Known also as 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 the 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.
Highway 17 in Florida
Highway 17 in Georgia
Brunswick is a coastal city 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 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.
Highway 17 in South Carolina
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. Here you can tour historic homes, plantations, and museums as well as enjoy delicious food.
Santee has Hopsewee Plantation, which is open for tours throughout the week.
Georgetown is another quaint town with a long history. Stop by the downtown shops and visit the rice museum.
Highway 17 in North Carolina
Jacksonville and Onslow County are 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.
Highway 17 in Virginia
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 ends the highway, where you can see Patsy Cline’s House as well as major Civil War landmarks.