The north end of U.S. Highway 1 has always been in Fort Kent, Maine and in 1926 ended in Miami, Florida. In 1938 the ending was extended to Key West, Florida. It is also the longest north-south highway in the United States. Although a good part of the route hugs the Atlantic coastline, a large part is quite distant from the coast. Originally, US 1 was built to provide quick travel before the Interstate system was built. Now that Interstates are the primary mode of quick transportation, most of US 1 within city limits is regulated by stoplights. Plan on a much slower trip than a run down I-95, but one in which you drive past city greens and quaint shops on some stretches. If you take this route, your aim should be to have a relaxing, medium-speed drive.
It is possible to drive U.S. 1 in either direction. The mile markers in Florida begin in Key West at zero and go northward and in Fort Kent, Maine there is a sign that proclaims on one side it is the beginning and on the other side that it is the end. You might want to pick one or more states and travel the route through those states.
From north to south:
There are 529 miles of highway in Maine, the second longest stretch and only 4 miles shorter than the mileage in Florida. Traveling south in Maine some of the cities and towns you will see are: Fort Kent, Madawaska, Grand Isle, Caribou, Ellsworth, Bucksport, Belfast, Camden, Rockport, Rockland, Waldoboro, Newcastle, Wiscasset, Bath, Brunswick, Freeport, Yarmouth, Portland, Saco, Biddeford, Kennebunk, Ogunquit and Kittery.
Traveling from Salisbury at the New Hampshire border southward one passes through the North Shore towns of Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Topsfield, Danvers, Peabody, Lynnfield, and Saugus. The portion from Topsfield northward is predominantly a local road, while the portion from Danvers south is a commuter highway into Boston with a large amount of commercial activity.
Here the Route enters Boston, passing through Malden, Revere, Chelsea, Charlestown, downtown Boston, the South End, Dorchester, and Quincy. An alternate route (which carries Route 1 signage but technically is not part of the route) goes through Boston’s Longwood, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, Chestnut Hill and West Roxbury neighborhoods along with the suburb of Dedham, before meeting up with the regular route in Westwood. This alternate route is a more scenic drive along Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace, before becoming a divided commercial highway in West Roxbury, while the official route is a freeway that is concurrent with Interstate 93 and (at its southern end) Route 128.
Continuing south you'll follow what was known as "the Old Boston Post Road" and pass through Westwood, Norwood, Sharon, Walpole, Foxborough, Wrentham, Plainville, North Attleborough, and Attleboro to the Rhode Island border.
From Pawtucket at the northern border of the state, Route 1 travels through Providence, Cranston, Warwick, East Greenwich, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Narragansett, South Kingstown again, Charlestown and Westerly.
Crossing into the state over the Pawcatuck River, Route 1 travels west along the coastline and heads through several historic cities such as New London, New Haven, Bridgeport, Fairfield, and Stamford.
Route 1 enters New York at Port Chester and passes through Rye, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, New Rochelle and Pelham in Westchester County where it is known as the Boston Post Road. From there the road passes through the Bronx and a short stretch of Upper Manhattan before leaving on the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey.
From Fort Lee at the eastern border of the state, Route 1 travels through Palisades Park, Ridgefield, Fairview, North Bergen, Jersey City, Kearny, Newark, Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway, Woodbridge Township, Edison Township, New Brunswick, North Brunswick Township, South Brunswick Township, Plainsboro Township, West Windsor Township, Lawrence Township, and finally Trenton, before crossing the Delaware River and entering Pennsylvania.
Route 1 crosses the Mason-Dixon Line just northeast of Rising Sun and then heads roughly south west through Conowingo, Bel Air, Kingsville, Baltimore, Elkridge, Laurel, College Park, Hyattsville before entering the District of Columbia.
The highway enters the District of Columbia along Rhode Island Avenue and turns left onto 6th Street. A right on Constitution Avenue brings the traveller along the edge of the National Mall. Route 1 turns left onto 14th Street in front of the Washington Monument, although it is illegal for drivers to turn left at this intersection (instead, one must turn left onto 15th Street, left again at the second traffic light onto Jefferson Place, then right onto 14th Street). From there Route 1 passes the Jefferson Memorial and crosses the Potomac River into Virginia.
Immediately upon entering Virginia, Route 1 heads through Arlington and Alexandria, then south to historic Fredericksburg and then to Downtown Richmond. South of Richmond, Route 1 traverses Petersburg before crossing into North Carolina.
Just south of Alexandria, Route 1 passes very close to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
In North Carolina, US 1 runs along I-85 through Henderson. It then proceeds toward Raleigh becoming Capital Blvd. It then latches on to the I-440 Beltline around the western side of Raleigh and continues as a freeway south of Raleigh through Cary. It is a freeway south of Cary though Sanford and to Southern Pines. As of 2011, the section from Southern Pines to Rockingham is under construction being widened to four lanes. It continues south along the geological fall line to South Carolina.
Two lanes for much of its length in South Carolina, US 1 here is farther from the interstates and remains an important route in its own right. Tracing the ancient coastline of the Cretaceous period, Hwy 1 connects many of the state's oldest inland settlements and is the primary means of access from the sparsely populated sandhills region to both Columbia and the NC capital of Raleigh. 1 enters the state north of Wallace and passes through Cheraw and Camden, there widening to four lanes and running approximately parallel to I-20 into Columbia. As Gervais St., Highway 1 is a primary street in Columbia's central business district and passes directly in front of the statehouse. Leaving the capital, US 1 continues west roughly along the route of I-20 through Batesburg-Leesville and Aiken, entering Georgia at Augusta.
From South Carolina, US1 goes from Augusta south thru Wadley, Swainsboro, Oak Park, And Lyons. It continues through Santa Claus And Baxley before continuing through Waycross and Homeland.
If you travel south through Florida on U.S. Highway 1, some of the towns or cities you will pass by include: Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Titusville, Cocoa, Rockledge, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Grant, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, North Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Hollywood, Hallandale, North Miami Beach, North Miami, Miami, Coral Gables, South Miami, Kendall, Perrine, Homestead, Key Largo and the rest of the Florida Keys to Key West, where it ends at an intersection in front of Key West's City Hall. The highway is 533 miles long through the state of Florida.
US-1 travels through the big cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Miami on the Atlantic Seaboard. Within Boston, Chelsea and Dorchester do have some crime, although both areas are rapidly gentrifying. New York City has been known as a city ridden with crime, which has not been true since the early 1990s or so. However, you may want to be cautious in parts of North Philadelphia which Highway 1 traverses. If you do plan to stop in the City that Never Sleeps, though, you'll still want to exercise caution because driving in NYC is not necessarily a "smart" option due to crowded streets.
US-1 also travels through the Florida Keys. Most of US-1 in the Keys is a two-lane street heading north and south. Though there are rails alongside each lane on the bridges, take care because some South Floridians are considered to be "reckless" drivers.
Fort Kent and Key West are the termini of the highway, but US-1 goes through many large cities, many of which are found in the Drive section of this article.
- Worcester (Massachusetts) is the second largest city in Massachusetts, about 30 or so miles from Boston.
- Yonkers is one of New York City's largest suburbs, behind Newark (New Jersey); it is the largest suburb of NYC within the state of New York.
- Wilmington is a suburb of Philadelphia with a population of almost 80,000 residents. This is the largest city in Delaware.
- Virginia Beach and Norfolk are the two largest cities in Virginia, which make a great side-trip from Richmond.
- Savannah is a major port city in northeast Georgia, accessed from Interstate 95.
- Orlando can be accessed from Florida's East Coast with ease, from Daytona Beach via I-4, to Miami, from the Florida Turnpike.