Ultimate Guide To The Best RV Trips On The East Coast of the U.S.

green map of destinations included on the best rv trips on the east coast of the US

Looking for the best RV trips on the east coast? We spent an entire year RVing all over the East Coast of the U.S., visiting National Parks and National seashores, enjoying mountains and beaches, and seeing plenty of lighthouses and wildlife. We are sharing the best RV trips for the East Coast, based on our experiences living all over the East Coast and traveling as full-time RVers who have explored all over the U.S. and Canada.

About East Coast RV Travel

A large fifth wheel RV camping in the trees on a waterway in North Carolina

We are native New Englanders who between the two of us have also lived in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida. We have spent years exploring the East Coast of the United States and still decided to spend an entire year RVing the East Coast after we started our full-time RV adventure.

After spending our first year of RV life exploring out west, we traded in the vast lands, epic mountain ranges, and colorful rocks for the beautiful coastlines, nostalgic lighthouses, and charming towns of the East Coast.

One of the best things about RV travel is the ability to craft epic road trip itineraries, exploring the most amazing places in nature… all while having all of the comforts of home.

Despite having spent time on the East Coast for most of our lives, there was still so much we had not yet explored. So, we set out to plan a series of RV trips on the East Coast that would help us see all of what this great coast has to offer.

What To Know About RVing on the East Coast

RVing on the East Coast can admittedly be a bit trickier than RVing out west. On the East Coast you won’t find much boondocking or free camping, roads can be narrow and rough, campsites can be hard to come by and expensive, and some State Parks can be older and less suitable for large RVs.

If you plan ahead, you can typically reserve cheaper and more budget-friendly sites at State Parks and cheaper campgrounds on the East Coast to help save on costs (especially if you are used to boondocking and free camping out west). In a year of RV trips on the East Coast of the U.S. the most we spent for a nightly rate at a campground was $50.

This said, you can also cover a lot of ground more quickly on the East Coast. This means more adventures and more to see with less driving (and lower fuel expenses)!

While it might require a bit more planning, with some patience and the tips you will find in this article you can build the East Coast RV trip of your dreams.

READ MORE: Best State Parks For RV Camping (That Are Big Rig Friendly)

National Parks on the East Coast of the U.S.

A beautiful curve of Skyline Drive in Virginia with views of layers of mountains and green trees beyond a short stone wall

If, like us, you are interested in checking off a few more National Parks from your bucket list – there are 8 major parks to find on the East Coast, as well as many National Seashores, Historic Sites, and more!

Here are the main parks to check out (that you will find on the major 63 lists):

  • Biscayne National Park, Florida: South of Miami, encompassing offshore islands and coral reefs
  • Everglades National Park, Florida: Wetlands and diverse wildlife covering a large portion of the southern tip of Florida
  • Congaree National Park, South Carolina: Not far from the state’s capital, this park preserves the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the U.S.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina: Spanning across the border of two states, this is a beautiful park known for its misty, fog-covered mountains and synchronous fireflies
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia: Spanning the Blue Ridge Mountains, this park is home to expansive views, great hiking and waterfalls
  • Acadia National Park, Maine: Ocean views and the first sunrise in the U.S. (for part of the year) on the rocky coast that is home to quintessential New England towns

We will cover RV trips that take you to these parks in addition to great destinations beyond the parks and other hidden gems below!

READ MORE: Best National Parks On The East Coast

Best RV Trips On The East Coast of the U.S.

From the Florida Keys up to Acadia National Park and everywhere in between, there are so many amazing destinations to explore along the sparkling blue Atlantic Ocean. With great State Parks, National Parks, and National Seashores to explore, the East Coast shouldn’t be overlooked for your next RV adventure!

These East Coast RV trip ideas are born out of trips we have taken ourselves that we think are worthy of every RVer’s bucket list!

These trips can serve as inspiration for an itinerary of your very own, be followed as laid out, or be combined into one epic adventure that brings you all over the East Coast.

East Coast RV Trips Maps

These are maps covering the areas we RVed on the East Coast, which we will dive into deeper throughout the article!

Florida:

Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, & Virginia Coast:

Maryland Coast to Shenandoah and north to New York and New England:

New England Fall Foliage RV Trip:

Coastal Adventures in the Southeast

Florida & Florida Keys

White foamy edge of a blue ocean wave coming to shore

Want to spend some time in sunny Florida? Consider stops at the famous Disney World and Disney theme parks in Orlando, see amazing Spanish architecture in St. Augustine or head over to the panhandle to explore popular destinations with white sandy beaches such as Destin or Panama City Beach. 

Beautiful beaches all over the state make Florida the perfect location for winter RV trips to help you escape the cold and warm up for a bit.

With a lot of persistence and a bit of luck, we were able to reserve 4 consecutive weeks at State Parks in the Florida Keys, providing us with a whole lot of savings for our RV trip to Florida paradise!

With 2 weeks camping at Bahia Honda State Park and 2 weeks at John Penekamp Coral Reef State Park, we will have the freedom to explore the Florida Keys in our RV at only a fraction of the price compared to some of the other local RV resort options.

While you are down in the Keys, this is a great time to also consider visiting Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. We camped in Everglades National Park and visited Biscayne while staying in Key Largo at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

READ MORE: Your Complete Guide To RV Camping In The Florida Keys (By RVers For RVers!) & The Best & Most Budget-Friendly RV Camping in the Florida Keys

What To See & Do While RVing in The Florida Keys

  • Key West (don’t forget the Southernmost Point marker, Mile Marker 0 for Route 1, the 6-toed cats at the Hemmingway House, Duval Street, Mallory Square, or the Key West Lighthouse)
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Snorkeling or scuba diving at John Pennekamp State Park
  • Eat Key Lime Pie!
  • Support friends of “Crush” at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon
  • Include a trip to Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park just north of the keys to hit all of Florida’s National Parks!

Key West is also a great place to splurge on some tours or excursions to get out on the water (unless you have an RV that floats of course….)

Our other favorite Florida RV destinations include Sarasota, Tampa, and Naples!

Top State Parks in Florida:

  • Anastasia State Park, St. Augustine
  • Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key
  • Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola
  • Blue Spring State Park, Orange City (a great spot for manatee viewing in the winter months!)
  • Curry Hammock State Park, Marathon
  • Henderson Beach State Park, Destin
  • John Penekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo

State Parks in the Florida Keys can be hard to come by! Learn how we book competitive Florida Keys State Parks campgrounds

Top RV Parks in Florida:

  • Sunshine Key RV Resort & Marina
  • Destin West RV Resort
  • Bluewater Key RV Resort
  • Fiesta Key RV Resort & Marina
  • Disney Fort Wilderness Resort

Suggested RV Road Trip Routes For Florida:

  • Panhandle: Panama City Beach -Destin -Pensacola
  • St. Augustine – Orlando- Tampa – St. Petersburg
  • Sarasota – Naples – Everglades NP + Biscayne NP (Homestead, FL) – Florida Keys
  • Florida Keys: (Key West or other islands) – Everglades – Biscayne National Park (Homestead, FL can be a great home base for seeing both Everglades and Biscayne))

Coast of South Carolina 

Aerial view of a beach at sunset with a dreamy orange pink sky

South Carolina is another popular destination to head to the beach and enjoy warmer tropical vibes most of the year.

Our favorite RV destinations along the Coast of South Carolina include Congaree National Park, Edisto Island, Santee State Park, Charleston, and Folly Beach.

Many people also love Myrtle Beach, another popular seaside destination in South Carolina, but we find this overly touristy and crowded for our taste. There is plenty to do in the area, but we prefer less built-up destinations along the coast.

We also love these areas most in the quieter shoulder seasons rather than during peak season in the summer. As a bonus, weather is more mild in shoulder seasons as well and the beaches are empty!

What To See & Do While RVing The South Carolina Coast

  • Congaree National Park’s cypress trees and old-growth bottomland hardwood forest
  • Santee State Park + Lake Marion (the largest man-made lake in SC)
  • Edisto Beach
  • Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve & Wildlife Management Area
  • Botany Bay Driftwood Beach (also called Boneyard Beach)
  • Charleston (don’t miss the Battery, Riley Waterfront Park, the Pineapple Fountain, and Rainbow Row)
  • Folly Beach is the perfect place for a dreamy colorful sunset after a day in Charleston

A great way to learn more about Charleston is with a tour, such as the popular historical tour by horse-drawn carriage!

Best RV Parks & Campgrounds To Stay At:

Aerial view of green trees covering Santee State Park sitting on the edge of Lake Marion
Aerial view of Santee State Park on Lake Marion

Edisto Beach State Park (Live Oak Campground or Ocean-Side Campground)

Santee State Park Campground (Cypress View Campground or Lakeshore Campground)

Congaree National Park only offers tent camping. A local campground to consider include:

  • Big Rig Friendly RV Park (Columbia, SC): We had a nice stay here and were only about 35 minutes from the park. Large sites with full hookups in a quiet park away from any road noise

Suggested RV Road Trip Routes

  • South Carolina Only: Columbia+ Congaree National Park – Santee State Park – Edisto Beach – Charleston+Folley Beach
  • For a complete Carolinas RV Trip: Columbia+ Congaree National Park – Santee State Park – Edisto Beach – Charleston+Folley Beach – Carolina Beach, NC – Beaufort, NC – Outer Banks, NC

Outer Banks & The North Carolina Coast

Aerial shot of the turquoise blue waters below Jennette's Pier jetting out into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nags Head in the Outer Banks
Jennette’s Pier is an iconic spot on the Outer Banks

These special barrier islands off North Carolina’s coast are the perfect place for an RV trip on the East Coast. 

With an easy day trip, you can explore 5 or 6 iconic Outer Banks lighthouses, see wild horses, enjoy pristine beaches, discover historical sites, and much more.

The Outer Banks is simply one of those destinations that feels special as soon as you arrive.

We loved walking up and down the massive sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, learning about the Wright Brothers at the National Memorial, and being able to camp only steps from the beach.

While the Outer Banks is a popular place to visit in the summer, we found the true magic shining through in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall).

What To See & Do While RVing The North Carolina Coast

A female standing on a wooden walkway looking up at the black and white striped Bodie Island Lighthouse in the Outer Banks
  • Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Freeman Park (where you can drive on the beach and let your dogs off leash part of the year), Fort Fisher Historic Site, Wilmington Waterfront
  • Bald Head Island
  • Charming Beaufort, NC
  • Shackleford Banks & Cape Lookout National Seashore
  • Take the free ferry to Ocracoke Island
  • Explore the Outer Banks (don’t miss the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Corolla wild horses, the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and of course all the OBX lighthouses)!
  • Don’t forget to make time for a spectacular sunrise or sunset. They really set the sky on fire on the NC coast! The stars are pretty amazing at night too if you are willing to brave the beach at night….

Best RV Parks & Campgrounds in the Outer Banks:

A fifth wheel behind a white RAM truck camping in sand dunes on the Outer Banks

Browse Campsite Availability & Book Instantly for 100,000+ RV Parks and Campgrounds on Campspot

Suggested RV Road Trip Routes

  • Carolina Beach – Beaufort, NC – Outer Banks (from here you could then continue on north to Virginia or complete the road trip in the opposite direction and head further south to the SC coast)

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland, Virginia & DC

A mother horse and her newborn foal walking in the grass at the Assateague Island National Seashore

This stop is on the border of Virginia and Maryland and is close to other popular beach stops including Virginia Beach, the Chesapeake Bay, and Ocean City Maryland. 

Heading from Assateague Island, it is also only a short drive to Washington DC where you can learn about American history and see historic sites including Independence Hall, Lincoln Memorial, Liberty Bell, etc. This makes it the perfect stop as part of a larger trip through the mid-Atlantic.

We also highly recommend taking a trip to Shenandoah National Park while in this area, which is only about 70 miles from Washington DC!

One of the biggest draws of camping along the little strip of beach that straddles Berlin Maryland and Chincoteague Virginia is the unique visitors you will find sharing your campsite with you – the wild horses.

With free roam of the National Seashore, you might run into bands of horses grazing along the many bike paths, holding up traffic on the roads cutting through the park, or resting with their new foals right outside of your RV.

This was one of the most memorable and unique stays on our East Coast RV Trip because of how much time we were able to spend watching in awe at the incredible wildlife throughout the park.

We also arrived the day the first foal of the season was born… and like how can you possibly beat that!?

READ MORE: Complete Guide To Camping At Assateague Island National Seashore

What To See & Do While RVing Virginia, Maryland, & DC

  • Virginia Beach
  • Assateague Island National Seashore (including trips to Chincoteague VA, Berlin MD, and Ocean City MD)
  • Washington DC (White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, and much more)
  • Shenandoah National Park (don’t miss Old Rag Mountain – permit required, amazing waterfalls, and Skyline Drive)
  • Luray Caverns
  • If you are staying on the eastern side of Shenandoah National Park we highly recommend checking out Bald Top Brewing for live music, a fire, pizza, and some great brews!

More things to do in Assateague:

Great Tours in DC:

Camping On The Assateague Island National Seashore

Camping Near Washington DC

  • Cherry Hill Park
  • Lake Fairfax Park
  • Capitol KOA
  • Bull Run Regional Park
  • Camp Meade RV Park

Camping Near Shenandoah National Park

  • Madison Vines RV Park (East Side of the park – this was a great budget-friendly option with better service for working for us compared to parks on the western side of the park)
  • Spacious Skies – Shenandoah Views
  • Luray RV Resort -Shenandoah River
  • Endless Caverns Resort
  • NPS Campsites (best for smaller RVs): Mathews Arm Campground, Big Meadows Campground, Lewis Mountain Campground, Loft Mountain Campground

Suggested RV Road Trip Routes

  • Virginia Beach – Assateague Island – Washington DC – Shenandoah National Park

Mountain Adventures on the East Coast

A female hiker standing with her arms up on a set of rocks looking over an array of blue mountains and green trees

If you are ready to ditch the beach and head to the mountains, you can do that on the East Coast too!

While they might not be as epic and expansive as the mountains out west, they have a sense of charm and beauty that feels like a deep breath after a long stressful day.

The main mountain range that runs north to south on the East Coast of the United States is the Appalachian Mountain Range, which can be accessed in several states.

We lived in the mountain regions of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee prior to transitioning to RV life so we did not include most of these amazing spots in our East Coast RV Trip. We can say without hesitation though that these are incredible spots to explore.

Some of our favorite places to RV in and around the Appalachian Mountains In The Southeast:

Layers of mountains in the clouds at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina (don’t miss the amazing food in Asheville!)
  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (continue on from the Blue Ridge Parkway seamlessly to Skyline Drive through Shenandoah NP)
  • Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina (a great destination for hiking and synchronous fireflies with lots to do in areas like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge that border the park)
  • Hiawassee Georgia (the mountains of North Georgia are a beautiful and quiet RV getaway as well; we attended a great “egg rally” back when we camped in our fiberglass Casita trailer)

Suggested RV Road Trip Routes

  • Mountains of Georgia – Blue Ridge Parkway – Great Smoky Mountains – New River Gorge – Shenandoah National Park

READ MORE: 16 National Park Sites To Visit In The Southeast

Venturing Into The Northeast

Once you start heading up through Pennsylvania, you have a decision to make. You can either stay closer to the coast and head towards New York City, or head out and around major cities.

With our large RV (a 40-foot fifth wheel) and our affinity for nature and open spaces rather than crowded cities, we always opt for additional driving distance rather than the traffic, congestion, and tolls of the cities.

Having made this journey several times now to see family up and down the East Coast, our game plan typically involves heading out to Scranton, PA and then continuing on to our destination.

We always go 81 to 84, rather than committing to the personal hell that is 95 North.

New England

Bright pink flowers in a bush in front of the Portland Head Lighthouse

Aaah New England.

A place synonymous with crisp fall air, fresh seafood, and charming towns with storied histories.

Coming back to New England always feels nostalgic and it is sad that many RVers never make it up to these small states nestled in the sugar maples between rolling inland mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

The true New England states are: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

And they make for the perfect fall foliage road trip or summer seafood stint.

Some of the best places and destinations for any New England RV trip as you make your way along the East Coast, are:

  • Cape Cod: The quintessential vacation spot for Massachusetts natives and the perfect place for beaches, whale watches, sunset cruises, or a trip to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard
  • Boston: Fenway Franks, pahking your cah in the Hahvahd Yahd, the Freedom Trail, there is so much to see, eat, and learn in one of the oldest cities in the U.S.
    • A popular RV home base for exploring Boston: Normandy Farms
  • Portland, Maine: A foodie paradise that is a great first stop on the rocky coast of Maine, not far from popular local beaches and a great waypoint on the way to one of our favorites…Acadia National Park
Hiking couple on a rock overlooking the blue ocean and small island in Bar Harbor Maine
  • Stowe Vermont: Another popular destination for fall in New England. Charming farms, cider donuts, fresh maple syrup. We loved our Stowe Pinnacles hike and highly recommend a stay at Little River State Park if you have a smaller RV. We traveled here with our Casita and we still talk about how perfect of a stay it was!
Bright orange and yellow hues melting into the distant mountain in Stowe Vermont
The view from Stowe Pinnacles summit in autumn
  • White Mountains of New Hampshire: More fall! The Adirondacks, Stowe, and the White Mountains make for a foliage trifecta. Hike (or drive) up Mt. Washington and check out Franconia Notch State Park.

New York

A rival neighbor to New England…

  • Finger Lakes: A great destination for the wine-minded (we saw more vineyards than we had ever seen in our life), while also offering a great opportunity for unique hiking. Great local cideries and farm-to-table dining as well! If you haven’t already been, this is not far from Niagara Falls either which is a must-see if you are in the area.
  • The Adirondacks: The High Peaks Region of upstate New York is a perfect place for bigger, more. challenging hikes and stunning fall foliage in early October. Don’t miss Lake Placid and the remnants of the Olympic Village
    • Best RV Camping in the Adirondacks (coming soon)

READ MORE: How To Plan The Perfect RV Road Trip Step By Step

Itinerary of Our East Coast RV Trip

When we decided to design an epic RV trip on the East Coast, we decided to really swing big.

We pulled up a map on our phones and said, how far south and how far north could we go on the East Coast? With those as our parameters, all we had to do was fill in the rest.

We started calling it the year of the Florida Keys to Newfoundland and everything in between. And a journey to remember it was.

Over 10,000 towing miles, two countries, one breakdown, and 45 stops in 52 weeks. We laughed, we cried, we swore, and we loved every single second.

READ MORE: The Perfect Newfoundland RV Trip

Hiking couple standing on rocks next to a large Canadian Flag overlooking the ocean on Cape Breton Island

Honestly, at first, we weren’t sure how we would feel coming back to RV on the East Coast after a breathtaking and eye-opening year out west the year prior.

There is so much to explore on the East Coast and we can now firmly say you will NOT be disappointed. And that says a lot coming from seasoned East Coasters who spent a combined 56 years living on the “right coast.”

green map of destinations included on the best rv trips on the east coast of the US

While sometimes we are spontaneous out west, for the most part we are crazy planners.

Like almost forget to enjoy the places we are because we are thinking about where we will be 6 months down the road.

We highly recommend planning ahead at least 6 months in advance if you plan to RV on the East Coast. You will want reservations and things book up quickly and there are really not many free or first-come first- first-serve campsites to come by.

RV LIFE’s RV Trip Wizard (shown in the map above) has been a lifesaver for us as we start planning our RV trips. It allows us to play around with different destinations and itineraries, track mileage and costs, optimize travel day distances, and so much more.

Our Pick
RV LIFE Trip Wizard - RV Trip Planner & RV Safe Routes

Our go-to resource for RV trip planning made easy. From distance tracking to budgeting to calculating the safest route for your RV, this tool has it all!

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If it weren’t for Trip Wizard, we would be a hot mess of sticky notes and paper lists…and a couple with many more RV-related arguments! (Good for the campground looky-lous, bad for the outlook of us working and living together in an RV long term).

READ MORE: Epic 1-Year East Coast North America RV Road Trip (U.S. & Canada)

Other Top RV Travel Destinations in the U.S.

Brown dog in a pink harness sitting on orange and cream colored rocks in Utah

The United States is such a great destination for RVing. With the ability to chase pleasant weather most of the year, public lands that offer free camping, and diverse landscapes that will make you feel like you have been transported out of this world, it is easy to see why upwards of 11 million people in America own RVs, and why countless others travel here to RV from all over the world.

It’s hard to choose the top RV travel destinations, as there are truly great things to explore all throughout the U.S. We love New England in the fall, the mountains of Colorado, the unique geology of Utah, and the wildlife of Wyoming and Idaho. We also have big plans for RV trips to Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and the West Coast!

Interested in checking out our 1 year RV road trip itinerary following the weather?

Read More: Ultimate 1 Year U.S. RV Road Trip Itinerary

Trusted Resources For Your Next RV Camping Trip

These are some of our RV trip essentials that help us have smooth and safe travels on every trip we take!

For Your Tow Vehicle

For Your RV

For Your Safety & Peace of Mind

  • Walkie-Talkies (for when you have to get into a tight spot and you don’t have cell service)
  • Garmin inReach or SOS capabilities on your cell phone (to get help if you don’t have service)

Interested in what else we use as full-time RVers or interested in what you actually need? Check out these resources:

Campground & Campsite Resources:

  • Harvest Host: For finding unique experiences and convenient overnight stays at breweries, vineyards, farms, and more! Perfect for a fun weekend getaway or stopover during a long travel stretch.
  • Campspot: For finding and booking great campgrounds and RV parks conveniently and easily all in one place!
  • RV Life: RV safe GPS, RV Trip Wizard route planning, maintenance tracker, campground reviews, and more. Everything any RVer needs, all in one place!
  • CampendiumiOverlander: For finding free camping spots
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