Over 20 Of The Best East Coast Historical Sites
Do you love history? I know I do! The East Coast historical sites are some of the best places to visit as you travel. There are some fun US historical sites to visit, each celebrating American history.
We recently did an East Coast historical vacation and loved it! There are a lot of historical places on the East Coast. When we lived in DC, we would try to visit the East Coast historical attractions weekly.
In this post, we will focus on East Coast historical sites! Anything in the Eastern Time Zone! We are going to explore areas from New York all the way to Florida. There are some amazing East Coast vacation spots you have to see!
Let’s take an East Coast Historical Site Road Trip and explore some of the best historical places to visit along the way!
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1. Historical Sites On the East Coast – Maine
Maine is ripe with history and an East Coast vacation here can be one of learning about the founding of our country as we know it today. Did you know, for example, that the first Thanksgiving was actually held in what is now known as Popham, Maine?
I didn’t make that up! The New England Historical Society says it is so! While you are in Popham you can visit Fort Popham, a civil war-era defense fortification.
The Cushnoc Archaeological Site rests on the trading post, built-in 1628, operated by English colonists from Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts.
Visiting our capital of Augusta? Check out Old Fort Western built-in 1754 during the French and Indian War, and is now a National Historic Landmark.
In Portland, you can visit the Victoria Mansion which is one of the most historic homes of the 19th century. I personally, love this area.
If you love nature you can visit the 1st State Park in Maine, Aroostook State Park. There are so many Historical sites in Maine! Maine is one of the best historical vacations.
Historical Sites to Visit in Maine
No matter the region, Maine is full of history! Here are some other notable locations throughout Maine:
Washburn-Norlands Living History Center-Livermore, Maine
Kennebec Aresenal-Augusta, Maine
Maine Maritime Academy-Castine, Maine
Winslow Homer Studio-Scarborough, Maine
Sabbath day Lake Shaker Village-New Gloucester, Maine
Fort Kent State Historic Site-Fort Kent, Maine
Harriet Beecher Stowe House-Brunswick, Maine
Wadsworth-Longfellow House-Portland, Maine
Olson House-Cushing, Maine
Contributed By: Tripstotale.com
2. Historical Places to Visit – Fort Adams, Rhode Island
Newport is an adorable and trendy colonial town on the water in Rhode Island. It lies at the entrance to Narragansett Bay, an important trading route.
East Coast Historical Site History
In 1799, one of the first US Army forts was built in Newport on Brenton Point. It was used in the Mexican–American War, American Civil War, Spanish–American War, World War I, and World War II, although it never fired at an enemy.
Even once it wasn’t used as a fort any longer, it still was part of US history, serving as a summer White House for President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Fort Adams is now part of Fort Adams State Park, which contains the fort, hiking trails, fishing spots, and sailing opportunities. You can tour the fort in season, including its unique listening tunnels dug under the fort to listen for enemy activity.
Since the fort is perched on a hill over a peninsula, it is a perfect spot to take in Newport’s incredible views, including that of its bridge. The fort is also an ideal starting point for a bike ride about Newport, Rhode Island.
There are many historical places to visit, and Fort Adams should be on your list!
Contributed By: Adventuresinnewengland.com
3. Concord, Massachusetts
Concord is one of the most historical places to visit in the United States. It was the location of “the shot heard round the World” as well as the birthplace of the literary transcendental movement.
Things to Do in Concord
Visit the Old North Bridge to see the spot where British troops and local militia met in April of 1775. Three British troops were killed along with 2 colonists. The skirmish there began the American Revolution.
Walk from the North Bridge to the Concord Museum up the hill. Learn all about the military history of the Bridge, Paul Revere’s capture, and other events that happened in 1775. While you are there you can also learn about the many famous authors who lived in Concord.
Walk back over the bridge and you can walk next door to visit the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was one of the foremost thinkers of the day and the author of the essay “Self Reliance”.
Next, you can visit the homes of other famous Concord writers. Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Concord is truly the birthplace of American literature. You can learn more about these authors by visiting the Concord Museum.
If you decide to visit Concord Massachusetts you are in for a real treat!
Contributed By: Travelswiththecrew.com
4. Freedom Trail, Boston Massachusetts.
The Freedom Trail
To really get a taste of the history of Boston, the Freedom Trail is the place to start! It is a 2.5-mile route through the heart of Boston, with 16 historic landmarks to visit on the way. You can book a tour with a colonial guide.
A brick line built into the streets and sidewalks of Boston shows visitors the way as they follow it through the city. This East Coast historical vacation spot is visited by millions each year.
“One if by Land, Two if by Sea”
School children all over the country have learned this famous couplet regarding the British march to Lexington and Concord. On the night of Paul Revere’s ride, two lanterns were hung from the steeple of the Old North Church, as an indication that the British were arriving by sea – across the Charles River.
The Old North Church is just one of the fascinating stops where visitors are reminded of important events in the history of The United States of America.
Some of the other stops include Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, and Charleston Navy Yard, which also includes the USS Constitution Museum. Don’t miss the Freedom Trail on your visit to Boston.
It is one of the best East Coast historical sites!
Contributed By: Serendipityonpurpose.com
5. Salem, Massachusetts
Salem, Massachusetts seems to be synonymous with witches. The town really does have lots more to offer but let’s start with the witches. The best way to learn is to book a tour!
To explore the city’s witch history first start with the witch museum. Afterward visit the Witch House, the Salem Witch Dungeon Museum and along with the 3 different burying grounds, the memorial to the victims. Pay homage to those who lost their lives.
And if you haven’t had enough witch fun check out the shops along Salem’s main pedestrian drag. There you will find many shops to indulge in all things paranormal and witch-like.
If, however, you’ve had enough check out the sweeter side of Salem with their famous Sweet Shops. Harbor Sweets is amazing as is Ye Ode Candy Company and for tasting chocolate try Kakawa Chocolate House.
But just walking around town you can feel Colonial times in the architecture of the houses. Explore the side streets and step back in time.
This is one of the best historical places to visit in October!!!!
National Historic Site – Salem Harbor
Don’t miss exploring the National Historic Site of Salem Harbor. Your kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge and learn all about being a sailor and how to tie knots.
Of course, you can also enjoy a ride on a replica tall ship and sail out to sea. Viewing the coast from the water and being on the Atlantic Ocean is really something special.
No matter how you explore Salem, I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.
Contributed By: Intheolivegroves.com
6. Statue of Liberty – New York
The Statue of Liberty is an iconic site and is known throughout the world. It is situated in New York City on its own island, Liberty Island, set out in New York Harbour.
Statue of Liberty
The statue whose full name is “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift from France to the United States to celebrate its freedom and the figure represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom.
This 19th-century statue was designed by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and the distinctive metal body was built by Gustave Eiffel, who built his namesake the Eiffel Tower.
Symbol of Freedom
It is a worldwide symbol of freedom and stood next to Ellis Island, where immigrants would first arrive in the US from the 1880s. In 1984 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Explore the Statue of Liberty
Today you can take boat trips around it and step out onto Liberty Island and even walk up the inside of the Statue to various viewing platforms.
Some of the best family hotels in New York have views of the Statue of Liberty, it has become the symbol of the city as well as internationally known.
Of all the historical places to visit the Statue of Liberty is probably the most iconic!
Contributed By: familyhotelexpert.com
7. Caumsett State Historic Park – New York
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve is a state park on Lloyd Neck, a peninsula in the Long Island Sound, in the Village of Lloyd Harbor, New York. It is a fantastic East Coast historic site to visit.
It is operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. In 1921 Marshall Field III purchased 1,750 acres of Lloyd Neck to create one large estate named Caumsett, “place by a shark rock”.
In 1961 New York State acquired Caumsett. You can now enjoy fishing, biking, hiking, polo, scuba diving, bird watching, photography, polo, and horseback riding on the 1,520-acre property.
There is so much to do at Caumsett State Park! It is a great US historical site to visit.
Contributed By: Oneflylife.com
8. The Green New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is one of the oldest cities in the US, founded in 1638 by Puritan colonists, who came here from the northern areas of New England.
First Planned City in the US
It is also the first planned city in the US, designed to have eight residential squares and one green square in the middle. Initially, the square was supposed to be the marketplace – the meeting area of the new residents of New Haven.
Later, a church was built there, and it became the central location for cultural and religious events. Throughout the years, the buildings in The Green were destroyed and new ones were built, but its purpose has remained the same up until these days – a place for recreation and socializing.
Today, still located in downtown New Haven, The Green is an open park that hosts local events that get people together around art and music.
Three beautiful churches from the 19 th century stand inside The Green, and other historical buildings surround it, with the most impressive one – being the old Campus of Yale University.
The Green is one of the most interesting East Coast historical sites and is also a National Historic Landmark. Walking inside or around it, enjoying the quiet and the architecture, makes you feel like a jump back in time.
Contributed By: Thetoptentraveler.com
9. Lewes, Delaware
Most people that know Lewes, Delaware associate the location with a summer beach getaway.
However, there is a lot more to Lewes than the beach. Lewes was settled by the Dutch in 1631. It was later raided by pirates in the late 1600s and is rumored to have a chest of gold buried in Lewes by the infamous pirate, Captian Kidd.
The main street of Lewes has many fully preserved houses dating back to the late 1600s as well as a historical society consisting of many historic buildings.
War of 1812
Lewes also played a role in the War of 1812 and one of the homes (now a maritime museum) has a cannonball wedged into the foundation of the house.
East Coast Historic Church
The historic St Peters Episcopal Church, located on Main Street, has a cemetery with gravestones dating back to 1707.
Lewes History Museum
There is also a Lewes History Museum detailing the history of Lewes, its maritime importance, as well as highlighting some of the more important families of Lewes.
Nowadays, families can stroll the Main street of Lewes, popping into some of the boutique shops, eating at the local restaurants, and stopping for ice cream at the well-known Kings Ice-cream.
It is a fantastic town for families with a deep East Coast history and of course the beach.
Contributed By: Fivefamilyadventures
10. Gettysburg Pennsylvania
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania one of the most popular East Coast historical sites. It is known for its significance in the Civil War.
The location of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, Gettysburg is more popularly known as the location for the Battle of Gettysburg.
East Coast History of Gettysburg
This small town in Pennsylvania is part of the Gettysburg National Military Park, a National Battlefield location.
The battle of Gettysburg started on July 1, 1863, when General Robert E. Lee marched his Confederate troops into Pennsylvania and meet General George G. Meade’s Union troops at the crossroads leading into Gettysburg.
The Union and Confederates fought for 3 days over 11,000+ acres within the town of Gettysburg before General George G. Meade’s troops took the victory of the Potomac and pushed the Confederates out of the area.
When visiting Gettysburg visitors have the chance to learn about these 3 significant days in American history as they explore the battlefields, monuments, and museums that are all preserved as part of the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Without the sacrifice of the men, women, and children of Gettysburg, American history could have turned out to be vastly different than what we know today. I highly recommend this historical vacation spot!
Contributed By: Portlypassengers.com
11. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Perhaps the most popular historical site to visit in Philadelphia is Independence Hall.
Of course, we are big fans of National Treasure. My favorite part is when they have the Declaration of Independence and pause to reflect that the last time that document was there, it was being signed by our Founding Fathers.
Independence Hall is run by the National Park Service, and guides take you through the history of the three documents created there, as well as into the rooms of the hall and how they may have been arranged.
Benjamin Franklin Museum
Easily, our favorite highlight of the trip was the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Located on what was once his home, the museum is also run by the National Park System.
The museum itself is in the basement of the location. It contains 5 separate “rooms” that explore the different traits of Mr. Franklin. I knew Benjamin Franklin had done a lot in his life, I don’t think I realized just how much he did.
What makes the Benjamin Franklin Museum the best of the family-friendly things to do in Philadelphia is the interactive exhibits.
Here you’ll find videos, touchscreen interactive elements, and movable exhibits. We spent well over an hour exploring the museum and grounds. According to the kids, it was the best site we did in Philly.
Philadelphia played a huge role in the founding of the United States. It is one of the most important historical places to visit in the US.
Contributed By: Detailorientedtraveler.com
12. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh isn’t on the radar for most travelers when they are planning an East Coast historical site trip. This is surprising considering it’s one of the most charming cities in the US.
It’s the birthplace of the coal industry in the US and one of the products we use every day in our households – ketchup. John Heinz the maker of Heinz Ketchup went from crushing pickles in his mom’s garden to creating an empire of sauces and soups within a few years.
The incredible history of his life is recorded at one of the most historic buildings in Pittsburgh, the Heinz History Museum.
East Coast Historical Sites
Andrew Carnegie, another Pittsburgh native, not only built Pittsburgh’s steel industry he also built the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University, the two renowned Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History next door, and the Carnegie Hall across the street where Batman was shot (the scene with Bane in front of the building that has huge pillars).
Things to See
These temples of knowledge not only have gorgeous architecture, but they are also full of artifacts of historical significance ranging from Andy Warhol’s college prints (he went to CMU) to the treasure of prehistoric bones found during excavation for steel in the Pittsburgh area to incredible exhibitions from the glass industry that is a core part of the city today.
I think Pittsburgh is truly one of the most historically indulgent cities in the US.
Contributed By: mylostcamel.com
13. Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia
One often overlooked historical site on the East Coast is Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia. Located at the intersection between the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry is also at the crossroads of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.
Because of its advantageous location, this site was extremely important during the Civil War and changed hands eight times in just four years.
History of Harpers Ferry
For even more history, Harpers Ferry has roots in the Niagara Movement, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is headquartered here, and you can even stand where Thomas Jefferson once stood when he visited.
The historic buildings, free guided tours, and historical markers throughout the town allow for a history-rich atmosphere, while the river views and fewer tourists make Harpers Ferry the perfect historical getaway.
More to Do at Harper’s Ferry
When visiting, be aware that parking is limited, but Amtrak does have a train stop here. Also, if you want a break from all the history, there is plenty of hiking and outdoor activities to enjoy.
Whether you are a history buff or just want to get away, Harpers Ferry is well worth a visit.
Contributed By: Thesololife.com
14. Alexandria, Virginia
Taking a trip to one of the most historic states in the US, just be certain not to miss Alexandria and her sister Washington, DC. Each is a treasure among jeweled treasures.
There are many historical houses and museums to be found in Alexandria’s Old Town. Also, if you head about 10 miles south you will get to visit George Washington’s House – Mount Vernon. It is one of my favorite places.
If you have children or grandchildren, they will love riding the trolley and the metro located throughout this area.
If you add an artsy friend along for a ride, visit a favorite spot for our entire family, the Torpedo Factory. Once a munitions plant, the Torpedo Factory is now home to more than 82 artists’ studios.
Contributed By: Borntobeboomers.com
15. Washington DC
Washington DC is at the top of the list of East Coast historical sites. There are so many museums and monuments that represent American history.
I love viewing the monuments at night and taking tours of places such as the White House and the Nations Capitol during the day.
Visiting the Smithsonian’s is a must! One thing I love about Washington DC is most of the sites and museums are free. There are so many awesome museums for kids in DC! This is a great stop on your east coast road trip.
Free East Coast Historical Sites
As you visit Washington DC one thing to note is that all the memorials, monuments, and many of the museums are free. Getting around DC is pretty easy so you should have too much trouble finding all of these locations.
- National Archives Museum
- National Museum of Natural History
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- National Art Gallery
- The Freer Gallery of Art
- National Museum of African Art
- National Museum of American History
- US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
- National Museum of the American Indian
- National Air and Space Museum
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
My favorite day trip is to Washington DC to Mount Vernon. I love George Washingtons’ estate! If you have 3 days in Washington DC you should add it to your itinerary.
16. Colonial Williamsburg Virginia
Located in Williamsburg, Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living history museum in the United States and one of the greatest historical sites on the East Coast to visit.
Since Williamsburg, Virginia was once the Commonwealth’s capital, hundreds of original, restored buildings still stand to create the museum’s collections.
Things to Do in Williamsburg
If you’re looking for things to do in Williamsburg, spend your day walking around the museum’s grounds, learning from historical reenactors about their history, who will teach you from a “first-person experience” about life in the Colonial period.
Throughout the day, Colonial Williamsburg offers several walking tours, each focusing on various museum elements and their history.
They also have the ghost of Colonial Williamsburg tour. Although simply walking around the grounds is free, you’ll need to buy tickets to access many of the historic sites. You can find a single-day and three-day passes available for purchase on the museum’s website.
Things to Eat
Before you leave, be sure to sit down for a meal at one of the restaurants located in Colonial Williamsburg like The Cheese Shop, Fat Canary, or Mello Mushroom Pizza, and don’t forget to grab dessert from Kilwin’s.
I highly recommend going to Williamsburg as it is one of the best historical places to visit in the US!
Contributed By: Thepuposelylost.com
17. Savannah Georgia
Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia, is a beautiful city full of rich history. The city’s Historic District, the largest National Landmark Historic District in the USA, is home to 22 unique historic squares, beautiful parks, cobblestone streets lined with Spanish moss, and a plethora of historic buildings – many of which are open to visitors.
History buffs visiting Savannah will love exploring the historic homes, churches, and other historic buildings dotting the historic district. There are also historical homes you can actually stay in!
Savannah was an important city during the American Civil War, which you can learn more about when visiting the Green-Meldrim House and the Andrew Low House, both of which played an important role during the war.
Are you a fan of haunted history? If so, you’re in luck – Savannah is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the USA, and there is no shortage of ghost tours in town.
You can opt for a haunted history tour of some of the city’s spookiest sights, or take a haunted bar crawl, drinking your way through some of the city’s haunted bars. No matter which tour you choose, you’ll enjoy a night full of frightening fun.
Savannah is the perfect East Coast historical site to visit!
Contributed By: Aworldinreach.com
18. St. Augustine Florida
What could be more historical than visiting St. Augustine, the Nation’s Oldest City, located on the east coast of Florida? Let’s take it way back.
History of St. Augustine
In 1513, the famous Spanish explorer Ponce de León landed in Florida, searching for the Fountain of Youth. Sources say he found the magical waters of eternal youth in St. Augustine. And if you visit, you, too, can take a sip from the Fountain of Youth.
Discover history around every corner and down every street in charming St. Augustine. Tour Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish fortress built to protect the town, and standing strong after over 300 years. They even have canon firings on the weekends.
Things to See in St. Augustine
Check out the oldest wooden schoolhouse constructed in the 1700s, the oldest house, the spooky jail, and take a ghost tour. There’s bound to be some hauntings.
Stroll down the cobblestones of Aviles Street, the oldest street in the oldest city in the USA. Here you can tour four museums, purchase from local artisans selling blown and stained glass, paintings, sculptures, woodworks, and custom jewelry.
Then grab lunch and people-watch at your choice of multiple outdoor restaurants.
And for your love of architecture, Flagler College is a must. Established in 1888 as the posh Ponce de León Hotel, now a small private liberal arts college and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Daily tours take you back to when hotels were considered art. And don’t miss the Tiffany stained glass windows in the dining hall; they are spectacular.
Contributed By: Travelingpartyof4.com
Are You Ready to See the East Coast Historical Sites?
Hopefully, this post on the East Coast historical sites has inspired you to plan an East Coast Vacation. There are so many amazing places to learn all about American history.
I know you will enjoy all the historical vacation spots! There are so many historical places to visit in the US. Have fun!
If you need advice about your upcoming trip join our Facebook Travel Community. This group is full of amazing people that will answer any questions you might have. Join us and we can help! Also, I try to post special deals that companies send me.
Great list! I absolutely love visiting historic sites. I really want to visit The Freedom Trail in Boston.
It is really cool!
What a great list of impressive history to visit!
I love all the history!
I’m all about history and would love to visit these historical sites. I’ve only been to a few of these on the East coast.
Historical sites on the East Coast are so amazing! I hope to get back and explore more!
I do love a little bit of history with travels. The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia looks like something both my kids and I can enjoy.
I bet it is a great place to explore with kids!
I’d love to visit the east coast more! I’ve been to a couple of these places however there’s so much more to explore.
I spent a year there and feel like it was not enough time!
This is such a great list! We are hoping to visit the east coast in the future & we will definitely keep these historical sites in mind when planning our days – thanks.
I would love to plan an East Coast trip as well!
We do have such a rich history! I’ve only been to a handful of these sites. Ready to do more traveling, especially in the Northeast.
There are great historical sites in the Northeast!
Gettysburg is one of my favorite historical sites! Id love to go again when my kids are older
I know I want to take my kids as well!
Great spots. I definitely want to visit Salem one day. Such crazy history.
I know right! So crazy!
Great list! I’ve been to a few, and saw a bunch more that are in my upcoming travel plans. This makes me so much more excited to go next year!
It would be an epic road trip for sure!
What an amazing list! I have visited some but so many other historical places I still need to visit! I’m ready and hopefully it will be soon!
Learning the history of places brings me so much joy. I like to think of how they lived back then and what they experienced.
Me too! I really love learning.
So many interesting historical sites on the East coast. We live about 15 minutes north of New Haven! I had no idea about the history of the green. It is a cool place with lots of great restaurants now.
So interesting, I love that there is so much history!
We have been to quite a few of the places on your list. We absolutely loved Salem! I actually had some of the best Macarons there, lol! We actually stopped there primarily because of the Elizabeth Montgomery statue in your pics! I also wanted to learn more about the witch trials. The Heinz History Museum would be something my kiddos would love! They like visiting quirky places like that!
We love quirky places too!
My family has spent a lot of time in D.C. and visiting Civil War sites. The Salem Witch trials have always fascinated me, and Salem is one place where we haven’t been. Thanks for the travel tips: it’s on my list!
OH good! I need to make another trip soon!
We New Englanders are steeped in history for sure! I’ve been blessed to visit many of these sites, but look forward to expanding further South.
Oh yes, it really make history come alive!
I live on the East Coast and love it! Alexandria VA is one of my favorite spots. I plan to visit Augustine FL someday so thanks for the tips.
Oh good! There are some treasure along the East Coast!
I love visiting historical sites…so many great ones here! We did Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, VA last year with a day trip to Washington DC, but I definitely want to get to the rest of these someday!
Those are my favorites!
Put all of these together and you would have one epic road trip.
Yes you would!
Anything with history included is so interesting to me! Thank you for sharing!
I love the East Coast so much! We got to visit some of these historical sites a few years back and absolutely loved it! I totally want to get back there again soon!
I am with you. I loved living in DC!
As an East coast girl, I have been to almost all of your recommendations, and they are filled with history. My favorite is Alexandria VA – the food, the view, and the history are perfect.
That is awesome! I want to try all the yummy food there!
So many wonderful historical places to visit in the East! We love history, so these towns are on our list!
oh yes! So many amazing places!
Those are absolutely amazing trip ideas! I love learning about new places to visit!
I know I would love to tour the east coast all summer long!
Touring Salem is on my bucket list!
I know I need to go!
East Coast road trip is on the list when we can explore again! Thinking small and local areas once we obtain the vaccine – and these areas would be a great place to start!
There are so many fun places on the east coast!