The Ultimate Guide to the Must-See Attractions Along I-95
These are the top attractions in every state that I-95 passes through.
So, you’re hitting up I-95, one of America’s oldest highways, and wanna know what to do and see along the way. You’ve come to the right place, my friend! I-95 is the main highway that travels up and down the East Coast of America, pretty parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, so you’re never really too far away from the beach on an I-95 road trip. Some of the major cities you’ll pass through include Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Savannah, Jacksonville, and Miami. Ready to hit the road? Here’s some of the top attractions to see along I-95, from Florida to Maine.
Starting in southern Florida, just outside Miami, you’ll stumble upon Coral Castle in Homestead. Built by an eccentric heartbroken man, entirely by hand, Coral Castle is full of mystery and wonder, and it’s definitely an essential roadside attraction just off I-95.
Or, if you want the relaxation of a day at the beach minus the crowds, then hit up the Venetian Pool. The Venetian Pool was originally built to be for Coral Gables, one of the country’s first planned communities back in the 1920’s. The pool is filled with fresh water every day, straight from artesian wells. It’s drained every night and refilled every morning, so you know that you’re swimming in really clean water. And if you’re worried about water conservation, fear not! They drain the water back into the aquifer and allow it to go back through the natural ground-filter process.
From there, hop back in the car and cruise to South Beach, one of the swankiest beaches along the East Coast. But, South Beach is way more than playing in the waves and chilling in cabanas; the people-watching is second-to-none, and walking around the Art Deco district will transport you back in time.
Once you’ve had your fill of the city, head up to Butterfly World in nearby Coconut Creek. It’s the largest butterfly park in the world, and has displays of bugs, birds, and, of course, loads and loads of beautiful flowers to enjoy as well. Natural beauty right off I-95; perfect!
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
At the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary you can wander along trails featuring various wildlife habitats, and all sorts of different native animals, including eagles, panthers, crocodiles, snakes, and more. The landscape will change drastically as you drive up the coast, so soak up the sun and unique wildlife while you can!
Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum
Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum is a great maritime museum that features exhibits that include archaeological treasures from 18th century shipwrecks. Mel Fisher is a real-life Indiana Jones who has spent more than 20 years recovering lost artifacts from Davy Jones’ Locker. Here, you can see gold, gem-studded jewelry, old coins, and more.
Kennedy Space Center
Then head over to Titusville to get a bus tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and if you have time, hit up the United States Astronaut Hall Of Fame. Come early, because the tours are always popular and fill up fast!
Ponce Deleon Inlet Lighthouse
The Ponce Deleon Inlet Lighthouse is the perfect place to get off I-95 to stretch your legs, especially if you decide to tackle the 200+ step stairway to the top! But, the view is absolutely worth it. There’s also a small museum onsite.
Fort Matanzas National Monument
From Titusville, it’s just a short drive to St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, founded in 1565. Here you’ll find one of the best preserved historic districts in the country, not to mention loads of great little restaurants and bars. From Castillo De San Marcos (which is a stunning fortress that’s believed to be very haunted) to Fort Matanzas National Monument and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, there’s also plenty of historic places to explore here.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
If you’re feeling up for a bit more climbing, stop at St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and ascend its 219 steps to the top of their 165 foot tall tower. The views of downtown St. Augustine and America’s oldest port are amazing. There are also exhibits here covering the country’s maritime history, and a gift shop.
If you’re looking for a hotel in St. Augustine, the St. George Inn, Carriage House Bed and Breakfast, and Casa Monica are fantastic options!
The Catty Shack Ranch
And if you want to visit some cute furry friends, the Catty Shack Ranch is a fantastic place to see lions and tigers and other big cats. Run mostly by volunteers and filled with cats that might not otherwise have a home, it’s an attraction kids are guaranteed to love.
Cumberland Island National Seashore
For a fun little side trip off I-95, head to Cumberland Island National Seashore. The only way to visit Cumberland Island National Seashore is to hop on the ferry at St. Mary’s. While there’s nowhere to buy food or supplies on the island (pack accordingly), you’ll find campsites, hiking trails, and wild horses roaming around!
Smallest Church in America
While in the Peach State, visit the Smallest Church in America (or so it claims), in South Newport. Built in 1949, this is a great little roadside stop, and a good place to stretch your legs before heading to Savannah, Georgia. It’s also an adorable photo op, so snap a pic or two.
Savannah is one of America’s most gorgeous cities. It’s off the highway and seems like it’s covered in Spanish moss as far as the eye can see. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink, and the downtown is also one of the largest historic downtowns in America. If you’re just driving through, but want to get a quick taste of Savannah, head over to Forsyth Park for a walk around this iconic and drop-dead gorgeous public park, and then visit Bonaventure Cemetery (one of America’s most beautiful historic graveyards).
Some nice hotels in Savannah include the Hamilton-Turner Inn, Ballastone Inn, and The Gastonian.
Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum
If you have time to visit Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum, you should definitely make the quick detour from Savannah. Tybee is a beautiful island, and it’s a very popular destination for Midwesterners to road trip to during the summer months.
There are a few famous people buried at Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, but the real appeal is the beauty of the cemetery itself. It’s full of graceful old trees covered in Spanish moss, and many of the gravestones are works of art themselves. Just remember this is still a functioning cemetery and some of the visitors are there to grieve, so keep it respectful.
South Carolina State Museum
You’re not in Georgia too long while traveling on I-95, so without further ado, we come to South Carolina! Make your first stop the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. This amazing museum is housed in a massive former textile mill, and features four floors with over 70,000 exhibits. There are some nice hotels in Columbia as well if you need to catch some Z’s: Victorian Elegance Inn, Murrayfield, and the Hilton Columbia Center are among the many places to book a room.
UFO Welcome Center
Then, for something completely different, travel just under an hour to the UFO Welcome Center in Bowman. Built in 1994, this structure quickly became a popular tourist attraction in the town. The 42-foot-wide flying saucer is built out of wood, fiberglass, and plastic, and for a small fee, you can meet the owner and peek inside.
Santee State Park
Stretch your legs at Santee State Park, which has an abundance of catfish in its waters. In addition to fishing, there’s also plenty of hiking and camping is offered. You can also drive a little longer to the equally-awesome Woods Bay State Park.
South Of The Border
After about an hour of driving, you’ll reach South Of The Border, which is perhaps I-95’s most iconic kitschy tourist destination. It’s a roadside theme park that’s super cheesy, but the kids will probably have a blast. Plus, you’ve undoubtedly seen the signs for South of the Border for about 2-3 hours, so it’s worth pulling over just to see what all the buzz is about.
Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation
Once you cross the border to North Carolina, you can pull over for a couple hours (or more) at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville. This is a fantastic military history museum. It’s beautifully laid out and features loads of exhibits chronicling the fascinating achievements made over the years in regards to airborne and special operations.
Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum
Or, if you’re more into Bigfoots than B-52 Bombers, a couple hours north is the Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum in Littleton, where you can learn all about (totally real) creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.
U.S. Army Women’s Museum
Just before leaving North Carolina, check out the U.S. Army Women’s Museum in Fort Lee. You could easily spend a few hours exploring the exhibits here, which chronicle the often-overlooked roles and importance of women in in the U.S. Army.
While in Virginia’s state capital, you can check out a 54-acre public park called Belle Isle. In order to access Belle Isle, you have to park and walk under a bridge. There’s a pedestrian bridge that takes you underneath the highway. It’s a bit of a hike so be sure to pack towels and plenty of water, but it’s worth it for the views alone.
The Berkeley Hotel, Jefferson Hotel, and Linden Row Inn are some of the best hotels in Richmond!
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Once you reach Virginia, head over to Richmond to visit the historic Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This is a perfect place for families, or for anyone who loves botanical gardens and butterfly exhibits. It’s kid-friendly and there’s a cool splash pad for hot days (so bring a bathing suit), and picnic tables.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
Next, hit up Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. It’s one of the best memorial parks around commemorating the Civil War. There’s loads to do in Fredericksburg as well, if you’re a history buff. You can see the Mary Washington House, the Kirkland Monument, and grab a delicious coffee at Hyperion Espresso in downtown Fredericksburg.
Next up along I-95 is the beautiful state of Maryland! There’s a pretty trippy statue at National Harbor in Maryland called The Awakening. It looks like a massive giant is trying to come out of the ground, and makes a very cool photo op.
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
Baltimore, your next stop on I-95, is a great place to immerse yourself in culture. There’s the American Visionary Art Museum and the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. There are a couple other museums dedicated to the melancholy author in various other states, as he moved around a bit, but this is his Baltimore home.
At the Tattoo Museum you can learn about the art of tattooing and even walk away with a tattoo of your own! The artists here are highly respected and the museum/shop also does piercings as well, if that’s more your speed.
The Sonesta, Grammercy Mansion, and the Wayside Inn Bed and Breakfast are among the cozy hotels you’ll find in Baltimore.
Hands down, one of the best gardens in all of America is just off I-95. It’s called Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. You won’t be disappointed with a quick trip and it’s worth visiting basically any time of year. Pro tip: use the potty. The crazy curved wall of bathrooms was nominated for 2014 restroom of the year!
Brandywine Creek State Park
Just 3 short miles north of Wilmington, Delaware is Brandywine Creek State Park. There are cool-looking 19th century stone walls that divide the park up. Don’t miss the tulip poplar forest and nature center when you visit! You aren’t in Delaware for very long while on the interstate, so hop out and show the state some love.
The Mutter Museum
Next up on the trip is Philadelphia, and if you have time, it’s totally worth spending an afternoon walking around Independence National Historical Park to see the Liberty Bell and the building where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and a few other more offbeat Philly gems like The Mutter Museum (if you’re into macabre medicinal history).
When in Philadelphia, visit Independence Hall early to get your ticket for free, or you can pay a tiny fee of $1.50 for the convenience of buying one online. The tickets are timed and you have to go through security, so plan accordingly. In the evening, the tours are self-guided, so if you know your history already, you can avoid the crowds. The guides are super informative, though!
There are some nice hotels in Philadelphia if you happen to be passing through as the day is ending. The Morris House Hotel, the Franklin Hotel, and the Warwick Hotel are all comfy.
Like Delaware, I-95 doesn’t spend a ton of time in New Jersey, but it’s at least worth getting out of the car here at a place like the Bamboo Forest in New Brunswick. It’s pretty close to the highway and is a really pretty place to walk around and get out of the car for a spell.
World’s Largest Lightbulb
Then, just 20 minutes later you’ll come to the World’s Largest Lightbulb in Iselin. It’s got that fun, kitschy roadside attraction quality to it, and makes for a pretty cool photo-op. A guided tour will only set you back $5.
There are just way too many incredible sights to see in New York City, especially if you’re just passing through. But, if you happen to have a day or two to spare on your I-95 road trip, here are a few of the essential NYC sights: Central Park, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.
The Cloisters Museum & Gardens
Once you head into New York, check out the Cloisters Museum and Gardens. It’s like stepping into Medieval Europe, but in New York… definitely a surreal experience that shouldn’t be missed. It’s not hard to see why New Yorkers come here to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city!
New Haven Lighthouse
In Connecticut, if you’ve got $30 to spare and want a pretty place to walk around for a couple hours, pull over at the New Haven Lighthouse. Not only is there a picturesque lighthouse to see here (obviously), but there’s also a beach and park to explore.
Gillette Castle State Park
Afterwards, if you have time for a little detour, Gillette Castle State Park is just off I-95 and exploring it feels like you’re walking around the ruins of a Medieval fortress. It was built by a rich, eccentric actor and has several unusual features that make it a really unique stop.
If you get hungry, pull over at Mystic Seaport and head to Mystic Pizza (there’s also an 80s movie based on this town…and the pizza joint!) Mystic Seaport is America’s foremost maritime museum. There are over 19 acres of museum grounds, which include a 19th century maritime village recreation, a working shipyard, and over 500 historic watercraft, including four National Historic Landmark vessels, like the 1841 whale ship the Charles W. Morgan, which is America’s oldest commercial ship.
Once you hit Rhode Island, be sure to spend some time in Newport, an absolutely gorgeous coastal city. But, if you can only do one thing, then definitely visit the Breakers; it’s like America’s version of Downton Abbey. In fact, there’s a whole neighborhood of decadence to explore: stroll along the Cliff Walk and check out the numerous Gilded Age mansions.
Newport is a nice spot to pull over for the night, and the city has some nice hotels like Forty 1 North, Ivy Lodge and the Mill Street Inn.
Once you take I-95 across the state line into Massachusetts, hit up Fall River’s Battleship Cove and see the world’s largest collection of U.S. naval warships. You don’t have to be a military history buff to marvel at the huge ships!
The Big Blue Bug
Get back on I-95 and drive back to Rhode Island to see The Big Blue Bug in Providence, another roadside photo op. After that it’s just under an hour north on I-95 to Boston, where there are tons of super cool places to visit.
Providence has some nice hotels as well: the Christopher Dodge House and the Hilton Providence are great places to crash for the night.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
It won’t be long before you find yourself in Boston! Grab a bite to eat at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, but be warned that there are LOADS of delicious food vendors in this historic hall, so it’s best to do a walk through and then make a decision on whether you want pizza, clam chowder, or a ‘lobstah’ roll.
New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium is hands-down one of America’s best aquariums. Arguably, the most popular feature of the New England Aquarium is the Giant Ocean Tank. This is also literally the central point of the aquarium; it’s a 200,000-gallon cylindrical tank that simulates a Caribbean coral reef. The tank is concrete and surrounded by a walkway with 52 windows, allowing visitors the ability to peep at the sea life from virtually every angle.
The Revere Hotel, the Liberty Hotel, and the Bertram Inn are some of the nice hotel options in Boston.
Museum of Bad Art (MOBA)
Before leaving Massachusetts, pull over at the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in the funky town of Somerville to indulge in some of the worst cultural output our nation has ever been unfortunate enough to witness.
Memorial to a Witch
The New Hampshire stretch of I-95 is also pretty short, but along the route are a couple cool places worth stopping at. First check out this Memorial to a Witch in Hampton, NH. It’s just a simple unmarked stone monument dedicated to Eunice “Goody” Cole, AKA “the witch of Hampton”, who was accused of witchcraft in 1656. That ruling was eventually overturned… in 1938.
For less morbid fun, there’s Water Country in Portsmouth, which is totally worth a few hours of fun, especially if you’re traveling with kids in summer. It’s got slides, whirlpools, water playgrounds, wave pools, and more!
Book a room at the Anchorage Inn, Exeter Inn, Coachman Inn, or one of the other nice hotels in Portsmouth for the night!
Once you hit Maine, you’ve reached the last stretch of I-95, but with over 300 miles of road in this state alone, you’ve still got several hours to go before you reach the terminus. You hop on the intestate where Portsmouth, NH meets Kittery, ME, which is a shopping outlet mecca with Tanger Outlet Center Kittery and Kittery Premium Outlets.
Old Orchard Beach
A great spot to end your trip is Old Orchard Beach and Palace Playland, which is the only New England amusement park that’s directly on the beach. Then you’ve got Portland, ME (visit the Old Port district to get a taste of New England, the vibe here is very 19th century), and then you’re driving along the Kennebec River after passing Augusta and Waterville. Stephen King’s House in Bangor is a roadside photo op, but be respectful and enjoy the horror icon’s home from the street.
95 ends at the Houlton–Woodstock Border Crossing, and the road continues on into Canada, where you can cross the border into New Brunswick. And there you have it! Pat yourself on the back, because you just visited all of the major attractions along I-95!
Have you ticked a few of these I-95 stops off our list? Be sure to share your favorite memories from your East-Coast road trip with us on Instagram.
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