If you find yourself on the East Coast and want somewhere cool to go for a day trip, you do not need to look far! Whether seeking history, natural beauty, or buzzing city life, the East Coast has it all. Here are some places along the East Coast that will bombard you with unique experiences that will linger with you and make you want to go back.
1. Washington D.C.
Of course, you need to go to our nation’s capital if you are on the East Coast. There are countless museums, many of which are free, and loads of history to explore. Plus, the President lives there, so you can check out his digs as you drive by.
Walk the National Mall, look into the Reflecting Pool, have a chat with Lincoln at his monument, or visit any of the other many iconic things DC has to offer. There are hidden treasures all over the place. No matter what direction you choose to wander in or at what time of day, you will never be wanting for activities.
2. Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod, an East Coast star destination, has been preserved in a way that makes you feel like you are in a truly rustic area. Chain stores blend in with local ones, and forests abound. You can get your seafood fix and then some since Cape Cod has so much waterfront territory. Plus, you can go whale watching, which is an experience you will never forget.
Drive all the way to Provincetown at the end of the Cape and get a taste of bustling city life, or stick to the more calm areas of the Cape. Visit a local artist’s shop at their house and peruse their creations. Peek at the Kennedy compound or visit a beach. Whatever you are in to, you will find it here.
3. New York City
The most populated and most popular city in the US, this East Coast Big Apple is packed with entertainment. Whether you want to shop 5th Avenue or see a show on Broadway, live it up! NYC is huge, being composed of multiple boroughs. But, each borough has a big park, and each park is uniquely entertaining. You could see someone famous, or you could run into a street performer like Big Bird or The Naked Cowboy. Keep your eyes peeled for excitement.
There is way too much here to do in one day, so either plan it out or plan a time to stop exploring. Otherwise, The City That Never Sleeps will suck you in. Also, consider riding a bus here or parking out of the city because the traffic is unbelievable.
4. Florida Keys
These East Coast beauties are as far south as you can get in the continental US. Drive on a bridge over open water that connects the various islands and relax in the serenity of it all. Watch the palm trees sway and the various boats bob on the gentle waves. Stop on one of the islands to snorkel in the crystal blue water or to get a meal fresh from the ocean.
It takes some time to drive across these islands, but it is well worth it. Meet friendly people and survey the unique architecture. This East Coast day trip will give you a taste of the island life that you will long for as soon as you leave.
5. Savannah, GA
The oldest city in Georgia, this East Coast beauty has breathtaking architecture everywhere you look. Spanish moss hangs in the trees, giving them a slightly eerie, yet totally Southern feel. There are parks and fountains everywhere, the city being constructed with great thought and care. You can catch a ghost tour and ride in a hearse, or you can go on a more historic tour of the city.
This city is large, but walking is the best way to get the most out of it. The beauty of the buildings, the trees, the statues, and the fountains demand more attention than what can be given from a car window. There are also a lot of unique restaurants and stores to visit, so save time for those too!
6. Assateague Island
This East Coast island is mostly in Maryland, but the lower third of it is in Virginia. On the Virginia portion is Chincoteague, perhaps more commonly known than its larger portion. The entire island is known for its wild horses, which roam freely in teams, along with sika deer, which are a smaller deer breed. There are also various trails to walk, beaches to visit, and even camping spots, all of which are in horse territory.
The visitor’s center is very nice and interactive. Park there and walk across the bridge to the island, or park on the island, but pay to park on it. Whatever you choose, this large East Coast island provides a lot to explore and many places to relax. And if you want to find the horses, look for the hoards of people or cars. Just remember to keep your distance from the horses, as they are still wild.
7. Charleston, SC
Another Southern East Coast destination, this city is the oldest in South Carolina and actually had a large role in the American slave trade. You can find multiple tours to guide you through parts of the Underground Railroad, or stroll through the City Market and watch various people craft beautiful items. There also is Rainbow Row, a street filled with houses of every color, and a few plantations to tour on the outskirts of the city.
This is another East Coast place so full of things to do that you should probably plan ahead to get the most out of your day trip. Each point of interest demands a significant portion of time, and you will definitely want to give it.
8. Gettysburg, PA
Settled in rustic Pennsylvania, this East Coast spot is one not to miss. Often called the turning point of the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg has left a large mark on the town. Most notable is the battlefield itself, which has been preserved and maintained for people to visit. There are numerous statues and memorials on the battlefield and marks from the battle still in the town buildings.
Because there is so much around without explanation, it is best to pay for a tour, both of the battlefield and of the town. There is also a wax museum to visit, which is educational and entertaining. This day trip will be one to remember, as the emotions felt from the history and the overall beauty of the area will envelop you.
9. Orlando, FL
This East Coast city is a lot like New York City; there are a million things demanding your attention everywhere. You can drive and find random little free parks with Ferris wheels and museums and small trains and ice cream shops. Plus, there are Universal Studios and Sea World there, with Disney World and Legoland less than an hour away.
The attractions in this East Coast heaven can be overwhelming, as many of us dream of going to at least one of these resorts. It may not be worth your money to go for just one day to a major theme park, but the random little parks spread out through here are totally worth it.
10. Williamsburg, VA
Step back in time when entering the heart of this East Coast city, literally. Colonial Williamsburg is set up like an 18th-century city, employing individuals to dress in period clothing and to craft and sell merchandise just as it was done then. Enter the cobbler’s shop and watch him make shoes, or visit the soap maker and watch her ball up soap. And if this isn’t enough, Busch Gardens amusement park is on the outer part of the city, and it is loaded with phenomenal rollercoasters and various other great rides.
Unfortunately, it would be wise to pick either the colonial experience or the park for a day trip, as both are rather extensive attractions and have set hours of operation. Guess that just means you have to go back for another day trip to visit what you missed the first time!