishes, I just wanted to try them all. They staff were so friendly and were really helpful when it came to recommendations for both food and cocktails.
We went to a beach just 15 mins north of West Palm Beach. A lot of the beaches around that area are private for the hotel guests of the surrounding hotels. We luckily found a natural reserve called John MacArthur State Beach ParkJwhich is in North Palm Beach. I think we had to pay in with the car, but can’t fully remember. There is a long walk from the car park to the beach across a bridge, which stretches over some of the water that separates palm Bech from the main land. You are able to rent canoes to explore these waters. The beach is really long and the water was an amazing temperature when I was there in June. It is really cool around the time I was there there were ‘Turtle Walks’ at night time. On the Turtle Walks you go with a guide at night and they would bring you to areas where you can see the turtles crawl onto the beach and lay their legs. They were all sold out for when we were there. We spoke to a staff member and they told us that they sell out very quickly so if you are going be sure too book in advance.
West palm beach was really nice, the main area was a good bit inland from the beach which took us a long time to realise. The main area had loads of shops and restaurants. Where as closer to the water there wasn’t as much going on.
Stop 10 : Miami
The plus point of my dad travelling for work = hotel points redeemable against free nights away. We stayed in the Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami. It was a stunning, modern hotel just one street back from the beach with a pool that has plenty of sun beds and cabanas. It wasn’t cheap if you didn’t have Hyatt points but hotel guests did have full access to the hotel across the streets gym which is probably the best hotel gym I have been in. Guests could also get a free sun bed and towels for the day on the beach just across from the hotel. Not only was it a lovely hotel it is also in a great location. Right beside Lincoln road, the main shopping area in Miami.
Taquiza was special, when I read a review saying it was a casual spot for some good Mexicuan I didn’t realise it would be this casual. Tequiza is essentially a stationary food truck built into the wall, it has a window where you go up and order and collect your food. The seating is in a little covered over outdoor area, with tree branches giving you the extra shade you need. The menu comprises of individual tacos, most being 3$ each. There were also chips and salsa/guac, the chips were not like the regular chips you would buy in the store. They were blu corn chips that were still hot. They were also a lot thicker. I couldn’t recommend this place more. We loved it and I think it is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat and a beer in the evening after spending a day on the beach. My eyes were bigger than my appetite and ate waaaay too much and felt sick for the night. So, pace yourself.
We fell for the tourist trap and went to ‘Havana 1957‘. There were a few Cuban restaurants that seemed to be bopping every time we passed them, and we figured we weren’t going to Cuba so might as well get a taste for it – punny. The food was awful. I got their ‘house special’ and it was just a chicken thigh with a special gravy and rice. You have been warned, if you want Cuban food, go to Cuba.
It was a really nice area to visit for a few days, I wouldn’t fancy going there for a full holiday as in my opinion it is a bit hectic and not very relaxing.
Stop 11: Key West – The highlight
We stayed in a hostel called Seashell Motel, we had our own room so it wasn’t as cheap as you would imagine but it was ideal. It was a short bike ride to the centre of the action (Mallory Square & Duval street area) – you could rent bikes from the hostel. It was clean and air conditioned and had laundry facilities and was exceptionally cheaper than all of the other places on the island.
I read a review saying Pepe’s was the best thing since sliced bread. We went and enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was all they had hyped it up to be. The food was good but the menu was small for lunch. The dinner menu looks as though it had a few more options. What did live up to our expectations was the key lime pie. It was truly to die for and we would have gone through 4 servings each. Easily.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is off the beaten track but is not to be missed. You have to pay in, I cant remember how much it was but I know the price varied depending on if you went by car, bike or foot. The beach was lovely and clean with clear water and soft sand. There was a small shop and a rental facility for snorkelling gear. The beach had BBQ facilities and loads of picnic benches in the shade as well as outdoor showers and bike racks.
Lagerheads Beach & Bar is a chilled seafood shack known for their fish tacos. The beach they are located on is no longer than 20 metres and is quite the hidden gem. Although it doesn’t seem like much when you arrive, not very many people know about it so it is never really that busy. Feeling peckish or need to cool off? There is a little beach hut with really reasonably priced food and drinks. They also have daily drink specials and a happy hour from 5-7pm.
When we were there we obviously rented bikes to get around the place which was also really fun, so I would totally recommend doing that because it is actually too hot to be walking everywhere. One morning we did a jet ski tour of the island which was so much fun. We saw so much and got to speed around on jet skis for an hour and a half. Money saving tip: get one between two people, it is cheaper and in my opinion more fun. Just make sure you hold on tight! We also bought snorkels and masks, we were totally ripped off in one of the ‘surf/beach shops’ on the island so go to Walmart before you make your way down the keys and pick up a pair.
Key west was by far both of our favourite stop on the whole trip. It was as chilled out or as crazy as you wanted it to be. You can drink on the streets so it was lovely to be able to walk along the street sipping a cocktail to cool you down in the blistering hot weather. The beaches were amazing. The people was amazing. The food was amazing. It was such a cool place and can not recommend it enough. If you can drive along the keys to get there, it was an amazing drive mostly over a bridge totally surrounded by the sea.
Stop 12: Everglades
On the way back from Key West we stopped in the Everglades to do an Airboat tour and see some alligators. It is only a short journey from Miami and as far as I am aware there are buses that go from Miami. It was really cool, we were there just after a thunderstorm so didn’t see a huge amount of alligators. If you are going to make a trip to the everglades bathe in insect repellant before.
Stop 13: Sanibel Island
If you want to swim in water that is at bath temperature you have to take a trip to the gorgeous Sanibel. The stunning beaches and the chilled out atmosphere makes the perfect day trip. We had to pay for parking at the beach we went to which was quite expensive so do your research about which beach to be going to.
Stop 14: Blue Ridge Mountains
By far my favourite driving part of the trip. We entered into the mountains at Daleville and took the Blue Ridge Parkway through the mountains. We drove all the way through and into Shenandoah National Park. I will warn you there are few to no shops in the mountains so stock up on food before you set off. Another tip is to start your drive through the mountains earlier in the day rather than later. We ended up having to sleep in the back of the car because we were too tired to keep driving but weren’t near a campsite or an exit out of the mountain range. Ill let the pictures do the rest of the talking about how amazing the place was. Every kilometre or less there was a drive through look out point so you won’t have to try to hard to get the perfect picture.
Stop 15: Washington
Again luckily got to make great use of my dad’s Hyatt hotel points and cashed them in against a night in Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The hotel was lovely and we enjoyed our stay there.
There is a lot to see in Washington and it is all very interesting. In my opinion I think all of the ‘touristy’ sites can be done in one day, I wouldn’t be spending more than one night here. Tip: If you aren’t from North America do some research about what all of the buildings are before you go to look at them …. oppsie
Stop 16: New York
You can find all the details on what I recommend doing in New York in my New York in 4 days blog post.
I know this was a long one and well done if you are still reading. It was the most amazing trip and I couldn’t recommend it more. Hopefully you have found this post helpful! See you in the next one.
The Girl on the Go xx