East Coast Family Vacations Washington DC
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Best East Coast Family Vacations

Do you need ideas for the best East Coast family vacations? There are so many amazing family destinations on the East Coast. You will find what you are looking for in this post! 

Whether you are looking to visit the East Coast historical sites, the amazing East Coast National Parks, the best amusement parks in the world, or relax on the beautiful beaches, this area offers the best East Coast family vacation spots.

In this post, we will focus on East Coast family vacation ideas and the best East Coast kid-friendly vacation spots. 

Let’s explore the best family vacations on the East Coast! 

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East Coast Family Vacation Acadia

Acadia National Park is the best East Coast family vacation destination.  No matter how old the kids are, there is something to do. 

Things to Do at Acadia National Park

There are a couple of great swimming spots, including the beautiful, but chilly ocean beach, Sand Beach.  The artificial beach at Echo Lake is still lovely – and much warmer.   The national park has miles of hiking trails, many ending at overlooks with stunning views of the surrounding seas and islands. This is a beautiful area for a family vacation on the East Coast.

The national park is also laced with historic carriageways, created by the Rockefellers.  You can rent bicycles in nearby Bar Harbor and cycle the carriage roads as an alternative to hiking.

To enjoy the water from a different perspective, take a local ferry out to the nearby Cranberry Islands and explore a local fishing village, go beachcombing along the rocky shoreline, and treat the whole family to freshly caught lobster at an outdoor lobster shack right on the water.

Airport

The nearest airport is Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport (BHB).  Just 10 miles from Bar Harbor, it’s very close but doesn’t have many flights.  For more options, an alternative is Bangor International Airport (BGR), which is 50 miles away.

Accommodations

A great accommodation choice in downtown Bar Harbor is Moseley Cottage Inn and The Town Motel.  It has a great central location, and you can choose from elegant rooms in the 1884 inn or simpler, more budget-friendly rooms in the adjacent motel.

Acadia is a great choice for an East Coast family vacation! 

Contributed By: Parks Collecting 

2. Portland, Maine

East Coast Family Vacations Maine

Portland, Maine, is an excellent East Coast family vacation destination.  There is so much to see, do, and discover—on land and sea! 

Airport

The closest airport to Portland is the Portland International Jetport, located just a short four-mile drive from Downtown Portland. However, if you’re looking for a larger airport, consider flying into the Boston Logan International Airport in Boston, a 100-mile drive from Portland. 

Things to Do in Portland Maine

Once you arrive in the city, your family will love partaking in some of the best things to do in Portland. You can adventure through Fort Williams Park to see the famous Portland Head Light, go on a whale watching tour or boat ride in Casco Bay or explore Old Port in downtown Portland.

When you’re hungry, try a potato donut at The Holy Donut or try some delicious Belgian-style fries at Duckfat! 

Accommodations in Portland Maine

The Portland Harbor Hotel is a great family-friendly place to stay in Old Port for close access to all the city’s best activities. Alternatively, you can stay in the Westin Portland Harborview for quick access to the city’s popular museums, like the Portland Museum of Art and the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine.

This is an East Coast family destination worth visiting! 

Contributed By: Travelbybrit.com

3. Boston Massachusetts

East Coast Family Vacation - Boston
Boston is the best East Coast family vacation.  It has everything from museums to winning sports teams to national parks and a whole lot of history to go along with it.  

Things to Do in Boston

There are a few things, however, that you shouldn’t miss.  The museums are top-notch, from the Museum of Science to the Children’s Museum, to the Aquarium. They are all wonderful.  A few other museums that are lesser-known but still wonderful are the Isabella Gardner Museum and the Boston Tea Party Museum.  Huzzah! These are some of the best kid-friendly activities on the east coast! 
 
Spending 1/2 a day on a Duck Boat Tour will give you a great overview of the city plus some insight into the history of Boston.  And boy does Boston have a ton of history.  I highly suggest taking a walk on the Freedom Trail. 
 
Even if you aren’t a sports fan, going to see Fenway Ballpark is an experience in itself.  Home of the Boston Red Sox & the Green Mostah, it’s as iconic American as it gets. 

Boston Common and Public Garden

You can’t miss downtown Boston though.  Spend some time on the Boston Common and Public Garden.  If you visit during the summer the Frog Pond will be a waiting pool and during the winter it’s a skating rink. In summer you can also take a ride on the carousel and swan boats.  
 
Don’t miss the “Make Way for Ducklings” statues in the Public Gardens.  If you visit around a holiday you might get to see them all dressed up.  Either way, kids love to sit atop these beloved storybook characters.

Seaport Area

After downtown Boston head on over to the Seaport area and the swings on the Lawn on D.  During the summer months, this area is hopping with live entertainment, outdoor activities, shopping, and restaurants. This is a great summer family vacation spot on the East Coast. In winter the activities change over to winter sports activities. 

North End

And of course, no one can come to Boston and miss the North End! There is lots of history there from Paul Revere’s House to the Old North Church.  However, don’t miss having dinner at one of the many amazing Italian restaurants. 
 
Trattoria II Panino is one of the best.  Of course, you must top off your meal with cannolis from Modern Pastry.  But don’t leave Boston without doing a taste test yourself between Mike’s & Modern Pastry.  No matter what you pick you won’t be disappointed. 
 
Boston is one of the best East Coast family vacation spots! 
 
Contributed By: Intheolivegroves.com
 

4. Cape Cod Massachusetts

East Coast family vacation - Cape Cod

One of the best East Coast family vacations is Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  About an hour to two hours from Boston, depending on where on the Cape you are visiting, Cape Cod is home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, picturesque New England towns, fascinating history, and a great deal of Americana! 

It is full of fantastic things to do with kids and is definitely one of the best East Coast family vacations.

Things to Do at Cape Cod

From spending the day on one of the Cape’s famed beaches to enjoying old-fashioned activities like mini-golf, go-karts, hiking, biking, visiting lighthouses, and drive-in movie theaters, or Cape Cod is fantastic for families and couples alike. There is also a great deal of history on Cape Cod.

You can also enjoy surfing, fishing, whale watching, kayaking, and a variety of other water activities.  The Cape is home to a large seal population, who are often seen bobbing up and down from shore. It is also home to the White Shark Conservation Center, which is a fascinating experience for kids.   

Accommodations in Cape Cod

Cape Cod hosts many family-friendly resorts.  But our favorites include the Cape Codder, Chatham Bars Inn, the Red Jacket Resorts, and the Ocean Edge Resort to name a few.  

Our family loves the outstanding seafood and family restaurants, often located right at the beach, and no trip to the Cape is complete without some of their famed local ice cream. 

Many of the quaint small seaside towns are great for walking around, shopping, dining, and finding great art.  Some of the best towns to visit include Hyannis, Chatham, and Provincetown.

But, no matter where you visit on the Cape, it is definitely one of the best East Coast family vacations.

5. New York City

Best East Coast Vacations Central Park New York

New York City is a fantastic East Coast vacation for the whole family! With tons of family-friendly attractions, you will be guaranteed a great time no matter what season you visit. 

When visiting the Big Apple, you should give yourself at least 4 days in New York to see most of the major attractions.

Things to Do in New York City

Some of the best attractions for the whole family include a stroll through Central Park with a visit to the Central Park Zoo. Other family favorites to include during a visit to NYC include the Statue of Liberty, a Broadway Play, a visit to one of the Sky Observation Decks (Top of the Rock, The Edge, One World Observatory, and the Empire State Building), and a trip to the American Museum of Natural History! 

You of course can not forget exploring the famous Times Square which is a very unique experience if this is your first time in New York. Kids will definitely love the M&M store. While you are in the area, you can also consider checking out Ripleys Believe it or Not and Madame Tussauds New York.

If you don’t mind leaving Manhattan, families also really enjoy visiting the Bronx Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden! New York is a unique east coast family vacation.

Airport

You can fly into Laguardia, JFK, or Newark (sometimes has better prices, but a little further). All of which will have public transportation into the city, or you can hire a Taxi/Uber/Lyft. A hotel favorite is Hotel Edison.

Contributed By: Findloveandtravel.com

6. The Hamptons

Hamptons Long Island East Coast Vacation
One of the best family vacation spots on the East Coast is the Hamptons in Long Island. Not only can families relax on some of the best beaches in the Hamptons, like Main Beach in East Hampton and Coopers Beach in South Hampton, but they can explore awe-inspiring parks like Montauk Point State Park and Hither Hills State Park. 
 
Next, check out the Montauk Lighthouse before enjoying a hearty breakfast at Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor (kids will adore the pancakes). 
 

Things to Do at the Hamptons

From here, families can go explore the many interactive exhibits at the Children’s Museum of the East End before savoring a delicious ice cream cone at Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen. 
 
Finally, play a round of mini-golf at Hamptons Mini Golf before unwinding for the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead.  After all, families staying here will love having easy access to Splish Splash water park in Calverton. Which is a fun East coast family vacation spot! 
 
Contributed By: TravelNewYorkNow

7. Washington DC

Monuments at Night tour

Washington DC is one of the best East Coast kid-friendly vacations.  Everyone should experience a visit to the Nations Capital.  

Museums

There are 17 National Smithsonian and galleries located in the Washington DC area.  The Air and Space Museum, The Natural Museum of American History, The National Art Gallery,  The National Museum of African American Art and Culture, and the Hirshhorn Museums are all located near the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument.  These museums are free and are perfect places to explore with your family.  The kids will love the interactive exhibits.  

National Monuments

As you walk along the National Mall you will see all the amazing monuments such as The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and so many more.  If you want a really neat experience consider doing the National Monuments at Night

Take A Tour

If you would like a tour of the US Capitol Building or White House contact your local congressman and an appointment can be arranged. Reservations can be made 3 months in advance.  Due to Covid, the White House is open for tours but the US Capitol Building has not resumed tours.  The Washington Monument is another reservation you will want to make the day ahead of time.  Tickets are released on Recreation.gov. You can go all the way to the top.  

You can also make your way to Arlington Cemetery and the home of Robert E. Lee and then out to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.  Mount Vernon is one of my favorite places in DC.

Washington DC is the perfect East Coast Family Vacation.  

 

8. Shenandoah National Park - Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a perfect East Coast getaway with kids. It’s in the state of Virginia and has over 500 miles of marked trails. Several trails are strenuous, but the Stony Man Nature Trail is perfect to do with kids. The 1.6-mile hike leads to the Stony Man’s Summit, the second-highest point in the park.

Things to Do at Shenandoah National Park

Another thing to do in the park as a family is driving Skyline Drive. It’s a 105-mile long road that crosses the park from North to South. It has many overlooks, on which you have perfect views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and waterfalls. Try to spot wildlife, such as butterflies or even a brown bear.

Getting There and Accommodations 

The nearest airport to the park is Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, which is 31 miles east of the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station. A retro motel experience is the Buena Vista Motel in the town of Buena Vista. 

Shenandoah is one of the most popular family vacations on the East Coast.

Contributed by:  KarsTravels

9. Outer Banks North Carolina

East Coast Family vacation - Outer banks

If you’re looking for an affordable East Coast family vacation consider a beach getaway to the Outer Banks!  There are plenty of activities for kids. The Outer Banks is a perfect East Coast family vacation! 

The barrier islands cover over 175 miles and are home to the most breathtaking beaches on the east coast. There are lots of fun activities for kids and adults alike from the Hatteras Lighthouses to the Wright Brothers memorials to the wild horses at the northern tip.

Things to Do at the Outer Banks

Corolla is a hidden gem of the Outer Banks. Families will find plenty of things to do in Corolla. Besides uncrowded beaches, there’s also Historic Corolla Park. You can spend a day exploring the historic Whalehead Club, Corolla Lighthouse, or the new Maritime Museum. You can also go fishing or crabbing in the water. For a water view of the area, and to get your heart racing, take a jet ski tour with Corolla Water Sports.

A great place to explore all of the Outer Banks is the Surf Side Hotel located right across the main bridge in Nags Head.

Contributed By: Directionallychallengedtraveler.com

10. Charleston South Carolina

South Carolina east Coast Vacations

Charleston, SC is a pretty city with a lot of history, grand southern homes, and kid-friendly restaurants with good local food.  It is a great East Coast vacation destination.   

Things to Do in Charleston

If your kids are too small to appreciate a visit to Fort Sumter or other historic sites, it’s easy to just enjoy walking around, taking in the southern vibe, and spending a day at one of the nearby beaches such as local Folly Beach or upscale Kiawah Island. 

Any of the several carriage tours offer a way to learn about the city that even the smallest kids can manage. If you’re with tweens or teens, try a walking tour, which are well done and goes a bit more in-depth than the carriage tours. If you’re in town between April and November be sure to stop by the Saturday farmers market in Marion Square. Depending on the season you might find boiled peanuts, sweet potato pies, local produce like huge muscat grapes, and even someone cooking shrimp & grits to order.

Plantations 

A handful of nearby plantations offer tours and cultural experiences. Typically you can only see the main house by guided tour, which I would be wary of with kids under 7, but would gladly do with well-behaved kids 8 and up.

Magnolia Plantation offers extensive grounds for exploring around and outdoor activities like a boat tour of the rice fields.

McLeod plantation explores the unique local Gullah culture and doesn’t shy away from the darker side of its history.  

Airport

Fly into Charleston, which has plenty of direct and connecting flights. Renting a car from there will make it easier to get out of town to the plantations and beaches. You’ll find plenty of inexpensive hotels with parking across the bridge in Mount Pleasant. But some downtown hotels offer parking, too, and from one of these, you’ll be able to walk to almost anything you want to see, do or eat in historic Charleston.

This is one of the best East Coast vacations for families! 

Contributed By: FamiliesGotravel.com

11. Orlando Florida

How to plan a family reunion

A list of the best East Coast family vacations would not be complete without mentioning Orlando.  Orlando, Florida is the amusement park capital of the world.  Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld all have amazing parks located right in Orlando.  

Disney World

Planning a Disney World trip is intense but so worth it.  Families from all over the world come to enjoy the 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) and 2 water parks. (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) Disney World is the most magical place on earth and is probably the best kid-friendly East Coast vacation you can take. 

Universal Orlando

Universal is another great East Coast family attraction.  The three parks – Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios, and Volcano Bay are perfect for older kids. Harry Potter World is in both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Planning a trip to Universal is worth it!   City Walk is also an amazing place to eat!  

SeaWorld

SeaWorld has three amazing parks in Orlando as well.  Discovery Cove, SeaWorld, and Aquatica offer an amazing experience you can not find anywhere else.  

Things to Do in Orlando

There are so many things to do in Orlando besides the amusement parks. You can enjoy swimming with manatees, kayaking, or visiting the amazing museums in the area. 

There are also many cool things to do near Orlando such as Legoland, Kennedy Space Center, and the best beaches in Florida are less than an hour away.  

Accommodations

Orlando has some of the best East Coast family resorts.  Disney offers some amazing options if you are planning on visiting those parks. Universal also offers luxury family resorts.  Orlando has many family resorts located just outside of the parks as well.  My favorite place to stay off-site is the Marriott Lakeshore Reserve.  

Airport

Make sure to fly into Orlando International Airport MCO.  The airport is about 20 minutes to the amusement parks. 

Orlando is the best family vacation on the East Coast! 

12. Ft. Lauderdale Florida

best East Coast Family vacations
As someone who has lived in Fort Lauderdale for many years, I can tell you that you will never run out of things to do in South Florida. However, my favorite is the miles upon miles of white sand beaches. It really is the perfect family vacation spots the East Coast has to offer. 
 
It may be cliché, but where else can you feel the warm sun and swim during the winter? With average daytime temperatures of 76 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low in January of 59 degrees, this is the perfect winter playground.

Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale 

At times the waves can be choppy. At those times, you will find the waters full of surfers and boogie boarders. Some beaches nearby even have classes for beginning surfers. When the water is calm you will find people paddle boarding, canoeing, and snorkeling.
 
There are places to rent equipment locally or you can also try some of these activities in local parks. For more of an experienced book a snorkeling, scuba excursion, or fishing charter. 
 
While it can reach the mid-90s in summer and get quite humid, you can cool off at a water park or at the many indoor activities. Teens and adults will have fun testing their minds at the many escape rooms. Families will love the Museum of Discovery and science. It is filled with two stories of hands-on activities for all ages, even adults.

Airport

To get here, fly into Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood airport. From here you can rent a car or take a shuttle to your hotel. I recommend that if you are coming here for the beach, stay in a hotel right on the beach. Especially if you are staying with kids. You do not want to walk several blocks in the heat-carrying awkward beach gear while trying to hold your children’s hands.
 
Also, if you are planning on just staying in the beach area, you don’t really need to rent a car. There are many shuttle buses that will take you to tourist attractions. Hotels are easy to find in all price ranges through Tripadvisor or when booking your flight. Make sure to get one with at least a 4-star rating to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
 
This is a great East Coast family vacation!
 
Contributed By: Exploretheroadwithdonnamarie.com

13. Miami Florida

East Coast Family Vacations

With the warm climate and gorgeous sandy beaches, Miami is one of the hottest spots for a fun-filled East Coast family vacation. There are plenty of family-friendly options that will delight kids and adults alike.

Things to Do in Miami 

Wander the Wynwood Walls to see the bright and bold murals by aspiring artists in Miami’s former warehouse district. Visit some exotic animals at the Miami Zoo, one of the largest Zoos in the United States. If you find some unfavorable weather, pass some time at the Miami Children’s Museum.

Wander the boardwalk at Miami Beach; there are several entry points. The boardwalk provides another great way to take in the breathtaking scenery. Hire a captain at the Miami Beach Marina to see Miami from a different perspective.

South Beach offers another gorgeous stretch of beach, with great swimming, historic tours, and roller skating along the trails.

Do not miss taking a day trip for an Everglades airboat ride to search for gators. Bring a light sweater, the fast ride can get chilly.  There are so many things to do on here it is a great candidate for the best family vacations on the East Coast 

Airport and Accommodation

To start your adventure, you will want to fly to Miami International Airport. A great average accommodation option is the Alexander Hotel at Miami Beach. The one and two-bedroom suites are spacious for the whole family, with the beach just steps away from this oceanfront property.

Contributed By: WorldAdventurists.com.

 

14. East Coast Family Cruise

Disney Cruise line Tips for first time cruise

One thing to keep in mind when planning an East Coast family vacation is that there are cruise ports located along the entire coast.  You can book a cruise out of New York, Maryland, and down the coast in Florida.  

Cruises are great options for family vacations because all of your food and accommodations and many activities are pre-paid.  There are great cruise lines to check out that are geared towards families.   Disney specializes in families.

It is a great option for a perfect family vacation on the East Coast!

Best East Coast Family Vacations

Universal Orlando resort pool Lowes

 

Hopefully, this East Coast vacations for families list helps you plan the perfect trip!    There are so many amazing East Coast kid-friendly vacations to choose from.  I know you will love wherever you decide to go! 

Let us know which family vacation on the East Coast you are most interested in, in the comments below! 

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27 Comments

  1. We are planning a trip to the Northeast for 2023. Lots of great ideas here. I’ve been to New York and DC, but my husband and daughter haven’t. I haven’t been all the way north either, so we’re looking forward to it. I can’t wait!

  2. These sound so great! I’ve been wanted to take my kids to DC to really have a fun, but educational trip. I loved going there as a kid.

  3. I love to go deep-sea fishing when we are in Cape Cod. It’s one of my most treasured memories. But, of course, you have a lot of great suggestions other than Cape Cod.

  4. I haven’t spent much time on the East Coast, so this is such a fun post to read! I especially want to spend time in Maine at Acadia NP, and an east coast cruise to see fall foilage would be super cool too!

  5. This is such a great detailed list of the east coast! I’ve been to NY, Washington, & Florida & driven through some of the others but yet to stop. I’ll definitely have to check some of these other places out.

  6. These all look and sound like the best family vacations on the East Coast. I would love to explore Acadia National Park.

  7. Yes to all! I am from Boston and travel the east coast extensively. I have been to all your recommendations and they are excellent choices.

  8. There is so many great locations. On the East coast. I visited a few and we had a great time every time. I want to bring my family to Washington DC some day.

  9. We did an epic family road trip along the east coast in 2017. It was absolutely amazing! Your post took me down memory lane!

  10. Great list of cities to visit! I loved Charleston last year. Boston and Fort Lauderdale are both on my Adventure List.

  11. Pingback: Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville With Kids​ - Where the Wild Kids Wander

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