Looking for the best weekend getaways on the east coast in the USA? We got you covered. In this post, we will share top picks for romantic and family getaways, cities, national parks, and cool landmarks from the east coast.
Best weekend getaways on the East Coast USA
The Eastern Seaboard aka the east coast of the United States comprises the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
So you can see it’s the coastal gems and sandy beaches (Myrtle Beach, Miami Beach), popular cities, and island getaways like Martha’s Vineyard.
Packing and Trip Planner: Weekend getaways East Coast
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- Weekend Bag or a daypack: Pack light for a weekend getaway, and only pack in items required for 2-3 days (duration of your trip). A 25-30 liter daypack or weekend bag is all you need to carry your essentials.
- Weekender Bag: Click to view my favorite Peak Design Weekender Bag
- Daypack 25 L: Click to view Pacsafe Daypack
- Comfortable Shoes: This is a must and doesn’t matter if you are off to the beach, a national park or a city, wear comfortable walking shoes to enjoy your trip sightseeing and exploring (or soaking in sun or driving. I can give you so many reasons). Check out my favorite pair of walking/hiking shoes from KEEN.
- Healthy Snacks: We wake up early for our weekend trips, and leave with after a quick bite. Healthy snacks keep us full during the day and in between meals. And they are so much better (I mean healthier) than cotton candy and ice-creams! Click to view this awesome care package to take with you on road trips and weekend getaways.
- Don’t forget your camera and multi-port charger for your electronics
- Toiletry Bag: Carry skin-care essentials (moisturizer, sunscreen, toothbrush, and paste), hand sanitizer, and medications. I usually add a mini make-up palette too. Here is my favorite. This transparent cosmetic bag is from ETSY
By Alex from Lost with Purpose
For a unique East Coast weekend trip, head out to the easternmost settlement on the continental United States: Lubec, Maine
Tucked away up north in an area ironically known as “Down East”, Lubec is everything you’d hope for from a charming Maine fishing town. A scattering of colorful cottages offering fresh local seafood to handicrafts to microbrews makes up its “main” street.
Thick forests and green pastures lie to the west, moody waters swirl to the east. Even the water is unique—Lubec is surrounded by the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tidal range of any water body in the world: it can rise up to 56 feet (17 m) at high tide!
The West Quoddy Head lighthouse is a quirky venture from the town. Clinging to a peninsula poking out into the Bay of Fundy, the lighthouse is beautiful at any time of day. However, it’s best visited at sunrise.
West Quoddy Head is THE easternmost point in the continental United States: you’ll be among the first people in the United States to watch the sunrise that day!
Of course, being Maine, you’ll never be more than stone’s throw away from epic nature. A road from Lubec runs along the craggy Cutler Coast, whose appearance changes with every passing tide and hour.
The reserve lands offer myriad hiking trails for the active adventurer, but if hiking isn’t your jam, you’ll be just as content sitting on the beaches, watching shifting tides shape dramatic coastlines.
New York City
Explore the Big Apple on a weekend getaway – make it a romantic escape if you like or a family time together. There are plenty of things to do in the city!
Start with New York Sightseeing tour to cover the city’s highlights, and get down to explore a few favorites like the Empire State Building, SoHo, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Madison Square Garden. To visit and explore all the attractions will easily take you a few hours in the day. We highly recommend heading to the 86th floor for soaking in some of the best city views of New York.
In the evening, head to Times Square and enjoy the lively spirit of the city that never sleeps. Next day visit one of the most iconic symbols of NYC and the USA – the Statue of Liberty. Embark on a half-day tour to take a ferry ride to the island and also check out additional sights like the Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower, and the World Financial Center.
In the afternoon visit the indoor and outdoor 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It’s a very touching and emotional experience to visit this memorial, but it is a must-visit. Then finish the day at the Rockefeller Center. Head to the observatory at the Top of the Rock– to some amazing sunset views, take photos and enjoy the evening!
The Adirondack Mountains
By Amanda from Patsey Family Travels
The Adirondack Mountains are located in Upstate New York, only about a 4-hour drive from New York City, and are a great place to experience a weekend trip on the US East Coast.
The Adirondacks are a popular destination year-round and each season lends itself to different adventures and experiences. If you are visiting in the winter you will be presented with some great northeast skiing. One of the best places to ski in the Adirondacks is Whiteface Mountain. A few other popular activities in the winter is to go snowshoeing, ice fishing, or snowmobiling.
The spring tends to be muddy and short but it kicks off the hiking season in the Adirondacks which is some of the best hiking in the US. Into the summer hiking is only one of many amazing Adirondack activities. The area is also full of lakes to enjoy such as Lake Placid or Lake George.
Lake Placid is also home to the Olympic Center and is a great place to situate yourself for a long weekend. Another attraction not far from Lake Placid is the Ausable Chasm, which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks.
There are some amazing hotels in Lake Placid, such as The Lake Placid Lodge, and some of the best restaurants in the Adirondacks are also found in Lake Placid.
One of the best times of year to visit the Adirondacks in the fall, simply because of the beauty of the fall foliage. Temperatures are more moderate in the fall as well but the season is short and before you know it the snow is back!
Acadia National Park
By Michelle from The Wandering Queen
One of the best places to visit on the East Coast is Acadia National Park. This cute park is a perfect destination for your east coast travels. It is filled with lighthouses, beaches, trails, great food, and a fantastic atmosphere. You will leave here wishing to come back next summer.
One of the most popular things to do is to visit the quaint town of Bar Harbor. This place has many great restaurants, and Bar Harbor is known for its seafood and lobster rolls. They are absolutely delicious. Also, don’t forget to try out the blueberry icecream. Blueberries are everywhere in Acadia.
Another popular thing to do is to go to Cadillac Mountain during sunrise. The colorful sun rays reflecting off the Atlantic ocean early in the morning truly is lovely. It can get pretty crowded but don’t worry, as there is plenty of room.
Another famous photography spot is to watch the sunset at Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Such a great area to relax and watch as the sun goes down. The sunsets right behind the lighthouse so it truly is a picturesque spot.
If you are into hiking, one of the best trails is the Precipice trail. This is such a unique hike, trust me! The trail is filled with metal ladders and poles to help get you up the mountain. It is not for people that are afraid of heights, but if you are looking for an adventure, this is definitely the place you need to be.
Acadia is filled with so many great activities to do. It is perfect for everyone in the family. If you are looking for an adventurous place with a little bit of food and beach views, then Acadia is the place for you.
By Margie from DQ Travel
Bar Harbor makes for a perfect East Coast weekend trip, especially if you are planning to visit Acadia National Park.
It is the only national park in New England and has miles of coastline and forests that make for a great adventure. Staying in Bar Island gives visitors the best of both worlds: a charming seaside town and some scenic outdoor adventure.
If you are looking to hike, some of the best hiking trails are Jordan Pond, Beehive Trail, Bar Island, and Bubble Rock. If you would just like to admire the beauty of the national park, then take a drive down Park Loop Road or walk near Sand Beach towards the oceanside granite cliffs on Ocean Path Trail.
To get to Bar Harbor, you would need to fly into Portland, Maine, and drive 3 hours north. Since Bar Harbor is located adjacent to Acadia National Park, visitors can enjoy the amenities of the town, which is beaming with quaint hotels and inns, delicious restaurants and local vendors offering carriage rides, bike rentals, and boat tours of the area.
A great place to stay is the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel. It is about a 5-minute drive to the national park, walking distance to all the fabulous restaurants in Bar Harbor, and features large rooms, continental breakfast, free parking, and a pool with a hot tub!
Summer is prime time in Bar Harbor and Acadia, as the temperatures are the mildest. If you are planning on visiting between June-August, be prepared for crowds and arrive early to the trails.
By Jordan from The Solo Life
Washington, D.C. is a wonderful city for a weekend trip, no matter what interests you. From families to artists to history buffs to nature lovers, D.C. has a little bit to offer everyone.
With a wide range of free attractions, walkability, and easy access either by plane, car, or even train, the U.S. capital is a no-brainer for a weekend destination on the East Coast. D.C. is also a great destination for those who are car-free, since public transportation, bike shares, and walking are the preferred and easiest modes of transportation.
D.C. is probably best known for its numerous museums and monuments and with good reason. For a history enthusiast, an entire weekend spent at just museums is an easy thing to do. Some of the most popular museums to visit are the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History, and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
First-time visitors should head to the National Mall for your pick of free museums and views of the U.S. Capitol building and the Washington Monument. An afternoon spent at the Tidal Basin, which includes the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in a 2-mile loop is another must-do.
A weekend trip is just enough time to scratch the surface of all that Washington, D.C. has to offer, especially for history lovers. For even more enjoyment, be sure to visit again for another weekend trip or longer vacation.
Martha’s Vineyard, Coast of Cape Cod
By Shobha from Marthas Vineyard Tourist
The island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod is a great weekend destination from either Boston or New York. From Boston, the drive is approximately 2 hours and from New York, a slightly longer 3 hours. To reach Martha’s Vineyard you will need to take a ferry from the mainland. Alternatively, take a flight on Cape Air from one of the regional airports.
There’s plenty to do on The Vineyard as it’s locally known in summer and autumn. The island is near-deserted in the Winter which makes it a popular destination for writers who seek solitude to hone their craft.
There is plenty to do in the summer from visiting the beautiful beaches to outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and kayaking. The Vineyard is a great place to enjoy outdoor adventures but also to relax. Unwind with friends at great restaurants or engage in some shopping therapy.
Nearly every weekend has some sort of event celebrating different things from the Edgartown Fire Department’s pancake fundraiser to Oak Bluffs Fireworks and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.
In the Fall, activity slows down as the days shorten. You can still walk on the beaches and cycle the routes. Along the way, you will enjoy the brightly colored leaves against a crisp Autumn sky. There are still great restaurants and boutique shopping to be done. It’s the perfect escape from city living which will have you return rested and refreshed.
Most of the accommodation is rental homes but there are also some great hotels. In Edgartown, the nicest hotel is the Harbourview Hotel with a view overlooking Edgartown Lighthouse and beach. We are also partial to the Lamberts Cove Inn which is nestled in the woods of West Tisbury.
Asheville, North Carolina
By Hannah from Hannah Elizabeth Travel & Lifestyle Blog
One of the best places to spend a relaxed weekend on the East Coast has to be Asheville, North Carolina. This charming mountain city is known for its eclectic atmosphere, bustling brewery scene, and vibrant arts districts. Just strolling around downtown is an adventure in itself. If you’re into local arts, be sure to check out the River Arts District.
Asheville is also great for you architecture buffs and hiking enthusiasts. The Basilica of Saint Lawrence and the Biltmore Estate are two MUST see sights when visiting.
The Biltmore is a historic house museum with over 250 rooms and an 8,000-acre backyard. It also has a winery on sight as well as a hotel if you’re looking for a fancy stay.
If you are the outdoorsy type, we recommend starting one of your mornings early and driving to a nearby hiking trail. DuPont State Forest Triple Falls Loop is a great option if you’re looking for waterfalls and an easier hike, only 30 miles south of Asheville. Glassy Mountain is another easy option offering some history and nice views at the peak.
Our favorite thing to do in Asheville is to explore the food and brewery scene downtown. Highland Brewery is one the best, lots of great beers, and a FULL outdoor music venue on sight. Try to catch a show here if you can.
Another favorite is Wicked Weed, they have the BEST beers. Asheville Brewing Co, The Funkatorium, Burial Beer Co, and Green Man Brewery are great stops as well.
As for food, some of these breweries have great food and you will find something awesome just strolling around downtown but a couple of recommendations are Posana, Curate, or Mayfel’s for a more casual bite. For accommodation, as a lover of boutique hotels, we recommend The Foundry Hotel Asheville or the Windsor Boutique Hotel for a beautiful stay.
By Derek & Mike from Robe Trotting
Philadelphia is a gem of a city in The United States with an important role in history, a safe and vibrant downtown area to explore and world-class museums. It’s by far one of the best cities in America for a weekend trip because you can easily see the highlights, even if you only have one day in Philadelphia.
One of the first things you should do in Philadelphia is to learn about American history in the fun Old City neighborhood. It’s full of historical sites like Independence Hall, The Liberty Bell, and remnants of the Presidential Mansion (Philadelphia was the capital before Washington DC).
You can sign up for a free tour of Independence Hall and view the Liberty Bell for no charge. Two museums to add to your list are the Museum of the American Revolution and the National Constitution Center. From April to October, you can also stop for a respite at The Independence Beer Garden in the same historic block.
Philadelphia is also a fantastic city for foodies. Of course, you should try regional foods like the cheesesteak, soft pretzel, and water ice, but there are wonderful high-end restaurants to try as well. One great place to get a view of the city and an equally delicious meal is R2L. It’s a restaurant located on the 37th floor of a central high rise building that offers sweeping views of the city.
There’s so much to do and see in Philadelphia and it makes a great weekend getaway in America.
By Anjali from Travel Melodies
Lancaster is an old town in Pennsylvania known for its rich cultural heritage and architecture.
Just 80 miles from Philadelphia and about 165 miles from New York City, Lancaster makes for a perfect weekend trip destination. It tops the list of the best destinations for day trips from Philadelphia.
Well-connected to major US East Coast cities by Amtrak rail, Lancaster is home to the Amish community. The sight of horse buggies running and men and women dressed in traditional attire feels like going back in time. They still follow some strict rules with no use of electricity and cars.
The best way to experience their lifestyle is to visit The Amish Village , the authentic replica, see how the Amish home looks like, and take a tour through the green countryside with cornfields.
We highly recommend visiting The Kitchen Kettle Village to shop for the homemade Amish treats from jam and jellies to ice creams and chocolates to various other snacks.
Shopping for and tasting the variety of treats is a mouth-watering experience. And don’t forget to buy the jams and fudge from the village shops.
Lancaster Arts Hotel, an artsy hotel with a lot of character is one of the best places to stay in Lancaster for couples and families with kids.
If you desire a break from the hustle and bustle of the city life, then Lancaster is truly a fresh breath of air in an otherwise dull life.
Miami to Key West Road Trip
By Ketki from Dotted Globe
The trip from Miami to Key West along the Overseas Highway is breathtaking and one of the best road trips in the world. The road trip connects two of the most vibrant destinations in Florida. Miami is famous for its fantastic beaches and Art Deco architecture while Key West, the southernmost city in the mainland US, is popular for its almost Caribbean vibe.
The drive takes almost 4 hours and is 110 miles long. The road goes through the beautiful islands of the Florida Keys and there are many attractions located along the way.
Snorkelers and scuba divers will love to see the coral reefs and Florida manatees at John Pennekamp State Park. Eat key lime pie and the famous conch fritters in Key Largo. Swim with the dolphins, see the sea turtles, and birdwatch on the beaches along the way.
There are so many things to do in the Florida Keys that even a weekend is hardly enough. At the end of the road lies Key West, the ultimate party destination.
Visitors can enjoy the nightlife on Duval Street and see the beautiful sunsets in Key West. See the lighthouse and explore the museums in the city. If you have more time to spare, take a day trip to the Dry Tortuga islands.
By Directionally Challenged
Annapolis is located in the heart of the east coast, making it a great weekend trip from almost anywhere. Located an hour east of Washington D.C., two and a half hours north of Richmond, and three and half hours from New York City – it’s location is perfect. Often overlooked for Baltimore, Annapolis has plenty to offer visitors.
Smaller than the hustle and bustle of most major cities, Annapolis is walkable. Walking along the streets is the best way to appreciate American history. The number one place to visit in Annapolis is the US Naval Academy You can visit Maryland State House which is the oldest state house in the country and where George Washington resigned his commission.
The Hammond-Harwood House was built in 1774 and is the only existing work of colonial academic architecture. It’s a five-part brick house and the main parts of the house are connected through small tunnels – also called “hyphens”. Tours are offered daily for $10 (adults), $5 (children), and $8 (seniors and students).
James Brice, governor of Maryland in 1792 and one of the largest landowners on the east coast, also called Annapolis home. His house is one of the most elegant historic homes. My favorite house to visit was the William Paca House & Garden. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Paca house is a five-part Georgian mansion.
To save on transportation and make walking around the city easier, find a hotel located near the center of the city. The Loews Annapolis Hotel is in a great location for your weekend getaway. Search more hotels in Annapolis.
By Juleen from Juleen Meets World
The Hudson Valley should be on your bucket list because the area hosts something for everyone. The Hudson Valley is a 10-county region in New York starting from Westchester County, just north of Manhattan, all the way up to Albany and Rensselaer Counties.
As the name suggests, the region is located in the valley of the Hudson River and all of the counties lie along the river. A trip to the Hudson Valley can be as short as a day if coming from New York City or other nearby towns/cities to a week since there is so much to do.
Your car or train ride into the Hudson Valley will be greeted with breathtaking views of the river. If you visit during the fall, you will love the fall foliage. Fans of wine will enjoy visiting the wineries that make up the Shawangunk Wine Trail, comprising about 15 wineries.
Art lovers should stop by the Dia: Beacon, an art museum in Beacon, or Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College. The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is the former residence of the founder of the Hudson River School and Olana State Historic Site was the home of another major figure in the Hudson River School.
If you love American history, you’ll be happy to know that the oldest state museum in the US, the New York State Museum, is located in the Hudson Valley. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Home can also be found in Hyde Park. No matter the focus of your trip, you will be sure to have a good time.
Finger Lakes region, New York
By Olivia from Happy in the Hollow
The name gives it away – several long-stretched lakes are at the heart of this gorgeous region. Besides providing natural beauty, they make this part of central New York uniquely suitable for growing some of the nation’s top wines. In fact, the FLX (as locals like to call the area) were named the top wine region by USA Today in 2018.
While wine connoisseurs will want to visit some of the 120 wineries and their tasting rooms, other culinary enthusiasts will also leave happy: there are beer and cheese trails, plus many small farms and artisanal food shops.
No stay would be complete without a stop in Ithaca, a small town with big attractions, including an Ivy League university (Cornell), a well-known farmers market, and several state parks. It’s a great home base for day trips to Watkins Glen (state park, plus the site of Nascar racing), Corning (famous Museum of Glass, Rockwell art museum), Skaneateles (charming town and another good place to stay), Rochester (Museum of Play, George Eastman Museum for photography) and many other attractions (Glenn H Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport, for example).
Any season has something to offer, but our favorite time of year is fall.
Boston to Montreal
Boston to Montreal makes for one of the picturesque drives on the east coast, and you also get to explore the French Canadian city of Montreal. If you drive non-stop, it will take you roughly 5 to 5.50 hours to reach Montreal.
From Boston, head towards Vermont for a stop there before crossing the border. Freshen up in Woodstock and enjoy a nice brunch or lunch in the town center. Their downtown is full of charming cafes and shops.
Next time stop for desserts at the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. From here the border is not far away, but if you like to wander off and get active, then add a drive to the Warren Falls (about 20-30 minutes).
Ensure you carry your passport or an ID and cross over to Canada. Once you are settled in your hotel, head to the downtown area to explore the famous Notredame Cathedral and the Montreal Port. Don’t forget to pig out with our delicious poutine!
Next day, explore the charming Place Jacques-Cartier square and then the Mount Royal Park in the afternoon for boating or a short hike, before returning back to Boston.
We hope you enjoyed our list of epic east coast weekend getaways. Happy planning and tripping!
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