If you're looking for some of the most beautiful places to visit on the east coast, it's easy to forget there is a whole lot of east coast, with I-95 (the main interstate artery for all eastern states) being nearly 2,000 miles long.
East coast attractions aren't hard to come by near that long stretch of seemingly endless highway.
From the hustle and bustle of New York City to the historic sites of Boston and the beautiful coastlines of Cape Cod, there's no end of places to vacation on the east coast.
Whether it’s an action-packed family getaway or a romantic retreat, the East Coast has it all. With so many iconic locations, narrowing your choices can be difficult.
With that being said, here are some of the best places to visit on the east coast of the USA.
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If you love natural beauty and breathtaking scenery, Niagara Falls is one of the must-see attractions on the East Coast. The sight of the waters crashing down when you first see Niagara Falls is a sight to behold.
Geographically, Niagara Falls is only partially within US borders. It's actually a series of three falls, including Horseshoe Falls (Canada), American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, the latter two being in the United States.
Standing over Niagara Falls is like standing over the precipice of the world, the very thing that so frightened the sea explorers of the 15th century.
With almost 6 million cubic feet of water rushing over the edge per minute, you can almost feel the thundering weight and the breath leaving your body.
It's an impressive vista, to say the least, but the area also offers the Maid of the Mist boat tour, Cave of the Winds, Top of the Falls Restaurant, and an excellent hiking experience.
Niagara Falls is also the site of the first major hydroelectric plant in the world, thanks to Nikola Tesla.
Address: Niagara Falls, NY 14303
If you're looking for something a little quieter, Acadia National Park in Maine is not only peaceful, but it's also an area of pristine beauty, unrivaled by any other national park in its own corner of the universe.
If you mark Acadia National Park as one of your places to visit on the east coast, you absolutely have to go in the fall.
Acadia National Park is known for its stunning fall color changes. Acadia has 6,000 acres to explore and is the top ten most visited park in the US.
Walking, biking, snowshoeing, country skiing, and hiking are all ways to travel and explore the area.
Most of the roads are crushed stone, and as the leaves begin to change, it's like watching the gray and dark overtones of the park roads become aflame with dazzling displays of orange, red, and yellow.
Address: Acadia National Park, Maine
The Pocono Mountain region may lack the granite wall grandeur of the Rockies, but it has something the Rocky Mountains can never offer—its carpeted in lush greenery that seems to roll across the horizon.
In the fall, it's an inferno of reds and oranges before turning into a snow-capped, crystal wonder.
The Poconos are easily one of the best places to visit on the east coast as an entire world of activities is packed within its reach, especially for outdoor enthusiasts.
Within the Poconos area are seven national parks, each with a distinct offering and more hiking trails than you can count.
Outside of that, there are golf courses, casinos, race tracks, and ski and snow resorts (the latter during the winter, of course).
For kayakers, there are whitewater and recreational opportunities, as well as swimming, major resorts, and some of the finest dining in the region.
Charleston is a quaint and colorful town, larger than it looks, and full of life and activities for the explorer in all of us.
It certainly sounds the most mundane of all the places to visit on the east coast. Fortunately, it's anything but.
Charleston is everything a Revolutionary and Civil War historian or buff could ask for.
If historical US wars are your forte, the USS Yorktown is docked at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
There is also the Waterfront Aquarium to bring you up to speed on Atlantic marine life.
Charleston also offers sunset cruises, renowned golf courses, three of the region’s more popular beaches, farmer's markets, and a ghost tour that is more than enough to fulfill your morbid side.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Charleston, SC
What could be more exciting than visiting the nation's capital while you're on your east coast tour?
One of the things that makes Washington DC one of the best vacation spots on the east coast is what surrounds it and what's within it.
There’s Emerald City, the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, Crystal City, Potomac Mills, and Alexandria.
Within the capital, there is seemingly a historic landmark every few feet.
You’ll find yourself inundated with iconic landmarks branded in your mind since elementary school.
Washington DC's layout makes it easy to cover almost everything within a 2-day itinerary.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Washington D.C.
Savannah is not a large city, but it's certainly a step backward in time, especially when standing among the Victorian architecture of Savannah’s Historic District, along with the Victorian District.
If you’re looking to add a little fun, neon, and an alcoholic beverage or two, the Starland District is made to order.
One thing that sets Savannah, Georgia, apart is its rooftop bars.
Visit during the nighttime if you want a breathtaking view of the Savannah River from an elevated position.
The Myrtle and Rose Rooftop Garden is another fantastic spot, with plenty of floral arrangements to accompany the view.
Spanish Moss is another thing that sets the city apart.
The impressive views are everywhere, and when you turn a corner to see massive and majestic water fountains framed in the sleepy, hanging wonder of Spanish Moss, it will take your breath away.
Also Read: Top Savannah Attractions & Things To Do
It's not the alligators that make the Everglades special. It's the otherworldliness of the place.
Its literally like stepping into another world, where the buzzing streets and skylines framed in synthetic architecture are suddenly replaced by a sea of cattails, the whizz and whir of insects, and a quiet solitude as you watch the natural world's reflection on cool, spring waters.
Of course, wildlife is a lot of fun too.
Key deer are known for walking right up to your window for a snack while you're stopped at a red light.
The American Alligator is the face of Florida, especially in the Everglades, where you can see more alligators and razor-sharp teeth than you probably care to.
The surroundings, southern hospitality, and pristine beauty of nature in the tropics make the Everglades one of the best places to vacation on the east coast.
If you're visiting the Everglades, Miami is practically through your back door.
Of course, one of the primary reasons to visit Miami is the beaches.
However, Miami is a huge city, and there's a lot more fun to be had outside the beach areas.
This is especially true with Miami nightlife.
You can go salsa dancing and enjoy a Cuban hamburger within half an hour.
Speaking of Cuban hamburgers, Miami offers some of the best Cuban food you will find in the country.
The Perez Art Museum is a consolidation of southern Florida and Cuban art styles, and you can stay right down the road at the Legendary Fountainbleau Hotel.
Last but not least, the beaches, which aren’t the most beautiful of Florida’s beaches but certainly the most fun.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Miami
The "Smoky" designation isn't because the mountains are smoky.
It's because of the low-lying fog often seen blanketing the lower and sometimes upper portions of the range.
It sounds ordinary on paper, but in reality, it's one of the most beautiful visual scenarios you will experience.
We’re talking about a stretch that runs through multiple states, so the possibilities are endless, especially if you enjoy hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and mountain biking.
Clingman’s Dome sits at an early 7k elevation, making it the highest point in the range.
It's hard to point to everything the range has to offer, but you should definitely mark down the Alum Cave Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, The Tail of the Dragon, Laurel Falls, Dollywood, and Blackberry Farm.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is tailor-made for you if you are a party animal.
It's easily one of the best east coast travel destinations around.
The beach itself is over 60 miles long and one of the more beautiful stretches of coastline on the east coast.
Another one of the more attractive aspects of visiting Myrtle Beach is its affordability.
In terms of east coast travel destinations, it's hard to argue with affordability because the incredible natural value you get from the visit is priceless.
The entertainment value in Myrtle Beach is another good reason.
The Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament is always a blast, and Myrtle Beach hosts over 600 arts and entertainment festivals every year.
If the middle ages aren't for you, visit the Pirate's Voyage Dinner and Show, especially if you brought the kids.
What makes the Outer Banks one of the best places to go on the east coast is its solitude.
As popular an area as it is, with miles of beachfront views, and a dizzying array of sunset and sunrise visuals, it's also tranquil.
Aside from the rise and fall of the crashing waves, that is.
Quiet doesn't mean non-busy, however, as there are loads of things to do along the coastline besides dip your toes in the cold Atlantic water.
The Outer Banks is loaded with campgrounds for RVers out there, and the seafood is so good you'll never eat the same anywhere else.
The local towns are small, quaint, and loaded with local festivities, friendly people, and fine dining.
If you are pining for a romantic getaway, an evening of fine dining, and a stroll on the beach, watching as the sun retires for the evening in an explosion of violets, deep blues, oranges, and crimson red.
Also Read: The Best East Coast Beaches You Must Visit
Newport is home to gigantic mansions and colonial-era giants that have stood the test of time.
All of which is juxtaposed against the sound and view of crashing waves and the cries of seagulls.
It's not a party beach by any means, but it is one of the most beautiful places to view the Atlantic in all of its raw power and glory.
Newport should top your list of places to travel on the east coast, as the people are friendly, and the dining is exceptional.
The town itself is fairly small—a compact and dazzling display of life well away from any city.
Trolleys will carry you from one end of town to the other, so transportation is never a worry.
The Chanler at Cliff Walk and Forty 1 North are luxurious hotels if they are in your price range, and Castle Hill Inn offers cottages along the beachfront.
Though it's not quite the east coast per se, Nashville, Tennessee, is certainly on the way to the east coast.
If you love country music, Nashville is nearly the heart of it, and you'll experience some of the best southern dining of all the southern states.
For music lovers, the Bluebird Cafe and the Frist Art Museum are for you, while historians will enjoy the Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery.
If you live in the south, you know the importance of biscuits done right, and if you're not, you can learn the same lesson at Biscuit Love restaurant.
Nashville is also home to the Nashville Predators, in case hockey runs through your veins.
Depending on the time of year, there are always a number of local festivities going on, and you can even play the Escape Game at Berry Hill.
All of this comes together to create one of the best vacations on the east coast.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Nashville
Portland is located on Casco Bay, offering visitors another breathtaking view of the water, even as it feeds into the endless blue and swirling violet of the Atlantic Ocean.
Portland, Maine, is a conglomeration of music, art, sightseeing, shopping, and fine dining.
There's always something to do here, and the city never fails to surprise.
It's also not the complicated and loud metropolis type of city you expect to find in New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles.
Maine residents call Portland the "perfect Maine city." You'll find the finest northern seafood recipes.
Whether your belly is full or in between bites, you can explore the Casco Bay Islands via kayak or head over to the Portland Museum of Art to tap your creative appreciation.
There's also the Children's Museum if you bring the kids along for the ride.
White Mountains, New Hampshire, is quintessential New England in almost every way.
It's also one of the most beautiful places on the east coast for outdoors enthusiasts, hikers, and explorers.
White Mountains has something to offer every type of outdoor adventurer, including the state parks, waterfalls, hiking through the mountain ranges, or just a scenic, breathtaking road trip along the Kancamagus Highway.
If you travel to the White Mountains in the winter, you can stay in North Woodstock Ice Castles or even a rustic cabin where you can enjoy all of the most luxurious amenities while remaining close to all of the natural beauty the area has to offer.
Also Read: The Best Places to Visit on the West Coast
If you want to stand atop the world and view the rippling skin of the earth, bathed in slanting rays of light and covered in green velvet, Shenandoah National Park is the place to be.
The park encompasses the Shenandoah Valley, where General Stonewall Jackson evaded and engaged union troops for days in what became one of the most legendary combat withdrawals ever initiated.
Shenandoah National Park is the first park dedicated in Virginia, and it's a monument to the foundational power and beauty of the natural environment.
There are more hiking trails and camping areas than we can put on paper, including Falls Loop and Big Devils Stairs Vista.
Stowe is nestled comfortably against Vermont's highest peak and is known as a world-class mountain resort town.
For obvious reasons, it's the place to go when you're looking for things to do on the east coast in the winter.
However, you don't have to be bored in Stowe if you're not a skier.
The Valley Dream Farm, Percy Farm Corn Maze, and Farm Tours by Vermont Canoe and Kayak are all wonderful and entertaining destinations.
The Stow Recreation Path and Stowe Trails have plenty to offer if you enjoy hiking. For bikers, there are 4-Points, and Smuggler's Notch Cycling is outstanding.
Vermont Canoe and Kayak opportunities are endless, especially in Stowe.
If you enjoy fishing, it's hard to find a more pristine and peaceful place, especially if you like ice fishing.
Boston is a European-style city full of impressive history that dates back centuries and played a significant role in many pivotal moments throughout American history.
The city is best known for its strong connection to the revolutionary era, with numerous landmarks that remind visitors of this period, such as Faneuil Hall and The Paul Revere House.
The historic harbor is an incredible view, especially on a clear, sunny day when the water reflects the city's towering skyscrapers, and you feel like you could dive right in and fall through the gaps between the buildings.
Visit the Adams National Historical Park and take one of the Boston Duck Tours to really take the city in.
Boston is one of the best places for east coast sightseeing in the winter months, as everything is covered in a blanket of ice, including the bay. And there are multiple places to ice skate.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Boston
Helen, Georgia, is often termed the "outdoor destination in Georgia." It's hard to argue with that, especially after you include the fun of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the zip line events, dining, shopping, and places to spend your evenings.
Helen is an “alpine” town and a blast when it comes to canoeing, kayaking, and inner tubing.
It's definitely a summer destination more than any other.
The Helen Tubing and Waterpark destination is probably one of the most popular areas to visit in town.
Helen also has an escape room in case you want to exercise your mind a little while you're drying off.
Zip lining at Unicoi State Park is a fun, and harrowing experience as you soar ever downward over the tree crowns hundreds of feet from the ground.
Home of the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, is a focal point of United States Naval History and world power.
Speaking of the US Naval Academy, you are welcome to visit it while you are there to get a bird's eye view of where the Navy trains its officers.
The Annapolis City dock is another premier destination, and it also contains a bronze sculpture of Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley reading a book to children.
The Maryland State House is a 1779 historical relic still open for visitors today.
And, if you still haven’t had your fill of history, visit the William Paca House, which was the home of the Declaration of Independence signer and Maryland Governor William Paca.
Being near the water, Annapolis is also an excellent fine-dining town, especially when it comes to seafood.
We return to Pennsylvania for yet another of the best east coast cities to visit.
Philadelphia, much like Annapolis, Maryland, is an incredible city when it comes to the richness of history, both pre and post-Revolutionary War.
There are several magnificent museums to visit along the stretch of road known as Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and you will find excellent deli food in the Reading Terminal Market.
The Liberty Bell is one of the more popular destinations in Philadelphia, and you can get close enough to snap a pic or two.
You can pose with the Rocky Statue, stroll through Independence Hall, visit the awe-inspiring beauty of the Longwood Gardens, and, most importantly, enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak in its own hometown.
There's really no better place to experience a Philly cheesesteak.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Philadelphia
If you’re looking for another party beach, Virginia Beach is right up there with Myrtle Beach, North Carolina.
Where the Chesapeake Bay meanders into the Atlantic Ocean sits, one of the best spots along the shoreline to enjoy the sea breeze, see the agitated seagulls, and watch the sunset.
Of course, there’s a lot more to do than watch sunsets.
In the winter months, you can go horseback riding along the shoreline, something you don’t find at most other beaches in the US.
The spring is when Virginia Beach truly blooms, especially in the surrounding parks, gardens, and farms.
In the summer, renting a kayak is a must since the odds are good; you'll get up close and personal with dolphins along the shoreline.
Parasailing, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, jet skiing, and boating, in general, are all wide-open activities in the summer.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Virginia Beach
Atlantic City is the east coast’s version of Las Vegas.
While it doesn’t quite have the glitz and glam or the huge and raucous casinos of the former, Atlantic City has plenty to offer on its own.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a famous destination for tourists, as well as the Steel Pier Amusement Park.
Of course, the most popular east coast tourist attractions are the casinos, especially for those who are visiting from non-gambling states.
Borgata Casino is one of the biggest attractions, but if all you want to do is get something to eat, you should head over to Chef Vola’s.
Chef Vola's doesn't just have delicious food but also the most incredibly indoor aesthetic experience in the country.
It's truly a marvel! Even if ballet isn't your thing, the Atlantic City Ballet puts on a stunning show, and you can follow that up with The Sugar Factory to refuel for even more.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Atlantic City
New York City, aka Big Apple, is a top destination for East Coast tourists looking for fun, excitement and adventure.
From world-class shopping and dining to must-see attractions like Central Park and Broadway shows, New York City is an exciting playground for all ages.
There's simply no way to list everything this city has to offer in a few paragraphs, but there are a few musts.
Circle Line’s Complete Manhattan Island Cruise is one of them.
Nothing beats the skyline view of the city more than one from the water.
The Statue of Liberty is another, and it's not enough to stand beneath the feat of one of the more hallowed grounds in American history.
You have to travel to the top and take in the stunning imagery—imagery that will never leave you for the rest of your days.
From the food to the atmosphere, New York City is easily one of the best east coast cities to visit, and you'll make enough memories for a lifetime.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New York City
The Berkshires is seemingly made for the winter.
Sweeping, white-capped vistas transposed against a backdrop of rolling, smoky hills and evergreen trees are something to behold.
And you can enjoy this incredible imagery while having the time of your life.
Whitewater rafting is a huge draw to visitors from the outside, as well as the zip lines, fishing, and kayaking near Stockbridge.
In-town exploration is just as fun.
You’ll find the Mac-Hayden Live Theater, the Chesterwood manse, the Bidwell House Museum, and the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
It will be a tragedy if you aren't determined to plant and grow your garden after visiting the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
All the outdoor events and opportunities are accommodated by a wide range of camping and lodging opportunities, whether you prefer the luxury of a hotel room or primitive camping.
While you're in Massachusetts, it only makes sense to stop in Cape Cod. You certainly won’t regret it.
One of the best east coast attractions, Cape Cod is home to beautiful beaches, the Cape Cod National Seashore, and Martha’s Vineyard.
Nothing beats a lighthouse, and Chatham Lighthouse Beach has a unique lighthouse and ranch-type home that's open for visitors.
There is Sea Street Beach, Nickerson State Park, and the Heritage Museums and Gardens for outdoor enthusiasts.
For a little more wild and vivacious history, check out the Whydah Pirate Museum and spend the night at the Anchor Inn.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Cape Cod
Last but not least, on our east coast attractions tour, Rehoboth Beach of Delaware fame squeaks in at number 27.
Rehoboth Beach contains one of the most iconic boardwalks in the world, including an authentic carousel.
The waterfront dining is impeccable, especially for lovers of seafood.
Tiny businesses dot the shoreline and offer all sorts of beachfront shopping opportunities, whether you're a tourist or a local.
As far as the water, it's a blast in the summer, with options to parasail, kayak, jet ski, stand-up paddle board, and more.
Trap Pond State Park is a kayaking favorite, and if you bring the kids along, the beachfront contains several waterpark tube slide opportunities.
Rehoboth Beach also has a ton of locally crafted beers if that's your thing and the local shopping is tax-free.
Also Read: The Best Beaches in Delaware
Any one of the summer months is the best time to visit the east coast, but you will have to compete with the other tourists flooding some of the biggest summer attractions.
That all depends on you and what your tastes are. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, Asheville, North Carolina. If you’re more of a city person, New York City or Boston.
Brattleboro, Vermont, is a fantastic little town if you're interested in some out-of-the-way areas that aren't inundated with tourists each year. Sag Harbor, New York, is another.
Just about anywhere along the Smoky Mountains, the beaches along the Northern part of the Gulf of Mexico, Savannah, Georgia, and Cloudland Canyon in the same state.
There you have it, twenty-seven of the best places to visit on the east coast (or at least close enough to the east coast that it makes no difference). No matter where you choose to go on this list, you’ll find beauty, fun, and more activities than you can contemplate in a single sitting.
More importantly, wherever you choose as your vacation hotspot this year, have fun and stay safe!