The East Coast of the United States is rich in culture, history, and tradition, making it a premier vacation destination for just about any traveler. Summer vacationers flock to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Miami Beach, and every beach in between to enjoy the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. Picture perfect islands like Martha's Vineyard and Hilton Head are popular with families and couples alike. There’s the fishing ambiance of New England, the dazzling allure of New York City, and the southern charm of Charlottesville. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
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Tybee Island is a little barrier island just 20 minutes outside of historic Savannah, Georgia, featuring 5 miles of stunning Atlantic coastline and pristine beaches ideal for surfing and sunbathing. The south-end pier and pavilion is a prominent area perfect for picturesque views, angling, and listening the funky sounds of live bands. It is known for its rich history and features attractions such as the nation’s oldest lighthouse, Tybee Island Lighthouse, built in 1736, which boasts a spectacular view of the surrounding area from its top. Fort Pulaski, a prominent Civil War site, Fort Screven, the Marine Science Center, and the Tybee Island Lighthouse Museum are also top attractions.
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Myrtle Beach is situated along South Carolina’s Grand Stand, a beautiful destination where the picturesque beachfront meets family-friendly attractions. The city offers a little something for everyone with its incredible golf courses, fascinating museums, pristine campgrounds, oceanfront eateries, and extraordinary fishing. These feature a collection of incredible attractions including over 50 mini-golf courses, several amusement parks, and the iconic 200-foot-tall SkyWheel. Blackbeard’s Pirate Cruise, and The Big M Casino offer waterfront excursions for all ages, from sword-wielding children to adults who love to game. Additional highlights include Brookgreen Gardens, Go Ape Treetop Adventure, and the Myrtle Beach Safari.
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Rehoboth Beach is a charming old town boasting one of the finest beaches in the nation. This is a laidback community that welcomes visitors with a warm spirit featuring shady tree-lined streets with vibrant colorful seaside cottages, artsy boutiques, dynamic galleries, and funky restaurants dishing up tasty cuisine. Activities such as hopping on a Bike to Go and cruising around the town, gaming at the Beach Arcade, or stopping at the old-timey Candy Kitchen are fun things to do for families with children. Nature lovers will appreciate attractions such as Bethany Beach Nature Center and Delaware Seashore State Park. Jungle Jim’s River Safari Water Park, Funland, and Crab Claw Adventures are also worth a visit. <
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is a Victorian seaside jewel known for its outstanding seafood restaurants (like Lobster House on Fisherman’s Wharf), fine wines, and traditional jazz festivals. This unique city is a National Historic District, featuring almost 600 Victorian buildings that make it one of the most beautiful places in the country. As the oldest resort in the nation, it’s no surprise that it showcases an array of historical attractions and activities such as trolley tours though the historic district and spooky ancient ghost tours. Those who love the outdoors and a good deal will want to check out the free Cape May County Park and Zoo and the Cape May Whale Watcher.
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5.Hilton Head Island
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Hilton Head is a picturesque island that has 12 miles of pristine beaches. It’s an outdoor oasis with various recreational attractions and activities including 350 tennis courts, 24 world-class golf courses, bike rides along moss-draped beachside trails, and horseback rides through a scenic forest preserve. Their newest highlight is Signature Experiences, a collection of performances, unique tours, and demonstrations that allow visitors to explore and experience the Lowcountry on a deeper level. Choices include everything from history and culture to cuisine and mixology to nature and animals.
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Virginia Beach is situated in the southeastern corner of Virginia, an oceanfront city offering visitors Southern hospitality in a relaxed atmosphere. It offers a wealth of diverse attractions from outdoor excursions to culinary delights and everything in between. This is a naturalist’s dream destination with thousands of acres of parkland to explore, lush wildlife trails, bay waterways, and pristine shorelines. Visitors can take to the trees at the Adventure Park and walk on water on their incredible Oyster Tours. Various museums, restaurants, beach breweries, and interesting boutique shops can be found throughout the city. The Town Center, ViBe Creative District, and Virginia Aquarium are also worth a visit.
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Chincoteague is a small barrier island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore that is famous for its beautiful wild ponies. The island’s beach, wild and undeveloped, is part of a magnificent 14,000-acre Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, an unspoiled oasis that protects the island and keeps it as it was when the Native Americans were coming to the island to collect oysters. You will not find any tourist traps on Chincoteague, and the small town of Chincoteague is charming and relaxed, with quaint shops and the interesting Chincoteague Pony Centre and the Museum of Chincoteague Island. The tourists spend their time walking the beautiful beaches, swimming, collecting shells, enjoying the antics of wild ponies, biking, or watching the many birds.
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8.Greenport Village, Long Island
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Established in the 1600s when a group of New Haven colonists crossed Long Island Sound and settled on a deep, protected harbor, Greenport quickly developed as a major whaling port, oystering location, and shipbuilding site. Today, tourism has taken over from whaling and shipbuilding and Greenport is a popular spot for a weekend visit. Surrounded by Long Island wine country, Greenport is a delight to walk through, full of charming shops, boutiques, art galleries, and wine tasting bars. Mitchell Park with its famous carousel is a particularly popular destination for families. History buffs will enjoy a visit to the East End Seaport Museum, which is rich in artifacts and historical information about the village’s maritime past. The Floyd Memorial Library and the Railroad Museum of Long Island have more information about Greenport’s past, but the best way to spend the day is to stroll through the village pedestrian area with its quaint streets.
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Charlottesville sits along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers visitors a Southern experience in a scenic setting. This lively city has incredible restaurants, quaint boutique shops, the stately brick-lined Downtown Mall, various galleries, numerous museums, and a diverse collection of events all year round. They are well known for their more than 30 local orchards and vineyards as well as two UNESCO World Heritage Sites dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, his home Monticello, and the “Academical Village” at the University of Virginia. Azalea Park, Beaver Creek Lake, the Freedom of Speech Wall, Paramount Theater, and the Morea Gardens are also worth a visit.
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Asheville is one of the most energetic and friendly cities in the nation, known as a healing resort, art colony, and the home to numerous notable bohemians, luminaries, and statesmen. Inviting, edgy, and artsy are the perfect words to describe this city with its rich architectural history featuring a mix of neoclassical, art deco, and beaux arts styles. The retro-urban backdrop of the city brings life to its locally owned art galleries, eclectic shops, distinctive restaurants, and impressive entertainment venues. Asheville offers an eclectic array of attractions, including the Pisgah National Forest, the Appalachian Mountains, the Thomas Wolfe House, and the Vance Memorial.
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Roanoke is located in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, a place where natural beauty, history, and culture blend seamlessly. Spending days outdoors is common practice in this area, where visitors can enjoy activities such as driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, hiking trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or cruising around Smith Mountain Lake at sunset. A highlight is taking a kayaking trip on the Upper James River Water Trail, surrounded by magnificent wildlife and incredible lush greenery. Downtown Roanoke offers visitors cute little markets and boutiques, locally sourced restaurants, artsy galleries, intriguing museums such as the Museum of Transportation, and a bustling, energetic nightlife. Things to Do in Roanoke
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Brunswick is a historic city located on the southeastern coastline of Georgia. The city is inviting and warm, a place that beckons visitors to relax and play, whether they want to explore the waterways or dive into the music, art, theatre, and history scenes. The downtown area displays a diverse mix of specialty shops, antique stores, theatres, museums, restaurants, and art galleries. The natural beauty of the area offers visitors a wealth of outdoor recreational activities to enjoy such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, and sailing. Brunswick has a rich history with many prominent historic attractions such as Fort Federica National Monument, Horton House, and St. Simons Island Light.
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Annapolis, affectionately known as America’s Sailing Capital, is home to the legendary US Naval Academy. Naptown, as the city is sometimes called, has a significant maritime history. It is the ideal destination for those who enjoy water activities as it provides access to Chesapeake Bay and numerous creeks, rivers, and inland bays. Kayaking, canoeing, sailing, paddleboarding, and motor boating are all popular pastimes here. Downtown Annapolis is known for its scenic streets, historic inns, dining, shopping, and thriving cultural scene. The city offers a wealth of intriguing attractions such as the Maryland State House, Paca House and Garden, the historic Thomas Point Shoal Light, and the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Things to Do in Annapolis
14.East Coast vacations: Block Island
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Just off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island offers visitors the quintessential New England experience with attractions like beachside mansions, historical lighthouses, and 17 miles of some of the country’s finest beaches. In between lobster rolls and clam chowder, visitors can look out over the magnificent bluffs that jut above some breathtaking views of the Atlantic. Guests access the island by taking a short ferry ride from the mainland. Mopeds make getting around Block Island easy for exploring the unspoiled white sand beaches. Block Island also boasts plenty of boutiques for the perfect afternoon of window shopping.
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Although slightly off the beaten track, tourists looking for a beach getaway just outside Boston should take a drive down to Duxbury. This Massachusetts beach town boasts long stretches of white sand beach, providing the perfect afternoon stroll along the seashore or siesta in the sunshine. Hungry guests can feed their appetites at the concession with traditional treats like burgers, chicken fingers, and ice cream. The beach also hosts clean bathrooms and showers for washing up after a day of sun and sand. Those who can should avoid the weekends, as Saturdays and Sundays tend to attract larger crowds.
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Tourists looking for the classic New England experience will want to visit the town of East Haddam in Connecticut. From beautiful beaches to scenic nature trails, East Haddam has plenty to offer outdoorsy types. The town is home to several state parks, providing opportunities for the perfect afternoon of hiking, bird watching, or playing sports. Visitors can also spend the day at the town’s freshwater beach located on the Moodus Reserve. Meanwhile, the historical society museum brings local history to life. Local taverns and seafood joints give vacationers a place to sit back and enjoy a taste of New England’s one-of-a-kind cuisine.
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Located in the prosperous suburb of Sea Point, Milton Beach provides the perfect holiday on its small yet charming beaches. The promenade along the coast gives active travelers a place to walk, cycle, or jog while taking in the gorgeous seaside views. This lively little Delaware town has plenty of attractions, including historic house tours and a farmers market, along with fun festivals like the Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Festival, Broadkill Banjos & Seafood Festival, and the Holly Festival. Every trip should also include a tour and tasting at Dogfish Head Brewery, a nationally cherished Delaware craft beer.
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18.East Coast vacations: Ithaca
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With over 28,000 acres of public parks, Ithaca is the perfect vacation destination for active travelers to go skiing, hiking, and mountain biking. Ithaca sits along the southern shores of Cayuga Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, where tourists can enjoy boating and fishing, visit local wineries and breweries, or simply take in the magnificent views. A trip to Ithaca wouldn’t be complete without exploring its many gorges and waterfalls. This charming community welcomes guests to its many hotels and bed and breakfasts. Tourists can also get a bit of the college town atmosphere, as Ithaca houses the Ivy League school, Cornell University.
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Martha’s Vineyard is an island just 45 minutes away from Cape Cod by ferry and is known as a vacation destination for the rich and the famous. The town features gorgeous beaches, vibrantly colored gingerbread cottages, dramatic lighthouses, and sailboat-dotted waters. Its magical carousel, Flying Horses, extraordinary famers markets, and frequent celeb sightings are just a few of the things that make this island so unique. This picturesque paradise is known for its natural and scenic attractions, such as Aquinnah Cliffs, Mytoi, South Beach State Park, and the Native Earth Teaching Farm. Bad Martha Farmer’s Brewery, The Black Dog Tavern, and Spirit Shack are also prominent attractions. Things to Do on Martha’s Vineyard
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Nestled halfway between Providence, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, Fairhaven sits along the Massachusetts seaside directly across from the famous whaling port of New Bedford. Founded in 1812, this interesting New England beach town provides visitors with historical sites, nature hikes, biking, and beaches. Boaters and kayakers will find the perfect place for enjoying the salt air at Hoppy’s Landing, while history buffs can stop by Fort Phoenix, the offshore location of the first naval battle of the American Revolution. It offers Minuteman Presentations every Friday. Eateries aim to please, serving up classic New England cuisines in quaint inns and taverns along the sea.
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Bar Harbor offers visitors a unique mystique with its rock-bound coast featuring towering granite cliffs that lend a romantic and adventurous spirit to the town. Located at the edge of the sea and surrounded by Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor offers unrivaled scenic beauty. Outdoor enthusiasts will be delighted by more than 50 square miles of lakes and mountains. Hiking and biking opportunities abound, providing visitors with views of the dramatic coastline. Asticou Azalea Garden, the Abbe Museum, Somes Sand, Jordan Pond, Mt Desert Island Historical, and the George B. Dorr Museum of National History are additional must-see attractions. Things to Do in Bar Harbor
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Portsmouth, New Hampshire, epitomizes New England charm with its historical harbors, sidewalk shops, colonial homes, art galleries, delicious restaurants, jazz clubs, and artisan boutiques. This charming coastal town boasts cultural events throughout the year, like wine and food festivals, concerts, theaters, and family-friendly activities. Visitors can’t miss out on viewing the iconic Moran tugboats moored in Portsmouth Harbor, which still functions as a working port. Built in 1877, the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse still stands at 48 feet, overlooking the entrance of the harbor. Whale watching, sightseeing tours, fishing, and boat charters give guests enjoyable opportunities to explore the nearby waters. Things to Do in Portsmouth NH
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Nags Head is situated in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Its allure is its pristine beaches, ideal for surfing, sunbathing, beachcombing, and swimming. This is the perfect destination for sailing, snorkeling around the shipwrecks, kayaking rolling waves, and hang gliding over Jockey’s Ridge. The area is also known for its unique blend of rich history, tradition, and nature, with attractions such as Kill Devil Hill featuring the National Park Service’s Wright Brothers National Memorial at its center. The Bodie Island Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the Monument to a Century of Flight, and Nags Head Woods Preserve are also prominent attractions.
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Bethany Beach is a serene beachside town known for its quiet style and is a gentle balance of peaceful family-friendly attractions and fun-loving diversions. A typical day here involves lazing at the beach, wandering around the boardwalk, indulging in an ice cream cone, or browsing the bookstore. Its restaurant scene is a true highlight, with an array of eclectic and delicious dining options such as local favorites the Blue Crab Restaurant, Bluecoast Seafood Grille, and the waterfront Bethany Boathouse. While Bethany Beach definitely has a small town “Mayberry” vibe, the locals spice it up with their movies on the beach and free concerts on the weekends.
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Officially founded in 1565 by Spanish colonists, St Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. Located on the northeastern coast of Florida, St. Augustine attracts tourists with its Spanish colonial architecture as well as its tranquil beaches. Tourists can spend the day exploring the cobblestone streets of the city’s enchanting historic district with its unique shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants. Anastasia State Park includes 1,600 acres of abundant wildlife and flourishing ecosystems with beaches, tidal marshes, and nature trails. St. Augustine also has over 40 miles of pristine beaches, with some allowing dogs and even vehicles. Things to Do in St Augustine
25 Best East Coast Weekend Getaways
- Tybee Island, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Myrtle Beach, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Rehoboth Beach, Photo: Courtesy of gravescreative - Fotolia.com
- Cape May, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Hilton Head Island, Photo: Courtesy of Michael Dalton - Fotolia.com
- Virginia Beach, Photo: Courtesy of jayyuan - Fotolia.com
- Chincoteague, Photo: Courtesy of adamparent - Fotolia.com
- Greenport Village, Long Island, Photo: Courtesy of Sylvana Rega - Fotolia.com
- Charlottesville, Photo: Courtesy of spiritofamerica - Fotolia.com
- Asheville, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Roanoke, Photo: Courtesy of digidreamgrafix - Fotolia.com
- Brunswick, Photo: Courtesy of Jackie DeBusk - Fotolia.com
- Annapolis, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- East Coast vacations: Block Island, Photo: Courtesy of SE Viera Photo - Fotolia.com
- Duxbury, Photo: Courtesy of dejavudesigns - Fotolia.com
- East Haddam, Photo: Courtesy of jgorzynik - Fotolia.com
- Milton Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Anton - Fotolia.com
- East Coast vacations: Ithaca, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- Martha’s Vineyard, Photo: Courtesy of Jen - Fotolia.com
- Fairhaven, Photo: Courtesy of Vinoverde - Fotolia.com
- Bar Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of atlantic advert - Fotolia.com
- Portsmouth, Photo: Courtesy of Jo Ann Snover - Fotolia.com
- Nags Head, Photo: Courtesy of claudia hake - Fotolia.com
- Bethany Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Mac - Fotolia.com
- St. Augustine, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of itsallgood - Fotolia.com
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