Known also has US Route 17, this road runs over 1,000 miles parallel to I-95 from Punta Gorda, Florida to Winchester, Virginia. In some places, it’s little more than a small country road, while in others it’s a main thoroughfare. It cuts through five states, running alongside the ocean for the majority. Most travelers take the main highway for road trips, especially those heading south, but Coastal Highway 17 is a great alternative with just as many points of interest along the way. For more on the area that the highway covers, see this Coastal 17 website.
Punta Gorda is located between Fort Myers and Sarasota, where you’ll find museums like The Ringling as well as the best beaches in the state.
Jacksonville is one of the last stops on the highway before crossing into Georgia. It has museums and attractions like the Cummer Museum of Art and the Jacksonville Zoo.
Brunswick is known as the gateway to the Golden Isles, accessible via the iconic Sidney Lanier Bridge. Nearby, you can visit the Brunswick Stew Pot, to honor the namesake dish, Howfyl-Broadfield Plantation, and towns like Darien (Georgia) that dot the highway.
South Newport is a “blink and you’ll miss it” town that is home to what claims to be the Smallest Church in America, pictured above.
Savannah is the state’s oldest city, offering delicious food, historic homes, and much more.
Hardeeville is right across the state line from Savannah. At the many fireworks stores dotting the road, one has two painted elephants statues that make for a fun photo op.
Sheldon is a small town inland from coastal communities like Beaufort and Bluffton. Here you’ll find the Old Sheldon Church Ruins and the African village of Oyotunji. Nearby are the communities that make up the ACE Basin.
Charleston is organized with Highway 17 cutting through the middle, starting in West Ashley to the South and continuing over the Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant.
Santee (South Carolina) has Hopsewee Plantation, which is open for tours throughout the week.
Georgetown (South Carolina) is another quaint town with a long history. Stop by the downtown shops and visit the rice museum.
Myrtle Beach and surrounding Grand Strand communities have plenty to offer visitors without getting off the highway.
Wilmington was the original Hollywood of the South and you can still go on tours of filming locations. The Museum of the Bizarre is another unique stop.
Jacksonville (North Carolina)is known for its military history, but also has a thriving downtown as well as parks and gardens.
New Bern is known as the birthplace of Pepsi as well as its arts scene.
Chesapeake has a number of historical and military-focused attractions, as does nearby Norfolk.
Hampton is a family-friendly destination with historic landmarks, educational farms, and interactive experiences and museums.
Newport News is home to the Virginia War Museum, the Virginia Living Museum, and dozens of other educational attractions for all ages and interests.
Fredericksburg offers the chance to visit George Washington’s boyhood home as well as enjoy the products at local wineries.
Winchester (Virginia) ends the highway, where you can see Patsy Cline’s House as well as major Civil War landmarks.