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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.
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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:
- Visit the Metropolitan Museum.
- See a show on Broadway.
- Take a cruise around the Statue of Liberty.
- Tour a historic theater (Radio City Music Hall, Apollo Theater, The Palace Theater).
- Eat Cheesecake at Junior’s.
- Tour the NBC studio & see the set of Saturday Night Live.
- Look at dinosaur bones at the American Museum of Natural History.
- Get crepes at Chelsea Market.
- Eat dollar pizza in Greenwich Village.
- Sit in the splash zone at Blue Man Group.
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.
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:
- Ride go-carts and play arcade games at the Paradise Fun Park.
- See amazing wildlife at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
- Climb to the top of the Bodie Island Lighthouse.
- Go fishing at Avalon Fishing Pier.
- Visit the Roanoke Island Maritime Museum.
- Fly kites at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
- Earn your Junior Ranger badge at the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
- Travel back in time to the 1800s at Island Farm.
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.
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:
- Ride the coasters at Jolly Roger Amusement Park.
- Take a train ride at Frontier Town Western Theme Park.
- Beat an escape room at Escapomania.
- Play classic arcade games at Marty’s Playland.
- Explore wacky facts at Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
- Boat to dinner in an OC Bay Hopper shuttle.
- Eat an ice cream sundae at Dumser’s Dairyland.
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:
- View the local wildlife at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
- Attend a free concert at Neptune’s Park.
- Hike through First Landing State Park.
- Visit the Military Aviation Museum.
- Sunbathe on Sandbridge Beach.
- Feed the ducks at Mount Trashmore Park.
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:
- Bike down the Cape Cod Trail.
- Explore the Heritage Museum and Gardens.
- Sightseeing on a Hyannis Harbor Cruise.
- Hike through Nickerson State Park.
- Visit the Whydah Pirate Museum.
- Experience thrilling water rides at the Cape Cod Inflatable Park.
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:
- Play mini-golf at Heron’s Cove Adventure Golf.
- Go on a kayak excursion.
- Eat fresh seafood at Timoti’s Seafood Shack.
- Build sandcastles on the beach.
- Experience wildlife watching at Egans Creek Greenway.
- Go horseback riding on the beach.
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:
- Enjoy thrills at Go Karts Plus.
- Ride bikes in Freedom Park.
- Try the adventure park at Go Ape Tree Top Adventures.
- See a show at the Historic Kimball Theatre.
- Meet the farm animals of Fox Fire Farm.
- Go on a spooky ghost tour.
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:
- The Ultimate Washingon D.C. Family Vacation Itinerary for 1 – 7 Days
- 33 Best Things to Do in Washington D.C. With Kids of All Ages!
- 25 Fun Things to Do in Washington D.C. in the Winter
Family-friendly activities in Washington, D.C.:
- Go on a White House tour.
- Visit the National Zoo.
- Enjoy the natural beauty of the United States Botanic Garden.
- Listen to the military bands’ Summer Concert Series.
- Explore the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
- Visit the National Museum of American History.
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:
- Dolphin watch at Shelter Cove Harbour.
- Enjoy a nature excursion with Commander Zodiac.
- Play mini golf and arcade games at Adventure Cove.
- Go ziplining with Adventure Hilton Head.
- Grab a meal in Coligny Plaza.
- Hike through Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
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:
- Enjoy ideas, arcade games, and more at Funland.
- Bike ride along the boardwalk.
- Go racing at Midway Speedway Park.
- Experience epic water slides, bumper boats, and mini golf at Jungle Jim’s.
- Choose from over 100 flavors of ice cream at The Ice Cream Store.
- Take a dolphin-watching cruise!
15. Newport, Rhode Island
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:
- Visit the world-famous theme park, Magic Kingdom!
- Experience an animal encounter at Seaworld.
- Tour the Kennedy Space Center.
- Get creative with the Crayola Experience.
- Enjoy thrilling rides and tours at Universal Studios.
- Visit exotic animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
- Have endless fun and play at Legoland.
We love Orlando so much that we’ve written several other guides to help you plan your trip!
- The Ultimate Orlando Family Vacation Itinerary for 1 – 6 Days
- 35 Fun Things to Do in Orlando For Adults!
- Are There Beaches in Orlando? Here Are Your Best Options!
- A Complete List of The Best Orlando Attractions
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
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