Best East Coast Vacation Spots from New England to South Beach

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Myrtle Beach sunset
Photo credit: Visit Myrtle Beach

Planning a trip to the East Coast? You’ll find iconic Maine lighthouses, lobster shacks and Florida’s sandy beaches among the many east coast vacation spots. The entire Atlantic coast is lined with beautiful beaches and  barrier islands add another layer of serenity.

Inland, a mix of big cities and small towns await exploration. For road trip buffs, a drive along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean is a bucket list experience. If you’re looking for the best east coast getaways, look no further. From South Beach to New England, these USA east coast vacation spots deliver a little bit of everything.

Art, Beaches and Culture Await in Miami, Florida

A mecca for those seeking an east coast getaway, Miami, Florida offers cultural experiences, water sports, art and more. In South Beach, family-friendly parks provide beachfront sports fields and water playgrounds.

For a fun family adventure, rent a clear kayak or book a tour with Clear View Kayaks. Since the kayaks are transparent, you can see the abundant sea life below. Experiences range from an easy paddle down Indian Creek and historic Collins Canal to a longer guided trip to Monument Island, where you’ll be provided with snorkel equipment to explore the crystal-clear water.

Add a touch of culture to your Miami experience with a food tour in Little Havana. An excellent place to learn about Cuban Culture, Little Havana is home to many Cuban restaurants and cafes as well as cigar shops and art galleries.  A food tour will treat your tastebuds to Cuban classics including Cuban sandwiches, Ropa Vieja, Cuban coffee and Key Lime pie.  

Hello Hollywood

Just north of Miami, Florida’s beach town version of Hollywood features a 2.2-mile pedestrian boardwalk along the Atlantic Ocean and Hollywood Beach. As you stroll, treat yourself to ice cream and pick up a memento at one of the souvenir shops along the boardwalk. For some pedaling fun, choose from bike rentals at Sun and Fun Cycles which include low-riders, adult tricycles, surreys, bikes, and special needs equipment.

Art lovers enjoy the must-see Downtown Hollywood Mural Project featuring stunning artwork in 31 building-side murals and 11 sidewalk murals. For more art, spend some time exploring Hollywood’s Art and Culture Center.

For access to refreshing pools, sunbathing and tropical cocktails, book a stay at the Margaritaville Beach Resort. Located in front of the boardwalk, the property boasts eight dining options and a FlowRider surfing simulator.

Read More: Blast Off with 10 Fun Things to Do in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast

Find Southern Charm in South Georgia

Whether you crave a barrier island experience or prefer to explore historical sites, Georgia has you covered. A long time favorite vacation destination for those in search of the ultimate in Southern charm, Savannah delivers in abundance.

In the city center, the 30-acre Forsyth Park is one of Savannah’s most iconic sites. Here moss-laden trees support the charm of this Southern gem. And don’t miss the fountain – the most photographed spot in the city.

To explore the city’s historic district, hop aboard a trolley tour. The Old Town Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley combines a guided tour with plenty of time for personal excursions at each site.

A summer family vacation to Savannah would not be complete without trying an ice cream from Leopold’s Ice Cream – one of the USA’s oldest ice cream parlors. The lines are long but worth it. Grab a cone or dine in for one of their famous sundaes.

More Southern Charm on Georgia’s Barrier Islands

Situated on the east coast of Georgia, St. Simons Island is one of the state’s most beautiful barrier islands. The largest of Georgia’s Golden Isles, here stunning white sand beaches co-exist with miles of salt marshes as moss-draped trees line the island’s winding roads.

Enjoy a multitude of outdoor activities including boating, fishing, kayaking and swimming. The island also features stunning resorts and golf courses.History buffs enjoy exploring at sites like Christ Church or the St. Simons Lighthouse – the oldest working lighthouse in the USA.

Explore the Bounty of Charleston, South Carolina

Colorful houses in pastel shades line the city streets in Charleston, South Carolina alongside quaint restaurants and historic inns. Horses add to the scene as they clip-clop along the cobbled streets while guides share the depth of history oozing from this Southern charmer. For those who choose to vacation, there’s much to see and do. This is foodie heaven with a rich seafood scene along with a bounty of elevated comfort foods.

For those intrigued by cultural finds, a stop in the Charleston Market reveals hand-woven baskets by women of the Gullah community. The Charleston Harbor buzzes with plentiful activities including wildlife watching, fishing and sunset sailing cruises. Nearby on Fort Sumter, Civil War history comes to life. And for military buffs, the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier is a must-see.

Liven Up Your Summer Vacation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

If you’re seeking an action-packed east coast vacation spot, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach might be the ideal place for you. At its center, the 1.2-mile Myrtle Beach Boardwalk supports popular attractions including the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Pier 14, Second Avenue Pier, Ripley’s 5D Theater and Ripley’s Haunted Adventure.

Home to amenity packed resorts including several with water parks, Myrtle Beach provides an ideal summer vacation destination for busy families. A bustling beach town, it’s also a favorite of beachgoers seeking a lively nightlife scene.

Nags Head in North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Centrally located among the towns of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Nags Head makes an ideal summer vacation destination or a weekend getaway. The largest won in the Outer Banks, Nags Head is a quintessential beach town. Nags Head is fun for families with activities like mini-golf, family-friendly restaurants and one of the best beaches in North Carolina.

Shoppers enjoy the outlet malls while art and history buffs enjoy exploring Gallery Row and the Historic District recognized by its unpainted traditional cedar shake beach cottages.

Nags Head is one of the few towns on the Outer Banks where you can find a good selection of hotels, including resorts. Other forms of accommodation include vacation rentals along with bed and breakfasts.

Get to Know Delaware’s Treasures

Located on the Delaware Shores, Rehoboth Beach boasts an award-winning boardwalk, fabulous hotels, specialty stores, tax-free shopping and scores of restaurants. With 30 miles of unspoiled Delaware coastline, nature-based outdoor activities are plentiful. Possible adventures include hiking in state parks, kayaking, nature cruises, ferry rides, surfing, skimboarding, paddleboarding and sailing. Add to that historic sites and live performing arts and you have yourself an intriguing vacation spot.  

A short walk from Rehoboth Beach, neighboring Dewey Beach sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Rehoboth Bay. Dewey Beach offers beach sports and activities along with great restaurants, life music, dancing and a world-famous nightlife scene.

The Rehoboth Beach and Dewey area offers year-round experiences. Spring and fall sidewalk sales are held in May and October. There’s a Scarecrow Trail & Show in September & October. And in October, the annual Sea Witch® Festival arrives along with costumes and parades.

History, Charm and Sailing in Annapolis, Maryland

For a unique and engaging year round vacation destination, consider visiting Annapolis, Maryland. Home to the U.S. Naval Academy, brick-paved streets lined with vintage storefronts and 18th century brick houses give this bayside city plenty of charm. Historical sites are revealed at every turn in places like the Maryland State House that dates back to 1779 earning it the distinction as the country’s oldest statehouse still in continual use.

On Main Street, well-preserved buildings spanning four centuries house restaurants, bars, galleries and shops. Don’t miss Annapolis Ice Cream Company which has been voted the town’s best ice cream for 18 years.  

Annapolis is a sailing haven and there’s no better way to join the locals than with a sunset sail on the Chesapeake bay aboard a Schooner Woodwind. And be sure to indulge in crabs, a Maryland staple.

With its close proximity to Washington DC, day trips to the Smithsonian add another dimension to your vacation experience.

Experience the Jersey Shore at Point Pleasant Beach

Despite what you might see on TV, the Jersey Shore does have family friendly destinations and Point Pleasant is one of those. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, which stretches a mile along the shore, offers some good old-fashioned fun with an aquarium, arcade, amusement park, three mini-golf courses and a 4,000-square-foot fun house.

For the shoppers in the family, Point Pavilion Antique Centre is stocked with furniture, jewelry, toys and old records. Couple that with Point Pleasant’s Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey for a retro-themed getaway.

Plan a Weekend Getaway on Block Island, Rhode Island

Sail into Block Island on the Block Island Ferry for an idyllic weekend getaway. The weekend fun begins at Ballard’s – one of the top bars in Block Island. More than a bar, Ballard’s has everything you need for a day of fun in the sun with its private beach along with lounge chair and umbrella rentals. With tiki bars, live music and waitress service, you may never need to leave your place in the sand.

If you do choose to move beyond Ballard’s, check out the Mohegan Bluffs. Standing 200 feet above sea level, the bluffs provide some of the best views on the island. Be sure to visit North Light, Block Island’s historic lighthouse.

Whale Watching on Cape Cod in Massachusetts

For those who enjoy the search for wildlife, New England whale watching makes an ideal summer vacation or possibly a weekend getaway from Boston. May through October offers the best odds for spotting humpback, finback and minke whales as they feed along the New England coast.

If you’re planning a summer vacation that includes whale watching, Cape Cod should be on your agenda. Cape Cod’s unique shape reaches toward whale territory. Located at the tip of the Cape Cod peninsula, Provincetown is one of the most popular whale hub. Nearby in Hyannis, whale watching tours leave from the local harbor. You can also hop a high-speed ferry 30 miles offshore to Nantucket for a visit to the renowned Nantucket Whaling Museum.

Getaway to Martha’s Vineyard

Sitting in the Atlantic just south of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, has been a longtime New England summer colony. Harbor towns and lighthouses dot the landscape of sandy beaches and farmland. Accessible only by sea or air, this renowned Massachusetts island has plenty of outdoor activities including biking, hiking trails and boating. Don’t miss the iconic carousel in Oak Bluffs nestled among Carpenter Gothic cottages.

Spend a Week Leaf Peeping in New England

Who says your east coast vacation has to happen in summer. As the red, gold and orange hues of fall foliage appear, there’s no better place to leaf peep than New England.

Filled with charming small towns, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont provide the ideal vacation spots for sipping apple cider and basking in the colorful fall foliage landscapes.

In Connecticut, meander along the hiking trails in Wadsworth Falls State Park to the park’s namesake waterfall while taking in the brilliant fall foliage.

Venture up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to explore more hiking trails draped in color. Nestled among the lush vegetation of the White Mountains, the picturesque small town of Jackson delivers natural and man-made beauty in abundance.  Must-see attractions include the 1876 covered bridge and the Jackson Library, which is housed in the historic Trickey Barn.

Take a scenic drive through Vermont’s small towns amid the brillialnt fall foliage colors before settling in for the evening in one of the state’s many quaint bed and breakfasts.

Explore Maine’s Rocky Seashore

From the lobster shacks to the lighthouses, Maine provides an ideal vacation spot especially in the summer months. Start your explorations in Portland. Set on a peninsula extending into Casco Bay, Portland is Maine’s largest city. Converted warehouses now house restaurants teeming with seafood delights and locally owned boutiques to satisfy your shopping urges.

Moving to Maine’s central coast, rock formations along the seashore make for unique sightseeing. Seeking out Maine’s famous lighthouses adds to the road trip experience. In small towns like Boothbay Harbor, outdoor activities include whale watching cruises, lobster boat adventures and kayaking,

Further north, you’ll reach Bar Harbor – the gateway to Acadia National Park. Base your explorations in Bar Harbor where dozens of eateries serve Maine favorites including lobster rolls and blueberry pies. Quaint hotels provide a good night’s sleep before the next day’s adventures.

Embrace Adventure in Acadia National Park

Perched at the edge of Maine, Acadia National Park skirts 60 miles of the Atlantic coastline. The park includes Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, and additional outer islands including the park’s most remote, Isle au Haut, accessible only by ferry. Within Acadia National Park you’ll find 33 miles of scenic motor roads, 45 miles of carriage roads and more than 150 miles of hiking trails. Favorite park pastimes include biking, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and whale watching from the shoreline.

Find Your Urban Vacation Spot in New York City

If your ideal vacation spot requires an urban atmosphere, you won’t find any place more urban than NYC. The city that never sleeps also never stops entertaining. From taking in the view atop the Empire State Building to exploring the paths of Central Park, there’s always something to discover.

Hudson River parks including Little Island and the High Line contribute to outdoor adventures within NYC. And when night falls, the lights of Broadway beckon with live entertainment. Top that off with food from every culture and your NYC vacation will take you around the globe!




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Based in New York City, Terri Marshall is an award-winning writer covering cultural travel, multi-generational travel, road trips, soft-adventure, camping, cars and characters. From hanging out with penguins in Antarctica to fishing for piranhas in Peru to road-tripping through the jungles of Belize, Terri’s always up for an adventure. Drop her into a landscape filled with mountains, towering evergreens, waterfalls and a glacier or two and she’ll be in heaven. But what thrills her most of all is traveling with her teenage grandkids. Terri serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee for the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA). She also serves as the First Vice-Chair of the Eastern Chapter for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Terri’s publication credits include AARP, Island Soul, Girl Camper Magazine, A Girls Guide to Cars, CHILLED, World Footprints, North Hills Monthly, Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Contractor and more. Follow her on Instagram at TrippingWithTerri.
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