Planning a road trip to the East Coast and not sure where to go? I’ve got you covered with this list featuring the best places to visit and things to do in the East Coast that need to be on your USA bucket list.
Best Places to Visit on the East Coast
The East Coast has a lot to offer including historical attractions, beautiful beaches and stunning coastline, national parks and mountains, incredible fall foliage, charming towns and large must see cities.
Some of these must see places I have already visited and recommend and the rest are places that I have added to my personal East Coast USA bucket list for future travel. So read on if you are looking for inspiration and ideas for your next East Coast vacation or road trip.
(And make sure to check out my complete road trip packing list and road trip music playlist to make sure you have all your road trip essentials before you go!)
What States are in the East Coast?
The East Coast includes all the coastal states that have shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The East Coast region of the USA also includes Vermont, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia even though they do not have coastal access to the Atlantic.
East Coast Bucket List
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Here are the best places to visit in the East Coast. I have included at least one destination from every state to make it easier to plan an East Coast USA road trip.
Maine Bucket List
- Explore Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, one of the best National Parks in the US. Here is a self guided driving tour you can use to explore the park.
- Visit Portland, a charming coastal city packed with historic landmarks.
- Visit Kennebunkport, a historic coastal town in southern Maine known for its beaches and being home to the summer home of the Bush family.
New Hampshire Bucket List
- Explore the stunning White Mountains, a mountain range with many hiking spots of all levels.
- Drive Kancamagus Highway, a 34.5 mile scenic drive along Route 112 and one of the best New England drives for fall foliage. For those that prefer not to drive, you can visit on a fall foliage day trip tour from Boston.
Vermont Bucket List
- Do a fall road trip in Vermont to see the beautiful fall foliage.
- Visit the picturesque town of Stowe.
Massachusetts Bucket List
- Visit Boston. Some Boston must dos include walking the Freedom Trail, watching a game at Fenway Park and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
- Relax at Cape Cod.
- Learn about the history of the witch trials at Salem.
- Visit Martha’s Vineyard, a tiny island which is a popular summer vacation destination for wealthy East Coast residents.
Rhode Island Bucket List
- Explore Newport, a beach town known for its lavish mansions from the Gilded Age. You can visit on a day trip from Boston.
Connecticut Bucket List
- Visit the charming town of Mystic that inspired the movie Mystic Pizza.
New York Bucket List
- Visit New York City. Read: Weekend in New York City Itinerary from a Local
- See Niagara Falls from the US side.
- Visit the Hamptons, the popular summer getaway for New Yorkers including many celebrities.
- Visit the beautiful Taughannock Falls and the state park.
- Explore Watkins Glen State Park.
- Visit the Hudson Valley Region, one of the best places in the US to see fall colors.
Pennsylvania Bucket List
- Visit Philadelphia. Visit Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Eastern State Penitentiary and have a Philly cheesesteak.
- See the historical attractions in Gettysburg, including the grounds of the Battle of Gettysburg, the most important battle of the Civil War.
New Jersey Bucket List
- Go gambling in Atlantic City, one of the most popular and well known cities in the Jersey Shore.
- Hang out at Liberty State Park and enjoy great views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
- Visit beautiful Cape May. Just look at all the things to do in Cape May, NJ and you’ll realize how amazing this place is.
West Virginia Bucket List
- See the New River Gorge Bridge. If you are feeling adventurous, you can sign up for bridge walk guided tour where you cross the catwalk under the bridge.
Delaware Bucket List
- Visit Rehoboth Beach, a Delaware beach town with the Rehoboth Boardwalk, plus Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore state parks.
Maryland Bucket List
- Visit Baltimore. Don’t miss the historic waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point and make sure to try Maryland’s famous crab cakes.
Washington, D.C. Bucket List
- Exploring the capital of the United States of America is a must on any East Coast bucket list. Must see attractions include the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and National Mall. The city is especially beautiful (but crowded) during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring.
Virginia Bucket List
- Visit Luray Caverns, the largest and most popular caverns in the East Coast.
- Explore Shenandoah National Park. Make sure to drive all or part of Skyline Drive, the one and only road that goes through Shenandoah National Park. Read: Complete Guide to Shenandoah National Park.
- Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Parkway and America’s longest linear park known for its scenic beauty. It is considered is one of the best road trips in the US and runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina starting from Shenandoah National Park. One of the most picturesque stops is Mabry Mill, a watermill located at milepost 176.2.
- Explore historic sites and museums on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement.
- Visit Virginia Beach.
North Carolina Bucket List
- Visit Asheville. One of the highlights is a visit to the historic Biltmore Estate, the largest house in the United States.
- Visit the Outer Banks, a chain of islands off the coast of North Carolina.
- Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park, which is located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.
- Drive the South Carolina portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Highlights in South Carolina include: The Blowing Rock (a formation with sweeping views of peaks, forests and the Johns River Gorge), Linn Cove Viaduct (a 1,243-foot long bridge made of segmented concrete that hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and one of the most photographed sections of the parkway) and Linville Falls, North Carolina’s most photographed waterfall.
South Carolina Bucket List
- Visit the charming city of Charleston.
- Visit Myrtle Beach, a vacation resort known for golf and a beach with a boardwalk and music variety shows.
- Visit Hilton Head Island, offering 12 miles of pristine beaches and several golf courses. If you visit between May and October, you can see the sea turtles that visit the beaches to lay their nests. There is a ferry service from Savannah, Georgia.
Georgia Bucket List
- Visit Atlanta. Read: 48 Hours in Atlanta: The Perfect 2 Day Itinerary
- Visit Helen, a Bavarian-style town in Northeast Georgia which hosts an annual Oktoberfest every fall.
- Visit the beautiful historic city of Savannah.
- Visit Tybee Island, a barrier island located 20 minutes from downtown Savannah, a popular vacation destination with miles of wide, clean beaches sandy beaches.
Florida Bucket List
- Visit Miami. Highlights include Miami Beach, Wynwood Walls and the Little Havana neighborhood. One of the busiest time to visit other than spring break is during Art Basel in December.
- Drive from Miami to Key West on the scenic Overseas Highway (one of the best American road trips).
- Visit the Florida Keys. Don’t miss Dry Tortugas National Park, which offers great snorkeling and diving. Read: Weekend in Key West: 3 Day Itinerary.
- Swim with manatees in Crystal River. You can join a day tour from Orlando if you don’t have a car.
- See wildlife at Everglades National Park, the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent. For those without a car, you can visit on a day trip tour from Miami.
- Have fun at Walt Disney World.
- Have fun at Universal Studios in Orlando.
- Visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where you see the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis℠ on display, meet a real veteran NASA astronaut and experience interactive simulators, live shows and educational exhibits.
- Visit Tampa. Must see attractions include the Tampa Riverwalk, the Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens.
- Visit St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. Read: Weekend in St. Augustine: 3 Day Itinerary.
- Visit Tarpon Springs, a city known as the “Sponge Capital of the World.” Its narrow streets, whitewashed buildings, food, culture, and traditions display its Greek immigrant history.
So there you have it – the ultimate East Coast USA bucket list. If there is an experience or place I should include let me know in the comments below!
Need more travel inspiration? Check out some of my other USA travel bucket lists below:
- Best Places to Visit on the West Coast
- Best Places to Visit in the Midwest
- Best Places to Visit in the Southwest