The east coast usually doesn't get as much love as other vacation destinations across the country, but it's about time that changes. Sure, the weather can be brutal during the winter months, but when it finally defrosts, the east coast has some world class beach towns.
The best places to vacation on the east coast offer family friendly destinations, natural beauty, and nightlife attractions for the younger crowds without kids. Many of these are popular spots and have been for decades, but many are great vacation towns on the rise. One thing is consistent about all of them: You're going to want to book a trip there.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is a classic place to take the family or a significant other, and the historic beach town is one of the best place to vacation on the east coast. In fact, Cape May, New Jersey is the oldest seaside resort in the entire country. It's just a few hours outside of New York City, located at the very bottom of New Jersey.
You can hang around the beach all day and drink cocktails in a lounge chair, or hit the trails in Cape May Point State Park if you're the more adventurous type. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, and Cape May even has their own winery open for tastings.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a beautiful town located in tiny Rhode Island, featuring some of the most stunning homes in the entire country. The mansions, as well as the rest of the coastal scenery, can be taken in on the three mile Cliff Walk. There is plenty to do around town, including dining at some of the finest seafood spots on the east coast.
Better yet, serious music fans should look into planning there stay around the Newport Folk Festival, which takes place in late July every year in Fort Adams State Park. It's one of the top music festivals in the country, helping make Newport one of the best places to vacation on the east coast.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a perfect place to bring the family, as it boasts over 60 miles of beaches, amusement and water parks, and live tons of live entertainment. Myrtle Beach has good weather all year round, so you won't have to concern yourself with those brutal east coast winters. The amount of great vacation homes, as well as its affordability, makes it one of the best places to vacation on the East Coast.
Maine isn't just the home to most spooky Stephen King novels, it's actually incredibly beautiful and contains some of the best places to vacation on the east coast. Maine rentals are becoming more popular because of the stunning scenery and the cozy, small town feel many of their spots bring.
Kennebunkport is one of the most popular destinations, as it's a picturesque coastal town with plenty of attractions and dining destinations to keep you occupied.
Duck, North Carolina
Located in the Outer Banks, one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, Duck, North Carolina is a picturesque seaside town with a lot going for it. What makes Duck so great, other than their spectacular ocean views, is their delicious donuts. Duck Donuts is a huge hit among tourists and locals, and their donuts are some of the most sought after anywhere, helping make Duck one of the best places to vacation on the East Coast.
There is plenty of activities to keep you busy in Duck as well, especially on the water, with crabbing, fishing, and surfing being the most popular.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Just a short 90 minute drive from historic Boston, Massachusetts, Cape Cod has been one of the best places to vacation on the east coast since the end of the 19th century. The beach community became a great escape for city folks and they began coming to the Cape in droves as the years went on, attracted to the miles of sandy beaches and moderate climate.
Cape Cod is also very popular among outdoor enthusiasts, with plenty of room for biking, boating, fishing, golfing, and kayaking.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Hilton Head, South Carolina is a resort town about 20 miles northeast of Savannah, Georgia, and it is world renowned for its golf courses; its Sea Pines resort hosts many annual PGA Tour events. Hilton Head is a historic town that was important in the Civil War, as the Confederates used the island to blockade Union supplies.
There is plenty of great food and beach access, and every summer they throw a Foodfest to highlight the best of their local cuisine. For fans of golf and history, it has become one of the best places to vacation on the east coast.
Martha's Vineyard is an island located south of Cape Cod, and if you can afford it, it's hands down one of the best places to vacation on the east coast. Many Presidents, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, spent time vacationing there during and after their presidencies. The island is only accessible by boat or air, and it has one of the best climates of any destination during the summer months—it rarely breaks 90 degrees.
It is primarily a place where vacationers go to relax, as most if the activities take place in peoples massive homes or out on the water, making Martha's Vineyard the perfect place for an escape. Luckily, vacation rentals have become somewhat more affordable in recent years.
Ocean City, Maryland
Drawing over 8 million vacationers annually, Ocean City, Maryland has become one of the best places to vacation on the east coast over the last several decades. It brings in so many people that during the summer only Baltimore has a larger population in the state of Maryland.
There are numerous activities in Ocean City, and the quality of its night life attracts in a younger crowd than many other sleepy beach towns. As a result, shopping centers and new restaurants have been springing up every year as more and more people begin putting it atop their lists of vacation destinations.
Boca Grande, Florida
Lastly, don't sleep on Boca Grande, Florida, a beautiful beach town located on Gasparilla Island. It is close to Fort Meyers and is home to many year-round residents, as well as a ballooned summer population as it is one of the best places to vacation on the East Coast. It has a tremendous reputation for world-class fishing, crystal clear water, and a historic downtown area.
Boca Grande has some of the best fresh seafood anywhere, and during they day their are plenty of art and museums to keep to curious crowds busy. Or, for the more outdoorsy types, take a hike and enjoy the breathtaking views in Cayo Costa State Park.