Growing up, my parents didn’t have enough money to whisk my brother and me away on fancy holidays, so we made due with our little east coast road trips. At a young age, we barely knew there was a difference between holidaying in France or South Carolina, and we were able to learn about the history of the country our grandparents immigrated to. Because of these trips, summer vacation has always been about taking advantage of the warm weather and hitting the road.
Recently, I was asked to write a post about my hometown’s most exciting attractions, best features and hidden gems for giffgaff’s International Campaign. While, I never really found my hometown too exciting, I’ve chosen instead to write about a childhood memory that’s dearest to me, and that would be these road trips.
Each summer, our parents would pick a new destination, pack up the car, and off we’d go, most often heading south from New Jersey, and on our way to discover a new place in the country our four grandparents had fought to come to. This trip inspired me to learn about my own country and fueled my desire to learn more about the world I was living in. No matter where the road took us, I have no doubt that these road trips have been influential in my aspirations to see the world.
Occasionally, we would stop in Baltimore, as it’s the perfect place for a little break and good food. The Inner Harbor is an adorable spot with shopping, restaurants, and an aquarium. You don’t need too much time to discover it all, but it’s a great space to stretch your legs and your tummy. While crab is a popular treat in the area, my favorite dish for years has been a crab pretzel: a soft pretzel covered with crab and melted cheese. It’s worth every single calorie that comes along with it. Plus, you can always walk off the calories with a stroll around the harbor.
If you’re looking to spend a little more time here, you can visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, home, and museum, attend an Oriole’s game, or tour Fort McHenry.
Not far from Baltimore lies Washington DC, the capital of the United States, and well-worth a road trip stop. Be warned, however, that there is so much to see in this city, that you may find yourself running low on time. If time is limited, head for the important spots: The White House, the Capitol Building, and Lincoln’s Memorial; nearby Lincoln’s Memorial are the also the Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and World War II Memorial. All of these sites are at least worth a walk through and most can be seen for free and on foot.
If you’re looking to spend more time in the Capital, there’s plenty more to see, including the Holocaust Museum, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery, to name just a few. I’d also suggest staying a night to check out the restaurant and bar scene in the area.
Not exactly on the straight path to Florida, but another spot we visited while we were growing up. My parents always laugh because when given the option to spend the day at an amusement park or tour battlefields, my brother and I both agreed enthusastically that it would be more fun to scour the fields for old bullets than ride a roller coaster.
History buffs from an early age, we loved pretending to go back in time at Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestowne. Learning about America during the colonial times was always my favorite in social studies classes, but being able to experience it in Virginia made it even better.
South of the Border
This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I couldn’t put together the memory of an East Coast road trip without including South of the Border. For miles before the North and South Carolina border, on either end, there are hilarious and brightly colored billboards advertising the attraction. As a child, with not too many stops along the way, this was one that always brought joy to my brother and me. While I don’t remember all that much about the restaurant and attraction itself, it’s a must-see for anyone taking a road trip along Interstate 95.
Charleston, South Carolina
An adorable Southern city, it’s hard not to fall in love with the charm of Charleston. My family spent a day or two here on our way to Disney World one year, and it was one of the most memorable pit stops of any road trip.
My mom and I spent the day on a Gone with the Wind tour, her favorite book, and my brother and dad spent the day touring Fort Sumter. But, that night we made time to stroll along the streets and grab dinner at Poogan’s Porch, which is said to be haunted. We didn’t see any ghosts, but the food was unforgettable, especially the biscuits and fried alligator.
There’s so much to see and do in Florida, that I couldn’t just put one place. We spent so much time in Florida growing up and explored much of the state, though we probably spent most of our time in Disney World, a favorite in my family.
But, there’s more to Florida than just Disney World. There’s also history in St. Augustine; one year, my family visited Castillo de San Marcos, as well as the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. If the beach is more your style, we spent time most of our time in Palm Beach, where our grandparents had a condo, but Fort Lauderdale and Miami are also excellent options.
While there are more places to stop along on the drive down to Florida, we never spent any significant time elsewhere. We always tried to get down to Florida as quickly as possible, but if you have time, there’s so much to see along the coast, that these are just the starting point.
giffgaff recently launched a new campaign to find out the best places to visit when people set off on an adventure. Their aim is to help newcomers to the UK settle in, and they offer a great range of international calling rates, to allow visitors to keep in touch at home.