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Best East Coast Family Vacations: 15 Must-See Destinations!

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January 28, 2023

Find your next adventure with the best east coast family vacations in the United States! 

The American east coast combines stunning coastal cities with rich historical landmarks – this results in some fascinating vacation spots with lots to see and do!

If you’re set on the east coast but not sure where to wander next, I have all you need to know to help make your decision. 

In this post, I’m covering the 15 best east coast family vacations with amazing entertainment options, outdoor activities, and must-see sites. 

Whether you’re looking for beachy small towns or bustling cities, there’s a spot on the east coast for your needs. 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. 

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Manhatten Bridge

15 Best East Coast Family Vacations

As you’re looking to plan your next family getaway, here are 15 amazing east coast destinations to add to your U.S. bucket list!

From extremely-popular stops to underrated gems, there are endless opportunities for you and your family to explore!

1. New York City, New York

For the family on the go, New York City is the spot for you.

Get in thousands of steps by walking, sightseeing, and exploring the boroughs. 

With so much to do, you’ll have very little downtime on your trip. 

Whether you’re visiting the M&M store in Times Square to build the candy bag of your dreams or taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park, New York is sure to offer unique experiences every step of the way!

Family-friendly activities in New York City:

Additional planning tip: Want to see a live taping of Jimmy Fallon?

Ask your tour guides if they have tickets to give away on your tour of NBC studios. 

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Nags Head in the Outer Banks

2. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Located on one of the barrier islands in North Carolina, the Outer Banks is a great place for fun on the beach, with an abundance of watersports like kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding. 

You can also enjoy several water tours, swimming in the ocean, sand castle building, and more on one of their many stunning beaches. 

Family-friendly activities in Outer Banks:

This is a nostalgic East Coast family vacation like no other!

Additional planning tip: The Bodie Island Lighthouse is available to climb from mid-April to early October. 

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
The boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland

3. Ocean City, Maryland 

Affordable and kid-friendly, Ocean City is another classic American beach vacation spot. 

It has an extremely stimulating, exciting atmosphere with lots of amusement parks, busy beaches, and bright lights. 

Stroll down Ocean City Boardwalk (snow cone in hand), peek in the shops, and enjoy the free activities and spectacles. 

Family-friendly activities in Ocean City:

Virginia Beach is an amazing East Coast family vacation spot!
Virginia Beach

4. Virginia Beach, Virginia 

There is so much natural beauty to see in Virginia Beach!

Located along the Chesapeake Bay, you can hit the boardwalk, try a hiking trail, or lose track of time on the beach. 

Family-friendly activities in Virginia Beach:

Highland Lighthouse at Cape Cod
Highland Lighthouse at Cape Cod

5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

One of New England’s most popular destinations, Cape Cod is the perfect place for some sunny fun with beautiful white sand beaches. 

Relax on Race Point Beach, explore shops and attractions down Commercial Street, or visit one of Massachusetts’ most fantastic state parks. 

Family-friendly activities in Cape Cod:

Myrtle Beach skyline at dusk
Myrtle Beach skyline at dusk

6. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach Has great entertainment and beautiful beaches for an affordable trip. 

Barefoot Landing is perfect for shopping, dining, entertainment, free shows, and seasonal fireworks. 

And for some natural beauty, visit Huntington Beach State Park or Myrtle Beach State Park for a break from the busy!

Family-friendly activities in Myrtle Beach:

  • Watch a baseball game. 
  • Try go-karting at Broadway Grand Prix.
  • Go shelling on the shoreline.
  • Grab an ice cream cone from Peaches Corner.
  • Bounce the day away at Sky Zone
  • Hunt for shark teeth on the beach.

7. Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island is a part of the Sea Islands chain that stretches along the East Coast of the United States from South Carolina to Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

I love Amelia Island for its uncrowded beaches, scenic views, and incredible wildlife. 

Visit the Amelia Island Nature Center or take a river cruise to get your fill of natural beauty.

Family-friendly activities on Amelia Island:

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Acadia National Park

8. Bar Harbor, Maine

For outdoorsy families, I highly recommend Bar Harbor for its beautiful nature and outdoor activities. 

You’ll also have easy access to Acadia National Park, one of the nation’s most spectacular of all of Maine’s national parks.

Family-friendly activities in Bar Harbor:

  • Visit Schoodic Peninsula.
  • Hike the Ocean Trail.
  • Wander down Shore Path.
  • Kayak around Mount Desert Island.
  • Go sailing.
  • Hike the Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail.

9. Williamsburg, Virginia

Calling all history buffs – Williamsburg is the east coast family vacation for you!

You can visit Colonial Williamsburg for your dose of historic living with incredibly immersive experiences. 

And for a bit of excitement, visit the Great Wolf Lodge for water slides, wave pools, and more.

Family-friendly activities in Williamsburg:

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
The U.S. Capitol Building

10. Washington, D.C.

For more history, as well as some of the most important U.S. landmarks, and museums galore, visit the nation’s capital in Washington D.C.

As one of our absolute favorite east coast family vacations (as well as one of our favorite vacations in general!), we’ve written several guides to help you plan a trip there!

Be sure to check out our first-hand guides and planning tips here:

Family-friendly activities in Washington, D.C.:

11. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

One of the best places to visit on the east coast is Hilton Head Island – a resort city along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.

Beyond the beautiful water views, young children will love experiences like the Sandbox Children’s Museum; it’s filled with kid-centered exhibits and opportunities for interactive play. 

Family-friendly activities on Hilton Head Island:

Best east coast family vacations:  Niagara Falls!
Niagara Falls

12. Niagara Falls, New York 

For a great weekend trip and one of the best East Coast family vacations, visit Niagara Falls!

Get the best views of this natural wonder when you sightsee from the observation deck.

Then, take a Maid of the Mist boat ride for an up-close view!

Family-friendly activities in Niagara Falls:

  • Explore Niagara Falls State Park.
  • Visit the Aquarium of Niagara
  • View the lights at Niagara Falls Illumination.
  • Walk through the splash zone at the Cave of the Winds.
  • Take a Whirlpool Jet boat ride down Niagara River.
  • Bike a Niagara Gorge trail.

13. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

For sandy beaches and exciting boat rides, plan a trip to Rehoboth Beach. 

This beach town is nothing short of wonderful to visit in the summer months for water sports, sunny weather, and family fun. 

Family-friendly activities in Rehoboth Beach:

15. Newport, Rhode Island

If you’re interested in spectacular sea views, authentic colonial buildings, and community-focused jazz and folk music festivals, add Newport to your travel list!

Family-friendly activities in Newport:

  • See stunning views from the Cliff Walk.
  • Learn a bit of American history at Fort Adams State Park.
  • Have a picnic along Ocean Drive.
  • Go shopping on Thames Street.
  • Grab lunch at Bowen’s Wharf.
  • Watch the sunset from Castle Hill Lighthouse.

11. Orlando, Florida

Though not located directly on the east coast, Orlando, Florida is located less than an hour from Atlantic Coast (so I just had to include it in the list!).

A mecca for family fun, Orlando, Florida is one of the absolute best family vacation spots! 

With great options for theme parks and tons of Disney adventures to be had, there is a lot to fit into your trip!

Family-friendly activities in Orlando:

We love Orlando so much that we’ve written several other guides to help you plan your trip!

Conclusion: Best East Coast Family Vacations

That wraps up the best vacation spots along the east coast!

I hope this post has helped guide your decision on your next family trip – or, at the very least, gave you new cities to add to the bucket list!

What is your favorite East Coast family vacation spot? I’d love to hear from you!

-Jen

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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