Are you looking for lesser-known towns to visit on the East Coast of the United States? Then this article is for you.
I think everyone has heard of them or even visited the big American cities on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you go on a road trip on the East Coast of the United States, you can juggle between the eccentric Miami, the fun Orlando, the mysterious Charleston, the capital Washington D.C. or the much-loved New York. But few give importance to the smaller cities to visit on the East Coast of America.
Not many people know that other destinations can be great vacation spots on the East Coast. Some of them have access to the ocean, others have gorgeous architecture, while some reveal a fascinating history.
This time, I chose five towns to visit on the East Coast, but you are free to include many others in your itinerary for a perfect road trip in this part of the US.
5 gorgeous towns to visit on the East Coast, USA USA
1. Cape May, New Jersey – one of the most historic towns to visit on the East Coast, USA
Although famous for being the oldest seaside resort in the United States, Cape May is the ideal destination for those who love a beautiful beach.
The offer may be limited, but you still have a few to choose from. Higbee Beach, Poverty Beach, Steger Beach, and Sunset Beach are on the list of beaches you must see in Cape May.
Also, Cape May should get credit for a large number of Victorian houses per square kilometer. Over 600 houses with great architectural and historical value are waiting for you to discover them in a dedicated tour.
You can opt for a romantic carriage, or you can take a walking tour. You can look at some of them from the outside, while others are open for visits.
READ ALSO: 5 towns to visit on the West Coast, USA
One such example and perhaps the most famous in the area is Emlen Physick Estate, a Victorian house whose interior walls are decorated with all sorts of wallpapers, a museum house where you can see stained glass and gas lamps.
Also worth mentioning is the lighthouse in Cape May, over 160 years old. It’s located in an enchanting setting, with waves and a sensational view in the background. You can better enjoy the view by climbing the 199 steps that will take you to the top of the lighthouse.
And, as the last argument to convince you that this city is one of the best holiday destinations on the East Coast, I must mention the Washington Street Mall. So, shopping enthusiasts, do not worry! You will find here a lot of shops, but also restaurants for everyone’s taste.
Things to do in Cape May:
- go on a tour of the famous Victorian houses
- take surfing lessons on one of the most beautiful beaches in the USA
- explore the surroundings in a kayak
- admire whales and dolphins aboard a ship
- Rent a bicycle and explore Cape May
- visit the Nature Center
Where to stay in Cape May:
- budget: Angel of the Sea Bed and Breakfast
- mid-range: ICONA Cape May
- luxury: John Wesley Inn & Carriage House
2. Coral Gables, Florida – one of the most stylish towns to visit on the East Coast, USA
Coral Gables is a small town in Florida, located south of Miami. As proof of its obvious beauty, Coral Gables was nicknamed The City Beautiful.
He conquered me with its luxurious and exotic residences, built in the Mediterranean Renaissance style, and with its gorgeous streets, shaded by banyan trees. Ivy-covered houses, palm trees, banana trees, and banyan trees have turned Coral Gables into one of the greenest communities.
You can also get to Coral Gables if you take a day trip from Miami, together with a short visit through Little Havana, a Cuban-vibe neighborhood. But I recommend you dedicate at least one day to visit Coral Gables, especially if you are lucky and find the Venetian Pool open.
Once here, take a long walk on the Miracle Mile, the city’s main boulevard, where you’ll find many shops, restaurants, cafes, and institutions.
Another local attraction in the town on the East Coast of the United States is the Alhambra Water Tower lighthouse, which is said to be the lighthouse that has never seen the sea. It was saved from demolition and is one of the emblems of the city for over 100 years.
Things to do in Coral Gables:
- visit the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
- go to the restaurant 345 Caffè Italiano
- walk around the city with the trolley, free of charge
- visit the Lowe Art Museum
- visit Little Havana
- go shopping for vegetables and fruits at the Farmer’s Market
- visit the Gables Coral Museum
Where to stay in Coral Gables:
3. Portsmouth, New Hampshire – one of the beautiful port towns to visit on the East Coast of the United States
One of the best vacation spots on the East Coast of the United States is Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A small port town located just an hour away from Boston.
Founded in 1630, Portsmouth is one of the oldest cities in the United States and has a fascinating history that you can discover by visiting the Strawbery Banke Museum.
In this museum, you will see some really old houses, some of which are several hundred years old. The center of the town is Market Square, the place where both locals and tourists gather to dine or serve coffee at the restaurants in the area.
Market Square is also full of art galleries and all kinds of boutiques where you can buy a beautiful souvenir. If you arrive in Portsmouth in the spring, you can enjoy the tulips blooming in Prescott Park.
When in Portsmouth, you should visit some of the oldest residences that belonged to important people in the history of the city and even in the history of the United States. In Warner House, you will discover the oldest murals in the country, and in Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden, you will admire a 250-year-old house.
They say that here lived two of the 56 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1766. Other old mansions worth visiting are John Paul Jones House, Rundlet-May House, and Governor John Langdon House.
You can’t visit this city on the East Coast of the United States without taking the Black Heritage Trail, where you will learn many painful details about slavery during Colonial America.
Things to do in Portsmouth:
- Have a seafood dinner at one of the traditional restaurants
- visit Peirce Island
- take a tour at the Urban Forestry Center
- spend a morning on New Castle Beach
- visit Portsmouth Athenaeum, a 200-year-old library
Where to stay in Portsmouth:
- budget: The Sailmaker’s House
- mid-range: THE INN Downtown
- luxury: Biltmore HotelThe Hotel Portsmouth – Downtown
4. Norfolk, Virginia – the city on the East Coast with the largest naval base in the world
The second most populous city in Virginia, after Virginia Beach, is one of the nine cities that make up Hampton Roads. Norfolk is a green and thriving settlement, my home for ten months, which is the total time I spent in the United States.
About half of its surface is water, so here you will see many beautiful homes overlooking either the ocean or the Lafayette and Elizabeth rivers.
A boat ride in the Botanical Garden is an activity you won’t want to miss if you visit Norfolk. Norfolk also has beautiful beaches. Go to Ocean View early in the morning to see dolphins migrating south. There are many chic neighborhoods in Norfolk, but none compare to Ghent.
A gorgeous exposition of architectural styles. Victorian, Tudor, and Colonial houses color the green streets of Norfolk trees.
As I mentioned in the subtitle, Norfolk has the largest naval base in the world. Therefore, I can’t go over without suggesting you visit the USS Wisconsin, which served in World War II.
READ ALSO: 20 things to do in Norfolk Virginia
Things to do in Norfolk:
- dinner on the Spirit of Norfolk
- Go to a concert at the Scope Arena
- visit the Nauticus and Chrysler Muses
- go to Virginia Beach
- drink tea at the famous Pagoda
- a admire the sunset in Whitehurst Beach Park
- go shopping in McArthur Mall
Where to stay in Norfolk:
- budget: Hampton Inn Norfolk-Naval Base
- mid-range: Page House Inn
- luxury: Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Autograph Collection
5. Tybee Island, Georgia – a beautiful holiday destination on the East Coast
Tybee Island is a beach town just a short drive from Savannah, Georgia, another must-see city on the East Coast of the United States. It looks more like a resort than a city, with a 3-mile beach. This can only mean one thing: it is a paradise for lovers of bronze and water sports.
But if you want to explore the town in detail, rent a bike and walk on the tracks designed for two-wheeled enthusiasts. And if sweets are your passion, don’t forget to pay a visit to Sugar Shack, a place with tradition and an existence of over three decades in Tybee.
Just like in Ocean View, Norfolk, here you can admire the dolphins swimming, as well. The best way to do this is to book a short sunset cruise.
Things to do in Tybee Island:
- dine at one of the seafood restaurants
- visit Fort Pulaski National Monument
- go to Tybee Island Marine Science Center
- take some surfing classes
- Dolphin watching boat tour
Where to stay on Tybee Island:
- budget: Beach House, A Holiday Inn Resort
- mid-range: Sonesta Resort – Hilton Head Island
- luxury: DeSoto Beach Terraces
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