Family Vacation On The East Coast

You’ve heard about it, you research it, but how can you possibly know what to do when planning a family vacation on the East Coast?   Well, after planning many family vacations myself, I have found that there are a few things every traveler needs to know before heading out. Let’s take a look at the most important tips today. While it is common for people to visit the west coast for a vacation, there are many who have never thought to visit the east coast. If you are on my email list, you will already know that I am looking forward to one of our family vacations later in the year; this time we will be visiting the east coast.

What makes the perfect family vacation? The family, of course. But that’s not all. Family vacations should start with a research and a plan. Planning a family vacation can be stressful. Where are we going to stay? How can I keep the kids entertained? What should we check out while we’re there? The list of questions can go on and on. Wouldn’t it just be so much simpler if someone had already done this before, right?

Family Vacation On The East Coast


Long before Instagram burst onto the scene as the medium that serves up vacation inspiration, movies and television introduced us to quintessential east coast family vacations. Think about the lakeside cabin resort in Dirty Dancing, the seashore that was home to the mermaid that captivated a young Tom Hanks in Splash, or that scene at the top of the Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle.

We have spent years exploring East Coast vacation spots from our home base in Rhode Island. So if you are asking, what are the best places to visit on the East Coast, take a look at our 26 favorites. (Also see my recommendations for best vacations for kids and best vacations for teens.)

If you prefer to explore the East Coast by car, we also have 20 ideas for week-long East Coast road trips for you to try.

Sebago Key West sunset cruise


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These 26 East Coast vacations are perfect for classic family trips. Get inspired and then get planning. Tie a few of them together in a big road trip, or take your time to enjoy each destination.

25 Quintessential East Coast Family Vacation Destinations


Portland Head Light rocks

Maine has nearly 3,500 miles of coastline and it can take over six hours to drive from Kittery on the New Hampshire border all the way up to Bar Harbor, outside of Acadia National Park.

The Maine Beaches along the southern coast are popular beach getaway destinations for Bostonians. Charming seaside towns like Kennebunkport offer cute cottages and inns. Others like Old Orchard Beach offer rides and a historic pier for old-fashioned family fun.

In Portland and around Casco Bay, you will find the picturesque rocky coast line dotted with lighthouses and sprinkled with amazing restaurants, breweries, and the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport.

However, if you are willing to venture a little further north, you reach the very special MidCoast, home to Camden, artsy and cool Rockland, and one of my favorites, Boothbay Harbor.

If you want to turn this into a road trip instead of settling in just one town, be sure to see my Coastal Maine road trip itinerary for suggestions. You can also pair the Maine coast with a road trip to the Maine Highlands or some time at Moosehead Lake.


Some families prefer to spend a week relaxing by one of New Hampshire’s famous lakes, like Lake Winnipesaukee, but the White Mountains are for those that want to be active. Families can go hiking, rock climbing, or just splash around in the waterfalls of Diana’s Baths.

Or, you can earn one of those ubiquitous “This car climbed Mount Washington” stickers or take the easy route by riding the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

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Other popular attractions include Flume Gorge, Lost River Gorge, mountain attractions at Attitash or Cranmore, ziplining at Alpine Adventures, and Storyland or Santa’s Village amusement parks. During the fall, a scenic drive on the famous Kancamaugus Highway is a must do!


Red covered bridge over a river

Since I spent my summer vacations in Vermont visiting family, the Green Mountains hold a special place in my heart as a favorite East Coast family vacation destination. I truly believe that Vermont offers the very best of New England.

You can spend a week on the shores of Lake Champlain at a resort like Basin Harbor, or settle down for summer fun at one of Vermont’s many mountain resorts like Smugglers’ Notch.

If you choose, you can spend your days swimming, hiking, and exploring quaint New England towns like Woodstock, Manchester, and Burlington, or enjoy Vermont’s local food scene; by visiting craft breweries, sampling Vermont cheddar cheese, or taking a day trip to the Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

Vermont is small enough that it is easy to explore over a long weekend or week long Vermont road trip. The ideal time for fall foliage is usually the very beginning of October, if you are looking to plan a New England road trip in the fall.


Boston skyline from a Harbor Cruise

Boston is the perfect destination for history loving families and it is such a fun city to explore in the summer. When you are done exploring the historical sites along the Freedom Trail, and visiting the Boston Tea Party Museum and Ships, you can head out on the water for a whale watching cruise or Boston Harbor Islands tour.

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