For a couple looking to spend a weekend away, the road trip from New Haven to Hampton is one that is so filled with choices that the biggest problem is going to be deciding what to do within such a limited time budget.
Along the way, there are numerous iconic cities including Baltimore and New York. There is no shortage of things to do in either of these places and for most people, they need little or no introduction. Instead, however, this itinerary looks at one or two destinations that you might not normally consider.
The route proposed here takes you somewhat off the beaten track but in the process exposes you to some regions that you many people simply wouldn’t get to. It is that ability to break away from the conventional that makes RV cruising such an attractive adventure.
Along this route, you are going to visit new places but you will also be able to sample food, culture, music, and nightlife that all go toward making a trip both memorable and enjoyable.
From New Haven to Sayville will take just over two hours. That is, of course, only if you decide to slide past New York and don’t allow yourself to be sucked in by some of the Big Apple's many attractions.
At Sayville, you can park the van and jump onto the ferry to Fire Island. With sweeping beaches and no cars allowed, this visit is going to contrast totally with the glittering cities that you will visit later in the journey. Here it is all wide ocean vistas, windblown beaches and getting back to nature.
When you board your ferry, tell them you want to visit the Sunken Forest and you will be told which stop to get off at. You will arrive at the Sea Shore Visitor Center where there is a snack bar famed for its ice cream.
After that, head off along the 1.5-mile Sunken Forest Trail. The raised boardwalk takes you into a forest consisting of holly trees, but not as you might know them. These trees, some of which are three hundred years old, have been protected from the prevailing wind by sand dunes. This has caused them to grow in unusual shapes with high canopies that are constantly being pruned by the salt-laden ocean wind.
You will see wild deer and visit a remote beach that will leave you feeling like you are the only people to have visited the area.
Just over four hour’s drive from Fire Island brings you to Philadelphia. Head straight for Campus Park and Ride. This RV park is basic but comfortable and offers easy access to the city while at the same time providing safe space for the van.
Philly is a city that simply did not feature on the radar of many holidaymakers for a long time. That is a great shame in many ways, because the city has done a lot to make itself more tourist-friendly in recent years and nowhere is that more apparent than on the rejuvenated Delaware River Waterfront.
Once rundown and almost abandoned, today the waterfront is a thriving attraction for both locals and tourists. On the way there you could check out the Liberty Bell or, for something a little different, visit Eastern State Penitentiary for a tour.
Besides the waterfront area, the city is renowned for its rooftop bars and jazz so deciding how to break up your visit is going to be tricky. Strolling along the waterfront you will find plenty of bars with views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge as well the Blue Cross Roller Park. This thriving area is an ice rink in winter and a roller park in the summer and a great drawcard for the locals.
Philly has a thriving art scene that you are going to have trouble avoiding if you are an art aficionado. There is an abundance of small private galleries but the Philadelphia Museum of Art could absorb your attention for an entire day. Just to make optimizing your time even more difficult, here is another gem to consider.
The Rodin Museum is going to make you wonder if you went off course slightly and ended up in Paris. In fact, outside of Paris, this is the largest collection of works by one of the world’s most famed sculptors. It was a gift from movie mogul Jules Mastbaum and was first opened in 1929.
It contains numerous Rodin works including bronze casts, plaster studies, drawings, and prints. One of his most famed pieces, and one that is probably among the ten most recognizable statues in the world, is The Thinker. It is situated on the grounds and even if the name means nothing to you, you are bound to recognize it.
The museum is administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and although not free, you are only required to pay what you feel is appropriate.
Tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and the Isle of Wight, this is a destination that is sometimes overlooked by people who tend to head toward more well-known tourist drawcards. If you are somebody who prefers not to follow the crowd and would rather mingle with the locals, then here is the place for you. It is only three hours from New Haven so once there you are left with plenty of time to explore and enjoy.
The beaches here are wonderful and there is a three-mile-long boardwalk with all of the restaurants, shops and coffee bars that you could ask for. Head straight for Castaways RV Resort where you can drop off the van and grab a quick swim before heading to town on the shuttle.
The Tap House Bar and Grill offers great food, a variety of craft beers and comes with the added bonus of stunning views. There is often live music so you could enjoy watching the sun go down while sipping a cool beer and profiting from great music all in one place.
Later you might want to head for the Ocean Downs Casino where you could spend a few hours playing the tables, taking a chance on the one-armed bandits, or even watching a show.
The closing leg of your journey to Hampton will take around three hours. You may be tempted to stop off for coffee along the way but try not to dawdle as there is plenty to do at your final destination. Along the way, you will have experienced quiet island life, dazzling cities and a variety of cultural gems.
Your journey finishes in a classic Virginia city and a historical landmark. From the Fort Munro's Casemate Museum to scenic seafood restaurants overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, there is much to see and do.