Are you looking for the best things to do on the East Coast of the US? You’ve come to the right place. From cultural adventures to relaxing getaways, this East Coast trip planner has got you covered. In this article, you’ll find plenty of scenic, unique, thrilling, and delicious ideas for your East Coast bucket list.
This guide is also packed with insider tips to help you plan the best East Coast trip. You’ll find everything from the coolest local hidden gems to the essential things to pack. So without further ado, let’s travel East Coast and discover all the highlights this region has to offer!
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⛲️ 40+ Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the US
🇺🇸 60+ Best Vacation Spots in the US: Bucket List Places
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🇺🇸 The Best Things to Do on the East Coast USA
🏞 Scenic Things to Do on an East Coast Trip
If you love taking pictures, you’re in for a treat. From chasing fall foliage in New England to admiring waterfalls in New York and catching spring blossoms in D.C., here are the most picturesque and breathtaking things to do in East Coast USA.
32. Chase Colorful Fall Foliage in New England
Visitors from every corner of the country come to experience the jaw-dropping fall foliage in New England. From mid-September through early November, the maples, birches, oaks, and beeches change to vivid reds, oranges, and yellows. This spectacular color display is set on the picturesque backdrop of New England’s charming farm towns, rolling hills, and mountain vistas.
One of the best ways to chase the foliage is to take a road trip through the region. You can spend your time passing through the quaint towns of just one state, or make your way around all six for an epic leaf-peeping journey. From the scenic Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire’s White Mountains to a drive along Vermont’s Route 100, a New England autumn is unforgettable.
🍁 Insider Tip: During peak foliage, popular spots like Newport in Rhode Island, Boston, Bar Harbor and Portland in Maine, and Burlington, Vermont get crowded. Want a quieter but equally as beautiful foliage destination? Head to places like Stowe in Vermont, North Conway in New Hampshire, or the Baxter State Park in Maine.
31. Capture the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C.
Springtime in Washington D.C. offers something truly magical: the blooming of the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossom trees planted throughout the city bloom every year around the last week of March into the first week of April. For a fleeting 4-7 days each year, D.C.’s parks and iconic monuments are aglow with soft pinks.
There are many spots in the city to capture and photograph the cherry blossoms. But perhaps the best of them is at the Tidal Basin, a reservoir in West Potomac Park near the National Mall. Take the 2-mile Tidal Basin Loop Trail, which features cherry blossom trees and a backdrop of famous memorials.
🌸 Insider Tip: D.C. is a compact and difficult city to drive through. If you plan to see the cherry blossoms at Tidal Basin, consider using the metro. A convenient metro stop is Smithsonian Station, accessed by using either the Orange, Silver, or Blue lines. This will land you about 15 minutes on foot from Tidal Basin at 1500 Maine Ave.
30. Explore White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire
The breathtaking White Mountains National Forest in New Hampshire is filled with recreational adventures. Exploring the granite mountains and lush forests of this 7,000-acre park is one of the top things to do on the East Coast. There are scenic drives featuring gorgeous vistas, day hikes, biking trails, ski resorts, and a lot more.
If you want to explore the best of the Whites, Franconia Notch State Park is a great place to start. The natural gems here are second to none. Walk along the boardwalk through Flume Gorge, or cruise down the scenic Kancamagus Highway to catch sweeping fall foliage views. And for an easy hike with views, head up Artist’s Bluff Trail.
If you enjoy hiking, this is the National Forest for you. There are over 700 mountains in the Whites to choose from! The most famous, Mount Washington, is the tallest peak in the Northeast. Drive along the winding Auto Road to the summit, or ride the historic Mount Washington Cog to the top.
29. Embark on a Misty Boat Tour in Niagara Falls
The grandeur of Niagara Falls near Buffalo, NY may be unlike anything you’ve seen. Niagara Falls is made of three distinct waterfalls. American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are in New York, while Horseshoe Falls is in Canada. Experiencing the falls up close on a boat tour is one of the best East Coast bucket list ideas.
The most renowned Niagara Falls boating adventure is the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour. These large electric boats sail passengers through the Niagara Gorge, going as close to the falls as possible. The mighty falls and their 600,000 gallons of water each second cascading down are awe-inspiring. Wear a poncho and comfy clothing — you’re about to get soaked!
🚗 Insider Tip: There is no physical address for Niagara Falls, so if you’re driving in, the best address for your GPS is: 24 Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY 14303. This will place you at the intersection of the state park entrance and the bridge to Goat Island.
28. Get Active in Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park in Maine is the Northeast’s most invaluable natural gem. This coastal woodland park is set primarily on Mount Desert Island along the Atlantic Ocean. The maritime energy of New England’s only National Park can’t be captured anywhere else. That’s why exploring Acadia is one of the best things to do on an East Coast USA trip.
The recreational adventures at Acadia are as varied as the unique habitats found here. 45 miles of rustic carriage roads run through the park, providing prime opportunities to get up close and personal with Maine’s coastal landscape. If you’re more interested in sweeping views, hike or drive to the summit of granite-domed Cadillac Mountain.
Jordan Pond is an excellent place to embark on a loop trail through the woodlands. This easy level 3.5-mile hike follows the perimeter of the crystal-clear Jordan Pond. Over the course of one to two hours, you can observe the forest flora and fauna, spot rabbits and white-tailed deer, and enjoy the best views of the glacier-formed Bubbles.
27. Find Serenity at the Berkshires in Massachusetts
Nestled in the pastoral landscape of western Massachusetts is the Berkshires. This rural collection of cute villages is known for its fun outdoor activities and unique arts scene. The Berkshires are perfect for anyone who loves being physically active or needs a serene escape from the daily grind.
The Berkshires are graced with rolling mountainscapes, which makes for awesome hiking spots. If you’re looking for a hilly and epic hiking trail, hit the 35-mile Taconic Crest Trail, which stretches from Williamstown to Pittsfield. For a single mountain summit hike, Mount Greylock (which has its own gin!) is a great choice. Just short of 4,000 feet, the summit will give you aerial views that extend for 90 miles.
🧁 Insider Tip: Looking for a splash of culture in the Berkshires? The farm-to-table food scene is unsuspectingly thriving here! So head to the Starving Artist Creperie and Cafe in Lee, and feel transported to Europe. You’ll find vegan and gluten-free crepes, panini, espresso, and other yummy baked goods here.
🎢 Fun Things to Do on the East Coast of the US
If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing vacation, the East Coast won’t disappoint. From swimming with tropical fish in Florida to riding rollercoasters in Orlando and shredding the slopes of Vermont, here are the most fun things to do on a trip to East Coast USA.
26. Dive Into an Underwater World at the Florida Keys
Home to some of the best Florida beaches with clear water, the Florida Keys are a chain of coral islands with hundreds of sandy islands to choose from. Exploring the Florida Keys is one of the top cool things to do on the East Coast for its Cuban influences, relaxed vibe, and epic water sports.
Most people associate the Florida Keys with Key West (Duval Street!), but there are many other island oases for beach lounging, diving, and snorkeling to see the incredible variety of marine life.
Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key offers one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the Keys. The historical Marathon island, home to a turtle conservation hospital, is another great choice.
🐬 Insider Tip: For a magical underwater world, visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo, the U.S.’s first undersea park. You can take a snorkeling or glass-bottom boat tour to explore its living coral reefs, hundreds of colorful tropical fish, turtles, and dolphins.
Read more: 51 Most Tropical Places in the USA
25. Explore Bar Harbor & Other Coastal Maine Towns
Coastal Maine towns capture the essence of New England by the sea. There are so many fishing villages, locally-owned shops, and beachside activities along the coast of Maine to explore. Perhaps the most picturesque is Bar Harbor, a harbor town on Mount Desert Island connected to the stunning coastal beauty of Acadia National Park.
Agamont Park, which sits beside the public pier in Bar Harbor, is a great place to begin. This grassy picnic spot leads you to Main Street, which has really unique local shops and fresh seafood restaurants. Then, meander along the Bar Harbor Shore Path for the best ocean views, which leads from Agamont Park along the Eastern shore.
Further south from Bar Harbor are dozens of other coastal towns, each special in their own right. Cape Elizabeth on the outskirts of Portland is home to the stunning Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park. Kennebunkport is another great option, known for its charming downtown and President Bush’s summer home. And if beaches are your thing, head to Ogunquit for its Marginal Way cliff-walk and long sandy beaches.
24. Hit the Fun Boardwalk at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina
Situated on the coast of South Carolina is Myrtle Beach, a popular beach resort city with over 60 miles of gorgeous coastline. Myrtle Beach has all the classic elements of a fun beach town, from bustling arcades to fresh seafood, and even a seaside amusement park.
To get to the center of the action, head for the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. This family-friendly boardwalk is really the heart of Myrtle Beach. Extending along the beach for 1.2 miles (1.9 km), this oceanfront promenade is where most of the resorts and fun activities are. Take a gondola lift in the SkyWheel at Family Kingdom Amusement Park to enjoy ocean views from 200 feet up.
🚗 Insider Tip: Myrtle Beach highways get very congested in the summer season. To avoid the bumper-to-bumper traffic along U.S. 17, opt for S.C. 31 to get from Surfside Beach to North Myrtle Beach. For a quicker drive from the airport toward 48th Avenue North, use the Robert M. Grissom Parkway.
23. Relax in Luxury at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina
The stunning Biltmore Estate is one of the best boutique hotels in Asheville, North Carolina. Known as America’s biggest home, this historic 250-room estate is open to the public for exploration, or an overnight stay in the lap of luxury. It is truly a Gilded mansion for the ages.
Spending time exploring the grounds of the Biltmore Estate is truly one of the best experiences on the East Coast. This expansive house was built in the late 1800s for the prominent Vanderbilt family and has remained in the family for generations. With the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains as the backdrop, it feels like a visit to a royal chateau.
Today, visitors can take guided tours of its grand halls and beautiful gardens. There’s also an on-site restaurant and winery, along with many walking and horseback riding trails. To experience all that Biltmore has to offer (and some generous pampering!), invest in an overnight stay at the Village Hotel (⭐️ 9.2) or The Inn (⭐️ 9.3).
22. Shred the Slopes in the Green Mountains of Vermont
Vermont is one of the top ski destinations in the country. The Green Mountains offer the perfect snow conditions for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. With stunning views, ideal weather, and 20 different ski resorts, shredding the slopes in the Green Mountains is one of the most fun things to do on East Coast USA.
There are many excellent ski resorts to choose from in the Green Mountains. Sugarbush Resort in Warren, VT overlooks the Mad River Valley and has over 50 miles of trails to shred. Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Jeffersonville has a plethora of winter activities, from cross-country skiing to tubing to snowboarding. Killington is a local favorite, as well as Stowe Mountain Resort and its nearby VT Ski and Snowboard Museum.
❄️ Insider Tip: For a unique bucket list experience, take a private ride in the “Lincoln Limo” at Sugarbush Resort. Departing at dusk, this heated Cabin Cat carries 12 guests to the summit of Lincoln Peak. You’ll see sweeping views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Tickets are $55 per person.
21. Adventure Around Orlando’s Many Theme Parks
If there was a worldwide award for the best theme park destination, Orlando in Florida would win by a landslide. There are nearly a dozen theme parks in Orlando alone. To understand the options you have to choose from, think of the parks as being divided into two distinct “worlds”: Universal Orlando, and Disney World.
Universal Orlando is where many famous Universal Studios movies come to life. At Universal Orlando Resort, you can step into the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Once you fill up on butterbeer, embark on a Jurassic Park river ride at the Islands of Adventure.
There are also four epic parks that make up Disney World. The most visited theme park in the world, Magic Kingdom brings alive the fairytale magic of classic Disney stories. At EPCOT, you will find international cultures and cuisines celebrated. Animal Kingdom offers safari adventures and the chance to see rare species of wildlife.
🎫 Note: Tickets to Disney parks are fairly pricey, so budget around $100 per ticket!
20. Explore the Unspoiled Nature of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts
Just a short ferry ride from Cape Cod in Massachusetts is Martha’s Vineyard. This quaint Atlantic island is an unspoiled summertime haven, dotted with harbor towns, historic lighthouses, and pristine beaches. If you want a serene beach getaway with plenty of activities minus the crowds of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is the place for you.
The magic of Martha’s Vineyard lies in the quiet coastal landscapes and kind locals inhabiting its charming villages. The fishing village of Menemsha has that magic in spades. Browse its quaint shops and feast on fresh seafood.
Then, head to the Menemsha Hills Nature Preserve, one of the best Martha’s Vineyard hiking spots, to get active. Here, you can find the best views of the island by climbing to the top of Prospect Hill.
🌊 Insider Tip: While South Beach and Joseph Sylvia State Beach are reliably fun public beaches, there are hidden gems to seek out around the island. Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark is a private, serene stretch of sand with fascinating rock formations. Visitors can only access it after receiving a walk-on pass from City Hall for $25.
💎 Unique Things to See in USA East Coast
If you’re into quirky and unique experiences, you can find plenty of unusual things to see East Coast USA. Here are some of the best ones — from swimming with dolphins in Orlando to exploring one of the most haunted places in the country.
19. Take a Ghost Tour of Historic Charleston in South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is a charming coastal town with a tumultuous history. Its iconic architecture, peaceful seaside activities, and welcoming southern culture make Charleston a great destination. But as a 300-year-old city with a dark legacy of slavery and bloody Civil War battles, it’s also considered one of the most haunted places in America.
To get spooked by chilling ghost stories while learning about the history of Charleston, take a guided ghost tour. Many tours will bring you to significant historical sites, like the Old Citadel that once housed and trained Civil War cadets. Many have also claimed ghost visitations at old slave plantations and 17th-century burial grounds around the city.
👻 The best ghost tour: Embark on this 90-minute Charleston Supernatural Ghost Tour, led by paranormal author Geordie Buxton. He will lead you around the city and tell tales of orphan ghosts at College of Charleston, “half-head” soldiers at the Old Citadel, and spirits who roam graveyards. But if you have a weak stomach, this may not be for you!
18. Swim with Dolphins at Orlando’s Discovery Cove in Florida
Do you like the idea of making friends with a dolphin? Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida will make that dream a reality. Discovery Cove is a resort and theme park operated by SeaWorld that offers tropical animal encounters and marine education. Dolphin Lagoon is designed for visitors to have a special encounter with bottlenose dolphins.
This experience starts with wading into the pool to meet a dolphin. Then, the Discovery Cove animal specialist will teach you all about dolphin behaviors, relationships, and communication abilities. After that, you’ll have a chance to interact with the dolphin one-on-one! You’ll discover firsthand how gentle and sweet these sea mammals are.
🐬 Insider Tip: Dolphins aren’t the only animals you can swim with at Discovery Cove. You can go snorkeling with hundreds of tropical fish, wade with the otters, or swim with sharp-toothed reef sharks. What you have access to may depend on the resort package you purchase.
17. Visit an Iconic Lighthouse in Portland, Maine
Maine is known for its lighthouses, which have been guiding sailors into harbor for centuries now. If you’re stopping by the dynamic port city of Portland, visiting an iconic lighthouse is an absolute must. Of all the six lighthouses surrounding Portland, the Portland Head Light reigns supreme in striking beauty. Why else would it be one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country?
To visit the Portland Head Light, cross the Casco Bay Bridge out of Portland and follow Route 77 toward Cape Elizabeth. Following Shore Road for three miles will lead you right to Fort Williams Park, where you will find the towering white lighthouse perched atop the craggy cliffs. Stay for golden hour if you can.
🗼 Insider Tip: There are five other lighthouses within 20 miles of Portland. Near the Portland Harbor Museum is Spring Point Ledge Light at the end of a granite breakwater. Also nearby is Bug Light, which offers a great view of Casco Bay.
16. Catch Diverse Wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a mountain range that runs along the North Carolina and Tennessee border. This stunning national park has some of the most diverse plant and animal life in the country, which is likely why it is also the most visited U.S. National Park. Visiting the Smokies to spot diverse wildlife is definitely one of the best things to do along the East Coast.
Among the most interesting animals to see in the park are black bears, bobcats, coyotes, elk, and Monarch butterflies. Black bears can most easily be spotted in open areas, like Cades Cove and Cataloochee. There are only about 200 elk in the park, most of which can be spotted grazing in the open meadows of Cataloochee.
For an exciting animal kingdom phenomenon, visit the park between September 24 through October 7. This is when the great Monarch migration moves through the Great Smokies. Take the scenic loop trail around Lake Junaluska to spot monarchs feeding on the blooms.
15. Stroll Across the Unique Covered Bridges of Vermont
Vermont in New England is a lush, mountainous state with quaint villages along quiet country roads. It also offers an iconic type of architecture: rustic covered bridges. Not only are they perfect for photoshoots, but they also make for lovely cruises and strolls. Vermont actually has the most covered bridges (over 100!) per capita in America. Like snowflakes, each one is visually and historically unique.
You’ll be able to find covered bridges in every corner of the state, but Woodstock is a convenient home base with access to eight different ones. A few of these include the Taftsville Covered Bridge spanning the Ottauquechee River, Quechee Covered Bridge in White River Junction, and the Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge.
👻 Insider Tip: Do you love spooky ghost stories? Visit the Golden Brook Bridge, known as “Emily’s Bridge”, in Stowe. Legend has it, a girl named Emily was waiting for her lover at the bridge, where they would elope. When he never showed, she hung herself from the rafters in despair. People claim her spirit still haunts it!
Read more: 35+ Best Hidden Vacation Spots in the US
14. Spot Alligators Around the Everglades in Florida
Located at the southern tip of Florida is Everglades National Park, an extensive wetlands preserve that is home to hundreds of animal species, many of which are endangered. The Everglades is an excellent destination to spot alligators, which is why it’s one of the best things to see in East Coast USA.
Because the Everglades are mostly marshland, they are not easily explored by car or on foot. It’s also not safe to approach alligators if you do not know the proper protocol. This airboat tour will not only bring you near alligators and crocs, but also rare turtle and bird species.
🐊 Insider Tip: Beware of the mosquitos! The marshes are a breeding ground for these blood-sucking insects. It’s impossible to explore the Everglades without applying a strong DEET repellent. Make sure you’re prepared, or you’ll be eaten alive in under five minutes.
13. Wander Through Extravagant Mansions in Rhode Island
Want to step into the lives of the rich and famous? The Gilded Age of the 19th century brought a new era of lavish living. Today, the echoes of this explosion of wealth can be experienced at the famous mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. The extravagant historical homes found throughout this seaside town are open to the public for exploring.
The Breakers Mansion is perhaps the grandest and most iconic one. The Vanderbilt family built this palace as their summer “cottage”. You can take a self-guided tour of its 70 ornate rooms — it might make you feel like you’re about to meet the Queen! Another impressive mansion is the Marble House, which also belonged to the Vanderbilt family. It was architecturally inspired by a stone palace at Versailles.
The Elms is another breathtaking residence, with its Classical Revival gardens dotted with marble sculptures, trees, and fountains. Once you’ve had your fill of mansions, hop over to the nearby Cliff Walk and take in the sea breeze by the ocean.
🎸 The Best Cultural East Coast Things to Do
If you enjoy live music, theater, history, and museums, you won’t ever run out of things to see on the East Coast USA. From catching Atlanta’s many festivals to watching the best Broadway shows in NYC, here are the most unforgettable activities for culture lovers.
12. Live it Up at an Atlanta Festival in Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia is an exciting melting pot of cultures, histories, and traditions. Because of this, it’s no surprise that this city hosts a slew of unforgettable festivals that last all year long. It doesn’t matter what you’re into: live music, good food, cinema, or fine art. There’s an Atlanta festival made for you.
While there are multiple music festivals to choose from, the Shaky Knees Music Festival in late Spring is one of the big-time contenders. Rock, Alternative, and Indie lovers will want to dance the night away in Central Park. As for food-themed festivals, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in September serves up Southern cuisine and wines from some of Atlanta’s top restaurants.
Looking for a bit more art and culture? The Atlanta Dogwood Festival is a dynamic springtime celebration with a fine arts market led by local artisans. And for bookworms of all types, the Decatur Book Festival rolls around every October. This is the largest indie book festival in the country, so don’t miss out!
11. Walk the Historic Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts
Walking along the historic Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts is like a stroll through living history. Boston has played an important role in U.S. history since its founding as a colonial settlement in the 1600s. All around its historical downtown remain centuries-old landmarks and buildings connected to America’s Revolutionary history.
Relive these important stories by following the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail that cuts through the heart of downtown Boston. The Freedom Trail is connected by significant sites like Paul Revere House, the Old State House, the Boston Massacre, and 13 others. The Trail is rich in American historical significance, from important political figures to social movements and revolutionary battles.
The best place to start is Boston Common. The trail carries you through the downtown area and ends at the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill. Depending on your speed, the trail might take anywhere from two to six hours. If you’re looking for a good midway stopping point, Faneuil Hall marketplace will give you a break from all the history.
10. Catch a World-Renowned Broadway Show in NYC
Broadway performances in Manhattan, NYC are considered some of the best theatrical productions in the world. This rotation of plays and musicals is staged in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway in Midtown Manhattan. With world-class stage design, orchestras, and actors, catching a Broadway show in NYC is one of the best things to do north East Coast.
Broadway performances happen year-round. Some of the selection remains static, and some new shows cycle in. Phantom of the Opera is Broadway’s longest-running performance. Others like Wicked and the Lion King remain tried and true in Broadway theaters. But trending musicals like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen have quickly become smash hits. It all depends on your taste!
🎭 Insider Tip: NYC isn’t the only place to catch a Broadway show. Broadway productions travel around, performing in as many as 240 cities across the United States. Off-Broadway shows are also more affordable options. These can be found across NYC, and are usually performed in theaters with less than 500 seats.
9. Witness History & Unique Spanish Moss in Savannah, Georgia
The gorgeous coastal town of Savannah, Georgia is home to a complex Southern history. The Spanish moss oak trees you might find on a postcard seem to always be found in important historical places in town. So chase down the most picturesque Spanish moss trees, and you’ll encounter some rich histories of the city along with them.
Forsyth Park is the perfect place to witness the stunning beauty and history of Savannah. This grassy public park is lined with old oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Wander through the park to see its unique fountain and the surrounding Antebellum architecture.
For another historical site that looks more like a painting, head to the Wormsloe Plantation. The long driveway that leads to the tabby ruins is lined with massive Spanish moss oak trees, creating a magical canopy beneath the sky. Take a tour of the home while here to learn more about the city’s dark plantation history.
8. Dance to Live Country Music in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee is the home of country music, and where many famous country artists grew the city’s music industry. The likes of Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood all made a name in Nashville. That makes it the ultimate city to hear live country music and maybe even meet some famous artists.
Nashville’s most iconic live music scene is found in the famous Music Row district. At all hours of the night, live music can be heard in various bars and venues along Broadway in downtown Nashville. The Stage on Broadway and Honky Tonk Central both host prominent country music artists. Want a little line dancing with some good ol’ fashioned country music? You might enjoy WildHorse Saloon.
🎸 Insider Tip: There’s no getting around it — Broadway can get a bit wild and crazy. If you want to enjoy a live music venue that isn’t surrounded by drunken Bridal shower parties, Acme Feed and Seed might pique your interest. This Southern restaurant serves cocktails with live music on a rooftop patio.
7. Museum-Hop Around Washington, D.C.
It’s shocking how many world-class museums are located right in Washington, D.C. These prestigious institutions cover every subject you can think of: history, art, science, space, and so much more. A quick ride on the metro will take you to every corner of D.C.’s incredible network of museums. But to explore just one area, the Smithsonian Institution offers a clustered complex of museums you can walk to.
One of the most sobering, important D.C. museums is the Holocaust Memorial Museum, which takes visitors through World War II and Jewish genocide history. Another fantastic historical museum is the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, which houses the world’s largest natural history collection. If you’re interested in fine art, head to Constitution Ave to explore the National Gallery of Art and its amazing variety of visual arts.
🎭 Insider Tip: If you’re a literature buff looking for something a bit off the beaten path, check out the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill. This National Library contains the largest collection of Shakespeare folios and artifacts.
🥘 The Best Foodie Things to Do East Coast
Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do on East Coast is to try all the delicious cuisines of the region. From juicy cheesesteaks to crispy crab cakes and creamy seafood soups, there’s no shortage of exquisite delicacies on the East Coast. Here are the best ones.
6. Fill Up on Clam Chowder in New England
New England has a long legacy of a hearty soup called clam chowder. This soup, made of clams and a creamy broth, is believed to have been brought from northern Nova Scotian and French settlers. It has become a prominent part of traditional New England cuisine, especially in Maine and Massachusetts, largely because of the long, harsh winters there.
Clam chowder is still a favorite at seafood restaurants and taverns around the region, especially those along the coast. Union Oyster House in Boston serves a classic, no-frills bowl of clam chowder people can’t get enough of. For a cozy bowl of chowder with bacon mixed in, go for Chatham Pier Fish Market in Massachusetts.
If you’re heading over to Maine, you will never run out of clam chowder spots. Portland’s Gilbert’s Chowder House specializes in all things chowder. Want a twist on the classic New England chowder? Newick’s Lobster House in Dover, New Hampshire offers a seafood chowder with fresh lobster chunks mixed in.
5. Indulge in Delicious Lobster in Maine
One of the things Maine is best known for is its lobster. A large part of Maine’s economy, lobsters are extracted from the cold Atlantic waters year-round. The Maine lobster is known for its large claws and sweet flavor, which can be enjoyed warm or cold. Don’t miss out on a taste of this delicious, fresh lobster. You can find it almost anywhere in Maine!
The best places to taste lobster are in harbor towns by the ocean. In places like Portland, lobster is often caught in the early morning and ends up on your plate just hours later. That’s how fresh it is! Highroller Lobster Co. in Portland has a famous lobster roll, which is lobster meat served warm or cold in a hot dog roll with lemon juice or mayo.
Outside of Portland, the Lobster Shack at Two Lights also serves lobster rolls with hardy portion sizes. For a classier lobster establishment with beautiful harbor views, try the fresh lobster with butter at Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery.
4. Taste the Flavors of the World in NYC
The cosmopolitan New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, with so many unique cultures, languages, and cuisines coming together. If you want to expand your palette or discover a favorite cuisine, you could spend the rest of your life visiting new restaurants and tasting new flavors across NYC.
If you love authentic Chinese food, head to the neighborhood of Flushing in Queens. To get your pasta and pizza fix, Italian restaurants are abundant in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Or, pick up imported Italian groceries at Buon’Italia. Due to a large Latin American population, you can find authentic Peruvian flavors at restaurants like Urubamba, or Salvadoran cuisine at El Continental in Brooklyn.
🥘 Pro Tip: There are hundreds and hundreds of restaurants in NYC, representing hundreds of ethnic cuisines. Use this NYC restaurant search tool to filter the cuisines and neighborhoods you’re looking for.
3. Feast on Crab Cakes in Maryland
One of Maryland’s most recognized foods is its blue crab. Millions of dollars each year are made from the crabs that are caught in the Chesapeake Bay. These tasty little animals are made into crab cakes, a popular dish that Maryland restaurants are doing better than anyone else. So go on a crab cake eating spree in Maryland.
A crab cake is crab meat combined with bread crumbs, mayo, eggs, mustard, or various other seasonings. This fish cake is then shaped and fried, baked, or grilled — making it nice and crispy. You can find blue crab cakes with Old Bay seasoning at just about any seafood restaurant in Maryland, but the closer you get to the Chesapeake Bay, the fresher they are.
Taste these blue crab cakes at Chesapeake Landing in St Michaels. If you’re in north Baltimore, Koco’s Pub is a hole in the wall with quality broiled crab cakes. And for crab cakes and fried crab balls in a picturesque setting, Boatyard Bar & Grill is set in the historic harbor district of Annapolis.
2. Enjoy Authentic Cuban Cuisine in Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida is a major hotspot of Cuban culture. Due to the political crises in Cuba throughout the 20th century, more and more Cubans came to settle in Miami. Today, the city is more than 50% Cuban! And with them came the vibrant, creative, and culinary influences of Cuban culture.
To get a real taste of Cuban flavors in Miami, head for Little Havana. This Cuban neighborhood is a charming and bustling place to eat, drink, and dance the night away. Taste a fried fish sandwich at La Camaronera Fish Market, or Cuban food with a twist at Doce Provisions.
If you venture out of Little Havana, no worries. You’ll still find plenty of Cuban spots throughout the city. For authentic croquetas, head for Islas Canarias. Sergio’s also cooks up exquisite croquetas, along with tapas and empanadas. Is your mouth watering yet?
1. Devour a Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia
Forget about hot dogs — the Philly cheesesteak is one of the tastiest all-American foods. These warm subs, created in Philadelphia in the 1930s, are made with thinly sliced beefsteak and melted cheese, stuffed in a hoagie roll. They can be customized with various toppings like fried onions, sauteed peppers, and mayo.
Many cities around the U.S. try to recreate it, but die-hard locals claim it just can’t be replicated anywhere else. If you want to weigh in on the “Great Philly Cheesesteak Debate”, you’ll want to taste one at Pat’s King of Steaks, and one at Geno’s Steaks. Locals just can’t seem to agree on which is best.
To opt out of the cheesesteak war and try something a bit more off the radar, you might love what John’s Roast Pork is serving up. The secret to their cheesesteaks is a crusty seeded roll from Carangi’s Bakery. Another local secret ingredient? Cheez Whiz in place of melted American cheese. Sounds strange, but don’t knock it until you try it!
✈️ USA East Coast Trip Planner: 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
- 📚 Read Lonely Planet USA and some dreamy beach quotes for more inspiration
- 📸 Bring the best photography gear (including these must-have Sony lenses!)
🌸 Final Thoughts on This East Coast Bucket List
I hope this East Coast travel guide has given you some inspiration for your next trip. One thing is for sure: a trip to the East Coast of the US offers endless activities for any kind of traveler. Whether you’re a history buff, a beach lounger, a thrill-seeker, a big foodie — or all of the above — you won’t run out of things to do in the East Coast.
Curious to discover more destinations in the US? Don’t miss out on the best tropical vacations or the best hidden vacation spots in the country. We also have a complete list of the 60+ most spectacular vacation spots in the US!