Charlotte to New York Road Trip

Take a trip through American history, visiting Durham, Charlottesville, Gettysburg, and Hershey on this Charlotte to New York road trip.
Written by Michelle Ballestrasse
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
A Charlotte to New York road trip is a chance to see various steps of American history and culture as you cross each state line, from Durham to Charlottesville to Gettysberg.
There’s plenty of big-city hustle and bustle waiting for you in New York, so use your road trip as a time to check out the smaller towns and historic sites along the way. The route might be longer, but it’s definitely more scenic!
Most importantly, make sure you’re prepared for the trip and any mishaps that may be lying in wait on the open road with roadside assistance and great
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Once you’re all set, hit the road and enjoy the sights!
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Key trip details

Charlotte, NC to New York, NY
Distance: 690 miles
Driving time: 12 hours and 50 minutes
Suggested length of trip: 2 to 3 days


  • Charlotte, NC
  • Durham, NC
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • Gettysburg, PA
  • Hershey, PA
  • New York, New York

Charlotte, NC

The Queen City is royalty in the Southeast, not only for its art and culture, but as the birthplace of NASCAR and the cornerstone of American motorsports.

Where to eat in Charlotte

  • Midwood Smokehouse
    ($$): Barbecue is sacrosanct in the American South, and Midwood Smokehouse does it right with some of the best classic BBQ in town.
  • Lang Van
    ($$): If you’re craving the fresh flavors of Vietnamese cuisines, head to Lang Van for popular favorites like pho and spring rolls, along with other classic Vietnamese dishes.

What to do in Charlotte

NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame
    : This shrine to the history and heritage of America’s most popular motorsport celebrates and honors the drivers, crew, and contributors who shaped it.
  • Carowinds
    : This iconic amusement park features 407 acres of roller coasters, water rides, and more.
  • Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
    : Dedicated to the art of the mid-20th century, the Bechtler features exhibits from Ernst, Picasso, and Warhol, among many others.
  • Hendrix Motorsport Complex
    : Fans of NASCAR not just content with touring the Hall of Fame will want to make their way to Hendrix, which supports four champion NASCAR premier teams.
  • Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
    : The oldest and largest craft brewery and beer garden in Charlotte serves up award-winning beer year round.

Durham, North Carolina

143 miles, 2 hours 8 minutes
Durham earned its place in history for its role in the Civil Rights movement, as the location for a number of prominent protests and the home of Black Wall Street.
To get from Charlotte to Durham, take I-85 N.

Where to eat in Durham

  • Pizzeria Toro
    ($$): Nothing beats pizza made from scratch, and Pizzeria Toro’s rustic pies are guaranteed to hit the spot.
  • Refectory Cafe
    ($$): If you’re looking for healthier options, the menu at the Refectory Café can give you an almost-religious culinary experience
  • Dame’s Chicken and Waffles
    ($$): Beyond its title dish, Dame’s Chicken and Waffles offers up a slew of comfort foods like wings, grits, and collard greens.

What to do in Durham

Duke University
  • Duke University: Duke is prestigious for its reputation as one of the best schools in the country, but it also features a few points of interest. Besides its incredible architecture, it offers an art gallery and wooded gardens.
  • Bennett Place Historic Site
    : Bennett Place is particularly important in American history as the location where the last major Confederate army surrendered to the North before the surrender at Appomattox, which ended the Civil War.
  • Museum of Life & Science
    : This incredible outdoor science park features one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the east coast and over 60 species of live animals.
  • Craft beer tours: Durham is home to a number of excellent craft breweries, so hitting up a local beer tasting tour is a must for any true beer lover!

Where to stay in Durham

  • 21C Museum Hotel
    : This is the hippest place to stay if you’re in Durham for the night. It’s a stylish boutique hotel with an industrial-style restaurant, a spa, and as the name suggests, an art gallery! Cost per night: from $159

Durham to Charlottesville, Virginia

167 miles, 3 hours 13 minutes
Queen Charlotte had more than one American city named after her. One of them is Charlottesville, a small, independent city famed for its breweries, nightlife, and history of birthing American presidents.

Where to eat in Charlottesville

  • Otto Turkish Street Food
    ($): The only life hack worth knowing is that street food is the best food, and Otto Turkish Street Food proves the point.
  • Mel’s Cafe ($): For something simple and tasty, hit up Mel’s Cafe for classic American café food.
  • Burton’s Grill & Bar
    ($):If you’re looking for American fare with more heft, burgers and beers from Burton’s Grill & Bar are at the ready.

What to do in Charlottesville

  • Monticello
    : You may recognize this neoclassical home from the back of nickels, but it’s better known as Thomas Jefferson’s plantation home. It’s now a museum and educational institute with particular focus on the lives of the slaves that lived and died there.
  • Wine and beer tasting: Charlottesville features a number of reputable wineries and even more excellent breweries. Whether you prefer the grape, the hops, or both, a tasting tour of these facilities shouldn’t be missed.
    CVille Hop on Tours
    Blue Ridge Wine Excursions
    are two good options.
  • Hot air ballooning
    : To see Charlottesville from a different point of view, hop in a hot air balloon and spend some time cruising. If you’re visiting in the fall, this view of the foliage will be hard to beat!
  • Carter Mountain Orchard
    : Marvel at the lush groves while picking peaches, apples, and more (seasonally, of course!). On Wednesday evenings during the summer, you can also enjoy acoustic music with a side of gorgeous sunset.

Where to stay in Charlottesville

  • The Graduate
    : A favorite among families visiting the University of Virginia, the Graduate is a cool retro-inspired boutique hotel with a hip cafe, rooftop dining, and, of course, a bar. Cost per night: from $159

Charlottesville to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

167 miles, 3 hours 22 minutes
One of the most iconic locations of the Civil War, Gettysburg is a treasure trove of American history. It’s best known as the place where Abraham Lincoln delivered his legendary Gettysburg Address and the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the Civil War.
You can get to Gettysburg via US-29 N and US-15 N.

Where to eat in Gettysburg

  • Dobbin House Tavern
    ($$): This spot combines history and classic American fare in a historic house that survived the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Hunt’s Battlefield & Fries
    ($$): For those who like their burgers and fries with a side of kitsch, Hunt’s Battlefield Fries & Cafe has more hats than any other restaurant you’ll find—but the food alone is still worth the visit.
  • Garryowen Irish Pub
    ($$): If you’re looking for something from back across the pond, Garryowen Irish Pub has a great spread featuring classic Irish dishes and beers.

What to do in Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park
  • Gettysburg National Military Park
    : Dedicated to preserving the region where the Battle of Gettysburg was fought, this park also houses the Gettysburg National Cemetery, Devil’s Den, and the David Wills House, where Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address.
  • Eisenhower National Historic Site
    : Gettysburg was also where former president Dwight D. Eisenhower retired with his wife Mamie. The converted farm and land is now available for public tours.
  • Gettysburg ghost tours: Given Gettysburg’s bloody history, paranormal activity is often reported in the area. If you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, check out one of Gettysburg’s nighttime ghost tours!
    Gettysburg Ghost Tours
    is a great option.

Where to stay in Gettysburg

  • Gettysburg Hotel
    : Need a place to stay after all that Civil War touring? The Gettysburg Hotel is a modest distance from key spots you’ll be sure to have visited. Cost per night: from $106
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Gettysburg to Hershey, Pennsylvania

51 miles, 1 hour
If the name of this community reminds you of the candy, there’s a reason! While an unincorporated town, Hershey is the home of its namesake candy magnate and the Hershey chocolate plant, making it a must-stop for anyone with a sweet tooth.
It’s an easy ride to Hershey with US-15 N.

Where to eat in Hershey

  • Piazza Sorrento
    ($$): If you thought this list would only feature chocolate, you might be disappointed. But console yourself with some excellent Italian and Mediterranean food elegant little eatery Piazza Sorrento.
  • Chocolate Avenue Grill
    ($$): Contrary to the name, chocolate isn’t a feature on the menu of the Chocolate Avenue Grill, which specializes instead in contemporary American cuisine.
  • The Hershey Pantry
    ($$): If you need to satiate your sweet tooth, finish off either breakfast or lunch with one of the Hershey Pantry’s massive cinnamon rolls or brownies (you have to get some chocolate in while you’re here!).

What to do in Hershey

  • Hershey Story Museum
    : If you don’t know much about Milton Hershey’s extraordinary life before and after he became the candy man, the Hershey Story Museum is the place to learn about it.
  • Hersheypark
    : If you’re looking for more of a thrill, Hershey has that too (what a guy!). Hersheypark is a classic family amusement park with roller coasters, water rides, and more.
  • Crossroads Antique Mall
    : For the old souls out there who like their furnishings with some history attached, Crossroads is a massive antiques mall filled to the brim with treasures.
  • Cullari Vineyards and Winery
    : As we know, wine goes well with chocolate. Pair the two up with a tasting at Cullari.

Where to stay in Hershey

  • Simplicity Inn
    : Just as the name suggests, this inn is a modest and reasonably-priced place to stay for the night. Cost per night: from $85

Hershey to New York City

163 miles, 2 hours 52 minutes
There’s no city on earth quite like New York, the city that never sleeps. There’s more to do and see and eat in NYC than can be done in a day, a week, or even a lifetime. From its museums to its art galleries, architecture, nightlife, shopping, and food scene, there’s something for everyone to love.
Follow I-78 E to get from Hershey to New York.

Where to eat in New York City

  • SottoCasa Pizzeria
    ($$): For fully authentic Neapolitan pizza just as the Italians intended, visit SottoCasa Pizzeria, which has locations in Harlem and Brooklyn.
  • Loi Estiatorio
    ($$$): If you’re looking to detour around Italy for Mediterranean fare, hit up Loi Estiatorio for authentic Greek cuisine.
  • Mei Jin Ramen
    ($$): This is a great stop for eclectic ramen with unusual toppings like tuna tartare and chili beef, along with poke and a broad range of sake.

What to do in New York City

Times Square
It may be impossible to see all of NYC in a day, but a guided city tour can help you see the best that the city has to offer and is great if you don’t have time to spend exploring. If you prefer the DIY route, here are some must-see things:
  • Times Square
    : The busiest intersection in the world and the center of NYC’s commerce and entertainment. Why not take in a Broadway show along the Great White Way?
  • One World Trade Center
    : Home now to the tallest skyscraper in the US and a monument to the victims of 9/11, it’s worth a visit if you find yourself in the financial district.
  • New York Catacombs: It’s a little-known fact that beneath the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral lay Manhattan’s only catacombs—and you can explore them by candlelight!
  • Greenwich Village walking food tour
    : Get a taste of everything by hitting the pavement in Greenwich Village and sampling a wide variety of cuisines.
  • Central Park
    : No trip to NYC is complete without a stop in the world-famous Central Park, which alone has enough attractions to merit a full day’s visit, including a zoo, a nature sanctuary, and Belvedere Castle.

Where to stay in New York City

  • Pod 51 Hotel
    : If you’re in need of a place to stay, consider the Pod 51 Hotel. It has all the workings of a typical modern New York hotel: bright spaces, great views from the rooftop deck, a cafe and bar — all at a more reasonable price. Cost per night: from $87
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The fast way back

Take I-95 and I-85 South, but check traffic conditions before you go. This route either skirts or cuts through a number of major cities, which means rush hour traffic could actually make this the slow way back.

The scenic way back

Via I-81 South, this route takes you further west than the fast route. Instead of traffic, you can look forward to scenic mountain roads past national forests.

Why you need roadside assistance

Once the route is picked and the GPS is ready to go, it’s time to make sure you’ve got a backup plan for if the worst happens. This trip covers well over 600 miles through mountainous terrain and small towns, where it may not always be possible to get repairs. Roadside assistance is definitely a tool worth having in your toolbox!
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