If you’re looking for the best East Coast vacation spots in the US, you’ve come to the right place. With plenty of historic small towns, barrier islands, and gorgeous national parks, the East Coast is filled with unforgettable destinations. This article also covers tons of hidden gems on East Coast for those who like to explore off the beaten path.
So, here are the best places to visit on the East Coast USA, from the bustling cities of Miami and Atlanta to the quiet beaches of Delaware and Maryland. Get ready to go on a virtual journey with tons of ideas for any kind of vacation — from outdoor adventures to cultural enlightenment.
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🇺🇸 Best Places to Visit on the East Coast: Overview
Here are the top highlights of the best vacation spots on the East Coast, by category. These are just a few of the 40+ destinations in this guide, and below, you can find the main reasons why they make such great East Coast vacation ideas.
- 🏝 One of the best places to visit on East Coast of USA for beaches: Key West, Florida
- 🧗🏻♀️ The best East Coast vacation spot for adventures: White Mountains, New Hampshire
- 🥘 Best places to visit in the East Coast USA for foodies: Miami, FL + New York City, NY
- 🌟 One of the best-kept secret vacation spots East Coast: Augusta, Maine
- 🎉 One of the best vacation spots East Coast USA for festivals: Atlanta, Georgia
- 🗿 One of the most fun places to go on the East Coast for history: St. Augustine, Florida
- 🎸 One of the best places in East Coast USA for live music: Asheville, North Carolina
☀️ The Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the USA
💎 Hidden Gem Vacation Spots on East Coast
If you’re looking for some unconventional things to do on East Coast, then the following destinations may just be what you’re looking for. From hidden Alpine towns in Georgia to rocky islands in Rhode Island, here are the best hidden cool places on the East Coast.
46. Helen, Georgia
☀️ Why vacation here: The Alpine town of Helen feels more like Germany than northeast Georgia. Its Bavarian-style downtown shops and restaurants combined with exciting outdoor adventures make it a true fairytale destination and one of the must-see places on the East Coast.
🥐 Get a taste of Bavaria: Helen is known as Georgia’s “Little Bavaria”. Its charming downtown with over 200 local shops and restaurants — some offering German cuisine — is designed after Germany. Check out local artisan shops and stop into Hofer’s Bakery for an authentic German pastry.
🛶 Ride the lazy river: Helen is a haven for nature lovers. Water activities, such as kayaking and paddleboarding, abound at Unicoi Lake. Residents and visitors alike love to go tubing down the Chattahoochee River, and local gems like the roaring Anna Ruby Falls are not to be missed.
45. Macon, Georgia
☀️ Why vacation here: Nicknamed “The Heart of Georgia”, Macon has an undeniable Southern charm and is definitely one of the best hidden East Coast attractions. Vacationers can enjoy everything from historical attractions to musical performances in this city. Plus, Macon also hosts a huge Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring!
🌸 Join the pinkest party on earth: Did you know that Macon is known as the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World”? This city is home to roughly 300,000–350,000 Yoshino Cherry trees that bloom all around town every year in mid-March. This 10-day Cherry Blossom Festival also features a giant parade and plenty of food trucks.
🎻 Catch a festive concert: The historic Grand Opera House in Macon once hosted famous stars like Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers. Today, you can watch everything from Broadway shows to opera there, and it also hosts festive ballet performances, such “The Nutcracker”.
44. Augusta, Maine
☀️ Why vacation here: Augusta, the stunning capital of Maine, is definitely one of the best vacation places on the East Coast. With endless outdoor adventures and culinary delights, this family-friendly destination provides plenty of opportunities to hike, eat fresh lobster, and learn about the colorful history of Maine.
🏛 Become a history buff: The Maine State Museum has hundreds of exhibits focusing on the history of the state and how it has contributed to the economy of the country. There’s also a whole section about Maine’s birds, plants, and ecosystems that wildlife lovers would enjoy.
🌻 Relax in nature: Stop by Viles Arboretum for 6 miles of trails through family-friendly forests and botanical gardens. There, you’ll see 300 species of trees and plants, as well as local art and plenty of birds. The Kennebec River Rail Trail is another worthy walk with rewarding views.
43. Block Island, Rhode Island
☀️ Why vacation here: Just south of mainland Rhode Island is Block Island, an excellent destination for its sandy beaches, iconic lighthouses, and coastal wonders. Nature lovers and adventure seekers alike will find that Block Island offers a fun, laidback, and serene escape. It’s definitely one of the best places to vacation on the East Coast.
🏞 Stand on dramatic cliffs: Block Island has many dramatic clay cliffs to admire from atop or below. Head to the popular Mohegan Bluffs and enjoy the sweeping ocean vistas. Or, climb the steps to their secluded sandy beach for swimming and surfing.
🗼 Visit old lighthouses: It wouldn’t be a New England coastal vacation without lighthouses! Block Island’s two lighthouses — North Lighthouse and Southeast Lighthouse — date back to the 1800s when they guided mariners through the Sound (a strait in the Atlantic Ocean). Hike or drive to these charming brick headlights to witness history.
42. Montpelier, Vermont
☀️ Why vacation here: Montpelier is the capital city of Vermont, and one of the most charming small towns in America. This quaint vacation spot is home to the friendliest locals, a historic downtown with a thriving arts scene, and lush parks to enjoy. It’s hands down one of the best attractions on the East Coast.
🏰 Explore the historic downtown: One of Vermont’s greatest strengths is its thriving small business scene. Downtown Montpelier is a walkable stretch of local shops and cafes offering handcrafted goods and farm-to-table cuisine. It’s also the location of the historical, gold-domed Vermont State House and History Museum.
🌳 Find a tranquil park: Montpelier’s parks reflect the peaceful, pastoral vibe of Vermont. Visit the wooded Hubbard Park, which has a unique stone observation tower, meadows, and a grove of birches. Alternatively, North Branch Nature Center and Park is a great place for a riverside nature walk.
41. Mystic, Connecticut
☀️ Why vacation here: Perched at the mouth of Mystic River is the town of Mystic in Connecticut. This historic resort village was once a major shipbuilding hub. Today, its vibrant seaport and quintessential New England charm make it the perfect vacation for families and tranquility seekers.
🚢 Explore ships at the seaport: Mystic has a fascinating shipbuilding history dating back to the 18th century. Over 600 ships have been built right here in Mystic Seaport. Walk around the docks and visit the Mystic Seaport Museum to experience a living maritime history.
🐳 Meet a Beluga whale: The Mystic Aquarium is a national treasure, and for good reason. This aquarium houses some incredibly rare species you can’t see elsewhere. Take a look at the Steller sea lions, and then head for the beluga whales. They’re the only ones in New England!
40. Baltimore, Maryland — One of the Most Underrated Vacation Spots East Coast 🌟
☀️ Why vacation here: Baltimore tends to get a bad rep, but this city is largely underrated. A vacation here entails delicious crab cakes, idyllic neighborhoods, plenty of live music, sports games, and festivals. There’s no shortage of art and culture to enjoy in the ‘Charm City’!
🎭 Immerse yourself in culture: From live performances to local theater, there is always a play, concert, or even Broadway show happening in town. Medieval Times Dinner gives a jam-packed meal and a Medieval-themed show that can’t be missed. It’s possible to find something unique and cultural to do nightly while visiting!
🚣♀️ Grab a kayak and explore: Baltimore offers an amazing waterway that gives plenty of chances to explore. A kayak tour in the Inner Harbor will provide an up-close and personal look. You can also hop aboard the Baltimore Water Taxi and take it to Fell’s Point, a beautiful historic waterfront neighborhood!
🌿 Best Vacation Spots on East Coast USA – Nature
If you’re looking for some outdoorsy things to do East Coast, then you’ll be spoilt for options. From finger-shaped lakes in New York to the lush wilderness of North Carolina, here are the best places to vacation on East Coast for nature and adventure.
39. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
☀️ Why vacation here: With the highest elevation in the northeastern US, White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire is full of natural beauty. Its stunning landscapes provide impressive views for changing weather, summer flowers, and snow-topped mountains. It’s definitely one of the best East Coast places to visit.
🍁 Admire fall foliage: Hop in the car and take a scenic drive on the 34-mile Kancamagus Scenic Byway. You’ll come across some of the most beautiful seasonal changes during the spring and fall months. Bring binoculars as there will be encounters with various wildlife along the way, too!
🚵♀️ Explore the outdoors: Spend a day hiking, biking, or fishing in the charming Androscoggin Ranger District. Don’t miss the Baldface Mountain Loop, Mount Willard, and the Welch Dickey Loop either. Then, set up camp at the first-come-first-serve Barnes Field Group Campground, which offers more hiking trails and a scenic view of the Peabody River.
38. Finger Lakes, New York — One of the Best East Coast Summer Vacation Spots ☀️
☀️ Why vacation here: The beautiful Finger Lakes region, named after the 11 finger-shaped lakes that grace the land, has some of the best wineries on the East Coast and offers year-round fun. Outdoor enthusiasts can kayak or hike in the summer and go skiing in the winter.
🍷 Indulge in a sip or three: Make it a day and visit the many wineries that make Finger Lakes famous. Travel the 30-mile Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail to taste some award-winning wine. Don’t miss Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery, Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars, or Inspire Moore Winery.
🗿 Get up close with history: Finger Lakes is home to several significant historical sites. Explore the exhibits at the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park to learn about the role Harriet Tubman played in abolishing slavery. Be sure to also visit the awe-inspiring National Soaring Museum to discover the historic journey of motorless flight.
37. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
☀️ Why vacation here: Nestled in the mountains of western Massachusetts, the Berkshires are a dream nature retreat. Choose from a plethora of outdoor activities, renowned farm-to-table food, and fun art events. Vacationers will discover both tranquility and adventure during a stay at the Berkshires.
🍁 Go on an autumn adventure: Visitors flock to the Berkshires in autumn for spectacular foliage colors. It’s the perfect time of year to take a hike or rail-trail bike ride. Climb to the summit of Mount Greylock, or chase waterfalls at Bash Bish Falls State Park. The views are simply spectacular.
🥁 Catch a memorable performance: The Berkshires are home to a colony of artists, musicians, and performers of all kinds. Watch the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform at Tanglewood, attend a Berkshires Jazz concert, or witness a captivating dance at Jacob’s Pillow festival.
36. Niagara Falls, New York
☀️ Why vacation here: From pristine hiking trails to thrilling jet boat tours, there are plenty of incredible adventures in Niagara Falls, USA. This destination is hands down one of the top vacation spots on the East Coast USA for families, photographers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
⛵️ Explore from the waters: Join the world-famous Maid of The Mist Boat Tour (⭐️ 4.7/5) to get the most breathtaking views of the waterfalls. The tour also includes a visit to the stunning Niagara Falls State Park and the unmissable Cave of the Winds on Goat Island.
🎉 Catch a festival: Summer is the festival season at the falls, with plenty of great food, live music, and food trucks. Don’t miss the Lockport Outdoors Arts & Crafts Festival in particular. If you visit in the fall, you can also catch the annual Oktoberfest at Old Falls Street!
35. Acadia National Park, Maine
☀️ Why vacation here: Sitting on the Atlantic Coast, Acadia National Park is a haven for hiking enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. Its diverse landscapes include glaciers, beaches, and sea caves. The coastal towns nearby also offer more opportunities to blow off some steam.
🌿 Hit the trails: Hikers will love all the different trails through Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast. More dramatic sceneries await on the Ocean Path from Sand Beach to Otter Point. For the best lake views, don’t miss Jordan Pond Path. The options are endless.
🌊 Relax by the sea: Right by the park lies Bar Harbor, a coastal town that offers great insight into New England culture and cuisine. There, you can go lobster fishing, take a culinary walking tour, enjoy live music, and take in the gorgeous coastal views.
34. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
☀️ Why vacation here: A mere 75 miles from Washington D.C. is Shenandoah National Park, an expansive pastoral destination in Virginia. With 200,000 acres of mountains, wildflower fields, waterfalls, and wooded trails, Shenandoah is one of the best places to visit in East Coast USA.
🚗 Embark on a road trip: Because it extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is an unforgettable road trip destination. Drive down any portion of Skyline Drive, a 100-mile-long winding parkway that cuts through the park. Take advantage of its many vistas along the way.
🏞 Climb to a summit: Vacationers would be remiss not to take advantage of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Drive the 101-mile park road and stop for one of the many Skyline Drive hiking trails and overlooks. Don’t miss hikes to Dark Hollow Falls and Hawksbill Summit, in particular. Embark on a loop hike up Old Rag Mountain for a wide-open summit view!
33. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina
☀️ Why vacation here: The majesty and lush wilderness of North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains makes it one of the best places to see on the East Coast. This national park and its Appalachian mountains are made for hiking, exploring, and engaging with the region’s indigenous cultures.
🗿 Learn about Cherokee culture: The Cherokee Indians have settled in this region for 1,000 years, living among fertile lands, plentiful streams, and gentle mountains. Today, the Cherokee Indian Reservation is open to visitors. Visit the Cherokee Museum to learn about their history and culture.
🌿 Get up close with nature: Great Smoky Mountains is the most biodiverse national park in the US, so climb to the observation tower atop Clingman’s Dome — the park’s highest point — or go white water rafting on Pigeon River. Then, explore Cades Cove to witness diverse ecosystems.
🏡 Best East Coast Vacations USA – Small Towns
If you’re looking for a quiet getaway away from the crowds, you’ll find plenty of options on the East Coast. From the picturesque farmland hills of Vermont to the quaint seaside towns of New Hampshire, here are some good vacation spots on the East Coast for small-town dwellers.
32. Woodstock, Vermont
☀️ Why vacation here: The tiny town of Woodstock, Vermont, captures the essence of pastoral New England. Serenity is imbued in the quaint downtown shops, rolling farmland hills, and historical sites of Woodstock. This East Coast destination feels like a home away from home.
🐓 Visit a local farm: Visiting a Vermont farm should be at the top of your bucket list. The local-favorite Sugarbush Farm produces a wide variety of cheeses and that world-famous Vermont maple syrup everyone goes crazy for. Pet the animals and purchase delicious treats.
🚶🏻♀️ Walk around the old village: The historic Woodstock Village is the town’s heart. Surrounded by the Green are historical shops lined up to surprise and delight vacationers with local, handmade goods. Be sure to check out FH Gillingham & Sons, a 130-year-old country store!
31. Providence, Rhode Island
☀️ Why vacation here: Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island, is an academic and cultural haven. Here, visitors will find captivating art installations and museums, historical architecture, and wide-open parks by the sea. Brown University also brings young energy and innovation to the city.
🌳 Visit picturesque grounds: There are so many picture-perfect spots in Providence. Stroll around Brown University’s brick-laden Ivy League campus, or relax in the gazebo at Roger Williams Park. For something extra special, catch the lighting of the WaterFire public art show at Waterplace Park.
🎨 Peruse cultural institutions: Providence offers education, art, and historical architecture in spades. Don’t miss out on the RISD Museum to view art from around the world. Then, spot charming old homes at College Hill, or visit an authentic Italian cafe at Federal Hill.
30. Roanoke, Virginia
☀️ Why vacation here: The Blue Ridge city of Roanoke is a great mountain escape in southwest Virginia. Perfectly situated beside the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail, Roanoke offers a unique blend of outdoor adventures, American pioneer history, and artistic innovation.
🚵 Venture into the mountains: As a mountain city, Roanoke offers an exciting assortment of trails and Blue Ridge Mountain access points for mountain biking and hiking. Explore the trails at Carvins Cove, or hike McAfee Knob for incredible Appalachian vistas.
🎨 Admire Virginian art: Roanoke has an underrated arts scene. In addition to the public art around the city, the Taubman Museum of Art features an impressive collection of American art from famous and local artists. Live concerts are also hosted in the Elmwood Park amphitheater.
29. Savannah, Georgia
☀️ Why vacation here: The coastal city of Savannah in Georgia is a vibrant destination with a seaside landscape and southern charm. The beautiful public parks, diverse culture, and rich Antebellum history make Savannah one of the best places to travel on the East Coast.
🗿 Uncover a complex history: Savannah’s Antebellum history is rich, challenging, and complex. Take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic district’s significant landmarks to view pre-civil war architecture and learn the city’s story. Or, visit Wormsloe Plantation, the Mercer-Williams House, or Owens-Thomas Slave Quarters.
🌳 Sojourn beneath majestic oaks: Savannah’s iconic oaks with Spanish moss are best enjoyed in Forsyth Park. This oasis at the heart of the city’s historic district is perfect for strolling, picnicking on the grass beside the fountain, or taking a nap under the picturesque oaks.
28. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
☀️ Why vacation here: Perched on New Hampshire’s Atlantic Coast, the charming seaside city of Portsmouth is one of the best East Coast vacation destinations. This quaint, romantic New England town has a vibrant arts scene, fresh seafood, and colonial architecture that brings America’s history to life.
🗿 Discover colonial history: As one of the oldest European settlements in the U.S., Portsmouth is bursting with early American history. Walk through the 300-year-old buildings of Strawbery Banke outdoor history museum. This is the site of the oldest continuously occupied neighborhood in the state!
🎸 Fall in love with New England: Portsmouth captures the essence of New England’s charm. Stroll through Market Square with a German coffee, browse the many local shops, and catch a sunset concert in Prescott Park. The gallery-lined cobblestoned streets will have you wanting to stay forever.
27. St. Augustine, Florida — One of the Best East Coast Tourist Attractions for History 🗿
☀️ Why vacation here: As the oldest city in the U.S., St Augustine is a fascinating emblem of early American history. Visitors can stroll through cobblestone streets to witness old Spanish architecture. The city’s warm, slow-paced lifestyle also makes it a relaxing beach getaway.
🗿 Admire Spanish history: Did you know St Augustine is the oldest city in America? This almost-500-year-old Spanish town has incredible history around every corner. Explore the formidable Castillo de San Marcos, or visit the Father O’Reilly House, one of the oldest structures in the city.
🏖 Enjoy a slower pace of life: Visitors and residents of St Augustine are in no rush. From lounging at St Augustine Beach or Crescent Beach to mastering golf at World Golf Village, the sunshine is in full supply and the living is easy.
26. New Haven, Connecticut
☀️ Why vacation here: New Haven, the home of Yale University, is situated on Long Island Sound. This coastal city is the cultural hub of Connecticut. Prestigious institutions and renowned museums meet with charming seaside attractions to create a truly unique northeastern city. It’s definitely one of the must see places on the East Coast.
🏛 Admire a historical college: Downtown New Haven is integrated with the world-class Yale University, a private Ivy League college. Take a walking tour of its beautiful old campus to admire the architecture. Or, waste away the hours exploring the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.
🗼 Swim beside a lighthouse: A local watering hole, Lighthouse Point Park is an ideal beachfront hangout. Its tall white lighthouse overlooks the sandy shoreline. Come picnic under a pavilion, take a ride on the vintage carousel, or improve your backstroke in the Sound.
25. Annapolis, Maryland
☀️ Why vacation here: Annapolis isn’t just Maryland’s capital. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, this city is a cultural hub with a vibrant small-town energy. Its walkable historic district, domed State House, and active waterfront make it a wholesome East Coast vacation.
🌊 Enjoy the waterfront: Annapolis’s downtown waterfront is bustling with activity. The City Dock sits at the heart of the historic district, where you can dine outdoors beside Ego Alley and watch the boats dock. There are also many local shops to browse at City Dock.
🗿 Admire historical sites: Annapolis is one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in the U.S. The US Naval Academy and Museum highlight the country’s military legacy, while the Maryland State House was where the Revolutionary War officially ended.
24. Newport, Rhode Island
☀️ Why vacation here: Newport, found on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island, is a luxurious coastal oasis. The seaside Cliff Walk trail, stunning Gilded Age mansions and museums, and sailboat-dotted marinas make Newport one of the best vacations spots on the East Coast.
🏠 Wander through famous mansions: Newport is famous for its Gilded Age mansions, which served as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Today, these ornate, expansive mansions are open to the public for tours. Head to Bellevue Avenue and explore the iconic Breakers homes.
🌊 Take in panoramic ocean views: One of Newport’s best features is its 3.5-mile Cliff Walk. This recreational cliffside trail offers incredible 360° views of the Atlantic ocean, relaxing picnic sites, and access points to other interesting Newport sites and restaurants.
23. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
☀️ Why vacation here: Sitting beside the Atlantic on the southern tip of South Carolina is Hilton Head. Dubbed “America’s Favorite Island”, this beach town has 12 miles of sandy shoreline with warm waters. For golfing, harborside fun, and pristine nature preserves, Hilton Head offers an unbeatable vacation.
🏌🏽 Enjoy harborside fun: The Hilton Head Island Marina has an activity for every interest. Golfers can play a fun round with a seaside view at Harbour Town Golf Links. Those looking for a special experience can see the Harbour Town Lighthouse Museum and climb the 114 steps to the top.
🐬 Discover unique wildlife: The island’s Lowcountry nature is special to encounter. Nearby nature preserves like the Pickney Island Wildlife Refuge and the Coastal Discovery Museum will give you an insider look at the native wildlife. Or, go birding or kayaking through marshlands.
🏙 Top Vacation Ideas East Coast USA – City Breaks
If you’re wondering about where to vacation on the East Coast for big city vibes, the options are endless. Whether you’re looking to absorb history, watch theatre, tan at the beach, or enjoy live music, these great East Coast vacation spots will have you covered.
22. Atlanta, Georgia — One of the Top Vacation Destinations East Coast USA for Festivals 🎉
☀️ Why vacation here: Boasting an exquisite food scene, vibrant festivals, and tons of hotels with rooftop pools, Atlanta is a city that has it all. As one of the best places to visit East Coast USA, it’s also known as the ‘City of Trees’ and offers plenty of gardens and outdoor fun.
🎉 Experience a festival: There’s a festival nearly every weekend somewhere in Atlanta. Don’t miss the Atlanta Brunch Festival in the fall, the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival in the summer, the Shaky Knees Music Festival in the spring, and the Atlanta Pizza Festival in the fall.
🗿 Immerse yourself in history: Tour the Atlanta History Center for one of the biggest exhibitions on the Civil War. Stroll the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park to relive the Civil Rights Movement. This 35-acre park also encompasses MLK’s birth home and tomb.
21. Miami, Florida
☀️ Why vacation here: With 20 miles of dreamy beaches, Miami is hands down one of the best places to visit on the East Coast in the summer. With that said, this vibrant city offers warm weather year-round and is also home to incredible nightlife and yummy international cuisine.
👙 Work on your tan: Miami’s beaches are some of the finest in the world. Stop by Lummus Park to lie under an umbrella, people watch, or go skating by the beach. To enjoy luxurious day beds, creative cocktails, and delicious cuisine, don’t miss Nikki Beach in South Beach.
🥘 Eat like a local: Miami has welcomed Spanish influence for hundreds of years, and it really shows in its international food scene. Pop into La Carreta in Little Havana for some of the best Cuban food in town, and be sure to stop by the famous Sergio’s for a taste of Cuban fusion.
20. Boston, Massachusetts
☀️ Why vacation here: Filled with relaxing green spaces, live entertainment, fresh lobster rolls, and historical landmarks, Boston is one of the most fun places to visit on the East Coast. With several beaches nearby, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy here.
🌿 Relax in nature: The scenic Charles River flows through Boston and offers tons of fun activities on a sunny day. Enjoy kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding on the water. To relax afterward, head to the Boston Common for a picnic on the grass or a stroll through a garden.
🗿 Soak up the history: The self-guided, 2.5-mile Freedom Trail is the most famous historical walk in town, and it’s a great starting point to discover Boston’s main attractions. The landmarks you’ll see include churches, state houses, and the beautiful USS Constitution ship.
19. Portland, Maine
☀️ Why vacation here: Perched on a beautiful peninsula in Maine, Portland is set against a stunning backdrop of mountains and coastline. This city offers a vibrant culinary scene, picturesque architecture, and many fun waterfront activities. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit USA East Coast.
🦞 Taste beer & lobster: Allagash Brewing Company was named Portland’s “Brewery of the Year” in 2021 and has a tasting room open to visitors. There, you can sample some of the best local craft beers. You’ll also find a food truck on-site serving delicious Maine lobster rolls!
🗼 Chase lighthouses: There are five stunning lighthouses in Portland, and no trip to this city would be complete without seeing at least one of them. Stunning Portland Head Light is the most picturesque one, and one of the most photographed lighthouses in America!
18. New York City, New York
☀️ Why vacation here: NYC is a once-in-a-lifetime destination with something to offer everyone. This bustling melting pot has it all; from renowned art galleries and Broadway shows to world-class cuisine. It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting East Coast trip ideas.
🌳 Enjoy green spaces: The parks in NYC are the perfect place to unwind and people-watch. Washington Square Park is one of the most picturesque ones and features a giant fountain. Of course, no trip to the Big Apple is complete without a stroll at the iconic Central Park.
🌆 Get a bird’s-eye view: Climb up the Top of The Rock observation deck to enjoy an incredible 360° view of the city. From there, you can see all the most famous landmarks in NYC, including the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
17. Charleston, South Carolina
☀️ Why vacation here: Home to endless festivals, smooth sand beaches, innovative restaurants, and a classic Southern charm, Charleston has it all. This stunning port city is a hub for arts and entertainment, making it one of the top cool places to visit on the East Coast.
🎉 Enjoy a festival: No matter which month you visit Charleston, there’s a festival waiting for you. Soak up the winter sun at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival — the largest oyster festival on earth. Taste more local specialties at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival in the spring. In the summer, enjoy spectacular dance and jazz performances at the Spoleto Festival.
🌊 Dip your toes in the Atlantic Ocean: There are five beaches in Charleston with calm waters and smooth sands. Surf or paddleboard at the popular Folly Beach, enjoy golf on Kiawah Island, listen to live music on Isle of Palms, and taste delicious seafood on Sullivan’s Island.
16. Tampa, Florida
☀️ Why vacation here: Perched along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the vibrant city of Tampa is one of the best places to vacation East Coast USA. Vacationers can take advantage of the perfect access to pristine beaches and parks. What’s more, rich cultural wonders are found around every corner!
🌳 Soak up Gulf Coast nature: Tampa is a big city, but it’s closely tied to Florida’s natural beauty. Curtis Hixon Waterfront and Cypress Point parks will make you feel at home near the ocean, while Sunken Botanical Gardens and Big Cat Rescue introduce local wildlife.
🌮 Take a trip to Cuba: This city’s vibrant, melting-pot culture is undeniable. Experience the electric energy of Tampa’s Cuban neighborhood, Ybor City. Browse vintage shops on 7th Avenue, taste authentic Cuban and Latin cuisine, and learn about its immigrant history at Ybor City State Museum.
15. Asheville, North Carolina — Best Places on the East Coast to Visit for Live Music 🎸
☀️ Why vacation here: Asheville, the largest city in North Carolina, is one of the best vacations on the East Coast for music lovers and boasts one of the coolest downtowns to explore. Full of eclectic funky shops and artwork all around, creatives will find a vibe in Asheville that’s hard to beat.
🎸 Enjoy live music: Asheville has a very rich music scene, which is a fascinating blend of classical, contemporary, and traditional sounds. The wide variety of music festivals in town are a testament to that. Head to Goombay Festival for African-Caribbean sounds; Amadeus Festival for works of Mozart, and Brewgrass Festival for Southern Appalachian music.
👑 Treat yourself like royalty: Relax in luxury at the Biltmore Estate (⭐️ 9.3), a place that makes Asheville truly bucket-list-worthy. At this 8,000-acre oasis, you can enjoy guided hikes, biking, wine tasting, carriage rides, and four-star dining — plenty of activities to make yourself feel like a queen or king.
14. Washington, D.C.
☀️ Why vacation here: Washington, D.C., America’s capital city, is a vibrant, historical destination for every kind of traveler. This compact city has iconic national monuments, an incredible network of museums, and other rich cultural attractions to experience. It truly is one of the best things to see on the East Coast.
🏛 Visit a museum: It would be a shame to miss out on the multitude of D.C.’s world-class museums. Visit one of the 19 esteemed Smithsonian museums. Whether you’re interested in natural history, outer space, or fine art, there is an institution made for you.
🏙 Hunt for iconic buildings: There are over 160 monuments scattered across D.C., many of which are world-famous and historically significant. Hunt down the White House, Jefferson Memorial, or Lincoln Memorial to take in that iconic neoclassical architecture. Or, climb the Washington Monument for city views.
13. Orlando, Florida
☀️ Why vacation here: Orlando is one of the best US East Coast vacation spots for families or large groups of friends. Home to the famous Disney World, this vibrant city is the theme park capital of the world. Its year-round warm weather is also perfect for enjoying water activities.
🎢 Enjoy theme parks: Orlando is home to an abundance of world-class theme parks. You can easily spend days exploring the thrilling rides and attractions inside the world-famous Disney World and Universal Resort. For more rollercoasters and water parks, don’t miss Legoland.
🐧 Meet cute animals: Head to Discovery Cove to swim with dolphins and snorkel with thousands of tropical fish. For even more thrilling adventures, head to SeaWorld for the flying rollercoasters. There, you can also dine with orcas and hang out with penguins!
12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
☀️ Why vacation here: Philadelphia — affectionately referred to as Philly — is Pennsylvania’s largest and most iconic city. Its historic Revolutionary sites, delicious all-American street food, and melting-pot culture make it one of the best places to travel East Coast.
🛎 See a famous bell: Philly is home to many famous landmarks and sites, like the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. But perhaps the most famous of them all is the 1753 Liberty Bell, which once rang in Independence Hall and became a symbol of American freedom.
💐 Browse a massive open market: One of the most impressive public markets in the country is right here in Philly. The Reading Terminal Market has a mind-blowing variety of vendors serving up exotic cuisines, locally grown produce, fresh flowers, meats, and a ton more.
🏖 Best Places to Go on the East Coast – Beaches
From bustling seaside towns in South Carolina to exotic islands in Florida, the East Coast is filled with stunning beach escapes. Pack some flip-flops, sunscreen, and water gear, and get ready to adventure in one of these best summer vacation spots East Coast.
11. Key West, Florida
☀️ Why vacation here: Key West is a vibrant island in the Florida Keys, a string of tropical islands stretching 120 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Experience the best island life, admire art, and enjoy fresh seafood on this incredible island getaway.
🌅 Catch the sunset: Every evening at Mallory Square, visitors gather to watch the gorgeous scarlet sunset over the Gulf. It’s a great spot to spend an afternoon as artists show off their work, vendors serve up delightful eats, and live entertainment flocks the streets.
🎨 Gaze at world-renowned art: There’s plenty of art to experience in Key West. At the Key West Gallery, you’ll find the works of world-renowned artists on display. You can also admire Cuban artists’ works at Gallery on Greene and unique blown glass pieces at Art @830.
10. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
☀️ Why vacation here: Perched on the coast of northeastern South Carolina, the city of Myrtle Beach sits on a 60-mile stretch of stunning white sand beach, making it one of the best summer vacation spots on the East Coast. Expect tons of outdoor fun and a vibrant nightlife.
🏄♀️ Enjoy beach fun: Outdoor lovers will love the variety of water activities at the Grand Strand. Enjoy kayaking, parasailing, fishing, surfing, and jet skiing at the white sand beaches, or for a different kind of adventure, go horseback riding along a forest trail by the beach.
🔮 Get entertained: There’s plenty to do in Myrtle Beach that doesn’t involve the beach itself. Head to WonderWorks for interactive science exhibitions and fun physical challenges. To enjoy the most entertaining dinner, watch cool acrobatic tricks at the Pirates Voyage Show.
9. Assateague Island, Maryland — One of the Most Unique Vacations East Coast 🐎
☀️ Why vacation here: Assateague Island is a naturally diverse, 37-mile-long barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean. From its maritime forests and salt marshes to its sandy beaches along coastal bays, Assateague is a stunning place. Don’t miss a chance to spot wild horses along the shore.
🌊 Go on a coastal adventure: This island is thriving with biodiversity. Wade into the Atlantic from one of the many sandy beaches, or walk the ‘Life of the Forest’ trail in Assateague State Park. For another special experience, don’t miss beach camping by the sea.
🐎 Observe wild horses: One of the most memorable things about Assateague Island is the wild horse population roaming its shores. These bands of feral horses wander in packs, grazing on saltmarsh cordgrass by the water. See them in their natural habitat at Assateague State Park.
8. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
☀️ Why vacation here: The city of Rehoboth Beach on Delaware’s coast is one square mile of paradise. Perched along the Atlantic, this beach community has a charming boardwalk and a serene state park for adventuring. For a family summertime getaway, Rehoboth Beach is the perfect destination.
🚶🏻♀️ Bum it on the boardwalk: Declared one of the “Top U.S. Boardwalks” by National Geographic, the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk is the heart of the town. Stop into some of the eclectic shops and restaurants along this mile-long stretch, or set up camp on the sand.
🌿 Explore a state park: Looking for a more active stay in Rehoboth? Head straight for Cape Henlopen State Park. With beautiful hiking trails, a nature center, and its own secluded beach, this state park is full of adventure. See how many native birds and reptiles you can spot!
7. Dry Tortugas, Florida
☀️ Why vacation here: Dry Tortugas is a collection of seven islands in the Gulf of Mexico. This tropical national park is only 1% land-based, and the epic water sports, rare marine life, and incredible dive sites make for an exotic vacation you won’t forget. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places on the East Coast.
🐠 Discover underwater magic: Dry Tortugas is beautiful from land, but its best treasures lie beneath the ocean’s surface. Go snorkeling off any of the seven islands to see protected coral reefs, or deep-sea dive to spot a famous shipwreck off Loggerhead Key.
🏊🏼♀️ Find your favorite water sport: Want to try your hand at a new water sport? Both ocean experts and newbies alike will find something fun to do. Go swimming or boogie boarding on the wide, sandy Garden Key beaches, or paddleboard along the turquoise waters.
6. Cape May, New Jersey
☀️ Why vacation here: The seaside city of Cape May on the southern tip of New Jersey is jam-packed with things to do. From pristine beaches to lavish Victorian architecture and a lively shopping district, Cape May is one of the top places to visit on the East Coast USA.
⛲️ Live the high life: At Cape May, you can both witness and experience the high life firsthand. The city’s famous Victorian homes are steeped in fascinating history. Spot this lavish architecture all over the city, and even spend your trip at a B&B converted mansion.
🥘 Enjoy Cape May culture: Delicious food, local wineries, and breathtaking sites define Cape May. The Bird Observatory highlights native birds, and the Cape May lighthouse can be climbed for sweeping ocean views. Make sure to check out the lively Washington Street for shopping and dining.
5. Tybee Island, Georgia
☀️ Why vacation here: Tybee Island in Georgia is a barrier island right off the coast of Savannah. As one of the top East Coast vacation spots, this island is complete with wide sandy beaches and is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure. Get ready for sunset cruises and calming kayak rides.
🗿 Explore fascinating history: The northern side of Tybee Island is packed with fascinating sites. Explore Fort Screven, a 19th-century military post with an accompanying museum. Then, make sure to visit the Tybee Island Light Station. This colonial-era lighthouse is the oldest and tallest in Georgia!
🌊 Spend a day at the pier: If you want to know where the action’s at, head to the South Beach neighborhood. This active downtown district is right by the ocean. Have some fresh seafood, then head to South Beach’s long pier for lounging or fishing.
4. Asbury Park, New Jersey
☀️ Why vacation here: The welcoming beach community of Asbury Park in New Jersey is a thriving seaside city on the Atlantic. Its strong musical influences, classic beach boardwalk activities, and unique cultural attractions make it a wonderful vacation spot for beach lovers and creative spirits.
🎸 Dive into the music scene: Asbury Park has music legends Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi to thank for putting it on the map. Iconic music venues like the Stone Pony have hosted many of these famous artists. You can also catch a live show at the Paramount Theatre on the boardwalk.
🍤 Have fun on the boardwalk: During the summer months, the Asbury Park Boardwalk comes to life. This oceanfront path is lined with alehouses, seafood eateries, arcades, and concert venues. People of all kinds flock here to enjoy tasty food, dancing, and beach fun.
3. Bethany Beach, Delaware
☀️ Why vacation here: Vacationing on the sandy shores of Bethany Beach in Delaware makes for one of the most fun things to do on the East Coast. This beach town is part of the Delaware Seashore State Park, allowing vacationers to experience the best coastal landscapes in New England.
🏪 Feel at home: Bethany beach is a small, cozy beach town. The collection of shops and food shacks along its half-mile boardwalk are uncrowded and inviting. The boardwalk is a local favorite for strolling, jogging, or picnicking. It also provides great access to beach activities.
🌊 Choose your park: At Bethany Beach, your choice of state parks won’t be limited. Delaware Seashore State Park will provide the best coastal landscapes in the state. Fenwick Island State Park to the south has a beautiful stretch of beach for swimming and sunning.
2. Outer Banks, North Carolina
☀️ Why vacation here: The rural barrier islands of Outer Banks in North Carolina are an ocean lover’s paradise. This beloved resort destination has no cities and a wide-open shoreline. The Outer Banks’ natural serenity and history make it one of the best East Coast USA attractions.
🌊 Explore an endless seashore: With 100 miles of shoreline, the seaside activities at the Outer Banks are boundless. Wander around the sand dunes of Jockey’s Ridge State Park, or watch the sunrise from the buckled Avon Fishing Pier. Also hidden around the banks are shipwreck diving sites.
🎭 Learn the Lost Colony legend: The ‘Lost Colony’ legend tells of 120 European settlers who mysteriously vanished from Roanoke Island in the 1500s. To hear the legend, attend the Lost Colony symphonic drama staged on the Roanoke Island banks. It will make your imagination run wild!
1. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
☀️ Why vacation here: Famous for being the Kennedy family’s summer getaway, Cape Cod is one of the best places to go on East Coast. This Massachusetts peninsula has quaint villages beside sandy beaches, iconic lighthouses, and incredible lobster rolls. Ferry to surrounding islands for even more Atlantic adventures.
🏘 Explore quaint seaside villages: There are 15 quaint villages full of gems to explore on Cape Cod. Ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard to rent bikes, check out the John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis for a historic journey, and feast on lobster rolls at Lobster Trap in Bourne.
🌊 Relax by the ocean: Cape Cod is home to 560 miles of coastline. Take advantage of its sandy beaches at gorgeous spots like Race Point Beach. After viewing the lighthouse there, explore the maritime trails of Nickerson State Park, or lounge on the sands of Nantucket.
✈️ Best East Coast Vacation Places: Travel Tips
- ✈️ Find the best flights around the US with Skyscanner or Kiwi.com
- 💸 Get reliable travel insurance from World Nomads
- 🚖 Book your private transfer from the airport to your hotel with Expedia
- 🏨 Find the best accommodations on Booking.com or Expedia
- 🧔🏻 Get the best tour guides via Get Your Guide, Tiqets, or Viator
- 🚗 To rent a car for road trips, get the best deals on Rentalcars.com
- 🎒 Pack a bathing suit cover-up, a water-proof phone case, and durable hiking boots
- 📚 Read Lonely Planet USA and some dreamy beach quotes for more inspiration
- 📸 Bring the best photography gear (including these must-have Sony lenses!)
🌸 Best East Coast Travel Destinations: A Recap
I hope you found some inspiration from these top East Coast destinations in the US! Whether you’re looking for big city breaks, quiet beach escapes, or hiking destinations, I hope this article has given you plenty of ideas for fun, exciting, and awesomely weird places to visit on the East Coast.
If you’re curious to discover more US destinations, don’t miss out on the best tropical vacations or the best hidden gems in the US. We also have a complete list of the 60+ best vacation spots in the US.