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Best time to visit East Coast USA

Trying to work out the best time to visit the Eastern United States? You’ve come to the right place! From the natural wonders of Maine to New York City’s architectural icons, read on for East Coast vacation ideas and itinerary inspiration for your next USA adventure in every season.

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Where to travel on the East Coast, USA by season

The East Coast of the USA makes for a fabulous getaway any time of the year. Here are some of the region’s highlights and top places to visit, categorised by season.

Fall (September to November)

Autumn in the Eastern USA is all about spectacular fall foliage, when trees up and down the coast burst into dazzling shades of bright yellow, burnt orange, and fiery red. With incredible views around every corner, classic fall foliage destinations like New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Acadia National Park in Maine are fantastic choices for an autumnal vacation. If you’re thinking of booking a Thanksgiving getaway, head to New York or Washington D.C. to get into the holiday spirit, or escape the crowds and Black Friday madness by renting a cosy cabin in the Adirondacks.

Top reasons to travel to the East Coast, USA in fall:
 

  • Spectacular fall foliage
  • Thanksgiving and Halloween events, festivals, and celebrations
  • Fewer crowds and off-season travel deals

Winter (December to February)

Winter weather brings freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall along much of the east coast, but it’s a fantastic time to travel if you want to avoid the crowds, snag some incredible off-season deals, and experience festive celebrations and events. This is also the perfect time for a ski holiday at one of the many first-rate resorts across Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York State. Christmas decorations add to the magical feel of the region — especially in New York City — and the Eastern USA is a great place to ring in the new year. 

Top reasons to travel to the East Coast, USA in winter:
 
  • World-renowned ski resorts 
  • Famous Christmas decorations and events in New York City 
  • Epic New Year’s Eve celebrations in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
  • Deeply discounted off-season deals and fewer tourist crowds

Spring (March to May)

The bite of winter starts to lift around March/April in the northeast, and freezing temperatures are replaced by mild days and leafy, blossoming trees. This is a great time to get outdoors, enjoy the pleasant temperatures, and visit the hotspots in New England — from Portland to Cape Cod and Providence — before the summer crowds roll in. Baseball season begins in April, and sports fans get can their fix at Boston’s Fenway Park or New York’s Yankee Stadium. If you’re a wildlife lover, head to the Massachusetts coast in April or May for the chance to spot humpback whales.

Top reasons to travel to the East Coast, USA in spring:
 
  • Catch the annual St Patrick’s Day parade in Boston
  • See the beautiful cherry blossom trees in Washington D.C. and New York
  • Go whale watching off the coast of Massachusetts

Summer (June to August)

With sunny days and breezy nights, summer is the ideal season for a weekend getaway on the East Coast, USA. The warm weather lends itself to time spent outdoors, whether that means hitting the hiking trails in national parks, sailing and island hopping in Cape Cod, or sipping on cocktails on a rooftop patio in New York. When the summer temperatures soar, hit the beach in Martha’s Vineyard, the Jersey Shore, or North Carolina’s Outer Banks to cool off and catch some rays. And, of course, this is the best season for a classic East Coast road trip.

Top reasons to travel to the East Coast, USA in summer:
 
  • The perfect season for a road trip across the region’s most famous sights and cities
  • Celebrate the Fourth of July in Washington D.C.
  • Relax on the beach or go hiking in national parks

Best East Coast cities to visit

Having a tough time trying to decide which cities to visit on your East Coast adventure? Whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway, a family vacation, or a week-long road trip, we’ve listed some of the best cities you simply can’t miss when travelling through the Eastern United States.

Can’t-miss cities 
 
These cities are the ones that need no introduction. From charming Asheville to captivating Boston, these destinations attract visitors from across the USA — and from around the world — for good reason.
 

  • New York, New York - No trip to the East Coast is complete without a visit to The City That Never Sleeps!
  • Boston, Massachusetts - An essential stop for anyone with a penchant for history, culture, and delicious food, the best way to explore this eclectic city is by foot.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - This friendly, unpretentious city boasts world-class museums, diverse neighbourhoods, and one of the country’s most beloved dishes: the Philly cheesesteak.
  • Asheville, North Carolina - Asheville has everything you could want in a weekend getaway, including drool-worthy local food and an endless amount of outdoor activities.
  • Portland, Maine - Once you’ve seen the Eastern USA’s biggest cities, head to the charming seaside city of Portland for a tranquil change of pace.
 
Best cities for history buffs

The destinations below are the best spots to experience American history in real life and immerse yourself in the country’s fascinating past.
 
  • Washington D.C. - The nation’s capital is best known for its iconic landmarks and historic sites, but there’s so much more to discover here.
  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania - Whether you choose to walk through soldier camps at local museums or take a battlefield tour, this city’s rich history and heritage will draw you in from the get-go.
  • Richmond, Virginia - Delve into the history of the Civil War and step back in time at the Maymont Mansion.
  • Charleston, South Carolina - Friendly faces, beautiful places, and fascinating history await in this hospitable city.
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts - Home to Harvard, there’s no shortage of outstanding museums and historic sites to discover in this vibrant city.
     
Best cities for nature lovers

Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and active adventurers, here are a few of the best cities where you’re never far from nature — whether it’s a pristine hiking trail, placid lake, national park, campground, or beach.
 
  • Portsmouth, New Hampshire - Enjoy some downtime on the beach or experience the best of this city by trying out activities like hiking, fishing, sailing, or whale watching.
  • Bar Harbor, Maine - Go on a whale-watching cruise or head to one of the most naturally beautiful destinations in the country: Acadia National Park.
  • Newport, Rhode Island - This is the place to go for classic Colonial architecture and postcard-perfect New England landscapes.
  • Ithaca, New York - Sitting on the shores of Cayuga Lake and boasting thousands of acres of public parks, visitors can explore everything from hiking trails to waterfalls and wineries.

Boston has something for everyone.
Boston has something for everyone.

East Coast vacation ideas for families

Travelling with the family in tow? Use these sample itineraries below to kick-start your travel planning and map out a route the whole gang will love. Covering everything from top sights to historic landmarks and must-visit cities, there’s something for every age and taste.

ITINERARY 1
 

  • Boston - From the Freedom Trail to the Boston Common and the New England Aquarium, there are plenty of fascinating historic sites and family-friendly attractions to keep the whole gang happy in Boston.
  • Martha’s Vineyard - Get your fix of sand and surf at South Beach, or rent a bike and explore the island at your leisure.
  • Cape Cod - Cape Cod is one of New England’s premier beach destinations, but you’ll find everything from exciting bike trails to well-preserved wildlife on offer here as well.
  • Newport - Home to ultra-fresh seafood

Discover the full itinerary here: Cape Cod Delights

ITINERARY 2
 
  • New York - Spend a few days exploring the city's most iconic and family-friendly landmarks, from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty.
  • Washington D.C. - Join a guided tour to maximise your time at top attractions like the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Lincoln Memorial, and the White House.
  • Niagara Falls - Experience the sheer power of Niagara Falls from every angle on the Maid of the Mist boat tour, the Observation Tower in Niagara Falls State Park, and the Cave of the Winds, where boardwalks lead to just under the falls.
  • Boston - Once you’ve seen the city’s most famous sights — including Trinity Church, the Hancock Building, and Boston Common — enjoy an immersive experience at Boston Ships Tea Party & Museum or catch a baseball game at Fenway Park.

Discover the full itinerary here: USA East Coast

Explore more East Coast USA itineraries on TourRadar.  

Washington is an inspiring location for kids looking to learn about the nation's capitol.
Washington is an inspiring location for kids looking to learn about the nation's capitol.

East Coast vacation ideas for couples

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an action-packed trip, these itineraries will help you plan the perfect East Coast adventure with your significant other.

ITINERARY 1
 

  • Portland - From the stunning Victoria Mansion to the historic Old Port, hop on a trolley to discover the best of this picturesque harbour city.
  • Bar Harbor - Explore the bustling downtown district, brimming with cosy cafes, indulgent ice cream shops, and beautiful oceanfront vistas.
  • Acadia National Park - Experience Acadia’s winding pathways on a guided bicycle tour or admire the park’s striking mountains and rugged shorelines by car.
  • Rockport - This tranquil village is the perfect place to kick-back, relax, and dine at restaurants serving fresh seafood straight from the Atlantic Ocean.

Discover the full itinerary here: Roaming Coastal Maine

ITINERARY 2

  • Charleston - Highlights of this alluring city include buzzing restaurants and bars, a superb art scene, rich history, and, of course, plenty of southern charm.
  • Jekyll Island - Boasting sprawling beaches and historic ruins, Jekyll Island offers the perfect mix of serenity and discovery.
  • Savannah - With stately mansions, beautiful squares, and a romantic riverfront setting, it’s hard not to fall in love with this city.

Discover the full itinerary here: Southern Charm Holiday

Explore more East Coast USA itineraries on TourRadar.  

Facts about the USA

Major airports
John F Kennedy International Airport, O'Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport
Currency
USD
Capital city
Washington D.C.
Inhabitants
327 million
Safety level
Medium

East Coast USA climate guide

This table shows the average low and average high temperatures for each season.  

CitySpringSummerAutumnWinter
New York35℉ - 68℉64℉ - 85℉41℉ - 65℉28℉ - 48℉
Portland25℉- 64℉54℉ - 79℉31℉ - 63℉16℉ - 37℉
Boston31℉ - 66℉60℉ - 80℉38℉ - 61℉22℉ - 41℉
Washington D.C.35℉ - 75℉63℉ - 87℉38℉ - 67℉27℉ - 45℉
Charleston47℉ - 83℉70℉ - 91℉47℉ - 80℉38℉ - 63℉

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