15 East Coast Family Vacations You Should Take at Least Once in Your Life
Whether you live on the East Coast and are looking for a nearby family getaway or you're looking to visit from another part of the country, there are so many amazing spots to choose from! From big cities to quaint villages to beach vacations, your kids, both big and small, are guaranteed to have a great time. And since each family has different needs, our list runs the gamut from action-packed places to spots ideal for shutting off (see ya, screen time!). Keep reading to see them all, but we're sure that, no matter what, being with your family is going to be the real adventure of a lifetime.
Lake George, NY
A vacation staple in the Northeast, Lake George has something for almost everyone. Want to lay out and get a tan? That's simple between all the beaches and docks the lake has to offer. You can also take a boat ride around the lake, go golfing, shop in the Lake George Village, or seek out some thrills, like zip lining at one of the nearby adventure parks. If you're a history buff, there are also several museums and forts in the area. Accommodations vary depending on the needs of your family, so you'll have your pick from hotels and cabins.
This family-friendly city comes with lots to do depending on the ages of your kids. Have little ones? Head to the New England Aquarium, take a Duck tour (the vessel literal goes from the street to the water), spend some time in Boston Common, or head over to Fanueil Hall and the surrounding Quincy Market. Older children? The Freedom Trail, Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, and the top of the Prudential Center are all great options for fun. Oh, and don't forget to take a stroll down Newberry Street. The shopping is amazing and the food options are fun, too.
Outer Banks, NC
In the mood for a relaxed beach vacation? The Outer Banks is the place for you. As there are not ton of hotel options, vacationers here opt to rent homes, which come with all the comforts of, well, home. It also makes for a great family reunion spot, as many of the homes have lots of extra rooms. Little towns dotted with gift shops, horse tours, spas, and unique dining experiences (the Islands are definitely upping the ante on the food offerings lately) make this a great place to go, whether your children are babies or fully grown.
If you'd like a more upscale experience with where you stay (and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning), The Sanderling is where you want to be. It also has a full-service spa across the street and has several sunrise yoga classes held through the week, too.
Bar Harbor, ME
You really can't go wrong with a visit to Bar Harbor, ME. Home to Acadia National Park, there are lots of trails to climb and sights to see, many of which are kid-friendly. Camping is also a possibility if your family is up for it. The Lulu Lobster Boat is a can't-miss activity that teaches the art of lobstering to those who board it, and there's a hands-on aquarium for rainy-day fun.
Walt Disney World
No East Coast vacation list is complete without Walt Disney World. Located in Orlando, FL, Disney World is the quintessential family vacation. With a variety of accommodations available both on and off Disney grounds, the ability to create meal plans to the specifications of your family, and the endless attractions, this makes for a busy but enjoyable family trip.
Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Colonial Williamsburg is a place that will both entertain your child and educate them about the beginnings of American culture. The area keeps things as close to the 18th century as possible, showcasing the way things were made in those times as well as how people dressed and spoke. Take a carriage ride, meet "Nation Builders," and feast on some colonial-inspired fare in the city.
A small but charming town, Mystic (home to Mystic Pizza) is one of those East Coast staples you should spend some time in at least once. Between the Mystic Seaport museum and the local aquarium, your kids will be enthralled with the fascinating life that lurks in the sea. Once you're done there, pop into the Alice in the Village Tea Room for a sweet treat at tea time — or nap time for the kiddos!
Fenwick Island, DE
Away from the hustle and bustle of other beach towns, Fenwick Island is a great option for families. Not only is there unlimited beach time, but there are numerous bonding activities to choose from as well. You can go go-karting, hit up the water park, or play a round of mini golf, but there's also the chance to go exploring. The Fenwick Island lighthouse, DiscoverSea Shipwreck Museum, and many more adventures await in this town sandwiched between Delaware and Maryland.
While one may not think of Lancaster, PA, as a place to go on a family vacation, it has a plethora of family-friendly and affordable activities for kiddos. Make sure you stop at the Turkey Hill Experience, where visitors make their own ice cream flavors (there are also free samples of ice cream available as you tour). Then head to the wolf sanctuary, ride mini horses, take an Amish buggy ride, get a rush at Dutch Wonderland amusement park, and grab a piece of pie from Dutch Haven.
Note: Sesame Place and Hershey Park aren't that far, either, and may be worth a day trip!
The Poconos, PA
There is so much to do in The Poconos, which makes this a perfect getaway for any type of family. Adventurous? Kayak through the Delaware Water Gap, hike along some of the awesome trails, or check out Bushkill Falls for a great view. Camelback Mountain — which offers both Summer and Winter activities — is located there, too, as are a plethora of indoor water parks like Camelback, Kalahari Resort, and Great Wolf Lodge. There are also sweet little gift shops, a brewery/restaurant, Hickory Valley Farms (get your bacon and eggs in a frying pan!), and an amazing place called Pocono Cheesecake (the cheesecake and other baked goods are unreal).
While probably not ideal for very young children because of the amount of walking you'll have to do, Washington DC is a perfect escape for families with school-aged kids. Being able to be outside, see the different monuments, visit the National Mall, and learn a bit about American history is a wonderful experience. For animal-lovers, the National zoo is a must visit, and a number of museums and other activities are available for rainy days. Fun fact: there are more than 100 things to do in the city that are free.
A quaint city on the Georgia coast, Savannah is known for being romantic and a bit more "grown-up," but there are lots of great things to do with kids, too. The Savannah Children's Museum and the Georgia State Railroad Museum are hot spots, and taking an Old Savannah Tour will leave your kids thrilled. If they're old enough, a ghost walk is one of the calling cards of the city, but if not, enjoy a Savannah Banana's game or take a ride on the Savannah Belle's Ferry. And if you're looking for some fun dining, check out The Pirate's House.
The city of Baltimore is bustling with activities for families. Take a walk around the inner harbor, shop, have a laid-back seafood dinner, or take in a game at Camden Yards. The National Aquarium is also located here, as is B&O Railroad Museum, the Baltimore Maritime Museum, and the USS Constellation.
Jersey Shore, NJ
Pretty much anywhere you go along the Jersey Shore will equal family fun for everyone. Boardwalk games, seafood joints, expansive beaches, shore houses, and even the more upscale part of Atlantic City are perfect for families with kids big and small.
New York City
NYC might seem intimidating, but it's a wonderful choice for a family vacation. The Empire State Building, Central Park, the Museum of Natural History, the South Street Seaport, Chelsea Piers, the High Line — you name it, you can do it here. There are also lots of historical landmarks and entertainment options to explore no matter what time of year you visit.