America’s East Coast is one of the most alluring regions you can visit in the U.S. This expansive area is defined by a meeting of the eastern region with the North Atlantic Ocean. It stretches across 14 beautiful states north to south, from Maine to Florida.
You can expect picturesque coastal landscapes, buzzing cities, a fusion of cultures, and a host of fun holiday activities when you travel to this part of the country. There’s so much to see and do that it can get mind-boggling figuring out where to begin.
Whether it’s your first or fifth time venturing to these parts, you’ll want to spend your time on the East Coast exploring places where you can make the most magical memories. You can even include some of these destinations in a New England road trip.
Below, you’ll find the East Coast’s most captivating places to visit.
With 14 different states to choose from, each offering remarkable experiences, you’ll want to pack as much into your East Coast itinerary as possible.
There are 15 places that shine, each deserving your consideration for East Coast holiday adventures. Learn more here and prepare for the time of your life.
When exploring places to visit on the East Coast, start in the north. New England’s Portland is the jewel of Casco Bay. It’s state park galore in this East Coast region, with multiple areas to go sightseeing and hiking. For water lovers, popular activities include marine tours and boat rides.
Two of Portland’s drawcards are its fine collection of historically significant lighthouses and the delectable seafood. No other city does lobster rolls the way Portland Mainers do.
From live music and entertainment to immersing yourself in the vibrant arts scene, there’s much to tick off your Maine bucket list.
Several attractions make this one of the best East Coast vacation destinations. The iconic Portland Head Light and the Old Port neighborhood are no-brainers. Other must-sees are the Portland Museum of Art and the Portland Observatory.
Explore the Portland harbor and go lighthouse-spotting during an exciting 1 hour, 45-minute cruise in one of the best East Coast cities.
- La Quinta’s well-furnished, brightly-colored rooms feel like home. The Old Port Waterfront and the Portland Observatory are within 2.5 miles of the hotel.
- Hampton Inn in downtown Portland, near the waterfront, has a luxuriant indoor heated pool.
- Inn at St John Portland In-Town is for the old souls with its Victorian-style decor. A six-minute drive from the property gets you to the Old Port district.
Any state park visit is a highly recommended East Coast destination. As New England’s only national park, Acadia is the ultimate year-round nature wonderland. The U.S.’s most visited park boasts stunning colors that transform the area during spring and fall.
Journey to this diverse 49,000-acre landscape to witness thick woodlands, rugged coastlines, a wide range of fish and bird species, and tranquil lakes. Trekking, mountain biking, and camping are best enjoyed here.
Attractions like Cadillac Mountain, the highest point, and the famous Thunder Hole will make this one of your favorite East Coast trips.
Take a multi-stop tour of Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and Thunder Hole.
Bar Harbor is closest to Acadia, a mere two miles away. This small town is the best place to take shelter when visiting Acadia. Bar Harbor has fantastic accommodations, quaint shops, and charming restaurants. Below are some of the best places to stay:
- Downtown Bar Harbor Villager Motel has modern rooms with shared patios. Acadia is only two miles away.
- Relish serene ocean views at Atlantic Oceanside Hotel, a waterfront Bar Harbor property with multiple pools and a private dock. Acadia National Park is about half a mile from the hotel.
- The Inn on Mount Desert offers cozy stays a short walk to the waterfront and just one mile from Acadia National Park.
Boston, a New England town well worth being dubbed Massachusetts’ crowning glory, is most loved for its impressive architecture and the Freedom Trail. This encompasses 2.5 miles, covering 16 momentous national sites such as Paul Revere House and Old North Church.
Walking along the trail is one of the foremost free things to do in Boston and a wonderful way to learn about the country’s rich history. Meander peacefully around the Boston Public Garden and head to Quincy Market (Faneuil Hall Marketplace) to sample the tastiest dishes. Take funky snaps with zany street entertainers near the promenade.
When amid East Coast travel destinations, one of the most rewarding must-do activities is whale watching. Enjoy this during a catamaran cruise.
- The Revolution Hotel is a trendy hotel with an on-site restaurant, gym, and a delightful shared lounge. Hop on a free bike and cycle less than a mile to the city center.
- The Verb Hotel takes chic to a whole new level. The spectacularly decorated rooms radiate uplifting pops of color. The Verb’s outdoor spaces and vibey social areas are part of why you ought to look no further for where to stay in Boston.
- The Godfrey Hotel is for travelers who prefer swanky lodgings where style and luxury are prioritized. On-site perks include an on-site restaurant, a lounge, and a fitness center. Boston’s beloved Freedom Trail is less than half a mile from Godfrey Hotel.
This unmistakable hook-shaped Massachusetts peninsula is home to eccentric villages, historic lighthouses, bustling seafood shacks, and beautiful beaches. You can make your time spent here part of a larger exploration of islands like Hyannis and Nantucket.
To get a good look and feel of Cape Cod, cast your travel net wider, traveling about half an hour out to visit other East Coast attractions. You’ll find gems like Chatham’s Lighthouse Beach and Sea Street Beach in Dennis — both raving summer delights.
Nickerson State Park in Brewster is a highlight, with its pretty ponds and soft sands ideal for picnics and lazy beach days.
If the detour bug bites and you find yourself in Provincetown, you can still get a taste of Cape Cod. Do a self-guided tour across Cape Cod to Provincetown or go whale watching, or any other activity that’s in season!
- Hyannis Travel Inn is less than ten minutes from Cape Cod and is a superb option for budget-conscious holidaymakers. The property provides indoor and outdoor pool access and a hot tub.
- If you venture south, no more than 20 minutes from the so-called “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” you’ll arrive in South Yarmouth. Here, Cape Cod Veranda presents elegant rooms. The outside space has an outdoor pool and barbecue facilities.
- The Club at New Seabury in Mashpee sits on a private beach with spacious rooms, a hot tub, and a fully equipped fitness center.
Rhode Island is yet another East Coast USA state you can visit in New England. You’ll love this part of the region if you’re keen on rip-roaring seaside adventures and frolicking on sandy shores while on holiday.
A big coastal town like Newport attracts high tourist crowds, but quieter pearls like Block Island are just as phenomenal.
Block Island, at the southern tip of Rhode Island, is deemed one of the top destinations offering the best beach vacations in the US. Even if you’re planning to spend time in nearby locations like Narragansett, Charlestown, and Little Compton, you can take a ferry to Block Island for a fabulous day trip.
Without a doubt, two of Manisses’ (Block Island’s native name) must-see landmarks are the North Lighthouse and the Southeast Lighthouse. You’ll find the latter at the Mohegan Bluffs, surrounded by 200-foot tall clay cliffs where you can breathe in the crisp Atlantic Ocean air.
Take the set of 141 stairs to get to the beach at the cliffs’ base for more ravishing views of this enticing, secluded oceanside setting. In the north, the mysterious Sacred Labyrinth and Sachem Pond await. Consider the sandy beaches of Mansion Beach for a relaxing seafront picnic during your East Coast road trip.
- New Shoreham’s Avonlea is located six minutes from mainland Block Island and is a comfortable base for beach retreats. The best rooms allow magnificent sea views, a marvelous way to wake up each morning.
Ah, the Big Apple, the City That Never Sleeps. With its bright lights, tall buildings, vibrant street art, and infinite possibilities, no East Coast trip is complete unless you’ve walked the streets of New York. This is a high-flying destination where fine dining and dream shopping sprees are the order of the day.
What makes NYC one of the best East Coast cities is its cosmopolitan vibe, the rocking nightlife, and that classic NYC architecture. Immerse yourself in the city’s art history at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the city’s leading world-class museums.
Another crowd-pleaser among New York’s best places to visit includes Central Park, which you can explore at your leisure as one of the free things to do in NYC. You can also chalk up authentic New York cultural experiences like train travel via Grand Central.
If you’re all about mesmerizing photo opportunities, then add some of the following East Coast attractions to your Insta bucket list:
- Brooklyn Bridge
- Empire State Building
- Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
- The Guggenheim
- The High Line
- Times Square
- Union Square
Oh, and don’t forget sightings of that French (yep, she’s not American) lady with a spiky hat holding a torch, otherwise known as the Statue of Liberty.
Take to the sky and get astonishing aerial views during a Manhattan helicopter ride. This will surely be a highlight of your East Coast vacation.
- The super snazzy Riu Plaza Manhattan Times Square in New York City’s center offers stellar accommodations close to attractions like the Broadway Theatre.
- In the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood sits Pod Times Square, one of New York’s coolest pod hotels. Socialize and make new travel buddies at the on-site restaurant, bar, or zen-inspired chill spaces. No prizes for guessing that it’s in close proximity to Times Square, less than half a mile from the hotel.
- Let Hotel Belleclaire Central Park in the Upper West Side be your temporary home if you’re looking to be close to tourist hot spots like the American Museum of Natural History. A neat little Mille-Feuille outlet on-site specializes in delicious French pastries.
In spring, particularly at the end of March and the beginning of April, Washington, D.C’s cherry blossoms are splendorous. The capital is blessed with stunning national parks serving as romantic East Coast vacation spots for picnics, long walks, and birdwatching.
There are loads of tremendous landmarks and some of the world’s most awe-inspiring galleries, proving Washington is more than just the center of politics.
It’s also the home of a thriving performing arts scene where you can glimpse quintessential East Coast USA culture. Start by exploring the National Mall, where you’ll see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and more.
Ever embarked on a night-time tour? Admire Washington’s historic sites by moonlight as part of a trolley group headed by an experienced guide.
- You can shack up near the White House at Club Quarters Hotel, where the full-service rooms are just peachy. From the hotel, simply walk to nearby restaurants, monuments, and the area’s lively entertainment hub.
- Glover Park Hotel is within walking distance of the Georgetown neighborhood, with exquisite furnishings throughout the hotel. You can wine and dine on-site at the esteemed Glover Park Grill.
- Southwest’s Hyatt House in The Wharf along the Potomac River has top-class rooms and amenities and unparalleled waterfront views. The National Mall and several Smithsonian museums are just a couple of blocks away.
When you travel about 70 miles west from Washington, D.C., you’ll bump into Shenandoah National Park, sitting pretty along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The highly forested 200,000-acre Shenandoah is strewn with streams, wetlands, rolling mountains, and gleaming waterfalls. You might be lucky and spot rare birds, deer species, and bears.
A visit to Shenandoah is your chance to explore the glorious Blue Ridge Parkway, which links Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is an area of immeasurable natural beauty that’ll enrich your overall East Coast road trip sightseeing.
There are plenty of hiking trails in all three locations. An expansive stretch is yours to discover, from the Appalachian peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Pro Tip: Stop by any of Shenandoah’s two visitors’ centers, snag a map, and get a helpful lay of the land before exploring the park.
- Although Bluegreen Vacations Shenandoah Crossing is about 50 miles from Shenandoah National Park, it’s an outstanding choice for sophisticated, fully furnished cabin-style apartments. These feature fireplaces, private decks, and barbecue grills.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Charlottesville is less than an hour from Shenandoah, with upmarket rooms, a fitness center, and an inviting sun terrace.
- Graves Mountain Farm & Lodges is an idyllic country escape about an hour from Shenandoah. You’ll appreciate the peaceful nights away from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life.
The Outer Banks, known as OBX, is North Carolina’s shining star when it comes to a dreamy beach vacation. OBX sunrises and sunsets are something else, making this a winning destination if you and your special person need some quality time.
Greater OBX is dotted with colorful villages, postcard-style cottages, and small eateries. OBX itself is a 130-mile barrier island strip with beautiful beaches.
Bodie Island Lighthouse can’t be missed. Squeeze in visits to Hatteras and Roanoke Islands, Nags Head, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park — all within 32 miles of OBX. This seashore paradise is the perfect place to fulfill your East Coast vacation ideas.
Are you a proud animal lover? An Outer Banks wild horse tour might be just what the North Carolina travel doctor ordered. This activity includes a four-wheel drive, sand dune rides, and private access to a horse conservation area.
- John Yancey Oceanfront Inn is a beach haven about 40 miles from the Outer Banks, featuring modern, ocean-facing rooms. A 20-minute drive gets you to Roanoke Island.
- Beachwoods Resort in Kitty Hawk, roughly 50 minutes from the Outer Banks, has a stately feel without compromising on comfort. On-site activities include swimming, fishing, and tennis amidst an unruffled woodland and lake setting.
- Hatteras Island Inn delivers cozy budget stays when you’d rather save money on accommodation to splurge on your Outer Banks outdoor adventures.
The belle of the South Carolina ball, Myrtle Beach, has resorts that make for divine East Coast vacations — many of them with their own water parks. Go crazy touring the 60 miles of beautiful beaches, celebrity-approved golfing greens, and wild theme parks.
You’ll feel like a giddy kid again wandering along the boardwalk, where there are all sorts of snack bars, trinket stands, and arcades. Whether it’s light shopping you’re in the mood for or unrelenting fun at the theme parks, you’re covered. The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is one of the major attractions.
For unique experiences, try:
- Enjoy dinner and theater at the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show
- Attend a Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament
For one-of-a-kind Myrtle Beach cultural experiences with dancing, live music, and dinner, the Polynesian Fire Luau show doesn’t disappoint.
- Dunes Village is an oceanfront resort oozing high-octane holiday activity with an indoor water park. The property is only three miles from the Myrtle Beach boardwalk.
- Coral Beach Resort is another beachfront stunner, with its staggering ten pools, an on-site water park, and even a bowling alley. This is the resort for you if you intend to make your holiday all about play.
- It’s ocean views and in-house water park mania at Ocean Reef Resort, where rooms have private balconies. Enjoy on-site access to a hot tub, fitness center, games room, and sun loungers.
Similar to Myrtle Beach, this East Coast USA barrier island in South Carolina has top-notch beaches and golf courses. Coupled with the added appeal of historical buildings and heritage museums, you’re spoiled for choice with activities.
Time spent on Hilton Head Island will infuse some Lowcountry living into your East Coast vacation. There are endless Atlantic Ocean holiday gains to take advantage of.
Get out and about and visit the Harbour Town Lighthouse (with a museum), or spend a quiet day at Coligny Beach Park. Here, you’ll find lovely hiking trails and walking paths.
East Coast trips are more epic when you go out of your way to do different things outside your comfort zone. Does parasailing over Hilton Head tickle your fancy? This heart-pumping adventure is one of the best ways to experience this island.
- Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, with its palm trees and multiple glistening pools, delivers the allure of an exclusive island retreat. Enjoy comfort and style at affordable rates with private beachfront access.
- Palmera Inn and Suites fuses carefree resort living with supreme intimacy, where rooms and common areas are adorned with superior stylings. Rent a bike on-site and take a ride around the island.
- Beach House Resort offers ocean views, private beach access, and the spoils of a hip beach bar. Enjoy sundowners at the end of a long day of off-site exploring.
A couple of hours further north of South Carolina, Charleston awaits — bursting with colorful streets and cute boutiques. The food scene? Incredible. The locals? Friendlier than ever. Quirky ancient structures to admire? Thousands. What more could you ask for?
Hop on a carriage and ride through Charleston’s Historic District. It’s one of the fun, offbeat ways to take in this city — one of the best East Coast attractions in South Carolina.
Die-hard water babies will love day trips to Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
Other noteworthy tourist locations in Charleston include:
- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum — where the USS Yorktown is docked
- Rainbow Row
- The Battery promenade
Remember that Historic District carriage ride? Here’s your chance for an old-school Charleston guided tour.
- Mount Pleasant is home to Comfort Inn & Suites Patriots Point, less than 20 minutes from Charleston main. The property is at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum’s entrance, your first tourist attraction while in Charleston.
- One of Charleston’s best accommodation locations is the Historic District, where you’ll find Hyatt Place. The rooms are classy, and the property features a posh restaurant, indoor pool, and gym.
- Another Historic District offering is Hotel Emeline, with sophisticated rooms exuding warm tones and refined decor. Cycle half a mile to Charleston Waterfront Park courtesy of the hotel’s free bikes.
The Everglades, which is pretty much mangrove-central, extend across 1.5 million acres of South Florida. This national park is a nature enthusiast’s dream, thanks to the animals you’ll find there. Besides the alligators, this is also an abode for exotic snakes, egrets, manatees, and black panthers.
Want to know what makes the Everglades one of the best places to visit in Florida? It’s easy to take a day trip here from Miami Beach. The two are just 40 miles apart.
Speaking of day trips, you’ll journey 30 miles west of Everglades National Park to get to marvelous Marco Island. Here, you can kayak or go wildlife-spotting in this ample land of enchantment and natural beauty.
In Florida, easily one of the best East Coast places, an airboat adventure is a fantastic way to explore the Everglades.
- Make Comfort Suites Miami your chosen resting spot, about 30 minutes from the Everglades. The property has an outdoor pool and a hot tub.
- SpringHill Suites is located less than an hour from the Everglades in Miramar. The hotel has a stylish retro feel to it, with large, comfortable suites you can relax in after hours of discovering nearby attractions.
- The Palms Inn & Suites Miami in Kendall is next to a lake, offering worry-free stays within half an hour’s drive from the Everglades wilderness.
Key West is earmarked as the southernmost point of North America, meaning when you venture to this corner of the East Coast — you’ve really made it far. Once you’ve marveled at the sights driving down the Florida Keys Scenic Highway, go on a culinary tour of the island.
Taste mouth-smacking food medleys inspired by American, Cuban, and Caribbean cuisine at any of the cafés at Mallory Square. Most fascinating is that this is the location of the famed Sunset Celebrations.
Gather with the locals to watch the spellbinding colors of a Gulf of Mexico sunset. Other attractions include the Gallery on Greene and Key West Gallery.
No need to hold back — let the marine adventures continue in “the Conch Republic”. Snorkel, kayak, and whale watch to mark this tropical haven as one of the best East Coast places to visit.
- Truman Hotel is a breathtaking oasis decorated with radiant colors, bespoke furnishings, and first-rate guest comforts in the heart of the downtown area. There are popular restaurants, bars, and shops nearby.
- Wicker Guesthouse downtown, with its balmy atmosphere, is best for travelers who prefer intimate, low-key surroundings. You won’t miss any of the inner city action once you go exploring off-site.
- Douglas House has cheerful rooms with an undeniably homey feel to them. The property is within walking distance of the Hemingway Home & Museum.
Last, but never least, is a city regarded as one of the best tropical destinations in the US: Miami. You’ve probably seen those Miami Beach shots: beach bodies, bikinis, and rollerblading on the boardwalk.
You’ll soon discover why this is one of the top East Coast destinations, and if it’s new experiences and lasting memories you’re after, then try:
- Lincoln Road Mall — for A-class shopping
- Little Havana — for ‘the Cuban encounter’, Latin American music, museums, art galleries, salsa clubs, rooftop lounges, and much more
- South Beach — to explore the Art Deco District
- Wynwood neighborhood — for street art appreciation
One of the most memorable (and yummiest) ways to experience a destination as riveting as Miami is by indulging in a culinary tour. A Little Havana walking food tour is one for the books.
- If you’d like to make South Beach your holiday digs, choose the bohemian-inspired Viajero Miami. This modish, youthful boutique hotel offers brilliant amenities within five minutes of Ocean Drive’s hottest spots.
- Nuvo Suites Hotel is sheer style, peculiar artistic touches, and modern elegance all wrapped up in one. You’ll love the airy rooms, rooftop pool and jacuzzi, and the on-site gym.
- YOTEL Miami, in the downtown area, has well-appointed deluxe rooms. The splashes of jazzy colors and whimsical decorative designs throughout the hotel create a party-like ambience perfect for setting the infectious, festive Miami tone.
You can add the cherry on top to your East Coast trip by ensuring you have the essential information. This way, you’ll stay amped and well-prepared, with a clear idea of what to expect. These three FAQs will help you achieve just that.
A majority of the East Coast’s places to visit are best in spring (March-May) or fall (September-November). The temperatures are mild, while the days are still pleasant enough to enjoy a range of outdoor activities and explorations.
There’s also that much-desired perk of fewer crowds and lower accommodation and transport costs, which always sweeten your overall travels.
If you’re a summer baby happy to brave high tourist numbers, it goes without saying: the summer months (June-August) are your ideal time to visit the East Coast.
Every corner of the East Coast offers something unique. The holiday experiences you want to notch up will determine which cities best suit your ultimate travel wishlist.
It’s no easy feat isolating the stand-outs, but the following five East Coast cities are unmissable places to visit for diversified vacationing:
- Boston (Massachusetts) — for its rich history
- New York City (New York) — for an electric, big-city feel
- Washington D.C. (the capital) — for wide-ranging cultural experiences
- Charleston (South Carolina) — for classic Southern charm
- Miami (Florida) — for a pulsating night scene and unmatched beach fiestas
It’s impossible to discover the whole region in one East Coast trip, necessitating return visits when you can carve out more time in your schedule.
These hidden gems in beautiful locations are worth noting. They offer loads more to see and do on the East Coast:
- Gloucester (Massachusetts) — Here’s betting you won’t get enough of the East Coast seaside. If you love lesser-known nooks that deliver sublime scenery, check out these prime beaches in Gloucester.
- Connecticut — Connecticut is an abundant paradise of flora and fauna. Navigate through the state and discover the most splendid waterfalls in Connecticut in places like Kent Falls State Park and Humaston Brook State Park.
- Adirondack Mountains (New York State) — You can’t exactly hide a mountain range as majestic as the Adirondack Mountains. Yet, this East Coast area is still off the beaten track. Be among those curious adventurers and conquer this area in northern New York. Here are some recommendations on where to stay in the Adirondacks.
- Atlanta (Georgia) and Orlando (Florida) — Two thrilling cities steal the limelight when you’re looking for the best spring break destinations in the U.S. Travel to Atlanta or Orlando for a party-inspired vacay… the East Coast way.
There it is, the short and sweet of which exhilarating East Coast destinations are the biggest attractions. You can’t explore all of the Eastern Seaboard in one trip, but that’s just the excuse you need to journey back to the Atlantic Coast.
This inspiring region is a treasure trove of gorgeous beaches, busy cities, enchanting towns, and multicultural experiences just waiting to be savored. The Atlantic Seaboard is the perfect escape for both relaxed retreats and action-packed holidays.
Make sure to brush up on the essential things to know before traveling to America to prepare for your epic East Coast journey.
LET ME HELP YOU TRAVEL MORE BY GETTING ADDITIONAL TIPS AND INSPIRATION VIA THE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER.
Plus, receive a short e-book with 15 Beginner Tips and Tricks to Start Travel Hacking!