The Perfect Destination For A Spring Road Trip, According To Samantha Brown

With spring on the horizon, the annual temptation to pack up your car with all the essentials and hit the highway is bound to be creeping in. Between the blooming flowers and lush rolling meadows streaming by outside your window, is there any better way to celebrate spring than with a road trip? The only questions you should be asking yourself are "Mountains or snow? Urban or rural?" 

Opting for the best of both worlds by alternating between nature's outdoor playgrounds and buzzing metropolitans sets the standard for a road trip route you're not likely to forget. Samantha Brown, one of the world's leading travel experts, is always looking for the next opportunity to embark on an epic road trip adventure. More often than not, her car is the gateway to adventure, taking precedence over a round-trip flight. 

According to Brown, basing your road trip in a region where the views out the window are an ever-changing canvas of scenery is essential. Destinations that offer a vibrant mix of urban dwellings and backwoods counties also provide countless opportunities to switch things up and prevent travelers from getting bored during hours in the car. East Coast states are an obvious choice, given their smaller sizes and easy ability to cross border lines in a short amount of time. Cape May, New Jersey, and Phoenicia, New York, in particular, are two of Brown's favorite scenic road trip areas in America that showcase some of the best natural terrain and cultural landmarks. 

Journey to the center of Cape May

Nestled on the tip of New Jersey's southern peninsula, Cape May isn't just a landmark of heroic bravery and historical treasure — it's also the quintessential spot for a long-awaited spring road trip. According to Brown, Cape May is one of America's oldest vacation spots, coveted for its classic Victorian homes, sustainable farm-to-table scene, and notable landmarks, including Monmouth Battlefield State Park. Just under an hour from Atlantic City and two hours from Newark, New Jersey, it's not far from some of the state's most central and prominent destinations. 

As a coastal town through and through, Cape May has no shortage of sandy beach boardwalks and miles of shoreline paralleling this sleepy seaside town. Washington Street Mall is a colorful promenade with a bustling collection of eclectic boutiques and eateries, nestled in the heart of Cape May's picturesque town square — the perfect place to snag some pre-road trip fuel and peruse the local shops. When you find yourself craving a quieter escape, head to the outskirts of town and meander the trails inside Cape May Point State Park for a restorative nature walk.

Cape May has long been credited for its flourishing agriculture scene and Beach Plum Farm harvests an abundance of fresh crops, averaging over 100 variations of produce. Located less than 2 miles from historic downtown Cape May, it's not only a sustainable farming operation that focuses on regenerative agriculture practices but it's also a picture-perfect venue for weddings and large events.

Road trip to Phoenicia

After soaking up the sun along the sun-drenched Beach Avenue and filling your produce bag with organic fare from all the local farmer's markets, Brown recommends setting your destination for Phoenicia, New York. Along the four-hour journey, travelers will enjoy picturesque views across New Jersey, slowly moving up the coastline and paralleling the urban center of Manhattan, before retreating into the stillness and seclusion of Phoenicia. Heading north up and over Newark, New Jersey, travelers can make a short detour into the heart of New York City before continuing on the route.

Diving back into the rural backcountry of this East Coast state, Phoenicia diverges from the posh city life of Manhattan, taking on a cozy vibe reminiscent of an idyllic mountain getaway. Nestled within the captivating Catskill Forest Preserve, these bucolic woodlands are a gateway to outdoor adventure. After hours in the car, a well-deserved meal is always essential. Brown recommends the Phoenicia Diner in town, a vintage-style eatery serving local comfort food in a quaint, rustic setting. Time seems to move at a slower pace in Phoenicia, and you might as well make the most of it by settling down for at least a few days. The Graham & Co is a trendy boutique hotel with fully furnished modern abodes for a bougie home-away-from-home. For a bit of unplugged time in nature, Giant Ledge, Overlook Mountain, and Kaaterskill Falls are some highlights in this region.