The Greatest US Coastal Scenic Drives

Explore the best coastal US scenic drives that deliver epic water views and beach access on popular and lesser known US road trips.

On these US coastal scenic drives find the softest sugar sand beaches in the world but also stark rugged cliffs, majestic bridges, and winding roads. Bask under tropical palm trees and massive oaks on beach road trips, be awed by giant redwoods on scenic drives on the west coast, and even shiver in arctic tundra.

This resource of the best scenic American road trips lists 8 favorite classic US Coast scenic drives, followed by coastal scenic drives organized by state (both sections include popular and lesser known coastal road trips), and eventually will comprehensively cover all US coastal scenic drives.

Are you frustrated and less than impressed when devoting time, money, and energy to a coastal drive only to discover there are no water views? I have taken road trips in all 50 states and have experienced the frustration of coastal drives that are not actually along the coast. Our scenic US coastal drive guide focuses on water views and close proximity to the ocean or gulf.

See our 8 Best US Coastal Scenic Drives in the full article:

While you may be familiar with many of these classic US road trips, I have some surprises for you. And because I have not yet been everywhere (darn it), I want and encourage your suggestions. Please leave comments with or email me information and pictures of your favorite scenic US coastal road trips.

Scenic Drives Along the US Coasts

Now, let us go explore US road trips along the three coasts-Atlantic coast, Pacific coast, and US Gulf coast (aka Third coast).

Do you wonder how much US coastline there is? NOAA estimates 95,000 miles of US coastline ( source) but I am more aligned with the 12,000 miles shown by Info Please ( source).

These US coast road trips are listed clockwise from Maine and then down the Atlantic coast, across the Gulf coast to the Mexico border, and then picks up again along the Pacific coast from Southern California up to Washington followed by Alaska and Hawaii.

Of the 150 federally designated America’s Byways (by FHWA), 30 are honored with All-American Road status and only seven of those All-American Roads are coastal-eight if we include the Alaska Marine Highway. Those seven coastal All-American Road are included below, along with dozens of other coastal road trips and scenic drives. Enjoy!

USA Atlantic Coast Scenic Drives

Even though the following Atlantic US coastal scenic drives are listed from north to south, we recommend driving them from south to north in order to be closer to the coastline. Better yet, drive them in both directions and decide for yourself which is better.

Maine Coastal Scenic Drives

US Route 1 exhibits gorgeous Maine scenic drive views in parts and is a fun slow travel alternate to I-95. Many tempting smaller roads hug the Maine coastline:

  • US Route 1A between York and Ogunquit
  • Maine State Route 9 north to Blue Point
  • Maine State Route 77 around Cape Elizabeth

The popular Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park follows a bit of the rugged coastline of Mount Desert Island. It is part of the Acadia All-American Road.

McCool Travel tip: Seeing the spectacular Maine coast from a boat ride rather than a car might be a superior experience. One multi-day option is a Maine Windjammer cruise.

New Hampshire Coastal Scenic Drives

The best New Hampshire coastal drive is Ocean Blvd / NH Route 1A between Odiorne Point State Park and the Massachusetts state line. It is only 15 miles and winds through Seabrook Beach, Rye Beach, and Hampton Beach. We suggest driving north from Seabrook so that the water is on your right side.

Massachusetts Coastal Scenic Drives

Refuge Road on Plum Island State Park is a wonderful nature coastal drive, about six miles through Parker River National Wildlife Refuge-from Newbury Beach to Sandy Point State Reservation (a wildlife refuge).

Massachusetts Route 127 around Cape Ann offers peeks of the coast with the bonus of plenty of places to stop for fresh lobster and clams.

Near Boston Airport, starting at Winthrop Head, a nice five mile shoreline coastal scenic drive is Winthrop Shore Drive to Winthrop Parkway (along Short Beach) onto Revere Beach Blvd. Then continue on 1A onto Nahant Road. The water views will end when you hit the island but drive to the end and walk onto East Point for super views. When you return back on Nahant Drive, turn onto Lynnshore Drive for a short coastal stretch with open views.

Rhode Island Coastal Scenic Drives

In Newport, Ocean Avenue from Ragged Point and Collins Beach to Bailey Beach is the best chance to see shoreline. But the Cliff Walk coast trail is the star of the show here. Try public parking near the 40 Steps entrance on Narragansett Avenue and try to devote a few hours for this magnificent walking path.

Charlestown Beach Road and East Beach Road parallel the waterfront, and East Beach is a great beach to drive on.

Perhaps half of the four mile drive between Scarborough State Beach and Coast Guard House in Narragansett Beach is right on the water.

Please see the rest of this article at

Originally published at on June 19, 2020.



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