Spanning over 2,000 miles across 14 states, the East Coast contains tons of history, outdoor adventures, and incredible food and entertainment scenes that are ideal for traveling with kids.
From bustling cities for getting up and going to quaint coastal towns for slowing down and relaxing, here are 20 of the best East Coast family vacations to take in 2021.
20 of the Best East Coast Family Vacations
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is a picturesque New England city full of museums, markets, and parks. Take tours of Revolutionary War-era historical sites or a sightseeing cruise through the iconic Boston Harbor. Boston is also home to the Red Sox, so catch a game at Fenway Park. Visit during the fall for some piping hot clam chowder and stunning fall foliage.
Only an hour outside of Boston is Great Wolf Lodge, a massive indoor water park with endless shopping, dining, and playing. Aside from water slides, tube rides, and a water playground, you can find a ropes course, rock climbing wall, bowling alley, arcade, laser tag, mini-golf, 3-D movie theater, and more.
Standard, themed, or premium suites give you all the comfort, space, and amenities your family needs to stay overnight.
2. New York City, New York
New York City is a must-see East Coast spot and completely doable kids. Aside from iconic and family-friendly sites like Central Park and Ellis Island, this buzzing city has tons of museums, fun Broadway shows, shopping, and an incredible food scene.
Coney Island is one of the most popular and eccentric New York City neighborhoods, located on the south end of Brooklyn. Enjoy picnics on the beach, street performers, an aquarium, ice cream parlors, and the pier’s retro fair rides.
3. Hilton Head, South Carolina
While Hilton Head is known for its golf courses and beautiful Atlantic beaches, there are also tons of parks, adventure courses, and other outdoor activities like horseback riding, ziplining, kayaking, and boat tours to see some bottlenose dolphins. Explore 68 acres of wildlife and historical buildings at the Coastal Discovery Museum for an educational but fun experience for everyone.
Dive into some of Hilton Head’s best-loved seafood like oysters and Atlantic blue crab. When you’re done, enjoy peaches (the state fruit of South Carolina) for dessert.
4. Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg is another iconic East Coast city full of pre-Revolutionary War history. No trip here is complete without seeing the heart of the city, Colonial Williamsburg. This historic district and the living-history museum create an immersive experience for guests as actors in period costumes depict daily Colonial life in the streets and shops.
Thrill-seekers will enjoy Williamsburg’s Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, and parents can kick back at one of the many breweries, distilleries, and wineries in the area. There are plenty of other historical sites and museums to check out, and Jamestown and Yorktown are only a short drive away.
5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Only an hour and a half south of Boston are Cape Cod, a relaxing seaside gem with villages, lighthouses, beaches, and seafood galore. Local pastimes include hiking, mini-golfing, whale watching, and swimming along the Cape Cod National Seashore. Be sure to stop by the Wellfleet Drive-In retro movie theater experience or find ice cream parlors dotted all across the island.
6. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is full of fantastic museums, festivals, and outdoor adventures. It’s also home to one of the world’s oldest amusement parks and has plenty of scenic hiking and biking trails. Stop by Raleigh Market for flea market vendors and State Farmer’s Market for fresh local produce. Tons of pubs, breweries, and an incredible food scene make Raleigh a trendy East Coast vacation for the whole family.
7. Amelia Island, Florida
On the south end of Florida is Amelia Island, with 13 miles of pristine beaches, relaxing spas, and outdoor activities. From water sports and adventure courses to relaxing on the beach and catching fish for dinner, kids and parents will stay entertained on Amelia Island.
Their downtown district has a “scenic marina meets southern charm” vibe with plenty of eateries, breweries, distilleries, and boutiques to visit. Camp at Fort Clinch State Park or find boutique hotels, beds, and breakfasts or a resort where you can stay.
8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is the hub of the Grand Strand, a 60-mile string of beaches along the East Coast. This seaside destination makes an incredible family-friendly vacation spot, with golf courses, arcades, amusement parks, and one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels.
Activities on the water- from swimming to paddleboarding to boating- are also popular pastimes. Enjoy classic and delicious East Cast fare, from crab cakes to cheesesteaks.
9. Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is considered the Sailing Capital of the U.S., so be sure to bring the whole family for a trip out on the water. Swimming, boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking across 533 miles of shoreline are well-loved water activities in Annapolis.
Also to be found in the city is a vibrant arts and culture scene, plenty of parks, and tons of historical sites and museums.
10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, the “birthplace of America,” is only an hour and a half outside of New York City and has consistently been ranked one of the top walkable cities in the United States. You can find colonial historic sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, plus tons of museums, trails, gardens, and markets.
Of course, you can’t leave the city without eating a Philly Cheesesteak or other famous Philly food staples like hoagies and roasted pork sandwiches.
11. Asheville, North Carolina
With things to do inside and outside the city, families will enjoy getting a mix of bustling city life and serene outdoors in Asheville. The city has a vibrant arts scene with lots of galleries and museums and stunning historic architecture, and beautiful trails and gardens to explore.
Asheville also has more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Find outdoor adventure courses, food tours, or a therapeutic spa retreat.
12. Ocean City, Maryland
The resort town of Ocean City has an incredible beach scene, and its crown jewel is the three-mile-long wooden boardwalk lined with eateries, shops, and fair rides.
Get out on the water with kayaks, jet skis, and sightseeing boat tours. Bette yet, get in the water – Ocean City offers some of the best surfing in the mid-Atlantic.
There are also 200+ restaurants to choose from, serving up classics like boardwalk fries, crab cakes, pizza, and sweet saltwater taffy.
Don’t forget; Ocean City hosts free family events almost every night of summer. Enjoy movies on the beach, sundaes in the park, and much more!
13. Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor offers incredible outdoor adventures and views of both the mountain and the sea, serving as a resort town for the nearby Acadia National Park. Take kayak or canoe tours along the shoreline, a puffin, seal, and whale watching tour, or a boat excursion out on Frenchman Bay.
After a long day of exploring the area’s stunning outdoor scene, indulge in fresh Maine lobster or ice cream at one of Bar Harbor’s many ice cream shops.
14. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Martha’s Vineyard is the ultimate relaxation destination for families, from incredible beaches, farmer’s markets, lighthouses, and more. The island is about 50 miles south of Cape Cod via ferry and offers outdoor adventures like horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, sail boating, and windsurfing.
Be sure to check out Aquinnah Cliffs for sweeping views of the Atlantic. Other well-loved activities include yoga, culinary classes, pottery-making, woodcarving, and art glass creations. Find art galleries, gardens, and colorful gingerbread cottages across the island.
15. Jersey Shore, New Jersey
Stretching across 130 miles of shoreline, Jersey Shore makes the ideal family vacation with seaside towns, lighthouses, and boardwalks with rides, games, and fair food.
16. Washington D.C
Washington D.C. is a great place to mix history and fun during a family vacation. Aside from hitting iconic sites like the White House, Capitol, and presidential memorials, there are tons of art galleries and museums, like the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (free admission!).
There’s also the International Spy Museum, which offers an informative and interactive espionage experience that is fun for the whole family.
D.C. also has a creative culinary scene, so come ready to enjoy half-smokes, craft beer, and cuisine from around the world. Explore more of the city at one of its many bike trails, gardens, or parks.
17. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport’s yacht-filled harbor offers boating and sailing adventures along the coast. Vineyards, museums, sightseeing cruises, and dozens of Gilded Age mansion tours make Newport a unique and exciting East Coast family destination. Enjoy more of the great outdoors here with hiking, biking, and surfing.
18. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Kiawah Island is a barrier island only 25 miles southwest of Charleston and is perfect for families wanting a more quiet and secluded vacation.
Kiawah Island is primarily a private beach and golf resort with miles of stunning maritime forests, dunes, and wildlife. It’s a fantastic place for golfing and swimming, but other outdoor adventures include biking, dolphin watching, and adventure courses.
19. Delaware, Maryland
Delaware is home to six quaint beach towns along the coast, known for their sandy shores and stunning Atlantic views.
This tiny state offers big fun with boutiques, local seafood flavor, museums, and art galleries. Delaware is also home to three state forests, 17 state parks, and many colonial landmarks, so get ready for adventures on both land and water.
20. St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine considers itself the oldest city in the United States, clocking in at about 455 years old. There are tons of historical sites like military forts, castles, and a haunted lighthouse.
Among the white sandy beaches of St. Augustine are adventures like mini-golf courses, helicopter rides, and escape rooms, plus museums and attractions ranging from ghost tours and tarot card readings to scenic boat cruises and nature trails.
The East Coast offers endless family vacation spots with history, indoor and outdoor entertainment, local flavor, and stunning Atlantic Ocean beaches. Go out and discover the East Coast destination that will have your family coming back for years to come!
If you don’t have plans to travel this year, you can always enjoy some quality family time at home. Check out our blog for crafts, recipes, science experiments, and more!