From the pristine landscape of Acadia National Park in Maine to the exciting wildlife in the Florida Everglades, the Atlantic East Coast offers a little something for everyone. While time constraints may make it impossible to visit every popular tourist destination along the coast, there are a number of attractions that you and your family won’t want to miss. Here are 10 Must-See Places to Visit on the East Coast:
Majestic roaring waterfalls awe tourists at this geological wonder located on the border of the United States and Canada. Once a honeymoon favorite, Niagara Falls remains one of most popular east coast tourist attractions in the state of New York. Comprised of three waterfalls — American Falls, Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls — Niagara Falls water stems from the upper Great Lakes and the river is estimated to be 12,000 years old.
The American and Canadian experiences of visiting Niagara Falls are like night and day. On the Canadian side, you’ll walk through Clifton Hills, an exciting district including bright lights, a towering Skywheel, and entertainment like a bowling alley and glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course. Most importantly, there is a stunning view of the falls from the Canadian side.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., your Niagara Falls experience will be more on the natural side. When you visit Niagara Falls, America’s oldest state park, youcan go hiking, biking, fishing, and birding. For a more laid-back day, visit nearby wineries and breweries. On the U.S. side, you’re at the top of the falls, as illustrated in the photo below.
Inspired by its natural beauty, early 20th-century visionaries donated the land that became Acadia National Park. The park is home to a diverse population of plants and animals as well as the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast. The only national park in all of New England, Acadia National Park offers coastal views and activities for both leisurely hikers and adrenaline junkies.
Especially in the summer, the popular Acadia National Park can often hit capacity early. It’s best to purchase your entrance pass online before you go. Then, leave your car in the town of Bar Harbor and take the free Island Explorer Shuttle into the park.
Related: Travel guide to Acadia National Park.
We can’t make a list of the top 10 places to visit on the east coast and leave out one our most recognizable icons. A gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States, the Statue of Liberty is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, was declared a National Monument in 1924, and she was restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.
You can buy tickets and take a ferry to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island from either Battery Park, NY or Liberty State Park, NJ. Tickets to see the islands are about $25, plus another $3 if you want to go in the crown. If you’re looking to cut costs and get a great picture, then we suggest hopping on the Staten Isle Ferry for free from Manhattan. While it won’t actually visit the island, you’ll get the best view of Lady Liberty.
An educational stop for parents and children alike, the Lincoln Memorial is an American national monument built to honor Abraham Lincoln. The memorial is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Washington Monument. The memorial stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and almost 100 feet high.
When you’re looking for things to do on the east coast, Washington, D.C. is a must-see. Aside from the Lincoln Memorial, our capital is home to over 160 monuments and memorials. There are plenty of free places to visit, making D.C. a great budget-friendly destination.
Once home to President George Washington, Mount Vernon is a very popular historic estate on America’s east coast. Located in Alexandria, Virginia, more than millions of people have visited Mount Vernon ever since the estate was officially opened to the public. Guests to Mount Vernon can visit the mansion, Washington’s Tomb, and almost 50 acres of his plantation. Best of all, you can visit anytime – it’s open 365 days a year.
Before you visit, be sure to check the events calendar online. Aside from the house tour, you’ll want to be there on time for other specialty tours and historic demonstrations.
Related: Check out our guide to visiting Mount Vernon.
For travelers seeking a bit of adventure, Virginia’s Luray Caverns at Shenandoah National Park offer an opportunity to escape summer’s heat or warm up on a cold winter day. Belowground temperatures hover around 56 degrees year round, so the caverns are an enjoyable attraction during any season. Best of all, families with children of all ages and abilities will be able to experience the caverns.
Outside of the caverns, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy including a mining station, garden maze, and a ropes course. The nearby town of Luray includes a National Historic District with plenty of history and quaint shops.
If you’re ready to soak up the mountains or chill under cascading waterfalls, you won’t want to pass up Hanging Rock State Park. Park visitors can enjoy over 20 miles of hiking trails. Be sure to bring your camera for the incredible views and five magnificent waterfalls!
Hanging Rock State Park is perfect for an east coast trip, as it has 73 campsites and a limited number of cabins that house up to 6 people. It’s just an hour from Winston-Salem and Greensboro and not far from the Virginia border.
Related: Read about our favorite Scenic Overlooks.
Just a few hours away from Hanging Rock, you can visit one of the most impressive homes in the U.S. The grounds of the 125,000-acre Biltmore Estate were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. You might know Olmsted as the creator of New York’s Central Park and the father of American landscape architecture! Once home to George and Edith Vanderbilt, the 250-room estate in Asheville, North Carolina is now open to the public. Today, visitors can explore the estate on a self-guided house tour and experience a fresh look at how people lived and worked in America’s largest home.
Asheville is a perfect stop for east coast trips. It’s within a quick drive of the town of Greenville, SC, or easily visit the cities of Charlotte and Knoxville. Plus, if you want to get back in touch with nature, you’re just an hour form the Great Smoky Mountains State Park.
The largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States, Savannah, Georgia features more than twenty city squares of museums, churches, mansions, monuments and famous forts of the Revolutionary & Civil War eras. The Historic District of Savannah is accented with charming cobblestone streets and manicured gardens. This destination is an attractive destination for couples and families alike.
Some say that it’s best to visit Savannah from March to July, when the azaleas are in bloom and festival season is in full force. However, this can lead to much higher accommodation prices. We suggest in the slower months of November – February, though the city does tend to shut down for Christmas. If it’s a mild year, the trees and squares will still be lush and green, even in the winter. You’ll also see a surge of price increases in March when Savannah hosts the country’s second-largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade!
Related: Quick Guide to Savannah
Hikers, divers and adventure lovers on the east coast will enjoy the Florida Everglades. Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape. The park provides a natural habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, crocodile and the Florida panther. Feeling particularly adventurous? Take your family on an airboat tour to explore the park from an entirely different perspective.
High season for the Everglades is from December through April, where you’ll get the state’s dryest and most mild weather. Unlike other destinations, this is one we wouldn’t suggest visiting on off season. Aside from facing summer temperatures in the 90’s with lots of thunderstorms, you’re much less likely to encounter wildlife who will be taking cover from the extreme temperatures.
Related: Everglades National Park
Road trips are meant to be fun and meaningful, and the best way to make the most of your time is with careful planning and research. On your next road trip up or down the East Coast, stretch your legs by exploring the country’s most popular attractions. Ready to keep exploring the U.S.? Read about our 10 Must-See Places to Visit on the West Coast!