Back Road Ramblers

The Absolute Best Family Vacations on the East Coast in 2024

By Author Tara Schatz

Posted on Published: April 3, 2024

Categories Destinations , Mid-Atlantic States , New England USA , Southeast USA , United States

Miles of sandy beaches, world-class museums, glacier-scoured mountains, and a plethora of cool historic sites. If you’re in the throes of planning your next family vacation, don’t neglect the East Coast of the United States!

east coast family vacations

Not only does the east coast of the US feature some of the most kid-friendly cities in the entire world, but this massive geographic region is also fantastic for outdoor recreation or that quintessential beach vacation.

Throw in a few crazy affordable flight deals , and you got the beginning of a stellar east coast vacation.

To make things easier, we’ve divided this post into three sections: kid-friendly cities (both large and small), spots for outdoor adventures, and east coast beach vacations.

Most of these beautiful east coast locations we’ve explored with our own family (we zip up and down the east coast more than we want to admit). The others are on our family bucket list!

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you’re already knee-deep in planning mode, here are the best family vacations on the east coast, both well-known and obscure.

Table of Contents

Best Family Vacations on the East Coast: Kid-Friendly Cities

City vacations are not usually my cup of tea (I’m all about small-town vacations!), but my two kiddos love urban getaways. While that has caused a bit of vacation-planning strife over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the cultural attractions, incredible restaurants, and beautiful architecture that big east coast cities offer.

Living in Vermont, we are within a day’s drive of lots of great cities. Here are our favorite small and large cities for fun (and not too chaotic) east coast family vacations.

I know I’m going to get grief for not including two of my personal favorite big cities, New York and Boston. As much as I love them, I think the cities on this list are better choices for kids.

Washington D.C.

the white house twilight dp

When it comes to affordability and kid appeal, it’s difficult to hold a candle to Washington D.C. Home to the world’s largest museum complex (which just happens to be completely free for visitors), D.C. is a walkable city with enough cultural attractions to keep families busy for a week or more.

Most of Washington’s monuments are clustered in a park-like setting on or near the Washington Mall. Families can ride to the top of the Washington Monument, pay their respects at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, and learn about America’s most iconic presidents at dozens of memorials.

What do kids love about Washington D.C.? Sleuthing at The International Spy Museum , catching a show about Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater , and visiting the pandas at Smithsonian’s National Zoo .

Where to stay: Save yourself major headaches by staying near the National Mall. I promise that it’s worth the extra cost. With basic amenities and clean rooms, the State Plaza Hotel is within walking distance of all the major attractions and is very affordable.

How to get around: If you don’t mind getting your steps in while pounding the pavement, you can do much of your touring on foot. D.C.’s Metro system is an affordable choice for visiting the zoo or traveling outside of the downtown area.

Recommended tour : The Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour allows you to explore monuments and museums at your own pace. 15 sites are included and you can purchase a one or two-day pass.

Philadelphia, PA

independence hall philadelphia dp

Philadelphia is another major east coast city that proves that urban family vacations can be affordable. With oodles of free attractions and activities, wonderful family-friendly museums, and some of the best restaurants we’ve tried anywhere, Philadelphia should be on every family’s bucket list.

History buffs will absolutely want to visit the Liberty Bell (free, but expect long lines), take a tour of Independence Hall , where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were signed, and meander around Old City, with its cobblestone streets and 18th-century charm.

What do kids love about Philadelphia? Little kiddos love exploring the exhibits at Please Touch Museum in historic Memorial Hall, and older kids delight in the hands-on science exhibits at The Franklin Institute , one of the East Coast’s most beloved science museums.

Where to stay: Philadelphia is made up of several smaller neighborhoods, each with its own character and vibe. We haven’t tried them all, but we love Fishtown for its walkability and great restaurants. This cute apartment is affordable and sleeps five people with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. It even has an outdoor patio with a barbecue.

How to get around: Philadelphia is rated as one of the best walking cities in the country, and the different neighborhoods and great outdoor spaces make it fun to explore on foot. You can also buy a day pass to SEPTA , the city-wide train/subway system, and get within a few blocks of most city attractions.

Recommended tour : For kids 12 and up, this Segway Tour is a fun way to explore some of Philadelphia’s most iconic sites. It’s a small-group tour that lasts about two hours.

Atlanta, GA

Atlanta editorial dp

Atlanta is absolutely one of the best family vacations on the East Coast for iconic kid-friendly attractions that will impress toddlers and teens alike. This sprawling city is home to the world’s largest aquarium , the College Football Hall of Fame , and the famous Coca-Cola factory . But, there’s so much more!

Atlanta is a choose-your-own-adventure type city, and if you enjoy outdoor spaces, there are dozens of parks with playgrounds and walking trails. Atlanta Botanical Garden is located in Piedmont Park and features 30 acres of beautiful year-round displays.

No trip to Atlanta would be complete without a visit to the family-friendly Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park . Families can tour the park where King was born, see Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and pay respects at his gravesite.

What do kids love about Atlanta? Frolicking around the Fountain of Rings in Centennial Park , visiting one of the oldest zoos in America , and catching a Broadway show at the historic Fox Theatre .

Where to stay: Courtland Grand Hotel features an indoor and outdoor pool and a great restaurant with patio dining. It’s a short walk to Centennial Park or the Georgia Aquarium.

How to get around: The MARTA system provides decent coverage in the downtown and mid-town areas, but we have found that car travel, either your own or Uber works better.

Recommended tour: CityPASS is such a good deal for Atlanta attractions. It includes entry into Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and Zoo Atlanta, as well as your choice of two additional attractions. Use your pass for up to nine consecutive days.

Roanoke, VA

View of Roanoke, Virginia from Mill Mountain

Roanoke is not a big city, and for that reason, it may not be on your radar as one of the best family vacations on the East Coast, but it’s honestly one of the first cities that I recommend to parents who are looking for something different.

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains (right off the Blue Ridge Parkway !), Roanoke is a city that wholeheartedly embraces the outdoors. There are 55 parks within the city limits, as well as eight recreation centers, five public plazas, two public pools, and two dog parks.

Families can check out the daily outdoor farmers’ market, visit the iconic Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain, and visit Roanoke’s awesome  Taubman Museum of Art , which offers free general admission every day of the week and includes eleven galleries of modern American art. 

What do kids love about Roanoke? Center in the Square, a massive art and cultural center that includes the Roanoke Pinball Museum , Kids Square Children’s Museum, and The Science Museum of Western Virginia .

Where to stay: Try a glamping experience in Explore Park , where you can rent a yurt, glamping tent, or cabin for a few nights.

How to get around: We recommend driving to Roanoke on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A car is the best way to get around the city.

Read Next: The Best Things to Do in Roanoke, Virginia is an overview of the city’s best attractions for kids and adults. The Best Parks in Roanoke will help you plan awesome outdoor adventures.

Burlington, VT

The Burlington Vermont waterfront.

Are you ready to explore Vermont’s largest city with your family?

Burlington, Vermont  is such a special place! It’s a great city for families – not too big, with a walkable downtown, and breathtaking scenery as you look out over Lake Champlain.

Burlington is home to the University of Vermont, the famous Church Street Marketplace, and about 42,000 residents. It’s a mecca for beer and coffee drinkers, foodies, and shoppers, and has been named the healthiest city in the United States many times over.

It’s also one of the best family vacation spots on the East Coast!

Located on the shore of Lake Champlain, one of the best ways to explore this beautiful city is to get out on the water, or at least beside it.

The paved Burlington Greenway runs along the water for eight miles, connecting several awesome parks and recreation areas, including the Burlington Waterfront, North Beach, and Leddy Park. Rent a bike at Local Motion and spend the day cruising along the lake, stopping for a dip when it gets too hot.

There’s no better way to enjoy summer, than with a sunset cruise on Lake Champlain. The Spirit of Ethan Allen departs from the Burlington Waterfront for sunset cruises on Friday and Saturday evenings through the summer, and sightseeing cruises are offered daily.

What do kids love about Burlington? Hands-on fun at The Echo Leahy Center Lake Champlain , followed by an afternoon at North Beach .

Where to stay: Hilton Garden Inn is located right on Main Street, within walking distance to all of downtown Burlington. It has an indoor pool for extra family fun.

How to get around: There is a public bus system in Burlington, but it’s far easier to stay downtown and get around on foot.

Read Next : Things to Do in the Summer with Kids in Burlington and Best Easy Hikes Near Burlington

Family Vacations on the East Coast: Outdoor Adventures

For East Coast vacations that are both affordable and family-friendly, consider embarking on an outdoor adventure with your kiddos!

For our family, outdoor-based vacations started because we were on a serious budget, but we quickly discovered that exploring the outdoors wherever we go is our favorite way to travel, with or without kids!

Here are the best family vacations on the East Coast for amazing outdoor activities.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC and TN

A dirt road leading into Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

America’s most-visited national park sees more than 11 million visitors annually. But that’s no reason not to visit this special place!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park features 800 miles of hiking trails crisscrossing more than 520,000 acres of mostly forested lands.

With numerous kid-friendly attractions, amusement parks, and conveniences in nearby Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, combined with beautiful campgrounds, wildlife, views, and recreation opportunities, this could easily be considered the adventure of a lifetime.

We definitely recommend choosing a campground first, and then planning your itinerary with hikes and adventures nearby so you don’t spend all your time driving. If exploring Gatlinburg with kids is part of that itinerary, make Elkmont Campground your home base. Cades Cove Campground is smaller, more remote, and close to some great hiking trails.

What do kids love about Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Kids enjoy seeing all the wildlife (sightings of bears, deer, raccoons, and turkeys are common). The easy hike to Clingman’s Dome , while crowded, is a favorite for kids of all ages. This is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6,643 feet.

Where to stay: We 100% recommend camping, but we know that’s not for everyone. Greystone Lodge on the River in Gatlinburg is a great place and close to all of the kid-friendly attractions in the city, and it’s got a nice outdoor pool for after-hours fun.

White Mountains National Forest, NH

Sunset from a vista on the Kancamagus Highway near Lincoln New Hampshire.

Where in New England can you find hard-core hiking opportunities, a world-famous scenic byway, and spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes?

If you said the White Mountains in New Hampshire, you win a prize!

The quaint resort town of Lincoln, New Hampshire is nestled in the Western White Mountains of New Hampshire, and it’s a mecca for hikers, campers, road trippers, and family vacationers.

If pitching your tent in this ancient forest sounds like fun, you can choose from six front-country campgrounds right off the Kancamagus Highway, which by the way is a must-drive road trip featuring great hiking trails, beautiful overlooks, road-side waterfalls, and covered bridges.

Franconia Notch State Park spans 6,693 acres in the White Mountains. This is one of those state parks that rivals many national parks in the United States. Families visiting Franconia Notch can check out the gorgeous waterfalls at Flume Gorge, swim in Echo Lake, and Cannon Mountain Aeriel Tramway.

What do kids love about the White Mountains? All the kid-friendly attractions in Lincoln, New Hampshire! These include the Hobo Railroad ,   Whale’s Tale Waterpark, and Hobo Hills Mini Golf .

Where to stay: RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain is located in Lincoln, New Hampshire at the base of South Peak. The resort maintains year-round heated pools, is within walking distance of Lincoln restaurants and attractions, and features spacious family-friendly rooms with balconies. It’s a great place to make your White Mountains home base.

How to get around: You will definitely need a car to make the most of the White Mountains.

Also read: The Best Things to Do in Lincoln, New Hampshire and 5 Reasons to Love RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain

Canoe Camping in the Adirondacks, NY

A boy sleeps on a red kayak in the water.

For outdoor lovers who have always wanted to try canoe camping, but didn’t know where to go, consider heading to the St. Regis Canoe Area in the Adirondacks of Upstate New York.

This is the perfect spot for beginners – where can you camp somewhere new every night, bask in the glory of breathtaking, wilderness scenery, and swim in pristine mountain lakes whenever the mood strikes you.

St. Regis s the largest wilderness canoe area in the northeastern United States, covering 19,000 acres in Franklin County of New York. It is also the only designated canoe area in New York State.

Canoe campsites are totally free and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you don’t have a canoe of your own, you can rent one pond-side at St. Regis Outfitters before heading on your way.

What do kids love about canoe camping in the Adirondacks? Never having to get in a car, fantastic swimming, and primitive camping!

Where to stay: Stay in a different campsite every night as you tour the area, or choose a spot and take paddling day trips!

Read next: Plan a Canoe Camping Adventure in the St. Regis Canoe Area

Best Family Vacations on the East Coast: Beach Vacations

I’d be remiss to not include a few of our favorite family-friendly beach vacations on the East Coast. Personally, I’m not much of a beach person, but this isn’t about me. And our kids always enjoy a weekend at the beach!

Here are the best family vacations on the East Coast for beach lovers!

Cape Henlopen State Park, DE

The beach at Cape Henlopen State Park.

Crashing waves on a stretch of wild Atlantic coastline, miles of beautiful hiking trails, and affordable camping and cabins near the beach. Welcome to Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware , the perfect stretch of sand for your next ocean getaway, and one of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast.

This gem of a park encompasses 5,193 acres in Sussex County, and according to the Delaware State Parks website, Cape Henlopen Beaches are some of the most popular in the state. What makes Cape Henlopen State Park so awesome, though, is that there is way more to do than swim in the ocean or lie on the sand.

Hiking, biking, fishing, disc golf, and kayaking are all easy ways to relax at Cape Henlopen. You could spend a week here and not run out of amazing things to do!

At Cape Henlopen, there’s a special surfing beach, a beach just for fishing, and a lovely bayside beach with quiet water for families with littles. Dogs are allowed on the beaches during the off-season, but not during the summer when lifeguards are on duty.

What do kids love about Cape Henlopen State Park? The free bike rentals and climbing to the top of the Fort Miles Observation Tower.

Where to stay: The best way to explore Cape Henlopen State Park is to pitch your tent or rent one of the camping cabins in the campground. The adorable town of Lewes, Delaware also has some lovely hotels .

Read next: Magic in Delaware: Discover Cape Henlopen State Park

Acadia National Park, ME

View of the Atlantic Ocean from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine.

Acadia National Park is one of those special places that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime, and it’s also one of our favorite beach vacations in New England.

This beautiful coastal park on the Atlantic Ocean encompasses 47,000 acres of forests, granite peaks, and rocky beaches. Visitors can hike a variety of beautiful trails, kayak quiet bays and inlets, or swim in a freshwater lake before heading into Bar Harbor for an indulgent seafood dinner.

Because Acadia National Park can be congested during the summer months, we recommend visiting in early or late summer. As much as we love a scenic drive, experiencing Acadia while stuck in traffic isn’t much fun!

What do kids love about Acadia National Park? Hiking the Wonderland Trail at low tide, swimming in Jordon Pond or Echo Lake, and looking for wildlife on an Acadian boat tour (boat rides leave from Bar Harbor).

Where to stay: Pitch your tent at one of two campgrounds on Mount Desert Island or stay at Acadia Inn in Bar Harbor, where you can swim in the outdoor pool and hike right into the park.

How to get around: You will need a car to properly explore Acadia National Park.

Read next: Check out this four-day itinerary for families from Packed for Life !

Outer Banks, NC

Bodie Lighthouse in the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The Outer Banks (OBX) is a collection of barrier islands stretching more than 130 miles along the Atlantic Coast in North Carolina. Characterized by white sandy beaches, small towns and villages, and more summer sunshine than should be legal, the OBX makes a wonderful spot for a laid-back beach vacation.

While the Outer Banks is no longer a hidden gem, the beaches are rarely overcrowded. Visitors often find a favorite spot to call their own, and we’re partial to the area around Nags Head and Coquina Beach , where you can walk for miles and miles along the shore.

Surf and sand may be all you need for a family beach vacation, but there are plenty of other things to keep you and your kiddos busy for days. Tour the Bodie Island Lighthouse , see where the Wright Brothers took their first flight at Kitty Hawk, and cast a line from Jeanette’s Pier .

What do kids love about the Outer Banks? Learning about the lost colony of Roanoke at Fort Raleigh National Historical Park .

Where to stay in OBX: You have so many choices! During our recent visit, we found this affordable, two-bedroom condo with a community pool and lovely sunsets (there’s a three-night minimum).

How to get around: You will definitely need a car to explore this family vacation spot.

Read next: Trip Chiefs has a great post about exploring the Outer Banks with kids.

Do you have a favorite spot on the East Coast for family vacations? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Survive the family road trip! Read these next –

  • Survive the Family Road Trip in 10 Easy Steps
  • The Best Beach Vacations in the US
  • Incredible Winter Family Vacations for Non-Skiers
  • The Best Lake Vacations for Families in the USA

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Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She is the co-author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont and currently blogs at Back Road Ramblers and Vermont Explored , where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone.

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The Family Vacation Guide

The Family Vacation Guide

east coast trips with toddlers

Recommended: The 20 Best Family Weekend Getaways on the East Coast

posted by James Brockbank on December 6, 2021 // last updated on April 13, 2022

The East Coast of the United States is dotted with beautiful locales for a family vacation. There is more to discover from big cities to quaint towns, from Maine down to Florida, than you could see in a decade or more. 

Below, we’ve compiled 20 of our favorite places to take the family for a weekend excursion along the eastern seaboard. 

Charleston, South Carolina

Portland, maine, asheville, north carolina, newport, rhode island, saratoga springs, new york, cape may, new jersey, st. simon’s island, georgia, washington, d.c., martha’s vineyard, massachusetts, outer banks, north carolina, amelia island, florida, white mountains, new hampshire, bethany beach, delaware, virginia beach, virginia, bar harbor, maine, philadelphia, pennsylvania, savannah, georgia, ocean city, maryland, st. augustine, florida, boston, massachusetts, other places to consider for your family weekend getaway.

east coast trips with toddlers

Charleston is one of the most beautiful places in the United States, and it has so much to offer families. The downtown area is highly walkable, where you can see beautiful historic homes, gardens, cobblestone streets, parks, and much more. Don’t forget to browse the vendors at the blocks-long City Market, established in 1790.

Downtown has a plethora of shops, restaurants, art galleries, antique shops, and more to browse. There are plenty of toy stores to keep your kids entertained too! The South Carolina Aquarium, located on the water, is also a must-see for families.

In addition to the attractions downtown, there are also several beaches nearby. Many families like to stay in the Isle of Palms to be close to its long, beautiful, family-friendly beach and make the drive into Charleston for parts of the day. Or, check out Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach.

Charleston is also a short drive from Hilton Head Island (about two hours), another fantastic family destination with lots to do with children. You could easily stay in one location and take a day trip to the other.

east coast trips with toddlers

Portland is a charming, quintessentially New England city located in southern Maine on the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to stroll downtown, see the Head Light Lighthouse, visit Peaks Island with sandy and rocky beaches, and of course, try a lobster roll.

They have an exceptional Children’s Museum and Theatre, perfect for hands-on fun with young children. You can take a ferry ride any time of the year (even winter) for beautiful views of Portland Bay and Duck Tours for an exciting land and sea adventure. 

Or try Lucky Catch Cruises, where your kids can learn all about lobstering and fishing, one of the oldest trades in New England.

If you have sports fanatics in your family, catch a Portland Sea Dogs game, the Red Sox AA affiliate team. There is also minor league basketball with the Maine Red Claws, owned by the Boston Celtics.

east coast trips with toddlers

Asheville is one of the most beautiful places in the country, with plenty to do for outdoors enthusiasts and indoor types, as well as adults and children of all ages. Asheville is nestled in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Enjoy hiking trails, nature walks, and other adventures in the acres upon acres of public parks and land.

Try ziplining through the trees for an authentic outdoor adventure or climb in an aerial adventure park. Asheville has some of the most popular aerial courses in the country, and the views from the treetops can’t be beaten. 

You can also try a variety of water sports on Lake Lure during the warmer months. Rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and more, or just swim in the calm and clean waters.

Asheville has an adorable downtown with miles of streets lined with locally-owned restaurants, shops and boutiques, art galleries, entertainment, and more. 

No visit to Asheville is complete without seeing the Biltmore Estate, too. This sprawling Vanderbilt family mansion is set on more than 3,000 acres. In addition to touring the home, see stunning views of the surrounding landscape, shop, dine, and run around the meticulously manicured gardens.  

east coast trips with toddlers

Speaking of Vanderbilt mansions, Newport is the summer home of the family’s historic “cottages” and those of several other old, wealthy American families. 

One of the most fun things to do in Newport is seeing and touring historic homes, especially along the 3.5 miles long Cliff Walk (just do portions of it if that’s too far for your littles). If you have a child interested in history (particularly the Victorian Era), they will love Newport.

One of the most incredible things to do in Newport is taking a helicopter tour, which is surprisingly affordable. It’s a thrilling and memorable adventure for kids. Of course, one of the best things to do with kids is to enjoy the beach. Newport has public beaches and lots of hotels and homes for rent with beach access.

There are many other things to do in Newport with kids of all ages. Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame or the Museum of Newport History, ride the Newport Trolley, and see Ocean Drive and Thames Street. There’s also the Exploration Center and Aquarium, which has interactive, hands-on exhibits and traditional aquarium activities and features. 

east coast trips with toddlers

The Upstate New York city of Saratoga Springs is perfect for a family visit throughout the year. If you visit between mid-July and Labor Day, spend a day at the racehorse track. It’s surprisingly family-friendly with activities for kids, lots of yummy food, and plenty of excitement.

Other than the track, you can see several different types of classical concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, an outdoor amphitheater. Lawn tickets are ideal for families because kids can run around, and you can bring food, and tickets are inexpensive, so no worries about leaving early.

Explore the trails and natural waters throughout the Saratoga Spa State Park, which also has two public pools, including Peerless Pool with slides. Or take a short drive to the hundreds of trails and sites within the Adirondack Mountain State Park (about 45 minutes north). 

Saratoga has a delightful children’s museum located in its vibrant, artsy downtown. That area is packed with unique shops, local restaurants and cafes, entertainment and family activities, and much more. 

Saratoga also has several museums with child-friendly activities and exhibits, like the National Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, the National Museum of Dance, the Saratoga Automobile Museum, and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum of Art.

east coast trips with toddlers

While most persons likely have a less than favorable family idea of the “Jersey Shore,” the truth is that many of its towns and cities are great for kids. This is perhaps most true in stately, elegant Cape May, located in the southern coastal part of the state, closer to Philadelphia than New York City.

One of the best things to do in Cape May is the beach, which tends to be quiet and attract a lot of families. They also do movies on the beach at night during the summer. 

Take a ride on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, see Cape May Point State Park, visit the Aviation Museum and the Cape May County Park and Zoo. In addition, be sure to go to the Cape May Nature Center, where they have interactive activities designed especially for kids of varying age ranges. 

Don’t shy away from the rest of the Jersey Shore, either. It offers a lot to see and many budget-friendly locales with fair rides, games, and of course, the beach. Everywhere you go, you can also rent watercraft like kayaks and canoes, or for family fun, try renting surreys to ride down one of the famous boardwalks.

St. Simon’s Island is part of Georgia’s Golden Isles, located on the Atlantic Coast. One of the best parts of St. Simon’s is miles and miles of pristine beaches, leaving plenty of room for vacationing families. If you like to get some pool time, visit FunZone Waterpark, which has tons of slides and other fun features. 

If anyone in your family likes to fish, or if you want your kiddos to give it a try, then St. Simon’s Island is perfect. It’s known widely for its world-class fishing opportunities, but close to shore and deep-sea. 

One popular activity on St. Simon’s Island is renting bikes. You can ride down the beach or use yours to get around the island, which is very bike and pedestrian-friendly. There are trolley tours of the island, perfect for a cloudy day, as is a visit to the Lighthouse Museum or a tour of Fort King George.

east coast trips with toddlers

Our nation’s capital is a must-see destination for all Americans, and it’s delightful to go while you’re young. Plus, it installs a sense of patriotism in the entire family. Be sure to see some of the basics: walk the National Mall and see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Korean, Vietnam, and World War II Memorials, and the White House.

You should plan your trip to DC pretty far in advance so you can schedule a tour of the Capitol, Supreme Court and even try for a tour of the White House. Your child will get a thrill every time they see those buildings in the news or learn about them in school.

There are tons more activities for kids and families in Washington. One of the best things about the city is that the national museums are free. Kids especially love the National Zoo, the Air and Space Museum, and the American History Museum. 

Be sure to check out special programs at the other ones, like the Native American Museum, American Portrait Gallery, the Building Museum, and the African American History Museum. While it’s not free, the International Spy Museum is also fascinating for kids.

It isn’t all history and learning, though. Visit the Beauvoir Playground, which features rope bridges, jungle gyms, and even a zip line. There are many other parks to enjoy, including Georgetown Waterfront Park, The Yards Park, Rock Creek Park Nature Center, and the Washington Youth Garden. 

east coast trips with toddlers

Martha’s Vineyard is a small island on the southern tip of Massachusetts, south of the busier and more well-known Cape Cod. Because it is quieter and a bit slower, some families prefer it. There are lots of things to do with kids besides spending time on the beach, although the waters will draw your entire family.

If your kids love animals, then check out the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. You can kayak in the quiet waters and keep your eyes out for birds, fish and sea creatures, and much more. Other opportunities to see wildlife and explore the outdoors include Aquinnah Cliffs and Felix Neck Sanctuary. You can also visit the Island Alpaca Company, a 19-acre alpaca farm. 

There are also quicker attractions perfect for afternoons when everyone has had a little too much sun: the Flying Horses Carousel is one of them. It is the oldest platform carousel in the country, operating since 1876. Or, see the Edgartown Lighthouse from 1875.

Another must-see in Martha’s Vineyard is the adorable, quaint gingerbread house village known as the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. Built in the early 19th century, you can even rent one of these houses for your family’s stay.

east coast trips with toddlers

The Outer Banks of North Carolina isn’t a single municipality but rather a 200-mile stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean. Simply driving out to the Outer Banks is an adventure enough of its own.

Be sure to research where you stay and which beach you visit, as some have tranquil seas while others are better for surfing and waves. There are many places to see animals in action, most notably wild horses (you can schedule a tour) on Corolla. Don’t forget to visit Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge!

The Outer Banks have all of the attractions that popular tourist destinations feature, including mini-golf, arcades, parks, bike rentals, watercraft rentals, and much, much more. Another fun thing to do is tour lighthouses, most of which have different exteriors, so it’s fun to compare and contrast. It also makes an excellent rainy day activity.

For some history, visit Roanoke Island Festival Park and Maritime Museum. There’s also an aquarium in Roanoke and the Wright Brothers National Memorial, where your child can become a Junior Ranger.  

east coast trips with toddlers

Amelia Island is another beautiful locale for a seaside adventure. Of course, you’ll want to spend time at the beach, and Amelia Island has 13 miles of coastline beaches, along with several public pools. Many accommodations, including hotels and home rentals, are located right on the water or within walking distance.

Another family favorite is the (free) Pirate Playground. Designed for kids of all ages and abilities (there are special features for children with physical and mental disabilities), it integrates physical activity, art, music, and imagination. 

Best of all, it has access to Egan’s Creek Greenway, which features over 300 acres of preserved wild land. There are miles of trails for walking, hiking, and biking, and you can see unique wildlife, including birds, alligators, and deer.

If the Greenway doesn’t provide enough nature, visit the Nature Center at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. While there, your kids can interact with parrots, tiny sea creatures and more, while learning about the ecosystem around them. Or take a cruise for dolphin sightings.

The island also offers a bevy of restaurants, cafes, shops, and more hubs of excitement that are appropriate for kids. Visit bookstores and toy stores galore downtown. 

east coast trips with toddlers

There is so much to offer families in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which is an admittedly vast area ideal for outdoorsy families. 

There are miles and miles of hiking and walking trails, swimming in rivers, creeks, lakes, and even places to go white water rafting (gentle to advanced). You’ll see all kinds of wildlife, waterfalls, glacial pools, and much more.

The White Mountains offer a lot of other attractions as well. There are plenty of places to rent bikes, kayaks, canoes, and other sports equipment. There’s also Whale’s Tale Waterpark, Story Land and Santa’s Village amusement parks, and the Loon Mountain Resort Gondola, the area’s longest Skyride. Be sure to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway and get a free sticker at the top!

There are several high-end resorts in the White Mountains and more budget-friendly hotels and cabin rentals. Or, make it a real outdoors experience by camping in one of the area’s many campsites.

east coast trips with toddlers

As is implied by the name, one of the best things to do in Bethany Beach is spend time oceanside on the beach. Your kids will love playing in the soft sand in this low-key resort town. You can rent all kinds of watersports equipment, including kiteboards, kayaks, and much more.

In addition to the waterfront, Bethany Beach has a classic, old-fashioned boardwalk lined with souvenir stores, candy and ice cream shops, arcades and game spots, boutiques, restaurants, and much more. You can easily spend evenings strolling and enjoying or take a break from the sun during the day.

Other favorite family activities include riding the Bethany Beach trolley, renting bikes, and banana boat rides in Shark’s Cove Marina. You can also find classic tourist activities, such as mini-golf, an indoor amusement park called Arnie’s Playland.

Bethany Beach is a short drive to some other adorable beach towns in Delaware and neighboring states. It is also relatively affordable to find accommodations, including hotels, motels, home rentals, and campsites. Just be sure to book in advance for the busy summer season.

east coast trips with toddlers

We’ve included a lot of beach towns on this list, but Virginia Beach has a lot more to offer than just the waterfront. Families love the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, which has hundreds of species of animals, including otters, sharks, komodo dragons, turtles, Egyptian cobras, and many more.

The Adventure Park is next door to the aquarium, an aerial climbing adventure park for children and adults. They have several courses that are rated easy, and they have separate courses for young children to learn as well. Enjoy a zipline over the water!

There are tons of other things to do in Virginia Beach. Biking is very popular everywhere in the city, and it’s a great way to get around. It’s especially fun to do on the boardwalk, which runs miles across the entire oceanfront. Browse shops, restaurants, and more. You can also stay in one of the many hotels on it. 

Other sites in Virginia Beach include the Cape Henry Lighthouse, iFly indoor skydiving, pick-your-own blueberries, and more. The city is surrounded by parks and natural beauty with lots of hiking trails, walking trails, and nature preserves. Even the journey to the city via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel-Bridge is an adventure.

Of course, no trip to VB is complete without spending some time on the beach. Like the waterfront, the beach is miles long, leaving tons of room for all of the tourists, and it’s also very broad, so there’s lots of space. The water tends to be pretty warm throughout the summer, and the surf is high enough for thrill-seekers but calm enough for young kids to enjoy.

east coast trips with toddlers

Maine is a beautiful place to visit year-round, but especially in the summer, and there’s perhaps no better place than Bar Harbor for outdoor fun. One of the best things to do is whale watching through the Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. There’s nothing like seeing these majestic creatures in their natural habitats. You can also see seals and Atlantic puffin.

Downtown Bar Harbor is another quintessential New England town. Your entire family will love browsing the unique shops, restaurants, and, most of all, old-fashioned ice cream parlors. There are three beautiful beaches in and around Bar Harbor and Acadia: Sand Beach, nestled between two granite walls, Echo Lake Beach, which is freshwater, and Seal Harbor Beach.

Bar Harbor is close to Acadia National Park, well-renowned for its natural beauty. See all kinds of water features and tons of wildlife, as well as beautiful rock formations. They have a fantastic Junior Ranger program that will captivate your kids throughout your entire visit. You can even spend some time camping inside of it for your vacation.

east coast trips with toddlers

Philadelphia is another wonderful, patriotic city to visit with children. The historical sites especially cater to children and families. 

You can see the Liberty Bell (crack and all) at the Liberty Bell Center, right across the street from Independence Hall, where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. Both are open to the public but schedule your tour of Independence Hall ahead of time.

There are other things to do and see that aren’t as history-centered. The Adventure Aquarium has over 8,500 animals, including hippos, penguins, and a shark bridge. You can also feed stingrays and other marine life.

The Franklin Institute is a fun-filled, hands-on science museum designed to educate kids of all ages and stages about various scientific principles. If you don’t get enough there, check out the Please Touch Museum, where they want kids especially to touch everything. There’s even a Legoland Discovery Center.

There are lots of outdoor activities as well. The city was designed to preserve green space, so there are lots of parks. Check out Spruce Street Harbor Park, Franklin Square, the Philadelphia Zoo, Blue Cross RiverRink, Smith Memorial Playground, and several others. 

Your Littles will especially love Sesame Place, a Sesame Street-themed playground, while your bigs might enjoy Treetop Quest Philly, an aerial adventure course. 

If you still need more entertainment, there’s also the Bucks County Children’s Museum, The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University (which has dinosaur skeletons), and the Morris Arboretum. 

east coast trips with toddlers

Like Charleston, Savannah is packed with gold old-fashioned southern charm. Nicknamed the “City of Squares,” it has a whopping 24 parks or squares throughout the city, so there’s no shortage of outdoor space for your kids to run around. Many feature stunning live oaks covered in moss for a quintessentially southern feel.

Of all the parks, Forsyth Park is the most must-see. You’ll see the famous fountain directly in the center, which is more than Instagram-worthy. In addition, if your family likes history, it can be a lot of fun to explore the old cemeteries around the city. 

Or check out the Savannah History Museum or the Davenport House to see how people lived in the 1820s and tour Old Fort Jackson. For the braver members of your family, several companies also run ghost tours.

Be sure to visit nearby Tybee Island, with beaches, a lighthouse, and dolphin tours. There’s also the Savannah Children’s Museum, the Georgia Marine Education Center and Aquarium (notice that education comes first!), Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, and shopping and dining along Historic River Street.

east coast trips with toddlers

Ocean City might be small in size (it’s a 10-mile barrier island off the coast), but it’s big on family fun! As you might expect, the best thing to do in Ocean City is to visit the beach. It’s broad even at high tide, with plenty of room for kids to splash and play.

On a rainy day, check out the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum or take a Boardwalk Tram Guide or Old Pro Golf, a mini-golf course that is entirely indoors. The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum teaches kids about the history of rescues, water and otherwise. You might just inspire a future lifeguard of your own.

If you’re looking to escape the sun for a couple of hours, try Frontier Town Western Theme Park, Trimper’s Rides and Amusement Park (which opened in 1887), Jolly Roger Amusement Park, or any one of the arcades, shops, and restaurants that line the boardwalk, which dates from 1869.

east coast trips with toddlers

The last beach town on your list is St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest settlement in the United States. Several beaches have public access, including Butler and Crescent Beaches, St. Augustine Beach, and the beach in Anastasia State Park.

Speaking of parks, there are many opportunities to spend time outdoors and see wildlife. Besides the state park, there’s the St. Augustine Aquarium, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and the St. Augustine Wild Reserve. There’s also Marineland Dolphin Adventure just south of St. Augustine.

There are also bike rentals and lots to do on the water, including boat rentals and St. Augustine Scenic Cruises. Or, board the Black Raven Pirate Ship for a memorable adventure on the high seas. 

Speaking of pirates, there’s tons of pirate history and activities in St. Augustine. Start with Kid Pirate Tours, a company that runs walking tours of the city specifically for kids and includes a pirate training academy. Don’t miss seeing Castillo de San Marcos, the Colonial Quarter, and the Pirate and Treasure Museum.

There are a couple of other must-see history and culture spots as well. Like most beach towns, St. Augustine has a stunning lighthouse that you can climb to the top. You can also visit Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity for the family.

There are a lot of other family-friendly activities in St. Augustine as well, including Castaway Canopy Adventure, a climbing course, Adventure Landing, with mini-golf, go-karts, and more, and Potter’s Wax Museum, perfect for a rainy day.

east coast trips with toddlers

We’ll wrap up with one of the oldest places on the east coast: Boston. If you’ve got history fans in your family, there’s no shortage of places to see, including the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums, visit one of the historic forts around the city (Fort Independence and Fort Warren are two of the most famous), or tour the USS Constitution.

Of course, don’t miss walking and seeing the sites along the Freedom Trail, which is well-marked throughout the city and offers tons of things to do and see. 

In addition to history, Boston has a lot of science-focused activities as well. Check out the Boston Museum of Science, the Boston Children’s Museum, the New England Aquarium, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. 

There’s no shortage of outdoor green space as well. There are tons of parks, including the Boston Commons, the country’s oldest park. You can even schedule a tour of the historic Fenway for little Red Sox fans.

If you’re considering other destinations for your weekend away with the kids, take inspiration from our other handy guides below!

  • 20 Of The Best Weekend Getaways With Kids In The US
  • The Best Family Weekend Getaways near Maryland
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in the Midwest
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Illinois
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Northern California
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways In Ohio
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in NJ
  • The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Virginia
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways In Texas
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways From NYC
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Missouri
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Indiana
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Upstate New York
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Colorado
  • The Best Family Weekend Getaways In Pennsylvania
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Massachusetts
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Washington State
  • Recommended: The Best Family Weekend Getaways in Mississippi

More about our TFVG Author

east coast trips with toddlers

James Brockbank

A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.

Featured in Travel articles such as Travel + Leisure, TripSavvy and SFGate, you know you're reading some of the best vacation tips online.

east coast trips with toddlers

18 Of The Best East Coast Family Vacations and Destinations

Posted on Published: 01/26/2024

I’ve spent 95% of my time living on the East Coast of the United States, and for the most part, I’ve loved it. We are lucky because there are so many great places for East Coast family vacations – many of which we can easily drive to. The East Coast offers many of the top family vacations in the US.

Looking for some vacation inspiration for your next family vacation? Here are some of our favorite East Coast family vacations. Leave us a comment if we left one of your favorite East Coast vacation spots for families off the list.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission when you purchase and/or click through this post.

In addition, we visited a few of these locations as part of press trips (at no, or limited cost to us). All opinions are my own.

Dock in Gloucester with lobster traps and boats in harbor

East Coast Family Vacations

Before planning your vacation, check out this  vacation calculator  that can help you figure out costs. Keep in mind that some of these best East Coast vacations for families can be combined, especially if you can take a longer road trip.

Empire State Building

New York City

I firmly believe that every family from the US should try to have at least one New York City family vacation . It’s one of the best East Coast vacations and one of the top family vacation spots in the world. Living in the Boston area, we are just a few hours away and can visit every few years, especially because there are so many easy transportation options from Boston to NYC . 

In addition to iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building , the Statue of Liberty , and Rockefeller Plaza, there are also countless museums with interactive exhibits, fun NYC family restaurants , and of course, Broadway. Don’t forget to visit Central Park and Times Square.

I generally enjoy visiting in the fall or spring, when the temperatures are great for walking around, although Christmastime is always so beautiful. Keep in mind that it’s especially busy in New York City between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so be prepared for crowds and higher hotel prices. It can also be tougher to get restaurant reservations.

See hotel reviews in NYC here.

Cape Cod beach

Cape Cod, MA

If you are looking for the perfect New England beach vacation, you’ll want to visit Cape Cod. This area of Massachusetts offers over 400 miles of shoreline (the Cape Cod National Seashore National Park), making it a popular East Coast vacation destination in the summer. The Cape has some of the best East Coast beaches for families and is among the best vacation spots on the East Coast.

Families can enjoy traditional summer activities like mini-golf, traditional golf courses, and drive-in movies, as well as fun water sports, outdoor activities, and relaxing time on the beach. There are several great towns and resorts to visit, so you’ll find the perfect spot among all of these beach towns. Cape Cod is also a great place to visit with young children, and there’s so much natural beauty to explore.

If you prefer there are also many vacation rentals offered. On the way to the Cape, make sure that you stop at Plymouth, MA for a visit to the historic Plimoth Patuxet Museums.

There are lots of great family resorts on Cape Cod, including Ocean Edge Resort ( book here ) and the Sea Crest Beach Hotel ( book here ).

See hotel reviews  here. 

Rockport Massachusetts

Cape Ann, MA

Less than an hour north of Boston is Cape Ann, MA, where you’ll find the waterfront towns of Rockport and Gloucester, MA . I love visiting Cape Ann, because it’s less crowded than Cape Cod , but still has some great restaurants, waterfront activities, and shops.

You could combine a trip to Cape Ann with a Boston family vacation because it’s so close. It’s one of my favorite vacation and day trip spots.

Our favorite beaches in Gloucester are Good Harbor Beach and Wingaersheek Beach. They are some of the best beaches in Massachusetts.

Both get very busy on hot summer days, so I recommend arriving early to make sure that you get parking. There are several hotels in the area, and some people prefer to book a vacation home.

See hotels here .

The Boston waterfront

I love my home city of Boston. Even after living right in the city and in the nearby suburbs for twenty years, I still find so many things to do in the area. From the numerous museums, shows, parks, shops, restaurants, and more, you could easily spend at least a week in Boston.

While the snow is beautiful, I do recommend visiting in the late spring, summer, or early fall when the temperatures are best for exploring the city. See our recommendations for neighborhoods in Boston and hotels in Boston to stay in .

See hotel reviews here.

Martha’s Vineyard, MA

One of the most popular presidential vacation destinations over the last few decades, Martha’s Vineyard is one of the best East Coast family vacations. There are a few different towns, all offering quaint shops, delicious restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

You can easily catch a ferry over to the island, and can even choose to bring your car with you if you’d like. When we visited, we did bring our car because we drove all over the island. Many families decide to rent a beach house for their vacation, or there are hotels and resorts on the island ( see reviews here ).

Globe outside of Raleigh museum

Raleigh, NC

My son and I visited Raleigh, North Carolina on a press trip last spring, and we were so pleasantly surprised by all of the great things to do in Raleigh . From watersports and ziplining to museums and restaurants, there’s so much to keep kids occupied.

Not only are there lots of activities, but several of the museums offer free admission, making it an affordable spot for a family vacation. The weather is also generally nice, with fairly mild winters. Our hotel right in the center of town was the perfect spot to stay because we were able to walk to several museums and restaurants.

See hotel reviews here .

National Harbor, MD

After visiting the other three Gaylord Hotels (in Dallas, Orlando, and Nashville ), I knew that I wanted to take my family to the Gaylord National, located in National Harbor, MD . National Harbor is a whole destination in itself, but it’s also a great spot for anyone visiting the attractions in Washington DC and Alexandria, Virginia.

The centerpiece is a gigantic Ferris wheel right on the waterfront, but there are also lots of restaurants and shops right in the area. Guests can drive to DC and Alexandria, or there’s also a boat that can take you there right from the Harbor.

We enjoyed our stay there and would recommend it to anyone who is visiting DC but would like to stay a little outside the city.

The Jefferson Memorial

Washington DC

Washington DC is another destination that is perfect for families to visit – it’s one of the must-see places on the East Coast. I’d generally recommend a visit when your kids are teens or tweens because that’s when your children will truly understand what they are seeing.

A few years ago, we went on our first trip with our kids. We drove from our home in Massachusetts and visited several museums, including the International Spy Museum (which has since relocated to a larger building).

Keep in mind that you’ll need to work through your US Rep or Senator for several visits (including the White House), so it’s best to plan and do your research well in advance. While the actual lodging in the area can be expensive, as it is a city, many of the museums offer complimentary admission.

So it really can be an affordable vacation destination if you plan accordingly. During our visit, we stayed at National Harbor, which was a more affordable option than staying right in the city. Of course, you’ll want to head into the city to see things like the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, the Smithsonian Museums, and the National Mall.

Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland, Maine

I love Portland Maine . After hearing so many great things about it for years, I only recently discovered it for myself. While it’s probably best visited in the summer when you can take advantage of the warm weather for water activities, it’s also a great place to visit in the winter.

I enjoy just walking around town (especially the Old Port section ), checking out the various quaint shops and delicious restaurants . There are also museums and beautiful sites to explore. Be sure to check out the iconic Portland Head Lighthouse.

Other popular spots in Maine include Ogunquit , Acadia National Park, and Bar Harbor. Ogunquit is a quintessential beach town, and it isn’t too far from Boston and Portland.

Mystic CT

Mystic is most famous for the movie and restaurant Mystic Pizza, although there’s so much there to explore. Located right over the Rhode Island border in Connecticut, Mystic offers a fabulous aquarium, seaport village, and shopping area.

We generally stay two nights and are able to see just about everything on our list. It’s best to visit when the weather is warm, because almost all of the seaport and village, and part of the aquarium are outdoors. You’ll do a lot of walking on your trip.

Amelia Island, FL

After visiting Amelia Island for the TMS family travel conference in 2016, it’s one of my favorite spots to recommend for a family vacation. Located just a short drive away from Jacksonville, Amelia Island is easily accessible from most US cities.

There’s Fernandina Beach, a gorgeous beach that is great for families, with numerous parks, delicious food, and fun water sports. During my trip to the conference, I enjoyed a complimentary stay at the Omni Amelia Island Resort ( book here ), a family resort that offers a number of activities for kids. It’s a great spot for a relaxing stay, but you’ll also be able to enjoy more than just the beach.

Virginia Beach Sunset

Virginia Beach, VA

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Virginia Beach during a press trip to Virginia. This beach town area offers a quintessential family beach experience, from biking down the beach boardwalk, to enjoying a splash in the ocean.

I especially love the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center, which is one of the best aquariums that I have been to. Of course, you’ll also get to enjoy some of the best seafood around, at the many delicious restaurants you’ll find around town.

From here, you can also road trip to the Eastern Shore, as well as to Colonial Williamsburg.

Trees along a Savannah street

Savannah, Georgia

The coastal, historic town of Savannah, Georgia is located right on the South Carolina border. It’s a beautiful place to visit for a vacation and offers historic sites such as the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace and the Owens-Thomas House.

Savannah is such a quintessential southern town. There are great restaurants and shops throughout the town.

There’s also Tybee Island , a barrier island located off the coast of Savannah in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great spot for a family beach vacation.

See more things to do in Savannah here.

Kiawah Island, South Carolina

This Atlantic barrier island in South Carolina is a popular beach destination. Located southwest of Charleston, Kiawah is known as a beach and golfing destination. Families will enjoy visiting Night Heron Park, which includes a nature center and pool area.

Kiawah boasts many vacation homes, as well as resorts. You can see reviews here .

Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head is known as a golf destination, but there are still plenty of things to do with kids. If you and your family love Disney, consider staying at the Disney Hilton Head Island Resort . This family-friendly resort includes all of the services and amenities that you’ve come to expect from Disney, including a large pool with waterslide and beach access.

While you are on Hilton Head, there are family-oriented activities to enjoy, including miniature golf, the Dolphin and Nature Tour, Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf, and the Sandbox Interactive Children’s Museum.

See hotel reviews in Hilton Head here .

Orlando, FL

There are so many things to do in Orlando , including Walt Disney World, Universal Florida, Legoland, the Orlando ICON, Seaworld , and Discovery Cove . It’s almost impossible to do everything during one trip, so I’d recommend choosing your top options and just doing those.

Be sure to plan some relaxation time, because you won’t want to spend every day going, going, going. The theme parks can be tiring.

Asheville, NC

Asheville North Carolina offers delicious restaurants, a bustling arts scene, beautiful nature trails, and of course, the Biltmore Estate . It’s a great destination for a girlfriend getaway or family vacation, and you are sure to find plenty of things to enjoy on your vacation. It’s also an affordable destination and draws many of its visitors from the surrounding area.

While you are there, you can enjoy hiking to Catawba in the Pisgah National Forest. Don’t miss a tour of the Biltmore Estate, the largest privately-owned home in America. Kids will especially love seeing the bowling lanes and indoor swimming pool that are in the home.

If you do decide to fly in, the small airport in Asheville is very convenient to downtown. Flights generally go through Charlotte or Atlanta, depending on the airline.

Newport, RI

Newport is one of my favorite places in New England, thanks to its beautiful landscapes, fun restaurants, and vibrant waterfront. Summer is the best time to visit so you can enjoy Fort Adams State Park as well as the gorgeous beaches in Newport and the nearby towns.

Also located in Rhode Island is Block Island, an island accessible via passenger ferry. It’s become a popular destination in recent years, with lots for the whole family to enjoy. As you’d expect, it’s best visited in the summer months.

See more things to do in Newport RI with kids here.

There are other beautiful East Coast vacation spots, including the Outer Banks of North Carolina (see things to do in the Outer Banks ), Myrtle Beach in South Carolina (see things to do in Myrtle Beach), and Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. In your opinion, what are the best places to vacation with kids on the East Coast?

Cherry blossoms, beach, view of NYC skyline

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Steve Mulligan

Sunday 12th of February 2023

I grew up in Ct. I have travel all of New England and had a summer cottage on the cape. Most of the places you have talked about I have visited many times. You did miss Nantucket which is probable the best example of old New England. There are so many wonderful places to visit that you did not have the room to write. I have also lived in NC and know Sarasota, FL. I, again, have been in most of your recommendations. They are all great places to visit. I wish you had the space to talk about all of them. Thank you for your list.


26 Quintessential East Coast Family Vacations To Take in 2023

Long before Instagram burst onto the scene as the medium that serves up vacation inspiration, movies and television introduced us to quintessential east coast family vacations. Think about the lakeside cabin resort in Dirty Dancing , the seashore that was home to the mermaid that captivated a young Tom Hanks in Splash , or that scene at the top of the Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle .

We have spent years exploring East Coast vacation spots from our home base in Rhode Island. So if you are asking, what are the best places to visit on the East Coast, take a look at our 26 favorites. (Also see my recommendations for best vacations for kids and best vacations for teens .)

If you prefer to explore the East Coast by car, we also have 20 ideas for week-long East Coast road trips for you to try.

Sebago Key West sunset cruise

Best East Coast Family Vacations

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.

These 26 East Coast vacations are perfect for classic family trips . Get inspired and then get planning. Tie a few of them together in a big road trip, or take your time to enjoy each destination.

1. Maine Coast

Portland Head Light rocks

Maine has nearly 3,500 miles of coastline and it can take over six hours to drive from Kittery on the New Hampshire border all the way up to Bar Harbor, outside of Acadia National Park .

The Maine Beaches along the southern coast are popular beach getaway destinations for Bostonians. Charming seaside towns like Kennebunkport offer cute cottages and inns. Others like Old Orchard Beach offer rides and a historic pier for old-fashioned family fun.

In Portland and around Casco Bay, you will find the picturesque rocky coastline dotted with lighthouses and sprinkled with amazing restaurants, breweries, and the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport.

However, if you are willing to venture a little further north, you reach the very special MidCoast, home to Camden, artsy and cool Rockland , and one of my favorites, Boothbay Harbor .

If you want to turn this into a road trip instead of settling in just one town, be sure to see my Coastal Maine road trip itinerary for suggestions. You can also pair the Maine coast with a road trip to the Maine Highlands or some time at Moosehead Lake .

Where to stay

  • Inn by the Sea , Cape Elizabeth, Maine
  • Nonantum Resort , Kennebunk, Maine
  • Migis Lodge , South Casco, Maine (one of the best New England family resorts )
  • Terramor Outdoor Resort , Bar Harbor, Maine

2. White Mountains, New Hampshire

View from Artists Bluff in NH

Some families prefer to spend a week relaxing by one of New Hampshire’s famous lakes, like Lake Winnipesaukee, but the White Mountains are for those that want to be active. Families can go hiking, rock climbing, or just splash around in the waterfalls of Diana’s Baths.

Or, you can earn one of those ubiquitous “This car climbed Mount Washington” stickers or take the easy route by riding the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

Other popular attractions include Flume Gorge, Lost River Gorge, mountain attractions at Attitash or Cranmore, ziplining at Alpine Adventures, and Storyland or Santa’s Village amusement parks. During the fall, a scenic drive on the famous Kancamaugus Highway is a must do!

  • Lumen Nature Retreat , N. Woodstock, NH
  • Omni Mount Washington Resort , Bretton Woods, NH
  • Residence Inn , North Conway, NH
  • Huttopia , North Conway, NH
  • KOA Lincoln/White Mountains , Lincoln, NH

3. Green Mountains, Vermont

Red covered bridge over a river

Since I spent my summer vacations in Vermont visiting family, the Green Mountains hold a special place in my heart as a favorite East Coast family vacation destination. I truly believe that Vermont offers the very best of New England.

You can spend a week on the shores of Lake Champlain at a resort like Basin Harbor , or settle down for summer fun at one of Vermont’s many mountain resorts like Smugglers’ Notch .

If you choose, you can spend your days swimming, hiking, and exploring quaint New England towns like Woodstock, Manchester , and Burlington , or enjoy Vermont’s local food scene; by visiting craft breweries, sampling Vermont cheddar cheese, or taking a day trip to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

Vermont is small enough that it is easy to explore over a long weekend or week-long Vermont road trip . The ideal time for fall foliage is usually the very beginning of October if you are looking to plan a New England road trip in the fall .

  • Basin Harbor Resort , Vergennes, Vermont
  • Woodstock Inn & Resort , Woodstock, Vermont
  • Stoweflake Mountain Resort , Stowe, Vermont
  • The Equinox Resort , Manchester, Vermont

4. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston skyline from a Harbor Cruise

Boston is the perfect destination for history-loving families and it is such a fun city to explore in the summer. When you are done exploring the historical sites along the Freedom Trail, and visiting the Boston Tea Party Museum and Ships , you can head out on the water for a whale-watching cruise or Boston Harbor Islands tour.

Just make sure you leave time to see the Boston Red Sox if they are in town or tour the historic Fenway Stadium. Spend some free time enjoying the Boston Common and Public Gardens with a swan boat ride and a visit to the Make Way for Ducklings statue.

Enjoy the views from the Skywalk Observatory on the top of the Prudential Center and go shopping along Newbury Street. See more things to do in Boston and these hidden Boston spots.

Just keep in mind that Boston can be pricey, but I have tips for visiting Boston on a budget . If you have a few extra days, you can also plan day trips to Salem , Gloucester and Rockport, or down to Plymouth .

  • Boston Harbor Hotel
  • Boston Marriott Long Wharf
  • Residence Inn Boston Harbor

5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Day trips around Southern New England -- great ideas for staycations and spring break vacations!

I can’t think of a better family beach destination in the summer months than Cape Cod and the Islands ( Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket ). Each town has a different personality, from funky Provincetown to the quiet dunes of Eastham, to the cute downtown in Chatham, and some of the best East Coast beaches.

You can spend hours playing in tide pools, collecting shells, and watching the sunset over the water. Or, hop on the bikes and enjoy the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

But a family vacation at the Cape isn’t only about doing, it is about lazy days, sand between the toes, late afternoon rides to get ice cream, and splurging on lobster dinners, things that the Cape has plenty of.

  • Cape Codder Resort & Spa , Hyannis, MA
  • Sea Crest Beach Hotel , Falmouth, MA
  • Wequassett Resort & Golf Club , Harwich, MA
  • Auto Camp Cape Cod , Falmouth, MA

6. Adirondack Mountains, New York

2 women hikers jumping at the top of St Regis Mountain

Adirondack Park in Northern New York covers over 6 million acres, encompassing 10,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 46 mountain peaks. This natural playground offers plenty to do throughout the year, but we especially love it in the summer.

The Adirondacks are split into multiple regions. There is the Adirondack Coast along Lake Champlain, the Lake George region in the southern section, and the Tri-Lakes region in the northern section. the Tri-Lakes is one of the most popular regions, especially Lake Placid , which was home to two winter Olympic Games.

The Adirondacks is a perfect place for families with older kids who enjoy being active and outdoors. You can hike, canoe, kayak, and paddleboard to your heart’s content. The whole family, including those with younger children, will love climbing through the treetops at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

We’ve enjoyed boat rides on Lake Placid (especially when tubing!), exploring small towns like Saranac Lake, and just enjoying all the natural beauty. I have some ideas for an Adirondack itinerary if you want to plan a summer or fall trip!

  • Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort , Lake Placid, New York
  • Saranac Waterfront Lodge , Saranac Lake, New York
  • Surfside on the Lake , Lake George, New York

7. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls American Side

There was a time when Niagara Falls was a destination for honeymooners. Then it became a family road trip destination. In recent years, Niagara Falls has evolved far beyond the falls themselves.

While I still recommend crossing the border to see the Canadian side of the Falls, the Niagara region in the USA has so much to offer. The Niagara Wine Trail offers 22 wineries, breweries, and ciders. Outdoor lovers can eleven New York State parks, the scenic Niagara Gorge, enjoy a high-speed jet boat ride across the Niagara River, or enjoy a birding paradise.

Families can also enjoy Old Fort Niagara, the Aquarium of Niagara, and of course, the Cave of the Winds is not to be missed. It is easy to do Niagara Falls on a weekend getaway , or you can take more time and enjoy some of the unique foods and the revitalized waterfront in nearby Buffalo .

  • Sheraton Niagara Falls , Niagara Falls, NY
  • Doubletree by Hilton , Niagara Falls, NY
  • Hyatt Place , Niagara Falls, NY

8. New York, New York

Statue of Liberty

Have you seen the lights go up on Broadway? Taken selfies in Times Square? Sailed past the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry? Strolled through Central Park? Walked along Wall Street? Enjoyed the masterpieces of the Met?

There are enough things to do in New York to last a lifetime and the trick to squeezing as much as you can into one visit is picking a neighborhood and digging in. Walk as much as you can and don’t be afraid to take the subway. And most of all, don’t eat at chain restaurants that you can find at home! See my complete guide for visiting New York City with kids .

A great way to get a sense of the city is with a sightseeing bus tour like The Ride, or investing in a CityPASS and taking a self-guided highlights tour of NYC.

  • The Langham , New York
  • The Knickerbocker , New York
  • Park Terrace Hotel on Bryant Park , New York

9. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Independence Hall Philadelphia

Philadelphia is one of the best cities on the East Coast, but it is so frequently overlooked in favor of its neighbor to the north. However, every family should plan a trip to Philadelphia to soak up the history, enjoy the food, and take in the architecture without the crowds and chaos of New York City.

Start off your visit to historic Philadelphia with a tour of Independence Hall, followed by a swing by the Liberty Bell. Leave time to explore the Constitution Center and the new Museum of the American Revolution.

When you have had your fill of history, run up the steps of the Art Museum and pose with the Rocky statue. Or head down to the riverfront or out to the Philadelphia Zoo. Kids love the Franklin Institute and the Please Touch Museum. Or you can get creeped out with a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary.

There are so many side trips you can add to your trip; including visits to Valley Forge , Lancaster , or Hershey .

  • Kimpton Hotel Monaco , Philadelphia
  • Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill , Philadelphia
  • Doubletree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City , Philadelphia

10. Wildwood, New Jersey

Wildwood Beach New Jersey

Every year my sister took her kids to Wildwood for a Jersey Shore family vacation. They spent the week enjoying the five-mile-long beach, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, taking bike rides on the boardwalk, and spending nights playing games, riding the Ferris Wheel and other rides, and eating boardwalk treats.

This barrier island sits south of Avalon, and just north of historic Cape May. If you do want to leave the beach, you can enjoy the Cape May Zoo, enjoy the Victorian houses in downtown Cape May, or even head up to Atlantic City.

  • Adventurer Oceanfront Inn , Wildwood, NJ
  • StarLux Hotel & Suites , Wildwood, NJ
  • Esplanade Suites , Wildwood, NJ

11. Washington, D.C.

Washington DC Capitol Building

Every family should plan a visit to the Nation’s capital. While finding an affordable hotel room can be a challenge, at least you will save plenty on attractions as many of the museums are free.

It is hard to fit everything into a long weekend in DC without getting museum fatigue, but it is fun to mix things up with walks along the National Mall. One of our favorite memories is exploring monuments, like the Lincoln Memorial, at night.

There are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip.

  • Visits to the Capitol Building and White House will require advance planning. Request access from your state representative and give plenty of time to clear a background check.
  • Many museums such as the Library of Congress offer timed-entry tickets that allow you to skip the line.
  • You need to request timed-entry tickets to the Holocaust Museum and African American Museum online as entrance is limited.
  • Be prepared to go through security screening before entering all museums and most attractions.
  • The St. Regis Washington D.C.

12. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Cape Henlopen beach

For many years I equated Rehoboth Beach , Delaware with the more touristy beach towns like Ocean City , Maryland. But while Rehoboth has a boardwalk, this is fully a family destination.

The beaches in Southern Delaware are beautiful, wide, and flat, with perfect waves for body surfing. The town has a mix of motels and inns, but most visitors rent a beach house.

Downtown has a burgeoning food scene , and plenty of family fun: from arcades to bike trails through Cape Henlopen State Park. If you want something even quieter, head further south to Bethany Beach.

  • Avenue Inn & Spa
  • Crosswinds Motel
  • Bellmoor Inn & Spa
  • Find a beach house vacation rental

13. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach

If we’re talking about family-friendly beach destinations, Virginia Beach is a strong contender. A 24-foot tall statue of King Neptune welcomes everyone to Virginia Beach’s iconic three-mile-long boardwalk and wide sandy beaches.

With miles of shoreline along both the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, there are so many things to do in Virginia Beach with kids , making it perfect for water-loving families with adventures suitable for all ages.

The calm waters of the Chesapeake Bay are perfect for families with young children with the waves of the Atlantic are suitable for more adventurous swimmers and surfers of all levels. If water slides are more your family’s thing Ocean Breeze Water Park features a wave pool, lazy river, and 10 slides at an affordable price.

Virginia Beach is also great for families looking to enjoy nature. Explore a variety of coastal ecosystems at First Landing State Park, located just 10 minutes north of the resort area; or hike through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge to reach False Cape State Park, this remote park is not accessible by car but offers the opportunity to camp on the beach and the possibility of seeing wild horses. If your kids are crazy about marine life be sure to check out the Virginia Aquarium or head out on the water for a dolphin or whale-watching cruise.

By Brianna Simmons, The Casual Travelist

  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • The Cavalier

14. Williamsburg, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg in a day (or less) -- reenactments on the village green

While Williamsburg is perfect for history buffs, there is so much more to do in the area than just Colonial Williamsburg. Plan to spend at least a day in Williamsburg , and also build in time to visit Jamestown and Yorktown (Hamilton fans will love this!)

If your teens don’t love the living history interpretations at Colonial Williamsburg, perhaps they will enjoy the thrills at Busch Gardens or Watercountry USA nearby.

If you have a little more time in the area, head over to Hampton and Newport News to learn a little more about early American history or the birth of the space program at the Virginia Air and Space Center. See my recommendations for planning a full history road trip !

  • Kingsmill Resort
  • Williamsburg Lodge
  • Hampton Inn and Suites , Williamsburg Historic District

15. Lake Lure, North Carolina

Lake Lure North Carolina

Lake Lure, North Carolina is a great destination for families. You will find plenty of adventure on and off the water surrounded by gorgeous mountain views in every direction. A few must-visit stops are the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, Chimney Rock State Park, and Chimney Rock Village with lots of shops, and dining options, along with a scenic riverwalk next to the creek that kids will enjoy playing in on a warm sunny day.

The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge is one of two flowering bridges in the United States. Every planter on this former vehicle bridge is a different creative theme and attracts around 8-10,000 visitors from April- October each year.

There are 8 hiking trails for guests to explore at Chimney Rock. Two trails that you will definitely want to check out are the hike to the top of Chimney Rock for incredible views of the area and Hickory Nut Falls Trail to see the 2nd largest waterfall east of the Mississippi. For a relaxing day on the water, take a scenic pontoon boat ride with Lake Lure Tours or enjoy the water beachside located steps away from the Lake Lure Inn and Spa.

By Nedra McDaniel, Adventure Mom

  • Lake Lure Inn & Spa
  • Rental homes in Lake Lure

16. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Bodie Island lighthouse and bridge

For a few years in my early twenties, my college friends and I would pack up and head down to the Outer Banks for a week each summer. Some of them continued this tradition once they started their families.

While the area has gotten a little more built up in the past two decades, the Outer Banks is still a perfect destination for a laid-back family beach vacation. You can relax by day in the warm waters of the Atlantic, interrupted only by the occasional dolphin pod swimming by.

When you tire of the beach, you can try hang gliding , visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, take out a kayak or paddle board, or take an airplane ride from the place where flight began. See the best things to do in the Outer Banks .

  • Beach house rental on the Outer Banks, NC
  • Surf Side Hotel , Nags Head, NC
  • Shutters on the Banks , Kill Devil Hills, NC

17. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head sunset

Our favorite getaway on the east coast is Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Unlike Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island has been intentionally developed since the 1950s, and great effort has been made to preserve the live oak trees draped in Spanish moss that give this island its lush feel.

Beneath the trees, vacationers can ride along miles of bike trails, kayak through the marshes and waterways or go horseback riding. Of course, there are beaches, golf courses — traditional and putt putt depending on your skill, and the Pinckney Nature Preserve to fill sunny days with fun.

  Restaurants on the island specialize in seafood, low-country cuisine, and barbecue. Truly, whatever your taste, you’ll find it here! For sun and relaxed, southern-style fun, Hilton Head offers something for everyone.

by Karen Dawkins, Family Travels on a Budget

  • Vacation homes in Hilton Head
  • Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort
  • Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa

18. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta skyline

Atlanta is a great city to visit with tweens and teens . The city is a modern mix of a bustling metropolis, open spaces, and pockets of history. You can easily spend a full day enjoying the attractions around Centennial Park including the fabulous Georgia Aquarium, The World of Coca-Cola, CNN, and the incredibly powerful Center for Civil and Human Rights .

You can get off the beaten path with an Atlanta food tour and a visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. You can also bike around the Atlanta BeltLine.

Also, take some time to head to Buckhead for shopping and dining. Just remember that Atlanta is a big city so you will need your car (or an Uber account) and give yourself time to deal with traffic.

  • Loews Atlanta
  • Grand Hyatt Atlanta
  • Hotel Indigo Atlanta Downtown

19. Jekyll Island, Georgia

east coast trips with toddlers

Jekyll Island is my favorite of Georgia’s Golden Isles , with miles of beautiful beaches and bike trails, and a laid-back way of life. Since much of the island is a nature preserve, you can’t expect to find high-rise hotels lining the beach. But this quieter beach life may be just what you are looking for.

Whether you are visiting for a week or just a day, you must stop by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. And a walk along Driftwood Beach (or better yet, at sunrise) is an experience like no other.

If you are visiting during the summer, families will also enjoy the Summer Waves water park. If you want something a little quieter and more private to enjoy nature, plan an all-inclusive stay on Little St. Simons Island .

  • Westin Jekyll Island
  • Holiday Inn Resort Jekyll Island
  • Hampton Inn and Suites Jekyll Island
  • Jekyll Island Club Resort

20. Amelia Island, Florida

Ritz Carlton Amelia Island

Amelia Island on the northeastern coast of Florida isn’t the same as the palm-lined sands of South Beach. Here you will find wide beaches, rolling sand dunes, and swaying beach grasses.

Inland you will find Spanish moss dripping from old oak trees and black water swamps perfect for kayaking and other outdoor activities. Downtown Fernandina Beach offers historic trolley tours, boutique shopping, and a burgeoning food scene.

You can easily take day trips over to see the wild horses on Cumberland Island, Georgia, or head up to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge for an eco-tour.

  • Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort (one of the best family resorts in Florida )
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

21. Orlando, Florida

Meeting Cinderella at Disney world

Of course, Orlando is the best family vacation spots, with something for everyone from toddlers to teens (ok, and even grown-ups.) The theme parks are always introducing new attractions, like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando , Pandora at Animal Kingdom , and, for Star Wars fans, Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios.

But beyond the theme parks are so many more adventures and attractions that it takes a lifetime of visits to get to them all. You can take airboat rides, zip line over alligators, go indoor skydiving, and even enjoy a hot air balloon ride.

Nearby you can visit Legoland , Safari Wilderness Ranch , or go tubing through hot springs.

  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando
  • Margaritaville Orlando Resort

22. Florida’s Space Coast

Kennedy Space Center entrance

Kennedy Space Center is an absolute must visit for families, especially if you have an interest in the space program (and if you don’t, you still won’t be bored!) Plan on spending a whole day exploring the complex, starting with the Atlantis Shuttle exhibit, and ending with a visit to the Apollo / Saturn V display.

There are also special events to take advantage of like lunch with an astronaut or visiting on launch day.

While many people visit Kennedy Space Center on a day trip from Orlando, you should really take the time to enjoy the Space Coast. Cocoa Beach is a surf capital and is a great place to try surfing lessons. Nearby, you can visit the Brevard Zoo and kayak past the giraffes. The Space Coast is full of family fun.

  • Courtyard Cocoa Beach Cape Canaveral
  • Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach

23. Florida Keys

Florida Keys Overseas Highway

Driving through the Florida Keys is a classic American road trips , surrounded gorgeous blue water and green mangroves, you hop from bridge to bridge as you pass through the Keys.

To get the full experience, it makes sense to start off with a night or two in Key Largo, then a night mid-way through the Keys in Marathon or Duck Key. Finish up your stay with a couple of nights in Key West.

This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy water sports like fishing, boating, kite surfing, paddle boarding, or kayaking. You can also take to the sky for parasailing or take a more tame glass-bottom boat over the coral reef.

When in Key West , be sure to experience the sunset festival and enjoy a frozen, chocolate-dipped key lime pie on a stick. Kids will also enjoy a stop at the Key West Aquarium.

  • Hawks Cay Resort , Duck Key
  • Casa Marina , Key West
  • Doubletree Grand Key Resort , Key West

24. Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

Dolphins Captiva Island Florida

Sanibel and Captiva Islands off the southwest coast of Florida have a bit of the feel of the Florida Keys, but are much easier to get to with an easy flight into Fort Myers. If you are looking for a relaxed island vacation without a passport, Sanibel and Captiva fit the bill.

Sanibel is the larger of the two islands, with 25 miles of bike paths and mixed-use trails. Lending to that quieter lifestyle, half of the island is preserved against development. Sanibel is also home to a 6,400-acre wildlife preserve.

Captiva is even quieter and both islands are known for fabulous shelling. Inland you will find loggerhead turtles, river otters, and even bald eagles. Off-shore, it isn’t unusual to spot manatees and dolphins off the waters of the islands.

Families will enjoy kayaking, parasailing, sailing, biking, and of course, shell collecting. Nearby, I also love visiting Naples or Marco Island in Southwest Florida.

  • South Seas Island Resort , Captiva, FL
  • Casa Ybel Resort , Sanibel, FL

25. Clearwater Beach, Florida

Clearwater Beach cabanas

The white sand beaches of Clearwater make it one of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast . Combined with the calm gulf waters, Clearwater Beach makes a family vacation paradise. Hotels and resorts line the main drag, giving plenty of accommodation options for families.

When not enjoying the water, there are plenty of kid-friendly activities from pirate ship adventures, dolphin cruises, outdoor movies and sunset festivals, and, of course, the famous Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

You can also easily take day trips to Tampa and St. Petersburg for visits to Busch Gardens Tampa and the Florida Aquarium.

  • Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach
  • Sandpearl Resort
  • Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach
  • Residence Inn Clearwater Beach

26. Destin, Florida

Destin Beach Florida

Destin, Florida is the perfect family vacation destination! You can spend one day just hanging out at the beach or by the pool. Then the next day spend all day visiting attractions in Destin and out on the water. 

We highly recommend the Pirate cruise or renting a Pontoon boat to go to Crab Island. If you want to stay on land check out the Gulfarium to see the dolphin show and all sorts of sea creatures or head over to an arcade for games, lazer tag and ropes courses. 

When it comes to eating, there are tons of restaurants to pick from and almost all of them are family-friendly. Some even serve the kids meals on a frisbee and are right on the beach! 

By Bryanna Royal, Crazy Family Adventure

  • Hilton Sandestin Beach
  • Henderson Beach State Park (camping)
  • Camp Gulf (RV)


26 East Coast family vacations

Tamara Gruber is the Founder and Publisher of We3Travel. A former marketing executive and travel advisor, Tamara is an award-winning travel writer and recognized expert in family travel. Tamara is a member of SATW and the Adventure Travel Trade Association, and serves on the Board of the Family Travel Association. She is also the publisher of and the co-host of the Vacation Mavens travel podcast.

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Publish Date: November 24, 2022

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Best East Coast Family Vacations: 15 Must-See Destinations!

This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy .

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. 

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.  

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!

Table of Contents

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. 

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!

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. 

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!

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 .

Virginia Beach is an amazing East Coast family vacation spot!

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.

Highland Lighthouse at Cape Cod

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 .

Myrtle Beach skyline at dusk

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.

Check out our list of the best East Coast family vacation spots from top U.S. family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!

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.

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

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 .

Best east coast family vacations:  Niagara Falls!

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

If you’re interested in spectacular sea views, authentic colonial buildings, and community-focused jazz and folk music festivals, add Newport to your travel list!

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

*Before leaving, be sure to check our  Travel Resources Page  to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

"If you like it, Pin it!" quote

Jen Brommer is a family travel expert. She has been featured as an authority on several notable travel websites and is a member of the Family Travel Association (FTA), Midwest Travel Network, and TravMedia global media network.

A prominent content creator and influencer on Instagram, Jen has over 150K unique monthly blog readers from countries all over the world. She has spent the last 16 years planning fun, and hassle-free family vacations for her family of 5.

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  • Last Updated On
  • September 7, 2023

17 Best Family Resorts on the East Coast — All Ages Love!

Christina Rado

Known for its pristine coastal views, attractions, and amenities, East Coast tops for having the best family resorts on the East Coast.

Be it an inclusive, family-focused resort or a recreation resort, I’ve been there.

My family and I spent great moments together, putting our minds at ease and smiles in our hearts.

But it’s not as easy as you think, you’ll get confused the moment you step into this area, for its wide selection of resorts.

Reviewing the nearby resorts, I will share the happiness that comes in waves.

By talking with some vacationers and parent travelers like me, I have gathered information that’ll keep your trouble away.

Moreover, I have researched credible insights to make your trip much lighter.

So, activate your vacation mood and visit these top resorts to make your vacation memorable.

Best Family Resorts On The East Coast Compared

Drive to the East Coast and experience one-of-a-kind travel and relationship with your clan as you indulge yourself in these resorts for families, compared.

Editor’s Choice

loews philadelphia hotel — philadelphia

Loews Philadelphia Hotel — Philadelphia

In the past, this was the property occupied by a bank — the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society — but now it is one of my favorite places to stay while in Philadelphia.

  • Kid-friendly Activities: 4/5
  • Family Accommodations: 4.5/5 
  • Dining Options:  4.5/5
  • Safety and Security:  5/5
  • Value for Money: 4/5
  • Location and Accessibility: 4.5/5

#2nd Best Choice

Bar Harbor Grand Hotel — Bar Harbor Me

Bar Harbor Grand Hotel — Bar Harbor, ME

One of the top East Coast resorts for families is the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel in Bar Harbor Maine.

  • Kid-friendly Activities: 4.5/5
  • Family Accommodations: 4/5 
  • Dining Options:  4/5

#3rd Best Choice

conrad new york — new york city

Conrad New York — New York City

Conrad New York is one of the newer properties in NYC but has quickly become one of my favorite family hotels on the East Coast.

  • Safety and Security:  4/5
  • Value for Money: 5/5
  • Location and Accessibility: 4/5

Here are top 17 resorts on the East Coast for families.

1. Loews Philadelphia Hotel — Philadelphia (Editor’s Choice)

loews philadelphia hotel — philadelphia

1200 Market St Philadelphia, PA 19107 (215) 627-1200 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  • Functional amenities
  • Scenic views
  • Slow room service

The Loews Philadelphia Hotel is not one of the all-inclusive family resorts in the USA but a historic property that allows you to taste the very essence of the city.

This 581-room hotel offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline so that you can sit back and enjoy the big-city life.

Children get a welcome gift upon check-in and parents will love the free Wi-Fi.

There are connecting rooms available and cribs can be requested.

When you are done exploring the city, take a dip in the property’s swimming pool or request a babysitter so that you can have a date night!

Related: Places to Eat: Philadelphia, PA

2. Bar Harbor Grand Hotel — Bar Harbor, ME

269 Main St Bar Harbor, ME 04609 (207) 288-5226 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Affordable 
  • Friendly services

Despite being one of the newer hotels in the area, the property has been designed to fool you into thinking that it is at least 100 years old.

This Witham Family Hotel may not be a luxury property but people keep coming back for the views, location, service and the comfort offered.

Inspired by the historic Maine hotel Rodick House, this property differs in terms of the rooms offered — only 70 — but the similarity in character is undeniable.

The rooms are spacious enough to host families and you’d be thankful for the hearty breakfast buffer that is laid out each morning.

When you are done exploring the area, enjoy the hot tub and outdoor pool on this top family resort in Maine .

Related: Restaurants: Bar Harbor, Maine

3. Conrad New York — New York City

102 North End Ave New York, NY 10282 (212) 945-0100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Spacious room 
  • Outstanding services.
  • Some amenities malfunction

Located a stone’s throw away from the World Trade Center, the property is set along the Hudson River and designed to wow you with magnificent wall art and a mammoth Loopy Doopy installation by Sol LeWitt.

In terms of accommodation, the hotel offers only suites — 436 of them — that work out perfectly for families.

There are also suites that come with two double beds and a pullout sofa.

The bathrooms are stunning, yet functional, but keep in mind that the kids may not want to get out of the bathtub at all.

There is a fitness center on the property.

Related: Best Restaurants: NYC

4. Congress Hall — Jersey Shore, NJ

Congress Hall — Jersey Shore, NJ

200 Congress Pl Cape May, NJ 08204 (609) 884-8421 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you want a getaway with fantastic pools, kid-friendly programs, and exciting amenities, then Congress Beach is the best alternative among the top three resorts.

Another one of the popular family resorts in the USA on the east coast is Congress Hall in Jersey Shore, New Jersey.

If you are looking for a short beach getaway, this property and the private Congress Beach right across can make for a fun vacation destination.

Walk down to the beach with the free umbrellas, beach chairs and towels offered by the property, or use the private cabanas for a fee.

If you are in the mood to stay in, the hotel also has a fantastic pool as well as a kids’ program for the little ones between the ages of 4 and 12.

This program only runs in July and August.

The Blue Pig restaurant on grounds offers all meals with kid-friendly options available.

5. Ocean House — Newport, RI

Ocean House — Newport RI

1 Bluff Ave Westerly, RI 02891 (855) 678-0364 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ocean House in Newport, Rhode Island has a considerably long history but the interiors of the property have been renovated to give you a modern concept of luxury.

While the room had significantly more rooms in the past, currently, there are only 49 rooms and suites offered.

All of these are spacious, making it the right choice for one of the best East Coast family vacations .

There is a magnificent spa, a fitness center as well as a pool onsite.

The little ones are bound to love this property because of the special toiletries, child-sized robes and beach toys offered.

However, you must keep in mind that the property may carry an air of formality with the spectacular high tea, games of croquet and formal dining, so it may be helpful if the kids are on their best behavior.

6. Avenue Inn & Spa — Delaware Beaches, DE

Avenue Inn Spa — Delaware Beaches DE

33 Wilmington Ave Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 (302) 226-2900 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Avenue Inn & Spa is another one of the East Coast family resorts that deserve a mention in this list because of the comfortable accommodation and modern amenities offered.

Located in the heart of downtown Rehoboth Beach, the recurring nautical theme around the property is fascinating.

The rooms are equipped with all the amenities that you could ask for, including free Wi-Fi, microwaves, mini-fridges and private balconies, some of which have rocking chairs to gaze out at the town.

Some rooms also have fireplaces for chilly times.

The beach is around the corner but you can also use the indoor pool when the weather seems to be playing spoilsport.

Breakfast is free and you can also get your hands on cookies in the evenings and some complimentary wine and cheese in the afternoons.

Also See: Best Northeast Resorts for Families Lake Family Vacations

7. Kimpton The George — Washington D.C.

Kimpton The George — Washington D.C.

15 E St NW Washington, DC 20001 (202) 347-4200 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Located very close to the city’s National Mall, Kimpton The George is one of my favorite Kimpton properties to stay in Washington DC, especially when you want to be in the middle of all the tourist attractions and activities.

There are many room styles offered at the property, including connecting rooms and family rooms for parents traveling with the kids.

Pets are welcome, which is a definite bonus.

The property has complimentary wine hours for the parents, during which children can get their hands on a toy chest full of toys that are still wrapped.

The kids also get a variety of in-room treats like gummy bears and can take part in programs specially designed for them.

On-site dining with themed meals of the little ones is available.

Related: Restaurants in Washington DC

8. Battery Wharf Hotel, Boston Waterfront — Boston

Battery Wharf Hotel Boston Waterfront — Boston

3 Battery Wharf Boston, MA 02109 (617) 994-9000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

It is sometimes felt that Boston does not utilize its waterfront location well enough, especially when it comes to hotels, but the Battery Wharf Hotel — known as the Fairmont Battery Wharf in the past — is here to prove that myth wrong.

The location of this property is fascinating, as it seems to jut out from the dock like a ship.

It is close enough to some of the most popular tourist attractions for the kids and parents in the city.

For example, you can walk down to the New England Aquarium, visit some of the city’s favorite eating places in Quincy Market or grab some espresso and pastries at the Italian neighborhood closeby.

The Freedom Trail is also just a short walk away.

Related: Places to Eat in New England

9. Anchor In Hotel — Cape Cod, MA

Anchor In Hotel — Cape Cod MA

1 South St Hyannis, MA 02601 (508) 775-0357 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Anchor In Hotel in Hyannis is a waterfront property that welcomes guests round the year and offers spectacular views of the harbor as well as the marina.

In terms of accommodation, families traveling together can opt for the family room that sleeps five people and comes with a kitchenette to do some light cooking.

The breakfast at the property is free and there is complimentary Wi-Fi as well as an outdoor swimming pool that offers views of the harbor.

The location of the property makes it a sure shot winner as you can simply walk to a number of shops and restaurants nearby or take a ferry down to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.

Also See: Best New England Resorts for Kids Family Luxury Resorts

10. Residence Inn Annapolis — Annapolis, MD

Residence Inn Annapolis — Annapolis MD

170 Admiral Cochrane Dr Annapolis, MD 21401 (410) 573-0300 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you are looking for accommodation in Annapolis, Maryland, you may notice that the best options are not located at the heart of the city.

The Residence Inn Annapolis is also in this category, situated a short drive away from most of the places you’d like to visit on your trip.

The property offers one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites, both of which come with full kitchens and additional lodging in the form of sofa beds.

If you choose the two-bedroom variants, you also get a fireplace to sit by on drafty nights.

Some of these suites connect, which works well for larger families and groups traveling together.

The Wi-Fi and breakfast are free and there is a swimming pool and fitness center on the grounds.

Related: Places to Eat: Annapolis, MD

11. Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites — Ocean City, MD

Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites — Ocean City MD

3200 Baltimore Ave Ocean City, MD 21842 (410) 289-6444 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites is an all-suite property — as you may have guessed from the name — that offers luxurious units with full kitchens and Jacuzzis in all bathrooms, which may tempt you to stay in your rooms rather than go out, but the outdoors have just as much to offer!

There is a wonderful stretch of sand right in front of the property, which then extends into the deep blue ocean in front of you.

There are a bunch of pools at the property, including an indoor pool, a lazy river, pools with fountains and water slides, and an adult pool with a swim-up bar.

12. Williamsburg Lodge — Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg Lodge — Williamsburg VA

310 S England St Williamsburg, VA 23185 (855) 294-5683 Visit Website Open in Google Maps

If you are looking for impressive accommodation in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, The Lodge at The Williamsburg offers 323 rooms set across eight different buildings.

The rooms are quite affordable but ooze a certain historic charm that pulls patrons back each time they are in town.

With green, manicured lawns around the buildings, there is also a large brick-lined courtyard that you may notice when you check-in.

The lobby is designed using elements of folk art and offers plenty of space for you to sit.

There is also a piano that adds to the charm of the property.

13. Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina — Charleston, SC

Charleston Harbor Resort Marina — Charleston SC

20 Patriots Point Rd Mt Pleasant, SC 29464 (843) 856-0028 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

If you are looking for family-friendly resorts on the East Coast for your next vacation with the kids, Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina in Charleston, South Carolina should be high on your list.

The rooms are equipped with all the basic amenities that you’d need when traveling with the little ones.

You get access to the beach for those sunny days and there is also a pool on-site when you want a change of scenery.

The kids will stay busy with a bunch of activities under the Mini Mariners programs, while the parents enjoy the historic sights of the town.

Related: Places to Eat: Charleston, SC

Also See: Kid Friendly Midwest Resorts Best Resorts for Family Reunions

14. Inn on the Biltmore Estate — Asheville, NC

Inn On The Biltmore Estate — Asheville NC

1 Antler Hill Rd Asheville, NC 28803 (800) 411-3812 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Biltmore Estate covers 125,000 acres set around a castle that the Vanderbilt family built in Asheville, North Carolina.

If you want to spend your vacation exploring this expansive property with its winery, vast grounds and more, the Inn on Biltmore Estate should be your go-to option for stay.

The rooms are incredibly comfortable with kitchenettes, cribs available upon request and the option of choosing connecting rooms.

Access to the Biltmore Estate comes complimentary when you stay at the Inn but you may have to pay a little extra to enter Biltmore House, depending on your package.

With tons of outdoor activities like horseback riding, visits to farms and wineries, there is always something to do!

15. Hampton Inn & Suites Savannah Historic District — Savannah, GA

Hampton Inn Suites Savannah Historic District — Savannah GA

603 W Oglethorpe Ave Savannah, GA 31401 (912) 721-1600 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Located very close to a bunch of tourist attractions in Savannah, Georgia, like Forsyth Park, Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home and Olde Pink House, the Hampton Inn & Suites Savannah Historic District is a fantastic family hotel with 100 suites to offer to patrons.

All of the suites come with free Wi-Fi and the option of choosing adjoining rooms if you are traveling with larger groups.

The swimming pool on the property is a great place to relax or you could burn off some vacation calories at the fitness center.

Complimentary breakfast is a part of the deal you get!

16. Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort — Amelia Island, FL

Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort — Amelia Island FL

39 Beach Lagoon Rd Fernandina Beach, FL 32034 (904) 261-6161 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Set across the lush green Amelia Island Plantation with great emphasis on securing the natural habitat of the area, the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort gives visitors spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean from this waterfront property.

This luxury hotel offers 402 guestrooms, all of which are equipped with world-class amenities like coffee machines, iPod docks and private balconies.

The resort has multiple swimming pools, a championship golf course and a spa that the parents can visit for a massage when they are tired of exploring the area.

The golf course is irrigated with reclaimed water and all the spa products are chemical-free, in line with the property’s green outlook.

Related: Best Hotels on The East Coast

17. Marriott’s Ocean Pointe — The Palm Beaches, FL

Marriott’s Ocean Pointe — The Palm Beaches FL

71 S Ocean Ave Palm Beach Shores, FL 33404 (561) 882-3000 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The last property on this list is Marriott’s Ocean Pointe in Palm Beach, Singer Island.

Offering one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites for families to choose from, all room styles come with full kitchens and separate living areas.

The kids can be dropped off at the Kids CompassSM Club for a range of activities or enrolled in the Kids Night Out program to watch movies or take part in larger projects.

There are a bunch of attractions close by, but parents could also spend time lounging about the four pools on site.

Vacationer’s Guide

Comparing resorts: which one is right for you.

Explore the coast and feel the beat as you come across the finest East Coast resorts for families.

Loews Philadelphia Hotel offers spectacular views, beautiful amenities, and services like requesting a babysitter while you can relax.

Despite its slow room service, perhaps, due to the number of its customers, It’s a perfect spot.

One of the top East Coast resorts for families that got impressed is the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel.

Even if overcrowded, they offer majestic views, location, service, and comfort.

Conrad New York wowed you with magnificent wall art and quickly became our family’s favorite. 

While some of its amenities malfunction, this resort deserves praise.

Congress Hall is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for a family and kid-friendly hotel nearby.

So, while each resort brings something unique to the table, the charm of our East Coast selections is truly unparalleled.

It provides an ideal mix of fun, relaxation, and cultural richness.

How I Picked The Resorts

Being a beachgoer, a parent, and a writer, I have thoroughly studied and researched the best resorts on the East Coast for families.

While relaxing and rejuvenating, I have casually spoken to the locals and other beachgoers to gain a background about why these destinations are attractive.

Also, I’ve scoured some reviews and recommendations on the web to strengthen my article.

Our Resort Rating Method 

I rate these properties based on the following criteria:

  • Kid-friendly Activities: I use this to evaluate every resort’s availability and variety of family-friendly amenities. Does it feature water parks, playgrounds, and kids’ clubs? Does the resort organize events explicitly designed for kids? I ask myself these questions whenever I rate this resort’s kid-friendly activities. 
  • Family Accommodations: This is used to assess the family accommodations of the resort. Are the rooms spacious? Does it offer family suites with connecting rooms? Can it accommodate families of different sizes? Is there a crib or baby-proofing in every room? These questions are essential whenever I rate the resort’s family accommodations. 
  • Dining Options: This evaluates the dining options at the resort. Are there kid-friendly menus or buffet-style dining at the resort? Can the on-site restaurants cater to everyone’s dietary preferences and needs? I use these questions to assess the dining options of every property. 
  • Safety and Security: I use this criterion to assess the safety and security of the resorts. Are there lifeguards at the swimming pools? Are the premises secured? Is the staff trained to handle any emergency? I consider these factors when rating the property’s safety and security. 
  • Value for Money: This is used to evaluate the value of money provided by the resort. Are the room rates reasonable? Are the services, activities, and amenities suitable for the price? I ask myself these questions to rate the value for money provided by the resort. 
  • Location and Accessibility: This measures how accessible the resort is for families. How far is it from the popular family attractions? Is it easily accessible via public transportation? Does the resort offer airport transfers? These are the questions I ask myself when evaluating the property’s location and accessibility. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Which family resorts on the east coast have the best beach access.

Family resorts with the best beach access include Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina, Disney’s Beach Club Resort in Florida and The Breakers in Rhode Island.

What Are Some All-Inclusive Kid-Friendly Resorts On The East Coast?

Loews Philadelphia Hotel and Congress Hall are kid-friendly, all-inclusive hotels in the East Coast area.

best family resorts on the east coast travel photo

The best family resorts on the East Coast are beyond compare based on their ratings and reviews.

Although Bar Harbor Grand Hotel can sometimes become overcrowded, they didn’t fail to provide comfort with their spacious room and amenities.

While some amenities may malfunction, Conrad New York has more functional amenities and a kid-friendly environment that is sure to adore.

Both resorts are superb.

If you’re looking for an alternative family-focused hotel, Congress Hall is the best spot despite its drawbacks.

But our family’s favorite is Loews Philadelphia Hotel.

During our stay, we were amazed by the spacious family suites. 

I remember my son’s excitement as he sprinted across the rooms and viewed the city’s skyline from the windows. 

Yet, the real highlight was the hotel’s kid-friendly dining options. 

I was touched by the staff’s attention to my daughter’s gluten intolerance. 

It was these personal, thoughtful touches that truly made our stay at Loews a memorable family experience.

So, explore the East Coast while relaxing and enjoying your family moments at these resorts.

17 Best Family Resorts on the East Coast — All Ages Love!

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  • Massachusetts
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east coast trips with toddlers

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From Maine to Miami: The Ultimate East Coast Road Trip Itinerary For Families


A mother and daughter posing in Washington DC.

Prepare for the ultimate East Coast road trip itinerary for families from Maine to Miami! Whether you want to hike in Acadia National Park, see the iconic attractions of NYC, or relax on a gorgeous Florida beach, this article covers some of the best places for families on the East Coast. You can choose a few of these places to stop during your road trip or you can separate this itinerary into two separate vacations. Either way, we’ve gathered a list of things to do with kids, as well as where to stay and other tips for taking an East Coast road trip with kids. Keep reading to plan your next epic adventure with kids on the road! 

First Leg Of The Trip: Acadia National Park to NYC

The first leg of our ultimate East Coast road trip itinerary for families is from Acadia National Park, right outside of Bar Harbor, to NYC! Of course, this is a rough suggestion for your family trip and a long road trip. You can break up the stops by doing this over a period of time or just picking whichever places interest your family the most. Keep reading to plan your next East Coast road trip with kids! 

Day 1-3: Acadia National Park

Three kids stand hand in hand while posing on a large boulder while hiking in Acadia National Park, one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

Acadia National Park is a great place to start your East Coast road trip itinerary for families! Located near Bar Harbor, we suggest spending at least two full days in the park, but you can fit the highlights into one day if you’d like. 

Two young boys run through playful waves on the Atlantic Ocean in Maine.

Before your visit, stop by the visitor’s center to get Junior Ranger packets for the kids. Stars Over Sand Beach is an excellent program for little ones to learn more about the park accompanied by a ranger. There are also plenty of hikes for all skill levels, like the easy Ocean Path near Sand Beach. Families can also drive or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for amazing views overlooking the park. Or, walk along the path to Bar Island for tide-pooling , where you can spot colorful algae and marine animals at low tide. Jordan Pond is another popular spot, alongside the Jordan Pond House.

Where To Stay Near Acadia National Park

For first-time visitors, Bar Harbor is a great place to stay near Acadia National Park. From here, you can easily visit some of the park’s best attractions. There are hotels, Vrbo , and camping options in Bar Harbor.  

Day 4-5: Coastal Maine (Portland, Ogunquit, York)

Distance between acadia national park and portland, maine: 3 hours.

A young girl walks down a lush trail in Mackworth Island State Park, near Portland, Maine.

After departing from Bar Harbor, families can explore the beauty of coastal Maine. It takes around three hours to reach Portland, Maine from Bar Harbor, and the drive is very scenic. 

In Portland, families should definitely take a Maine Lobster Boat Tour, available through vendors such as Lucky Catch Cruises , Rocky Bottom Tours , and Casco Bay Custom Charters . Fishing lovers can also take a trip to nearby Cliff Island, accessible via the Casco Bay Island ferry from Portland’s harbor. Or, head to Mackworth Island State Park , located in Falmouth adjacent to Portland. Shopping enthusiasts will be impressed by the selection at the Freeport Outlets just north of the city, where you can find great deals on a variety of luxury stores. 

Distance Between Portland and Ogunquit: 1 Hour

A family of eight stands together smiling in front of a lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

Ogunquit is a charming town on Maine’s southern coast . With sandy beaches, cultural activities, and multiple tasty restaurants, it’s a great place to stop on an East Coast itinerary for families. 

Lounge on the gorgeous Ogunquit Beach, which is large, clean, and bustling. Families can also sightsee on the Ogunquit Trolley or stroll the famous Marginal Way , a mile-long scenic cliff walk . Eventually, you’ll come upon the small fishing village of Perkins Cove . Families can also visit the Ogunquit Playhouse . If you have extra time on your vacation, consider visiting the Ogunquit Museum of American Art , taking a Finestkind Scenic Cruise , or heading to Footbridge Beach.

An African American toddler girls holds her arms wide open with a huge smile on her face, with Ogunquit Beach in Maine behind her.

Distance Between Ogunquit and York: 10 Minutes

If you have extra time on your East Coast road trip itinerary for families, you could also stop in York located just south of Ogunquit.

Spend time sunbathing, strolling the shore, or trying water sports on Long Sands Beach . It also provides fantastic views of the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse . Active families can also enjoy a beautiful hike at Mount Agamenticus, offering trails for all skill levels. Even little ones will be able to handle the 1.9-mile Ring Trail Loop, featuring a great view of Maine’s coastline. Animal enthusiasts can’t miss the chance to visit York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park!  

Where To Stay In Maine With Kids

Maine offers families plenty of kid-friendly accommodations. If you’re staying near Ogunquit, families love Cliff House Maine in Cape Neddick. Or, the Beachmere Inn , a Cape-Cod-style hotel overlooking the ocean. 

Day 6: Salem, Massachusetts

Distance from york, maine to salem, massachusetts: 1 hour.

Several people are dressed in Halloween costumes for a parade in Salem.

Before making your way to Boston, you can make a pit stop in Salem and stay somewhere nearby for one night. Famous for its 17th-century Witch Trials, kids will love witnessing the place where this historical event happened. Plus, it’s less than an hour away from Boston. 

Start with a walking tour of this charming town, where you will learn all about its sordid history in spooky detail. Some other popular things to do with kids include visiting the Salem Witch Museum , the Witch Dungeon Museum , or Peabody Essex Museum. Don’t forget to stroll around Salem Willows Arcade and Park or the Salem Witch Village , where you can walk down spooky paths or through haunted houses. Of course, the city is particularly busy around Halloween in October, so make sure to plan ahead! 

Plus, did you know that Salem is one of the 13 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in New England with Kids ?

Where To Stay In Salem With Kids

Families looking for a truly spooky stay in Salem can book a room at the Salem Inn , which is allegedly haunted! Or, check out Vrbo for more options. 

Day 8-9: Boston, Massachusetts 

Distance from boston to salem: 1 hour.

Three kids stand ashore in front of the Boston Duck Tour boat.

Spend at least two days of your East Coast road trip itinerary in Boston, known for its historical attractions, museums, and fantastic food! It’s around an hour from Salem, plus it’s near our next stop on this trip, Newport. 

A young child uses their arms to make the "T" in a large sign reading "BOSTON".

Museum lovers can explore the Freedom Trail . This 2.5-mile trail takes you to 16 different historical sites, including Boston Common and the USS Constitution Museum . Then, be sure to add visiting the Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum to your itinerary, too. For a more hands-on experience for younger kids, check out the Museum of Science. Sports-loving families can catch a baseball game at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. Families with a foodie in tow can meander through “ Little Italy ”, where authentic Italian bakeries line the streets. Plus, Boston is filled with a scrumptious array of fresh seafood (including lobster!). 

Don’t miss adding these 25 Amazing Things to Do in Boston with Kids to your itinerary!

Where To Stay In Boston With Kids

Boston has plenty of family-friendly hotels! For the most convenient locations, stay at the Fairmont Copley Plaza , the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel , or the Boston Marriott Long Wharf . All boast kid-friendly amenities such as pools and are located in close proximity to the city’s best attractions. For more suggestions, consult our list of the best hotels in Boston for families ! 

Day 10: Newport, Rhode Island

Distance from boston to newport: 1.5 hours.

A beautiful fall view in Newport, RI, one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

Continue your adventure in Newport, Rhode Island, known for its luxurious mansions, seaside views, and delicious seafood! It’s around an hour and a half from Boston in the car, and then you’ll be less than 3 hours away from NYC. 

Spend some time relaxing on Easton’s Beach . (Get some of the best lobsters in town from the concession stand!) Kids will also love riding the vintage carousel. For adventure-seeking families, embark on a thrilling sailing excursion across the sparkling waters of Narragansett Bay. Or, explore the rugged Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile trail overlooking luxurious mansions along the Atlantic Ocean. We recommend touring one of many public options, like The Breakers or The Elms . Or, hop on a Newport Trolley for an educational tour of Newport. Treat kids to a trip to Newport Creamery or Newport Fudge once you finish! 

Here are 16 Fantastic East Coast Summer Destinations Families Will Love !  

Second Leg Of The Trip: NYC to Miami

Get ready for more coastal adventures on this East Coast road trip itinerary for families! From New York City to Miami, there are plenty of beautiful places to stop, appreciate the scenery, and enjoy some family fun. Here are some suggestions for the next part of your East Coast road trip with kids!

Day 11-12: New York City

Distance from newport to nyc: 3 hours.

A dad and his young son look out onto a New York City skyline.

Of course, New York City is an iconic stop on any East Coast road trip itinerary for families. Depending on how long you want to stay here, we suggest settling down to take a break before embarking on the second leg of your journey down to Miami. 

A dad and his young son look at an art piece at MoMa.

Don’t miss famous destinations like Times Square, the Empire State Building , and the Statue of Liberty. These iconic, Instagram-able destinations are sure to excite your teen travelers. Little kids may prefer visiting the Children’s Museum of Manhattan , taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty , or visiting Ellis Island. Then, for art lovers, a visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA is a must. Exploring Central Park, from Sheeps Meadow to the Bow Bridge, is also a must! Or, scour Chinatown for cheap eats (check out the area between Mott and Bowery by Pell Street) and stop for some gelato in Little Italy. You can also walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and take your kids to Brooklyn Bridge Park , which has nice views and lots of green space to run around. 

Looking for more NYC inspiration? Read this Exciting 7-Day NYC Itinerary With Kids of All Ages .

Where to Stay in New York City with Kids

In Lower Manhattan, we recommend the Millennium Downtown New York Hotel or the trendy Greenwich Hotel . In Midtown Manhattan, try the Loews Regency New York , Omni Berkshire Place , or the St. Regis New York . Remember to check out other NYC hotels with pools and spacious suites. NYC also has lots of affordable Vrbos in and around the outer boroughs.

Day 13: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Distance from nyc to hershey: 3 hours.

A dad stands behind his son, sitting in a stroller, between two mascots at Hershey Park.

Nestled in the heart of Hershey, Pennsylvania lies a chocolate lover’s paradise – Hershey Park. Around 3 hours from NYC, this amusement park is perfect for families who want to indulge in some fun and sugar-filled activities during their East Coast road trip itinerary for families. Take a spin on classic carnival rides like the Whip and Tilt-A-Whirl or roller coasters like Fahrenheit and Skyrush. Kids can also explore water rides at The Boardwalk. Once you’re done soaking up some sun on the lazy river, head over to ZooAmerica for an up-close and personal encounter with wildlife. And of course, no visit to Hershey Park would be complete without indulging in some of their famous chocolate treats. Families can even create their own custom candy bars at the Create Your Own Candy Bar attraction!

Where to Stay in Hershey with Kids

There are three official Hersheypark resorts – The Hotel Hershey , Hershey Lodge , and Hersheypark Camping Resort . Each offers benefits, such as reduced-price tickets, free parking, and extended hours. 

In the Hershey-Harrisburg area, check out Homewood Suites by Hilton Harrisburg East-Hershey Area ,  Residence Inn by Marriott Harrisburg Hershey , Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Harrisburg Northeast , and Hilton Garden Inn Hershey .

Day 14: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Distance from hershey to lancaster: 45 minutes.

Two boys look out the back of an Amish buggy while visiting Lancaster, PA.

Whether you’re looking for history, arts, or just some good old-fashioned fun, Lancaster has something for everyone in the family! Plus, it’s less than an hour from Hershey and on the way to Philadelphia. 

The Amish Farm and House is a great place to start your visit to Lancaster. Families can take a wagon ride, milk a cow, or even churn their own butter! Lancaster is also home to several family-friendly museums, including the Lancaster Science Factory and the Lancaster History Center. Art & Glassworks is another must-see, featuring whimsical pieces of glass from all over the world. Nearby, families will also find the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg. The Lancaster Central Market is another great place to take kids. Lancaster also has a number of parks and playgrounds, as well as a variety of shops and restaurants that are perfect for families. 

Day 15-17: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Distance from lancaster to philadelphia: 45 minutes.

A family of three walks down a historic street in Philadelphia together. It's one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families!

Known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philly boasts an array of fun-filled attractions that are sure to keep both adults and children entertained. It’s also renowned for its historical significance and diverse cultural offerings! 

Kids will be amazed by the stories of our founding fathers and the significance of historical sites such as Independence Hall , the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross House . Of course, you can’t leave Philadelphia without visiting a museum. Families love the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute , the Museum of the American Revolution , and the Eastern State Penitentiary. Other unique sites are sure to please families, too, between Shane Confectionery , America’s oldest candy store, The Magic Gardens , and Fireman’s Hall Museum . For young kids, Philadelphia also puts families close to other destinations like Sesame Place .

Where to Stay in Philadelphia with Kids

Philadelphia has plenty of places to stay with kids! Families love The Sonesta Philadelphia because it has the largest heated outdoor pool in the city. Meanwhile, the Four Seasons Philadelphia has the highest pool – on the 57th floor. In the Old City, stay at the conveniently located Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District . Check out our list of where to stay in Philadelphia with kids for more options!

Day 18-19: Washington DC

Distance from philadelphia to dc: 2 hours and 45 minutes.

A family of four stands holding hands facing the Washington Monument in the background.

Less than three hours away from Philadelphia, Washington DC is home to iconic American landmarks, a variety of kid-friendly museums, and so much more. No wonder it’s a stop on our East Coast road trip itinerary for families! 

Visit the National Mall, showcasing monuments like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial , and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Families can also head over to the free Smithsonian Institution museums. There are 19 in total, ranging from the National Museum of American History to the National Postal Museum . Or, tour the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House ! The National Zoo is also a great place for animal lovers to spend an afternoon. Looking for more things to do in Washington DC with kids? Take a stroll through one of D.C.’s many parks or gardens, such as Rock Creek Park or the United States Botanic Garden . Or, rent a paddleboat and explore the Tidal Basin in Washington’s Southwest Waterfront neighborhood – you’ll get great views of the city from the water!

Where to Stay in DC with Kids

For an indoor pool for little ones to splash in, visit The Watergate Hotel . Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton Washington DC offers a special welcome package for little ones, plus fun activities like a scavenger hunt. For more hotel suggestions, check out our list of kid-friendly hotels in DC. Or, if you want a home and apartment rental, check out our Airbnb, Vrbo , and our recommendations for the best neighborhoods to stay in while in DC.

Day 20-21: Outer Banks, North Carolina

A mom and toddler son build a sand castle on a beach in the Outer Banks while staying at the Sanderling Resort Oasis Suites Hotel.

Distance From DC to the Outer Banks: 5.5 Hours

Once you’re done exploring Washington DC, continue for around 5 and a half hours to reach The Outer Banks in North Carolina! This string of barrier islands features miles of pretty coastline dotted with charming towns and plenty of kid-friendly activities. 

From the calm waters of Corolla Beach to surfing at Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, or Kill Devil Hills Beach, families will love visiting during the summer. History buffs can even see the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Or, tour the area’s l ocal lighthouses . Of course, kids will love sliding down the super-tall sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park ! Animal lovers can visit the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge or take a 4×4 Tour in Corolla. Then, enjoy more family fun like mini-golf and arcade games at Paradise Golf & Arcade ! 

Here’s A Mom’s Guide To The Perfect Family Beach Vacation In The Outer Banks ! 

Where To Stay Near The Outer Banks With Kids

Provided by agencies such as Twiddy and OBX Lodging , rental homes are usually more popular than resorts. There are also more than 50 local agencies in addition to sites like Airbnb and Vrbo . However, if you’re really craving a resort experience, we recommend the Sanderling Resort , Oasis Suites Hotel , T ownPlace Suites Kill Devil Hills , and Hilton Garden Inn Kitty Hawk . All feature a more traditional hotel setting, with rooms near the beach. 

Optional Detour: Day 22-24: Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina

Distance from the outer banks to the smoky mountains: 5.5 hours.

A stunning sunrise over the Smoky Mountains at Clingman's Dome, featuring hues of orange, pink, and blue.

Though it’s a bit out of the way from the coast, if you have extra time on your East Coast road trip itinerary for families, you can take a detour to the Smoky Mountains. 

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has many activities for families to enjoy. Take a short hike to scenic overlooks like Juney Whank Falls . Or, ​​check out areas like Cataloochee and Cades Cove to spot white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, and Wild Turkeys. In nearby Gatlinburg, families can visit the Gatlinburg Skylift Park , enjoy mountaintop views from Ober Gatlinburg Amusement and Activity Park , and see various sea creatures up close at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies . 

Check out our Guide To Great Smoky Mountains National Park For Families!

Day 24-25: Charleston, South Carolina

Distance from the smoky mountains to charleston: 5 hours.

A young girl wearing a colorful shirt standing in front of a street lined with colorful buildings in Charleton, South Carolina, one of the most charming towns to visit with kids.

Charleston is a South Carolina city rich in history and culture, offering plenty of activities for families with children. It makes a great stop before you continue into Georgia and Florida on your East Coast road trip itinerary for families! 

Wind through the cobblestone streets of Charleston’s historic district to appreciate the lavish southern homes on foot or explore by horse-drawn carriage. Don’t forget to visit the Charleston City Market , where you can shop for souvenirs and sample local cuisine! To learn more about Charleston’s history, visit Patriots Point or The Charleston Tea Garden. Then, visit the South Carolina Aquarium to see marine life up close. Or, head to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry for interactive exhibits. Families can also spend a day at the beach on Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms . Don’t miss ice cream from Kilwins , a local favorite (offering pecan pralines too!). 

Where to Stay in Charleston with Kids

If you want family-friendly accommodations in Charleston, we recommend Charleston Place, a Belmond Hotel , located in historic Charleston. There’s also Wild Dunes Resort – Sweetgrass Inn and Boardwalk Inn , The Restoration , and The Mills House Charleston . For more hotels in Charleston, check out our article on the best hotels in Charleston for families. Or, get a bigger place by searching Airbnb and Vrbo .

Day 25-26: Savannah, Georgia

Distance from charleston to savannah: 2 hours.

Savannah's River Street, featuring the iconic cobblestones and historic shop fronts. It's one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

Another city filled with southern charm that families love visiting is Savannah, Georgia. It’s around 2 hours south of Charleston, and offers a scenic place to rest on your way to Florida. 

Start by exploring Savannah’s Historic District . Take a horse-drawn carriage ride, tour one of the old plantation houses, or just wander around and soak up all the historic architecture. Or, combine a visit to some of the best landmarks in the city, like the Davenport House, on an Old Town Trolley Tour . Visit one of the city’s many parks, like Forsyth Park . The Ellis Square Splash Pads, located in the popular Ellis Square , offer kids the perfect respite from the sun. Then, enjoy calm waters and soft sands on one of the nearby beaches on Tybee Island. Don’t forget about Savannah’s wonderful museums too, from Savannah’s History Museum to the Children’s Museum in Tricentennial Park. End your day with a sweet treat from Leopold’s Ice Cream or River Sweet Treats ! 

Check out our list of the best things to do in Savannah with kids for more suggestions! 

Where To Stay In Savannah With Kids

Many people who travel in larger groups also choose to rent homes from Airbnb or Vrbo in Savannah’s surrounding areas for more space. For a hotel stay, you can also select from more affordable boutique options like the Olde Harbour Inn or the Kimpton Brice Hotel . Or, for more suggestions, check out our list of the best hotels in Savannah for families . 

Day: 27-28: Atlanta, Georgia

Distance from savannah to atlanta: 4 hours.

Kids pet and play with goats inside a pen at Zoo Atlanta, one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

Though it would be a detour from the coast, families who want to add another major city to their East Coast itinerary can also make a stop in Atlanta, Georgia, which is around 4 hours away from Savannah. From world-class museums and historic attractions to outdoor activities and lots of fantastic food, your family is sure to have a memorable vacation here!

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Atlanta is the World of Coca-Cola , where kids can find interactive exhibits all about their favorite beverage. The Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world and is definitely a must-see for any family visiting Atlanta. Zoo Atlanta is also worth a visit for young animal lovers to spot lions, tigers, gorillas, and more. The Center for Puppetry Arts is another great option for families with young kids. They also have a giant puppet store on site where you can purchase your very own puppet! With its many nearby parks and green spaces, like the Atlanta Botanical Garden or Centennial Olympic Park , Atlanta is a great place to get some fresh air and exercise. 

Plus, there are plenty of things to do outside of the city limits as well. Try taking the kids to Stone Mountain Park or Six Flags Over Georgia for a day of fun! 

Plan your itinerary with these Best Things To Do In Atlanta With Kids ! 

Where To Stay In Atlanta With Kids

Need a kid-friendly hotel in Atlanta? Check out The Hyatt Regency Atlanta ,  Atlanta Marriott Marquis , and The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta , which all have convenient options downtown. Or, check out our list of the best hotels in Atlanta for families!

Day 28-29: Amelia Island, Florida

Distance from atlanta to amelia island: 2 hours.

Mother and daughter walking a horse on the beach at sunset on Amelia Island, one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

Once you reach Florida, spend at least a day or two on Amelia Island. Located near major cities such as Jacksonville, this picturesque island off the coast of Florida offers everything a family could want in a beach vacation.

Families with young children will love Main Beach Park . For older kids, there’s plenty of room to run around and a nearby skate park to make friends. Downtown, you’ll also find Fernandina Beach, which features shallow water for little ones. Plus, a pirate-themed playground nearby! Seaside Park is located at the end of a long boardwalk, an excellent spot for fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching. Fort Clinch State Park is another great option for families who want to avoid crowds. To appreciate the scenery, take the Egan Creek’s Greenway , a kid-friendly loop around Egan’s Creek. Watch out for bobcats, alligators, and more wildlife along the way! 

Animal lovers may also fancy a visit to the Amelia Island Nature Center. Or, learn more about Amelia Island’s history at the American Beach Museum and the Pippi Longstocking’s House. 

Where To Stay On Amelia Island With Kids

If you need somewhere to stay on Amelia Island with kids, we recommend The Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island . Families can also stay at Omni Amelia Island. Or, rent your perfect home from Vrbo now.

Visiting Florida with kids? Check out these Florida Beaches For Families: A Guide To The Sunshine State’s Best Coastal Spots By Region ! 

Day 29-30: Orlando, Florida

Distance from amelia island to orlando: 3 hours.

A young girl holds out a hand to Spiderman, who does the same at Universal Orlando, one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

Driving through Florida with kids definitely necessitates a visit to Orlando! This central Florida gem boasts a location near some of the country’s best theme parks, making it a must-visit on any East Coast road trip itinerary for families. 

One way to avoid long lines at Walt Disney World is to plan which parks you’ll visit, and arrive before they open. This will help with parking, lines, and your overall experience at Disney. Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot are three popular parks that fill up quickly, so plan accordingly. Kids will love returning to school and sharing their favorite Disney stories with their classmates! Finally, you can find more research for your Disney family vacation here .  Orlando also houses numerous family-friendly water parks such as Aquatica Orlando and Volcano Bay – perfect for cooling off under the warm sun! 

RELATED ARTICLE: Best Places To Celebrate The Magic Of The Holiday Season In Disney As A Family ! 

Where To Stay In Orlando With Kids

There are plenty of deluxe hotels in Orlando, like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa .  Families who want to save on accommodations can check out Disney’s moderate hotels such as Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort , Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort , and Disney’s Port Orleans, Riverside . Read our list of the Best Disney Deluxe Hotels For Families , Best Disney Moderate Resorts For Families , or Best Disney Value Resorts For Families here!

Day 31-33: Miami, Florida

Distance from orlando to miami: 4 hours.

Two Buys running on the Beach in Miami, one of the best places for an East Coast road trip for families.

What better place to end your epic family road trip than Miami? Known for its gorgeous beaches, great food, and ritzy atmosphere, this vibrant city has plenty to offer kids of all ages. 

South Beach is one of the most popular places in Miami, and it’s no surprise! This dynamic stretch of beach has beautiful white sand, clear blue water, and plenty of restaurants and shops to keep you busy nearby on Ocean Drive . Over on the mainland, families can check out the street art and murals in Wynwood at  Wynwood Walls and the Museum Of Graffiti . Or, check out the foodie scene in ethnic enclaves like Little Havana or Little Haiti, which feature a mix of great restaurants, art, and culture. For parents, there are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy the city’s nightlife, with its many bars and clubs.

Where To Stay In Miami With Kids

Need somewhere to stay in Miami with kids? Most of the luxury hotels are located in South Beach. Book your next vacation at The Fountainbleu , The W Hotel , or 1 Hotel Miami Beach. For more options, check out our list of the best hotels in Miami for families! 

Happy Travels!

A young boy explores Old Fort Jackson on a sunny day while looking at the moat around the buildings.

We hope you liked this Ultimate East Coast Road Trip Itinerary For Families! From Maine to Miami, the coast is packed with beautiful sights and family fun awaiting you and your kids. Enjoy your next family road trip!

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

A young black boy carrying a body board and a young white girl carrying a pail walk toward the ocean in Florida near the Photo Courtesy: The Acqualina Resort.

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Julie Around The Globe

Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation

Posted on May 11, 2023 | Julie J. |

Last Updated on December 11, 2023

Planning your next beach getaway but wondering where to go? If you are looking at the East Coast for your next family vacation, here are some of the best family beaches on the East Coast that are perfect for families with kids of all ages.

From the tropical beaches down Key West to the wild coast of Maine and everywhere in between, you will find the perfect beach destination that the whole family will enjoy.

Last-Minute Booking Deals

These kid-friendly beaches on the East Coast are perfect for little kids as the waters are calmer and the destination offers plenty of things to do apart from enjoying the beach.

Keep on reading to discover the best family beaches on the East Coast!

Related – Best destinations on the East Coast for Families


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on the East Coast for a Family Vacation


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on any links and make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission, at no cost to you.

Mayflower Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Mayflower Beach, Cape Cod, Maine

By Samantha from New England Wanderlust

Mayflower Beach on Cape Cod is a wonderful destination for families with kids of all ages. Located in the adorable town of Dennis, MA, and along the Cape Cod Bay, the water at this beach is very calm, shallow, and warm , compared to the rougher and colder waters along the Atlantic-side beaches in the region.

And with the sand being incredibly soft and pristine , it makes for an even more enjoyable experience. You’ll also find lifeguards on duty in-season, and restroom facilities at this beach.

One of the most unique qualities of Mayflower Beach is that at low tide, over a mile of the ocean floor is exposed, creating one of the largest tidal flats on the East Coast. Kids and parents will have a great time creating memories by walking along the ocean floor to hunt for marine life, collect shells and see how far out they can walk from the shore.

A short drive from Mayflower Beach will be tons of family-friendly attractions such as mini-golfing at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf , bounce houses at the Cape Cod Inflatable Park , and arcade games at Ryan Family Amusements . 

A great hotel option nearby is The Ocean Club , which is an all-suite hotel that’s perfect for families. Each room includes efficiency kitchens, making it easy to keep kid-friendly snacks on hand and pack lunches for beach days. You can also book a vacation rental for added convenience.

The best time to visit Mayflower Beach, and all of the beaches on Cape Cod, is the summer in July and August, when the water is warm and the weather is typically the best with fewer chances of rain.

Daily parking fees for this beach are $20 on weekdays, $25 on weekends, or $75 weekly per car. 

Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head

By Wayne from Always on The Shore

Coligny Beach Park in Hilton Head is one of the best beaches on the island and one of the top family beaches on the East Coast!

There are lots of things to do in Hilton Head Island from water activities to bike rentals, and plenty of areas for walking and biking. The beach has many amenities including shaded pavilions, and beach chairs to rent, and for those that want to stay connected while they’re at the beach, there is free wi-fi.

Coligny Beach is in a perfect location on the island, right at the heart of the Lowcountry, with lots of parking, food, and fun within walking distance . While here, be sure to visit Coligny Plaza , with almost 60 shops, restaurants, and stores!  

For a great restaurant in the area, visit Kenny B’s French Quarter for southern cajun cooking. Come watch a live show at the Coligny Theatre or see many different events throughout the year.

The best time to visit the area is late spring or late summer/early fall when the temperatures are nice and you can avoid the early-mid summer crowds. 

You’ll find plenty of hotels and vacation rentals in the area. Holiday Inn Express is a nice hotel to stay, just a couple of blocks away from the beach and downtown area. This hotel also has reasonable rates and buffet breakfast included.

Jones Beach, Long Island, New York

Sunset at Jones Beach

By Kelly of Travel New York Now

Jones Beach is a stunning oasis of sand along the coast that is easily one of the best kid-friendly beaches on the East Coast.

Not only is it conveniently located on Long Island – about an hour and a half away from New York City – but it’s hidden away inside a stunning state park and stretches out for 6.5 miles along the coast.

And while you will have to pay a $10 day-use fee to enjoy this beach. lifeguards are regularly on duty and there are ample facilities for guests to enjoy, including restrooms, showers, restaurants, rental kiosks, etc.

And when you’re not relaxing on the beach, you can walk along the Boardwalk, play a round of mini-golf, enjoy a game of shuffleboard, attend a concert at Northwell Health outdoor arena, dine at various restaurants, and make use of one of the best hiking trails on Long Island .

However, this beach is exceptionally popular among locals and tourists alike. So, if you’d like to visit, try to arrive between 6:00 am and 8:00 am on busy summer weekends.

You could also visit on a weekday so that you can easily park at field 6. After all, this is the most popular parking lot in the park since it sits closest to the beach,

Alternatively, you could go a little further out on the island and enjoy the less crowded and more natural beach at Robert Moses State Park.

But, if you stick with Jones Beach. do be aware that swimming and other water sports are only allowed at designated locations and when lifeguards are on-duty.

Other than that, just enjoy a little bit of fun in the sun before attending special events like their July 4th fireworks display and the Blue Angels at the Bethpage Air Show over Memorial Day weekend.

A great place to stay would be Jones Beach Hotel . It’s a relaxing feeling 3-star hotel with clean rooms, great services, and a charming little restaurant on-site. You can also book an oceanfront vacation rental near the beach.

Lewes Beach, Delaware

Lewes Private Beach, Delaware

By Amanda, Hey! East Coast USA

Lewes Beach in Delaware is also known as the First Town in the First State and is a firm favorite with families looking for a beach vacation. It provides small-town charm with day trip opportunities, so it is impossible to get bored during your stay!

Things to do in Lewes include spending the day at the beach, which offers calmer waters than Rehoboth and Dewey, the neighboring beaches. This is because Lewes Beach is tucked into Delaware Bay. It also has lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day so that you can enjoy your beach days with peace of mind.

You can also rent bikes to try out the five-mile Junction and Breakwater Trail and then treat yourselves to ice cream from Hopkins Farm Creamery .

If the heavens open and it rains during your stay, you can catch a movie at Cinema Art Theatre or play games at Lefty’s Alley and Eats.

There’s some choice of food in Lewes, such as Chinese, Italian, and diner food, or you can go farther afield to Rehoboth for more options. You don’t have to walk far between bars if you need a medicinal beer or wine, and Irish Eyes pub features a kids’ menu as well as live music for entertainment.

Naturally, summer is the best time to visit weather-wise, but it is the busiest time. On July 4th, the Lewes community put on a parade and fireworks on the beach.

If you plan to stay in Lewes, you will need to book a condo . Alternatively, check out a hotel or B&B in the Rehoboth area, like the Avenue Inn & Spa featuring family rooms, an indoor pool, free breakfast, private parking, and is only a 1 minute walk from the beach.

Related – 20+ Best Family Vacation Spots to Visit with Teenagers

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

B y Alanna from Periodic Adventures

Driftwood Beach is one of the absolute best things to do in Georgia and a top-tier beach for families. Known for its massive driftwood trees, Driftwood Beach is located on the northeast tip of the small barrier island. Kids will love climbing these bare trees as if they were a jungle gym and adults will love the stunning backdrop they supply.

To get there, park along the spots at the side of the road and take the path through the lush trees to arrive at the beach! It’s hidden from the road so follow others if you aren’t sure where to go.

The shore itself is shallow with mild waves so many kids will enjoy playing in the water and sand. Additionally, photographers love the area during sunrise and sunset because the driftwood pieces silhouette the sky beautifully.

On Jekyll Island, families will also enjoy riding bikes , visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center , and trying their hand at mini-golf.

Jekyll Island is best visited during the spring and fall, but even the winter is nice. During the summer months, it can get quite hot and full of bugs so avoid that time if you can.

One of the best hotels on the island is the Days Inn & Suites as they have two pools, direct beach access, and are right next to bike rentals. Alternatively, you can book a vacation rental near the beach.

Key West, Florida

Sunset, Key West, Florida

By Erin from Erin’s Travel Tips

Head to the Southernmost point for perfect sunsets and relaxing beach days. Key West is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of the US. 

The best time of the year to visit for ideal weather is between March and May.

For families, you will want to add Higgs Beach Park to your itinerary. It has gorgeous turquoise waters and white sandy beaches with pavilions available for family gatherings. This is the perfect place to laze on a Key West beach.

There is also an extensive list of small beach areas tucked away in Key West that are all within easy walking distance of one another.

Must-See Attractions:

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is one of Key West’s finest family-friendly attractions. This beautiful Spanish Colonial style home was built in 1853. The house displays inherited personal items, and unique European antiques collected during his numerous travels.

The property has an expansive tropical garden with a salty water pool which he claims destroyed him financially and contained his “last dollar” in the concrete. More than 50 descendants from the Hemingway cat family roam this property each with their 6-toes per paw.  Both children and adults love to pet and photograph them.

Enjoy a Sunset Celebration in Key West  

Key West is known for its sunsets. The best place on the island for them is at Mallory Square . Watch the street performers put on an entertaining show while you take in the celebration that begins two hours prior to sunset. It will be a sunset you won’t forget!

Where to Stay

Stay at the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa for the perfect family beach getaway. This lovely location is close to the action but sits on its own private oasis. It is an ideal location to explore Duval Street and all that Key West has to offer. They also have Aqua Yoga, boat rentals, and a spa and fitness center. You won’t want to leave once you stay here a night.

You’ll also find plenty of vacation rentals for all budget within walking distance of the beach.

Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks

By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

One of the best family beaches on the East Coast is the breathtaking Outer Banks in North Carolina. 

The barrier islands stretch for over 175 miles and are among the best destinations for beachgoers. There are plenty of beautiful beaches across the islands, so you can spread out and relax wherever you want. The sunrises at the beach are breathtaking and change every day! There are five lighthouses to see in the Outer Banks from the Hatteras Light­house at the southern tip to Corolla Light­house in the north.

Those who enjoy history should visit the Wright Brothers Memorial to learn all about how flying was invented and why they chose Kill Devil Hills in the Outer Banks to achieve their dream. Kill Devil Hills is in the center of the islands and easily accessible from most towns.

The town of Corolla, in the North, is a hidden gem often overlooked by visitors. There are plenty of things to do in Corolla for everyone. If you’re a nature lover, you might be able to spot some wild horses of the Outer Banks right along the beach! If you want to see the area on the water, Corolla Water Sports offers jet ski tours.

When you’re looking for a place to take a break from the beach, Historic Corolla Park is a good choice. The Corolla Lighthouse provides stunning views, while the Whalehead Club offers a look at the Outer Bank’s history through the years. The new Maritime Museum focuses on how the water is so important to life and culture on the barrier islands.

Located in Nags Head, the Surf Side Hotel is a great place to stay since it’s in the middle of the barrier islands. You’ll also find plenty of nice beach-front cottages available along the islands.

Popham Beach State Park, Maine

Popham Beach

By Heather from This Noshtalgic Life

Popham Beach State Park, located near Phippsburg, Maine, is a popular family-friendly beach getaway on the East Coast for both locals and tourists. Located on the southern edge of the Kennebec River, the beach is one of Maine’s rare geological formations featuring a long stretch of sandy beach. 

While sunbathing or walking on Popham beach the view is absolutely breathtaking. Visitors can see the nearby islands, both Fox and Wood, offshore. You can even walk to Fox Island at low tide ! 

The beach is also a great place for exploring the beauty of tide pools.  Other park activities include swimming, picnicking, birdwatching, kayaking, and wildlife viewing . 

From the shore, Pond Island and Seguin Island lighthouses can be seen clearly. Their distinct foghorns can be heard for miles around. 

Popham Beach State Park sits near Fort Popham State Historic Site and is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. The fort, which was built in the early 1860s, was used as a garrison during the Civil War.  Hiking trails nearby are perfect for getting some fresh air and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

There are several shops and restaurants in the area as well as a playground and a pavilion. A popular dining option is Spinney’s Oceanfront Restaurant , offering something for everyone. 

Sebasco Harbor Resort ,  nestled nearby on the rocky coast of Maine, is the perfect place to stay during your visit. The resort has its own private beach as well as an indoor pool and hot tub. You can also book a vacation rental , there’s plenty of gorgeous ocean-front cottages available along the coast.

Popham Beach State Park is open to the public from Memorial Day to Labor Day.   Visiting this area is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and also experience a piece of American history firsthand.

Vero Beach, Florida

Vero Beach, FLorida

By Lisa from Planning Away

Vero Beach is one of the best beaches on the East Coast for families. Located in Florida, on the Atlantic Ocean side, it is a fantastic beach near Disney World .  In fact, Disney even owns a resort on this beach.  

One of the best things about Vero Beach is that it is on the Treasure Coast.  During the early 16th century, there were many shipwrecks by Spanish explorers along this coast. It is not uncommon to find gold coins washing up on the beach. You will see many people searching for coins! 

The S.S. Breconshire was one of the ships to sink. It sank so close to the beach you can actually swim out to it and snorkel . Part of the mast still sticks up out of the water. You can also rent kayaks and explore the sunken ship. There are so many tropical fish that swim around this site.  

Most of the hotels and vacation rentals in this area have direct access to Vero Beach. Disney’s Vero Beach is one of the best family-friendly hotels along the coast. 

Another fun activity in Vero Beach is riding bikes around town . There are some fun shops and amazing restaurants your family will love. 

Tigertail Beach, Marco Island, Florida

Tigertail Beach, Florida

By Lori from Naples Florida Travel Guide

When it comes to family-friendly East Coast beaches, it’s hard to beat Tigertail Beach on Marco Island in southwest Florida.

And while there are few beaches on Marco Island, Tigertail more than makes up for the lack of public access, with its enviable location and completely unique topography which gives it its name.

There are actually two very different beaches at Tigertail Beach; the inner lagoon beach and the outer beach on the white sand of the Gulf of Mexico . Both beaches at Tigertail offer something unique. The inner tidal lagoon is where you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, beach buggies, beach chairs, and umbrellas . This sandy beach also has a tall covered bird-watching tower with a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico beyond .

The outer beach, called Sand Dollar Spit , is where the sand meets the Gulf, and the gentle waters deliver up beautiful tiny shells by the boatload every minute. This beach is the prime spot for watching the fiery sunsets.

To get to the outer beach from the lagoon, you’ll have to wade a short distance through the shallow sandy part of the lagoon, carting your beach chair overhead and floating your cooler with you through the water. It’s all part of the fun of Tigertail Beach.

Any time of year is a good time to visit Marco Island, though most prefer the moderate temperatures of winter. There is plenty of parking at Tigertail ($8 per day or $1.50 per hour), plus a very good snack bar, public restrooms, picnic tables, and outdoor showers.

At the end of the day, there’s no better place to lay your head than the J.W. Marriott Beach Resort , one of the best family resorts on the island. You’ll also find plenty of great vacation rentals near the beach.

Related – Top Kid-Friendly Beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

By Kriszti from She Wanders Abroad

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park is one of the best family beaches on the East Coast. The beach is located on Mount Desert Island, just off the coast of Maine.

The beach is known for its beautiful scenery, clean water, and white sand . There are also many activities to keep the kids entertained, such as swimming and kayaking.

Sand Beach is located on Park Loop Road , just a short drive from the main entrance to Acadia National Park. There is a large parking lot at the beach, as well as bathrooms and showers.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting without a car, you can take advantage of the free shuttle bus in the park or hike along the Ocean Path which goes right by the beach.

Since Sand Beach is only one of the many gorgeous spots in the park, it’s worth spending at least 2 days in Acadia National Park to be able to explore the park thoroughly.

The best time to visit Acadia NP highly depends on your personal interests. In case you want to swim at Sand Beach, it’s best to visit in the summer months when the weather is the warmest. However, if you want to avoid the biggest crowds, you’re better off visiting in the shoulder seasons.

Another great time to visit the national park is October when the fall colors are at their peak. Keep in mind though that it’s one of the most popular times to visit Acadia National Park so make sure to book accommodation way in advance.

Bar Harbor Inn and Spa is a great choice but if you’re traveling on a budget, you can find many other inns, B&Bs, and vacation rentals around the park.

Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park

By Candice from CS Ginger

One of the best kid-friendly beaches on the East Coast to visit is Hunting Island State Park . It is a beautiful state park just outside Beaufort, South Carolina. It has even been voted as one of the top beaches in the country and is one of the most popular state parks on the East Coast.

One of the best things to do at Hunting Island State Park is to enjoy the beach.  There are lots of fun things to do on the beach like looking for shells and playing in the water. Make sure you bring your sand toys.

Another fun thing to do is visit the Hunting Island lighthouse. The lighthouse here is the only lighthouse in South Carolina that is open to the public. You can climb the 167 steps to the top for a $2 charge. The lighthouse is so pretty and the views from the top are amazing.

The state park is also filled with fun marshes and trails to explore as well . You can easily spend a weekend exploring all the fun things to do on Hunting Island.

The state park has one cabin that rents out to the public. This rents out months in advance. The closest hotels or vacation rentals to Hunting Island State Park are on Fripp Island and Harbor Island. There is also a fantastic campground on the island if you have the gear to camp.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Florida

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach

By Cami from Travel Cami

The beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is one of the best beaches on the East Coast for families!

The park has a rich history, beautiful scenery, and plenty of amenities to keep visitors of all ages happy, but the beach by itself is enough reason to visit Key West .

Fort Zachary Taylor was used as a military base during the Civil War and later as a prison for war criminals. Today, the fort is open to the public and is a popular spot for picnicking, hiking, camping, and biking.

Also, the water is warm and clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. And there are plenty of shady areas if you need to take a break from the sun!

In addition, the beach is located near many restaurants and shops, making it easy to grab a bite to eat or pick up souvenirs.

The best time to visit Key West is from mid-December to April when the weather is cooler and drier. However, the beach is open year-round.

If you are looking to spend the night in Key West, the Doubletree Resort and the Ocean Key Resort and Spa make for excellent choices. Also, you can easily walk to Fort Zachary from them. You’ll find plenty of nice vacation rentals near the beach as well.

Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island Beach and Pier, East Coast

By Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

Tybee Island is a barrier island just off the coast of Georgia and about ½ hour from historic Savannah . It makes a great family-friendly beach destination in and of itself, or a fun day trip if you are spending a few days in Savannah.

You drive through a lot of marshland going from Savannah to Tybee Island, but once you’re on Tybee, the vibe becomes distinctly beachy – with candy-colored houses lining the streets and palm trees. 

The main beaches face east on the Atlantic Ocean, which include North Beach, Mid Beach, and South Beach . All of these beaches are along the same stretch of sand, which is accessible off Highway 80/Butler Ave, the main thoroughfare through town. You’ll find all sorts of cute restaurants and cafes and shops on this street!

The Tybee Island Lighthouse is by North Beach, and you can admire this black and white color block lighthouse for free from the ground, or $12 per adult from the top. 

Mid Beach is the least crowded beach. South Beach has the Tybee Beach pier, which is free to walk on, and has free public bathrooms. 

Nearby is the Fort Pulaski National Monument , a historic fort with self-guided tours. There are also several nature trails you can take on the island. 

The best time to visit Tybee is mid-May through October, when the water temperatures are at least in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (though the water temps will get into the 80s by mid-summer). 

If you’re spending a weekend in Savannah and day-tripping to Tybee, I would recommend staying in the charming Foley House Inn in historic Savannah, but if you are spending all your time on Tybee Island, the beachfront DeSoto Beach Hotel is a great option, or check out the vacation rentals there.

Nags Head Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Nags Head

By Cynthia from Sharing the Wonder

Nags Head Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a fantastic beach destination for families! There is a wide, clean stretch of sand, and a gentle slope to the water. 

Kids will love playing in the sand, collecting shells, and splashing in the gentle surf. Stretching over 12 miles, there’s always room to lay out your beach blanket. Saunter down Jeanette’s Pier which extends 1000 feet out into the ocean, or check out their educational exhibits.

Across the street from Jeanette’s Pier, you’ll find the Sea Horse Inn & Cottages . These simple, clean rooms are in a perfect location, across from beach access, as well as an easy walk to Fatboyz Ice Cream ! With a small market in front of the pier, you have everything you need without stepping into your car. 

Summer is the most popular time to visit Nags Head, though the water stays chilly well into August. 

Need a break from the beach? There are several mini-golf courses , or get your adrenaline going at First Flight Adventure Park . This aerial adventure park has ropes courses with obstacles and zip lines rated from easy to advanced. The minimum age is 6 years old.   

Just a ten-minute drive down the beach is Bodie Lighthouse . Climb over 200 steps to the top of this 1872 lighthouse for wonderful views all around.

Head to Kill Devil Hills to add some history to your vacation- here you’ll find the Wright Brothers National Memorial . This Memorial is a great place for families to learn about the history and physics of flight.

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Edisto Island. beach destination for families

By Natalie from Cosmos Mariners

Families will love tiny Edisto Island off the coast of South Carolina about an hour south of Charleston. This laidback beach town has no stoplights, 1 grocery store, and no hotels, which means the beach, and family fun, are the real focus. Head to the sand to read or watch your kids splash in the waves.

If you’re ready to get out of the sun for a bit, Edisto Island also offers self-driving maritime forest ecotour and some delicious restaurants. To see the island from a different point of view, rent a bike and trailer from one of Edisto’s rental places to take your family around via the miles of bike paths.

Thanks to South Carolina’s mild temperatures, this is a year round destination for water activities like kayaking, and boating, but May-August is the best time if you’d like to spend most of your visit at the beach. Avoid September as this is statistically when most hurricanes disrupt plans. 

Edisto Island doesn’t have any hotels, so you’ll need to locate a beach rental . These are widely available in all different parts of the island, but book ahead if you plan to visit during the summer months (July 4th week is a particularly tough time to get a last minute house rental). 

The best thing about Edisto Island is that, even when it is busy, it doesn’t feel busy, and you won’t ever have to wake up at 7 AM to get the best spot on the beach. Everyone is able to spread out along the beach for plenty of relaxation, fun, and family memories. 

Check out some of my others family travel guides :

  • Best Caribbean Destinations for Families – Top Kid-Friendly Islands
  • 16 Best Family Beach Vacation Spots in the United States
  • Top 10 Best Family Vacation Spots in Arizona
  • Best vacation spots in California for families
  • Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

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Where the Wild Kids Wander

Family | Travel | Adventures

10 Best East Coast Hiking Destinations For Families


  • September 13, 2023
  • Updated February 1, 2024
  • In Hiking Trails , Kentucky , Maryland , National Park Sites , New York , North Carolina , Pennsylvania , Tennessee , Virginia , West Virginia

Are you looking for some of the best East Coast hiking destinations to visit with kids? We’ve got you covered!

We love hiking! And bringing the kids along makes it even more fun. They enjoy exploring nature, climbing rocks, and great views as much as we do.

We’ve been on some fantastic trips where hiking was the main focus. And we had a blast! Some of our favorites include Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina and the Finger Lakes in New York .

There are so many great hiking trails on the east coast, but not all of them are family-friendly. And even though we can’t wait to try them out with the kids when they are older, we’ll stick to ones that we can do as a family now.

The guide below shares the best places to hike with kids on the east coast, other activities at each destination, and some recommendations on where to stay.

So, grab your sense of adventure and start planning a trip to one of these best east coast hiking destinations. You won’t be disappointed!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Prepare for Your East Coast Hikes

It’s always best to be prepared for any hike. This is what we recommend for these east coast hikes:

  • Shoes : The trails below can be rocky and steep. As always, we recommend sturdy  hiking boots  or  trail sn e akers .
  • Water Bottles: No matter how short the hike is, you’ll always want a water bottle on hand, especially in the hotter months.
  • Bug Spray and Sunscreen : Mosquitoes and gnats can be in full force, depending on the time of year. A good  insect repellant  will make the hike more pleasant.
  • Clothing : When hiking, you’ll want to dress in layers. Usually, it’s cooler in the mornings, but you’ll heat up as you walk along. Wearing t-shirts under light-weight zip-up sweatshirts is ideal in the spring and fall.
  • Snacks or Picnic Lunch : Depending on which trails you choose and time of day, you’ll want to have a few snacks or even a lunch ready to eat!
  • Hand sanitizer / Hand Wipes:  You never know when you need to wipe down! Especially before eating.
  • Bandages : Isn’t it inevitable that someone will fall and scrape a knee on a rock? It’s always good to have some bandages or even a small first aid kit on hand.
  • Backpack: To carry everything in. Need I say more? I prefer one with side pockets to hold the water bottles and a front pocket to hold the wipes and bandages . But you can use whatever you own.
  • Detailed Map: Most of the below hiking destination have well-signed trails. However, it’s always good to have a map of the area before you visit, especially if cell-service is not good.

Be a Responsible Visitor

Remember as you visit these east coast hiking destinations to respect nature. Stay on established paths, pack out your trash (including food waste), and leave what you find behind.

The more popular these destinations become, the more we need to be diligent about keeping our parks and lands clean and safe for all. You can learn more  here .

Best Family-Friendly East Coast Hiking Destinations

1. catskills, new york.

The Catskills in New York is a great family-friendly east coast hiking destination. The region offers a variety of kid-friendly trails that promise both fun and great views.

Best Hikes in the Catskills

One must-do hike is to  Kaaterskill Falls , a 260-foot waterfall your little ones will love splashing around at the base. There are over 400 steps down to the bottom, so keep that in mind when planning your hike. You can always view the waterfall from the observation platform.

Kaaterskill Falls full waterfall on Kaaterskill Falls hike

Another fun hike for families is Sunset Rock, where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the Catskill Mountains.

east coast trips with toddlers

The short and moderate trail makes it an ideal choice for young hikers. The summit is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch or snacks. It makes a  great sunset hike , too!

Other Things to Do in the Catskills.

There are plenty of other  things to do in the Catskills  if you want to take a break from hiking. We enjoyed visiting the Saugerties Lighthouse and exploring Opus40. There are also many places to ski nearby .

east coast trips with toddlers

Where to Stay in the Catskills

We recommend this  beautiful Vrbo in Hunter, NY , right at Hunter Mountain. The location is quiet, with mountain views, but close enough to many popular attractions.

The area has limited hotels ,  so try some of the  home rentals  in towns like Hunter, Tannersville, and Saugerties.

2. The Finger Lakes, New York

Hiking in the Finger Lakes region of New York is a fantastic adventure for young families looking to connect with nature.

Best Hikes in the Finger Lakes

Two must-visit spots for a memorable outdoor experience are Watkins Glen Gorge Trail and Taughannock Falls. They are two of the best waterfall hikes in the Finger Lakes.

The Watkins Glen Gorge Trail is a fun, relatively easy trail that takes you by (and under) dozens of waterfalls. The trail is just over a mile long. Visitors can take the trail back to the start, take the rim trail, or pay for a shuttle ride.

waterfall hikes in the finger lakes - watkins glen gorge trail

Taughannock Falls is a short and easy hike to the viewing area, making it accessible for all ages. Kids will love splashing around at the base of the 215-foot waterfall! You can even drive up to overlook to get a different view.

waterfall hikes in the finger lakes - buttermilk falls gorge trail (2)

Another fun hike is Buttermilk Falls . In the summer, the natural pool at the base of the falls is open for swimming. It’s such a fun way to cool off after your hike.

Visitor Tip: The gorge trails in the Finger Lakes are usually closed from early November through mid-May due to snow/ice on the trail, so make sure you plan your trip when they are open!

Other Things to Do in the Finger Lakes

There are so many fun  things to do in the Finger Lakes ! Right near Taughannock Falls is the gorgeous Cayuga Nature Center with a six-story treehouse.

east coast trips with toddlers

And, of course, you don’t want to miss the  Corning Museum of Glass.  It’s a science museum, history museum, and art museum all in one.

🤩 We love the Corning Museum of Glass

Where to Stay in the Finger Lakes

The  Inn at Taughannock Falls  is right next to Cayuga Lake, within walking distance to the Taughannock Falls trail, and close to the Cayuga Nature Center and attractions in Ithaca. They offer several room options, from hotel rooms to private cottages.

There are also several major hotel chains in Ithaca , close to many of the fun hikes in the Finger Lakes.

3. Poconos, Pennsylvania

The Poconos in Pennsylvania is a great hiking destination for families on the East Coast thanks to the many state parks, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and the Appalachian Trail running through the area.

Best Hikes in the Poconos

There are so many great hikes in the Poconos it’s hard to choose only a few to highlight.

However, we love the  waterfall trails  at the Delaware Water Gap, like Raymondskill Falls and Hackers Falls. Both can be done in one day and start from the same parking area.

east coast trips with toddlers

For more waterfall hikes,  Bushkill Falls  can’t be beaten. The trails are well-maintained, and there are other things to do, like gem mining, on-site.

Hiking the Bushkill Falls trails - bridal veil falls

Lastly, Hickory Run State Park has some of our  favorite hiking trails in the Poconos , like Shades of Death and the Boulder Field Trail.

Other Things to Do in the Poconos

The Poconos offers so many fun things to do . Some of our favorites include visiting Jim Thorpe and riding the  Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in the fall .

east coast trips with toddlers

Visiting an indoor waterpark like  Camelback’s Aquatopia  is another fun way to expend energy without worrying about the weather.

And for more outdoor fun,  paintball games  are always a good time.

Where to Stay in the Poconos

There are tons of family-friendly resorts to stay at in the Poconos . The  Shawnee Inn & Gold Resort  is close to the Delaware Water Gap and offers many fun things to do at the resort.

The  Woodloch Lodge  offers all-inclusive options and fun included activities like boating, archery, and snow tubing.

4. C&O Canal National Historical Park, Maryland

C&O Canal National Historical Park is a perfect east coast hiking destination for young families to explore. There are many things to do, including biking, hiking, and enjoying the gorgeous Great Falls of the Potomac River. It’s also perfect for a day trip hike from DC.

Visitor Tip : The entrance fee to C&O Canal NHP is $20 per car. However, you can enter for FREE with your America the Beautiful Park Pass or the Every Kid Outdoors Pass.

Best Hikes at C&O Canal National Historical Park

One of the most popular trails at C&O Canal NHP is the Olmstead Island Bridges trail, also known as the  Great Falls Trail .

It’s an easy, accessible trail that is a 1/2-mile out-and-back. However, you must walk about a 1/2 mile to and from the parking lot along the towpath, which makes the total trail length 1.5 miles.

east coast trips with toddlers

The  Billy Goat Trail Section A  is a must-do for those feeling a bit more adventurous. This trail is rated difficult and requires a lot of rock scrambling, which includes a 50-foot ascent climb on a cliff.

east coast trips with toddlers

The Billy Goat Trail Section A is a lot of fun but may not be suitable for younger kids or inexperienced hikers.

Other Things to Do at C&O Canal National Historical Park

In addition to hiking, visitors of C&O Canal NHP can enjoy biking along the towpath. You can actually bike into Washington, DC, 16 miles away! And during the summer months, the National Park Service offers  boat rides along the canal .

The C&O Canal is a short drive into  Washington, DC , where you can enjoy many of the  FREE museums and attractions  in the city. Or you could visit  Arlington Cemetery.

Where to Stay Near C&O Canal National Historical Park

Not too far from C&O Canal NHP, you’ll find plenty of hotel options in Bethesda, Maryland. The Embassy Suites offers two-room suites with made-to-order breakfast and nightly manager’s reception. And the Hilton Garden Inn is across the street from a park and playground, which is always nice when you’re traveling with kids!

5. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry  is a fantastic hiking destination on the East Coast for young families, thanks to the Appalachian Trail running through the historic town.

Best Hiking Trails in Harpers Ferry

One of the best hiking trails near Harpers Ferry is the Maryland Heights Trail. The 4.5-mile out-and-back trail is moderately difficult and leads to a gorgeous overlook of both the town and the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

things to do in harpers ferry -maryland heights overlook

Another great trail near Harpers Ferry is the Loudon Heights Trail. At 6 miles long, it’s a bit longer than Maryland Heights, but it’s about the same difficulty. The overlook gives you a different perspective of the town and rivers.

Of course, you can also hike part of the Appalachian Trail that goes through town. It leads to the Jefferson Rock and more views of the Shenandoah River.

Other Things to Do in Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry  is a fun town with historic buildings and fascinating museums run by the National Park Service. It’s easy to spend a day exploring the town before you embark on any hikes.

things to do in harpers ferry - Antietam Burnside bridge

Nearby, you can  tour the Antietam Battlefield . The battle is known as the single bloodiest day in American history, where more than 22,000 soldiers were killed or wounded.

Visitor Tip : Both Harpers Ferry and Antietam Battlefield have fees for entry. However, you can enter for FREE with your America the Beautiful Park Pass or the Every Kid Outdoors Pass.

Where to Stay Near Harpers Ferry

There are several  places to sta y in Harpers Ferry  if you want to stay in town. This will keep you within walking distance of the trails and fun shops and cafes.

However, if you want to stay at your favorite hotel chain, you’ll want to stay in nearby  Charles Town .

We stayed at the  Hampton Inn in Charles Town  and had a great experience. It was close to several restaurants and had a grocery store next door. Perfect for picking up last-minute hiking snacks.

6. Coopers Rock State Forest, West Virginia

Coopers Rock State Forest is a perfect destination for families looking for fun hikes they can do with young kids.

Best Hikes at Coopers Rock State Forest

The main draw to Coopers Rock is  Coopers Rock Overlook . It’s a short, easy trail leading to a beautiful overlook of the Cheat River Gorge and the surrounding area. The path to the overlook features one of the “Almost Heaven” swings, so don’t forget to grab a photo!

east coast trips with toddlers

The 1.5-mile Rattlesnake/Rock City Loop is fun for kids and parents alike. This scenic trail takes you around massive boulders that feel like a rock maze. Although it is relatively easy, there are some steep sections and rocky parts that some might find tricky to navigate.

east coast trips with toddlers

Lastly, the Ravens Rocks trail is another popular hike that leads to a gorgeous view. The 2.5-mile out-and-back trail is considered moderate but with some steep sections.

Other Things to Do Near Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock is near Morgantown, West Virginia, a bustling college town with plenty of things to do. Start with the  West Virginia Botanic Garden  or the  Core Arboretum  for more outdoor fun.

Afterward, explore the history of Morgantown with a  walking tour  or a visit to the  Morgantown History Museum .

Where to Stay Near Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock State Forest has two campgrounds on-site. One is suitable for RVs, while the other offers primitive tent camping.

There are also several  hotel options in Morgantown . We enjoyed our stay at the  Hampton Inn & Suites Morgantown / University Town Centre .

7. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Of all the east coast hiking destinations on this list, Shenandoah National Park is probably the most popular. In fact, it’s one of the best East Coast locations for a family vacation .

Shenandoah National Park is a HUGE park. Skyline Drive, the main road through the park, is just over 100 miles. Driving through the whole park can take three hours, minimum.

The hikes we share below focus on the middle section of the park. However, there are some really excellent trails in the other areas of the park, too, including some easy hikes that are family-friendly!

Best Hikes in Shenandoah National Park

We loved hiking the  Dark Hollow Falls Trail . This 1.4-mile out-and-back trail leads to several waterfalls. The only downside to the trail is the elevation change! It’s a pretty steep trail that descends from the trailhead, so you must walk back up at the end.

east coast trips with toddlers

Another must-visit trail is the Hawksbill Mountain Trail, which leads to the highest peak in the park. It’s a moderately challenging mile to the summit (and then back down again), but it’s worth it to look out over the endless Blue Ridge Mountains.

Other Things to Do Near Shenandoah National Park

There are so many  things to do in the Shenandoah Valley ! We love all of the caves you can visit near the park, like Shenandoah Caverns and Luray Caverns .

east coast trips with toddlers

There are also fun things to do at Massanutten Resort, like skiing and snow tubing during the winter months and enjoying the waterpark all year round.

Charlottesville  is also fun to visit, especially  Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello .

Where to Stay Near Shenandoah National Park

There are campsites at the Big Meadows Campground, which is close to the Dark Hollow Falls Trailhead. There is also a  lodge at Big Meadows .

Outside the park, you’ll find some nice  hotels in Luray  and  home rentals in Elkton .

Visitor Tip : The National Park Service charges an entry fee for Shenandoah National Park. However, you can enter for FREE with your America the Beautiful Park Pass or the Every Kid Outdoors Pass.

8. Red River Gorge, Kentucky

The Red River Gorge in Kentucky is a vast geological area encompassing more than 29,000 acres and over 100 natural stone arches, making it a fantastic east coast hiking destination.

Best Hikes in Red River Gorge

It’s hard to narrow it down, but if we had to choose some of the best hikes in Red River Gorge , the Original Trail at Natural Bridge State Resort Park would be a top choice. It’s only .75 miles from the parking lot to the base of the bridge. But of course, you’ll want to climb to the top and take the Laurel Ridge Trail to the bridge overlook.

View of Grays Arch from below

Another fantastic hiking trail in Red River Gorge is Gray’s Arch . It’s a 2.5-mile out-and-back trail that starts off easy and gets more difficult as you reach the arch. At 80 feet across and 50 feet high, Gray’s Arch is one of the largest in Red River Gorge.

As one of the most popular waterfall trails in Red River Gorge, you don’t want to miss Rock Bridge Trail to Creation Falls . The 1.5-mile trail is on the easy side of moderate and lead to a fun waterfall and the only natural arch that spans water in Red River Gorge.

Other Things to Do in Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge offers plenty of other outdoor and nature-based activities. One of the best  things to do in Red River Gorge  is the Gorge Underground , where you can kayak or take a boat tour through an abandoned mine.

best things to do in red river gorge - view of water in underground mine while seated in boat

Other fun things to do include zip lining, bouldering, and boating on the Red River itself.

Where to Stay in Red River Gorge

Natural Bridge State Resort Park  has a lodge and cabins for rent. They are close to the Original Trail and the other trails at the park. In addition, guests of the lodge can use the pool for FREE.

Otherwise, there are many  cabins and home rentals  available in the area.

9. Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

If you’re looking for a fun hiking destination in North Carolina, you can’t beat  Grandfather Mountain  in Linville.

This privately run park has some great hiking trails, a nature center, and the famous mile-high swinging bridge. Plus, it’s right near the Blue Ridge Parkway, giving you plenty of hiking trails in the area.

Visitor Tip: Grandfather Mountain charges admission for entry to the park, but it’s worth the price for everything that is included.

Best Hikes at Grandfather Mountain

The  Grandfather Trail Loop  hike is 1.5 miles long and is on the easy side of moderate. The trail is rocky and can be steep in sections, but overall, it’s a fun trail that offers some lovely views.

The main reason many people choose to hike at Grandfather Mountain is the  Grandfather Trail to Calloway Peak . It’s a challenging 5-mile out-and-back trail incorporating ladders and ropes to ascend over large boulders.

east coast trips with toddlers

You can shorten the trail to a 2-mile loop if you head to MacRae Peak and then take the Underwood Trail back.

Other Things to Do at Grandfather Mountain

You can’t visit Grandfather Mountain without crossing the  mile-high swinging bridge ! The 228-foot-long bridge is only 80 feet above the ground, but it’s a mile high in elevation, giving you gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.

east coast trips with toddlers

Grandfather Mountain also has a nature center that is included with admission to the park. Kids and adults can learn more about the mountain, animals, plant life, and geology. There are over a dozen interactive exhibits inside the center, as well as a botanical garden outside.

🤩 Try this self-guided driving tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Where to Stay Near Grandfather Mountain

There are some beautiful hotels and resorts in  Blowing Rock, NC , a short drive from Grandfather Mountain.

Sugar Mountain  is a popular resort area with plenty of  condos and townhomes for rent . Some even have views of Grandfather Mountain.

If you’d like a more traditional hotel, the  Best Western at Banner Elk  is only 20 minutes from Grandfather Mountain and includes FREE breakfast

10. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most-visited national park in the United States! Thanks to its beautiful vistas and waterfall trails, it’s also one of the best east coast hiking destinations, including Clingmans Dome , the highest point in Tennessee.

🤩 Check out this self-guided driving tour of GSMNP

Best Hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are plenty of trails to choose from in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

One of the most popular trails is the hike to  Clingmans Dome . Even though it’s a paved trail, the incline makes it a moderate trail. Thankfully, there are benches along the path for rest breaks.

east coast trips with toddlers

Laurel Falls is a famous waterfall trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The 2.3-mile trail is an easy hike leading to an 80-foot waterfall. This is an excellent trail to do with young kids.

Lastly, the Alum Cave Trail is a moderately complex trail that may be best for families with older kids. This 4.4-mile hike brings you past Arch Rock and Inspiration Point before reaching the Alum Cave Bluffs.

Visitor Tip: The National Park Service started charging parking fees in 2023 for Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Learn more about the fees here .

Other Things to Do Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is right next to Gatlinburg, a fun town with plenty of  family-friendly things to do . One of the best things to do in Gatlinburg is take a scenic chairlift ride to  Anakeesta . There are several activities, shops, and dining options up there.

east coast trips with toddlers

Other fun activities near the Great Smoky Mountains NP include a  mountain coaster ,  zip lining , and Dollywood Amusement Park. There is something for everyone!

Where to Stay Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Like other National Parks, camping is allowed at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are  ten campgrounds in the park  where you can drive your car or RV to the campsite. These campgrounds only offer cold water bathrooms with flush toilets. There are no showers in the park.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Cherokee, North Carolina, are the two closest towns to the park entrances.

Gatlinburg has many  hotel options in town , with the  Hampton Inn  just down the road from the park. We had a great stay at  Bent Creek Golf Village , about 25 minutes from the park. The resort rooms offer full kitchens with multiple sleeping spaces.

Cherokee is a little quieter than Gatlinburg. However, plenty of pleasant motels, like the  Rivers Edge Motel , have family suites and water views. The  Fairfield Inn and Suites  is also a good option with a FREE breakfast and indoor pool.

Final Thoughts: Best East Coast Hiking Destinations

Hiking with kids is not just about reaching the summit but creating lasting memories and fostering a love for the great outdoors. And these fun east coast hikes will do all that and more (we hope!).

Whether you’re exploring the beauty of the  Catskills over a long weekend  or planning a  fall getaway to Shenandoah National Park , your family will surely enjoy your time together.

So, pack your bags, lace up those hiking boots, and take off on these unforgettable trips with your little ones. The world is their playground, and every trail is a new chapter waiting to be written in the book of family adventures.

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We have hiked all over the east coast with our kids and have made tons of great memories! These are some of the best east coast hiking destinations we've experienced and we think your family will love them too!

Lauren is the visionary behind Where the Wild Kids Wander. She is a travel enthusiast who lives outside of Philadelphia. For more than a decade, she's been hitting the road, exploring the nooks and crannies of the United States alongside her family. Her passions include visiting big cities and small towns and trekking through nature's trails. She loves sharing those adventures with fellow travelers.

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Family Travel , North America Travel , Travel Inspiration

7 fantastic east coast national parks to visit with kids for a perfect family getaway.

shallow waters and historical building in Dry Tortuga National Park

East Coast National Parks for kids perfect for an East Coast family vacation in some of the USA’s most beautiful spots.

National Parks on the East Coast of the US are a treasure trove of natural wonders.

Beautiful forests, pristine mountains, stunning coastline and unique ecosystem make up a wonderful network of parks perfect for a family vacation with the kids.

The beautiful East Coast locations do the heavy lifting here however, the excellent National Park Service, the junior ranger program and family activities all contribute to making East Coast parks a wonderful family vacation destination.

These are our favorite East Coast National Parks to visit with kids.

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission.

Table of Contents

List of East Coast National Parks + Map

East Coast National Parks include:

  • Acadia National Park (ME),
  • Shenandoah National Park (VA),
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC, TN),
  • Mammoth Caves National Park (KY),
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park (OH),
  • New River Gorge National Park (WV),
  • Everglades National Park (FL),
  • Dry Tortuga National Park (FL),
  • Biscay National Park (FL)

The best East Coast National parks for kids

East Coast National Parks offer families a huge variety of experiences ranging from hikes and scenic drives among northern forests to the change of snorkeling in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

These are some great US National Parks on the East Coast for families with kids of all ages

Acadia National Park, Maine

Great for: coastal beauty, scenic drive, lighthouses

Acadia National Park is a wonderful and unique National Park perched on the northernmost Atlantic Coast in the state of Maine.

It is located where the highest rocky headland in the United States meets the Atlantic Ocean and it is made of several islands as well as a peninsula area on the US East Coast mainland.

This position makes the park unique: the presence of the mountains and the sea make it one of the most spectacular coastal sceneries in the country. Here you have a beautiful coastline, pretty coves, amazing lighthouses and fantastic mountain views, all in the same place!

When it comes to things to do in Acadia with kids, there is quite a selection.

If you love hiking, you will be spoilt for choice with the many family-friendly trails in the park.

If you want to spend time on the beach, you can do that in places like Sand Beach, perfect for playing in the sand and put your feet in the ocean (careful though, it is way too cold to swim!) or you can go to Echo Lake Beach.

If you want rugged coastline and lighthouses, Acadia is generous of them and for the days when you are tired, you can just take the park scenic drive, a good way for kids to rest they]ir legs if one day they don’t feel like hiking!

The park offers a cool Junior Ranger Program, which you can find >>> here <<<

Great Smoky National Park, North Carolina / Tennessee

Great for: forest walks with the kids

Great Smoky National Park is a wonderful east Coast national park for families located across the states of North Carolina and Tennessee.

east coast trips with toddlers

The park has wonderful forests and mountains and it is a wonderful vacation spot for families who love to hike , camp and are looking for an active family vacation.

There is plenty to do in Great Smoky with kids. In Great Smoky, kids can go hiking on many family-friendly trails, see waterfalls, go biking, fishing (license for adults required), see historical buildings and of course spot wildlife – elks and black bears live here, bring their binoculars !

The park also has an excellent junior ranger program with events for kids, which you can find >>> here <<<

This is one of the best places to see foliage in the US, perfect for a fall getaway with the family!

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Best for: scenic drive, foliage, family walks

Shenandoah National Park is a stunning national park for families in Virginia Located just a short car drive from Washington DC, it is a fantastic East Coast park to visit when you want a break from the city or if you are looking for seeing beautiful foliage and woods.

Scenic drive in Shenandoah National Park

The forest hikes in Shenandoah are wonderful!

The park is the perfect getaway for outdoorsy families : here you have several family-friendly trails to beautiful meadows, waterfalls and mountain vistas, go biking, fishing and go earth caching, with is super fun for kids and adults.

When you don’t feel like hiking, you can still enjoy the park driving the beautiful Skyline Drive or take part in a ranger talk, which is a good way to get some rest while listening to incredible facts about the park (and earn your junior ranger badge!)

Shenandoah is one of the best National Parks on the East Coast for families who want to enjoy foliage and hikes and want easy access from the city.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Best for: air boat tours, alligator sightings, mangrove forests

The everglade national park in Florida is a wonderful national park for kids on the East Coast and a unique one in terms of type of landscape, visit and animal sighting!

Waterway in Everglades National Park Florida

Unlike the East Coast parks mentioned so far, where you don’t have forests and mountains but rather, you find yourself in wetlands, mangrove forests and marshes where you can see alligators, turtles and manatees!

The Everglades is great fun for kids. The first thing and maybe the most iconic family activity in Everglade is the mangrove forest tour on an airboat, but this is just the beginning.

Here you can also go biking, hiking (several family-friendly hikes on boardwalks are great for spotting wildlife and easy for kids to tackle), see flamingoes, take a boat tour to 10000 islands park of the park, take a tram tour of the park.

A visit to the park is a must-do if you are on a family vacation in Florida and it is easy to add to a stay in Naples or even Miami, where you also have some of the best family beaches on the East Coast .

Dry Tortuga National Park, Florida

Dry Tortuga is another fantastic national Park for families in the east of the US with something unique: this park is not on the mainland but is made of several small islands offshore Florida!

The park is more remote than others and the fact that you cannot simply drive into it means it takes a bit of planning however if you are in Florida for a family vacation, it can be worth it as the place is spectacular – you can actually get a sense of what it is like from their virtual tour .

There are several cool things to do in Dry Tortuga with kids. the ferry trip to the island can itself be fun and, once you are there, you have the time to swim, snorkel and visit historic Fort Jefferson.

The park is special as it is home to a coral reef and the kids can spot cool marine life close to the coast, so you don’t need experienced snorkelers to enjoy a day here.

The park has a cool junior ranger program for kids and it is a great place to mix nature explorations, national park badge earning and ocean fun!

Make sure you pack all you need for a day at the beach as you will need all your swimming and snorkeling gear!

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Great for: family caving adventures

Mammoth Cave is a large National park in South Carolina with something special: the longest cave system in the country (possibly the world)!

Ramp leading into a cave at Mammoth Caves National Park

The cave system meanders for over 400 miles and the park has been inhabited for over 4000 yeast, which means you have not just incredible, extraordinary nature here but also interesting and unique history.

If you are looking for an educational vacation with kids , this is a great place!

The park is well equipped for kids.

To visit the caves, you can join a family-friendly tour and this is a wonderful way to learn about the park from a ranger and experience some of the most incredible rock formations in the caves.

The tours are best suited to children who can walk on their own as they are not necessarily accessible to strollers.

Child carriers are allowed but only front ones so I recommend you check the official info on the tours >>> here <<< when planning.

As well as caving, in Mammoth Caves with kids, you can go on family-friendly hikes and learn about the park and the area at the excellent Park Visitors’ center.

The park is near Nashville, a great US city to visit with kids, so you can easily plan a full family vacation in this area mixing time in the city and nature exploration!

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Great for: easy family walks, forest walks

Congaree is a beautiful and family-friendly national Pal in South Carolina, only about 18 miles out of Columbia.

The park has wonderful woodlands and it protects the ‘largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern United States’ – indeed, what you find in the par are wonderful boardwalks hikes among stunning trees!

To best way to visit Congaree with kids is by starting at the visitors, center, where you can get your booklet of activities for the junior ranger badge, and also learn about the park by watching a cool film about it.

Once you know your basics about the park, you can go on one of the family trails and spot wildlife (deer, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, hawks and more call this park home!) and you can also explore the park canoeing or kayaking .

The park is close to Columbia and less than 3 hours from the coast, therefore is a wonderful East Coast National Park to visit with kids as part of a South Carolina vacation that touches on cities, nature and one of the best beach vacation destinations in the US for families : Myrtle Beach!

Best East Coast National Parks for kids: pin this!

Images of Shenandoah, Great Smoky and Dry Tortuga national Parks with text: 7 US East Coast National parks perfect for families with kids

I hope you enjoyed this selection of the top National Parks on the East Coast for families with kids and it inspired you to plan a trip!

Looking for more National Park travel inspiration? Check out our selection of the best West Coast National Parks for kids too !

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Marta Correale

Marta Correale is the creator, writer and creative mind behind Learning Escapes. A travel loving mama of two from Italy, Marta currently lives in Ireland with her husband and two kids, they take frequent trips to European destination, the US and beyond. A professional travel blogger for over a decade, Marta is passionate about traveling with kids and helping others to travel more and better as a family.

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Magnitude 4.8 earthquake hits NJ, rattles entire tri-state; 4.0 aftershock felt hours later

The u.s. geological survey said the quake hit 3.7 miles east-southeast of califon, in hunterdon county. no damage to buildings or injuries to people were reported. it was the strongest earthquake with an east coast epicenter since 1884, by jennifer millman , tom shea , lauren maroney and jennifer peltz • published april 5, 2024 • updated on april 5, 2024 at 9:53 pm, what to know.

  • A magnitude 4.8 earthquake hit Hunterdon County, New Jersey, at 10:23 a.m. Friday -- and it reverberated across the entire tri-state area; there have been no reports of damaged buildings
  • No injuries were reported; no earthquake of that magnitude has had an epicenter near NYC since 1884, according to the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Hours later, a magnitude 4.0 aftershock hit the same area of New Jersey just before 6 p.m., according to the USGS. Further aftershocks will be unpredictable but are possible for the next week, experts say; if you find yourself in one, drop to the floor and cover your neck

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake struck New Jersey Friday, triggering frenzied phone calls from Manhattan to Albany to Long Island, Montclair and New Haven, as buildings rumbled in a region unaccustomed to the ground shaking — and that was before the area was hit with an aftershock almost as powerful.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the inital quake hit just over four miles north of Whitehouse Station, just below Tewksbury in Hunterdon County, about 40 miles west of New York City, at 10:23 a.m. It was a shallow earthquake, only 2.9 miles deep, which means an earthquake of that strength would be felt by a larger number of people. USGS put that number at 42 million.

"We're taking this extremely seriously," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said, calling it the most powerful earthquake felt by the East Coast since at least 2011 and the strongest to hit the East Coast directly in the last century.

Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.

Perhaps most surprising: No injuries or any significant building damages were reported throughout the entire region.

For context, a magnitude 4.0 quake can be felt about 60 miles from the epicenter; a magnitude 5.5 quake can be felt from 300 miles from the center. This 4.8 one reverberated throughout the entire tri-state, and was felt as far away as Maryland and Maine, according to witness reports.

USGS reported "moderate" intensity near the epicenter, with light and weak shaking reported regionally.

Hours later, a magnitude 4.0 aftershock hit the same area of New Jersey just before 6 p.m., according to the USGS. The epicenter of the aftershock was said to be 7.4 miles northwest of Bridgewater, which is just over the county line in Somerset County. The aftershock was significantly deeper than the initial quake, about 5.6 miles deep, which explains why it wouldn't have been felt by as many people.

east coast trips with toddlers

A much smaller aftershock, magnitude 2.0, was reported by the USGS in Bedminster, New Jersey, around 11:20 a.m. It was one of 12 aftershocks since the initial quake that have registered at least 1.8 or higher on the Richter scale, according to USGS geophysicist Timothy Clements. There may have been more, but any below 1.8 in magnitude would have been undetected.

Further aftershocks will be unpredictable but are possible for the next week, experts say. The USGS said there would be nearly a 50% probability of an aftershock magnitude 3.0 or more, a 16% of one magnitude 4.0 or more, and even a 3% chance of one that was more intense than the initial quake. If you find yourself in an aftershock, experts say you should drop to the floor and cover your neck.

4.8 earthquake map

Hochul said she directed her team to conduct damage assessments, including checking all state roads as well as major transmission lines and dams. The Democrat encouraged all municipalities to send crews for structural integrity assessments and vulnerable locations.

In New Jersey, there were few reports of damage, despite the epicenter being located there. There were three homes in along Seventh Avenue in Newark that saw structural damage after their roofs appeared to have collided during the shaking. Ten families, including 25 adults and three children, were relocated as a result.

Pictures and decorative plates tumbled off the wall in Christiann Thompson's house near Whitehouse Station, she said, relaying what her husband had told her by phone as she volunteered at a library.

“The dogs lost their minds and got very terrified and ran around," she said.

Whitehouse Station Fire Chief Tim Apgar said no injuries were reported, but responders fielded some calls from people who smelled gas. Nearby, the upper portion of the 264-year-old Col. John Taylor’s Grist Mill historic site collapsed onto a roadway, according to Readington Township Mayor Adam Mueller.

east coast trips with toddlers

In New York City, people described feeling the quake as a slight vibration. Some thought it was just a subway rolling underground beneath them or construction nearby; others didn't feel it at all. A meeting at the United Nations was briefly disrupted. Hour-long ground stops were ordered at JFK and Newark airports to allow crews time to ensure the quake didn't cause any runway cracks, but no damage was found and those stops were lifted.

Traffic through the Holland Tunnel between Jersey City and lower Manhattan was stopped for about 10 minutes for inspections, the Port Authority of New York and Jersey said.

In midtown Manhattan, motorists blared their horns on shuddering streets. Some Brooklyn residents heard a boom and felt their building shaking. Cellphone circuits were overloaded for a time as people tried to reach loved ones. Later, phones blared with earthquake-related notifications during the New York Philharmonic’s morning performance, where Anton Webern’s Six Pieces for Orchestra “literally ended with a cellphone alert,” said spokesperson Adam Crane.

The Department of Education sent messages to guardians of New York City Public School students ensuring them that their kids' were safest inside their classrooms, and that dismissal proceeded as usual later in the day.

The NYPD says all relevant emergency agencies were briefed on the situation, though impacts were minimal. Mayor Eric Adams said there were no reported safety or infrastructure problems, nor any disruptions to the power, water or gas system.

The mayor also said the Department of Buildings found no problems after conducting inspections, though the DOB will continue to look at all buildings in the coming days for any delayed cracks or other effects on the city's 1.1 million buildings. The department had not received any calls about structural concerns.

Engineers said New York’s skyscrapers are made of high-strength materials and designed to sway slowly to withstand winds and other impacts. Modern high rises also have other features to help absorb any shock.

“High-rise buildings can be one of the safest places you can be in an earthquake,” said Ahmad Rahimian of the engineering firm WSP Global.

Our @NYCSchools haven't reported any issues, and our students and staff are safe. Dismissal and afterschool will continue as scheduled for today. — Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) April 5, 2024

The MTA said service was not impacted, though teams were dispatched to inspect train lines and tunnels. New Jersey Transit reported up to 20-minute delays due to crew bridge inspections in the aftermath, but service was not impacted further.

There were no reported issues along the infrastructure for MTA, after both the initial quake and the powerful aftershock hours later, saying that the system continued to run "safely and normally."

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake hit west of Manhattan and has been felt throughout New York. My team is assessing impacts and any damage that may have occurred, and we will update the public throughout the day. — Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) April 5, 2024

History of earthquakes in Tri-State

Earthquakes with magnitudes near or above 5 struck near New York City in 1737, 1783 and 1884, the USGS said. Take a look at a list of the most powerful earthquakes near NYC in history.

The most powerful quakes near the city were on Aug. 10, 1884, and Dec. 19, 1737, according to the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network. Both of those quakes were magnitude 5.2 in the greater NYC area, but the exact spot where they occurred is not known.

Friday's quake stirred memories of the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake that jolted tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada. With an epicenter in Virginia, it left cracks in the Washington Monument and rattled New Yorkers ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

It's not the first quake to rumble the tri-state area this year. In January, a magnitude 1.7 earthquake struck near Astoria, Queens, according to USGS.

Earthquakes in the New York City area are rare, even if they seem increasingly common in recent years.

There are fault lines in the city but experts say residents have nothing to fear.

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The East Coast has been geologically stable for millions of years," Stephen Holler, an associate professor of physics and engineering at Fordham University, said.

He did not expect aftershocks to be a concern.

While a relatively strong earthquake for this part of the United States, it doesn't compare to the one that hit Taiwan earlier this week. T he country's strongest earthquake in more than 25 years, the magnitude 7.4 quake that hit Wednesday killed at least nine people died and hurt more than 1,000. Scores remain missing.

Earthquake felt across Northeast

In Astoria, Cassondra Kurtz was giving her 14-year-old Chihuahua, Chiki, a cocoa-butter rubdown for her dry skin. Kurtz was recording the moment on video, as an everyday memory of the dog’s older years, when her apartment started shaking hard enough that a 9-foot-tall mirror banged audibly against a wall.

Kurtz assumed at first it was a big truck going by. The video captured her looking around, perplexed. Chiki, however, “was completely unbothered.”

Attorney Finn Dusenbery was in a law office in midtown Manhattan. “The building shook and I thought that the ceiling above me was going to collapse,” Dusenbery said. “I did think that maybe the building was going to fall down for a second, and I wanted to get out of the building when I felt that.”

At a coffee shop in lower Manhattan, customers buzzed over the unexpected earthquake, which rattled dishware and shook the concrete counter. “I noticed the door trembling on its frame,” said India Hays, a barista. “I thought surely there couldn’t be an earthquake here.”

Solomon Byron was sitting on a park bench in Manhattan’s East Village when he felt an unfamiliar rumble. “I felt this vibration, and I was just like, where is that vibration coming from,” Byron said. “There’s no trains nowhere close by here or anything like that.” Byron said he didn’t realize there had been an earthquake until he got the alert on his cellphone.

People in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Connecticut and other areas of the Northeast reported shaking. Tremors lasting for several seconds were felt over 200 miles away near the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border.

More stories

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The Present Perspective

Moscow Travel Guide: Best Things to Do + More [2023]

· everything to know about visiting moscow, including the best things to do and how to get around. ·.

the red st basils church in moscow on a white winters day

Moscow is Russia’s vibrant capital city, and it also happens to be the largest city in all of Europe. The city’s long and infamous history makes it one of the most unique places we have ever visited.

The architecture ranges from centuries-old palaces to uniform, gray concrete buildings. The people range from cold and private to warm and welcoming. Moscow is a city is strong juxtapositions, and we learned a lot during our time there.

This post will break down all you need to know about visiting Moscow, including the best things to do, how to get there, how to get around, and more.

man and woman standing in front of main church in moscow

The Best Things to Do in Moscow

1. explore the red square.

The Red Square is the heart of Moscow. Most of the city’s top attractions can be found here, including just about everything on this list. The Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and Lenin’s Mausoleum are all located here, and the State Historical Museum and GUM are not far from here, either.

The Red Square is a common home for parades, protests, and seasonal celebrations. There are massive Christmas celebrations here, with food vendors and carnival rides set up in numbers.

red orthodox church in moscow russia red square on a winter day

2. Check Out the Ziferblat

The Ziferblat is a café in Moscow that is unlike any café we have ever been to. While most cafes charge you for your drinks and food, the Ziferblat charges you for your time.

Upon arrival, you are given a clock. When you leave, the barista calculates how much time you spent in the café and charges you accordingly. This concept was created to help visitors to be more intentional with their time, and the cafe itself is incredibly charming.

For a detailed look at everything you need to know before you visit, make sure you read my post about visiting the Ziferblat Cafe in Moscow .

white lcocks on a table

3. Marvel at St. Basil’s Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic churches in the world, and it was the single thing we were most excited to see while in Moscow. Built almost 500 years ago, St. Basil’s Cathedral is recognized by its colorful domes and whimsical style. The church is of the Russian Orthodox faith, and the inside is just as wondrous as the outside.

St. Basil’s Cathedral is located on the edge of the Red Square, making it incredibly convenient to visit. Entrance for non-worshippers costs 800 rubles, and tickets can be bought at the church

woman in winter jacket standing in front of St Basils Russian Orthodox in moscow on a winter day

4. Explore the Kremlin

The Kremlin is the largest active fortress in Europe, and it is the site of most of Russia’s government affairs. In addition to government buildings, the Kremlin Complex is filled with courtyards, towers, and museums that are open to the public. If you have the time, you could spend a couple of days fully exploring all that there is to see in the Kremlin.

selfie of man and woman pointing to the Kremlin in Moscow

5. Walk Through Lenin’s Mausoleum

Vladimir Lenin is one of the most important figures in Russian history, and his body is located perfectly embalmed in a mausoleum in the Red Square. The Mausoleum is open to the public to visit, and as long as you are willing to go through a few security checks, it is easily one of the best things to do in Moscow. Its convenient location in the Red Square makes it a can’t miss attraction.

There is absolutely no photography allowed inside the Mausoleum. Do not test this rule.

red exterior of lenins mausoleum in moscow russia

6. Wander Along Arbat Street

The Arbat is a very popular street in Moscow that is lined with stores, cafes, and other touristy attractions. It is one of the oldest streets in the city, dating back to the 1400s. This street is both quaint and trendy, and there are many walking tours that introduce tourists to the neighborhood’s wonders and highlights.

man in sinter jacket standing in arbat street moscow at night with glistening white lights strung from the buildings

7. Catch a Show at the Bolshoi Theatre

As a lover of the arts, it is hard to think of Moscow and not think of ballet. Russia has always been a top dog in the world of fine arts, and Bolshoi Theater is one of the best places to catch a performance. We were lucky enough to attend an Opera here, and it is a venue that you don’t want to miss out on if you enjoy opera, ballet, or orchestral performances.

8. Visit the State Historical Museum

The State Historical Museum is one of the most respected museums in Moscow. Despite its name, it is not really focused on the history of Russia as a nation. Rather, it contains a collection of artifacts from all throughout Russia’s history.

The museum’s collection is very broad in nature. It houses some items from indigenous tribes that used to occupy the region, pieces collected by the Romanov family, and more.

9. Wander Around GUM

GUM is an absolutely massive mall within walking distance of the Red Square. It isn’t just the size that draws visitors here; it’s the sense of luxury. The mall is so beautiful inside, much like the metro stations.

While visiting a mall might not sound like it belongs on a bucket list, this mall does. You will not want to miss out on visiting GUM while in Moscow.

people walking inside GUM mall in russia with christmas lights

10. Admire the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

While St. Basil’s Cathedral is the most iconic church in Moscow, it isn’t the only one. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is absolutely stunning, with massive golden domes. It is the tallest Orthodox church in the world, and it is the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow.

It is located just about a mile from the Red Square, just south of the Kremlin Complex. You can walk to it from the Red Square in about 20 minutes.

How to Get to Moscow

Flying to moscow.

Moscow has three major international airports: Sheremetyevo (SVO) , Domodedovo (DMO) , and Vnukovo (VKO) . All three of them are directly connected to downtown Moscow by the Aeroexpress trains, which leave every 30 minutes throughout the day. By Aeroexpress train, you can expect to get to the city center in 25-45 minutes depending on the airport that you fly into.

Sheremetyevo is the biggest and busiest of the three airports, and it is the one you are most likely to fly into – especially if you are coming from outside of Europe or the Caucus region. We flew into Sheremetyevo on a direct flight from New York City.

I usually provide backup airport options, because flying right into the city isn’t always the cheapest way to get where you’re going. Unfortunately, when it comes to Moscow, don’t really have a choice other than to fly right into Moscow. It is a very remote city, and it is usually the cheapest place to fly into in Russia as a whole.

Since Sheremetyevo is so busy, you will probably find a great flight option anyway. I wrote in  my post about finding cheap flights  that using hub airports will lead to more affordable airfare, and the same logic applies here. Even though Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot, is no longer a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, Moscow is still a major hub connecting passengers from all over the world.

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Train or Bus to Moscow

Trains and buses are one of the most popular ways to get around Europe. However, they’re of very little use when you’re trying to get to Moscow.

Moscow is hundreds of miles from the nearest major cities. The only major European city that can even be reached within 8 hours on the ground is St. Petersburg, and even the Baltic capitals of Riga, Vilnius, and Tallinn are over 12 hours away.

If you want to get to Moscow, the best option is almost always to fly. While the train routes to Moscow are scenic, they simply take forever.

How to Get Around Moscow


Moscow has one of the most memorable metro systems in the world. Its metro lines are very deep underground, and the stations are absolutely stunning. Each station has its own unique style, but all of them contain escalators that seem to go on forever.

turned-on chandelier on ceiling of moscow metro

The system was built in an effort to showcase the power of the Soviet Union and its bright future. The plans were a form of propaganda, but they resulted in what is still one of the most visually appealing subway systems on earth.

Moscow’s metro system isn’t just pretty. It is also very useful and accessible. The system has 17 lines that connect the city and its surrounding area.

But wait; there’s more!

The Moscow metro system is also incredibly affordable, with each ride costing less than a dollar. The metro is by far the best way to get around Moscow, as it is almost impossible to beat the connection times and the low cost to ride.

Tickets can be bought at electronic, English-speaking kiosks in stations, or directly from ticket counters at certain larger stations. There are also day passes available, which are a very solid option if you plan on riding the metro several times per day.

long gray escalator in moscow russia

The metro is by far the best way to get around Moscow.

In addition to the metro system, Moscow also has a network of buses, trams, and trolleys. This system is nowhere near as convenient or well-connected as the metro, though, and is likely of little use to you during your trip. There is no Uber in Moscow, but a similar app named Yandex is available if you need a ride in a pinch.

How Many Days Do You Need in Moscow?

Moscow is the biggest city in all of Europe, and it is absolutely loaded with things to do. You could spend weeks in Moscow and still find new things to do. Of course, most travelers don’t have that kind of time to spend in one place!

I recommend spending no less than three full days in Moscow, and ideally closer to five or seven.

Moscow is very spread out, and it can take some time to get from one major point to another. There are also so many places that are nice to just sit back and relax, which is hard to do when you’re in a hurry trying to cram activities into just a few days.

If you only have a week to visit Russia, I’d advise spending all of the time in one city. If you decide to split your time between Moscow and St. Petersburg, I recommend not trying to squeeze in any day trips beyond those two cities.

moscow bridge at night with lights

When Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Moscow?

There are two different ways to approach this question. Personally, I think the best time to visit Moscow is around Christmas and New Year’s Day. While the weather will be absolutely freezing, Moscow is a surreal winter wonderland in December and January.

We were in Moscow right before Christmas. While it was very cold, you can always bundle up. Exploring the Christmas markets and pop-up ice skating rinks throughout Moscow is one of my favorite memories from anywhere I’ve traveled, and I dream of going back to do it again.

If you aren’t fond of the cold, Moscow is beautiful in the summer. It tends to get pretty cold in the shoulder seasons, so if you want warm weather, you should plan to visit in the summer. Moscow actually gets pretty warm in July and August, and there are a bunch of fantastic places to soak up the sun within the city.

The best time to visit Moscow is either around Christmas or from late May to August.

group of people walking in moscow red square at night with christmas lights everywhere

Is Moscow Safe to Visit?

While Moscow is a truly wonderful city, there’s no denying that visiting Russia comes with risks. As the country is run by an infamous communist dictator, concerns about visiting are valid. While we didn’t experience any sort of threat or negative treatment during our time in Moscow, we visited in a peaceful time.

In our experience, Russia doesn’t seem to detain normal Americans or Westerners to use as pawns. As a regular person, as long as you don’t commit any crimes, there is a slim chance you will run into any issues. However, Russia will not hesitate to enforce its laws against foreigners, and illegal behaviors will likely land you in a very compromising position.

Russia will not hesitate to enforce its laws against foreigners, and illegal behaviors will likely land you in a very compromising position.

To make matters worse, Russia has a bad reputation for gang violence. While the Russian mafia has very little interest in normal Western tourists, they won’t hesitate to pick a fight with anyone who ventures into their sphere of influence. If you seek out illegal substances or activities, you could be a target of the mafia.

If you seek out illegal substances or activities, you could be a target of the mafia.

Finally, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, things are all very different. Russia is currently at war, and there are battles raging within 8 hours of Moscow. While it is still relatively safe to visit, that could change at any time as the war with Ukraine continues.

Is Moscow Worth Visiting?

Without a doubt, Moscow is worth visiting. It is one of the most unique major cities we have ever visited, and we hope to make it back one day. The Russian Orthodox churches are stunning, the city’s history is unlike any other, and the food is to die for.

While many visitors prefer St. Petersburg to Moscow, I think Moscow deserves a lot of hype of its own. Moscow is the beating heart of Russian culture and history, and it’s a place I highly recommend checking out if you have the chance.

woman in head scarf hugging bronze statue of angry bear

That’s all we have for you about Moscow! I hope this post was helpful as you plan your trip to Russia’s capital.

Have you been to Moscow? Or is this your first time visiting? Comment below if you have anything to add to our travel guide!

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

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Your last-minute guide to Monday's total solar eclipse

Photo Illustration: The phases of a total solar eclipse

A total solar eclipse will cross North America on Monday , offering millions a rare opportunity to see afternoon skies temporarily darken as the moon blocks the face of the sun.

Tune into NBC News NOW as Lester Holt hosts a two-hour special at 2 p.m. ET Monday from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The eclipse's path fortuitously cuts across Mexico, 15 U.S. states and a small part of eastern Canada. In all other states in the continental U.S., viewers will be treated to a partial solar eclipse, with the moon appearing to take a bite out of the sun and obscuring part of its light.

Here’s everything you need to know about the rare celestial event.

What is a solar eclipse?

Solar eclipses occur when the sun, moon and Earth align. The moon passes between Earth and sun, temporarily blocking the sun’s light and casting a shadow on Earth.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon fully obscures the sun, whereas a partial solar eclipse means it blocks just a portion of the sun’s face.

Solar eclipses occur only with the new moon. Because the moon’s orbit around Earth is tilted, the three bodies don’t always line up in a way that creates an eclipse.

“Imagine if the moon’s orbit were in the plane of Earth’s orbit around the sun — if that were the case, then every new moon, you’d have a total solar eclipse and every full moon, you’d have a lunar eclipse,” Neil DeGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, told NBC News. “So, because things don’t always align, it lends to the rarity of the event and the specialness of the event.”

Where and when will the eclipse be visible?

This year’s eclipse will follow a slightly wider path over more populated areas of the continental U.S. than other total solar eclipses have in the recent past.

NASA estimates that 31.6 million people live within what’s known as the path of totality, where the total solar eclipse will be visible. An additional 150 million people live within 200 miles of the path, according to the agency.

The path travels through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Tiny parts of Michigan and Tennessee will also be able to witness totality if conditions are clear.

After the eclipse crosses into Canada, it will pass over southern Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton, at the eastern end of Nova Scotia.

Those outside the path of totality can still take part in the astronomical event by viewing a partial solar eclipse — visible throughout all 48 states of the contiguous U.S. — or a NASA livestream.

The timing, including how long totality lasts, depends on the location, but some spots will see the moon fully cover the sun for up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds.

Below is a list of timings for some cities along the path of totality, as  provided by NASA . A number of other resources, including  and , can also help people plan.

  • Dallas: Partial eclipse begins at 12:23 p.m. CT and totality at 1:40 p.m.
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: Partial eclipse begins at 12:33 p.m. CT and totality at 1:51 p.m.
  • Cleveland: Partial eclipse begins at 1:59 p.m. ET and totality at 3:13 p.m.
  • Buffalo, New York: Partial eclipse begins at 2:04 p.m. ET and totality at 3:18 p.m.
  • Lancaster, New Hampshire: Partial eclipse begins at 2:16 p.m. ET and totality at 3:27 p.m.

This composite image of thirteen photographs shows the progression of a total solar eclipse

How to safely view a solar eclipse

It is never safe to gaze directly at the sun, even when it is partly or mostly covered by the moon. Special eclipse glasses or  pinhole projectors  are required to safely view solar eclipses and prevent eye damage. Failing to take the proper precautions can result in severe eye injury,  according to NASA .

Eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than normal sunglasses and specially made to enable wearers to look at the sun during these kinds of celestial events.

Sky-watchers should also never view any part of the sun through binoculars, telescopes or camera lenses unless they have specific solar filters attached. Eclipse glasses should not be used with these devices, as they will not provide adequate protection.

However, during the few minutes of totality, when the moon is fully blocking the sun, it is safe to look with the naked eye.

Image: Tyler Hanson

Beware of fake eclipse glasses. On legitimate pairs, the lenses should have a silver appearance on the front and be black on the inside. The manufacturer’s name and address should be clearly labeled, and they should not be torn or punctured. Check, as well, for the ISO logo and the code “IS 12312-2” printed on the inside.

If you don’t have eclipse glasses, you can make a homemade pinhole projector, which lets sunlight in through a small hole, focuses it and projects it onto a piece of paper, wall or other surface to create an image of the sun that is safe to look at. 

All you need is two pieces of white cardboard or plain white paper, aluminum foil and a pin or thumbtack. Cut a 1- to 2-inch square or rectangle out of the center of a piece of white paper or cardboard. Tape aluminum foil over that cut-out shape, then use a pin or thumbtack to poke a tiny hole in the foil.

During the eclipse, place a second piece of white paper or cardboard on the ground as a screen and hold the projector with the foil facing up and your back to the sun. Adjusting how far you hold the projector from the second piece of paper will alter the size of the image on the makeshift screen.

What to look for while viewing the total solar eclipse

For people along the path of totality, there are some fun milestones to keep track of as the total solar eclipse unfolds.

As the eclipse progresses and the sun gets thinner in the sky, it will start to get eerily dark, according to Tyson.

The "diamond ring effect" is shown following totality of the solar eclipse at Palm Cove in Australia's Tropical North Queensland in 2012.

When the last beams of sunlight are about to become obscured, look out for the “diamond ring effect”: The sun’s atmosphere will appear as an illuminated halo, and the last light still visible will look like the diamond of a giant ring.

As the sunlight decreases even further, an effect known as Baily’s beads will be created by the moon’s rugged terrain. Tiny “beads” of light will be visible for only a few seconds around the dark moon, as the last bits of sunlight peer through the moon’s mountains and valleys.

When the moon is fully blocking the sun, it is safe to remove eclipse glasses and look at the total solar eclipse with the naked eye.

The Bailey's Beads effect is seen as the moon makes its final move over the sun during the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon.

Some lucky sky-watchers may even catch a glimpse of a comet .

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks — nicknamed the “ devil comet ” because an eruption last year left it with two distinct trails of gas and ice in the shape of devil horns — is currently visible from the Northern Hemisphere as it swings through the inner solar system.

The comet can be seen in the early evenings by gazing toward the west-northwest horizon. During the eclipse, when skies darken during totality, it may be possible to see the comet near Jupiter, but its visibility will depend on whether it’s in the middle of an outburst and thus brighter than normal.

Most likely, all eyes will be on the alignment of the moon and sun.

“Most people won’t even notice,” Tyson said. “But if you know to look, it’s there.”

When is the next solar eclipse?

The next total solar eclipse will be in 2026, but it will mostly pass over the Arctic Ocean, with some visibility in Greenland, Iceland, Portugal and northern Spain. In 2027, a total solar eclipse will be visible in Spain and a swath of northern Africa.

The next total solar eclipse visible from North America will be in 2033, but only over Alaska. Then in 2044, a total solar eclipse will cross Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, parts of Canada and Greenland.

The next total solar eclipse to cross the continental U.S. coast-to-coast in will occur in 2045. The path of totality for that eclipse will cut through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

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Denise Chow is a reporter for NBC News Science focused on general science and climate change.

Lucas Thompson is a content producer for the NBC News Climate Unit.

Middle East latest: Israeli military say more than 200 drones and missiles launched by Iran in unprecedented attack

The IDF have said that a girl, 10, was injured during the Iranian attack, but did not confirm where. Meanwhile, Joe Biden is speaking to Benjamin Netanyahu following the attack.

Sunday 14 April 2024 02:34, UK

  • Israel-Hamas war

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  • Iran launches drones at Israel and they'll arrive in hours - IDF
  • Iran says it has also launched missiles as it retaliates for attack on Iranian consulate in Syria
  • Sunak condemns Iran's 'reckless attack' in the 'strongest terms'
  • Watch : Alistair Bunkall explains what this could mean for Middle East
  • Mark Stone analysis : This is unprecedented
  • Alex Rossi analysis : An extraordinarily dangerous moment
  • Iran seizes Israeli-linked cargo ship with 25 crew on board
  • Watch: Revolutionary Guards board vessel by helicopter
  • Explained: Why is Iran attacking Israel? 
  • Live reporting by Jess Sharp  and Lauren Russell

Shortly after Iran confirmed that it had launched missiles and drones on Israel, numerous countries - including Israel - closed their airspace. 

Jordan and Iraq also temporarily stopped all air traffic, while the attack was ongoing. 

Real-time aircraft flight tracking information from Flightradar around the time the attack was reported shows planes avoiding countries surrounding Israel. 

The Israeli military has said a "small number" of targets were hit in the Iranian attack, including an IDF base in southern Israel.

It said the base suffered minor damage was caused to the infrastructure. 

The IDF said the majority of missiles were intercepted outside Israel's borders and were defended by the IDF aerial defence array before they crossed into Israeli territory.

Israel has requested that the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to condemn Iran's attack.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, wrote on X that the drone and missile launch was a "serious threat to global peace and security".

He urged the security council to "use every means to take concrete action against Iran" and designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "terror organisation". 

According to a UN diplomat, the council is aiming to hold a meeting later today. 

Earlier, United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres, called for an immediate cessation of the hostilities. 

He said he strongly condemns the attack by Iran on Israel.

The Israeli government have released footage of what it says are defence systems shooting down Iranian missiles over Jerusalem.

Earlier, the Israeli military said that more than 200 drones and missiles have been launched by Iran since yesterday.

A senior Israeli military official was quoted by Israeli state media that there would be a "significant response" to the Iranian attack - despite calls from the United Nations and Egypt to restrain from retaliation. 

So how possible is an Israeli attack on Iran?

Harley Lippman, from the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, told Sky News earlier that a "red line" between the two countries has now gone, paving the way for an Israeli attack on Iran.

"Since Israel was attacked and since there are no more red lines, Israel can attack Iran," he said. 

"They may be surprised by the Iranian attack and they might not launch a major attack, but Israel has a lot of options.

"One is to do something immediately to show deterrence, some predict they will hit back ten times as hard or the window of opportunity to attack Iran's nuclear facilities is now open.

"I suspect that this is something that will be discussed in Israel. If I was living in an Iranian nuclear facility, I would be wearing a hard hat right now.

"I think Israel has to respond in a strong manner and they will."

There has been no official statement from the Israeli military on a retaliation. 

Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden are expected to speak shortly, according to Israeli media. 

It comes after Israel's prime minister convened his war cabinet earlier today and the US president cut a weekend trip short to return to Washington for a meeting with national security advisers. 

We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it... 

The United Nations secretary general has said he "strongly condemns" the "serious escalation" represented by the attack launched in Israel by Iran. 

Posting a statement on X, Antonio Guterres called for an immediate cessation of the hostilities. 

He also urged "maximum restraint" from all parties after the attack, which the Israeli military said involved more than 200 drones and missiles. 

"I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war," Mr Guterres said.

While the Israeli military has been giving an update on the Iranian attack launched earlier this evening, it has confirmed it is still intercepting incoming threats. 

The Israel Defence Forces said "engagement has not ended". 

In total, more than 200 drones and missiles have been launched so far, it added. 

A girl has been wounded during the Iranian drone and missile attack, the Israel Defence Forces has said. 

A military facility has also been lightly damaged, it added. 

More than 200 drones and missiles were launched as part of the retaliatory strike, it said. 

In total, Israeli warplanes intercepted more than 10 cruise missiles and dozens of drones outside the country's borders, it added. 

It also confirmed Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles, most of which were intercepted. 

Our international correspondent Alex Rossi has been speaking from Jerusalem this evening as sirens have sounded in the Israeli capital.

The Israel Defence Forces said that sirens in several other areas have also been set off including: southern Israel, the Shomron area, the area of the Dead Sea and northern Israel. 

Watch the eyewitness report from Rossi as sirens, explosions and aircraft can be heard:

The Israel Defence Forces has confirmed Iran has fired missiles as part of its attack. 

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards said it had launched dozens of drones and missiles on the country, but Israel initially declined to confirm cruise missiles has been fired. 

"A short while ago, Iran launched missiles from its territory toward the territory of the State of Israel," the Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said. 

"The Aerial Defence Array is fully operational and is intercepting threats wherever required, even at this very moment. 

"At this time, numerous IAF planes are in the air, ready to counter any threat."

He also said he will make another statement in an hour to provide updates on any developments. 

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Home » Europe » Moscow

EPIC MOSCOW Itinerary! (2024)

Moscow is the heart of Mother Russia. Just the mention of this city conjures images of colorful bulbous pointed domes, crisp temperatures, and a uniquely original spirit!

Moscow has an incredibly turbulent history, a seemingly resilient culture, and a unique enchantment that pulls countless tourists to the city each year! Although the warmer months make exploring Moscow’s attractions more favorable, there’s just something about a fresh snowfall that only enhances the appearance of the city’s iconic sites!

If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or simply wanting to see as much of the city as possible, this Moscow itinerary will help you do just that!

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Best Time To Visit Moscow

Where to stay in moscow, moscow itinerary, day 1 itinerary in moscow, day 2 itinerary in moscow, day 3 and beyond, staying safe in moscow, day trips from moscow, faq on moscow itinerary.

Here is a quick look at the seasons so you can decide when to visit Moscow!

The summer months (June-August) are a great time to travel to Moscow to take advantage of the enjoyable mild temperatures. This is considered peak travel season. Bear in mind that hotel prices rise along with the temperatures!

when to visit moscow

If you’re planning a trip to Moscow during fall (September-November) try to plan for early fall. This way the temperatures will still be pleasant and winter won’t be threatening.

Russian winters (December-February) are not for the faint of heart as Napoleon learned to his peril. Some days the sun will be out for less than an hour, and snow is guaranteed. Although winters are exceptionally cold, this is when you’ll get a true glimpse of the Moscow experience!

The best time to visit Moscow is during spring  (March-May). The temperatures will begin to creep up and the sun begins to shine for significant portions of the day. Hotel rates will also have yet to skyrocket into peak ranges!

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With a Moscow City Pass , you can experience the best of Moscow at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!

Moscow is a large city with many accommodation options to choose from. Staying in a location that fits with your travel plans will only enhance your Moscow itinerary. Here is a brief introduction to a few great areas of the city we recommend checking out!

The best place to stay in Moscow to be close to all the action is Kitay-Gorod. This charming neighborhood will put you within walking distance to Moscow’s famous Red Square, thus cutting down on travel time. This will allow you to see more of the city in a shorter amount of time!

where to stay in moscow

It’s surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or just planning a quick weekend in Moscow, then this area is perfect for you!

Another great area to consider is the Zamoskvorechye district. This area of the city offers a blend of new and old Moscow. It has an artsy vibe and there are plenty of fun sites you can explore outside of the main touristy areas of Moscow.

Of course, as in all areas of Moscow, it’s close to public transportation that will quickly connect you with the rest of the city and make your Moscow itinerary super accessible!

Best Airbnb in Moscow – Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Modern and cozy, this apartment is in the heart of Old Moscow. Bordering the Basmanny and Kitay-Gorod districts, this two-bedroom flat is walking distance to the Kremlin and Red Square. Safe, quiet, and comfortable, this is the best Airbnb in Moscow, no question!

Best Budget Hotel in Moscow – Izmailovo Alfa Hotel

moscow itinerary

The Izmailovo Alfa Hotel is a very highly rated accommodation that provides all the components necessary for a comfortable trip to Moscow. There is an on-site restaurant, bar, fitness center, and an airport shuttle service. The rooms are modern and spacious and are equipped with a TV, heating/air conditioning, minibar, and more!

Best Luxury Hotel in Moscow – Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre

moscow itinerary

If you’re touring Moscow in luxury, the Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre is the hotel for you! Elegantly furnished rooms are equipped with a minibar, flat-screen TV,  in-room safes, as well as tea and coffee making facilities! Bathrooms come with bathrobes, slippers, and free toiletries. There is also an onsite restaurant, bar, and fitness center.

Best Hostel in Moscow – Godzillas Hostel

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station. Guests will enjoy all the usual hostel perks such as self-catering facilities, 24-hour reception, Free Wi-Fi, and security lockers. This is one of the best hostels in Moscow and its wonderful social atmosphere and will make your vacation in Moscow extra special!

Godzillas Hostel is one of our favourites in Moscow but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

An important aspect of planning any trip is figuring out the transportation situation. You’re probably wondering how you’re going to get to all of your Moscow points of interest right? Luckily, this sprawling city has an excellent network of public transportation that will make traveling a breeze!

The underground metro system is the quickest and most efficient way to travel around Moscow. Most visitors rely exclusively on this super-efficient transportation system, which allows you to get to pretty much anywhere in the city! It’s also a great option if you’re planning a Moscow itinerary during the colder months, as you’ll be sheltered from the snow and freezing temperatures!

moscow itinerary

If you prefer above-ground transportation, buses, trams, and trolleybuses, run throughout the city and provide a rather comfortable alternative to the metro.

Moscow’s metro, buses, trams, and trolleybuses are all accessible with a ‘Troika’ card. This card can be topped up with any sum of money at a metro cash desk. The ticket is simple, convenient, and even refundable upon return to a cashier!

No matter which method you choose, you’ll never find yourself without an easy means of getting from point A to point B!

Red Square | Moscow Kremlin | Lenin’s Mausoleum | St. Basil’s Cathedral  | GUM Department Store

Spend the first day of your itinerary taking your own self guided Moscow walking tour around the historic Red Square! This is Moscow’s compact city center and every stop on this list is within easy walking distance to the next! Get ready to see all of the top Moscow landmarks!

Day 1 / Stop 1 – The Red Square

  • Why it’s awesome: The Red Square is the most recognizable area in Moscow, it has mesmerizing architecture and centuries worth of history attached to its name.
  • Cost: Free to walk around, individual attractions in the square have separate fees. 
  • Food nearby: Check out Bar BQ Cafe for friendly service and good food in a great location! The atmosphere is upbeat and they’re open 24/7!

The Red Square is Moscow’s historic fortress and the center of the Russian government. The origins of the square date back to the late 15th century, when Ivan the Great decided to expand the Kremlin to reflect Moscow’s growing power and prestige!

During the 20th century, the square became famous as the site for demonstrations designed to showcase Soviet strength. Visiting the Red Square today, you’ll find it teeming with tourists, who come to witness its magical architecture up close!

The Red Square

The square is the picture postcard of Russian tourism, so make sure to bring your camera when you visit! No matter the season, or the time of day, it’s delightfully photogenic! 

It’s also home to some of Russia’s most distinguishing and important landmarks, which we’ve made sure to include further down in this itinerary. It’s an important center of Russia’s cultural life and one of the top places to visit in Moscow!

In 1990, UNESCO designated Russia’s Red Square as a World Heritage site. Visiting this historic site is a true bucket-list event and essential addition to your itinerary for Moscow!

Day 1 / Stop 2 – The Moscow Kremlin

  • Why it’s awesome: The Moscow Kremlin complex includes several palaces and cathedrals and is surrounded by the Kremlin wall. It also houses the principal museum of Russia (the Kremlin Armory).
  • Cost: USD $15.00
  • Food nearby: Bosco Cafe is a charming place to grat a casual bite to eat. They have excellent coffee and wonderful views of the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin!

The iconic Moscow Kremlin , also known as the Kremlin museum complex, sits on Borovitsky Hill, rising above the Moscow River. It is a fortified complex in the center of the city, overlooking several iconic buildings in the Red Square!

It’s the best known of the Russian Kremlins – citadels or fortress’ protecting and dominating a city. During the early decades of the Soviet era, the Kremlin was a private enclave where the state’s governing elite lived and worked.

The Kremlin is outlined by an irregularly shaped triangular wall that encloses an area of 68 acres! The existing walls and towers were built from 1485 to 1495. Inside the Kremlin museum complex, there are five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers.

The Armoury Chamber is a part of the Grand Kremlin Palace’s complex and is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1851. It showcases Russian history and displays many cherished relics. Definitely make sure to check out this museum while you’re here!

The Moscow Kremlin

The churches inside the Moscow Kremlin are the Cathedral of the Dormition, Church of the Archangel, Church of the Annunciation, and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki (a church tower).

The five-domed Cathedral of the Dormition is considered the most famous. It was built from 1475–1479 by an Italian architect and has served as a wedding and coronation place for great princes, tsars, and emperors of Russia. Church services are given in the Kremlin’s numerous cathedrals on a regular basis.

The Grand Kremlin Palace was the former Tsar’s Moscow residence and today it serves as the official workplace of the President of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Putin seems to have bagged that title for life) .

Insider Tip: The Kremlin is closed every Thursday! Make sure to plan this stop on your Moscow itinerary for any other day of the week!

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Lenin’s Mausoleum

  • Why it’s awesome: The mausoleum displays the preserved body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin .
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Khinkal’naya is a charming Georgian restaurant with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick. It’s a popular place with locals and right next to the Red Square!

Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as Lenin’s Tomb, is the modernist mausoleum for the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. It’s located within the Red Square and serves as the resting place for the Soviet leader! His preserved body has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924.

It’s located just a few steps away from the Kremlin Wall and is one of the most controversial yet popular Moscow attractions!

Admission is free for everyone, you’ll only need to pay if you need to check a bag. Before visitors are allowed to enter the mausoleum, they have to go through a metal detector first. No metal objects, liquids, or large bags are allowed in the mausoleum!

Lenins Mausoleum

Expect a line to enter the building, and while you’re inside the building, you’ll be constantly moving in line with other visitors. This means you won’t be able to spend as long as you’d like viewing the mausoleum, but you’ll still be able to get a good look. Pictures and filming while inside the building are strictly prohibited, and security guards will stop you if they see you breaking this rule.

The mausoleum is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday – unless it’s a public holiday or a day scheduled for maintenance. The hours it’s open for each day are limited, make sure to check online before you visit to make sure you can fit this into your Moscow itinerary for that day!

Insider Tip: The Lenin’s Museum is there for people to pay their respect; remember to keep silent and move along quickly, it’s not intended for people to congregate around. Also, men are not allowed to wear hats and everyone must take their hands out of their pockets when inside the building.

Day 1 / Stop 4 – St. Basil’s Cathedral

  • Why it’s awesome: A dazzling designed cathedral that showcases Russia’s unique architecture. This cathedral is one of the most recognizable symbols of the country!
  • Cost: USD $8.00
  • Food nearby: Moskovskiy Chaynyy Klub is a cozy cafe serving food items and pipping hot tea; it’s the perfect place to go if you’re visiting Moscow during the winter months!

Located in the Red Square, the ornate 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral is probably the building you picture when you think of Moscow’s unique architecture. Its colorful onion-shaped domes tower over the Moscow skyline!

The cathedral was built from 1555-1561 by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. It was designed with an iconic onion dome facade and enchanting colors that captivate all who see it. Fun fact: If you’re wondering why Russian churches have onion domes, they are popularly believed to symbolize burning candles!

This iconic cathedral has become a symbol of Russia due to its distinguishing architecture and prominent position inside the Red Square. It’s one of the most beautiful, wonderful, and mesmerizing historical cathedrals in the world!

St. Basils Cathedral

The interior of the church surprises most people when they visit. In contrast to the large exterior, the inside is not so much one large area, but rather a collection of smaller areas, with many corridors and small rooms. There are 9 small chapels and one mausoleum grouped around a central tower.

Visiting the inside is like walking through a maze, there are even small signs all around the cathedral tracing where to walk, and pointing you in the right direction! The walls are meticulously decorated and painted with intricate floral designs and religious themes.

The church rarely holds service and is instead a museum open for the public to visit.

Insider Tip: During the summer months the line to go inside the cathedral can get quite long! Make sure to arrive early or reserve your tickets online to guarantee quick access into the cathedral!

Day 1 / Stop 5 – GUM Department Store

  • Why it’s awesome: This is Russia’s most famous shopping mall! It’s designed with elegant and opulent architecture and provides a real sense of nostalgia!
  • Cost: Free to enter
  • Food nearby: Stolovaya 57 is a cafeteria-style restaurant with a variety of inexpensive Russian cuisine menu items including soups, salads, meat dishes, and desserts. It’s also located inside the GUM department store, making it very easily accessible when you’re shopping!

The enormous GUM Department Store is located within the historic Red Square. It has a whimsical enchantment to it that sets it apart from your typical department store.

A massive domed glass ceiling lines the top of the building and fills the interior with natural sunlight. There are live plants and flowers placed throughout the mall that give the shopping complex a lively and cheerful feel! A playful fountain sits in the center, further adding to the malls inviting a sense of wonder and amusement!

The GUM department store opened on December 2, 1893. Today, it includes local and luxury stores, including Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and many more! There are numerous cafes, restaurants, and even a movie theater inside!

GUM Department Store

For a special treat, head into Gastronom 1. This 1950s-style shop sells gourmet food items, like wine, freshly-baked pastries, cheese, Russian chocolate, and of course, vodka! Also, be on the lookout for a bicycle pedaling ice cream truck with an employing selling ice cream!

The ambiance is simply amazing, a trip to this idyllic shopping mall is an absolute must on any Moscow itinerary!

Insider Tip: Make sure to carry some small change on you in case you need to use the restroom, you’ll need to pay 50 rubles – or about USD $0.80 to use the bathroom in GUM.

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Novodevichy Convent | Gorky Park | State Tretyakov Gallery | All-Russian Exhibition Center | Bolshoi Theater

On your 2 day itinerary in Moscow, you’ll have a chance to use the city’s excellent public transportation service! You’ll explore a few more of Moscow’s historic highlight as well as some modern attractions. These sites are a little more spread out, but still very easily accessible thanks to the metro!

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Novodevichy Convent

  • Why it’s awesome: The Novodevichy Convent is rich in imperial Russian history and contains some of Russia’s best examples of classical architecture!
  • Cost: USD $5.00
  • Food nearby: Culinary Shop Karavaevs Brothers is a cozy and simple place to have a quick bite, they also have vegetarian options!

The Novodevichy Convent is the best-known and most popular cloister of Moscow. The convent complex is contained within high walls, and there are many attractions this site is known for! 

The six-pillared five-domed Smolensk Cathedral is the main attraction. It was built to resemble the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral and its facade boasts beautiful snowy white walls and a pristine golden onion dome as its centerpiece. It’s the oldest structure in the convent, built from 1524 -1525, and is situated in the center of the complex between the two entrance gates.

There are other churches inside the convent as well, all dating back from many centuries past. The convent is filled with an abundance of 16th and 17th-century religious artworks, including numerous large and extravagant frescos!

Novodevichy Convent

Just outside the convent’s grounds lies the Novodevichy Cemetery. Here, you can visit the graves of famous Russians, including esteemed authors, composers, and politicians. Probably the most intriguing gravestone belongs to Russian politician Nikita Khruschev!

The Novodevichy Convent is located near the Moscow River and offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The convent remains remarkably well-preserved and is an outstanding example of Moscow Baroque architecture! 

Insider Tip: To enter the cathedrals inside the complex, women are advised to cover their heads and shoulders, while men should wear long pants.

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

  • Why it’s awesome: A large amusement area in the heart of the city offering many attractions!
  • Cost: Free! 
  • Food nearby: Check out Mepkato, located inside Gorky Central Park for a casual meal in a cozy setting. There are indoor and outdoor seating options and the restaurant is child-friendly!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure is a large green space in the heart of Moscow. The park opened in 1928, and it stretches along the scenic embankment of the Moskva River. It covers an area of 300-acres and offers a lovely contrast from the compact city center.

You’ll find all sorts of wonderful attractions, from boat rides to bike rentals to tennis courts and ping-pong tables, and much more! there are an open-air cinema and festive events and concerts scheduled in the summer months.  A wide selection of free fitness classes is also offered on a regular basis, including jogging, roller skating, and dancing!

Although many of the options you’ll find here are more suited for outdoor leisure during the summer, you’ll also a selection of winter attractions, including one of Europe’s largest ice rinks for ice-skating!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

If you’re trying to decide what to do in Moscow with kids, the park also offers several venues designed specifically for kids. Check out the year-round Green School which offers hands-on classes in gardening and art! You can also feed the squirrels and birds at the Golitsinsky Ponds!

The park is very well maintained and kept clean and the entrance is free of charge, although most individual attractions cost money. There is also Wi-Fi available throughout the park.

With so many attractions, you could easily spend all day here! If you’re only planning a 2 day itinerary in Moscow, make sure to plan your time accordingly and map out all the areas you want to see beforehand!

Day 2 / Stop 3 – The State Tretyakov Gallery

  • Why it’s awesome: The gallery’s collection consists entirely of Russian art made by Russian artists!
  • Food nearby : Brothers Tretyakovs is located right across the street from the gallery. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric restaurant serving top quality food and drinks!

The State Tretyakov Gallery was founded in 1856 by influential merchant and collector Pavel Tretyakov.  The gallery is a national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the most important museums in Russia!

It houses the world’s best collection of Russian art and contains more than 130, 000 paintings, sculptures, and graphics! These works have been created throughout the centuries by generations of Russia’s most talented artists!

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The exhibits range from mysterious 12th-century images to politically charged canvases. The collection is rich and revealing and offers great insight into the history and attitudes of this long-suffering yet inspired people!

All pictures are also labeled in English. If you plan to take your time and see everything inside the museum it will take a good 3-4 hours, so make sure to plan your Moscow trip itinerary accordingly! This gallery is a must-see stop for art lovers, or anyone wanting to explore the local culture and history of Russia in a creative and insightful manner! 

Insider Tip: When planning your 2 days in Moscow itinerary, keep in mind that most museums in Moscow are closed on Mondays, this includes The State Tretyakov Gallery!

Day 2 / Stop 4 – All-Russian Exhibition Center

  • Why it’s awesome: This large exhibition center showcases the achievements of the Soviet Union in several different spheres. 
  • Food nearby: Varenichnaya No. 1 serves authentic and homestyle Russian cuisine in an intimate and casual setting.

The All-Russian Exhibition Center is a massive park that presents the glory of the Soviet era! It pays homage to the achievements of Soviet Russia with its many different sites found on the property.

The center was officially opened in 1939 to exhibit the achievements of the Soviet Union. It’s a huge complex of buildings and the largest exhibition center in Moscow. There are several exhibition halls dedicated to different achievements and every year there are more than one hundred and fifty specialized exhibitions!

All Russian Exhibition Center

The Peoples Friendship Fountain was constructed in 1954 and is a highlight of the park. The stunning gold fountain features 16 gilded statues of girls, each representing the former Soviet Union republics. 

The Stone Flower Fountain was also built in 1954 and is worth checking out. The centerpiece of this large fountain is a flower carved from stones from the Ural Mountains! Along the side of the fountain are various bronze sculptures.

You will find many people zipping around on rollerblades and bicycles across the large area that the venue covers. It’s also home to amusement rides and carousels, making it the perfect place to stop with kids on your Moscow itinerary! Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and allow a few hours to explore all the areas that interest you!

Day 2 / Stop 5 – Bolshoi Theater

  • Why it’s awesome: The Bolshoi Theater is a historic venue that hosts world-class ballet and opera performances!
  • Cost: Prices vary largely between USD $2.00 –  USD $228.00 based on seat location.
  • Food nearby: Head to the Russian restaurant, Bolshoi for high-quality food and drinks and excellent service!

The Bolshoi Theater is among the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world! It also boasts the world’s biggest ballet company, with more than 200 dancers!

The theater has been rebuilt and renovated several times during its long history. In 2011 it finished its most recent renovation after an extensive six-year restoration that started in 2005. The renovation included an improvement in acoustics and the restoration of the original Imperial decor.

The Bolshoi Theater has put on many of the world’s most famous ballet acts! Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premiered at the theater in 1877 and other notable performances of the Bolshoi repertoire include Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker!

Bolshoi Theater

Today, when you visit the theater, you can expect a magical performance from skilled singers, dancers, and musicians with the highest level of technique!

If you don’t have time to see a show, the theater also provides guided tours on select days of the week. Tours are given in both Russian and English and will provide visitors with a more intimate look at the different areas of the theater!

The stage of this iconic Russian theater has seen many outstanding performances. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, the Bolshoi Theater is one of the greatest and oldest ballet and opera companies in the world, making it a must-see attraction on your Moscow itinerary!

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station.

  • Towels Included

Cosmonautics Museum | Alexander Garden | Ostankino Tower | Izmaylovo District | Soviet Arcade Museum

Now that we’ve covered what to do in Moscow in 2 days, if you’re able to spend more time in the city you’re going to need more attractions to fill your time. Here are a few more really cool things to do in Moscow we recommend!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

  • Hear the timeline of the ‘space race’ from the Russian perspective
  • This museum is fun for both adults and children!
  • Admission is USD $4.00

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a museum dedicated to space exploration! The museum explores the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration, space technology, and space in the arts. It houses a large assortment of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits, and the museum’s collection holds approximately 85,000 different items!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

The museum does an excellent job of telling the full story of the exciting space race between the USSR and the US! It highlights the brightest moments in Russian history and humanity and is very interesting and fun for all ages!

If you’re a fan of space or just curious about gaining insight into Russia’s fascinating history of space exploration, make sure to add this to your 3 day itinerary in Moscow!

The Alexander Garden

  • A tranquil place to relax near the Red Square
  • Green lawns dotted with sculptures and lovely water features
  • The park is open every day and has no entrance fee

The Alexander Garden was one of the first urban public parks in Moscow! The garden premiered in 1821 and was built to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s forces in 1812!

The park is beautiful and well maintained with paths to walk on and benches to rest on. The park contains three separate gardens: the upper garden, middle garden, and lower garden.

The Alexander Garden

Located in the upper garden, towards the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame. This monument was created in 1967 and contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War!

The park stretches along all the length of the western Kremlin wall for about half a mile. Due to its central location in the city, it’ll be easily accessible when you’re out exploring The Red Square.

It provides a bit of relief from the city’s high-energy city streets. Bring a picnic lunch, go for a walk, or just sit and people watch, this is one of the best Moscow sites to wind-down and relax!

Ostankino Television Tower

  • Television and radio tower in Moscow
  • Currently the tallest free-standing structure in Europe
  • Make sure you bring your passport when you visit, you can’t go up without it!

For spectacular views of the city, make sure to add the Ostankino Television Tower to your itinerary for Moscow! This impressive free-standing structure provides stunning views of the city in every direction. The glass floor at the top also provides great alternative views of the city!

Ostankino Television Tower

It takes just 58 seconds for visitors to reach the Tower’s observation deck by super fast elevator. The tower is open every day for long hours and is a great site in Moscow to check out! There is even a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy rotating views of the city while you dine on traditional Russian cuisine or European cuisine!

The tower is somewhat of an architectural surprise in a city that is not known for skyscrapers! To see the city from a new perspective, make sure to add this stop to your Moscow itinerary!

Izmaylovo District

  • The most popular attractions in this district are the kremlin and the flea market
  • Outside of the city center and easy to reach via metro
  • Most popular during the summer and on weekends

Travel outside the city center and discover a unique area of the city! The Izmaylovo District is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and one of the coolest places to see in Moscow! The two main attractions we recommend checking out are the Kremlin and the flea market.

The Izmailovo Kremlin was established as a cultural center and molded after traditional Russian architecture. This colorful complex is home to several single-subject museums, including a Russian folk art museum and a vodka museum!

Izmaylovo District

Next to the Kremlin is the Izmailovo open-air market, which dates back to the 17th century! The market is connected to the Izmailovo Kremlin by a wooden bridge. Pick up all your Russian souvenirs here, including traditional handicrafts, paintings, books, retro toys, and Soviet memorabilia!

You will find many hand-made and hand-painted options available at higher prices, as well as mass-produced souvenir options at lower prices!

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

  • Closed on Mondays
  • Filled with old arcade games that visitors get to try out!
  • The museum also includes a small cafe and burger shop

For something a little different, check out the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games! The museum features roughly 60 machines from the Soviet era, including video games, pinball machines, and collaborative hockey foosball! The machines inside the museum were produced in the USSR in the mid-1970s.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

The best part is, most of the games are still playable! Purchase tickets and try the games out for yourself! The museum also has a neat little screening room that plays old Soviet cartoons and an area with Soviet magazines! This unique attraction is a fun addition to a 3 day itinerary in Moscow, and an attraction that all ages will enjoy! 

Whether you’re spending one day in Moscow, or more, safety is an important thing to keep in mind when traveling to a big city! Overall, Moscow is a very safe place to visit. However, it is always recommended that tourists take certain precautions when traveling to a new destination!

The police in Moscow is extremely effective at making the city a safe place to visit and do their best to patrol all of the top Moscow, Russia tourist attractions. However, tourists can still be a target for pickpockets and scammers.

Moscow has a huge flow of tourists, therefore there is a risk for pickpocketing. Simple precautions will help eliminate your chances of being robbed. Stay vigilant, keep your items close to you at all times, and don’t flash your valuables!

If you’re planning a solo Moscow itinerary, you should have no need to worry, as the city is also considered safe for solo travelers, even women. Stay in the populated areas, try and not travel alone late at night, and never accept rides from strangers or taxis without a meter and correct signage.

The threat of natural disasters in Moscow is low, with the exception of severe winters when the temperature can dip below freezing! Bring a good, warm jacket if you visit in Winter.

However, please note that Russian views on homsexuality are far less accepting than those in Western Europe. Likewise, Non-Caucasian travellers may sadly encounter racism in Russia .

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Now that we’ve covered all the top things to see in Moscow, we thought we’d include some exciting day trips to other areas of the country!

Sergiev Posad (Golden Ring)

Sergiev Posad Golden Ring

On this 7-hour guided tour, you’ll visit several scenic and historic areas of Russia. Start your day with hotel pick-up as you’re transferred by a comfortable car or minivan to Sergiev Posad. Admire the charming Russian countryside on your drive and enjoy a quick stop to visit the Russian village, Rudonezh!

You’ll see the majestic Saint Spring and the Church of Sergiev Radonezh. You’ll also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, one of the most famous Orthodox sites in Russia!

Lastly, you’ll swing by the local Matreshka market and enjoy a break in a nice Russian restaurant before returning to Moscow!

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

On this 13-hour trip, you’ll discover old Russia, with its picturesque landscapes and white-stoned beautiful churches! You’ll visit the main towns of the famous Golden Ring of Russia – the name for several cities and smaller towns north-east of Moscow.

Your first stop will be in the town of Vladimir, the ancient capital of all Russian principalities. The city dates back to the 11th century and is one of the oldest and the most important towns along the Ring! Next, you’ll visit Suzdal, a calm ancient Russian town north of Vladimir with only 13,000 inhabitants!

The old-style architecture and buildings of Suzdal are kept wonderfully intact. If you’re spending three days in Moscow, or more, this is a great option for exploring the charming areas outside the city!

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

On this 9-hour private tour, you’ll explore the ancient town of Zvenigorod, one of the oldest towns in the Moscow region! As you leave Moscow you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery along the Moscow River, and make a few stops at old churches along the way to Zvenigorod.

Upon arrival, you’ll explore the medieval center, including the 14th-century Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. Next, you’ll take a break for lunch (own expense) where you’ll have the chance to try out the Russian cuisine! Next, you’ll visit the Museum of Russian Dessert and sip on tea at a Russian tea ceremony.

The final stop of the day is at the Ershovo Estate, a gorgeous place to walk around and enjoy nature!

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage & Faberge

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage and Faberge

On this full-day tour, you’ll enjoy a a full round trip to St Petersburg where you’ll spend an exciting day exploring another popular Russian city! You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Moscow and be transferred to the train station where you’ll ride the high-speed train ‘Sapsan’ to St Petersburg.

Upon arrival, you’ll start the day by touring the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace. Next, you’ll visit the Faberge Museum, where you’ll explore the impressive collection of rare Faberge Eggs! In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing boat ride and a traditional 3-course Russian lunch.

If you’re spending 3 days in Moscow, or more, this is an excellent trip to take!

Trip to Kolomna – Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

Trip to Kolomna - Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

On this 10-hour tour, you’ll escape the city and travel to the historic town of Kolomna! First, you’ll visit the 14th-century Kolomna Kremlin, home to the Assumption Cathedral and an abundance of museums!

Next, enjoy lunch at a local cafe (own expense) before embarking on a tour of the Marshmallow Museum – of course, a marshmallow tasting is provided!  Your final stop is the Museum of Forging Settlements, where displays include armor and accessories for fishing and hunting.

Discover this beautiful Russian fairytale city on a private trip, where all of the planning is taken care of for you!

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Find out what people want to know when planning their Moscow itinerary.

How many days you need in Moscow?

We recommend that you spend at least two or three days in Moscow to take it all in.

What’s the best month to visit Moscow?

The best time to visit Moscow is over the spring, from March to May as temperatures are mild, crowds are thin and prices are reasonable.

What are some unusual things to do in Moscow?

I mean, queuing up to see an almost 100 year old corpse is pretty unsual! Check out Lenin’s Mausoleum if you fancy it!

What are some fun things to do in Moscow?

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a fun place to explore the famous space race from the perspective of the ‘other side’!

We hope you enjoyed our Moscow itinerary! We’ve made sure to cover all the Moscow must-sees as well as some unique attractions in the city! Our addition of insider tips, favorite food stops, and day trips from Moscow is an added bonus and will guarantee you make the most out of your exciting Russian vacation!

Immerse yourself in the modern and traditional Russian lifestyle! Get lost in museums, witness awe-inspiring architecture, and indulge in Russian cuisine! Spend the day strolling through all of the charming sites of Moscow, admiring the beautiful scenery and discovering the city’s fairytale-like enchantment!

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And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Alya and Campbell

Alya and Campbell

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