Family Road Trip - Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast

12 Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast USA

The East Coast in the United States spans over 2,000 miles traveling from Maine to Florida, and has so much to offer as a family vacation spot. From world-class museums, some of the most historical sites in the country, and breathtaking views, the East Coast is the place to be when planning a family vacation.

Because there is so much to see, there are hundreds of the greatest east coast family vacation spots, and it can be a bit of a challenge to narrow it down and make the best choice for your family. Have no fear! That’s what we are here for. Through an abundance of travel, research, and experience, we have compiled the perfect list of the best east coast vacations for families.

Whether you are just looking for some vacation inspo or perhaps you have already narrowed down an area or city and are looking for more information, by the end of this guide, you will be on your way to planning for the perfect east coast family vacation.

We have narrowed down our selections to the top 12 best family vacations on the east coast. Click straight to your favorite here or read on to see what we love about each of these towns and cities.

1. Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is known as America’s first colony and offers a rich history to its visitors, including being the site for the Wright Brothers’ first flight and the nation’s first seashore.

Today the city offers over 100 miles of beaches to enjoy and explore, a variety of water sports, and an abundance of attractions and things to keep you busy.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast - Outer Banks, North Carolina

With the introduction of the Netflix hit series Outer Banks, the area has become an even more popular destination for families with teens/young adults.

Some of the most popular sites and attractions in the area include the H20BX Waterpark, First Flight Adventure Park, Back Country Safari Tours, and the Dare County Regional Airport Museum.

Where to Stay:

  • Sea Scape Properties at Wrightsville Beach (232 Causeway Dr #2A,
  • Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480) Glenwood Acres RV Park (4632 Delrae Circle, Concord, NC 28027)
  • Campfire Lodgings RV & Campground (116 Appalachian Village Rd, Asheville, NC 28804)
  • White Lake Holiday Resort (98 Wilson St, White Lake, NC 28337) 
  • Lucky Bar Farm (291 Meadow View Dr, Moncure, NC 27559)

2. Acadia National Park, Maine

Known as the crown jewel of the North Atlantic Coast, Acadia National Park is in the top 10 most-visited National Parks in the United States. The park offers 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails with beautiful views of the scenery around you, and 45 miles of carriage roads.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast - Acadia National Park, Maine

Highlights of this popular east coast national park include Mount Desert Island, Isle au Haut, and the Outer Islands, including the Cranberry Isles and Baker Island. Popular activities within the park include hiking trails, biking, birdwatching, swimming, and boating.

Entrance Fee: $35.00 for private vehicles

Pro Tip: The most popular parts of the national park are subject to timed entry permits in the summer – make sure you record the dates you can apply for the best possible Maine road trip experience!

Where to Stay:

  • Blackwoods Campground (155 Blackwoods Dr, Otter Creek, ME 04660)
  • Duck Harbor Campground (Isle Au Haut, ME 04645)
  • Wildwood Stables Campground (Mount Desert Island, ME 04660)
  • Alternatively, there are several hotel and Airbnb/VRBO lodgings that can be found in Bar Harbor

3. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod is a hook-shaped peninsula located in the state of Massachusetts and is a popular vacation spot for families, particularly during the Summer months due to the beautiful views, relaxing beaches, and fun family activities. With scenic views, music, and art galleries and over 83 museums to explore, your family will love a vacation to Cape Cod.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - Cape Cod, Massachusetts

During the Summer months, Cape Cod has a number of beautiful beaches to enjoy the sun and splash and play in the water all day, including Covell Beach, Monument Beach, Breakwater Beach, Cockle Cove Beach, and Chapin Memorial Beach.

In addition to the beautiful beaches, there are a number of notable attractions nearby, including the Cape Cod Children’s Museum, the Salem Witch Museum, breweries and wineries, and the Cape Cod Inflatable Park.

Where to Stay:

  • Riviera Beach Resort (327 South Shore Drive, South Yarmouth, MA 02664)
  • Cape Codder Resort & Spa (1225 Iyannough Rd., Hyannis, MA 02601)
  • Holiday Inn Hyannis Cape Cod (1127 Iyannough Rd., Hyannis, MA 02601)
  • Cape Cod RV Resort (176 Thomas B Landers Rd, East Falmouth, MA 02536)

4. Ocean City, Maryland

The slogan for Ocean City, Maryland is “somewhere to smile about” (rightfully earned) because when you are visiting there, you are sure to have a great time and will find yourself smiling a lot. There is so much fun to be had in Ocean City. From beaches, arcade games, boardwalk fun, and more, there is something for everyone to have a great time during your stay.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast - Ocean City, Maryland

The beach at Ocean City is the biggest draw for visitors, and it is completely understandable as to why. The sand is white and beautiful, and the ocean views are breathtaking. Whether you spend the day swimming in the water, building sandcastles on the beach, or simply soaking up the sun, your family will love spending your vacation on the beach.

In addition to the beach, there are plenty of other fun activities and attractions nearby, including the Boardwalk, where you will find games, rides, shopping, and delicious eats, Jolly Roger Amusement Park, and the NASA Wallops Flight Center.

Where to Stay:

  • Beach Bum West-O (12308 Old Bridge Rd, Ocean City, MD 21842)
  • Best Western Plus Ocean City (6007 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, MD 21842)
  • Fish Tales Boardwalk Inn (2304 N. Baltimore Ave, Ocean City, MD 21842)
  • Sun Outdoors Gateway RV Park and Campground (11224 Dale Road, Whaleyville MD, 21872)

5. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach is located in the Coastal Virginia region and is an excellent choice for a family-friendly vacation spot. When visiting Virginia Beach, you will find everything from oceanfront beaches to local farmland at Pungo, where you can pick fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Town Center district offers shopping, dining, and entertainment to enjoy and experience beautiful artwork and creative spirits in the Vibe District.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - Virginia Beach, Virginia

Can’t-miss attractions that your family will love include, of course, a visit to the beach with a stroll down the famous boardwalk, the Military Aviation Museum, the Virginia Aquarium, Grommet Island Beach Park & Playground, and the Ocean Breeze Waterpark.

Pro Tip: For a calmer environment and gentler waves, make a visit to Chesapeake Bay compared to the main beach.

Where to Stay:

  • Landing Beach RV Resort (161 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457)
  • Holiday Trav-L-Park (1075 General Booth Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451)
  • 19 Atlantic Hotel (203 19th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451)
  • Fairfield Inn & Suite by Marriott (1901 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451)
  • Angie’s Guest Cottage (302 24th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451)

6. New York City, New York

If you are a family that enjoys a lot of excitement, the hustle and bustle of city life, and a lot of choices for entertainment, attractions, and dining, a visit to New York City is the place for you.

I always say that everyone should visit New York City at some point in their lifetime because it is one of the most unique experiences you can have. There is something special about simply seeing New York City and being immersed in the madness around you.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - Times Square, New York

Because New York is such a large city and there is so much to do and see it is hard to narrow it down to just a few popular attractions but someone has to do it, right? Some of the can’t-miss things to do and attractions to see when visiting New York City include the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Bronx Zoo.

Where to Stay:

Because there is so much going on and hundreds of places to stay in New York City, it is hard to narrow it down to specific hotels and accommodations. Instead, we have included popular areas that make for good places to stay.

  • Midtown Manhattan
  • Chelsea
  • Williamsburg
  • Upper East Side

7. Amelia Island, Florida

When visiting Florida, some of the most popular destinations include Orlando, Clearwater Beach, Destin, and Key West, but many often overlook the true gem that is Amelia Island.

Located in northeastern Florida, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Island offers the perfect haven of relaxation and family fun that makes for an excellent vacation destination.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast - Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island is approximately 13 miles long, with stretches of quiet and relaxing beaches and beautiful views of nature. Aside from the beach alone, popular outdoor activities include biking tours, horseback riding, fishing, and more. Can’t-miss attractions include Fernandina Beach Pinball Museum, Pirate Playground, Gregor MacGregor’s Mini Golf, and a visit to the Villa Villekula Toy Store.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for the best time to visit to avoid heavy crowds, the month of July is typically when the tourist population is at its peak, and the temperatures can become unbearable. Alternatively, visiting between the months of March- Early June offers the opportunity for great weather and manageable crowds.

Where to Stay:

  • The Surf Beach Motel & Suites (3199 S. Fletcher Ave, Amelia Island, FL 32034)
  • Amelia Schoolhouse Inn (914 Atlantic Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034)
  • Home2Suites by Hilton (2246 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034)
  • Beachside Motel (3172 S. Fletcher Ave, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034)

8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

One of the most popular east coast beach vacation spots in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. With approximately 60 miles of beautiful sandy beaches and plenty of fun activities, delicious cuisine, and attractions in the area, Myrtle Beach makes for one of the best East Coast family vacation spots.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Aside from the beautiful beach, other popular family-friendly attractions in the area include Broadway Grand Prix, Ripley’s Aquarium, Family Kingdom Amusement Park, and Myrtle Waves Water Park. If you’re looking for fun to add to your agenda, consider seeing a dinner show, playing a round of mini golf, or getting up close and personal with the wildlife of South Carolina at one of the local state parks.

Where to Stay:

  • Pirateland Family Camping Resort (5401 South Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575)
  • Paradise Resort (2201 South Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577)
  • Polynesian Beach & Golf Resort (1001 South Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577)
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton (520 North Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC 29577)

9. White Mountains, New Hampshire

The White Mountains have much to offer families looking for a well-rounded vacation destination. Whether it is hiking and exploring through the White Mountain National Forest, outdoor activities such as zip lining and camping, or having a blast at an amusement park or water park, there is so much fun to be had in White Mountains, New Hampshire.

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - White Mountains, New Hampshire

We love the White Mountains because it does offer a balanced vacation. You are able to enjoy nature and outdoor activities while still enjoying tourist attractions and experiences in the area.

Can’t miss activities and attractions include taking a hike to one of the many beautiful waterfalls in the white mountains, taking in the beauty of the nature surrounding you on a scenic drive through the Kancamagus Highway, the Living Shores Aquarium, Whale’s Tale Water Park, a visit to Story Land amusement park, and taking a ride on the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.

Where to Stay:

  • Best Western Plymouth Inn (1513 US Route 3, Campton, NH 03223)
  • Fox Ridge Resort (1979 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, NH 03860)
  • Perry’s Motel & Cottages (199 NH-16A, Intervale, NH 03845)
  • Twin Mountain KOA (372 Route 115, Twin Mountain, NH 03595)

10. Washington D.C.

Being the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. has so much to offer as an excellent family vacation spot. With so much rich history of the United States and fun activities, your family will be sure to have a great time!

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - Washington D.C.

There are so many notable monuments, museums, and attractions to enjoy in the DC area. Some of the most popular include The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Popular museums in the area include the International Spy Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

If history isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other great attractions in the area, including the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, the Nationals Park Baseball Stadium, and the Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens.

Where to Stay:

  • The Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC (2201 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037)
  • Motto by Hilton (627 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001)
  • Courtyard by Marriott Arlington Crystal City (2899 Richmond Hwy, Arlington, VA 22202)
  • THE LINE DC (1770 Euclid St NW, Washington, DC 20009)

11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is known as the birthplace of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and is another great metropolitan-style city to visit for a family vacation. With a rich history, beautiful parks, delicious food, and fun attractions, your family will love a visit to Philly!

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast  - Liberty Bell, Pennsylvania

Some can’t-miss attractions and sites to see in Philadelphia include the Liberty Bell, a visit to the steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art made famous from the Rocky Films (Today, there is also a Rocky statue that makes for a great Instagram-worthy photo op), the Adventure Aquarium, and you can’t possibly visit Philly without trying a famous Philadelphia Cheesesteak.

Some of the most famous cheesesteak stops include Steve’s Prince of Steaks, Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies, and Chubby’s.

Where to Stay:

  • Hyatt Centric Center City (1620 Chancellor St, Center City, Philadelphia, PA 19107)
  • Apple Hostels of Philadelphia (32 South Bank Street, Center City, Philadelphia, PA 19106)
  • The Inn at Penn, A Hilton Hotel (3600 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104)
  • Courtyard by Marriott (1001 Intrepid Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19112)

12. Jersey Shore, New Jersey

The Jersey Shore is the coastal region of the state of New Jersey and has about 140 miles of land bordering the Atlantic Ocean. With the beach, boardwalk, and fun activities and attractions, the Jersey Shore is a great choice for a family vacation.

While it has always been a popular east coast destination, with the introduction of The Jersey Shore tv show and now, Jersey Shore Family Vacation, the shore has become increasingly popular (particularly for the younger adult crowd and families with teens).

USA Best Family Vacation Spots on the East Coast - Jersey Shore, New Jersey

While on these tv shows, the Jersey Shore may seem a bit crazy and wild. There are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy. Can’t miss sites and attractions in the area include the Ocean City Boardwalk (Visit the famous t-shirt shop and take a tour of the Jersey Shore house), Cape May County Park & Zoo, Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, and the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum.

If you are looking for a fun theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township is just about an hour and 20 min drive from the Jersey Shore area and makes for a great family day trip. 

Pro Tip: If you have childcare and are looking for a fun adults’ night out, Atlantic City is just about a 25-minute drive from the Jersey Shore and makes for a great night out, visiting great dining options and popular casinos in the area.

Where to Stay:

  • Sea Crest Inn (101 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204)
  • Aqua Beach Resort (5501 Ocean Ave, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260)
  • The Shore House (422 E 16th Ave, Wildwood, NJ 08260)
  • ICONA Cape May (1101 Beach Ave, Cape May, NJ 08204)
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