If you live on the East Coast, you’re spoiled for choice!
There’s no shortage of beautiful spots when it comes to great vacation destinations on the East Coast.
When you have only a weekend for a getaway, you have to think strategically and locally, so that you don’t waste more time in transit than on vacation!
The East Coast is a huge area, so we’ve broken this guide to East Coast weekend getaways into three sections: the Northeast (New York & New England), the Mid-Atlantic, and the Southeast.
So hop in your car or book your flights, because these weekend getaways on the East Coast are calling your name!
East Coast Weekend Getaways: The Northeast & New England
Contributed by Megan of Bobo & Chichi
One of the best East Coast getaways just outside of New York City on the tip of Long Island is Montauk, also known as the End of the World.
This Hamptons retreat is especially popular among the summer visitors coming from the city looking for a nice beach getaway, but Montauk really is a great escape any season and really quiet and beautiful during the off season.
There are plenty of things to do in Montauk that are worth exploring, one unmissable attraction is Montauk Point Lighthouse located on a cliff at the very tip of the island overlooking the dramatic coastline from the bluffs.
You can tour the lighthouse and the property, spend a little extra time walking around the beach and the Camp Hero State Park bluffs for more vantage points of this beautiful lighthouse.
If you’re looking for something to eat, don’t miss Harvest on Fort Pond if you’re wanting to feast family-style or if you’re visiting in the summer, grab a lobster roll from the roadside seafood stands at Lunch aka Lobster Roll or the Clam Bar.
Stay at the Surf Lodge if you’re hoping to catch a star-studded live music performance on the weekends or if you’re looking for a complete weekend getaway full of relaxation head to Gurney’s Resort and enjoy their renowned day spa and facilities overlooking the ocean.
Getting to Montauk couldn’t be easier, if you are coming from NYC you have the option to take the Hampton Jitney, a luxe bus that services Long Island and NYC, the train, or for complete freedom you can drive your own car.
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Contributed by Vicky of Buddy The Traveling Monkey
A great place to spend a weekend getaway on the East Coast is Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod.
The island isn’t huge, but there are a few towns that offer unique attractions and restaurants. The most popular towns are Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Aquinnah.
Vineyard Haven has a cute Main Street with many shops, cafes, and restaurants. We recommend getting breakfast at the Waterside Market. They offer fresh and organic ingredients and were even featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
After breakfast, walk over to the MV Museum. This museum has exhibits, photos, manuscripts, and rare books that tell the history of the island.
Oak Bluffs has the oldest operating platform carousel in the country, the Flying Horses Carousel. Oak Bluffs’ most popular attraction, however, is their Gingerbread Cottages.
There are over 300 cottages with about 30 of them being lived in year-round; the rest are seasonal. Each cottage is unique with different colors and themes.
Aquinnah is on the other side of the island is home to the Gay Head Lighthouse. It was the first lighthouse constructed on Martha’s Vineyard, built in 1799. It’s also the best place to watch the sunset.
The best way to get to Martha’s Vineyard is by ferry from the town of Woods Hole on Cape Cod. Once you’re on the island, it is easy to get around because Martha’s Vineyard has a great public transportation system.
To stay, we recommend Isabelle’s Beach House in Oak Bluffs. It’s an oceanfront bed and breakfast that offers free Wi-Fi and full daily breakfast.
Contributed by Shannon of Traveling Teacher Girl
The Catskills is a great place to visit for a weekend getaway on the East Coast!
There are a variety of activities to choose from in the Catskills, depending on the season.
In the winter, it is a great destination for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, snow tubing, and cross country skiing.
In the summer you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and ziplining.
In the fall you can go apple picking, pumpkin picking, and attend fall festivals.
There are also plenty of year-round activities such as hiking, wine tasting, and brewery hopping.
One of the most popular towns to visit in The Catskills is the town of New Paltz.
Mohonk Mountain House is a popular accommodation option in New Paltz with 85 miles of hiking trails on-site as well as horseback riding, kayaking, paddle boarding, ice skating, and snowshoeing.
New Paltz is located at the northern end of the Shawangunk Wine Trail which has 13 wineries, including Robibero Vineyards and Benmarl Wineries.
Some highly-rated restaurants in the town of New Paltz are Main Street Bistro, Bacchus Restaurants, and Pho Tibet.
Also be sure to check out Water Street Market which is a European-style shopping village with cute shops, restaurants, free loaner bikes, chess sets, live music and movie nights.
New Paltz is located 1.5-3 hours from NYC and is accessible by car, train, or bus.
Other Catskills towns such as Hunter and Windham are located an additional 45-60 minutes north of New Paltz and are not easily accessible via public transit, so a car is recommended for a weekend getaway in those destinations.
Bar Harbor, ME
Contributed by Melissa of Navigation Junkie
Bar Harbor is a small coastal town on Maine’s Mount Desert Island that holds the perfect combination for a weekend getaway involving delicious eats, small town charm, and natural beauty.
It stands as the gateway to Acadia National Park, but the town itself has so much to offer and should not be skipped!
A culinary walking tour is a must when spending the weekend in Bar Harbor. The tour, lasting about 3 hours, will take you through some of Bar Harbor’s best and most historic restaurants, giving you some tastes of local Maine dishes. For some wine tasting and delicious, locally made chocolates stop at Bar Harbor Cellars.
After the culinary walking tour, be sure to spend some time strolling Main Street exploring the local shops where you can find unique souvenirs and hand-crafted goods.
For some relaxation, spend an afternoon at Agamont Park overlooking the harbor. To get even closer to the water, take a walk along Shore Path, a one-and-a-half-mile walk along the coast, found near Bar Harbor’s Main St.
Get out on the waters of Bar Harbor with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. You can choose from several tours, but regardless of your choice you will be treated to scenic views of Maine’s coast and wildlife viewings.
If viewing lighthouses is your thing, you will find plenty scattered along the Gulf of Maine on a cruise.
For overnight accommodations in Bar Harbor, Balance Rock Inn is one of the best options. Balance Rock Inn is a waterfront boutique hotel that features an outdoor pool, onsite restaurant, and is just steps away from downtown Bar Harbor.
To reach Bar Harbor, you will need to drive from a nearby airport. The closest airport is located in Bangor, about 50 miles away. From there you will drive US-1A almost directly to Bar Harbor.
Contributed by Jade of The Migrant Yogi
Providence, Rhode Island is the perfect East Coast weekend getaway. Providence is small enough to explore in just a few days, yet large enough to pack a punch and leave an impression.
There are plenty of things to do in Rhode Island’s capital city to fill up a weekend getaway. You can explore its charming neighborhoods, becoming acquainted with each unique personality.
Check out local museums, Thayer Street, Prospect Park, or even head down to South County for a trip to Rhode Island’s incredible beaches.
Waterfire is an absolute must if you are visiting Providence during the summer. This is a quintessential Providence event that usually takes place on Saturday nights in the summer months where small fires are lit down the center of the river and vendors line the riverwalk with food and performances.
If your weekend getaway is during the colder months or it’s raining, there are plenty of indoor activities as well. Book lovers can peruse the special collections and hidden treasures of Brown University’s John Hay Library.
If fine art is more up your alley, the RISD Museum has work from renowned artists alongside work from the students of Rhode Island School of Design.
Theatre is also a celebrated pastime in Providence – Trinity Rep and PPAC are both top choices to catch a local performance.
Although it’s the capital of the smallest state, Providence makes up for its small size with exciting nightlife and a thriving culinary scene. Exploring the best restaurants in Providence is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend time in the city.
For a chic and central hotel, the Dean Hotel Providence has an optimal downtown location and a superb on-site restaurant.
Lake Placid, NY
Contributed by Mark of Where Are Those Morgans?
Charming, quaint and picturesque mountain resort town Lake Placid is the perfect Northeastern US weekend getaway for hikers, skiers and lovers of nature alike.
Lake Placid is famous for hosting the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ Winter Olympics and it remains a hub for Winter sports today. The original Olympic Village and enormous ski jump complex are both easy to visit from town.
However, Lake Placid at the heart of New York’s spectacular Adirondack Mountain region is a 4 season resort.
Hiking to the summit of Mount Marcy is among the very best things to do in Lake Placid. It is the highest of the High Peaks and tallest point in New York State. Mt Marcy’s trail is long and slow, expect it to take anywhere between 7-11 hours. Hope for good weather but plan for bad weather!
Nearby Whiteface Mountain can also be hiked but with just a weekend, a much quicker drive to its 360 degree panoramic view summit is recommended.
Views from both peaks stretch as far as the Montreal skyline in Canada and the Green Mountains in Vermont on a clear day, particularly beautiful in peak Fall season.
Don’t miss a short but striking detour through High Falls Gorge near Whiteface Mountain. Four waterfalls funnel through a very narrow gorge, creating a beautiful scene.
With so much going on around Lake Placid, it’s easy to forget about the town itself. Take a relaxing walk around Mirror Lake and shop in alpine style chocolate stores, before eating a fantastic barbecue dinner on the lakefront patio at Smoke Signals.
Stay at luxurious Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort right on Mirror Lake for the ultimate Lake Placid experience.
Lake Placid looks a little isolated out in northern New York but it is only 2 hours drive from Montreal, under 5 hours from Boston and just under 5 hours from New York City via I-87.
Contributed by Kat of World Wide Honeymoon
One of the best east coast USA weekend getaways has to be Stowe, Vermont, especially in the fall and winter!
Vermont in the fall is an absolute dream, and the town is small enough to fully enjoy it in just on a weekend trip.
One of the best things to do in Stowe has to be hiking. With so many stunning mountains, the views are insanely gorgeous.
The hike to Sterling Pond, Vermont’s highest elevation stocked pond, is truly lovely, and you can even continue on the Long Trail around the pond for more scenic views and to escape the crowds.
Mt. Mansfield is nearby as well with many hiking routes to get to the top. However, the best hike has to be Stowe Pinnacle.
If you’re lucky and go early in the morning on a nice day, you may just catch the fog clearing from the valley below and see some amazing views!
Of course, if you’re here to ski in the winter, Stowe is an idyllic place! There are ski resorts everywhere like the ski-in/ski-out Lodge at Spruce Peak.
Aside from hiking and skiing, a visit to the Trapp Family Lodge is a must. If you’re a fan of the Sound of Music, then the Trapp family may sound familiar! Did you know they settled in Stowe and then opened their lodge? Now you can visit or stay at this Austrian-chalet-inspired lodge and partake in many activities like snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and more! Plus, they have a lovely restaurant and patio that is perfect for watching an incredible sunset over the mountains.
Other incredible things to do in Stowe include finding some romantic covered bridges, exploring the charming city itself, driving through the enchanting Smugglers Notch, and drinking some of the world’s best beer at The Alchemist.
For some great food, definitely try the pizza at Piecasso, the poutine at Idletyme Brewing Company, and the halibut at Cork.
The best way to get to Stowe is by driving. However, if you live further away, you can fly into Burlington and drive 45 minutes to Stowe. And, those who live in big cities on the east coast like DC or New York can even take the Amtrak to Waterbury and a quick taxi ride or drive up to Stowe.
Stowe, Vermont is a charming place to visit, and no matter the time of year, you’ll fall in love with the incredible mountain scenery, the most adorable town, and so many cool outdoorsy things to do here!
Contributed by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
Burlington, Vermont has plenty to do for an awesome weekend getaway on the East Coast!
This vibrant small city is tucked along the coast of Lake Champlain with views across to the Adirondack Mountains.
Waterfront Park is a great place to catch a panorama of the lake and the best sunsets in the Northeast.
Rent a bike on the Burlington Bike Path and pedal along the lake to one of several sand beaches for swimming and sunning. There are also many hikes within the city limits including climbing the tower at Ethan Allen Park for city and lake views.
Families will enjoy the Echo Center, the premier science and nature center on Lake Champlain. Enjoy hours of scientific discovery in the exhibits of the Echo Center.
Take a cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen to learn about the region’s rich history. A lunch or dinner cruise is a popular way to get out on the water.
Foodies will enjoy the many restaurants using locally sourced ingredients.
And with more breweries per capita than any other state, sampling craft beer in Burlington is a must! Foam Brewery on the waterfront is a local favorite.
Don’t miss the pedestrian mall of Church Street with its one-of-a-kind shops, fabulous restaurants, and street performers. Grab a table at Honey Road for delicious Mediterranean-inspired small plates.
Accommodations near the waterfront let you see the sunset from your room. Check out the Hilton Garden Inn for your weekend stay.
Burlington is off US 89 and is 5.5 hours from New York, 3 hours from Boston, and 2 hours from Montreal.
Contributed by Eileen Gunn at FamiliesGo!
Mystic is an easy weekend destination from New York City, Boston, and Providence, RI!
Exploring the living history Seaport Museum can take the better part of a day to explore. It recreates a 19th-century fishing village with ships, houses, shops, demonstrations and hands-on activities.
The mostly-outside Mystic Aquarium has several kinds of sharks, some species of seals and sea lions you don’t often see in aquariums, beluga whales, and African Penguins. It’s one of the best aquariums in the region.
Outdoorsy weekenders will find outfitters for SUPing or kayaking on the Mystic River. Within an hour’s drive, there are a handful of state parks with hiking trails that lead to waterfalls and nice vistas.
Gillette State Park is also home to the offbeat medieval castle that Shakespearean actor William Gillette built here around 1919.
Within a half hour’s drive you’ll hit Misquamicut State Beach and East Beach, two nice long stretches of sand just over the Rhode Island border.
For lunch, you can’t go wrong with any of the clam shacks in the area (I’ve tried them all). Abbotts in Noank is the most popular and right on the water.
For dinner, try the Water Street Café in nearby Stonington. Clams, oysters and steamers are local and the preparations are fresh and inventive.
I recommend staying at the Inn at Mystic. The rooms are nicely decorated and comfortable. Some have fireplaces, patios or jacuzzi tubs. The onsite restaurant has Sunday brunch and the outdoor pool is less likely to be overrun with kids than at the many chain hotels nearby.
In addition to driving, you can get to Mystic by MetroNorth railroad from New York, and by Amtrak from New York, Providences and Boston.
Contributed by Tegan and Alex of Why Not Walk Travel Guides
Boston is one of the country’s most historic cities and a beautiful place to spend a weekend year-round!
Be sure to allocate at least a half-day to walk the Freedom Trail, a 16-stop outdoor walking path dedicated to Boston’s role in the American Revolution.
Some highlights include the Boston Common, the country’s oldest park; Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church, where the infamous bells that heralded the arrival of the British were hung; and the site of the Boston Massacre.
Other must-sees in Boston include sightseeing in Copley Square and the Boston Public Library; shopping on glitzy Newbury Street; and admiring the architecture in the Back Bay and Beacon Hill.
Sports enthusiasts can see the Red Sox at iconic Fenway Stadium or the Celtics and Bruins at TD Garden.
A great place to stay is the Godfrey Hotel, a cute boutique hotel located right downtown.
While you’re here, don’t miss grabbing a bite to eat in the North End, Boston’s oldest neighborhood and historic home of a thriving Italian population.
Mouthwatering homemade pasta, cannoli, and pizza can be enjoyed at its many establishments.
Some particular favorites are Regina’s for pizza (be sure to try the “Original North End”); Bova’s for cannoli; and Monica’s or Giacomo’s for pasta.
Boston is accessible by train, bus, car, and airplane.
You can take the Amtrak, regional trains, or buses like MegaBus or Peter Pan to Boston’s two regional train stations, North and South Station, and the New England region’s largest airport, Logan International, is located in Boston.
It’s easy to get from the airport to the city center via the MBTA transit system. If you drive, beware that parking in the city is very challenging, and Boston has some of the worst traffic in the country– it’s best to stick to the MBTA while you’re here on an East Coast weekend getaway!
East Coast Weekend Getaways: The Mid-Atlantic
Contributed by Neha from Travelmelodies
Philadelphia, one of the older U.S. cities rich in history and culture, makes for a perfect weekend destination on the East Coast.
The proximity of the city to major cities like New York, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh makes it a popular destination among tourists.
Philly is known as the birthplace of America. This is the place where the Constitution was written.
Visiting the iconic Liberty Bell and National Constitution Center lets you know more about the events that lead up to American Independence.
Besides history, it is a perfect city for museum lovers. For art lovers, there is the Philadelphia Museum of Art that also has beautiful architecture. Get an Instagrammable pic on the steps leading to the museum!
Located close to the Museum of Art is The Franklin Institute, a celebrated museum on Science & Technology, another great place to visit for museum lovers.
The US Mint is a unique museum to visit, to get insight into the process of making coins! The National Constitution Center and National Liberty Museum are some other museums to visit.
Not into museums? Stroll by the museum along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway through Logan Square to the Love Park where the iconic red LOVE sculpture stands.
But of course, coming to Philly would be incomplete without indulging in the food. Reading Terminal Market, the oldest public market has many local choices!
Philly is famous for its cheesesteak, hoagies, and soft pretzels. Philly Pretzel Factory is a great place to try the pretzels. Pat’s has great cheesesteaks!
Philadelphia can be easily reached by air, road, and train. The Amtrak train connects to Philly by many major stations. Philadelphia International Airport has flights from all the major cities of US.
Once in Philly, there’s no need for a car, as the city can be easily explored on foot.
Loews Hotel Philadelphia and Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing are two of the best hotels in Philadelphia for families to enjoy the city’s old vibe and rich culture.
Smith Island, MD
Contributed by Jordan of Global Debauchery
Never in a million years would you think that an island right outside the United States capital of Washington, DC would be… isolated!
I mean, the DC metro traffic was ranked as the worst in the country prior to the pandemic. Even beating out Los Angeles’ long-held title.
But it’s true. It’s right there. And it’s got less than 200 residents.
It’s Smith Island, Maryland, nestled in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s oft-overlooked in favor of the more-bustling Tangier Island of Virginia right next door.
It’s not just that this island is small, either. It’s particularly unique, too. In a region where world leaders converge to change the world on a daily basis, Smith Island, Maryland retains an Elizabethan relic accent dating back to the 1600s.
That’s right — Smith Island was settled in the 17th century, more than a half-century prior to the United States’ declaration of independence.
And that’s not all! There’s no driving to Smith Island. There’s a “ferry,” which is really a small mail boat, that travels to and from the island from mainland Maryland twice a day.
Once you get there, you make your way around by golf carts, bikes, or boats. There are no ATMs, there’s barely a cell signal, and the highly religious island is actually a “dry island.”
So, what is it that makes this island worth visiting then?
For one, there’s the all-original Smith Island Cake, the official dessert of the state of Maryland—8–15 layers of fudge goodness in a multitude of delicious flavors.
There are extraordinary marshlands to kayak and diverse birdlife to photograph. Go crabbing or oystering with the locals and have a traditional Maryland crab boil as you watch the sunset over the water.
Relax on a private beach, bike to Rhodes Point, or take a boat to Tylerton and tour their super interesting architecture.
If there was ever a place to socially distance, Smith Island, Maryland is where it’s at. Opt for something a little different for a change, and be whisked away to olden times for a few days.
Atlantic City, NJ
Contributed by Susan of GenXTraveler
Atlantic City may be known as the “Las Vegas of the East Coast,” but there is more to do in this coastal town than just gamble!
Whether you gamble or not this town is worthy of a weekend getaway on the East Coast.
Atlantic City features the world’s longest and the US’s oldest boardwalk. Rent bikes and pedal from end to end.
When you’ve finished you will have 10-miles in and you will be ready for a fantastic breakfast at the Gilchrist in historic Gardner’s Basin. This breakfast joint is known for its thin, airy pancakes!
In the afternoon, climb to the top of Absecon Lighthouse, NJ’s tallest lighthouse and the third tallest in the United States. From the top, take in breathtaking views of the Atlantic City skyline and beyond.
Atlantic City offers an awesome thriving food scene. Throughout the city and beyond you can find a number of restaurants featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives.
If you are looking for a more intimate experience, try Setaara. This French and Afghan restaurant offers dining spaces and food that will transport you.
In the evening, head to the Orange Loop located around Tennessee Avenue. This up-and-coming section of town offers bars with outdoor spaces, live entertainment, and more.
And with Atlantic City’s new open container law you can take your drink with you as stroll the boardwalk!
Spend some time checking out the colorful and thought-provoking murals that have been going up around the city over the past five years.
Last year, these imaginative works began to leap from building to Adirondack chairs throughout the city.
And by the way, Atlantic City is home to nine casinos. No trip to this city is really complete without at least a brief visit to one of the casinos.
A casino stay makes a great base even if you don’t gamble. You will surely feel like you’ve hit the jackpot at Ocean Casino Hotel Resort or Borgata.
East Coast Weekend Getaways: The South & Southeast
Cocoa Beach, FL
Contributed by Karee of Our Woven Journey
Cocoa Beach is located along the east coast of Florida and is only about an hour’s drive from Orlando.
This makes it an easy weekend getaway for those driving from the city or flying in to spend a little time on the beach. The beautiful sunrises, wide-open beaches, and the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean make it a popular vacation spot along the coast.
Cocoa Beach is a great getaway destination for those wanting to spend a few days laying on the beach, swimming, and surfing.
It’s also only six miles south of Cape Canaveral which makes it a great place to watch a launch or spend a few days on the beach before getting on a cruise at Port Canaveral.
Main Street Festival happens in Downtown Cocoa Beach one Friday a month and has plenty of great food, vendors and live music for families to enjoy.
Visitors may also want to spend a weekend at the Thunder on Cocoa Beach Superboat races that happen each summer.
Cocoa Beach is famous for its iconic Pier, an 800-foot long boardwalk that has plenty to do to entertain visitors. You’ll also find several popular restaurants like Sea Dogs and Keith’s Oyster Bar on the Pier.
If you packed light, the Pier is where you’ll also find beach rentals available for things like umbrellas, boogie boards, and beach chairs for your weekend stay.
If you’re flying into Orlando and don’t want to rent a car, there are shuttle services that can take you directly to Cocoa Beach.
Contributed by Dymphe of Dymabroad
One of the best East Coast USA weekend getaways is one to the city of Tampa in Florida!
Staying a weekend in Tampa is a very fun experience because there are many things to do and see.
When you are only spending a weekend in Tampa, you can see all the highlights.
One of the best things to do in the city is visiting Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This is a theme park where you can find many roller coasters and thrill rides.
Another great thing to do in the city is taking photos at the most Instagrammable places in Tampa! There are many lovely spots that are very photogenic in the city!
Besides that, the Tampa Museum of Art is very interesting to visit. You can find here both contemporary and classical art, which is great if you want to see a varied collection.
Also, the Tampa Riverwalk is a great place to go during your trip to Tampa. This is a walkway next to the river with beautiful views.
One of the best places to stay in Tampa is The Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk. Furthermore, for delicious food for dinner go to On Swann.
Getting to Tampa is very easy as there are various ways to get there. You can get there by car, train, or bus from several cities in Florida. Also, there is an international airport.
Contributed by Kate of Our Escape Clause
Beautiful, walkable, and packed with excellent food around every corner, Savannah, Georgia is widely considered one of the best East Coast weekend getaways in the USA for very good reason.
A weekend getaway in Savannah is long enough to explore many of its top attractions, sample a wide variety of food, and walk at least half of the town’s 22 historic squares (more, if you put your mind to it!).
While you’re there, be sure to take at least one house tour.
The Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters is a great starting point for history buffs, and the Sorrel-Weed House a fun stop for those with an inclination toward ghost stories.
Be sure to also pay a visit to Forsyth Park, browse the boutiques along Broughton Street, and sample plenty of pralines.
For a gut-busting lunch that you won’t forget anytime soon, head to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room on Jones Street.
As Jones Street is often considered (especially by locals) to be one of the most beautiful streets in America, it’s the perfect place to go for a post-lunch stroll!
Staying in a historic bed and breakfast is also a highlight of spending your East Coast getaway in Savannah: we can recommend the Foley House Inn for its beauty, charm, perfect location on Chippewa Square, and its ghost stories.
Savannah shares a small regional airport with Hilton Head, so it is possible to fly in for the weekend if you don’t live within driving distance.
Contributed by Brianna of The Casual Travelist
Raleigh is known as North Carolina’s capital, a college town and a growing tech hub but with a compact walkable downtown Raleigh is great for a weekend getaway.
A tradition of southern hospitality has inspired a new crop of chefs making Raleigh one of the most exciting culinary cities in the country, and with multiple James Beard nominations people are taking notice. That same creative spirit has also influenced artists re-imagining Raleigh!
Check out Raleigh’s art scene with a visit to the North Carolina Art Museum. With the largest collection of Rodin in the south and over a dozen galleries the North Carolina Museum of Art has something to suite any artistic taste.
You can also head outside to the Anne and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, which has 164 acres of walking trails, sculptures and an outdoor amphitheater. Modern Art more your style? Head to CAM Raliegh wants to show you a look into art’s untraditional side.
Nothing says Southern food quite like a good fried chicken but Beasley’s Chicken and Honey takes comfort food to the next level.
Take a fluffy biscuit, top it with crispy fried chicken a pickled green tomato and a spicy-sweet hot honey dijon and you’ve got just one reason chef Ashley Christensen won a James Beard award!
Raleigh is a great beer town and some of the best can be found at Brewery Bhavana. Named as one of the prettiest breweries in the United States by Conde Nast Traveler, the taps at Brewery Bhavana serve up Belgian-inspired brews that pair perfectly with Bhavana’s Laotian cuisine.
Chocolate lovers will want to live out their Willy Wonka fantasies at Videri Chocolate Factory. Sourcing from small sustainable cacao farms, you can take a self-guided tour of the chocolate-making process at Videri before treating yourself to a frozen hot chocolate or one of their decadent truffles.
Raleigh is easy to reach with a well-connected airport (RDU) and is within driving distance of major cities like Charlotte, Washington DC and Atlanta.
When in Raleigh stay at either the Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown or the boutique Guest House Raleigh.
Contributed by Anna of Stuck On The Go
Asheville is one of the top East Coast weekend getaways in the US, especially for outdoor adventure lovers!
There are plenty of great hikes nearby as it’s right in the middle of Pisgah National Forest and the Blue Ridge Parkway passes right by it.
Some of the best hikes in the area are Crabtree Falls, Craggy Gardens, Graveyard Fields, and Catawba Falls.
You can also visit DuPont State Forest where you’ll see three waterfalls on one loop trail and another trail takes you to a fourth.
Spend one day hiking and then one day exploring downtown, especially the breweries! You’ll find many art galleries, museums, and a great foodie scene here.
Spend the morning browsing local shops like Malaprop’s Bookstore, and then hit the breweries in the afternoon.
Hi-Wire, Wicked Weed, and Asheville Brewing are all popular options downtown. If you want to take an Uber then you can also hit New Belgium Brewing (well worth the short drive).
Early Girl Eatery and Sunny Point Cafe are popular breakfast spots and Blackbird Restaurant and Chestnut are good dinner options that won’t break the bank.
If you decide to do the Catawba Falls hike then don’t miss the restaurants in Black Mountain as you’ll drive right past this quaint little town.
With only a weekend in town you’ll want to stay downtown near all the action. The Aloft Hotel is a popular option that has great amenities at a reasonable price.
Getting to Asheville is incredibly easy as Highways 40 and 26 run right through it. If you are too far away to drive, then you can always fly into the Asheville Regional Airport.
Contributed by Natalie of Tourist2Local
One weekend getaway on the East Coast that may not be on your radar yet is the charming city of Greenville, South Carolina.
It’s an up-and-coming city in the Southeast that is known for its beautiful downtown, restaurant scene, and proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
To begin your weekend getaway in Greenville, check into the Westin Poinsett, a historic hotel that George Clooney stayed at while filming the movie Leatherheads.
Once you are properly situated, join in on Greenville’s Saturday Market fun! Enjoy the liveliness in the streets, listen to the bands playing, and buy some local goodies at the stands.
Of course, after all that walking, it’s time for lunch! Go to the Lazy Goat for an authentic Mediterranean menu and ask to sit outside for a nice view of the Reedy River and downtown Greenville.
Afterwards, it’s time for dessert and a little more exploration. Head to Spill the Beans, a local favorite, to customize your perfect ice cream, and take it with you as you stroll through Greenville’s lovely Falls Park.
While there, you can walk across Greenville’s iconic Liberty Bridge and take some beautiful pictures.
Then, hop in the car for a short trip to the brewery Birds Fly South where you’ll be able to sample some local craft beer, chill outside, and even practice your axe throwing skills.
Once you arrive back to Greenville for the evening, head over to Soby’s, a southern style restaurant that is a favorite with the locals. Chow down on some shrimp and grits, and then get prepared for a night on the town.
For the party-goers, bar hopping is the way to go. Locals love places like Reys, Carolina Ale House, and the Blu Martini. However, If you are not big on nightlife, then catch a show at the Peace Center or relax at one of Greenville’s rooftop bars.
Wake up bright and early on Sunday to bike Greenville’s most popular trail, The Swamp Rabbit.
Start your journey at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe, and bike to the quaint town of Travelers Rest, where you can refuel with a delicious crepe at Tandem Creperie.
After that, it’s time to head back to Greenville and wrap up your amazing weekend in this beautiful city.
You can either get to Greenville by car or by flying into the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport.
Emerald Isle, NC
Contributed by Ashton of It’s AAAll Good
Emerald Isle, NC is a coastal town situated on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast and a great spot to truly escape.
When you visit you’ll find over 12 miles of beautiful beaches and gorgeous coastline. The beach is perfect for long walks, shelling, or hanging out with family and friends.
The region also has access to the intercoastal waterway and barrier islands, many of which include national parks and seashores, meaning they are perfectly untouched.
You can spend an afternoon catching the ferry to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse or walking along Shackleford Banks for a view of the wild horses. The beaches in this area are truly incredible!
While you’re visiting, be sure to check out the surrounding historic towns like Beaufort and Swansboro that are full of pirate history. There are so many hidden gems to explore along the Crystal Coast!
Thanks to the proximity to the gulf stream, the fishing in the area is amazing, and the water is far warmer than in the Northern outer banks. If catching your own dinner sounds fun, you can fish surf fish, fish the Emerald Isle Pier, or charter a local fisherman to take you out.
Thanks to all of the incredible seafood, there are lots of delicious restaurants in the area. End your day overlooking an astonishing sunset, before enjoying a delicious dinner at Floyd’s 1921, a favorite for southern seafood cuisine, or Fish Hut, a delicious low-key island grill.
While the island is beautiful year-round, peak season is memorial through labor day. There are plenty of rental homes, as well as hotels, like the Islander, which is right on the beach.
The town is located about a three-hour drive from Raleigh, NC, or fly to one of the regional airports that are less than an hour away. Emerald Isle, NC is truly a family-friendly vacation you’ll be wanting to come back to visit year after year.
St. Augustine, FL
Contributed by Candice of CS Ginger
St Augustine is a beautiful historic town that is full of Spanish charm!
Cobblestone streets, Spanish architecture, and historical buildings along with the beach are what make St. Augustine such a charming city to visit.
There are so many fun things to do in St Augustine making it well worth an East Coast weekend getaway.
Finding accommodations in the heart of historic St Augustine will give you quick access to the best part of town.
The historic district is home to St George Street, an iconic street in the downtown, as well as Castillo De San Marcos National Monument.
The Colonial Quarters is another fun historical stop. Your first day in St Augustine should be dedicated to these sites in the historic district of St Augustine!
On your second day, head out to St Augustine Beach!
In the morning, you can either head to the Alligator Farm Zoological Park to see over a hundred different types of alligators and crocodiles or you can visit the St Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum.
You can climb the 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse and visit the different exhibits at the museum.
In the afternoon it is time to head to the beach. The St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier is a good place to find parking. It is a beautiful area of the beach with lots of nice restaurants nearby.
After you are done at the beach, stop in at Salt Life Food Shack for a yummy dinner!
Contributed by Julie from More than Main Street
Wilmington, North Carolina is the perfect East Coast weekend getaway!
Start your weekend off with a day at one of the three area beaches playing in the surf, soaking in the sun, or collecting seashells. Plan to spend your evening eating and exploring the downtown Riverwalk.
An emerging foodie NC destination, there are a ton of great places to eat in Wilmington. We highly recommend trying Savorez, Fork N Cork, or Manna while you are downtown.
There are a ton of fun options on how to spend your second day in Wilmington. If you haven’t gotten your fill of outdoor activities, then try a kayaking or paddle boarding tour, trip to Masonboro Island, or fishing excursion.
If you want to stay on land, explore the gorgeous Airlie Gardens, the Battleship North Carolina, or NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. While Wilmington is most popular during the summer months, it is actually a great year-round vacation.
When deciding where to stay in Wilmington, you’ll have to choose if you prefer to be at the beach or downtown. Downtown hosts many cute boutique hotels and Airbnbs, while we recommend the Blockade Runner or Courtyard Carolina Beach if you’re looking to stay oceanfront.
Wilmington is an easy two-hour drive from Raleigh or you can fly into Wilmington International Airport (ILM). Uber and Lyft are readily available, however, you will most likely want a car to get around.
Contributed by Stéphanie of Bey Of Travel
Miami is the perfect weekend getaway, whether you need a relaxing weekend at the beach or looking for something more adventurous. The city has it all.
Miami is connected to the rest of the world by Miami International Airport (MIA). The most convenient way to discover the city is by foot, although you will need a car (or Uber) to get to the top things to do in the city listed below.
Wynwood art district is without a doubt the coolest neighborhood in the city, walls are covered with the most beautiful graffiti, you will find art shops on every corner of the street, and you can enjoy some vibrant nightlife in one of the many bars.
Make sure to take a walk on Ocean Drive to admire the many art deco buildings and immerse yourself in countless movie scenes.
Visit Miami Beach, although it is way too crowded, you simply need to spend some time and enjoy the Atlantic Ocean, the colorfully decorated lifeguards’ cabins, and beach boys/girls in tiny bikinis.
Head to Crandon Beach to enjoy a quieter day at the beach!
Those who are tired of all the people on the crowdy famous beaches can discover beautiful walks in Miami or the natural beauty of the Everglades.
Faena Hotel Miami Beach is a beautiful hotel located close to the beach and perfect for your USA East Coast weekend getaway.
Do you have something to celebrate? Make sure to book a reservation at Alter Miami for a delicious dinner.
Contributed by Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust
Charleston, South Carolina, or “The Holy City” is the perfect choice for a weekend getaway. This city is full of tall church spires, colorful old houses, and hidden alleyways.
There is plenty to do during a short time in Charleston, whether it’s exploring historical sites or diving into the excellent food scene.
Charleston offers some jaw-dropping scenery!
Simply taking a sightseeing walk past places like the Pineapple Fountain at Ravenel Waterfront Park, the Rainbow Row, or The Battery will leave a lasting impression.
Explore every hidden alleyway you pass, like the romantic Philadelphia Alley between Queen and Cumberland Streets.
History lovers should join a Charleston walking tour to learn the stories behind otherwise unassuming streets and buildings.
It’s also worthwhile to join the two-hour and fifteen-minute tour out to Fort Sumter, which is where the Civil War began.
In addition, there are a number of house museums and plantations within and around the city.
The Aiken-Rhett House in downtown Charleston and the Middleton Place Plantation down the Ashley River both give insightful tours that help you form a deeper understanding of Charleston’s dark past and the horrors of slavery.
When you are not exploring or learning more about Charleston, you should definitely check out the mouthwatering Southern fare served at Charleston’s restaurants.
FIG and Husk both have a sophisticated ambiance for memorable evenings and special occasions.
Fleet Landing, in its former U.S. Naval building, offers tasty seafood dishes right on the Cooper River.
For something quick and inexpensive, pop into Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit for a biscuit sandwich with pimento cheese.
If traveling by plane, fly into Charleston International Airport, and grab a twenty-minute Uber to downtown.
A car is not required to enjoy Charleston, but if you do drive, be aware that most downtown hotels charge a nightly parking fee.
A great hotel option is the Indigo Inn, which has an adjacent paved parking lot, nightly free wine, and a beautiful courtyard.
Myrtle Beach, SC
Contributed by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
Myrtle Beach is a beautiful little beach town located in South Carolina!
It’s a popular summer getaway and perfect for all sorts of travelers including families or couples — Myrtle Beach has something for everyone!
There are great opportunities for nightlife, lots of shops and of course great restaurants to choose from. With a gorgeous beach, this is a great spot to come for swimming, relaxing or water sports.
Staying at a beachfront location is an absolute must in Myrtle Beach. Rent a room or a suite at the Bar Harbor hotel for beautiful views of the water and a great location close to the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk.
This is a great area for restaurants and eating out as well as activities such as the nearby amusement park.
Wicked Tuna and Gigi’s Bar and Grill are both great choices for a lunch by the water or dinner with views of the beach.
Of course, going out for cocktails in the evening is also highly recommended and Myrtle Beach is known for its live entertainment, theatre performances, and comedy shows.