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In this post, we’re rounding up the best summer weekend getaways on the East Coast of the United States! These destinations range from beach to mountain to small-town weekend getaways! The East Coast has exciting destinations that make for great weekend getaways. Keep reading to discover which of these East Coast destinations is right for your weekend trip!
Summer Mountain Weekend Getaways
Asheville, North Carolina
“Not sure where to travel this summer? Then enjoy one of the best summer weekend getaways on the East Coast of the USA in Asheville, North Carolina. After all, this charming little mountain town sits right near the Blue Ridge Mountains. Therefore, you can escape the summer heat and humidity by hitting the trails and heading to higher elevations. It’s also a very affordable destination that is perfect for families, couples, and solo travelers alike since there are tons of fun things to do here.
So, if you would like to visit then fly into Asheville Regional Airport and drive for 25 minutes into the downtown area. Because in spite of what you might think, this airport is well-connected to airports throughout the country. Just be sure to grab a rental car before you leave since you can use it to drive sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway and admire the incredible mountain scenery.
Then, upon arrival, visit the North Carolina Arboretum. It’s a great place to embrace your love of nature since there are 430 acres of gardens and well-maintained trails to explore. Next, go back in time with some pinball at the Asheville Pinball Museum before visiting Craggy Gardens. Just come prepared with the right gear since this hike is moderately difficult and is eight miles round trip. But, it’s worth it since you can pack a picnic lunch and marvel at epic mountain views from the picnic area here. Finally, spend a night inside a room at The Inn on the Biltmore Estate. Not only is the property historic and absolutely stunning, but the grounds are immense and you’ll want plenty of time to explore the entire property. Plus, there’s an on-site museum and a shopping area too that make this one of the many fun things to do in do in Asheville, NC.”
Contributed by Victoria of Southern Trippers
One of the best weekend getaways on the East Coast located just a two hours drive from New York City are the Catskill Mountains. This area is popular for those who love the outdoors, especially those who live in the city and need a break or a healthy dose of nature. The Catskills are best explored via car, making it a great road trip destination.
Some of the best activities to enjoy in the summer include enjoying rafting or a scenic float along the Upper Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River, camping, and hiking. For those looking for cultural sites and great stops for meals, you’ll want to check out some of the charming towns in the region like Woodstock, Narrowsburg, Callicoon, Tannersville, Livingston Manor, and Phoenicia to name a few along with a visit to Bethel where the legendary 1969 Woodstock music festival site was held. You can’t beat taking scenic drives here either, from hunting down any of the many covered bridges, winding mountain roads, and making stops at waterfalls like Kaaterskill Falls.
What’s great about the Catskills is you can go as budget as you want or as luxurious as you want as they have everything from campsites to luxury stays and retreats. When visiting in the summer, it’s worth enjoying a camping experience like Roscoe Campsite Park which has campsites for both tents and RVs plus cabin rentals and even covered wagon stays. Plus from here you can enjoy outdoor activities from canoeing, fishing, and hiking nearby.
Contributed by Megan Indoe of Your Brooklyn Guide
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a great summer weekend destination for anyone. The Smoky Mountains provide stunning views of the majestic peaks, as well as plenty of opportunities to go hiking, rock climbing, and more. The city is close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and offers plenty of great restaurants and shops to explore. Besides exploring the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Gatlinburg has plenty of attractions and restaurants to keep everyone entertained all weekend. You can take a stroll down the Parkway, hit up some shops or go for a ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
There are also numerous attractions in Gatlinburg like Anakeesta Tree Adventure Park, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area. Gatlinburg is an ideal getaway for all types of travelers. Foodies will be satisfied with the wide variety of restaurants and delicious treats, while museum lovers will find plenty to explore in downtown Gatlinburg. Nature enthusiasts can take advantage of the many outdoor activities available and sports lovers have access to bike and hiking trails, and golf courses. Gatlinburg is an affordable destination for a summer weekend getaway.
Accommodations range from budget-friendly to luxury, making it easy to find something that fits your budget. Additionally, you can easily explore the city without spending too much money on activities and attractions as there are plenty of free or low-cost things to do in Gatlinburg. If you are looking for a centrally located hotel, the Greystone Lodge is an excellent choice. It offers great amenities, such as free parking and Wi-Fi access, as well as being situated in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. For those who prefer a cabin experience, there are plenty of options available in the area. From small cabins to larger accommodations that can sleep up to 14 people, you can find something to suit your needs.
The city can be easily accessed by car from many major East Coast cities. Depending on your starting point, you can take I-81 or I-40 to reach Gatlinburg. From Chattanooga, TN take US Highway 321 into Gatlinburg. If you are coming from North Carolina, you can take I-40 West to reach Gatlinburg. Additionally, the McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Alcoa, TN offers flights from many major cities and is only a 30-minute drive away from Gatlinburg.
Contributed by Melodie of Travel Must Dos
White Mountains, New Hampshire
If you dream of getting out into the woods, take a look at the White Mountains of New Hampshire! This part of Northern New Hampshire has long been a favorite summer getaway for New Englanders who come for the hiking, scenery, and clean, fresh air. The White Mountains are filled with hiking trails, covered bridges, waterfalls, scenic train rides, ziplines, and lots of fun activities for outdoorsy people of all ages.
The best way to get to the White Mountains is to fly into Manchester, NH, or Boston, MA, and drive up from there. Most White Mountains destinations are within a 2.5-hour drive of Boston. North Conway makes a great base to visit in the White Mountains. Kearsarge Inn is a bed and breakfast that delivers great value for money in the heart of beautiful North Conway Village. Up for camping instead? Huttopia White Mountains, just down the road in Albany, offers already-set-up tents, some with their own bathrooms!
Many, many families visit the White Mountains in the summer — it’s tailor-made for families with kids of all ages. But it also draws plenty of adults who live to hike. Some even complete the NH 48 — climbing all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000-footers! New England in general can be an expensive destination to visit, and that goes for the White Mountains as well. You can always save money by cooking your meals instead of going to restaurants, and enjoying the best outdoor activities.
Contributed by Kate of New Hampshire Way
Discover the best of the East Coast of the United States
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is a fantastic place for a weekend getaway in the summer. As the only national park in New England, this treasure has so much to offer every sort of traveler. First-time visitors can get a good overview of the park in only 2-3 days, and for those that have been before, there are plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered! The easiest way to get to Acadia is to fly into the local airport, Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, which has direct flights from Boston Logan International Airport and is only ten miles from the park. You can then either rent a car and drive yourself around (the best option) or take the shuttle from the airport into Bar Harbor and then use the park shuttle to get around to the attractions. You can also fly into Bangor International Airport and drive from there, which takes about an hour.
There are so many amazing things to do in Acadia. Hiking is definitely a highlight, and there are trails of all lengths and difficulties. If you’re adventurous, the Precipice Trail or the Beehive Trail/Gorham Mountain/Ocean Path are great choices. Those who want something a little milder can meander along the coast on the Ocean Path Trail, which takes you to some of the other park highlights, such as Thunder Hole and Sand Beach. South Bubble Mountain and Jordan Pond Loop is another popular hike to consider.
Besides hiking, visitors can spend some time in Bar Harbor checking out the shops and restaurants. If you want to do something unique, take a stroll across the land bridge at low tide and visit Bar Island. Other not-to-miss attractions include Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Jordan Pond (and the Jordan Pond House restaurant with their famous popovers!), and the carriage roads.
Bar Harbor will be the most convenient place to base yourself for your weekend getaway. There are so many great places to choose from for every budget, but if you want to stay somewhere spectacular, consider the Bar Harbor Inn. There is something for every kind of traveler in Acadia National Park, but hikers, bikers, and outdoor lovers will especially love this place. Acadia National Park has so much to see and do, and even on a dreary day, you can’t help but marvel at the beautiful landscapes and stunning ocean views. While accommodations and restaurants can be a bit pricey during the summer, Acadia National Park can be affordable for a weekend getaway if you book in advance and do some planning.
Contributed by Stefanie of Open Road Odysseys
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is the perfect summer getaway. The national park lies along the top of the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, just north go the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountains are cooler than the valleys below, so the park is a welcome respite from the summer heat. Shenandoah National Park has four entrances. The two most northern entrances are convenient access points to drive from Washington DC, which is just over an hour away. The two southern entrances are close to Charlottesville, VA. The most popular activity in the national park is to drive the Skyline Drive, a scenic road that traverses the length of the park along the top of the ridge. There are over 75 lookouts with stunning views over the national park and the valleys beyond, including the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley.
The other main activity is hiking. There are dozens of trails in Shenandoah National Park, ranging from easy and short to steep and long. Most trails either go to viewpoints with sensational mountain views or to waterfalls. Another popular activity is star gazing in Big Meadow. On clear moonless nights, you can see millions of stars and the Milky Way.
There are two lodges inside the national park, as well as some other cabins and campgrounds. Big Meadows Lodge is the main lodge, with lodge rooms and cabins set amongst the trees. Skyland also has rustic cabins and motel-style rooms. It is also possible to stay at any of the small towns in Shenandoah Valley and drive up to the national park each day. Shenandoah National Park is a great destination for people who want to enjoy wonderful views from the comfort of their car or people who love to get out into the Great Outdoors and hike. Shenandoah National Park is not super cheap, but is generally affordable, especially with so many accommodations options available in the nearby valley.
Contributed by James of Parks Collecting
Hudson Valley, New York
The Hudson River Valley lies on either side of the Hudson River in New York State, as it meanders down from Albany to New York City. The area is filled with bucolic farms and villages, as well as forested areas that are perfect for hiking. The picturesque Catskill Mountains frame the wide valley to the west. There is an Amtrak train that runs right alongside the Hudson River between NYC and Albany, and is this ride is incredibly scenic (sit on the left heading north or the right heading south for the best views). However, the most convenient way to access the area is to drive north from New York, as this will give you the flexibility to fully explore the area.
There is a lot to do in the Hudson Valley. It is a great place for hiking. From the challenging Breakneck Ridge (basically a vertical rock scramble) to family-friendly strolls down near the river at Poets Walk, there are trails for everyone. The area is also a hot spot for Agritourism and dozens of farms are open for u-pick fruit from late spring into the fall. Many have family fun activities like hay rides and corn mazes. For more adult-oriented entertainment, there are also dozens of wineries, cideries and distilleries where you can sample local beverages in lovely settings. You can also enjoy exploring the history of the area (FDR’s presidential Library is on Hyde Park and there are several Golden Age mansions open for tours), buy antiques, or visit farm stands for fresh produce.
There are plenty of places to stay. For a unique experience, it’s hard to beat Mohonk Mountain House, a fantastical array of Harry Potter-esque buildings around a mountain lake. The area has such diversity that it is perfect for hikers, foodies, families, history buffs … anyone really. Hudson Valley is fairly affordable, depending on what you do, where you stay and what you eat.
Contributed by James of Hudson Valley Discovered
Located in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s a lot to love about budget-friendly Roanoke in summer months, particularly for outdoor enthusiasts. Start your exploration with a drive along the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, which skirts east of downtown. Colorful wildflowers and flowering shrubs, like flame azaleas and mountain laurel, delight motorists traveling along this scenic byway. Stop at Explore Park at milepost 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This 1,100-acre recreation area rewards with hiking and biking trails, a treetop course, disc golf, camping, kayaking and tubing on the Roanoke River.
Celebrate a day spent outdoors with a pint at Twin Creeks Brewpub, which is located at Explore Park. For those eager to hit the hiking trails, one of the most popular Roanoke hikes leads to the Mill Mountain Star, the world’s largest man-made star that stands tall at 100 feet. Since 1949, the iconic steel star has been welcoming visitors to Roanoke. The overlook can be reached on foot, but also by car, for all to take in scenic views across the Roanoke Valley. Plan to buy tickets to see the Salem Red Sox, the area’s minor league baseball team. This is a hometown favorite for baseball and selfies with Mugsy, the team’s lovable mascot. The baseball season runs from early-April to mid-September.
Hungry? Settle in at Texas Tavern, a 10-stool diner in Roanoke. This cash-only greasy spoon serves up burgers and chili bowls for less than $2 each. The Cheesy Western, a burger topped with a fried egg, pickles, cheese and sweet relish, is a local favorite. Stay the weekend at the Hampton Inn & Suites Roanoke Downtown. It’s two blocks from Center in the Square, which is home to family-friendly attractions like the Roanoke Pinball Museum and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture. From the sixth-floor rooftop terrace, revel in far-reaching views across the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.
Roanoke is an easy two-hour drive from Greensboro, North Carolina, which is home to an international airport with air service from five national and regional airlines. Expect lots of sunshine and temperatures in the low- to mid-80s in the summer months. Your best bet is to bring a car to Roanoke, but you can reach this mountain town by way of daily passenger train service with Amtrak.
Contributed by Erin of Go Hike Virginia
Watkins Glen, New York
If you are looking for a low-key getaway out in nature with waterfalls galore, it doesn’t get much better than Watkins Glen, New York! You’ll enjoy the perfect weather in the summer, with highs ranging from the high 70s to the low 80s. June is an especially great time to visit, as there will be fewer crowds than in other summer months.
Watkins Glen is located at the southern tip of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region. If you’re flying in, the closest airport is Elmira Regional Airport (a 24-minute drive) or Ithaca Thompkins International Airport (a 43-minute drive). The crown jewel of Watkins Glen is Watkins Glen State Park. Take a hike along the Gorge Trail and weave your way through this breathtaking gorge, passing by 19 waterfalls! It is a fairly easy hike, though there are a lot of steps. Make sure you have a good pair of hiking shoes for the slippery terrain, take your time & enjoy the natural beauty all along this 2-mile hike. There are many other trails throughout the park for you to explore. Make sure you have your camera ready – you will want to take a LOT of pictures! T
The cost of a trip to Watkins Glen could range from low to mid-range. There are plenty of low-cost things to do in the area, and the food is very reasonably priced. You’ll be within driving distance of many other area hikes & waterfalls. Plus, there are activities on the water to choose from as well, such as renting a kayak. A pricier option is to take a wine tour or a sunset cruise. While in town, stay at the charming Blackberry Inn Bed & Breakfast. The hosts are lovely, the rooms are clean & comfortable, and you’ll enjoy a delicious farm-to-table breakfast each morning with great conversation to start your day! If you love nature and relaxation, you will not regret planning a getaway to Watkins Glen!
Contributed by Jody of My Travel Obsession
Summer Coastal Weekend Getaways
Clearwater, Florida is one of the best places to travel to for a summer getaway on the east coast. The weather is sunny and there’s nothing like a beach getaway. Clearwater offers beach options for days, including: Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island State Park, and Caladesi Island State Park. Enjoy some rest and relaxation, slide into a kayak, or jump on a jet ski. In Clearwater, the choices are endless. Just west of Tampa, Clearwater is 20 minutes from the airport. It’s the perfect place for a weekend summer getaway that travelers of all ages would enjoy.
Aside from the usual beach happenings and water sports, a visit to Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach is a great attraction to consider visiting. Pier 60 features a 1,080-foot fishing pier and one of the gulf coast’s largest beach playgrounds. It’s heaven for all ages. The bait house at the pier is stocked with all the fishing essentials you might need and also offers food and drink options. The pier comes alive each night at sunset, with crafts and entertainment. If you’d rather stay indoors, consider checking out Clearwater Marine Aquarium as well. Unlike most aquarium experiences, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a rescue facility. It features not only countless species of sea life, but also an animal hospital.
Days Inn by Wyndham Clearwater/Gulf to Bay and Comfort Suites Clearwater – Dunedin are great places to stay in Clearwater during your summer weekend getaway. There are so many great family resorts in Clearwater. Clearwater is a great location for a summer getaway for families and those who love the beach and water sports. With all the options Clearwater has to offer, most travelers are bound to find something they enjoy. Clearwater is one of the most affordable cities to visit in Florida. So enjoy the weather, the beaches and the help on the pocketbook!
Contributed by Candice of Exploring the Gulf
Montauk, New york
One of the absolute best summer weekend getaways on the East Coast of the US is at the ‘End of the World’ in Montauk. Located on the tip of Long Island in the Hamptons, a popular summer getaway for city dwellers in New York, you can easily visit Montauk by the Hampton Jitney bus from the city, but you’ll probably want a car to explore once you’re there unless you are staying at a great beach house, or drive.
The summer, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, is peak season in the Hamptons and Montauk, meaning you’ll be sharing this amazing destination with flocks of visitors. Keeping that in mind, it’s best to try to plan around the weekend rush hours on Friday nights to the Hamptons and Sunday evenings out of the Hamptons, it’s best to visit during the week if possible if you want to avoid traffic getting in and out.
Once you’re in Montauk you need to visit Montauk Point Lighthouse, which is at the very tip of Long Island and offers dramatic views of the lighthouse, Atlantic Ocean, beaches, and bluffs. Be sure to take a walk around Camp Hero State Park for more views and outdoor hiking.
When you need a bite to eat, be sure to eat some of the fresh seafood from the roadside joints or restaurants in Montauk. Check out the Clam Bar for a great lobster roll located along the Montauk Highway or enjoy a sit-down feast for dinner at Harvest on Fort Pond. No visit to Montauk in the summer is complete without beach hopping, be sure to check out Ditch Plains Beach, the most popular surfing beach in Montauk. If you’re looking to splurge, stay at Gurney’s Resort where you can enjoy all the luxuries of this fine hotel and book a room with ocean views. Be sure also to take advantage of their incredible spa too.
Contributed by Megan Indoe of Bobo and Chichi
Cape Cod, Massachusets
Cape Cod is one of the top beach destinations in New England, and with over 500 miles of coastline, dramatic sand dunes, amazing seafood, and serene salt marshes to explore, it’s also one of the most picturesque destinations on the East Coast for a summer weekend getaway. The absolute best thing to see during your getaway is the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is home to some of the most scenic coastlines and beaches in the region. Spend the day at one of the six beaches, or hit the trails to enjoy amazing coastal views.
One of the most charming towns on Cape Cod is Chatham, and in the summer, this is also where you’ll find the most beautiful hydrangea gardens that New England is famous for. Be sure to stroll down Main Street to visit the shops, then branch off onto the side streets to admire the picture-perfect gardens. You can’t come to Cape Cod and not try the homemade ice cream! There are so many places in the area serving up homemade ice cream, and one of the best to visit is Sundae School, which has locations in Harwich Port and Dennis Port.
End your weekend getaway with an incredible sunset over the ocean. One of the most spectacular sunsets on Cape Cod is at Race Point Beach, and if you arrive before sunset, you’re likely to see seals swimming along the shoreline.
The best way to get to Cape Cod is to fly into Boston Logan International Airport and rent a car from there to drive about 2 hours to the Cape. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can also take a ferry from Boston to Provincetown, and spend your weekend getaway exploring all the amazing things to do in Ptown. As with most of coastal New England in the summer, Cape Cod can be pricey, with moderate hotels averaging about $200-$300/night. A wonderful option is the Pelham House Resort in Dennis Port, which is right on the beach, and has restaurants, as well as an outdoor pool overlooking the ocean. This one’s a splurge, but absolutely worth it!
Contributed by Samantha of New England Wanderlust
St. Augustine, Florida
Summer weekend getaways don’t come better than St Augustine, Florida. Located on the east coast near Jacksonville, St Augustine is the oldest, continuously occupied, European-founded city in the continental USA. This helps give it a very interesting history to explore and learn about while in town. St Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and was the Florida territory capital until 1824. During this time, it changed hands between the Spanish and the British several rimes until becoming part of the United States in 1822. It’s home to a beautiful historic district where you can see the remains of this past. It’s perfect for a weekend’s exploration. The Historic District is home to many museums and other attractions. The best place to start is at the Colonial Quarter which is an open-air museum. It’s split into four sections where each section is a period of time and you can learn about what life was like in that period.
In addition to the Historic District, walk over to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. This Spanish fort was built in the late 1600s. It’s home to a museum and, on weekends, a group of volunteers dressed as Spanish soldiers fire a canon every half hour. The area also has countless charming shops, bars and restaurants and it’s not far to drive to the beach if you need to cool down. Nearby, you can also find Marineland, where you can see dolphins, an alligator farm, and the Fountain of Youth. Drinking from the springs here is said to help you stay young.
This weekend getaway works best for history lovers or anyone that loves charming town vibes. You can drive to St Augustine in 50 minutes from Jacksonville. There are also buses between the two cities. An atmospheric place to stay is St George Inn, located in the Historic District. A weekend here can add up. To save money, stay outside the historic district.
Contributed by Sharon of Dive Into Germany
Martha’s Vineyard is the ultimate New England summer playground! This small island may be famous for its celebrity clientele, from Barack Obama to Reese Witherspoon to Oprah Winfrey, but one of the charms is just how down-to-earth it is. There are lots of ways to get to Martha’s Vineyard. In the summer months, there are direct flights to Martha’s Vineyard from all over the Northeast US, including Boston, New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC. You can also come easily by ferry — car ferries from Woods Hole on Cape Cod take about 45 minutes to reach the island.
Many people come to the Vineyard to relax on the beaches, and there are many here — South Beach, Moshup Beach, and Wasque Point are three of the highlights. Don’t miss the beautiful gingerbread houses of Oak Bluffs, which look straight out of Hansel & Gretel. Take the tiny, three-car “Chappy Ferry” on a one-minute ride to Chappaquiddick Island. The Martha’s Vineyard Museum makes a great rainy day outing.
Nobnocket Boutique Inn is a wonderful place to stay on Martha’s Vineyard. This luxury bed and breakfast is an oasis in the heart of Vineyard Haven, the most local-feeling town on the island. You can enjoy tastefully decorated rooms with rich linens and outstanding breakfasts that change each day.
Martha’s Vineyard is an excellent choice for a busy person who needs a relaxing getaway. It’s almost hypnotic how relaxing the Vineyard is! You notice as soon as you land. There’s something about driving past all the rolling farmland and taking long walks at Wasque Point to bring your stress levels down to zero. Martha’s Vineyard is indeed an expensive location to visit. By American standards, New England is expensive to begin with; being one of the most popular resort islands drives prices up even more. But you can keep costs down on the Vineyard by choosing to self-cater, getting around via buses or bikes instead of driving, and spending your time relaxing in the outdoors.
Contributed by Kate of Yes, Massachusetts!
One of the best summer weekend getaways on the east coast is to Nantucket, just off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. You can get there easily by ferry. It departs from the town of Hyannis and takes about an hour. Round-trip tickets are $89 for adults and $54 for children ages 5 to 12. You should plan to arrive about 45 minutes before departure.
Summer is a great time to visit because the island stays cool compared to other parts of the east coast. During the summer, Nantucket has average high temperatures in the low 70s and average low temperatures in the low 60s. There is also little rain.
Nantucket has historic museums, charming shops, and delicious seafood restaurants. This means it’s a great destination for anyone. It can be expensive, especially the restaurants. But you can always save money by stopping in at a grocery store and making your own lunches. One of the most popular attractions in town is the Whaling Museum. There you’ll learn all about the whaling industry and how it affected the island. From the mid-1700s to the late 1830s, Nantucket was considered the whaling capital of the world, so there’s a lot to learn. Another popular attraction is the Brant Point Lighthouse. It’s just outside of town, but easy to walk to. Brant Point is the second oldest light station in the country and although the lighthouse isn’t open to the public, the grounds are. A trip to Nantucket isn’t complete without a picture of the lighthouse!
The Nantucket Shipwreck and Life Saving Museum is another must-see. The museum is outside of the downtown area but you can catch the Shipwreck Shuttle from the Visitors Services office in town. In the 19th Century, there were over 750 shipwrecks off the coast of Nantucket. The museum details the history and preserves the memory of the volunteer and professional lifesavers of the island. For your stay, a great option is 21 Broad. It is minutes away from the ferry terminal and many popular attractions. They also have a spa and breakfast is included.
Contributed by Vicky of Buddy The Traveling Monkey
Key West, Florida
“If you’re looking for one of the best summer weekend getaways on the East Coast of the USA then you can’t beat the Florida Keys. After all, this chain of tropical islands sits around 120 miles south of Florida and is known for a wide range of fun, outdoor activities that include snorkeling, fishing, scuba diving, boating, and jet skiing. To get here, fly into Key West International Airport. Then, grab a rental car since it will make traveling between the islands much easier. After all, you won’t want to miss the stunning views of the area from the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. Because at the Southern tip of this island chain, you will find Key West. It is an iconic destination that is known for the vibrant bars of Duval Street, the amazing street performers during sunset at Mallory Square, the delicious key lime pie from Old Town Bakery, and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.
Plus, summer is the perfect time to visit since the weather is extremely hot, Therefore, you’ll love catching a ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park and exploring historic Fort Jefferson before seeing the lighthouse at Loggerhead Key and snorkeling with the sea turtles there. You can also relax on the beach during a visit to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key before checking out the incredible coral reefs at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo.
Finally, spend the night inside a room at Tranquility Bay Beachfront Resort. It’s an amazing, 4-star property in Marathon that is a classic beach house with three swimming pools and an outdoor putting area. Just be sure to bring lots of extra spending money since a trip here can get pretty expensive. However, regardless of whether you’re traveling as a couple, family, group, or solo, the Florida Keys will have something to offer you.”
Contributed by Victoria of Florida Trippers
Charleston, South Carolina
Beaches, history, food, and sweet southern charm all make Charleston, South Carolina the perfect place for a summer weekend getaway. Charleston is located on the southern coast of South Carolina. You can fly directly into Charleston. It is less than a 2-hour drive from Columbia, SC or Savannah, GA.
Charleston is steeped in history and culture. History buffs will enjoy visiting Fort Sumter, the first battle of the Civil War. Take a walking tour to explore the city’s vibrant past, which started in 1670, or wander through the retired aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown Naval Museum. Nature lovers will be captivated by Charleston’s many beaches including one of the locals’ favorites: Folly Beach. The marshes and wetlands surrounding Charleston allow visitors to get a glimpse of many birds, marine life, and wildlife.
The plantations of Charleston have beautiful gardens, greenhouses, and agricultural tours. Some of the best plantations to visit include: Boone Hall Magnolia Plantation & Gardens Drayton Hall Plantation Middleton Place Foodies can indulge in a myriad of cultural cuisines. Fresh seafood, Carolina BBQ, and down-home comfort food are what to eat while visiting Charleston. Take a food tour for a bite of it all or visit some of the tastiest restaurants in the Lowcountry such as Poogan’s Porch, Lewis Barbecue, and Fleet Landing.
A weekend getaway to Charleston is easy on a budget. Visitors love to stroll along Waterfront Park, admire the craftwork at the Charleston City Market, and take a factory tour at the Charleston Tea Plantation, all for free. For a luxurious vacation take a carriage ride through the city, enjoy the city from a sunset cruise, and stay at the elegant Francis Marion Hotel. Some other must-see attractions to see in Charleston are the South Carolina Aquarium, Williams Mansion, and Charleston Music Hall. Charleston combines history, charm, nature, and culture to create the perfect weekend getaway.
Contributed by Kyleen of The Bonnie Traveler
Cape May, New Jersey
Located at the Southernmost tip of New Jersey, a weekend escape to Cape May is one of the best things to do during the summer. From its beautiful white sand beaches to the stunning Victorian mansions and its renowned restaurants to the local wineries, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Cape May, New Jersey. This famous beach town is a 3-hour drive from New York City as well as 1.5 hours from Philadelphia, 3.5 hours from Washington D.C., 2.5 hours from Baltimore, and 6 hours from Boston. The closest international airports are Philadelphia International Airport and Atlantic City International Airport. It’s best to rent a car during a Cape May summer vacation.
If you enjoy charming cities and towns like Charleston and Savannah, you’ll love Cape May! It’s a beach lover’s paradise full of charm, and it’s also historical! The best things to do in Cape May, NJ, during a summer weekend getaway, are to admire all the beautiful Victorian homes, dine at one of the best restaurants like Peter Shield’s Inn & Restaurant or Washington Inn & Wine Bar, go wine tasting at Cape May Winery & Vineyard, and enjoy a beautiful beach day. Another fun thing to do during a Cape May summer trip is to take the Cape May – Lewes Ferry to Lewes, Delaware. It’s around an hour and a half each way, along the Delaware Bay, to get to and from Cape May and Lewes. While on board, you can enjoy a drink, admire the views, and relax. Lewes, Delaware is also quaint and historical. It’s popular for being the first town in the first state! Just like Cape May, there are a lot of great restaurants, museums, and historical homes to admire in Lewes.
The best place to stay in Cape May is Congress Hall. This beautiful hotel has welcomed guests since 1816 and is recognized as America’s First Seaside Resort. Not only does this luxury hotel hold much history, but it also has many great restaurants, a spa, and fun events. Even though there are many luxury properties to stay at in Cape May, you can still make this trip budget-friendly. Not only does Cape May have luxury inns and hotels, but you can also go glamping! Beachcomber Camping Resort has great wooden cabins to stay at and fun activities to enjoy with friends and family, such as nature trails, kayaking, paddle boating, and fishing. You can never go wrong with a trip to Cape May, New Jersey. There are many memories to be made at America’s Original Seaside Resort.
Contributed by Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child
Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is the perfect destination for a summer vacation. Life in the Everglades is all about outdoor activities, and many take place on the water. Many tourists choose to go on an airboat tour which takes groups of tourists into the mangrove forests. However, the boats can be very loud and disruptive to native wildlife. In recent times, visitors have started preferring kayak tours which are a lot quieter and allow you to appreciate the beauty of the local nature in peace. You’ll be able to spot alligators, rare birds, and lots of interesting plants. Keep in mind that these tours only operate with a local guide since the network of mangroves is vast, and it can be easy to get lost as a visitor.
You can also try your hand at camping and explore the Everglades National Park on foot. There are shorter hikes like the Bobcat Boardwalk or longer treks available to choose from. Make sure to bring all the necessary equipment for your camping trip and come prepared. You can either head to the Everglades from Miami which takes only around an hour by car or approach from the west from the direction of Everglades City which has a variety of small hotels. The Ivey House Everglades Adventures Hotel is one of the best in town and perfect for all sorts of travelers hoping to explore this beautiful national park. Just make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment since this area sells out quickly during the summer. The Everglades isn’t a very expensive destination, and you can visit the park for free. However, if you’re planning to do a lot of tours, the prices will definitely add up, even for a quick weekend trip.
Contributed by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
Amelia Island, Florida
The traditional high season for Florida is during the winter time when retired snowbirds and young families alike try to find some sunshine. However, Amelia Island is a hidden gem in the summer, with great weather but fewer crowds! Tucked away in northeast Florida across from the Georgia border, you can drive here from South Carolina or Georgia, or you can fly into Jacksonville and make your way forty-five minutes north.
Whether you come for an Amelia Island weekend getaway or stay for a week, you won’t run out of things to do! You’ll want to visit historic Fort Clinch State Park, go on an Amelia River Cruise at sunset, and go on a tour of Old Fernandina. Check into the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Amelia Island. This new hotel boasts epic Atlantic Ocean views plus you’re just a two-minute walk from the beach! You’ll also be near the iconic Amelia Island Lighthouse. While there’s something for everyone here, families will especially love it. There are so many outdoor activities for children to get out some energy, like kayaking and riding horses on the beach. You can also combine an adventure and educational trip by stopping at the Amelia Island Museum of History.
If you want to go even deeper into the cultural importance of the island, stop by American Beach, which was one of the most important African American beaches during the Jim Crow South. Pair this with a visit to the A.L. Lewis Museum at American Beach, and your family will leave the island knowing about a significant and often overlooked chapter of American history. While Amelia Island isn’t a budget destination, there is something here for travelers on any budget. From free beaches to private golf clubs, what you spend here will be determined by your travel style.
Contributed by Stephanie of History Fangirl
Summer City Weekend Getaways
Spending 3 days in Portland, Maine is one of the best summer weekend getaways on the east coast of the USA. With its quaint cobblestone streets and gorgeous harbor views, there’s so much to explore and enjoy while visiting this seaside destination. To get to Portland, fly into Portland International Jetport, then drive about 20 minutes east to get to Old Port, the heart of Portland, Maine.
Once there, start exploring the city’s many attractions: from outdoor activities like biking and hiking along the waterfront to historic sites like Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park and the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Another activity visitors cannot miss while in Portland is walking the cobblestone streets of Old Port. This historic area is a great place to shop and eat. Travelers can also explore charming boutiques, antique shops, galleries, and delicious restaurants.
Portland, Maine is an affordable summer weekend getaway for travelers who enjoy picturesque views and are foodies at heart! When looking for a place to eat and relax after a day of sightseeing, head to the Portland Lobster Company for a traditional lobster roll. Be sure to stop by the Holy Donut in Old Port for a sweet treat–a unique donut shop that uses riced potatoes.
Besides the food, Portland is also known for craft beers and breweries. Be sure to check out Allagash Brewing Company or the Liquid Riot for a tasting or tour. The best place to stay in Portland is near Old Port as this is the heart of the city and it’s easy to explore on foot from here. Being in downtown Portland, a great hotel is Canopy by Hilton Portland Waterfront. Whether you’re looking for a getaway with plenty of activities, or just want to enjoy some good food and drinks–Portland, Maine is the perfect destination for your summer weekend getaway along the east coast!
Contributed by Pafoua of Her Wanderful World
New Orleans, Louisianna
New Orleans is one of the world’s most loved cities and makes for a fantastic place to visit as a summer weekend getaway! It is home to some fabulously unique summer events and festivals such as New Orleans Pride, the Creole Tomato Festival and the New Orleans Food & Wine Experience. Not only that, but summer in New Orleans means lots of free events and free museum admission days! A $36 fixed rate fare is charged from the airport to New Orleans for 1/2 passengers. For 3+ passengers, an additional $15 is charged per passenger. The bus takes a long time so you are much better off taking a taxi!
When in New Orleans stroll around the historic French Quarter – the heart of New Orleans. The French Quarter is full of stunning colorful buildings and is so unique. To really experience New Orleans and get an understanding of its colorful history and why it is known as the most haunted city in America, make sure to go on a Voodoo & St Louis Cemetery No.1 tour or a French Quarter Ghost & History tour! Make sure to also take a ride on the St Charles Streetcar from the Garden District to the French Quarter, it’s a great way to see New Orleans! In the evening, head for drinks at Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street – the vibe is amazing and the jazz music spilling out onto the streets is great! You’ll definitely appreciate staying in a hotel with a rooftop pool in the summer, so check out NOPSI Hotel.
Food travelers will definitely enjoy visiting New Orleans. New Orleans is known for its yummy Creole food, so make sure to try a po’boy sandwich and seafood gumbo for starters! New Orleans will also especially appeal to history lovers – there is a unique history around every corner you turn in this city! New Orleans is one of the cheaper major tourist cities in the US, so what are you waiting for – let the good times roll!
Contributed by Catrina of 24 Hours Layover
Every American should visit Washington DC at least once in their lives — but the city is also a fantastic place for international visitors! Whether you live on the East Coast or are visiting some other iconic Eastern Seaboard cities during the summer, you won’t want to skip the nation’s capital. There are so many fun and interesting things to do in DC, and many of them are free or very affordable. While other cities like New York and Boston can cost a pretty penny, you can easily spend a summer weekend in DC and only worry about the cost of accommodations.
Since your activities budget can be low (or nonexistent), you should splurge a little on a great place to stay. Maximize your time on a quick weekend visit by staying right downtown. Hotel Zena is a fabulously feminist space or The Darcy is perfect for a boutique romantic getaway. During the day, enjoy all the incredible Smithsonian museums for free. While there are many to choose from, make sure to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of American History, and the National Air and Space Museum. You also can’t miss all the memorials and monuments along the National Mall, plus iconic buildings like the White House and the US Capitol — both of which are also free of charge! On Friday evenings all summer long, go to Jazz in the Garden in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art. The sculptures and central fountain set the scene while everyone gathers with picnic blankets and friends after work to enjoy live music and drinks together.
DC is ideal for history buffs, foodies, families, and more. If you love museums and learning, you’ll be spoiled for choice, and because of the affordability of this city, it’s very family-friendly! And the incredible diversity of international cultures in the city creates an ideal locale for foodies who can choose from a vast array of cuisines in a small space. Definitely head to Little Ethiopia on U Street!
Contributed by Amanda of Hey! East Coast USA
Discover the best of the East Coast of the United States
Spending a long weekend in Nashville Tennessee is one of best summer weekend getaways east of the Mississippi. There are a lot of things to do in Nashville for music lovers, foodies, museum connoisseurs, bar hoppers and all different types of travelers. For the budget-conscious traveler, there are also many free things. Staying for a long weekend in Music City is a perfect way to enjoy the city, especially in the warm summer months.
The best things to do are found right on the main street of Broadway Avenue which is referred to as Honky Tonk Highway. That is where all the bright lights and music are happening, including tons of honk-tonk bars and rooftop venues. Honky Tonk Highway is not only the heart of the city, but also a great place to stay during your weekend trip to Nashville so that you are close to all the action. Summer months are peak season for Nashville which means prime hotel rates. Exhibits and special events are common in the summer. During the hot, sunny days, music is always playing in the cool air conditioning and the shade-covered patios.
The best month to travel to Nashville for country music is June during the big Country Music Festival. This ultimate country music fan experience is a huge 4-day event which draws 400 country music artists who hold performances and autograph sessions throughout the festival for the 80,000 fans in attendance each year. Take note of the other great location for fun things to do in Nashville on 12 South Avenue. This is a small street located just a 15-minute drive south from downtown. It has some small-town appeal and is full of wall art in the colorful murals that can take at least an hour to see on all the sides of the shops and eateries. There are trendy boutiques, clothing stores, gift shops, and jewelry stores, but they are not located in normal storefronts. They have moved into nostalgic gas stations to provide a very unique shopping experience.
Contributed by Michelle of Moyer Memoirs Empty Nest Travel Adventures
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Whether you gamble or not, Atlantic City is an awesome destination for a summer weekend getaway. While, Atlantic City may be best known for its gambling and its grand casinos, it is trying to reinvent itself and is undergoing a resurgence that hasn’t been seen here since the early days of gaming in the 1970s.
Often compared to Las Vegas, this town has something that Sin City simply cannot offer: Long, wide, sand beaches that are fully protected by a professional lifeguard force. And even better, it is one of the only free beaches that remain on the New Jersey Coast. Once a place where anything goes, and still in many ways still is, the city is working tirelessly to appeal to a broader audience including families. The former Showboat Casino now operates as a non-casino hotel. It is home to the Lucky Snake Arcade, the east coast’s largest arcade. They’ve added an indoor go kart track and by Memorial Day 2023, they are expected to open a $100 million, 103,000-square-foot Island Waterpark.
The centerpiece of this city since its earliest days has been the 5.5-mile Atlantic City Boardwalk. It is both the world’s longest and the US’s oldest boardwalk. It spans from Historic Gardner’s Basin at the inlet to the border of neighboring Ventnor City. One of the best ways to enjoy the boardwalk is with a morning bike ride. Atlantic City is also home to NJ’s tallest lighthouse and the third tallest in the United States. Climb Absecon Lighthouse’s 228 steps like it’s 94-year-old lighthouse keeper, Buddy. From the top take in breathtaking views and let Buddy regale you with factoids about the light.
Also, over the past 5 years, the area around Tennessee Avenue has undergone a transformation of its own and is now known as the Orange Loop. It features multiple restaurants and bars with open air seating showcasing live entertainment and alternatives to casino accommodations. Art lovers can spend some time checking out the colorful and thought-provoking murals that have been going up around the city over the past five years. Last year, these imaginative works began to leap from building to Adirondack chairs throughout the city. And let’s not forget the foodies.
Atlantic City offers an awesome thriving food scene. Both inside the casinos and around the city you will find top-notch dining options. If you are looking for an intimate experience, try Setaara. This French and Afghan restaurant offers dining spaces and food that will transport you. If you are looking for a casino stay, you will feel like you’ve hit the jackpot at Ocean Casino Hotel Resort. And, if you have kids (especially teenagers), then you might want to try the Showboat. Both are located on the boardwalk giving you easy beach access.
Contributed by Susan of ac365fun
Wilmington Delaware makes the perfect summer weekend escape. Thrust into the public eye during the 2020 Presidential election, Wilmington is much more than the home of President Biden. Wilmington and the greater Brandywine Valley offer tons of indoor and outdoor activities. Easy to reach from I-95 and just minutes from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), this mid-priced east coast city offers something for everyone.
The Wilmington Riverfront offers an array of shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities. Sports fans can enjoy a minor league basketball game at the Chase Fieldhouse or visit the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame which covers Delaware sports history from the Civil War to today. Patrons of the arts can enjoy a concert in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park or find their new favorite artist at The Delaware Contemporary, a unique art space, with seven exhibition galleries featuring collections from local, regional, and international artists. Followers of the performing arts can observe a play at the Delaware Theatre Company or spend an evening at the opera.
There is plenty for kids and families too. On a hot day, kids can explore the Delaware Children’s Museum which strives to engage kids’ creativity through play and informal learning. Enjoy a day at the Brandywine Zoo. In the evening the family can enjoy a round of miniature golf on the Riverfront. Everyone can enjoy a bike ride from the Riverfront to Old New Castle on the Jack A. Markell (JAM) Trail.
Along the way, make a stop at the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge. Finally, the Brandywine Valley is part of America’s Garden Capital. Step away from downtown and experience top-notch gardens at several spectacular estates once owned by the DuPont family. The largest and best-known of the garden estates is Longwood Gardens which draws visitors from around the globe. But some other not to be missed properties include Winterthur, Nemours, Hagley, and Mt. Cuba.
Wilmington offers many options for overnight accommodations both in the city or on the Riverfront. If you seek luxury and history as well as modern amenities, then the Hotel du Pont located downtown is the perfect place for your overnight stay. If you prefer a more affordable stay or to be in the center of it all, then consider one of the Riverfront hotels such as Hyatt Place or Homewood Suites by Hilton. Both are wonderful options in terms of comfortable stays in a prime location.
Contributed by Susan of Beans Bikes and Blooms
New York City, New York
There isn’t an east coast city better for a quick summer weekend getaway than New York City! From world-class museums and restaurants to iconic landmarks, there’s always something to see and do in NYC. Getting to New York City is easy, with multiple transportation options available. The city is served by three major airports – JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark – making it easy to fly in from anywhere in the world. Alternatively, you can take the Amtrak or a bus into the city, or drive in if you live nearby.
Once you’re in the city, there are plenty of things to do that you should add to your New York City bucket list. Some of the must-visit attractions include the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, the World Trade Center, and the Empire State Building. During the summer months, you can rent paddle boats from Loeb Boathouse in Central Park. Foodies will love exploring the diverse range of cuisines the city has to offer, from classic New York-style pizza to authentic Chinese food and so much more. Sports lovers can take in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, while museum lovers can explore iconic institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art New York City might not be considered a cheap destination, but proper planning can make it a relatively affordable destination for a weekend trip.
When searching for accommodation, check out hotels in Long Island City in Queens rather than Manhattan – getting into Manhattan from LIC is super easy, and the hotels are much cheaper. The Hyatt Place Long Island City is a comfortable, affordable hotel that’s a short walk from the subway. NYC also has plenty of free things to do to help you stay within your budget. Going on a free walking tour is a great way to sightsee and learn more about the city’s iconic neighborhoods. Many museums also have free days or pay-what-you-wish admission fees. Whether you’re a foodie, museum lover, or simply looking for an exciting and culturally rich city to explore, New York City has something for everyone.
Contribute by Sydney of A World in Reach