New Haven to Memphis Road Trip Guide


Known by most as being the home of the iconic Yale University, the coastal city of New Haven is a great place to start an RV road trip, especially if you are traveling with your partner. New Haven is the second-largest city in the state of Connecticut and it was also the first planned city built in the United States. There is a great mix of cultural and natural attractions in New Haven, so there is plenty to do whether you are a first-time visitor or a regular to the city.

Starting an RV trip here gives you many options, including being able to head north to the woods of Vermont and Maine, east through Philadelphia, or south along the coast. One of the less-traveled yet very rewarding routes is to head southwest through the western side of Virginia and from the top of Tennesse right down to the bottom until you reach Memphis. Although it sounds like a long drive on paper, the combination of well-known sites and attractions on the odd side of life will lead to a very entertaining trip.

Following this route will lead you to your final destination of Memphis, which is a city that everyone should visit in their time on planet earth. Home to Elvis and some of the best barbeque in the country, Memphis also has a very low cost of living, so you can spoil yourself and your loved one here at the end of your trip without having to worry that you are breaking the bank.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: van
audience: couple

Point of Interest

Yale University

If you haven't been to the Yale University campus before, it is well worth checking out during your time in New Haven. The university was founded way back in 1701 and is one of the most respected higher learning institutions in the world, so get ready for a day full of learning and experiencing some unique collections and museums.

There are enough attractions at Yale University to keep you entertained for a week, but some of the must-sees include the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Yale Center for British Art. Once you have got information overload you can head to The Green to chill out in the 16-acre treed park.

Camping amenities for vans in New Haven are somewhat limited, but the council-operated Wah Wah Taysee is a solid choice.

Central Park

Now it might be a little stereotypical, but since the most direct route to Memphis takes you very close to Manhattan you should take this opportunity to visit The Big Apple.

Consisting of 843 acres, Central Park is arguably the most famous park in the entire world and features so many activities for couples to enjoy. Hiring bikes from one of the many vendors is a common way to cover a lot of the grounds of the park within a short period of time, but you could also take it easy and throw out a picnic blanket for a relaxing bite to eat.

Since you are in Manhattan there will be activities at every turn once you exit the park, including Magnolia Bakery, Sarabeth's, and Freds Madison Avenue. Getting out of Manhattan and heading over to New Jersey is the best way to find a place to stay in your van. The Liberty Harbour RV Park of Camp Gateway on Staten Island are some of the best options.


Located around 174 miles from Central Park, Harrisburg is the first stop on your road trip that will see you leave the coastline and head inland on I-78. Settled by Europeans in 1719, Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania and has a rich history.

Another rich attraction located near Harrisburg is the town of Hershey that contains Hersheypark. Originally constructed in 1906 as a theme park for employees of Hershey Chocolate and neighboring members of the public, Hersheypark has been entertaining visitors of all ages looking to get their thrills on rollercoasters and other rides for over a hundred years. The park has 70 rides in operation, 12 resident shows, and numerous restaurants to complete a great day out for visitors. As you could imagine there are also many chocolate treats, so if you have a sweet tooth you will be in heaven!

Another great aspect of staying in the Harrisburg region is that you will be able to call the fantastic Elizabethtown / Hershey KOA home for the night. Featuring plenty of great amenities, this campground will be one of the best you experience on your road trip.

Shenandoah National Park

Feel like chasing waterfalls? Shenandoah National Park is one of the best natural areas in Virginia, so get ready to be mesmerized. Featuring 200,000 acres waiting for you to explore, no matter what season you visit Shenandoah National Park you won't want to leave.

The park attracts many hikers wanting to check out the Appalachian Trail and anglers wanting to cast out a line in one of the 70 streams, but when you arrive in the park you should make a beeline for the incredible waterfalls. Overall Run Falls is an absolute must-see with water dropping a massive 93 feet to the base of the falls throughout the year. Make sure to stop into the Byrd Visitor Center during your stay to see if there are any ranger-led programs occurring that are of interest to you and your partner.

There are multiple campgrounds within the park that are RV-friendly, including the Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, and Loft Mountain campgrounds.

Bristol Caverns

As you continue your road trip down to Memphis there are plenty of opportunities to stop at unique tourist attractions that do not exist in the northeast. Bristol Caverns is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the northeast area of Tennessee, and if you or your partner are interested in what lies underground you will be very happy that you stopped by.

The caverns are a private tourist attraction and guided tours occur around every 20 minutes during its opening hours. Departing from the gift shop, the tour will take you on all three levels that the cavern encompasses, so remember to bring your camera to capture the incredible formations and views that are unique to this natural phenomenon.

After you check out the caverns there is a wonderful campground around 30 minutes southwest that will put you right back near the freeway to make driving in the morning very easy. The Bristol / Kingsport KOA Holiday has three restaurants, a swimming pool, and multiple games you can play while you kick back and relax before continuing your trip the following morning.


Travel 99 miles southwest of the Bristol / Kingsport KOA Holiday and you will reach the city of Knoxville that is full of interesting activities to keep you entertained for the day.

Along with being the birthplace of Mountain Dew, Knoxville is also rich in country music history with some referring to it as the Cradle of Country music. The city is located on the Tennesse River so a lot of the outdoor recreation features this waterway in some capacity. Taking a stroll on the River Trail at the Ijams Nature Center is highly recommended, as is exploring the 1,000 acre Fort Dickerson Park. If you feel like a night out on the town you should consider checking out the Lonesome Dove, Aubrey's, or Tomato Head to get a bite to eat.

To the north of Knoxville is the Clinton / Knoxville North KOA Journey where you can park your van, enjoy some peace and quiet, and prepare for the last few days of your trip.

Edgar Evans State Park

This RV road trip has featured plenty of natural areas, but up until now, there hasn't been a chance to hang out at a large lake. Edgar Evans State Park is located 124 miles west of Knoxville on the shores of the massive Center Hill Lake.

Featuring a surface area stretching over 18,000 acres, the lake is the perfect place to do some water-based recreation before you return to city life for the last few days of your trip. Out on the lake, you can go fishing and boating, while off it there are some great hiking trails and ranger-led programs for curious cats wanting to learn more about the area and the history of the park.

Another benefit of visiting Edgar Evans State Park is that there is an RV campground in the park so you won't have to pack up and find somewhere else to stay. The campground is very unique as each site is a wooden platform instead of a standard pad, which means you can get some great views of the lake. All 60 sites also come with electric and water hookups for your convenience.


Welcome to the home of country music! The last major stop before you reach Memphis has to be Nashville. The city is a music hub all year round, but there are more things to do than just go watch a concert.

Third Man Records is the store operated by former White Stripes member Jack White and inside, you can even record your own song to an old school physical format. Known as the Third Man Record Booth, this is a contraption from 1947 where you perform a song inside the booth for up to two minutes and a few minutes later you will have a one of a kind copy on a six-inch phonograph disc.

Nashville is also home to some of the best hot chicken in the country, so if you want to test your spice level you need to head to Bolton's Spicy Chicken & Fish or Hattie B's. In town during the football season? Consider heading to a tailgate of a Tennessee Titans game or splurge some cash and watch from inside Nissan Stadium.


After a week on the road, arriving in Memphis may feel a little bittersweet. It marks the end of your van getaway, but it also means you can have some fun in one of America's most underrated cities before having to go back to reality.

Memphis is full of things to do no matter what time of the year that you visit, so get ready to enjoy yourself. Eating some barbecue is a must during your visit, so check out Cozy Corner or Corky's Ribs & BBQ. Heading to a Memphis Grizzlies game is highly recommended, and since Memphis is one of the lower-cost cities that have an NBA team you can expect tickets to be a lot cheaper than games would have been in New York. If you love Elvis you will have to head to Graceland, or you can head to Sun Studio to see where Elvis recorded his first song.

There are many private RV campgrounds in and around the Memphis area, so for the last night of your trip consider staying at T.O. Fuller State Park or at the Graceland RV Park & Campground.

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