18 Best East Coast Vacations for Families - Hotels & Food Recs

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Sharing the best East Coast vacations for families by local family travel writers with their recommendations for kid-friendly Hotels, Restaurants, and Things to Do in 2023.

Table of Contents:

  1. Northeast (7)
  2. Mid-Atlantic (3)
  3. Southeast (5)
  4. Florida (3)
  5. Full List
East Coast Vacations for Families

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Best Northeast East Coast Vacations for Families

New York City, New York - Classic Family Trip

NYC Best East Coast Vacations for Families

Submitted by Kristin of Global Travel Escapades

A fantastic destination for a family vacation on the East Coast is New York City. This bustling metropolis is teeming with iconic attractions, hidden gems, and cultural experiences that will leave everyone, including your kids, in awe! From gazing at the Statue of Liberty and exploring the many vibrant neighborhoods to attending thrilling events like the US Open or enjoying a show on Broadway, the possibilities are endless.

And if you happen to looking for a family-friendly dining recommendation, Ellen's Stardust Diner is an absolute gem. Located in the heart of Manhattan, this restaurant is renowned for its kid-friendly atmosphere and a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Talented singing waitstaff belt show tunes, keeping the entire family entertained while indulging in some American cuisine.

Finally, for a family-friendly stay, consider booking your accommodations at Hotel Beacon NYC. This hotel provides rooms with a fully-equipped kitchenette, so you can save money by preparing meals and storing leftovers. Plus, with a subway entrance just a couple blocks away, getting around the city is easy. All in all, New York City offers an array of experiences that cater to all ages, making it a wonderful choice for a family getaway. (Editor's note: LEGOLAND New York is an hour and a half away from the city. We loved our visit as a family! - Jennifer)

Hamptons, New York - East Coast Beach Vacation

Hamptons Family East Coast Vacations

By Samantha Oppenheimer at ‘Find Love and Travel’

When thinking of family trip destinations on the East Coast of the USA, The Hamptons on Long Island always comes to mind. The Hamptons is a coveted place to New Yorkers and one of the best places to visit on Long Island.

The Hamptons is a beachside town in New York that is filled with pristine beaches. This is particularly great as your whole family can enjoy lounging on the beach, surfing, boating, or even trying your hand at fishing. Some of the best beaches include Coopers Beach and East Hampton Main Beach. Alongside that, there are activities, such as mini golf, popular playgrounds such as Agawam Park, and the Children’s Museum of the East End to enjoy.

The Hamptons also have an incredible food scene. The Lobster Roll is a kid-friendly restaurant. This restaurant serves refreshing seafood in a retro-styled venue. A hotel that welcomes families is the Hamlet Inn. This hotel is located just moments away from Coopers Beach and has a wonderful green space for both children and adults to enjoy. Plus, the heated pool is always a fun addition that can be enjoyed in the spring and summer!

Catskills, New York - Natural Beauty Family Vacation

Woodstock Park Family Vacation

From Kelly from Travel New York Now

If you are on the hunt for epic family trips on the East Coast US then you really can’t go wrong with Catskills in New York. Now I know that most people think of NYC when they think about New York state but there are loads of great places to visit beyond the city and the Catskills is one of the popular local favorites. 

The Catskills is home to miles and miles of hiking trails. Note that the best hikes in the Catskills aren’t always difficult. Some are really easy and ones that you can embark on with your children and even dog in tow. 

The scenery around is also something that everyone loves. I mean you can catch hidden ice caves, gorgeous lakes, ruins, and some spectacular bird’s eye views. Plus there are some great luxurious places to stay in while you are there. Winter Clove Inn is one great example! The best part is that the Catskills are pretty easy to reach from New York City. It is a place where you can kick back and relax or spend your days exploring the countryside.

Boston, Massachusettes - Historical East Coast Family Trip

Boston East Coast Family Vacations

Submitted by Linn of Brainy Backpackers

Boston is a great family destination with plenty of things to do all year round.  A stroll around the Boston Public Garden is a hit for the whole family with its duck pond, Swan Boat rides, and the famous statues of Mrs. Mallard the duck and her 8 ducklings. The Boston Common is the oldest public park in the country where you can go ice skating in the frog pond in the winter.

Another fun family activity to add to your Boston itinerary is to walk the Freedom Trail which you can follow with an app. This way you can learn about Boston’s history as you follow the historical sites in the city. In the summer months, you can even go whale watching from Boston Marina. Boston is a friendly and walkable city and the bus and metro system works great for little tired legs.

La Famiglia Giorgio's Restaurant is a great family-friendly restaurant that serves pizza and pasta dishes. A good hotel to stay at is the Verb Hotel where you can enjoy the outdoor swimming pool on hot days.

Acadia National Park - One of the Prettiest East Coast Family Vacation Spots

East Coast Vacations for Families Arcadia

Submitted by Taryn of Chasing Trail

Nestled along the iconic Maine coast, Acadia National Park offers an unforgettable family getaway. Renowned for its rugged natural beauty, Acadia is a paradise for active, outdoor-loving families. It’s home to some of the best hikes on the East Coast for all skill levels, bucket list-worthy campsites, biking on the park’s historic carriage roads, scenic boat cruises, tide-pooling, and interesting ranger-led programs. 

In addition to outdoor adventures, you can explore the charming, bustling town of Bar Harbor, filled with colorful shops and restaurants (and yes, plenty of places for mouthwatering lobster rolls!). Families can also check out some of the lighthouses on the coast, spend time soaking up the sun on the beach, or book a whale-watching tour.

During your visit, you’ll want to eat as many lobster rolls as possible. A fantastic place to start is The Travelin’ Lobster, just a few minutes outside downtown Bar Harbor. The rolls are tremendous and served with a signature garlic aioli that really puts them over the top. Don’t forget a slice of Maine blueberry pie!

Finally, for an uber family-friendly hotel in the area, you can’t go wrong with Acadia Inn. Just one mile from the park in Bar Harbor, this dog-friendly hotel has complimentary daily breakfast, an outdoor pool and hot tub, and even a trail with direct access into Acadia. The best part for families, though, is that Acadia Inn hosts nightly s’mores around the fire pit and weekly movies on the lawn.

Portland, Maine - Charming Family Trip

Portland Family Vacation

By Kelly from Girl With The Passport

One of the best places to head to for a family vacation on the East Coast US is Portland in Maine. It is the biggest city in Maine and you will always find that it is a part of all the cool Maine road trips. It is just one of the places in the state that you just can’t miss.

This hipster city has so many things to do. From the numerous museums to the scenic train rides, from lighthouses to art galleries, and don’t get me started on the food! You will find that there is something for everyone in the family. The variety of activities means that there is always something to keep the kids entertained.

Some of my favorite picks are the Portland Museum of Art, Tate House Museum, the vintage train ride, and the Portland Observatory. While you are here, don’t forget to eat all the lobster that you can. The Portland seafood is legendary and if you don’t try the lobster you would be seriously missing out.

When it comes to accommodation, check out the Blind Tiger Inn. It's a federal-style mansion from 1853 and super convenient when it comes to its location.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington Family East Coast Vacations

By Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler

Burlington is a vibrant city in Vermont perfect for a family trip. It’s located in the northwest corner of Vermont tucked up against incredibly beautiful Lake Champlain. Families will love all the outdoor adventures in Burlington. Rent a bike to ride to one of the beaches on the Burlington Greenway Bike Path. Kids will be excited to pedal on the  Colchester Causeway, one of the best bike trails in Vermont, as it crosses Lake Champlain.

All family members will enjoy a cruise on the Spirit of Ethan Allen ship to see the mountains surrounding the lake and the scenic shoreline. You will learn about the region’s rich history as well as enjoy the marvelous views. Grab an ice cream cone from the iconic Ben and Jerry’s parlor. Then, do a family stroll along Church Street, the pedestrian mall with cute shops and great restaurants. The kids will love the street performers.

Head down to the waterfront to visit the Echo Center, Burlington’s science and nature museum. Exhibits are designed to engage the whole family in hands-on scientific discovery and nature appreciation. Afterward, dine at the kid-friendly Skinny Pancake restaurant with luscious crepes to satisfy all appetites. Reserve a room for the family facing the lake at the Hilton Garden Inn and enjoy a spectacular sunset on the water.

Best Mid-Atlantic East Coast Vacations for Families

Washington, D.C. Family Vacation Favorites

Memorial dc washington trip 4 day

By Me, Jennifer!

I'm pretty biased, but I think Washington, D.C. is one of the best places for a family vacation on the East Coast! Of course, you have all the history and government spots but you also have rich cultural experiences, great food, and beautiful nature! I've written dozens of articles for families on my blog but my top tips are located here:

  1. 4-Day Itinerary with Morning and Afternoon Schedule
  2. Best Family-Friendly Hotels in DC
  3. 25 Kid-Friendly Restaurants
  4. 20 Best DC Museums for Kids (17 are Free!)
  5. Top 15 Playgrounds in DC

Chincoteague, Virginia - Family Trip with Wild Ponies!

Chincoteague East Coast Family trips

Submitted by Pam, The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Visiting Chincoteague, Virginia, with your family promises a delightful and wholesome getaway. There are plenty of things to do in Chincoteague for families. This charming coastal town is renowned for its natural beauty, friendly atmosphere, and, most famously, its wild ponies.

Chincoteague is home to the famous Chincoteague ponies, which roam freely on Assateague Island. Families can take boat tours or hike to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, providing an educational and thrilling experience for kids and adults alike. (Editor's note: I wrote a blog post about whether Chincoteague or Assateague is better to see ponies! - Jennifer)

The island also boasts pristine beaches with soft sands and calm waters, making it a safe and enjoyable spot for family beach days. Beyond pony watching, Chincoteague offers opportunities for kayaking, biking, and birdwatching in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, allowing families to explore scenic trails and waterways together.

Chincoteague exudes a relaxed, small-town vibe that's perfect for families seeking a break from the hustle and bustle. Enjoy seafood dining, browse local shops, and savor the simplicity of coastal life. Don't forget to climb the historic Assateague Lighthouse for panoramic views of the island, creating an adventure that kids will remember, and the scenery from the top is truly breathtaking.

The Best Western is a family-friendly hotel with a pool and easy access to the beach. Enjoy a fun family meal at the Ropewalk Restaurant. They even have a playground for the kids to enjoy.

Chincoteague, Virginia, offers a blend of outdoor exploration, wildlife encounters, and coastal relaxation that's ideal for a family vacation, where cherished memories are created against the backdrop of the Eastern Shore's natural beauty.

Virginia Beach, Virginia - Great Beach Vacation for Families on the East Coast

Submitted by Abbey Rae of Tripsonabbeyroad.com

One of the best family trips to take on the East Coast is to Virginia Beach Virginia. Virginia Beach, or VB as the locals call it is the perfect place to plan a family vacation. There are plenty of things to keep your children entertained, no matter what age they are. If you are visiting during the summer months then the ample beaches will keep them happy. You can visit the famous Virginia Beach Oceanfront with over 3 miles of pleasure beach, which is the largest in America. Or you can head to local beaches like Sandbridge or Chicks Beach on the Chesapeake Bay. (Editor's note: I wrote a blog post on Spring Break spots including Virginia Beach fun! - Jennifer)

If you aren’t big into beaches there is always something going on in town. At the oceanfront, there is a fun IFly indoor sky diving that is suitable for all ages. There is also an aviation museum that showcases both historic and modern airplanes. There is also a huge aquarium, and a children’s museum close by. And less than an hour away from the beach fun you will find Colonial Williamsburg, where you will be transported back into time to see how the first settlers lived. 

No matter if you are looking to have a fun-filled vacation in the sun, or learn a bit about Virginia history, you are going to love taking a family trip to Virginia Beach! 

Southeast Family Vacations on the East Coast

Outer Banks, North Carolina

best family vacations east coast Outer Banks

Submitted by Lauren of Where the Wild Kids Wander

The Outer Banks is a perfect destination for a family trip on the east coast. With gorgeous beaches, exciting history, and plenty of family-friendly activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Most people visit the Outer Banks for the sand and surf. The beaches are some of the best along the East Coast and can provide hours of fun in the sun.

The Outer Banks is also known for its history! One of the best things to do in the Outer Banks is visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. It's located in Kill Devil Hills at the exact location where they took their first flight. Another popular activity in the Outer Banks is kite flying at Jockey's Ridge State Park. The massive sand dune provides a perfect spot to get your kite high in the sky.

A great hotel option in the Outer Banks is the TownePlace Suites (Marriott) in Kill Devil Hills. Its central location is ideal for checking out everything there is to do. The rooms are large, and they offer complimentary breakfast. It's also a short walk to the beach. Look no further than Black Pelican in Kitty Hawk for an easy meal out with kids. This oceanfront restaurant boasts a casual atmosphere, an extensive kids' menu, and a fun gift shop.

Family Trips on The East Coast US: Morehead City, NC

Morehead city Family Vacation East coast

Submitted by Abby of Trekking Prices

One of the best trips to embark on for families looking to take a vacation on the East Coast is to Morehead City, North Carolina. This small coastal town is known for its excellent fishing, incredible seafood restaurants, charming downtown area, and countless activities and experiences you can enjoy.

Morehead City is a wonderful place for families because it is very welcoming to people with children. One great thing about Morehead City is its fantastic restaurants that have outdoor seating. This is perfect for families with babies or toddlers, so that you can avoid crowded and noisy places inside.

Additionally, Morehead City’s downtown area is easy to walk around, and it has several stores, restaurants, and phenomenal views of the water and large fishing boats. Another awesome feature about Morehead City is that it is very close to several beach towns like Beaufort, Atlantic Beach, and Emerald Isle. One of the most popular activities to do in Morehead City is to go fishing, which is a great activity for families to do together. 

Plus, the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is just a short drive away. This aquarium is a great place for families with kids of all ages to visit. It’s both fun and education making it a great activity for all to enjoy.

A great hotel nearby is the Beaufort Hotel on the water with an outdoor swimming pool. Morehead City is Morehead City lies on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina and is a must-visit destination for families looking for a laidback and welcoming coastal town with a multitude of activities and experiences to try. 

Charlotte, North Carolina Family Vacation

Charlotte Best Family Trips East

Submitted by Brodi Cole of Our Offbeat Life

Visiting Charlotte, NC is a great family trip on the East Coast because it has something to offer everyone in the family. Charlotte offers a plethora of family-friendly attractions that make it an ideal destination. Discover the wonders of Discovery Place Science, indulge in the excitement of Carowinds amusement park, or pay a visit to the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, the US National Whitewater Center beckons with thrilling whitewater rafting, kayaking, and rock climbing experiences. Nature lovers can revel in the city's parks and nature trails. 

Affordable and conveniently located on the East Coast, Charlotte is easily accessible from other major cities. Plus there are unique, kid-friendly restaurants and hotels throughout the city! Pinky's Grill is a fun, family-friendly restaurant that serves up classic American comfort food. The restaurant has a retro diner atmosphere and a kids' menu, making it a great place to take the whole family.

Great Wolf Lodge is a water park resort that is perfect for families with kids of all ages. The resort features a variety of water slides, pools, and other activities, as well as a variety of dining and shopping options. Another great family-friendly hotel option in Charlotte is Hyatt House with Suites and a swimming pool!

Hilton Head Island South Carolina - Best Family Vacation on the East Coast

Hilton Head beach family vacations

Submitted by Julie Ruhl of Ruhls of the Road

Hilton Head Island is a wonderful island off the coast of South Carolina with 12 miles of sandy beaches and over 60 miles of bike/walking trails. Packed with history, beautiful natural architecture, and fun outdoor activities it is a wonderful family-friendly destination. 

The adults will have plenty to do between golfing, shopping, the amazing restaurant scene, and spending time on the beach. However, it’s nice to have at least one activity for the kids to enjoy each day.

There are so many awesome things to do with kids on Hilton Head Island. Check out Lowcountry Celebration Park, play on the beach, and visit the Children’s Museum or Library. You can even rent bikes with kid accessories and hit the trails - or beach!

The thing that makes Hilton Head beaches unique is it’s packed and hard sand, making it an incredible bike path as well! You will see people biking on the beach all day long!

An awesome hotel for kids is the Beach House Resort, located right on the beach, equipped with a pool and within walking distance to the park. 

Skull Creek is a fun restaurant for kids as it has 2 restaurants that are connected by a playground! Hilton Head Island has something for the entire family to enjoy!

Helen Georgia Family Vacation

Chattahoochi River Family Vacation East coast

Submitted by Dr. Rachel Catalano of TheRxForTravel.com

We took a family road trip from Florida to North Georgia in the summer and we had a blast. It’s a great vacation spot for families, especially if you like the outdoors. Helen, Georgia is known for looking like a German village.

Every year, Helen hosts different festivals like Oktoberfest and Christmas markets in December. But those months of the year are not weather appropriate to experience some of the outdoor activities available. Summer was great to experience tubing the Chattahoochee River, riding the Georgia Mountain Coaster, or even hiking nearby Anna Ruby Falls. Within Helen, there’s also mini golf, a waterpark, gold/gem mining, and much more. 

As the town is known for its German history, you will find a great deal of German restaurants. With my gluten-free and dairy-free diet, we were a bit limited, but we found this great restaurant Spice 55 Thai and Sushi Restaurant which we all loved.

There are a few hotel options within town that you can choose from, but for families, I recommend booking an AirBNB. For the same price, you’ll have an entire house to stay in including a kitchen. Just about 5 miles away from Helen, we stayed at The Pine which is part of the Twin Cottages (can be booked as one or both depending on how many people are coming). Another option is the Valhalla Resort Hotel with an outdoor swimming pool and a Wonderful rating.

Florida Best Family Vacations on the East Coast

Clearwater Beach, Florida Family Vacation Details

Clearwater Beach Family Vacation

Submitted by Lanie of Make More Adventures

Located on the Gulf Coast, Clearwater is known for its calm waters, which is perfect for families. The water is usually gentle and warm, plus the sand is so soft that it is compared to sugar. Of course, plenty of kids just want to play in the sand and swim in the ocean, but if you are looking for more things to do on your vacation, Clearwater Beach offers water sports, boat tours, and an aquarium.

You don't need a car on Clearwater Beach as the Jolly Trolley bus is an option. Shops and restaurants are generally within walking distance, but those looking to go further, or don't want to walk can hop on the trolley. Clearwater Beachalso has a bike path and you can rent bikes and surreys.

The Sandpearl Resort is a family-friendly hotel with activities for the kids including a kid's club. Sandpeal has multiple restaurants including Tate Island Grill, which is the most kid-friendly option. It is located next to the sand so the kids can play while they wait for their meals. Tate Island Grill is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down, and sometimes they have live music.

Little Talbot Island, Florida - Hidden Gem East Coast Family Vacation

Little Talbot Island East Coast Family trips

Recommended by: Trijit Mallick from Cheap Travel Trail

Little Talbot Island, nestled on Florida's east coast, is a hidden gem perfect for family trips. This pristine barrier island offers a unique blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a serene atmosphere that's sure to captivate both parents and children alike. It's also one of the cheapest places to visit in Florida, making it an ideal destination for families on a budget.

Families will love Little Talbot Island for its unspoiled, wide, and uncrowded beaches. Kids can build sandcastles, search for seashells, and play in the gentle surf, while parents can relax and soak up the sun. The island also boasts lush maritime forests and miles of scenic trails, perfect for family hikes and nature walks.

For a family-friendly hotel, theOmni Amelia Island Resort is less than 3 miles from the island. The resort includes 2 swimming pools, spa and restaurants.

When it comes to kid-friendly dining, Sliders Seaside Grill is a must-visit. This beachfront restaurant serves up delicious seafood, burgers, and a variety of options for the little ones. With a relaxed atmosphere and stunning ocean views, it's the perfect place for a family meal.

Orlando Florida - Most Iconic Family Vacation on the East Coast?!

Orlando Best Family Trips East

Submitted by Christine of Live Love Run Travel

Orlando, Florida, is one of the top family-friendly destinations in the US. While many families come to visit Disney, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld, there are plenty of great day trips to take or other things to do outside of the parks as well.

If you are visiting in the summer, make sure not to just visit the theme parks but to also visit the water parks or to take a day trip to a central Florida spring or one of our nearby beaches. If you are visiting in the winter, Christmas in Orlando is magical with the bonus of not needing to bundle up just to step outside. With over-the-top Christmas decorations and some of the best weather of the year, the holidays are a great time to visit Orlando.

While many families stay on property at one of the related theme park hotels, you’ll find many options on International Drive as well. The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is a local favorite for staycations and great for families visiting from other destinations as well.

Again, the parks have great restaurant options, but T-Rex Cafe in Disney Springs is a favorite for kids to explore. DriveShack and TopGolf both offer good-tasting food while you golf as well (although these two are not as friendly for young kids because of the height of the platforms).

Full List of Best East Coast Vacations for Families

  1. New York City, New York
  2. Hamptons, New York
  3. Catskills, New York
  4. Boston, Massachusetts
  5. Acadia National Park, Maine
  6. Portland, Maine
  7. Burlington, Vermont
  8. Washington, D.C.
  9. Chincoteague, Virginia
  10. Virginia Beach, Virginia
  11. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  12. Morehead City, North Carolina
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina
  14. Helen, Georgia
  15. Hilton Head, South Carolina
  16. Clearwater Beach, Florida
  17. Little Talbot Island, Florida
  18. Orlando, Florida