These East Coast vacation ideas include the best things to do, our favorite restaurants and quick-bite local joints, and awesome sites to see.

If you’re looking for some perfect weekend getaways on the East Coast of the USA, we have put together 20 great suggestions from Maine to Florida! East Coast family vacations, quick escapes to soothe your soul as well as romantic East Coast vacations for couples.

We’ve included a range of places to stay on your East Coast weekend getaway — high-end luxury stays that’ll pamper you silly, mid-range places that won’t break the bank, budget-friendly accommodations and awesome glamping spots too. Plus, check out our favorite Airbnbs in each destination for that “local feel” place to stay.

So what are you waiting for? The hard work is done and your East Coast trip awaits! Just pick a place and pack your bags. Whether you’re staying local, opting for a relaxing staycation, or road tripping to your favorite East Coast destination, here are 22 ideas for your weekend getaway!

Weekend Getaways on the East Coast: Northeast USA

Mid Coast Maine

Colorful lobster buoys in

Colorful lobster buoys in Midcoast Maine

 Midcoast Maine

Midcoast Maine is one of our favorite weekend getaways on the East Coast, a place to really experience the flavors of Maine. There are so many adorable small towns along Highway 1 between Freeport and Bar Harbor that deserve some time to explore. Where else on the East Coast can you hike along a mountain trail and still remain at the edge of the sea?

These small villages all feature farm-to-table and sea-to-table foods that personify Maine. Lobster rolls at iconic Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, specialty hot dogs at Wasses in Rockland, and fresh-baked blueberry pie at Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro are favorites.

Rockland is a real gem along the Midcoast. Be sure and visit the Farnsworth Art Museum which features the works of three famous Wyeth artists: Andrew Wyeth, his son Jamie Wyeth, and father N.C. Wyeth.

The nearby Olson House in Cushing is another of the must-see attractions in Rockland, especially for lovers of American art. And don’t miss the annual Rockland Lobster Festival held on the first weekend in August. Steamed lobster, Maine clams, and blueberry cobbler are at the top of the menu and foodies will love it. Rockland is also a prime base from which to explore nearby Camden or Bar Harbor on a day trip, or to board a weekend Maine Windjammer Cruise for a few days on the water exploring Penobscot Bay.

Wherever you stop along the Midcoast, you’ll find small boutique shops, restaurants, and museums that tell Maine’s charming coastal story.

>>> Where to Stay in Rockland:

Highly recommend: The sailing-inspired design of the 250 Maine Hotel in Rockland is just one reason to love this hotel. Overlooking Rockland Harbor, it’s within walking distance of the many venues and attractions that Rockland offers. Check availability and more details.

Provincetown, Massachusetts

View over Provincetown, Massachusetts from the Pilgrim Monument

View over Provincetown, Massachusetts from the Pilgrim Monument

Provincetown, Massachusetts is without a doubt a favorite East Coast getaway. Located on the tip of Cape Cod, it is easy to get to by car, plane, or boat. With so many things to do in Provincetown, you can easily fill your weekend with outdoor activities, museums, and delicious food. Provincetown is fun year round, although some shops and restaurants do close during the winter.

Provincetown is known for its laid-back atmosphere and as a place where everyone is welcome. One of the best things to do while visiting is taking a tour of the sand dunes in Cape Cod National Seashore. Another popular attraction is the Pilgrim Monument, which can be seen from miles away. The tower is 252-feet tall and the views from the top are worth the climb!

Provincetown is also known for its amazing seafood. While you’re there, you absolutely have to have a lobster roll. Everyone will have an opinion on which restaurant has the best one, but we recommend Pepe’s Wharf. The lobster tasted so fresh and was warm and buttery. It also came with the tastiest fries and coleslaw. Of course, for a truly local lobstah experience, the Lobster Pot is a landmark and always draws a crowd!

Explored by Vicky Sosa of Buddy The Traveling Monkey

Where to Stay in Provincetown

The Cape Colony Inn is only a mile from downtown and includes breakfast, free WiFi, and free self-parking. Check rates and availability.

The Adirondacks, New York

Upstate New York is the playground for many New Yorkers and there is no better place to start your Adirondacks getaway than Saratoga Springs.  This horse-racing town is home to The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame with great pictures, race videos and trophies from America’s greatest horse racers.  This swanky town is also home to many high-end shops and the Saratoga Springs State Park with lovely thermal baths once regularly frequented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Head north to Glens Falls, a small town built by lumber barons, because you won’t want to miss The Hyde Collection.  This private fine art museum boasts Rubens, el Grecco, a Picasso, and a Renoir among its collection.

The next day, you’ll want to continue on to Lake George and take a scenic boat cruise where you will see more of the beautiful summer homes that this area has to offer.  Afterwards, head to the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid and take in Mirror Lake with the beautiful Whiteface Mountain in the background.  This small town hosted both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.  Have a walk down main street and have a look at the lovely shops and eventually make your way to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and visit some of the Olympic sites.

Mirror Lake, Lake Placid, New York

Mirror Lake, Lake Placid, New York

Fall is the perfect time for one of the best weekend getaways on the East Coast -- in the Adirondacks

Fall is the perfect time for one of the best weekend getaways on the East Coast — in the Adirondacks

The best time to see the Adirondacks is in the fall.  You will be amazed at the foliage colors surrounding you.  There is so much to see in the Adirondacks, one of the most perfect weekend getaways on the East Coast.

Explored by Margarita Ibbott of DownshiftingPRO

Where to Stay in the Adirondacks

Stay at a Historic Hotel of America, The Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls, and enjoy an Espresso Martini on their patio facing the City Park.  If you’re lucky there will be a music concert for you to listen to from afar.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket Lighthouse

Nantucket Lighthouse

 

The tiny island of Nantucket off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts is one of the best vacation spots on the East Coast, though often thought of as a vacation getaway only for the wealthy. Not so. It’s charms are open for us all to enjoy, especially outdoor lovers.

Getting around Nantucket is easy. There is an extremely efficient transit shuttle system that visits all the many beaches and scenic parts of the island.  For those who enjoy bike riding, take advantage of the 35 miles of pristine trails that crisscross the island. Stop by Sconset Beach to enjoy the Sconset Bluff Walk, a footpath through oceanfront backyards leading to quaint artisan shops.

The amazing dining options in Nantucket are varied for every budget, and seafood lovers will have a hard time choosing.  Perhaps the best local spot is located at Madaket BeachMillie’s Restaurant has great casual dining or take your meal and picnic on the beach at sunset. The best time to visit Nantucket is in late summer.  The crowds start to wane as the temperatures cool.  It is also the perfect time to take that special someone for moonlit walks on the beach.

Explored by Frank Parrott of Nothing But New England

Where to Stay on Nantucket

Luxury: The White Elephant is a Nantucket landmark for good reason. It’s on the waterfront, with a cozy intimate setting but with every possible modern amenity — a perfect fit for everyone.

Moderate: There are plenty of high-end lodging options, however there is an extremely affordable way to stay on the island.  Hosteling International Nantucket offers a variety of accommodations including private ensuites.  Best of all, guests get to walk across sand dunes to a private beach.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When it comes to east coast getaway, nothing beats a weekend in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The city is conveniently located between Washington DC and New York City with easy transportation by rail, bus, air or highway. Once you’re in Philly the fun really begins — there are so many great things to do in Philadelphia.

To start, the city is steeped in history and a walking tour of the Old City neighborhood is the perfect introduction. There you will find famous American landmarks like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and an exhibit of the first Presidential Mansion in the spot it once stood.

Philadelphia is also home to world class museums like the National Constitution Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Science. For an offbeat museum experience, check out the Mutter Museum of Medical Oddities.

 

Family fun in Philadelphia

Family fun in Philadelphia

Street art is prolific on the streets of Philadelphia

Street art is prolific on the streets of Philadelphia

The city is also a foodie paradise attracting some of the country’s best restaurateurs. Head to the 12th Street Corridor in the Midtown/Gayborhood section of Philadelphia for a selection of the best restaurants. There you can choose from local favorites like El Vez, Double Knot, Sampan and Jamonera. For regional foods to try you’ll of course want a cheesesteak sandwich, but don’t go to the tourist traps like Pat’s and Geno’s. Instead, go where the locals go. Philadelphians are friendly and they all have their favorite cheesesteak place. (… we love D’Allessandro’s steak hoagies in Roxborough ;-) )!

The best time to Philadelphia is in the early fall and late spring months. Then you’ll avoid the humidity of summer and the city is lively without being too crowded.

Explored by Derek Hartman of Robe Trotting

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

Luxe: The Kimpton Hotel Monaco has a sexy rooftop bar for cocktails overlooking the city lights.

Moderate: Check into a nice hotel in Midtown like the Broad Street Doubletree by Hilton and have an unforgettable weekend escape.

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Scenic Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Scenic Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

One of the best getaways in Massachusetts is the island destination of Martha’s Vineyard. A seven-mile ferry ride from the coast of Cape Cod brings passengers to the quintessential New England vacation.  Six towns, spread out over 100 square miles, each have their own brand of maritime charm. From the candy colored Victorian cottages in Oak Bluffs, to the rose draped picket fences around Edgartown visitors will be captivated by a getaway with a backdrop of maritime history.

The surrounding waters provide an incredible selection of fresh seafood and a farm-to-table ethos was an integral part of menus long before it was fashionable. Hiking, kayaking and biking opportunities are abundant and of course the whole island is surrounded by a variety of pristine beaches and towering cliffs

The Vineyard is really a three-season destination. Festivals, world class shopping and restaurants to suit all taste buds offer plenty of activity in the shoulder seasons, when crowds disappear, and long beach walks end in magnificent sunsets.

Explored by Alison Abbott of Green With Renvy

Where to Stay in Martha’s Vineyard

Luxe: For a romantic stay, look no further than the Nobnocket Inn. This chic seven room boutique B&B is ideally located in Vineyard Haven, convenient to everything, but away from the hustle and bustle of what can be a crowded destination in high season. The charming owners are experts at their craft and innkeeper Annabelle cooks a breakfast that’s hard to beat.

Moderate: Isabelle’s Beach House is a modern beach house located directly across from the beach in Oak Bluffs. Plus it’s a 5-minute walk from the ferry, always a plus in our book.

Littleton, New Hampshire

The White mountains of New Hampshire

The White Mountains of New Hampshire

Settled along the banks of the rushing Ammonoosuc River about twenty minutes north of Franconia Notch, you’ll discover Littleton, New Hampshire. This small town in the White Mountains became popular in the late 18th century as a mill town. It offers plenty of scenic beauty and historic charm—but it’s far from old-fashioned.

A stroll along Main and Mill Streets reveals a myriad of unique shops and galleries, and a variety of dining options. You might choose to enjoy world-class craft beer and a bite to eat overlooking the river at Schilling Beer Co. (take the brewery tour if you have time). Or sip cappuccino with a Vegan pastry at The Crumb Bar. You could even fire up your laptop to write for a while amidst the creative vibe at The Inkwell Coffee & Tea House. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll want to visit Chutters, where you’ll find the world’s longest candy counter. They also make a great homemade fudge.

While Littleton makes a great weekend getaway to the White Mountains year round, you may want to pack your bags for an Autumn visit to New England. The foliage is spectacular, and peak season in Littleton is late September through early October. No doubt it’s a destination you’ll want to return to, year after year.

Explored by Jackie Gately of Enjoy Travel Life

Where to Stay in Littleton

Moderate: You can’t miss the historic grandeur of Thayers Inn, with its Greek Revival architecture and soaring pillars in the downtown. It’s easy to envision the hotel’s Victorian guests set within the period furnishings. Almost 200 years later, today’s guests continue to enjoy the inn’s distinctive hospitality and elegant suites.

North Fork of Long Island

Did you know the North Fork of Long Island is known for their wine?

Did you know the North Fork of Long Island is known for their wine?

One of the best weekend getaways on the east coast is the North Fork of Long Island, New York. Just two hours outside New York City, visitors will feel worlds away from major cities. Families, couples, and friends will all enjoy being surrounded by farmland, wineries, quaint shops, and lively downtowns. Most famously, Long Island’s North Fork is home to award winning wineries, such as Macari and Wölffer Estate. Many offer local snacks, live music, lawn games, and private tastings. There are plenty of family friendly wineries on the North Fork, as well.

The North Fork is also home to a number of farms, produce stands, and popular spots for apple, pumpkin, and berry picking, such as Harbes. Naturally families will enjoy visiting, but with so many seasonal festivals and local treats like hard cider and apple donuts, the farms are truly for all ages. Of course no Long Island trip will be complete without a stop at the beach, so be sure to visit one of the North Fork beaches or head out to Orient Point for a relaxing stroll.

Lastly, don’t miss some of the downtown areas. Greenport and Mattituck, for example, are known for their excellent seafood dining scene and boutique shopping. Though spring and fall are the most popular times to visit Long Island for the calm weather and seasonal events, most attractions are open yearly, especially on weekends. Some of the main towns, like Greenport are home to a number of bed and breakfasts, or consider searching AirBnB for more local accommodations.

Explored by Tori Curren of Tori Leigh

Where to Stay in Greenport on the North Fork of Long Island

Luxury: The Menhaden Hotel is our top pick for all around great stay in Greenport. With its rooftop terrace, great restaurant, free bikes for guests, and excellent concierge service, it’s ideal for families.

Moderate: The Sound View Greenport offers outdoor pool and breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound.

Hudson Valley, New York

A stay at Mohonk Mountain House is truly an epic East Coast getaway

A stay at Mohonk Mountain House is truly an epic East Coast getaway

A top weekend getaway destination is New York’s Hudson Valley.  There are so many incredible hikes to do, agritourism, fantastic food, wineries and cider houses and much more.

There are hikes for all levels in the Hudson Valley.  Take an easy stroll on Poet’s Walk down to see views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains that inspired the likes of Washington Irving. Walk across a suspension bridge and end on the shores of the Hudson River at Black Creek Preserve.  Or scramble over rocks and up crevices to ascend a rock slide at Bonticou Crag in Mohonk Preserve.

There are also plenty of u-pick farms where you can pick and eat all you like throughout the growing season, starting with cherries at the beginning of summer, moving on to peaches in August and ending with apple and pear picking in the fall.  Several farms serve wood-fire oven pizzas, which you eat beside the orchards.  There are also cider houses where you can enjoy tasting from locally grown organic apples and wineries you can tour.

You can visit the Hudson Valley any time of year, though spring to fall are best.  In winter, head up into the adjacent Catskill Mountains for fun in the snow.

Explored by James Ian of Travel Collecting

Where to Stay in the Hudson Valley

  • Upscale: The Mohonk Mountain House is truly a magical place, with Harry Potter-esque Victorian-era buildings beside a lake and dozens of hiking trails.

  • Mid-range: The Beacon Hotel on Main Street in Beacon has a restaurant and bar and is perfectly positioned to visit the famous Dia Beacon art museum.

  • Glamping: Collective Hudson Valley provides luxury tents on organic Liberty Farm, with easy access to nearby Hudson, famous for its antique stores.

Weekend Getaways on the East Coast: Mid-Atlantic USA

Chincoteague, Virginia

On Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a beloved children’s book comes to life and a unique natural habitat welcomes visitors. Here, on a narrow peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, you can explore quaint towns and beautiful waterways. At the northern end is Chincoteague Island, home to the wild ponies made famous in the book Misty of Chincoteague (look for the adorable statue of Misty downtown).

LOVE adirondack chairs in Chincoteaque

LOVE adirondack chairs in Chincoteaque

Tranquil waters on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Tranquil waters on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

The town of Chincoteague is a perfect base for a weekend getaway to the Eastern Shore. The vibe is laidback and friendly, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and activities to keep busy. Stop by the giant LOVE adirondack chairs near the wharf for a fun photo op. Outdoor adventures include biking, hiking, and pony-watching at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Or spend a day at the beach, climb the lighthouse, and play in the ocean at Assateague National Seashore. After a day of play, reward yourself with a giant ice cream treat from local favorite, Island Creamery. Chincoteague is just a 3-hour drive from Washington DC but truly feels a world away. The Eastern Shore is a popular summer getaway, but we prefer the cooler temps and quieter pace of spring and fall.

by Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax

Where to Stay in Chincoteague

Moderate: The Fairfield Inn & Suites Chincoteague Island Waterfront has enjoy modern rooms, lovely harbor views, and easy access to town.

Richmond, Virginia

Historic meets modern in Richmond, Virginia

Historic meets modern in Richmond, Virginia

Richmond may be best known as the capital of Virginia, the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe and a Civil War historical hotspot, but today’s Richmond has taken on a bit more of a creative edge making Richmond a great weekend getaway. Equal parts Austin and DC, Richmond has developed a strong art scene. Anchoring the Museum District, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is home to one of the country’s premier art collections with exhibits ranging from Asian antiquities to modern sculptures (not to mention entry is free!).

You don’t have to visit a museum to get your art fix though, as Richmond’s creative spirit is on display just about anywhere you go. The Richmond Mural Project and the RVA Street Art Festival bring in local and international artists to celebrate Richmond’s street art scene resulting in over 100 large scale murals throughout the city.

Richmond’s creativity extends to its culinary scene now too with some of the best places to eat and drink in the South. Whether you want to savor some of the best oysters from the Chesapeake Bay at Rappahannock or indulge in a whimsical fine dining experience at L’Opposum (named best restaurant in the South by Food and Wine magazine) Richmond has a plate to suit any palate. Richmond has also become a haven for craft beer fans with over 30 breweries throughout the city (Hardywood, Ardent and Triple Crossing are a few personal faves).

Explored by Brianna Simmons of The Casual Travelist

Where to Stay in Richmond

Historic Stay in Richmond: For a little slice of history and unforgettable experience, stay the weekend at Virginia Crossings Hotel Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Its setting on the Civil War site of the Battle of Yellow Tavern promises you a truly unique view of history.

Moderate: Across the street from the Virginia State Capital, The Commonwealth is a unique blend of historic and modern. Very highly recommended!

One of the best east coast weekend getaways you would enjoy is Washington, D.C. This destination is thriving with culture, museums, and roaring nightlife, and some of the best chefs in the country with their Michelin Star restaurants reside here.

A few insider tips for visiting: most of the main attractions (museums, monuments and memorials) are free and there are three airports you can fly into. The city has amazing public transportation which include Metro and buses (just don’t eat or drink on the Metro – you can get a ticket), and street parking can be challenging to find.

The cheapest time of year to visit is in August during the heat of the summer, but the absolute best time to visit Washington, D.C. is in the spring during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The city is fragrant with the beautiful blossoms and the Tidal Basin is stunning. You will be sure to enjoy the nice weather before it gets too hot and it’s perfect for walking.

 

Sunset at the Jefferson Memorial in DC

Sunset at the Jefferson Memorial in DC

 

Cheery blossoms adorn the Washington Mall in Spring

Cherry blossoms adorn the Washington Mall in Spring

Things you should not miss in the city: the free Smithsonian Museums (wear comfortable shoes), seeing the monuments by Moonlight, sunrise at the Lincoln Memorial, walking the National Mall, Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was assassinated, and seeing the White House, where almost all former presidents have lived.

For good local food: don’t miss Ben’s Chili Bowl, Officina and Minibar.

Explored by Nicole Sunderland of Eat Live Travel Drink

Where to Stay in Washington, DC

Luxury: For the utmost in luxury surroundings, consider The Fairmont in Foggy Bottom or The Four Seasons in Georgetown, which are close to shopping and dining in the posh area of the District.

Urban Chic: For a more urban adventure, check out the various Kimpton hotels throughout the city. The Kimpton Palomar near Dupont Circle is a perfect choice for a weekend getaway.

Outer Banks (OBX), North Carolina

The beautiful dunes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks

The beautiful dunes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks

The Outer Banks in North Carolina are famous for their fabulous and pristine nature as well as hundreds of years of history, so they make the perfect place to get away to if you’re looking for either a fly-and-flop on the beach or you want a little bit of culture and adventure during your trip.

There are many different great Outer Banks towns to choose from, but you can reach most of the attractions from any of the towns, so you can pick the city that makes the most sense for you and visit the others during the day. Besides simply relaxing on the beach or climbing lighthouses, plan on seeing the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and the wild Spanish stallions in Corolla running wild on the beach.

When in the Outer Banks, you simply must eat the local seafood. It’s one of the tastiest things to do! Famous for its crab cakes, scallops, and fried oysters, you can try these or choose the fresh catch of the day.

Explored by Stephanie Craig of History Fan Girl

Where to Stay in the OBX

  • Week Stay: There are many boutique hotel options, but most vacationers here will rent a beach home from the owner or through a property management company. Many of the best homes to rent have been in people’s families for over a century.

  • Weekend Getaway: If you won’t be in town for a full week, a hotel stay is the perfect choice. The historic First Colony Inn in Nags Head is a good choice.

Alexandria, Virginia

King Street in Alexandria, Virginia

King Street in Alexandria, Virginia

With its brick-lined sidewalks and well-preserved 18th-century buildings, Alexandria, Virginia is a quintessential East Coast getaway. A visit to Alexandria is never complete without spending time in Old Town Alexandria, which makes for the perfect location to stay for a weekend adventure. Whether by bike or on foot it’s best to explore Alexandria by starting off at the The George Washington Masonic National Memorial (dedicated to the memory of George Washington, who was a Mason) and making your way down the King Street Mile — featuring the largest collection of independent boutiques in the Washington DC region — and venturing back to your hotel via the trolley.

As you make your way down King Street be sure to stop at the Spite House, America’s skinniest historic home on Queen Street. The cobblestone Captain’s Row at the 100 block of Prince Street will transport you to the late 1700s. Many of the surrounding homes were built by Captain John Harper and make the perfect photo ops. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is worth a visit to see the Beaded Curtain Mural, as is the Carlyle House, a historic Georgian manor and garden built by Scottish merchant and city founder John Carlyle in 1753. From Waterfront Walk take a boat cruise on the river, try stand-up paddleboarding, or enjoy a picnic lunch.

After all of that exploring, stop in for a (delicious and historical) meal at Gadsby’s Tavern which dates to 1785. The complex now also features a museum with period objects and photographs, and fun fact — it’s also where the founding fathers dined!

No matter what time of year you visit Alexandria, there is sure to be a whole list of charming things to experience. In the summer there are a ton of outdoor activities and in the fall you can take in the crisp air and changing leaves with a bike ride along the Mount Vernon Trail. The city comes alive in Spring with cherry blossoms in full bloom, and winter is equally enchanting when a Dickens-like holiday charm engulfs the city.

Explored by Lindsey Messenger of Seven Day Weekender

Where to Stay in Alexandria

One of the best and highly recommended hotels in the area is the Kimpton Lorien, a dog-friendly hotel with a spa, outdoor lounge spaces, and two amazing restaurants.

Weekend Getaways on the East Coast: Southeast USA

Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

Meet the locals on Sanibel Island, florida

Meet the locals on Sanibel Island, Florida

The twin islands of Sanibel and Captiva Islands off the coast of Ft. Myers in southwest Florida might be one of our favorite East Coast vacation spots in paradise. Cut in two decades ago by a hurricane, the dolphin-shaped island is separated by a tiny bridge, so it’s just a stone’s throw between the two. With its rustic, natural setting, Sanibel and Captiva offer romantic weekend getaways and family fun in equal measure.

Not only is Sanibel renowned for its famous shelling beaches, but the wildlife viewing is also pretty incredible with daily sightings of wading and shore birds and dozens of live shells that will roll across your feet at the beach (always throw them back — it’s against the law to take home live shells). For an up-close view of Sanibel’s natural world, rent a kayak and explore the J. N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Preserve, where you’re likely to see dozens of birds, alligators, and other local critters.

On Sanibel and Captiva, it’s more about what you won’t find that draws visitors to keep coming for generations. There are no fast food chains, no high-rise hotels (nothing taller than a palm tree is allowed by law), and very little nightlife other than the typical salty beach bar here and there. Visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, go for ice cream at Pinocchio’s, and take a shelling cruise off the island for a unique experience.

Off island, explore the vintage charm of downtown Ft. Myers or visit artsy Matlacha Island near Cape Coral. Or head south for the day to Naples and enjoy fabulous shopping along 5th Avenue South, or stroll the famous Naples Pier.

Where to Stay on Sanibel and Captiva

Sanibel Luxury: If you’re looking casual luxury in paradise, Casa Ybel Resort is one of our favorite places to stay, located steps from the sand.

Captivating Captiva: We’d be hard-pressed to find a better array of comfortable lodging than at the South Seas Island Resort. From spacious beach villas for the whole family to romantic retreats for just you and a loved one, South Seas is a perfect slice of paradise.

Budget Beach Cottages: For a cozy beach cottage your whole family will love, check out our favorite Sanibel Island cottages!

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

One of the best East Coast weekend getaways for beach and party is Fort Lauderdale in southeast Florida. Located just 30 miles from Miami, Fort Lauderdale is a more low-key place to visit compared to its world-famous neighbor. You can reach it either by flying to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport (FLL) or to Miami Airport (MIA) followed by a 40-minute taxi ride.

For Lauderdale has some of the best beaches in Florida, particularly Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro, Pompano and Sebastian Street Beach. The nightlife scene of Fort Lauderdale has mushroomed in recent years, particularly for the LGBTQ community, with an abundance of gay bars and clubs in Wilton Manors. Beyond the excellent beaches and nightlife of Fort Lauderdale, be sure to check out the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, a large 180-acre parkland area, ideal for picnics, skating, cycling, Segway tours, kayaking and fishing.

 

Ft. Lauderdale is stunning...

Ft. Lauderdale is stunning…

from any angle!

 

Further afield, be sure to check out the Sawgrass Recreation Park in the Everglades. This natural region of tropical wetlands is only a 25-minute drive outside Fort Lauderdale. You can explore the wetlands on an airboat from where you can spot alligators and other wildlife in the area. Some of the best local foods to try in Fort Lauderdale include Key Lime Pie and seafood. Bubbles and Pearls is one of the best restaurants to try both.

The best time to visit Fort Lauderdale is between November to April when it’s warm and dry, though a visit to sunny Ft. Lauderdale is always a great idea.

Explored by Stefan Arestis of Nomadic Boys

Where to Stay in Ft. Lauderdale

  • Luxury: The upscale W Ft. Lauderdale was inspired by sailing, and the chic design reflects its oceanfront setting.

  • Moderate: The Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach is perfect for beach lovers and epitomizes laid back beach chic!

  • Glamping: For a truly unique beach stay, check out this Luxurious Houseboat rental.

Savannah, Georgia

Historic downtown Savannah

Historic downtown Savannah

Savannah Georgia is one of the most enchanting, historic, and gorgeous small towns in the USA. Located two hours north of Jacksonville, Florida and four hours south of Charlotte, North Carolina, Savannah is only a few minutes off highway I-95. If you choose to fly, skip the rental car because the most popular and important things to do in Savannah are found in its charming, compact, and walkable historic district.

You can spend a lifetime sauntering Savannah’s 22 historic squares, admiring her architecture, enjoying the parks, savoring phenomenal culinary and cocktails, meeting the world’s most fascinating people, and visiting amazing museums, churches, and attractions. See why countless movies, including Forrest Gump and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, were filmed in Savannah.

Be sure to visit the classic waterfront. River Street has art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops nestled among restaurants and souvenir shops, but the Savannah waterfront really bustles at night! Trolley tours are popular and recommended. Join one that visits Bonaventure Cemetery, the famous setting from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Later during your Savannah getaway, see the iconic Bird Girl statue at Telfair Academy.

For dinner, splurge at The Grey, named one of the world’s 30 best restaurants by Food & Wine. Treylor Park offers intriguing food options, a beer garden patio, and classy cocktail bar.

Explored by Charles McCool of McCool Travel

Where to Stay in Savannah

Perfectly Historic: Optimize your Savannah experience by staying in a classic Savannah B&B in the historic district. The Gastonian (Historic Inns of Savannah Collection) is our top choice.

Moderate: The Holiday Inn Express Historic District or Springhill Suites Savannah Historic District are also wise choices.

Charleston, South Carolina

Colorful Rainbow Row in Charleston

Colorful Rainbow Row in Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway on the East Coast of the United States. This city is loaded with history, charming paths, and fantastic dining.  Plus, the moderate size of Charleston makes it very conducive for exploring on foot. The best thing to do in Charleston is simply to walk around and explore the city’s history.  Many of the homes in Charleston date back to colonial times, and you’ll even see some with plaques boasting historic events such as “George Washington was hosted here”.

A few key historical sights to visit in Charleston include the Old Exchange, Fort Sumter, and the Aiken-Rhett House. Romance can be found all over Charleston, whether it’s in iconic scenery like the Rainbow Row, or a stay at a charming bed and breakfast.  No doubt, returning to a historic inn like the John Rutledge House, would be the perfect romantic end to a day of exploring gaslit cobblestone paths.

Finally, Charleston has an awesome restaurant scene.  Two of the most famous places to visit are FIG and Husk, and both are often the subject of debate about which is the best restaurant in Charleston.  Then there are other favorites such as Poogan’s Porch for traditional southern food, and R Kitchen, for a creative daily menu cooked in front of you.  Whether you have in mind a weekend in Charleston or longer, with so many great options in Charleston, it’s hard to go wrong no matter what you choose.

Explored by Theresa McKinney of Fueled by Wanderlust

Where to Stay in Charleston

Classicly Charleston: The John Rutledge House Inn is the perfect choice to really back in the historic setting of Charleston.

St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

Christ Church on St. Simons Island, Georgia

Christ Church on St. Simons Island, Georgia

For a fun weekend getaway on the East Coast, head to St. Simons Island in Georgia. One of Georgia’s Golden Isles, St. Simons Island is a great place to visit year-round. The live oak trees draped in Spanish moss, southern hospitality and laid back atmosphere island-wide make it perfect for romantic weekends or a family escape.

Whatever your interests, St. Simons Island and its neighbor, Jekyll Island, have it. Enjoy long walks on wide sandy beaches and water sports like kayaking, paddle boarding, deep sea fishing and sailing. Explore historic sites like Fort Frederica, Christ Church, the World War II Home Front Museum, St. Simons Lighthouse and the Harrington Schoolhouse which preserves the Gullah-Geechee culture. On land, you can rent bikes to explore the island, enjoy a round of golf or a play a match of tennis. For a relaxing excursion, consider a trolley or boat tour to learn the island’s history and culture.

With dozens of local restaurants, the only hard decision is where to eat. You can’t go wrong with the Georgia Sea Grill which uses locally sourced ingredients, Gnat’s Landing which is a community staple for casual cuisine, and Palmer’s Village Cafe which serves five-star cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. These restaurants are popular with locals, too, so you know they’re great.

Explored by Karen Dawkins of Family Travels on a Budget

Where to Stay in St. Simon’s Island

On the Beach: The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort is the only beach front resort on the island, which offers hotel accommodations, condos and even vacation homes to meet your needs.

The Splurge: For a unique experience and pampered splurge, The Lodge at Sea Island offers championship golf and exceptional service in an English-manor setting. A breathtaking setting.

Or, for a more exclusive East Coast weekend getaway, consider staying on the nearby private island of Little St. Simons.

Florida Springs

The warm natural springs in Florida are almost other-worldly!

The warm natural springs in Florida are almost other-worldly!

One of the best getaways on the East Coast is visiting some of the many natural springs In Florida.  While they are sprinkled around much of the state, there is a higher concentration in the north of Florida. There are over 700 springs in Florida, but northern Florida is home to some of the best, and exploring this region makes for one of our favorite Florida road trips!

You can choose to visit Ginnie Springs and Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park. Ginnie Springs is one of the very few Florida springs that allows drinking alcohol on-premises. You can float down the natural lazy river, scuba dive, snorkel and more.

When you are done relaxing on the water, camp at the campgrounds either in a tent or RV/travel trailer. Camping is very popular and many Florida springs have campgrounds close by so that you can enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Nearby, Ocala National Forest allows for even more spring exploration and hiking, biking, and nature experiences and more. You really can’t go wrong with a Florida springs getaway for an adventurous and relaxing East Coast getaway!

Explored by Victoria Yore of Florida Trippers

Where to Stay near Ginnie Springs & Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park

Moderate: The High Springs Country Inn is a good choice for a comfy stay and just 6 miles from Ginnie Springs and under $75/night.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a fantastic East Coast getaway for a romantic weekend or families traveling with children, as there are many different activities for all ages to enjoy! Some of the best activities to do as a family include mini-golfing (there are so many fun courses in Myrtle Beach), visiting Alligator Adventure, with over 200 different types of animals to see, and visiting Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach. Ripley’s is super-interactive aquarium — a perfect “rainy day” activity in Myrtle Beach. Parasailing is also a favorite family experience in Myrtle Beach.

Beautiful Myrtle Beach

Beautiful Myrtle Beach

Perfect for a parasailing adventure!

Perfect for a parasailing adventure!

For adults looking for some quiet time alone or with friends, tasting the local wineries is always a good idea. Coastal Winery, Duplin Winery and La Belle Amie Vineyard are all good choices. Beer lovers should sample the local craft beer at New South Brewing, And if you’re a fan of golf, there are nearly 100 incredible golf courses to play 18 holes in Myrtle Beach!

No trip to Myrtle Beach would be complete without spending some time on the beach, though. You can stay at a hotel or resort right along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s best to visit Myrtle Beach in the late spring, early fall and summer months – so you can take advantage of the area’s many outdoor activities.

Explored by Lindsey Puls of Have Clothes, Will Travel

Where to Stay in Myrtle Beach

Luxury: Marriott’s OceanWatch Villas at Grande Dunes offers villa-style accommodations with separate living, dining, and kitchen areas, perfect for families.

Moderate: The North Beach Resort & Villas features classic apartment accommodations and a 2.5-acre water park with a swim-up bar. There’s also a full-service golf course and spa. Perfect family getaway.

Direct Beach Access: The Westgate Oceanfront Hotel has direct access to the beach and has many family-friendly swimming pools. It is also located just across the street from the Family Kingdom Amusement Park – which all ages can also enjoy visiting.

Which is YOUR favorite East Coast getaway?

Get ready to pack your bags!

Lori Sorrentino
"Lori Sorrentino is the Editor and Photographer for Travlinmad, a food and travel blog specializing in slow travel and local food experiences. She caught the photography bug as a kid, and started traveling soon thereafter, a combination that eventually led to a career in tourism and destination marketing. She hails from New Jersey but now calls Florida home, and she travels full-time making local connections, discovering new food experiences, and photographing the colors, details and textures wherever she goes."
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