21+ Dreamy East Coast Beach Towns (Perfect for a Summer Trip)

From the rocky shoreline of Maine to the soft sand of Miami’s iconic South Beach, it’s safe to say that there is no shortage of beautiful beaches on the East Coast–or fun East Coast beach towns where you can base yourself to enjoy them!

Whether you’re looking for a laid-back, kid-friendly town, a glitzy coastal town suitable for a romantic getaway, a history-packed downtown near a great swimming spot, or something else, there’s bound to be a gorgeous seaside town on the east coast of the USA that’s perfect for you.

However, if you’re anything like Jeremy and me, you may be tempted to revisit your favorite beach towns so often (looking at you, Atlantic Beach!) that it can be hard to branch out and find new places to sink your toes in the sand.

So, to make sure we covered a wide variety of coastal getaways, we asked fellow travel bloggers to join us in recommending their favorite East Coast beach towns!

This curated list is the result of that request–and, like us, many bloggers recommended family favorites that they’ve been visiting for decades.

Here are some of the best beach towns on the East Coast to consider for your beach vacation!

Kate Storm in a floral dress on a boardwalk, one of the best things to do in Beaufort NC, with sailboats in the background
Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Epic East Coast Beach Towns in the South

Key West, Florida

From Kylie of Between England and Everywhere

Key West Florida is one of the most beautiful beach towns on the USA’s East Coast.

It is the southernmost point of the continental US and is actually closer to Cuba than it is to Miami! 

If traveling by road, the journey down to it is very unique. Key West is an island, part of the Florida Keys archipelago. The islands are connected by the ‘Overseas Highway’.

The route particularly from Marathon to Key West is well worth driving.

Highway over the Caribbean Sea leading the to Floriday Keys as shot with a drone. The Florida Keys are one of the best places to visit in USA

Once you arrive, you’ll find so many fun things to do in Key West. From checking out the bars and restaurants on the colorful Duval Street, visiting Fort Zachary Taylor in the state park, and enjoying the Sunset Celebration which takes place every evening at Mallory Square.

Of course with Key West being a beach town, there are lots of opportunities to get out onto the water.

33 Stunning Places to Visit in Summer in the USA (Vacation Spots Not to Miss!)

Consider taking a boat or scenic flight to the Dry Tortugas National Park (be sure to book as far in advance as you can!), going on a snorkeling trip to the only coral barrier reef in the US, or exploring the island by kayak or jet ski.

For hotels, the Ibis Bay Beach Resort is a great beachfront hotel. It has a free shuttle bus to and from downtown Key West.

duval street in key west florida lined with colorful buildings

Chincoteague, Virginia

From Pam of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

One of the best East Coast beach towns (and one of the best places to visit in Virginia!) is the charming Chincoteague, Virginia.

Nestled on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, this beach town is a great mixture of beach, wildlife, history, and of course delicious food, and there are plenty of things to do in Chincoteague for any visitor.

25+ Best Weekend Getaways in the South

Animal lovers should keep their eyes open for the famous Chincoteague ponies. These are wild ponies that roam throughout Assateague Island. You can try to spot them from your car, take a boat tour, or even go kayaking to get up close to them!

The island also has gorgeous beaches with calm water, so it’s a safe and fun place to spend a day with your family.

You can also go kayaking, biking, and birdwatching in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. There are lots of trails and waterways to explore.

wild horses on the beach of Chincoteague virginia, one of the best usa small towns to visit

The town itself has a very relaxed feel, which is perfect if you’re looking to get away from it all. You can enjoy some delicious seafood and browse the local shops.

Don’t forget to climb the historic Assateague Lighthouse for some amazing views of the island. It’s a real adventure, and the scenery is breathtaking.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to stay, the Best Western is a great option. They have a pool and it’s easy to get to the beach.

Chincoteague, Virginia has something for everyone. Whether you’re into outdoor activities, wildlife, or just relaxing by the coast, you’ll have an amazing time.

assateague lighthouse in chincoteague virginia, as seen from the water

Clearwater Beach, Florida

From Lanie of Make More Adventures

Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Clearwater Beach is a fun southern beach town with plenty of things to do.

Clearwater Beach is known for its sand which is so soft that it is compared to sugar.

In honor of the comparison, the town even hosts the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival each spring, which includes sand sculptures as well as entertainment.

Unlike beach towns on the east coast of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico is usually calm and the perfect place to cool down on a hot day.

7 Epic East Coast USA Road Trip Routes

Entry to Clearwater Beach is via the causeway and the beach is split into north and south. In the middle is Pier 60 and the Clearwater Marina. The Marina has a few restaurants and it is where most local boat tours leave from.

Pier 60 also has a restaurant as well as a playground and entertainment at sunset.

Both the north side and the south side of Clearwater Beach are lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels. A large path is located on the south side for bicycles and walkers. Volleyball nets are available for those who want to play beach volleyball.

Many beach sports are available on Clearwater Beach including jet skiing, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Fishing can be done off the pier or on a fishing boat charter which can be found at the marina.

While Clearwater Beach is walkable, the Jolley Trolley is a public bus that runs through the main street of the beach and also takes visitors to nearby towns.

pier 60 at clearwater beach florida at sunset, one of the best beach towns on the east coast

Ocracoke, North Carolina

From Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

Ocracoke is a historic island town located on the southern tip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The town is located on Ocracoke Island, a 16-mile-long barrier island on the North Carolina coast. The area is well known for stunning beaches and amazing outdoor adventures

Unlike many of the other towns of the Outer Banks, Ocracoke has maintained its simple charm and natural beauty.

aerial view of ocracoke lighthouse and island at sunset, one of the prettiest east coast beach towns

The quiet lanes in town are shrouded with huge live oaks covered in Spanish moss, the boutique shops and cafes are designed for you to linger, and freshly caught seafood is the star of local restaurants.

Ocracoke is the perfect base to explore Cape Hatteras National Seashore which protects most of the island. Rent a bike or a kayak to explore the roads or waters of the island, or hike in the maritime forests near the beach to see hundreds of birds.

10 Romantic Getaways in North Carolina

Beachcombing and camping on the beaches are popular with outdoor enthusiasts.

A visit to Ocracoke Lighthouse is a must. It’s the second oldest lighthouse in North Carolina and is still in use today to protect the boats on the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocracoke Island is reached by ferry. Four ferry companies bring people and cars to visit the natural beauty of Ocracoke.

wooden dock house on ocracoke island with two green adriondack chairs out front

Naples, Florida

From Lori of Travlinmad

Looking for the perfect East Coast beach getaway?

Look no further than the stunning Paradise Coast of Naples, Florida. This Gulf Coast city is the ultimate fun-in-the-sun destination.

25 Best Road Trips in the USA (Itinerary Ideas + Tips!)

Winter is the busiest time of year with the lowest humidity and mild temperatures. Summer is a sleepier time at the beach when temps can get hot but the Gulf of Mexico is so sublime and refreshing, and there are far fewer crowds.

Naples is renowned for their beautiful beaches, but what sets it apart is its proximity to nature.

Situated at the doorstep of the 10,000 Islands, the Florida Everglades, and Florida Bay, there’s plenty of adventure waiting to be discovered for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

person in the distance walking down a beach in naples florida, one of the best places to visit in summer in america

When you’re not soaking up the sun or exploring the great outdoors, downtown Naples and the Esplanade on Marco Island are buzzing with shopping and dining options. Don’t be surprised to stumble upon unique boutiques and foodie hotspots in unexpected places. 

And when the sun sets, the nightlife scene comes alive with everything from laid-back tiki bars to upscale jazz clubs.

33 Unknown + Underrated Vacation Spots in the USA

There are a slew of year-round outdoor art and music festivals in the area, with Artis Naples stealing the spotlight as the community’s premier performing arts center. 

Whether you’re road-tripping through Florida or longing to find a deserted beach, there’s something for everyone in Naples against the backdrop of this beautiful coastal paradise.

harbor and buildings at sunset in naples florida, one of the best summer vacation destinations in usa

Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

The beach vacation stomping grounds of my childhood (and those of a few generations worth of family members before me), Atlantic Beach, NC is a fantastic East Coast beach destination for travelers looking for a laid-back, family-friendly escape.

Located along one of North Carolina’s many barrier islands, Atlantic Beach is known for its sandy beaches, wonderful dining options (heavy on seafood, of course!), and as the home of Fort Macon State Park.

17 Best Things to Do in Atlantic Beach, NC

Touring the fort (which features amazing views from its trails, beaches, and structure), relaxing on the beach, and enjoying classic coastal pastimes like fishing all rank among the best things to do in Atlantic Beach.

No trip here would be complete without taking day trips to all the many nearby destinations, though, including the charming small town of Beaufort and the gorgeous lighthouse at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

As part of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, Atlantic Beach offers an under-the-radar alternative to the more famous Outer Banks towns located to the north, and makes for an unforgettable coastal escape on the east coast!

ranger storm standing on the sand at atlantic beach nc at sunset
The beaches are dog-friendly, too–a big plus for Ranger!

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

From Lauren of The Traveling Moore

Myrtle Beach is one of the most underrated beach towns on the US East Coast. Located on the Atlantic shore of South Carolina, it’s an excellent stop on an East Coast USA road trip.

Myrtle Beach offers a more laid-back atmosphere compared to nearby coastal cities like Charleston or Savannah and is the perfect place to relax on the sand, stroll along the boardwalk, and explore local boutiques.

One of the top attractions in Myrtle Beach is Broadway at the Beach. This entertainment complex is packed with shops, restaurants, and activities, including an aquarium, mini-golf, and a family-friendly amusement park.

17 Spectacular Southern USA Road Trip Itinerary Ideas

Another must-do activity is a boat tour on the Atlantic Ocean. Opt for a dolphin sightseeing cruise during the day or enjoy a sunset cruise in the evening.

While Myrtle Beach might not be known as a foodie destination, there are certainly some great dining spots. Banditos Cantina is a great option. Their Tex-Mex cuisine is delicious, and the ocean views are hard to beat.

Regarding accommodation, it’s best to stay near the beach, preferably in hotels with nice pool areas. The Ocean Enclave by Hilton is an excellent choice!

lit up ferris wheel spinning near the beach at night myrtle beach, one of the best weekend getaways south coast

Destin, Florida

From Kayla of Exploring the Gulf

Destin, Florida is a wonderful beach getaway on the East Coast. The perfect spot for all types of travelers, there’s so much to do in Destin as a family, a couple, or on your own.

Spending at least a day or two on one of Destin’s best beaches is a must when visiting this oasis.

Whether you’re looking for a laid-back experience at Henderson Beach State Park or a fun-loving time at Crab Island, there’s a beach in Destin with just the right vibe for you.

25 Most Romantic Getaways in the USA

With some of the most clear water around, snorkeling is a top activity in these parts.

Travelers who would rather not get wet can still enjoy the sights and sounds of the water on a kayaking adventure, dolphin tour, or a lovely sunset cruise.

The Henderson Beach Resort is one of the best places to stay when vacationing in Destin.

The comfortable accommodations cannot be beaten, and the beach location makes it the perfect spot for the ultimate beach getaway!

group of boats parked at crab island destin florida

Wilmington, North Carolina

From Melissa of Parenthood and Passports

The coastal North Carolina city of Wilmington offers historic southern charm as well as convenient access to several nearby beaches. 

Located along the Cape Fear River, the port city is known as the gateway to the Cape Fear coast, home to beautiful beaches like Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach.   

Both beaches are great for collecting seashells, basking in the sun, or learning to surf.

USA Bucket List: 50 Best Places to Visit in the US

Aside from the beaches, one of the best things to do in Wilmington for families is to go on a carnivorous plant hike at Carolina Beach State Park. The area immediately surrounding Wilmington is the only place in the world where the carnivorous Venus Flytrap grows natively.

You can join a park ranger on a hike and learn about the fascinating plants and the subtropical wetland environment in which they grow.

Within the city of just over 120,000 residents, you will also enjoy walking along the riverfront boardwalk, dining and shopping in the well-preserved Downtown Wilmington area, and touring the Battleship North Carolina – a World War II combat ship that is now a museum. 

With so many fun and unique things to do, Wilmington is easily one of the best East Coast beach destinations.

Historic 5th street in Wilmington NC in the spring, one of the best NC romantic getaways

Fernandina Beach, Florida

From Paige of Paige Minds the Gap

Located on beautiful Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on Florida’s Atlantic coast.

With over 13 miles of sandy white beaches, this is one of the best beach towns in the country!

Besides spending your days relaxing on the beach, Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island have tons of history you can explore.

The Amelia Island Museum of History is a great place to start for an overview of the island’s history from its Native American roots to its Victorian-era residents.

You can also visit the Marine Welcome Center and Shrimping Museum to learn how Fernandina Beach became the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry.

amelia island lighthouse lit up at night, as seen through trees in one of the best east coast beach towns

Be sure to also head over to the A.L. Lewis Museum to learn about American Beach, an African American resort community established in the 1930s.

In downtown Fernandina Beach, you’ll find local shops and restaurants housed in historic buildings (there are over 400 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places).

The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List: 50+ Road Trip Essentials You Need

In Old Town Fernandina, you can see the Pippi Longstocking House from the 1988 movie The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking.

And, with an Amelia River Cruise, you can see the island with a whole new marine perspective with a ride along the Amelia River, Cumberland Sound, and Cumberland River.

Whether you want to spend your time relaxing on the beach, boating the waterways, or strolling through the historic downtown, you won’t run out of fun things to do in Fernandina Beach!

fernandina beach as seen from the dunes on amelia island, one of the best beach towns east coast usa

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

From Disha of Disha Discovers

Known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and abundant outdoor activities, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina is one of the best beach towns on the East Coast of the USA.

Hilton Head Island is also known for its luxury resorts, golf courses, and world-class restaurants, and it’s the perfect getaway for families, couples, friend groups, and solo travelers.

With its laid-back atmosphere and stunning natural beauty, it’s no wonder that Hilton Head Island is a popular vacation destination.

One of the main draws to Hilton Head Island is its stunning beaches. With over 12 miles of pristine coastline, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

blue beach umbrellas set up along the shore at hilton head island, one of the best beach towns on the east coast usa

You can choose from public beaches like Coligny Beach Park or more secluded spots like Burkes Beach.

Aside from the beautiful beaches, Hilton Head Island also offers a variety of outdoor activities. You can explore the island on a bike or take a stroll on one of the many nature trails.

25+ Beautiful Small Towns in the USA

The island is home to several wildlife preserves, including the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, where you can spot a diverse range of birds and other animals in their natural habitat.

One of the most iconic things to see in Hilton Head is the Harbour Town Lighthouse. This red and white striped lighthouse offers gorgeous views from the top.

All in all,  Hilton Head Island is a perfect vacation destination for those who love the great outdoors and want to relax by the beach.

red and white lighthouse and small harbor in hilton head sc, one of the best stops on a deep south usa road trip route

Marvelous Mid-Atlantic Beach Towns

Cape May, New Jersey

From Taylor of Brown Eyed Flower Child

Cape May, New Jersey is one of the best East Coast beach towns to visit this summer. Considered “The Nation’s Oldest Seashore Resort,” Cape May is located at the southernmost tip along the Jersey Shore and is ranked as a National Historic Landmark.

Congress Hall is the best place to stay during a Cape May weekend escape. It’s known as “America’s First Seaside Resort,” and opened in 1816. Congress Hall overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and offers luxury accommodations, a pool, renowned dining, and easy access to the Washington Street Mall.

4 Days in NYC: The Ultimate (Massive) 4 Days in New York Itinerary

During a vacation to Cape May, NJ, you must enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches; go wine tasting at Cape May Winery & Vineyard; go shopping along the Washington Street Mall, in the heart of the city; visit the Cape May Lighthouse; enjoy an afternoon at Beach Plum Farms for a farm-to-table lunch and to shop for seasonal goods; and ride the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to Lewes, Delaware.

In addition to all of the fun activities to enjoy in Cape May, this coastal Jersey Shore gem also boasts incredible restaurants.

The top places to eat in Cape May are Peter Shield’s Inn & Restaurant, which faces the ocean and offers fine dining, and Washington Inn & Wine Bar, a fine dining restaurant in the heart of town.  

For more casual options, look no further than The Mad Batter Restaurant & Bar, which is an American restaurant surrounded by some of Cape May’s most beautiful Victorian homes; Tisha’s, an American restaurant located in the Washington Street Mall; and Taco Caballito Tequileria, which is a beachfront Mexican restaurant.

row of elaborate victorian beach homes in cape may nj, one of the best seaside towns on the east coast usa

Montauk, New York

From Samantha of Find Love and Travel

Montauk is a gorgeous beach town located at the end of the south peninsula of Long Island, New York

New Yorkers often travel here for a welcome escape from the chaos and noise of the city – and who could blame them? With its warming atmosphere and very friendly locals, it has become a popular place to visit.

How Our 6 Month Round The World Trip Changed Our Lives (+ Tips!)

The fishing and surfing culture is a huge aspect here, so if either piques your interest, Montauk is the spot for you. However, if you’re not a fishing or surfing fan, don’t worry; there are a bunch of other activities to enjoy. 

Montauk is known for having six state parks, which means there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and biking. You can even book a guided hiking tour and be taken directly to all of the hidden gems and locations with the best views.

path of sand dunes approaching the beach in montauk new york

You also can’t miss the Montauk Lighthouse! Furthermore, just getting out on the water in Montauk is always amazing.

After you have worked up an appetite, head to the famous Lobster Roll Restaurant for a selection of seafood dishes.

Then, finish the evening watching the sunset at one of the popular beaches. Gin Beach is one of the best! 

As far as where to stay, there are plenty of oceanfront resorts to choose from. Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, in particular, is a beautiful resort with incredible food and even better views.

montauk lighthouse and beach as seen from a distance

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

From Tori of Tori Pines Travels

Located on the southern coast of Delaware, Rehoboth Beach is a beautiful, vibrant coastal town.

It’s the perfect beach destination for anyone in the Mid-Atlantic region to drive to, but you can also catch flights in and out of Salsbury, MD, or Wilmington, DE.

Both are small airports that offer a variety of flight options throughout the east coast!

Rehoboth Beach is a great beach town for all types of travelers. It is extremely family-friendly, so if you have kids this should be your go-to.

group of colorful umbrellas on the beach on a sunny day in rehoboth beach east coast town

The town is well-known for its boardwalk, just steps from the sand. There is so much to do on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk that you never have to leave all week! 

Plan to grab acai bowls for breakfast at Playa Bowls. Walk down Rehoboth Avenue to shop at Penny Lane or grab a bucket of caramel corn at Snyders. Grab pizza for lunch at Grottos or bring a picnic lunch to the beach.

101 Fun Things to Do in the USA (Attractions, Parks + More!)

After spending an hour or two at Funland with the kids in the evening, sit down for dinner at Nalu for amazing Pacific Island cuisine, or Salt Air for fresh seafood!

Be sure to rent bikes one day and spend it exploring the rest of this stunning beach town. Ride around Silver Lake, admire the million-dollar beach homes throughout town, and pick up the famous sticky buns from The Point.

two people walking along a wooden boardwalk at the beach in rehoboth beach with beach houses visible to the right

Long Beach, New York

Recommended by Taryn from Chasing Trail

On Long Island’s southwestern shore, Long Beach, New York, is one of the best East Coast beach towns—especially for those looking for a local, less touristy feel.

Located just a short train ride from New York City, the “City by the Sea” offers a wide, clean coastline with soft sand, a 2.2-mile-long boardwalk, and a quiet, laid-back atmosphere. 

In addition to quintessential beach activities, Long Beach offers surprisingly excellent surfing. Long Island is a barrier island, ideal for beginners and experienced surfers alike. There are dozens of places along the beach to rent boards or take lessons, and you’ll find several designated surfing beaches.

New York in 2 Days: The Perfect Weekend in NYC Itinerary

As the sun sets, Long Beach’s nightlife comes alive, with tons of bars and hot restaurants to explore. On Beech Street, you can hop from one spot to another all night.

No matter where you land, don’t leave town without trying Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices, widely regarded as some of the best on Long Island. 

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, all visitors need a daily or seasonal beach pass.

If you take the train from NYC, you can also purchase the LIRR Get-A-Way Package, which includes round-trip train fare, a discounted beach fee, and free Long Beach Bus service around town.

sunrise over the beach on long island new york

Charming Coastal Towns in New England

Marblehead, Massachusetts

From Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust

Marblehead, Massachusetts is a historic beach town located just a short drive from Boston that sits on a peninsula encircled by beaches.

A much more peaceful setting than the tourist hub of neighboring Salem, Marblehead is full of historic homes dating back to the 17th century and even has connections to the area’s infamous witch trials of 1692.

With Marblehead’s existence dating back to the beginnings of Massachusetts, a walk through the Old Town neighborhood’s maze of streets will show you some of the earliest houses in the United States.

21 Best Places to Visit in New England

For instance, the 1663 Ambrose Gale House is the oldest in Marblehead, once being the home of witch trials accusers Ambrose and Charity Gale.

Dive further into Marblehead’s history by visiting Fort Sewall, which dates back to 1644 and once protected the USS Constitution as it was fleeing two British frigates during the War of 1812. Be sure to also tour the 18th-century Jeremiah Lee Mansion, which is built in the Georgian style and retains much of its original wallpaper.

While exploring Marblehead, MA, be sure to stop into The Muffin Shop to try the town’s iconic Joe Frogger cookies. The legend of this molasses cookie dates back to the nation’s earliest days, when these treats were baked for fishermen heading out for several days on the water due to their long shelf life.

small fishing boats in marblehead massachusetts with harbor in the distance, one of the best coastal towns on the east coast

Ogunquit, Maine

From Maggie of The World Was Here First

Whether you’re simply searching for a fun beach town on the east coast where you can dig your toes in the sand or are looking for an excellent stop when driving to Acadia National Park, you cannot miss the lovely coastal town of Ogunquit.

Though Maine is likely not the first destination to spring to mind when planning a beach holiday, Ogunquit – located on the southern coast – boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in the state and is filled with family-friendly activities.

15 Amazing Things to Do in Acadia National Park

While the gorgeous white sand beach is certainly a highlight of this town, Ogunquit does have more to offer.

The town center is packed with cute shops, there are plenty of activities like mini-golf for visitors to enjoy and, of course, there are some iconic Maine lighthouses to take in. 

Within the town itself, you can head to the charming Lobster Point Lighthouse and, about 10 minutes south, there is the beautiful Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick.

And if the weather isn’t behaving for a day at the beach, there are also a handful of museums to visit, including the Ogunquit Heritage Museum and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.

Ogunquit Maine as shot from above--easily among the most beautiful places to see in New England

Provincetown, Massachusetts

Located on the farthest tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown, Massachusetts is an idyllic New England beach town.

With a lively town center, gorgeous homes lining its streets, and a wonderful food scene, travelers visiting Cape Cod flock to Provincetown every summer, whether they’re staying in town or driving in for the day from further up the Cape.

Historically, Provincetown is famous for two very different things: for being the site of the Mayflower’s first landing, and for being an LGBTQ+ and artistic enclave.

How to Spend One Perfect Day in Boston, MA (Itinerary + Tips!)

Whether your interest in Provincetown’s history leans toward its 17th-century roots, its much more recent status as a hub for LGBTQ+ life, or both, the town has plenty to offer.

While you’re there, be sure to stroll down the vibrant Commercial Street (ideally both during the day and at night!), check out the soaring Pilgrim Monument that stands above the town, sample some of the many delicious restaurants (we loved our meal at Mistralino Ristorante), and of course, enjoy the beaches.

And, of course, no trip to the Cape is complete without enjoying one of the most classic New England coastal activities: whale watching!

commercial street in provincetown ma during blue hour on a summer night

Block Island (New Shoreham), Rhode Island

From Jenifer of The Evolista

Block Island is a hidden gem off the coast of Rhode Island and one of the most enchanting beach towns on the East Coast. Hop on a ferry from Pt. Judith and escape to a laid-back summer retreat.

Start your visit with one of the best things to do on Block Island: touring the small island by bike or moped, which you can rent in town. You’ll enjoy stunning landscapes and plenty of beaches where you can stop and take a rest.

17 Fun Weekend Getaways from Boston

A walk to the North Light at the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is a must, providing an opportunity to see some seals or other wildlife in the coastal wetlands.

Adventure seekers can embark on a SUP or kayaking excursion in the Great Salt Pond, while those seeking relaxation can sit in Adirondack chairs sipping a Mudslide at the Oar, a popular waterfront spot. If you’re hungry, they have great seafood too.

For breathtaking panoramic views, hike up the Mohegan Bluffs, a scenic vantage point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Mansion Beach is the best sandy spot to catch some rays.

To stay overnight, the Block Island Beach House, where comfort meets coastal charm, will make an unforgettable getaway.

north light at block island rhode island as seen from the water

Nantucket, Massachusetts

From Sam of New England Wanderlust

Nantucket is one of the two New England islands sitting off the coast of Cape Cod, and it’s one of the best East Coast beach towns to visit if you’re looking for a stunning coastline, postcard-worthy scenery, and old-world charm.

Stepping foot onto Nantucket feels both like an escape from reality, and going back in time, making this an awesome bucket list destination in New England.

With about 80 miles of shoreline and more than 10 beaches to explore, spending a day or two at the ocean is one of the top things to do when visiting.

Beaches are accessible from all over the island, making them easy to visit! Some of the best ones to check out are Steps Beach, Madaket, Surfside, and Sconset.

white lighthouse with an american flag on it and a sailboat nearby in nantucket massachusetts, one of the best tourist attractions in usa

When you’re not at the beach, strolling through the charming downtown is an absolute must. This area of the island is lined with cobblestone streets and is packed with independent boutiques and historic homes

Brant Point Lighthouse is also walkable from downtown, and this is one of the most iconic sites to see on Nantucket.

13 Epic East Coast Cities for Weekend Getaways

It’s also a great idea to rent a bike and head out to Sconset, which is a beautiful village home to rose-covered cottages, Sankaty Head Lighthouse, and the amazing Bluff Walk path that offers incredible views of the ocean and coastline. 

Nantucket is accessible by ferry and airplane, but most people get to the island by ferry, via Cape Cod.

For a luxurious stay, the White Elephant Hotel is worth the splurge, especially their beautiful cottages, which are just a short distance from both Brant Point Lighthouse and the town center.

4 photos of coastal east coast getaways: nantucket, key west, long island, rehoboth beach, black and pink text reads "21 epic east coast beach towns"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

Leave a Comment