2-Week Northeast Coast Road Trip Itinerary For Families: NYC To Acadia National Park

Two kids with balloons explore the Top of The Rock at Rockefeller Plaza in NYC.
Photo Courtesy: Holger Woizick

Get excited for this 2-week Northeast Coast itinerary for families from NYC to Maine! Whether you want to hike in Acadia National Park or see the iconic attractions of NYC, this article covers some of the best places for families on the Northeast Coast. Kids will love hiking through scenic landscapes, visiting fun museums, or stopping for dessert at iconic mom-and-pop shops. You can also choose a few of these places to stop during your road trip or you can separate this itinerary into different vacations. Either way, we’ve gathered a list of things to do with kids, as well as where to stay and other tips for taking a Northeast Coast road trip with kids. Keep reading to plan your next epic adventure with kids on the road! 

Day 1: New York City (Midtown Manhattan)

Of course, New York City is an iconic start on any Northeast Coast road trip itinerary for families! If you only have a few days to see the city, we recommend at least three to stop at all the highlights. 

Midtown Manhattan is a hotspot for shopping and entertainment, so we definitely recommend a little bit of both! Kids will love the toy shops located around Rockefeller Center, like FAO Schwarz. If your child has an American Girl Doll or wants one, you can’t miss the American Girl Place. Meanwhile, gamers can visit The Lego Store on 5th Avenue or the Nintendo Store. Parents will find plenty of luxury stores on 5th Avenue, ranging from Saks to Versace. 

A performer on stage creates a huge bubble during the Gazillion Bubble Show.
Photo Courtesy: Rachita Sethi Reddy

Afterward, see a local show in Midtown. Of course, the area is famous for Broadway, which boasts kid-friendly classics such as The Lion King and Frozen. To see a more casual show, buy tickets for The Gazillion Bubble Show. Young kids will love this interactive spectacular! If you want somewhere to eat a late breakfast or lunch, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, which features a singing waitstaff, is a favorite among families. 

Additional/Alternate Activity: Visit Famous NYC Landmarks

View of the NYC skyline from the Empire State Building in NYC, one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Beth Beckman

Instead of shopping on your Northeast road trip itinerary for families, you can see some of New York City’s famous landmarks. Start on 34th Street and 5th Avenue at the Empire State Building for a 360-degree city view. Families can even book a Premium Historical Tour to get a better look at the behind-the-scenes.

Then, go to Bryant Park, which offers family fun no matter the season. You can go ice skating in the winter, visit the Christmas market, or ride Le Carousel. Nearby, there’s the main branch of the New York Public Library. Even if you don’t go inside, appreciate the sheer size of the ornate building. Kids can take pictures with the lion statues! Afterward, you’re just a few blocks from Times Square, an attraction for all ages. Little kids will love all the flashing lights and the opportunity to meet their favorite characters like Elmo or Mario! 

Purchase your CityPass NY here as it will give you discounted admission to the Empire State Building!

Day 2: New York City (Upper West Side or The Battery)

A dinosaur fossil at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Photo Courtesy: American Museum of Natural History

Manhattan’s Upper West Side is the next stop on our Northeast road trip itinerary for families with kids! First, head to the American Museum Of Natural History, a must-visit for young or elementary school-aged children. Kids will love looking at the dinosaur fossils, watching stars twinkle in the Hayden Planetarium, and seeing the giant blue whale in the main area!

Children who want to challenge their creativity can’t miss the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on West 83rd Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave. Here, you’ll find a variety of hands-on exhibits, as well as an outdoor section. History buffs may also fancy a visit to the New York Historical Society. Inside, you’ll find a special section dedicated to kids between the ages of eight and thirteen called the DiMenna Children’s History Museum.

Parents with younger kids may want to consider seeing a show at the Swedish Marionette Theater on 79th Street and Central Park West. 

Additional/Alternate Activity: The Battery

A child overlooking the Seaglass Carousel in Lower Manhattan, one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.

Want to enjoy quality time by the waterfront? Head to The Battery, formerly known as Battery Park. Kids will love taking a spin on the Seaglass Carousel or cooling off in the Bosque Fountain!

The Battery is also an access point for boats going to The Statue of Liberty, so it’s ideal for families who want to see both places. About a fifteen-minute walk away, you can visit One World Trade Center, and then the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It may not be a suitable stop on an NYC itinerary if you have young kids, but older kids will appreciate it.

Additional/Alternate Activity: SoHo

SoHo is known for its shopping, culture, and incredible dining scene. Shops like Adidas, The North Face, and Uniqlo are usually popular with families. Little ones will also love getting their hands dirty at the Sloomoo Institute, where they can touch different kinds of slime and even make their own. Of course, nothing says interactive museum quite like the Museum Of Ice Cream

Day 3: New York City (Upper East Side + Central Park)

The grand entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring beautiful stairs and columns near sunset.
Photo Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you have teens who love art or history, Museum Mile is a must when visiting NYC with kids. Spanning 82nd Street to 105th Street along 5th Avenue, this crowded stretch is famous for its string of world-class institutions. Of course, you should start with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the largest museum in the United States. You can see anything from Egyptian artifacts to modern art in its huge collection!

A view inside The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, featuring a hanging art installation over the grand entrance.
Photo Courtesy: The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum

Meanwhile, European art is in abundance at the Neue Galerie New York. Get your daily dose of modern art at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum. Then, see art in an upscale mansion at the Frick Collection. Or, visit the Jewish History Museum. Families can also visit El Museo Del Barrio on 104th Street to learn more about New York’s diverse culture. Nearby, The Museum of the City Of New York gives a great backstory on the city. 

Additional/Alternate Activity: Central Park

A mom and two kids sit on a large rock surrounded by fall foliage while exploring Central Park.
Photo Courtesy: Nophar Levy Palumbo

If you have extra time on your Northeast road trip itinerary for families, visit Central Park. It’s huge, so you could easily keep exploring beyond what we’re mentioning here. Or, combine a trip to Central Park with the Upper West Side – there are multiple entrances near 79th Street and 64th Street and Central Park East. Of course, kids will adore the Central Park Zoo, home to a Snow Leopard section, a Grizzly Bear Overlook, and a Polar Circle, among other habitats. Also located along East 65th Street, ride the famous Central Park Carousel

Want to visit a playground with your kids? Head to the Ancient Playground near East 86th St and 5th Avenue, the Billy Johnson Playground near 67th Street, or the Heckscher Playground on 65th St.

Additional/Alternate Activity: Brooklyn Bridge

A view down the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny day, with the skyline of NYC in the distance. Brooklyn is one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Beth Beckman

The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic NYC attraction! Though many people choose to start on the Brooklyn side and proceed to Manhattan, you could do the opposite. You’ll still get the same great views, but with fewer crowds, as you make your way to Brooklyn. 

Once you reach the other side, stop at Brooklyn Bridge Park to overlook the waterfront. Here, you’ll find playgrounds for kids, the Environment Education Center, and Jane’s Carousel. Then, you can walk around Dumbo, and maybe take a picture on the iconic Washington Street with the bridge in the background. If you’re hungry for a bite to eat, visit Grimaldi’s Pizzeria for a brick oven pie. 

Where to Stay in New York City with Kids

In Lower Manhattan, we recommend the Millennium Downtown New York Hotel or the trendy Greenwich Hotel. In Midtown Manhattan, try the Loews Regency New York, Omni Berkshire Place, or the St. Regis New York. Remember to check out other NYC hotels with pools and spacious suites. NYC also has lots of affordable Vrbos in and around the outer boroughs.

Day 4: Newport, Rhode Island

Distance From NYC to Newport: 3 Hours

An aerial view of Newport, Rhode Island along the ocean. It's one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids!

Continue your adventure in Newport, Rhode Island, known for its luxurious mansions, seaside views, and delicious seafood! It’s around three hours from NYC in the car, and then you’ll be less than 1.5 hours away from Boston. 

For breakfast, we recommend Hungry Monkey, a local favorite known for its classic diner fare and friendly service. Then, start your morning by touring one of Newport’s many luxurious mansions, like The Breakers or The Elms. Kids will marvel at the grand architecture and lavish interiors while learning about the history of Newport’s elite families.

After touring the mansions, take a stroll along the Cliff Walk. This scenic trail follows the coastline for 3.5 miles, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and passing by several historic landmarks, including The Breakers and Rough Point. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at one of the designated picnic areas along the trail. If it’s warm when you visit, you could also spend the afternoon at Easton’s Beach. (Kids will also love riding the vintage carousel!)

Afternoon Activity: Newport Harbor

Families can spend the afternoon in the Newport Harbor area on a sailing cruise. Several companies offer family-friendly sailing excursions that provide an unforgettable experience on the water, with opportunities to see historic lighthouses, marine wildlife, and beautiful coastal scenery. 

Then, visit the Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, which celebrates the history of tennis through interactive exhibits, memorabilia, and a Hall of Fame gallery showcasing the sport’s greatest players. Kids can test their skills on the outdoor grass courts or try their hand at virtual tennis simulations! 

Evening Activity: The Black Pearl, Thames Street

For dinner, head to the Newport waterfront and dine at The Black Pearl. This iconic restaurant offers fresh seafood and New England classics in a charming setting overlooking Newport Harbor. Try their famous clam chowder or lobster roll for a taste of local cuisine.

To end your night, walk along Thames Street, Newport’s main thoroughfare lined with shops, boutiques, and art galleries. Stop by Ben & Jerry’s for some delicious ice cream or treat kids to a trip to Newport Creamery or Newport Fudgery

Day 5: Boston, Massachusetts (New England Aquarium, Freedom Trail, North End)

Distance From Newport to Boston: 1.5 hour

A young child and their dad look into a large aquarium at the New England Aquarium, one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Kellie Dell

Spend at least two days of your Northeast Coast road trip itinerary for families in Boston, known for its historical attractions, museums, and fantastic food! It’s around an hour and a half from Newport, plus it’s near our next stop on this trip, Salem. 

Fuel up for the day with a delicious breakfast at Mike’s City Diner, a beloved local spot known for its classic American breakfast fare. Then, check out the New England Aquarium. Kids will love the various exhibits showcasing marine life from around the world, including the Giant Ocean Tank, home to a vibrant coral reef and a variety of tropical fish. After the aquarium, stroll along the scenic Boston Harborwalk. Enjoy views of the waterfront and watch the boats sail by as you make your way to Quincy Market for lunch! 

Afternoon Activity: Quincy Market, Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Six kids sit with their grandmother while resting at the Old North Church on their Freedom Trail Tour, one of the best things to do in Boston with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Jason Carlton

For lunch, families can explore the food stalls at Quincy Market to eat anything from lobster rolls to pizza. After lunch, head to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Here, you can step back in time to December 16, 1773, and relive the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party through interactive exhibits and live reenactments. Kids can even participate in tossing tea overboard from a replica tea ship! 

You can also walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile-long path that passes by 16 significant historic sites in Boston, including Boston Common and the USS Constitution Museum. Eventually, you can make your way to the Paul Revere House in the North End, stopping at landmarks like the Massachusetts State House and Faneuil Hall along the way.

Evening Activity: Dinner In The North End

For dinner, head to the North End, Boston’s historic Italian neighborhood, and dine at Giacomo’s Ristorante. This cozy trattoria is known for its delicious pasta dishes and generous portions, perfect for hungry families. After dinner, indulge in some homemade gelato from one of the nearby gelaterias. 

Day 6: Boston, Massachusetts (Museum of Science, Charles River Esplanade, Beacon Hill)

For breakfast on the second day of your Boston itinerary for families, head to Flour Bakery + Cafe, a local favorite known for its freshly baked pastries and gourmet sandwiches. After, spend the morning at the Museum of Science.  With interactive exhibits covering topics like biology, physics, and space exploration, there’s plenty to keep both kids and adults entertained. Grab a quick bite to eat at the museum’s café or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the Charles River Esplanade.

Afternoon Activity: Boat Ride Along The Charles River

Three kids stand ashore in front of the Boston Duck Tour boat. This is one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Nophar Levy Palumbo

After lunch, take a boat cruise along the Charles River. Several companies offer sightseeing cruises that provide stunning views of the Boston skyline and iconic landmarks like the Prudential Tower and the Longfellow Bridge. Alternatively, for a distinctive experience, try a Duck Tour, which offers a combined land and water journey. These amphibious vehicles traverse both the historic streets of Boston and then splash into the Charles River, providing a fun and informative tour that highlights the city’s rich history and unique architecture.

. Once you’re done, you can explore Boston’s historic neighborhoods on foot, like Beacon Hill and Back Bay. Admire the elegant brownstone homes, stroll through the picturesque Public Garden, and window shop along Newbury Street.

Evening Activity: Seaport District 

For dinner, head to Legal Sea Foods in the Seaport District. This iconic Boston seafood restaurant offers a wide selection of fresh seafood dishes, including lobster, clam chowder, and oysters. After dinner, take a stroll along the Harborwalk to enjoy the twinkling lights of the city skyline reflected in the water.

Where To Stay In Boston With Kids

Boston has plenty of family-friendly hotels! For the most convenient locations, stay at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel, or the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. All boast kid-friendly amenities such as pools and are located in close proximity to the city’s best attractions. For more suggestions, consult our list of the best hotels in Boston for families

Day 7: Salem, Massachusetts

Distance From Boston to Salem: 1 Hour

Several people are dressed in Halloween costumes for a parade in Salem.
Photo Courtesy: Destination Salem

Before making your way to Maine, you can make a pit stop in Salem and stay somewhere nearby for one night. Famous for its 17th-century Witch Trials, kids will love witnessing the place where this historical event happened. Plus, it’s less than an hour away from Boston. 

Eat breakfast at Red’s Sandwich Shop, a cozy diner known for its hearty breakfast options and friendly service. Try their fluffy pancakes or classic bacon and eggs to fuel up for a day of exploration! Then, your first activity can be the Salem Witch Museum. This family-friendly museum explores the Salem witch trials of 1692 through life-size stage sets, figures, and narration that’ll impress kids. At Salem Common, kids can run around on the playground or relax on the grass while taking in the scenery.

Afternoon Activity: Walking Tour, Peabody Essex Museum

A group of people are dressed like characters from the movie Hocus Pocus, while visit Salem in the fall.
Photo Courtesy: Destination Salem

For lunch, head to the Salem waterfront area and grab a bite to eat at the Lobster Shanty.  Then, you can also take a walking tour of this charming town, where you will learn all about its sordid history in spooky detail. Families can even choose from themed tours, like a haunted history tour, which offers a fun and informative way to learn about Salem’s spooky legends. 

After the tour, visit the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the oldest and most prominent art museums in the United States. The museum’s diverse collection includes art and artifacts from around the world, as well as interactive exhibits and activities for kids. For dinner, head back into town and dine at the Flying Saucer Pizza Company. 

Evening Activity: Salem Witch Trials Memorial

You can wrap up your day in Salem with a visit to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, located next to the Old Burying Point Cemetery. This peaceful memorial honors the innocent victims of the witch trials and provides a quiet place for reflection and remembrance. Or, stroll along the waterfront to enjoy the evening views of the harbor.

Where To Stay In Salem With Kids

Families looking for a truly spooky stay in Salem can book a room at the Salem Inn, which is allegedly haunted! Or, check out Vrbo for more options. Plus, did you know that Salem is one of the 13 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New England with Kids?

Day 8-11: Coastal Maine (York, Ogunquit, Portland)

Distance Between Salem and York: 1 Hour

After departing from Salem, families can explore the beauty of coastal Maine on a Northeast road trip itinerary. It takes around 1 hour to reach York, Maine from Salem, and the drive is very scenic. 

A bright lighthouse rests ashore near York, Maine.
Photo Courtesy: MCHLC

Spend time sunbathing, strolling the shore, or trying water sports on Long Sands Beach. It also provides fantastic views of the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse. Active families can also enjoy a beautiful hike at Mount Agamenticus, offering trails for all skill levels. Even little ones will be able to handle the 1.9-mile Ring Trail Loop, featuring a great view of Maine’s coastline. Animal enthusiasts can’t miss the chance to visit York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park! 

Distance Between York and Ogunquit: 10 Minutes

An African American toddler girls holds her arms wide open with a huge smile on her face, with Ogunquit Beach in Maine behind her.
Photo Courtesy: Danielle David

Ogunquit is a charming town on Maine’s southern coast. With sandy beaches, cultural activities, and multiple tasty restaurants, it’s a great place to stop on a Northeast Coast itinerary for families. 

Lounge on the gorgeous Ogunquit Beach, which is large, clean, and bustling. Families can also sightsee on the Ogunquit Trolley or stroll the famous Marginal Way, a mile-long scenic cliff walk. Eventually, you’ll come upon the small fishing village of Perkins Cove. Families can also visit the Ogunquit Playhouse. If you have extra time on your vacation, consider visiting the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, taking a Finestkind Scenic Cruise, or heading to Footbridge Beach.

Distance Between Ogunquit and Portland, Maine: 45 Minutes

A lobsterman holds out a lobster while a young child reaches out to touch it during a lobster boat tour, one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Jill Rippy Worden

In Portland, families should take a Maine Lobster Boat Tour, available through vendors such as Lucky Catch Cruises, Rocky Bottom Tours, and Casco Bay Custom Charters. Fishing lovers can also take a trip to nearby Cliff Island, accessible via the Casco Bay Island ferry from Portland’s harbor. Or, head to Mackworth Island State Park, located in Falmouth adjacent to Portland. Shopping enthusiasts will be impressed by the selection at the Freeport Outlets just north of the city, where you can find great deals on a variety of luxury stores. 

Where To Stay In Maine With Kids

Maine offers families plenty of kid-friendly accommodations. If you’re staying near Ogunquit, families love Cliff House Maine in Cape Neddick. Or, the Beachmere Inn, a Cape-Cod-style hotel overlooking the ocean. 

Day 12: Acadia National Park (Park Loop Road, Jordan Pond)

Distance Between Portland, Maine and Acadia National Park: 3 Hours

A young girl stands proudly next to the entrance sign for Acadia National Park, one of the best things to do in Bar Harbor with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Amy Goldshvartz

Acadia National Park is a great place to end your Northeast Coast road trip itinerary for families! Located near Bar Harbor, we suggest spending at least two full days in the park, but you can fit the highlights into one day if you’d like. 

Grab a hearty breakfast at Jordan’s Restaurant – the blueberry pancakes are a favorite among locals and tourists alike! After, you can head to the Visitor Center to pick up a map and get oriented with the park. Then, drive the Park Loop Road, making stops at popular sights like Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, and Otter Cliffs. These spots offer stunning coastal views and easy walks suitable for families with kids.

Afternoon Activity: Picnic Lunch and Jordon Pond Path

A young girl smiles broadly on a sunny day while explore Jordan's Pond in Acadia National Park.
Photo Courtesy: Amy Goldshvartz

Then, have a picnic lunch at one of the designated picnic areas along the Park Loop Road. Once you’re done eating, you can take a hike around Jordan Pond on the Jordan Pond Path. This flat, 3.3-mile loop offers beautiful views of the pond and surrounding mountains, with plenty of opportunities for kids to skip rocks and explore. 

Day 13: Acadia National Park (Cadillac Mountain, Biking the Carriage Roads)

A young girl sits along a rock ledge holding our her arms as she feels the wind atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.
Photo Courtesy: Amy Goldshvartz

Get an early start to beat the crowds at Cadillac Mountain and watch the sunrise from the highest point on the eastern seaboard. The 4.4-mile Cadillac North Ridge Trail has sweeping views of Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay, and the Schoodic Peninsula. After sunrise, enjoy breakfast at Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast, a cozy spot known for its delicious breakfast options and friendly service.

Afternoon Activity: Biking, Bubble Pond

After lunch, families can explore the carriage roads in the park. They offer miles of car-free paths through the park’s wooded landscapes, perfect for a family bike ride. Rent bikes from one of the rental shops in Bar Harbor or bring your own. Then, stop for lunch at Jordan Pond House Restaurant again or pack a picnic to enjoy along one of the carriage roads. After lunch, take a short hike to one of the park’s many picturesque ponds, such as Bubble Pond or Witch Hole Pond.

Evening Activity: Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

A young boy stands next to a summit sign on Bass Head Lighthouse Trail peek near Bar Harbor, one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Jill Rippy Worden

Wrap up your trip with a visit to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The 0.4-mile trail to the lighthouse offers stunning views of the rugged coastline and is a great spot for family photos. For dinner, head back to Bar Harbor and be sure to try some fresh lobster or other local seafood specialties before saying goodbye to Acadia National Park!

Where To Stay Near Acadia National Park

For first-time visitors, Bar Harbor is a great place to stay near Acadia National Park on your Northeast road trip itinerary for families. From here, you can easily visit some of the park’s best attractions. There are hotels, Vrbo, and camping options in Bar Harbor.  

Happy Travels!

A mom pushes her two kids in a stroller while meanders a Boston park. Boston is one of the best places to visit on a Northeast road trip with kids.
Photo Courtesy: Irina DeCamillo

We hope you liked this 2-Week Northeast Road Trip Itinerary For Families! From Acadia National Park to NYC, there are plenty of ways to make your trip special and memorable. Enjoy your next Northeast road trip itinerary for families on vacation! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.


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