10 Best Drivable Vacations from New Jersey (Updated 2023)

Many must-visit destinations are just a few hours’ drive from New Jersey, making the Garden State a great place to begin any road trip.

With so many options nearby, you can easily plan a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation in a charming coastal town, bustling city, or serene natural wonder.

The ten best drivable vacations from New Jersey include:

  1. Boston, Massachusetts
  2. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  3. The Hamptons, New York
  4. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
  5. Mystic, Connecticut
  6. The Poconos, Pennsylvania
  7. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
  8. Saratoga Springs, New York
  9. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  10. Washington, D.C.

This article highlights the top 10 drivable vacations from New Jersey, including how far each location is, the best season to visit, and what to expect from each unique destination.

1. Boston, Massachusetts

a street with cars and buildings on either side of it

Boston, Massachusetts, is an easy 5-6 hour drive, 283 miles (455 km) northeast of New Jersey. 

The city offers a great mix of history, culture, sports, shopping, and nightlife – it’s truly a destination that caters to everyone, whether you’re a solo traveler or a family looking for kid-friendly activities.

Boston does have cold, snowy winters, but it can be enjoyed all year round. The absolute best time of year is from May to October when the weather is warm and there are many outdoor events to experience. 

Some of the most famous Boston highlights include:

  • The Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path connecting 16 historical sites, such as the Massachusetts State House, Paul Revere’s House, and the Old North Church.
  • Fenway Park, the iconic home of Boston’s Major League Baseball Team, the Red Sox, where you can catch a game or take a guided tour of the stadium.
  • Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States, perfect for picnicking, relaxing, or participating in free activities like concerts and theater performances.
  • The New England Aquarium, home to over a thousand marine animals, including sea lions, penguins, giant octopuses, and thousands of saltwater and freshwater fish.
  • Iconic neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and the North End, each offering distinctive shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.

2. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Gettysburg is a historic town in Pennsylvania known for a pivotal Civil War battle in 1863, where the Union victory halted Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of the North. 

From New Jersey, Gettysburg is just a 2-3 hour drive away, making it an ideal destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway. 

To make the most of your visit, consider going during the spring or fall months when the weather is generally pleasant, and the foliage is breathtaking.

One of the primary attractions in Gettysburg is the Gettysburg National Military Park, which preserves the battle site and includes various monuments, memorials, and exhibits. 

Take a ranger-guided or self-guided auto tour to learn more about the significant events that occurred there.

Beyond the park, you’ll find other interesting sites, such as the Eisenhower National Historic Site (the former home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower), the Gettysburg Museum of History, and the Jennie Wade House. 

3. The Hamptons, New York

White house in The Hamptons, Long Island New York.

The Hamptons is a popular vacation destination for those in search of upscale beach vibes and a relaxed atmosphere. 

Nestled on the eastern end of Long Island, it’s only about 200 miles from New Jersey, making it a quick getaway any time of year. That said, traffic can be heavy during peak season, so be prepared for some delays.

Consider visiting in the late spring, summer, or early fall to soak in the sun and take full advantage of the beautiful beaches. 

The Hamptons are known for stunning beaches, with favorites like East Hampton, Amagansett, and Montauk. Each beach boasts its unique charm, whether it’s a laid-back, surfer vibe or a quiet, pristine paradise.

The Hamptons are also home to picturesque vineyards and wineries. Plan to sample local flavors and enjoy a leisurely afternoon among the beautiful rolling landscapes.

If beaches and wine aren’t your thing, spend an afternoon (or two) wandering through the luxury shops that dot the area, whether you’re just window shopping or looking to splurge.

4. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Martha’s Vineyard is a picturesque island off the coast of Massachusetts, about 350 miles (560 km) from New Jersey. 

It takes about 5.5 hours to reach one of the Vineyard ferry terminals, which depart from multiple locations along Cape Cod as well as from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Kingston, Rhode Island.

The ferry only takes about 40 mins, but depending on traffic conditions or season, planning your route to Martha’s Vineyard may take just as much time as getting there. 

Don’t worry, though – it’s worth it once you arrive.

Ideal times to visit Martha’s Vineyard are late spring, summer, and early fall. The summer months are the most popular, but if you prefer a quieter time of year, consider visiting in May or September. 

The island is famous for its stunning beaches, seaside walks, and swimming spots along the Atlantic Ocean. However, be sure to explore the charming towns, historical monuments, cozy cafes, art galleries, and boutique shops that showcase the area’s particular character. 

5. Mystic, Connecticut

white and black boat on sea near city buildings under blue sky during daytime

Mystic, Connecticut, is a charming New England town brimming with maritime history. 

Located just 200 miles (322 km) northeast of New Jersey, Mystic is a lovely vacation destination any time of year, although fall foliage and comfortable summer temperatures make those seasons particularly enjoyable.

Spend an afternoon at Mystic Seaport Museum, immersing yourself in the seafaring culture that shaped the region for hundreds of years. This maritime museum offers a glimpse of America’s nautical history through well-curated exhibits and preserved historic vessels. 

The Mystic Aquarium, home to thousands of marine animals, including beluga whales, sea lions, and penguins, is always worth a visit – just make sure you buy your tickets in advance as they tend to sell out quickly. 

Visitors to Mystic also enjoy strolling through the city’s historic downtown, where shops, galleries, and eateries are housed in beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings. 

6. The Poconos, Pennsylvania

The Poconos is a beautiful natural retreat just 150 miles (241 km) from New Jersey.

Nestled in eastern Pennsylvania, the Poconos Mountain Region is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts of any age at any time of year.

A visit to the Poconos often includes activities such as hiking, water sports, and skiing. 

Numerous trails, ranging from easy strolls to intense hikes, are available for exploring the region’s lush forests and stunning waterfalls.

If water sports interest you, consider rafting, kayaking, or canoeing down the Delaware River or enjoying a refreshing day at one of the many lakes in the area.

In the winter, the Pocono Mountains offer a variety of ski resorts where you can ski, snowboard, sled, or snow tubing.

While the Poconos is known for its beautiful nature and outside activities, the towns in the area also offer an impressive selection of shops, restaurants, and bars serving up locally-sourced food and beverages. 

7. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

A dog walking at the Rehoboth Beach with a blurred photo of a pickup truck in the background.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is a popular summer vacation spot on the Atlantic Ocean, just over 3 hours south of New Jersey. 

Summer is the best time to visit, with warm weather and plenty of sunshine, but traffic can be heavy at that time of year, so it’s best to plan your route accordingly.

Once you’ve arrived in Rehoboth, take a walk along the bustling beach boardwalk filled with several shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, including the famous Funland amusement park.

The beach itself is an obvious highlight, with soft sand, beautiful blue waters, and plenty of space to relax in the sun.

One of the biggest perks of visiting Rehoboth Beach is tax-free shopping, and the area delivers plenty of outlet malls, boutiques, and local shops with something for everyone.

8. Saratoga Springs, New York

Saratoga Springs is a charming city in Upstate New York known for horse racing and relaxing spas. 

Just 250 miles (400 km) north of New Jersey, the drive to Saratoga Springs usually takes around 4 hours, but prepare for potential traffic as you pass New York City, especially during rush hour.

(Also, consider making a pitstop in Albany for a quick tour of New York’s state capital – a beautifully preserved historic town worth checking out.)  

The best times to visit Saratoga Springs are during the summer when the thoroughbred racing season takes place, and the city is full of activities.

One of the main attractions in the city is the Saratoga Race Course, attracting thousands of visitors during its summer meet. 

Another popular draw is the historic mineral springs throughout the city of Saratoga. 

There are currently 21 public springs, each with differing mineral compositions, tastes, and supposed therapeutic properties. Many of the spas in the area offer rejuvenating treatments, pools, and skincare products that utilize the mineral-rich water.

Lastly, don’t forget to explore the vibrant downtown area, where you can stroll along Broadway and visit charming boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries.

9. Virginia Beach, Virginia

View of Virginia Beach during sunset.

Six hours south of New Jersey sits Virginia Beach, where history and the Atlantic Ocean meet. 

Virginia Beach is best during the warmer months, from late spring to early fall, when you can fully enjoy the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and the seemingly endless miles of sand and sun. 

A visit to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a must-see, with its extensive display of marine life and engaging exhibits. 

Make sure to explore First Landing State Park, a historical and natural gem on Cape Henry. 

The park offers scenic hiking and biking trails and the chance to learn about the first English colonists who landed there in 1607.

10. Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is the historic capital of the United States, located less than 400 miles (643 km) from New Jersey.

The drive takes about 4 hours in regular traffic, and spring and fall are the best times of year to experience the city. 

In the spring, you can enjoy the city’s beautiful cherry blossoms and mild weather, while in the fall, the weather is still warm enough to take in the sites.

One of the most famous attractions in D.C. is the National Mall, an expansive park housing monumental landmarks like the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol. 

Flip a coin and spend a day at any of the Smithsonian Museums, where you’ll learn about art, science, history, and culture.

Then wander through historic neighborhoods such as Georgetown, where you’ll find charming cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops, cozy cafes, and exquisite dining options.