The United States can be a difficult country to travel to simply because of how many options there are. It’s the third largest country in the world by area, and as such it has a little bit - or rather a lot - of everything to offer. Beaches and mountains, cities and open country, commercial attractions and historical monuments…. It’s all there, and unfortunately for travelers it’s all spread out. Because this is the case, it can be best to concentrate a potential visit to the U.S. on a given region in particular, and in this article we’re zeroing in on the East Coast. Though this is a long coast spanning many states, it’s still thought of as a sort of expanded region of the country, and more importantly there are a lot of international airports up and down its expanse. So, if that sounds like a good starting point, read on for our picks for the hottest destinations on America’s East Coast.
Charleston has always been a special place, but it feels like in the last decade or so it’s really been given its due. Travel & Leisure ranked it as the top American city in 2018, and noted that the city has actually topped the list since 2013 - an awfully impressive streak in a country with so many wonderful, dynamic cities that are always striving to improve. People generally appreciate Charleston because of the mix it offers, being part historical town (with all the charms that come with the distinction), part beach destination, and now, more and more, modern city. It’s always been a beautiful and relaxing place to visit, but what’s changed of late, as is also noted by Travel & Leisure, is an influx of foodie culture and an increasingly energetic atmosphere. The city, it seems, can do no wrong.
There are several destinations in the New England region on the upper East Coast that could make a list like this in any given year. Boston is always a favorite American city, and Cape Cod is a major draw, at least in the summer. Discussing the hottest or trendiest places to go though, leads us to Portland, Maine, which has really been put on the map of late. Sitting on a peninsula in New England’s Casco Bay, it’s a very picturesque city blending coastal beauty and old, Victorian homes with revitalized cultural centers. Visitors enjoy sampling the city’s renowned breweries, boating in the bay and exploring its tiny islands, and hanging out at the Old Port, where shops and restaurants have been built into old warehouses.
If we were to identify four “main” cities up and down the East Coast of the United States, it would be hard to land on any selection other than New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. All of these cities are fun to visit, but Philadelphia seems to have the most buzz lately. Always a lively place to visit, and something of a smaller take on New York in the eyes of many tourists, the city has gotten a shot of energy from its beloved Eagles winning the Super Bowl in 2018 (and rest assured, in a prideful city like this, that really can make a difference). Its “Fishtown” neighborhood, a popular spot for people to hang out and dine, has been significantly improved. And aside from what’s new, Philadelphia always offers a nice dose of American history for anyone who likes to learn about a destination, and not simply enjoy it.
Some may quibble with Atlantic City making this list because until fairly recently its reputation was that of a ghost town, haunted and ruined by bad casino deals and waning tourism. You may want to look again, however. The impact of some of those bad deals has finally faded away, and in part it’s actually the same business of casino gaming - this time online - that’s pumping money back into the city. Top NJ Casinos gives you a feel for the number of gaming sites people can legally enjoy in the state nowadays, and with revenue from these activities the Atlantic City tourism industry is building itself back up. Now, while it’s still not quite the resort Mecca it was intended to be, the city has some buzz to it. And at the end of the day it’s still a place where you can spend the day on the beach and the night exploring casino resorts and cool restaurants, which should appeal to a lot of travelers.
Getting away from cities altogether, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island, a gem of the Outer Banks coastal region and a place that at times over the last decade has been described as one of the best beaches in the world. It’s a little bit difficult to get to given that the Outer Banks are already remote and from their southern tip you need to take a ferry to Ocracoke. But that’s just what keeps it so wonderful. Even as word has gotten out about its gorgeous beaches and charming cove area, it has stayed relatively free of massive crowds of tourists. It’s truly unlike any other beach area in the United States, and, some would argue, better than all the others.