Kid Vacations East Coast: Top Destinations for Family Fun

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The East Coast of the United States is a treasure trove of diverse and exciting family vacation spots, brimming with activities, attractions, and natural beauty to suit children of all ages. From bustling metropolitan cities to serene beaches, there is no shortage of options to cater to every family's interests. In this article, we will explore some of the best East Coast vacation destinations that will provide lifelong memories for the whole family.

Whether your family yearns for the thrill of amusement parks, seeks vibrant historical and cultural experiences, or simply desires a tranquil beach getaway, the East Coast offers a wide range of incredible options. Discover the birthplace of America in Philadelphia, frolic on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, or immerse yourself in the marine life of the North Fork, all while creating lasting bonds and cherished memories with your loved ones.

Kid-Friendly East Coast Cities

New York City

New York City offers a plethora of kid-friendly activities and attractions for the whole family to enjoy. From the world-famous Central Park to iconic museums like the American Museum of Natural History, there's something for everyone. Must-see attractions include:


Boston, Massachusetts, is a fantastic East Coast vacation spot for families, with historical sites and kid-friendly attractions. Some popular places to visit are:


As the birthplace of America, Philadelphia is an educational and entertaining destination for families. Filled with historical landmarks, art, and science museums, the city offers numerous activities for kids. Major attractions include:

Washington, D.C.

The nation's capital, Washington, D.C., is a city rich in history and culture. Famous for its museums, monuments, and government buildings, it is the perfect place for families to explore, learn, and have fun. Some top kid-friendly attractions in Washington, D.C., include:

  • Smithsonian Museums (including the National Museum of American History and National Air and Space Museum)
  • The National Zoo
  • Capitol Building and National Mall
  • International Spy Museum
  • National Gallery of Art

These East Coast cities offer rich cultural experiences as well as exciting and educational vacations for the whole family. Each city caters to children's interests, providing memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Top East Coast Attractions for Families

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, offers a variety of family-friendly activities. The park features over 120 miles of hiking trails, suitable for all ages and skill levels. Children can participate in the Junior Ranger program, learning about the park's flora and fauna, while parents enjoy the picturesque landscape. Some popular family hikes include:

  • Jordan Pond Path
  • Cadillac Mountain Summit Loop
  • Gorham Mountain Trail

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is a must-visit for families. Comprising 19 museums and galleries, the Smithsonian offers a diverse range of educational experiences. Entry to all institutions is free, ensuring a budget-friendly day out. Some popular museums for families include:

  • National Museum of American History
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Museum of Natural History

National Mall

Located in Washington, D.C., the National Mall is an iconic destination for families. Home to historical monuments and memorials, it is an excellent spot for a leisurely stroll, picnicking, or exploring on bike rentals. Key attractions in the area include:

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, provides a unique, immersive experience for families who want to learn about America's history. With interactive exhibits and reenactments, the living-history museum transports visitors back to the 18th century. Activities to enjoy in Colonial Williamsburg include:

  • Visiting historic buildings
  • Participating in hands-on workshops
  • Watching costumed interpreters recreate colonial life

Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts, is a 2.5-mile walking route that takes visitors through 16 of the city's most historic sites. Perfect for families with older children, the trail offers a glimpse into America's Revolutionary history. Notable stops include:

  • Paul Revere's House
  • Old North Church
  • Faneuil Hall

New England Aquarium

Lastly, the New England Aquarium in Boston is an excellent destination for families to explore marine life. The aquarium houses various exhibits such as the Giant Ocean Tank, Penguin Colony, and Harbor Seal Habitat. Interactive experiences like touch pools and hands-on exhibits allow families to engage with the marine world in a fun, educational setting.

Family-Friendly Beach Destinations

Rhode Island

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, offers a variety of picturesque and kid-friendly beaches for a perfect family vacation. One notable destination is Gurney's Newport Resort & Marina, located on Goat Island in Newport. The resort provides easy access to several beaches, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, complimentary bicycle rentals, and a seasonal kids' club.

Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore is known for its lively boardwalks, charming beach towns, and family-oriented activities. Cape May, located on the southern tip of New Jersey, is a historic beach town offering family-friendly attractions and pristine beaches. It's an ideal destination for a relaxing beach vacation with kids.

Delaware Beaches

Delaware's coastline boasts several family-friendly beaches, such as Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach. Both are known for their clean sands and calm waters, perfect for young swimmers. Rehoboth Beach also features a vibrant boardwalk with plenty of dining and entertainment options to keep the whole family entertained.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a classic East Coast beach destination, offering an array of family-friendly beaches along its picturesque coastline. Some highlights include:

  • Mayflower Beach: Known for its calm waters and low tides, it's a great spot for families with young children.
  • Old Orchard Beach, Maine: Featuring a lively pier with amusement park rides and various attractions, making it perfect for family fun on the sand.

Outer Banks

The Outer Banks in North Carolina is a popular beach destination for families, boasting a range of stunning beaches and family-friendly accommodations. Some top choices include:

  • Corolla: This peaceful beach town offers wide sandy beaches, perfect for relaxing and playing in the sand.
  • Duck, North Carolina: Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, this charming beach town is a great spot to make lasting memories with your loved ones.

These East Coast destinations provide the perfect backdrop for memorable family beach vacations full of fun and relaxation.

Outdoor Activities for Kids

The East Coast offers a plethora of outdoor activities for kids and families, including hiking, swimming, biking, paddling, and fishing. The beautiful landscapes and numerous kid-friendly attractions provide an unforgettable vacation experience. Below are some exciting activities, along with the best locations for each.

Hiking Trails

Children can enjoy various hiking trails along the East Coast, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee as one popular destination. The park features numerous kid-friendly trails, beautiful mountains, and diverse wildlife.

For families who prefer the rugged beauty of the rocky terrain, the Adirondacks in New York are a great option, providing challenging hikes and spectacular fall colors.


  • Acadia National Park


  • Lake Placid area

Great Smoky Mountains National Park<br>

New Hampshire<br>

  • White Mountains


Biking is another outdoor activity that offers a great way for families to explore the scenic East Coast. Whether along a peaceful coastal path in Maine or through the mountainous landscapes of the Adirondacks, biking offers visitors of all skill levels the chance to enjoy picturesque views and cover more ground than hiking alone. Some top biking locations include:


  • Acadia National Park


  • Lake Placid area

Great Smoky Mountains National Park<br>

New Hampshire<br>

  • White Mountains


Paddling is a family-favorite outdoor activity that allows parents and children alike to enjoy the region's beautiful waters. Kayaking and canoeing are popular, and the East Coast offers plenty of lakes, rivers, and coastal waterways for a memorable day on the water.


  • Casco Bay


  • Lake Placid area

New Hampshire<br>

  • Monadnock region


Nothing beats spending a hot summer day at the beach, and the East Coast has numerous family-friendly options for beachgoers. There are many safe and scenic beaches that offer lifeguard supervision, calm waves, and child-friendly amenities.



  • Rehoboth Beach


  • Grommet Island Beach Park


Fishing on the East Coast is a popular pastime for families, with numerous freshwater and saltwater opportunities. Kids can enjoy fishing from piers or boats and learn about the different types of fish that inhabit the region. There are also fishing derbies and events specifically for children throughout the year.


  • Kennebec River


  • Lake Placid area

Outer Banks<br>

  • Avalon Fishing Pier

Recommended Family Resorts and Hotels

If you're planning a vacation on the East Coast, there are several fantastic family-friendly hotels and resorts to consider. These accommodations offer a range of amenities and activities tailored for a memorable family vacation.

One of the top family vacation spots on the East Coast is Woodloch Resort, an all-inclusive resort with activities for all ages. From sparkling lakes and swimming pools to ice skating and go-carts, your family will love the variety of experiences available at this resort.

Another highly recommended family resort is the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine. This elegant hotel combines historic charm with modern amenities, making it an excellent choice for families looking to explore the beautiful coast of Maine.

For beach-loving families, the Gurney's Newport Resort & Marina in Rhode Island offers a luxurious and relaxing seaside experience. With its prime location on the water, this resort provides an idyllic vacation destination for families who love to be by the ocean.

In the heart of Philadelphia, the Loews Philadelphia Hotel caters to families seeking an urban experience. With close proximity to popular attractions such as The Franklin Institute and Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Loews Hotel is a great starting point for exploring the City of Brotherly Love.

For a more boutique hotel experience, consider the Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey. This historic and stylish hotel offers a unique charm and beautiful seaside views, allowing families to unwind and experience East Coast beach life.

Tucked away in Kennebunkport, Maine, the Kennebunkport Inn offers a quaint, picturesque escape for families. With easy access to beaches, restaurants, and shops, this charming inn provides a cozy retreat for the whole family.

Experience the stunning natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge in New York. This eco-friendly hotel offers outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery, perfect for families seeking adventure in a serene environment.

Lastly, located on the edge of the harbor, the Boston Harbor Hotel provides a luxurious stay for families wanting to enjoy the sights and sounds of Boston. Among the family resorts on the East Coast, the Boston Harbor Hotel offers a blend of history, city life, and scenic waterfront vistas.

Weekend Getaways and Road Trips

Lake Placid

Lake Placid is a perfect weekend getaway for families, offering numerous kid-friendly activities like ice-skating and skiing in winter, and biking or hiking during warmer months. The town is home to the Olympic Center, where children can learn about the history of the Olympic games and even try some of the sports.


Burlington, Vermont, is a picturesque city with a lively downtown area filled with shops, restaurants, and beautiful green spaces for families to explore. The waterfront area along Lake Champlain offers stunning views and a perfect spot for a picnic. Be sure to visit the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center for a fun and educational experience.

Saranac Lake

Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, Saranac Lake is a popular choice for families seeking an outdoor road trip adventure. With lake activities like fishing and canoeing, and scenic trails for exploring nature together, there is always something to do for all age groups. The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival held in February is another event to add to your itinerary.

Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake, located in the heart of the Adirondacks, offers a variety of outdoor activities suited for families. Kayaking and canoeing are popular daytime activities, while the Wild Center delivers an incredible opportunity to learn about the local flora and fauna. The town also has several parks, beaches, and playgrounds where kids can unwind and have fun.

From outdoor adventures to engaging educational experiences, these weekend getaways and road trips offer a wonderful way to experience the natural beauty and family-friendly attractions of the East Coast.

Kid-Friendly Museums and Attractions

Please Touch Museum

The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is an excellent option for families seeking an interactive and fun experience for their little ones. This hands-on museum is specially designed for young children and provides countless exhibits that engage their curiosity and stimulate their imagination. From play spaces that foster creativity to interactive exhibits, this museum is an adventure that your kids won't soon forget.

Living History Museum

A visit to a living history museum such as Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts can be an exciting and educational experience for the entire family. These museums recreate life during a specific time in history, allowing visitors to explore and learn about the past through authentic experiences. Children can see how people lived, worked, and played centuries ago, giving them a new appreciation for history. Many living history museums also have kid-friendly programs and hands-on activities that make learning fun.

Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia is an iconic attraction that offers a diverse array of food and culture. This large, bustling market features cuisines from all around the world, as well as local favorites, making it a fabulous place for children to explore different tastes and flavors. In addition to the delectable food, the market often hosts events and activities that make it a lively, engaging environment for families.

Betsy Ross House

The Betsy Ross House is a must-visit destination for any family visiting Philadelphia. It is a historical site where Betsy Ross, the legendary seamstress of the first American flag, lived and worked. The museum features guided tours, interactive exhibits, and hands-on activities that help children learn about Betsy Ross and the early days of the United States. The Betsy Ross House brings history to life for young minds, instilling a sense of patriotism and appreciation for the past.

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