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From the tranquillity of Maine to wild Miami nights, a holiday on the East Coast of America appeals to travellers of every stripe. The diversity of the landscapes encountered is matched only by the kindness of the locals, and when it comes to accommodation, visitors are spoiled for choice.
Whether it’s more traditional hotels or cutting edge modernity, there truly is no limit. Discover our top 10 places to visit on an East Coast USA holiday.
For those keen to avoid the temptation to eat at American food chains and instead focus on the spectacular gastronomy of the East Coast, there are plenty of feasts to choose. From Maine lobster to Florida prawns, the freshness of seafood will make you forget the very existence of McDonald’s, and the global dishes of its iconic cities will inspire at every turn.
With a variety of landscape as well as bustling metropolises, this part of America has it all. Here are our 10 East Coast highlights; 4 cities and 6 coastal gems.
Boston is the largest city in New England, the capital of the state of Massachusetts. Most importantly though, it is one of the richest cities in culture and history within the United States.
Not only is Boston one of the oldest cities in the US, but it is also the cradle of its independence. While walking along its concentric streets, you will be astonished by the beauty of the monuments and the architectural richness of the state capital.
For sports fans, Boston is the city of the Red Sox, the Bruins, the Celtics and the Patriots – a host of massive names in the world of sport and certainly their events are a must-see for sports fans and the culture-curious alike.
While you’re here, head to Cambridge, the renowned university city where you can take in the gravitas of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.).
Atlantic City is famous for its casinos and is the dream destination for those who love to place a bet here and there.
However, the famous New Jersey hotspot should not be summarized by this one single activity. Visitors shouldn’t miss a walk on the pier, the famous “boardwalk” with its amusement park for all ages or other excellent family friendly activities like Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
This city does not need any introduction. If you’re on the East Coast of America, a visit to the Big Apple is essential. If you still haven’t made it there yet, you will have witnessed the skyscrapers and twinkling lights at the cinema, on TV, in music or in literature and it truly doesn’t disappoint in real life.
New York is a dream machine; diverse, frenetic, electric, magnetic, magical, vertiginous and inventive are just some of the adjectives used to describe it. It is the city of extremes and superlatives. The Big Apple is the most inhabited mega-city in the United States, and certainly, the most visited too.
There are many well-known members to this mythical skyline. The tallest of which is the bluish silhouette of One World Trade Center, sitting on the sombre site of the old Twin Towers.
Neighbourhoods like Williamsburg in Brooklyn or Nolita in Little Italy are interesting additions to the more typical Times Square and Soho and worth a view for a taste of real New York, away from the hustle and bustle, but brimming with charm and delights.
Washington D.C. is much more than just the White House and it is a city featuring some of the most famous monuments in the world. The structures, statues and temples that decorate the National Mall evoke fantastic anecdotes about their history and design.
From the Washington Monument, to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, to the World War II memorial, Washington DC traces the history of the United States.
Don’t forget to take the time to venture beyond the Mall, though. A multitude of museums, sophisticated restaurants and varied shopping venues are just around the corner and the chic Georgetown neighbourhood brings the charm of small town America to a vibrant metropolis.
In South Carolina, Myrtle Beach is the perfect destination for those who want to enjoy wide sandy beaches for relaxation yet retain the ability to get active by participating in every water activity imaginable.
Brookgreen Gardens, equipped with its very own zoo and botanical gardens, allows visitors to wander through and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna of the region.
Enjoy the serene beauty of mountains and lakes, or the countless sandy beaches, rocky bays and picturesque harbours of Maine, each more beautiful than the next.
Travellers head to Maine in search of small vibrant and authentic communities which allow an escape from the fast pace of the cosmopolitan cities. The beautiful and impressive seaside, the unspoiled lakes and mountains, the exceptionally serene havens of peace, and the people of Maine all contribute to making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States.
Do not miss Portland, a small town overlooking Casco Bay and nicknamed “The Eastern San Francisco”. Its narrow streets seem to plunge into the sea and the abundance of Victorian homes is surprising for a city of it size.
Portland is the perfect place for a long weekend’s stay while you continue on your travels to more storied and well-known destinations.
Generations of travellers have been captivated by Florida and the magical charm of its landscapes. Its heavenly beaches and amazing wildlife continue to make the heartbeat and ignite the imagination. Away from the retirees and golf courses, you will quickly discover another Florida which is at once wild, multicultural and suitable for all budgets.
Virtually the entire southern part of the Florida Peninsula, from Lake Okeechobee in the north to the much feted swampland of the Everglades in the south exude a sense of adventure.
There are few roads in the heart of the Everglades giving travellers a true wilderness experience. The “Everglades Alligator Farm” is close to Everglades City itself and offers several exhibitions and boat trips which come highly recommended. There is also a Shark Valley Visitors Centre about 30 miles west of Miami for those who want to make the most of the adventures the sea around them offers.
There’s plenty to do here ranging from beach relaxation and theme parks to encounters with fascinating animals and flat-bottom boat rides in the swamps. We highly recommend spending a few nights in Miami.
Virginia Beach is one of the most beautiful seaside resorts on the East Coast. Its three separate beaches stretch across 56 km of coastline and allow everyone to find their perfect setting.
There is a relaxed atmosphere in Chesapeake Bay Beach, an atmosphere of fun at Resort Area Beach and a simple tranquillity on the Sandbridge Beach side. Outdoor enthusiasts will find something for them with water sports such as sea kayaking or surfing, as well as whale and dolphin watching.
The First Landing State Park is a must-see and has 2 km of seaside and no less than 30 km of walking trails.
The tagline of Ogunquit, one of Maine’s peaceful destinations, is ‘a very beautiful place near the sea’. And this is not wrong.
The best way to appreciate the beauty of the landscapes and beaches of this area is by going for a walk here and taking it all in. Among the most popular activities for holidaymakers are cruises that allow you to admire the wind-blown coast, the promenade on the Marginal Way and a pleasant trail connecting Ogunquit to the charming fishing village of Perkins Cove.
You can breathe the sea air here, but you can also enjoy the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. It’s a charming spot for a few days away from the bustle of the bigger cities.
This cape is found on the island it shares its name with just off North Carolina.
It is a destination which will delight those who want to get away from the city and breathe the sea air for a while. Horseback riding on the beach, kitesurfing, paddle boarding and visiting the highest lighthouse in the United States are just some of the activities on offer here.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is also a fantastic place for bird lovers with over 400 species of bird spotted here.
In summary, an adventure along this vast coastline is the perfect opportunity to create your very own American East Coast holiday. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, the most beautiful places are often the best hidden!
If you’re keen to visit this part of America, why not check out or 2 week America’s East Coast self drive?