With springtime here and summer on the horizon, the time is ripe to start thinking about travel. If you’re in the mood for a different kind of East Coast road trip with stops that go beyond the Empire State Building, the Freedom Trail, the White House, Myrtle Beach, and Disney World, you’re headed the right direction.

This list is all about the hidden gems – in fact, it even includes an opportunity to go mining for emeralds. There’s also lazy river tubing, wine trails, and secret pizza spots.

If you want to know how much gas you’ll need to take this 26-hour road trip, use our Trip Cost Calculator. Based on an average of 34 mpg, you could get from spots 1 to 10 for $135!

1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Maine’s famous Acadia National Park is a majestic scene with something for everyone, including beaches, hiking, fishing, biking, camping, and more. The park features 47,000 acres of forest and is a dream for the family that loves to be outdoors. While at Acadia, you can bicycle the carriage roads or catch a sunrise at 1,500 feet on Cadillac Mountain, where you’ll be able to see most of Acadia Park on a clear day. For some seclusion, visit Sand Beach.
How long to stay: Three days
Cheapest gas price: $3.74/gal

2. North Conway, N.H.
Nestled in northern New Hampshire, North Conway is the perfect place to play outdoors and to shop! That’s right: North Conway is known for its outlet stores for Gap, Nike, L.L. Bean, and many more. North Conway is most famous for the Saco River, where you can rent tubes to do a real three- to five-hour lazy river float, or rent canoes and kayaks for something more adventurous.
How long to stay: Two to three days
Cheapest gas price: $3.59/gal

3. Provincetown, Mass.
“P-Town” sits at the tip of Cape Cod and offers a wide variety of cultural and artistic experiences. The drive to Provincetown is half the fun. There are so many great little diners and shops along Route 6 that it could be a road trip of its own. While in town, be sure to eat your heart out at all of the restaurants, visit Race Point Beach for a sunset walk (or Herring Cove Nude Beach, if you’re feeling saucy), Commercial Street for shops and people-watching, and even the Provincetown Library, which is short on books, but has a replica of a sailing ship inside.
How long to stay: Two to three days
Cheapest gas price: $3.69/gal

4. WaterFire, Providence, R.I.
Beginning as a one-time performance art piece, WaterFire Providence now lights up 100 bonfires in Providence’s three rivers on scheduled nights throughout the summer and fall. The spectacle attracts thousands from all around to Waterplace Park, where you’ll hear a mix of music, see flowers fly from gondolas rolling down the rivers, and experience urban revitalization at its finest.
How long to stay: One day
Cheapest gas price: $3.37/gal

5. New Haven Pizza Tour, Connecticut
It’s not only New York that’s famous for its pizza: New Haven, Conn., grabs a slice of the action, too! While in town, visit some of the most famous pie spots: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (whose owner, Frank Pepe, opened Lombardi’s, the first American Pizzeria in New York City); Modern Apizza; and Sally's Apizza. A few tips we dug up from the locals: Bring cash, be prepared to wait in line, and don’t hold your breath waiting for award-winning customer service.
How long to stay: One day
Cheapest gas price: $3.75/gal

6. Coney Island, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Big Apple is great, but Coney Island is on another level. Although Hurricane Sandy took a devastating toll on the area a few years back, a grand new beachside amusement park has risen from the ruins, and the original Nathan’s Famous still stands. In the heat of the summer, stroll the boardwalk and shop, eat fried food, and watch street performers. You can do it all at Coney Island in a day, so you’ll be back on the road by dusk. And don’t miss the wildly eccentric Mermaid Parade!
How long to stay: One day
Cheapest gas price: $3.75/gal

7. Atlantic City, N.J.
Atlantic City isn’t just for gambling! Although its claim to fame is a three-mile-long boardwalk lined with casinos, it also boasts a beach, storefronts, street performers, carriage rides, and an amusement park on the pier. Cheap hotels are everywhere, although if you’re looking for a view, one of AC’s newest hotels and casinos, Revel, sits at the end of the boardwalk with its own private beach and stunning water views on three sides.
How long to stay: Two days
Cheapest gas price: $3.39/gal

8. The Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.
Now that you know the White House is, well, big and white and sitting in the middle of the nation’s capital like no big deal, you can move on to the most impressive collection of museums in the world. Check out the classics, of course: the Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the American History Museum … not to mention the Smithsonian Gardens and the Smithsonian National Zoo! But don’t miss the fun independent ones, either, like the International Spy Museum.
How long to stay: Two to five days
Cheapest gas price: $3.53/gal

9. Virginia Wine Trail
If you’re into wine, Virginia has a beautiful, lush wine country with more than 249 wineries, including one owned by Dave Matthews. Virginia’s wine country in the summer has been called the “East Coast Napa,” and its lush hillsides can even support many of the same grape varietals. Since the wineries aren’t as close together as they are on the Silverado Trail, you might want to spend a few days exploring. Stay in or near Charlottesville and don’t miss the famous outdoor “Downtown Mall.”
How long to stay: Three days
Cheapest gas price: $3.32/gal

10. Hiddenite Emerald Mines, North Carolina
The only public emerald mine in the entire United States is in Hiddenite, N.C. Pack a set of clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, because you’ll be digging, creeking, and sluicing the day away at Emerald Hollow Mine. You can choose to dig up emeralds from the many areas on the property and then bring your buckets to the sluice, where you can filter your stones. Additionally, you can go “creeking,” otherwise known as prospecting. When you’re through, you can have your emeralds turned into rings, necklaces, and earrings. Dogs are allowed on a leash, so bring the whole family!
How long to stay: One to two days
Cheapest gas price: $3.65/gal

If you decide to keep on going and end your trip all the way at the bottom of the East Coast, don’t miss the roadside peach stands throughout Georgia, as well as the orange stands in Florida. Be sure to swing by the Welcome Center in Florida, too, where you’ll get glasses of fresh Florida orange juice upon arrival!