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The United States East Coast is full of many incredible vacation spots. Some people think of the East Coast as crowded, expensive, and boring, but when you look a little closer, you’ll find that you can avoid all of the above if you know where to go.
Several East Coast vacation spots are varied, attractive, and worthwhile. There’s something for every person, every budget, and every interest among them. You should research a new trip today if you haven’t visited the East Coast yet. You’ll be very happy with what you find.
In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the best vacation spots on the East Coast we know you’ll love. We’ve only mentioned each one briefly, so we can cover many of them here, but we hope this information will inspire you to visit the East Coast on your next trip.
There are so many wonderful places to see, and there are many, many amazing and memorable things to do in this part of the United States. Plan a trip soon and fall in love with America’s east coast. This list of the best East Coast vacations will guide your way.
- Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the US
- 1. Bar Harbor, Maine
- 2. White Mountains, New Hampshire
- 3. Vermont
- 4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- 5. Boston, Massachusetts
- 6. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
- 7. Newport, Rhode Island
- 8. Block Island, Rhode Island
- 9. New York City
- 10. Suffolk County, New York
- 11. The Catskills, New York
- 12. The Adirondacks, New York
- 13. The Jersey Shore, New Jersey
- 14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 15. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
- 16. Chincoteague & Assateague, Maryland & Virginia
- 17. Coastal Delaware
- 18. Washington, District of Columbia
- 19. Richmond, Virginia
- 20. Virginia Beach, Virginia
- 21. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
- 22. Asheville, North Carolina
- 23. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- 24. Charleston, South Carolina
- 25. Savannah, Georgia
- 26. Atlanta, Georgia
- 27. Jekyll Island, Georgia
- 28. Orlando, Florida
- 29. Miami, Florida
- 30. The Florida Keys, Florida
- 31. St. Petersburg, Florida
- I can’t decide where I want to go – how can I narrow my options for an East Coast vacation?
- Which is better – a city vacation, a beach vacation, or a mountain vacation?
- Should I buy travel insurance for an East Coast vacation in the United States?
Best East Coast Vacation Spots in the US
1. Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine, is our list’s first and easternmost spot. It’s the perfect place to start. Many people might suggest that Bar Harbor and the surrounding areas are the best of Maine, and they may be right.
This area, indeed, has a little bit of everything. The town of Bar Harbor is friendly and welcoming. At the same time, it’s also upscale yet still rugged in a way that’s hard to describe until you’ve seen it yourself.
This coastal town is the gateway to Acadia National Park, the state’s only national park but arguably the best nature-focused national park on the east coast. You can stay in Acadia National Park as a camper or in one of the lovely hotels in town.
There’s plenty to do in this area. You can explore Acadia National Park and climb to the top of Cadillac Mountain for sunrise.
Or, you can sign up for a whale watch to see whales in their natural habitat. If you like to shop, you can browse the stores in Northeast Harbor Village; if you like history, you can tour the area’s historic lighthouses.
One great way to enjoy Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor is by bike! You might consider this Island Time E-bike Rental from Viator while you’re in the area: Island Time E-bike Rentals.
See Related: Best Islands in the US to Visit
2. White Mountains, New Hampshire
Outdoor enthusiasts will love a visit to the White Mountains region of New Hampshire at any time of year. In the summer, this part of The Granite State is a wonderful place for camping and hiking. In the winter, it’s the perfect northeast destination for skiing and snowboarding with fewer crowds.
Any time of year, you can drive on the Kancamagus Highway, a 34.5-mile American Scenic Byway that will blow you away. Or, you can ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad through the mountains and the trees.
Alternatively, you could drive to Mount Washington’s top, the northeast’s tallest peak. The Mount Washington Cog Railway can take you up there, too. If you’re in good shape and love a challenge, it’s one of the best hikes in New Hampshire – though it’s very difficult, and the weather can turn on a dime.
This area has plenty of pleasant accommodations, and camping in the mountains is a great option during the warmer months. You might consider staying in a cabin while visiting the White Mountains and imagine yourself a settler living in the forested wilderness long ago. Try this one on for size: Authentic Romantic Country Log Cabin from VRBO.
See Related: Best All-Inclusive Resorts Without a Passport
Rather than name a specific town or part of Vermont here, we want to encourage you to visit Vermont because the entire state is amazing. People often forget about or overlook Vermont – something the local rural population likely appreciates – but don’t sleep on The Green Mountain State.
Vermont has forests, creeks, trails, picturesque farms, maple syrup, ski mountains, antique shops, covered bridges, epic fall foliage, and adorable, quaint little towns. If you like any of the above, then you’ll love Vermont.
There are lots of noteworthy towns to explore in Vermont. Burlington is the biggest city, but it’s still quite small and manageable, with a population of just 42,645. If you’re looking for somewhere smaller, try medium-sized Bennington, Brattleboro, Montpelier, Stowe, or Shelburne for starters.
If very small towns are what you dig the most, pop into Grafton, Weston, or Manchester instead. No matter where you go, you’ll soon be ready to buy a bumper sticker that says ILOVERMONT to bring home.
If you’re thirsty after a long day of exploring Vermont, perhaps you’d like to get a drink at one (or several) of the great breweries in this state. This Stowe, Vermont Half-Day Local Brewery Tour will take you to all the best places.
See Related: Things to Do in Vermont & Places to Visit
4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Are you looking for a perfect beach vacation in the northeast part of the United States? If so, there’s no better place for that type of adventure than Cape Cod.
Cape Cod is a very unique part of the country that has New England written all over it; it’s full of charm. Play in the ocean, go out on a boat, eat a lobster, and visit a lighthouse – all while trying to mimic the local accent.
The towns of Provincetown, Hyannis, Falmouth, and Dennis are all great places to stay on The Cape, but you’ll have to book far in advance for all of them. Cape Cod is one of the most popular and best places to visit on the East Coast in the summertime, and the hotels and vacation rentals go fast.
But, once you’ve secured a place to stay, you’ll need to pack your towel, swimsuit, and beach toys and head out to this special part of the northeast.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is America’s City, rich with history, friendly folks, and unique culture. It has many nicknames, including The Cradle of Liberty, The Athens of America, and Beantown.
Boston has always depended on the Atlantic Ocean for so much, so the maritime vibe here is palpable in all that you see and do. Check out the New England Aquarium – one of the nation’s best – or visit the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest ship still afloat.
Alternatively, walk the Freedom Trail and learn about Revolutionary War history, visit the impressive Museum of Fine Arts, or head over to historic Fenway Park to see a Red Sox game.
If you want to enjoy some of the best food Boston has to offer, fill your belly at the diverse and tasty Quincy Market when you’re done. A great way to see a lot of Boston quickly is on a Duck Boat Sightseeing Tour!
See Related: Things to Do in Massachusetts & Places to Visit
6. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The western end of Massachusetts is also an excellent place to vacation on the east coast. Like Vermont, lots of people don’t realize that the Berkshire Mountains are a quiet and pleasant place to get away from it all.
This area is a breath of fresh air at any time of year, but it’s especially lovely during the fall foliage season. It’s also nice during the summertime when it gets warm but not too hot on most days. There are lots of woods, trails, ponds, galleries, and farmer’s markets to explore throughout the area.
There are numerous museums worth checking out in the Berkshires, if that’s your kind of thing, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, MASS MoCA, The Clark Art Institute, and Hancock Shaker Village. Plus, the restored homes of Herman Melville and Edith Wharton are worth checking out.
The towns of Lenox, Pittsfield, Great Barrington, and Stockbridge each have their unique character. You can get lost in their many shops for hours even if you don’t plan to buy a single thing.
7. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island, is yet another spot on the East Coast that is unlike any other. You may think this town is like Cape Cod, but it’s not. Newport is very unique and special, and it has a specific character that is it’s own.
This charming and historical area is home to dozens of Gilded Age mansions, and you could easily spend your entire visit touring them and gawking at their opulence. But there’s much more to this part of Rhode Island, too. There are beautiful beaches, incredible restaurants, and the impressive Cliff Walk trail along the ocean, to name a few things you shouldn’t miss.
Newport is wonderful but be sure to keep in mind that it can be quite pricey. If you can save up your pennies for a visit there, a trip to this coastal town will make you feel like you’re rich and famous, even if you’re most definitely neither. You can explore Newport on a trolley tour.
See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples
8. Block Island, Rhode Island
You’ll have to take a ferry to Block Island, but the trip is short and well worth it. A visit to Block Island is one of those East Coast vacations you’ll never forget.
The population of this small island is just over 1,000. But tourists come from all over to spend a day or several on this isolated oasis in the Long Island Sound.
Once you get off the ferry on Block Island, you can tour one or both of the island’s lighthouses, visit a secluded beach, check out the Mohegan Bluffs, walk the Clayhead Trail, go birdwatching, rent a kayak, visit the downtown shops, or rent a moped and circle the island.
You’ll love the vibe of this place. There are a number of inns you can stay in on the island, and they’re all quite lovely, but the Old Town Inn is a favorite for returning guests.
See Related: Where to Stay in Ocean City
9. New York City
Many people will tell you that New York City is the best city in the United States, and the author of this post is one of them. There is no place on earth like New York City. This city of over seven million people lives, breathes, and glows. You could visit it a hundred times without doing the same thing twice, and then you could come back another hundred times more and do even more amazing things.
The vast culture, incredible history, intriguing attractions to tour, and delectable cuisine in New York City are unmatched and unmatchable. It’s impossible to visit New York City and not leave in complete awe of it, every single time.
Plan a vacation to New York City today, and then again, and again, and again. Choose a different neighborhood or focus each time you go and you’ll never be bored. New York City is amazing!
See Related: Best Parks in New York City & New York to Visit
10. Suffolk County, New York
The eastern end of Long Island is another great East Coast vacation spot that many people do not even consider, but everyone should. This island has a bit of a New England vibe, even though New York isn’t even part of New England.
A rich history around the Long Island Sound and the Pacific Ocean drives the local culture here. You’ll find hardcore beach enthusiasts and even surfers in this place where you’d never expect them.
The Hamptons are a high-end, upscale scene that you might be able to weasel your way into if you’re slick. Even if you can’t, Suffolk County has dozens of fantastic beaches and great seafood restaurants worth trying. Anyone who loves the ocean will enjoy a visit to this area.
11. The Catskills, New York
The Catskill Mountains are beautiful, ancient, rolling mountains that cover a vast area between New York City and Albany. They border the Hudson Valley Region, a lovely place to spend East Coast vacations; combining the two areas into one trip would be wise.
These mountains are quaint little towns full of New York state history, interesting shops, family-owned restaurants and hotels, spectacular waterfalls, clear lakes, and lots of trails and parks to explore.
The Catskills are surprisingly close to New York City and are easily accessible to all who wish to visit them. Still, many tourists pass them up and head directly to the Adirondack Mountains further north.
There are lots of great things about the Catskills, though, and visitors wishing to enjoy East Coast vacation destinations should not overlook this equally lovely mountain range.
See Related: Best Road Trips in the USA
12. The Adirondacks, New York
The Adirondack Mountains are taller than the Catskills, and the Adirondack Park, which covers six million acres, is the largest in the contiguous United States. This park is unlike state and national parks, though, as many towns and residents are inside it. But, it is a protected area covering one-fifth of New York State.
The Adirondacks are a fantastic place to visit on the east coast. In the winter, visitors can enjoy skiing at any number of mountains in this area and even try out a bobsled in Lake Placid. The Adirondacks are a mecca for hiking, camping, mountain biking, boating, and other summer outdoor adventures.
Autumn in the Adirondacks is one of the most beautiful fall foliage displays in the world. Springtime is very nice too; if you visit, you’ll beat most of the crowds.
There are dozens of towns, villages, and lakes to visit in the Adirondacks, and almost all of them have the word “lake” in their names. Some that you might consider visiting include Lake George, Lake Champlain, Saranac Lake, Indian Lake, Tupper Lake, and Schroon Lake, to name a few.
The fact that lakes play so prominently in naming towns in this area should tell you something. That something is that you must get out and explore these lakes on your next East Coast vacation to New York.
13. The Jersey Shore, New Jersey
New Jersey’s coast, affectionately known as The Jersey Shore even long before an MTV show of the same name, is another excellent place for a beach vacation. There are small – and large – beach towns all up and down the Garden State, and there’s something for every type of traveler among them.
If you want to gamble and stay in a high-rise, there’s Atlantic City. If you like nostalgia, there’s Asbury Park. If you like lighthouses and old Victorian homes, you can visit Cape May and stay in its historic district. If you’re looking for a nice beach to relax on with your family, you might try Sea Isle City.
The Jersey Shore is a classic vacation spot and has been a popular place for East Coast vacations for over a hundred years. Many might argue it’s one of the best vacation spots on the East Coast.
You’ll love the boardwalks, the local food, and the history of this area. There’s plenty to do in Jersey, and it’s a place where it’s also acceptable to do nothing at all.
See Related: Top Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit
14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Another of the best big cities on the East Coast is Philadelphia, also known as the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is full of fun things to do, like learning about our nation’s beginnings at Independence Hall, visiting the Liberty Bell, and strolling through world-class museums like the Philadelphia Art Museum, The Franklin Institute, and the Museum of the American Revolution, among others.
You can catch an Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, or Phillies game and marvel at the plethora of incredible street art and murals around this fine city.
Philadelphia is giant but not overwhelming, and you’ll immediately feel that this is a city with heart. See the sights and do everything, but don’t slack on the food acquisitions. You must eat an authentic Philly cheesesteak while you’re in town.
And be sure to swing by Reading Terminal Market to consume even more yummy things than you could ever imagine. There’s a lot to see and do in Philadelphia. This Philadelphia hop-on, hop-off tour is an excellent way to see much of the city at your own pace.
15. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Most American history enthusiasts agree that one of the most interesting periods in United States history is the time immediately before, during, and after the Civil War. Anyone wishing to learn more about this period should plan a trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in this area over three July days in 1863. When the dust settled, there were over 51,000 casualties in this battle, of which over 7,000 were fatalities. It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
Today, the town of Gettysburg is a major destination for Civil War-focused tourism. Almost every attraction in town is related to this battle. You can visit the vast Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg National Cemetery, and dozens of museums.
There are things to see indoors and out, making this an excellent destination for the historically inclined at any time of year. This is a very educational destination. You’ll leave with a greater understanding of the Civil War itself, as well as of the many ways and reasons that war is so painfully tragic for all.
If you want to learn more about Gettysburg before you go or while you visit without taking an organized tour, then you should consider this self-guided audio tour of Gettysburg.
16. Chincoteague & Assateague, Maryland & Virginia
Do you like horses and ponies? Most people do. If you’d like to see wild ponies living their best lives on the East Coast, visit Assateague Island.
This barrier island is home to abundant wildlife, including several hundred wild ponies, descendants of domesticated horses that are believed to be shipwrecked on the island hundreds of years ago.
The northern two-thirds of the island is in Maryland, home to Assateague Island National Seashore and Assateague Island State Park. The southern third of the island is part of Virginia and is the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
These parks include beaches, marshes, bays, coves, trails, and coastal beauty. It’s one of the best places to vacation on the East Coast.
On adjacent Chincoteague Island (Virginia), there are plenty of accommodations, stores, restaurants, historic sites, parks, boat tours, and museums to keep you busy for the days you’re not out chasing ponies with your camera, too.
See Related: Best Islands in the US to Visit
17. Coastal Delaware
People who aren’t from Delaware often forget that Delaware has beautiful beaches. This tiny state has more than 380 miles of coastline to explore.
Although towns like Dewey Beach, Lewes, and Rehoboth Beach can get quite busy during the summer months, most people will easily be able to find quiet (or happening!) places to visit along the Delaware seashore that they’ll love. Delaware Seashore State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park are two of the East Coast’s best for people who love state parks.
In addition to playing or relaxing on the beach, coastal Delaware is also a great place for shopping, visiting museums like the Zwaanendael Museum, the Fort Miles Museum, the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, and fine seafood dining. It’s a great place for a relaxing vacation for couples, and for families, too.
18. Washington, District of Columbia
Washington, D.C. is a vacation destination every American should experience at least once. Even if you went once already on your school’s eighth-grade trip, you should check it out again as an adult.
D.C. isn’t just about viewing and touring massive government buildings and monuments to our nation’s forefathers. It’s also home to many of the best museums in the country – most of them are free!
If you’re looking for things to do on the east coast, D.C. is full of them. D.C. is a big city with so much to see and do, and everything is ADA accessible, of course, but if you plan on seeing a lot of it, be sure to bring comfortable shoes.
You’ll walk more on your Washington D.C. trip than you ever thought possible, but it’s worth it for all you’ll see and experience there.
A great way to take in the most notable monuments without walking a lot is on this Monuments by Moonlight Nighttime Trolley Tour. The monuments are all lit at night, and you’ll be amazed by their immense beauty.
See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in the USA
19. Richmond, Virginia
Although some may argue that The South begins further north or south of Richmond, many people feel that Richmond is the first true southern city in our country. After all, it was the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Today, this city is less southern than other southern cities, but it certainly holds a lot of southern charm and history for those who seek it. In addition to historical landmarks, Richmond is home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, the Science Museum of Virginia, and the bustling Carytown shopping district.
The Canal Walk is also lovely to stroll before or after a meal at one of the city’s fine restaurants. Locals are friendly and will be excited to tell you about their hometown during your stay. You can explore Richmond on a bike tour and a guided food tour.
20. Virginia Beach, Virginia
If a beach vacation is more your speed, Virginia Beach, Virginia, is still a popular tourist destination. Though it’s not as action-packed as it once was, there’s plenty to do there besides beach time and walking along the city’s three-mile boardwalk.
Animal lovers will enjoy a visit to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. First Landing State Park celebrates the arrival of the Virginia Company colonists in 1607 and has nearly twenty miles of trails.
The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers great opportunities to view area wildlife. Visitors interested in military history will love the Military Aviation Museum and the numerous military-based attractions in nearby Norfolk, as well.
21. The Outer Banks, North Carolina
People have been vacationing in North Carolina’s Outer Banks for almost two hundred years and with good reason. This part of North Carolina is beautiful, serene, and memorable.
If you love lighthouses, there are plenty to visit and photograph here. You’ll also find dozens of sandy beaches to explore, most full of birds to watch, and the sounds of lapping waves. There are also numerous coastal and inland parks like Springer’s Point Preserve and Sandy Run Park.
The Outer Banks area is quite popular with the rich and famous. As a result, many accommodations and restaurants are rather high-end – especially on Hilton Head Island. But, you can find affordable options here too, like this 5403 Treetops Two Bedroom Villa.
The Outer Banks is one of those areas that people immediately fall in love with. Many visitors return to it year after year – after your first visit, you might, too. It’s truly one of the must-see places on the East Coast.
22. Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a wonderful destination for anyone who loves little mountain towns and feels isolated from the rest of the world in the very best way. With a population of just over 92,000, Asheville isn’t that tiny, but it sure feels that way, all while offering plenty for visitors to do.
This small city and college town is known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. And it’s surrounded by the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains.
There are lots of things to do in Asheville. Driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway while you’re in town to look at some of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi. It’s especially breathtaking in the autumn, but it’s lovely any time of the year.
You’ll also love the North Carolina Arboretum, Craggy Gardens, and the Western North Carolina Nature Center if you’re a nature buff. A tour of the Gilded Age Biltmore Estate can’t be missed for those seeking indoor activities. Be sure to check out The Folk Art Center, the Asheville Pinball Museum, and the Basilica of Saint Lawrence while in town.
If you want to see the Blue Ridge Parkway but don’t have a rental car, this Blue Ridge Parkway Jeep Tour is a great way to get out there!
23. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Like Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach isn’t the major tourist destination that it was several decades ago before flights to more tropical beaches became affordable. But that might mean it’s perfect for you today.
This beach town is quiet and not all that busy, even during peak season. Myrtle Beach is a pleasant and affordable spot for people who want to get away from it all on a budget.
Golfers will love the celebrity-designed golf courses here. Families will love the amusement parks, souvenir shops, and restaurants along the boardwalk. This beachy town is a great place to make some memories that you and your companions will never forget. You’ll love Myrtle Beach.
See Related: Outer Banks vs Myrtle Beach: What’s Better?
24. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, is a southern city where you’ll feel transported back in time as you walk the streets. You’ll love viewing the historic and well-kept antebellum buildings that surround you.
This city was founded in 1670 and is still full of cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, historic sites, and restaurants serving up southern cuisine that you’ll think of fondly long after you’ve returned home.
Stroll through Middleton Place, the oldest landscaped garden in America. Take tours of Fort Sumter National Monument or the McLeod Plantation Historic Site to learn about this area’s controversial and tragic history.
The Charleston City Market opened in 1807 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s an open-air market that’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs specific to this area that you won’t find anywhere else.
See Related: Things to Do in South Carolina
25. Savannah, Georgia
Although both cities are quite lovely, you might consider combining a trip to Charleston with a trip to Savannah. These two cities are just 108 miles apart. They both have immense southern charm but are also different enough from one another that they both deserve attention.
The first thing you’ll notice about Savannah is that it’s full of parks. Each of the parks is beautifully landscaped, many with live oak trees covered in dangling Spanish moss that will take your breath away. Wandering around the parks in the Savannah Historic District may be enough to keep you busy for an entire weekend.
If you’re looking for more activities, you can explore the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, or shop and dine along historic River Street.
Further, there are countless historic sites to visit in Savannah as well. If you want to stay in the center, perhaps consider the highly-rated Olde Harbor Inn in the historic district.
26. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is one of the biggest cities in the southeast. It’s rich with history, friendly people, and epic food options, along with plenty of attractions to keep any visitor as busy as they’d like to be. This southern city played important parts in the Civil War and the 1960s Civil Rights movement, and it was also the site of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Atlanta can get quite hot in the summertime, but it’s a great place to visit on the East Coast anytime. During their visit, people who wish to spend time in the great outdoors will enjoy the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Piedmont Park, and Centennial Olympic Park.
History enthusiasts won’t miss the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Atlanta History Center, and Oakland Cemetery.
If you’re looking for offbeat things to do, you might like the World of Coca-Cola, the Center for Puppetry Arts, or people-watching while eating and drinking in the Little Five Points neighborhood.
If you want to see the highlights of Atlanta on a guided tour, you’ll love this 90-Minute Narrated Sightseeing Trolley Tour. It’s a great way to get an overview of the city before you dive into it yourself.
27. Jekyll Island, Georgia
Georgia is another great place to dip your toes in the Atlantic Ocean, and one of the nicest places in the state to do just that is Jekyll Island. It’s one of Georgia’s barrier islands, but it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge, so you won’t need to take a ferry to get there.
This small island – only six miles long – is also a small town with a population of under 1,000 residents. However, people come from all over to visit it because of its beautiful beaches, slow pace, and abundant wildlife.
Visitors to Jekyll Island will enjoy tours of the historic district, walks along trails and beaches, and visits to the local water park. Many mammals, reptiles, and birds live and breed on Jekyll Island. You can learn more about them through wildlife tours or during a visit to the informative Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Don’t expect a lot of action on Jekyll Island. If you’re a party animal, it’s probably not the place for you, but if you’re looking for a relaxed beach town to visit on the East Coast, you’ll love it there.
28. Orlando, Florida
Orlando has become synonymous over the past fifty years with Disney. Disney World and its related theme parks are, in fact, the primary reason that most people visit this central Florida city.
You’d be remiss if you went to Orlando and did not take advantage of one or more of the Disney parks, as they are truly incredible for visitors of all ages, even if you don’t think at first that they’re something you’d enjoy.
Over the years, other parks have also popped up in this area, including two connected Universal theme parks, Fun Spot America, ICON Park, Discovery Cove, and others.
However, theme parks aren’t the only things to do in Orlando, although it may initially seem that way. Because of the vast number of tourists drawn to this area because of the parks, there are also excellent shopping and dining options – and many are world-class.
If you’re looking for rides and stores in a place with perfect wintertime weather and money to burn, Orlando is an excellent vacation choice.
29. Miami, Florida
Miami is the best beachfront major city on the East Coast, and there are affordable, direct flights to it from most places in the United States, making it an easily accessible vacation destination at any time of the year.
Miami Beach offers ten miles of coast along the Atlantic Ocean on the barrier island, including the Art Deco mecca of South Beach, but the mainland city offers plenty to do, too.
Art lovers will love the ever-changing, large-scale street art that can be found in the Wynwood Art District and the many galleries in the Miami Design District. Those interested in historic homes will enjoy a tour of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens or the Deering Estate.
Animal lovers might like Zoo Miami or Monkey Jungle, and those who enjoy museums can explore the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. If you want to feel like you’ve traveled to a foreign country without leaving the United States, a visit to Little Havana is crucial.
Be sure to bring your appetite to fill your belly with the best Cuban cuisine in the nation. Miami is a city like no other in the United States, and you’ll likely need to visit more than once to fit in everything it has to offer.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Miam
30. The Florida Keys, Florida
The Florida Keys are other-worldly. It’s hard to believe you are still in the United States when you visit this archipelago of 1,700 islands.
The blue waters here are crystal clear, and it’s the closest thing you can get to a Caribbean vacation that you can experience in the continental U.S. These islands have a special and unique vibe, and the laid-back folks you’ll meet here will make you want to move here, too.
Snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and boating will fill your days during a Florida Keys vacation if you can peel yourself off the white sand beaches long enough to do other things. Great for families and those interested in learning about the reef’s ecosystem is this glass-bottom boat sunset cruise and reef tour.
Key West is the end of the line and is the southernmost point in Florida. If you enjoy visiting bars and drinking cocktails in a tropical environment, Duval Street will keep you busy.
If you need more to do in Key West, visit Ernest Hemingway’s home and spend your day petting some or all of the sixty-plus cats that live there.
See Related: Beautiful Springs in Florida to Visit
31. St. Petersburg, Florida
Most people who say they are not fans of Florida consider St. Petersburg the one exception to the Florida-is-weird rule. This small city on the Gulf of Mexico differs from anywhere else in the state because of its artsy vibe and beautiful, Spanish-influenced architecture.
People who love art will love St. Petersburg due to its many museums and galleries, including the impressive Dali Museum, glass galleries like the Duncan McClellan Gallery, the Chihuly Collection, and the Imagine Museum, and the surprising and amazing James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art.
There are plenty of outdoor activities in this area, including the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, the Weedon Island Preserve, Sawgrass Lake Park, and the small but amazing Sunken Gardens built in the 1930s.
The energy in St. Petersburg is laid-back but hip and happening at the same time. You’ll never feel rushed in this city, but you’ll also never run out of fun and interesting things to do, either.
Why not finish up a great day in St. Petersburg with a sunset cruise? This sunset cruise over the Gulf of Mexico is a great way to see the city from the water.
I can’t decide where I want to go – how can I narrow my options for an East Coast vacation?
We suggest you read this whole post and see which of our destinations most tickles your fancy! The East Coast trips listed here offer something for everyone. Make a list of the places that interest you, and then start researching flights and accommodations when you wish to go to see what is most affordable and doable for you. Remember, you have to pick one for now – you can always keep the others in mind for later! These East Coast vacation ideas aren’t going anywhere – they’re all waiting for you.
Which is better – a city vacation, a beach vacation, or a mountain vacation?
That’s a hard question to answer because it depends on you! These categories can be great fun, but you’ll have to consider your interests, needs, and desires to determine what will be best for you and your companions. What types of vacations have you enjoyed in the past? Think about your favorite trip ever – and then try to choose a destination that sounds similar, yet different. Or, choose something that’s unlike anything you’ve ever done. If you usually vacation at the beach, consider trying a rural or urban destination this time to mix things up. You may find that you love this new kind of adventure!
Should I buy travel insurance for an East Coast vacation in the United States?
Buying travel insurance is always wise, no matter where you travel. Some people hesitate to get it for domestic travel because they think their existing insurance covers them, but that’s not always the case. We advise that everyone buys travel insurance no matter where they plan to go. You might not need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have it. We recommend World Nomads as an excellent and affordable carrier we love.
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- About the Author
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Christy is was born and raised in upstate New York but she has lived in Denver, Colorado for the past decade with her partner, Billy, and their cat, Lucy. Traveling is her favorite thing to do in the whole world, but she also loves writing, reading, being outdoors, seeing live music, cooking, creating art in many mediums, napping, spending time with friends and family, and laughing heartily as often as possible.