Discover these gorgeous getaways on the East Coast of the USA that are perfect for a weekend break.
If you’re reading this post, you are probably looking for ways to leave your city for an exciting weekend getaway in a new place. As a young professional working on the East Coast, I TOTALLY understand this feeling. During a busy week, I’m always looking for ways to escape the office for a bit and avoid burnout at work.
Sometimes, a weekend trip full of new experiences is all it takes to rejuvenate the body and the mind. That’s why you’ll love these beloved weekend getaways on the East Coast.
Best Weekend Getaways on the East Coast
Savannah is a jewel of the American South and an enchanting weekend getaway for those looking for culture and lots of relaxed charm.
The first time I went to Savannah, Georgia, the thing that surprised me most was the moss in the trees. I’d never seen anything like it – the spooky way the gray strands hung from the branches in the live oak trees, especially when shrouded in the fog of the morning.
This city is also one of the most historic places in the US, and also supposedly one of the most haunted. Here, there’s no shortage of charming bed and breakfasts, cute shops and market stalls by the riverfront, among many other things to do on a weekend in Savannah.
Kick things off in the Savannah Historic District where you’ll find cobblestone streets, quaint shops and an old-world atmosphere. The Gothic Revival Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a real highlight.
Given the city’s spooky stories, it’s also fitting to head to the Bonaventure Cemetery, a sprawling mass of intriguing tombstones including the famous “Bird Girl” statue.
Spend a weekend meandering through some of the old neighborhoods in the city, taking a walking ghost tour, or simply sipping on a coffee and people-watching by the river.
If you’re looking for an authentic bed & breakfast experience in Savannah, the Justine Inn is super cute and cozy, and offers great value for your money. The Marshall House is a lively, historic boutique hotel located in the heart of the city that many travelers enjoy.
Asheville, North Carolina
With its charming streets surrounded by gorgeous mountains, Asheville is quite possibly the perfect place for a weekend escape on the East Coast. I’ve always found the city to be quite an unusual oasis that’s otherwise in the middle of nowhere.
Situated in a perfect vantage point in the mountains, we enjoyed some beautiful hikes and drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the evenings, we sipped on local cocktail specialties and ate AMAZING farm-to-table foods and delicious North Carolina style BBQ. There are also great options in the area to plan a romantic east coast weekend getaway.
Of course, the city affords more than just hiking and food. Say Asheville and many people will think of the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest home and a French Renaissance style castle with stunning landscaped gardens.
After something a little more offbeat? Asheville was actually the filming site of a recent Academy Award winning film – Three Billboards – and the state has even made a guide for fans to visit famous scene locations. In fact, art-lovers should rejoice as there are tonnes of galleries and studios – particularly in the River Arts District.
For a cozy, homey good night’s rest, the Princess Anne Bed & Breakfast is a traveler favorite. One of the top-rated, locally-owned Asheville inns is the Albemarle Inn. It’s built in a beautiful, southern-style plantation home and looks comfortable and inviting.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park sits just a few hours from Washington, DC, a beautiful mountainous expanse in western Virginia. Whenever I’m feeling stressed and want to disconnect for a while, I pack my backpack and head here… and you should too.
The Appalachian Trail passes right through the park, with miles of hiking trails that are accessible to anyone passing by. One of my favorites is the hike to Old Rag Mountain, a tough trail with scrambles and hella beaut views, but there’s also more relaxed ones, like the Dark Hollow Falls Trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall.
Within the park, and directly outside of it, there are camping areas, lodges, and parking areas for camper vans – perfect for a weekend trip in the wild, without having to drive too far from civilization.
If hiking and camping doesn’t strike your fancy, you can enjoy the picturesque drive through the park on the famous Skyline Drive. There are scenic viewpoints of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains every few miles where road trippers can watch the sunset or have a picnic.
For the history buffs out there, the park also has an incredibly interesting and tumultuous history that you can learn about in the visitor’s center.
Taking a hop-on-hop-off bus to the different wineries and breweries in nearby Crozet offers cool respite from the sun (with beverages and snacks to boot!).
The best way to experience the park 24 hours a day is to camp. There are a variety of campsites operated by the National Parks Service available in Shenandoah National Park, many of which have both advanced reservation sites and first-come first-serve spaces. Several travelers in the area recommend Caledonia Farm -1812 Bed & Breakfast in Flint Hill, VA. Situated on a quiet farm, it’s a great place to unwind after long days of hiking, driving, and exploring the park.
Rich in maritime history and a glorious maze of charming colonial streets, Annapolis is a delightful destination.
As a laid-back city that’s very much the opposite of Washington, DC, I find myself wanting to stroll through the colored homes and brick sidewalks of Annapolis quite often. Some weekends, I’ll drive out there simply to catch a whiff of the sea air and drink a coffee.
Kick your weekend off by exploring the United States Naval Academy, delving into the nation’s naval history in a Beaux-Arts setting. That done, spend time wandering around the historic downtown, where 18th-century buildings house unique shops, art galleries and cafes.
History-buffs will also want to go to the Maryland State House, the oldest state capitol that’s still in continuous legislative use.
In Annapolis, you can sip on seafood soup, or try on some handmade shoes. Peruse an art shop, or stroll through the colored neighborhoods by the waterfront.
Many people rave about the Portland of the west, but the Portland of the east is equally as wonderful. It’s the perfect blend of gorgeous scenery, stellar food and artsy fun that I absolutely love.
Begin your adventure by exploring the Old Port – a historic district with cobbled streets and 19th-century buildings that house cool boutiques and local art galleries. Head to the Portland Observatory for some of the best views of the city (along with a bit of history too).
I’ll make no secret of it – Portland is a foodie’s paradise. You could spend the weekend sampling lobster dishes and craft beer (a Maine specialty) and call it one well spent.
Or, simply slip on some comfortable travel shoes and wander around the vibrant streets of the city. If you want to get a taste for local living, the farmer’s market in Portland is one of the most well-known in the East Coast, and happens year-round.
If you’re planning a stay in Portland, the Inn at St. John provides comfortable accommodations at a great value. One of the most well-known and highest rated boutique hotels in Portland is the Portland Harbor Hotel.
Stowe, Vermont might be one of the only places on our list that’s actually most wonderful to visit in the fall or winter. While there are tons of things to do in Vermont, Stowe is one of our favorites for its natural beauty and fun outdoor activities.
Nestled in the Green Mountains, September and October bring gorgeous fall colors – reds, oranges, and yellows – to the surrounding forests and hills, while the winter brings snow and some of the best slopes for skiing on the East Coast. Verdant forests and outdoor activities like hiking greet tourists in the spring and summer.
Of course, what you’ll do will change depending on the season but should always involve spending time in the local shops, art galleries and eateries. Take a stroll along the Stowe Recreation Path, a paved trail that winds its way through stunning countryside.
If you’re looking for a truly varied year-round east coast destination, Stowe is the perfect place for you.
For a closer look, read what Amy of Two Drifters has to say about Stowe, Vermont as a perfect romantic weekend getaway!
The coziest-looking (and, coincidentally, the most highly-rated) hotel is a Bed & Breakfast-style hotel called Green Mountain Inn. Open year round, one of the most beloved resorts in the area is the Lodge at Spruce Peak (formerly Stowe Mountain Lodge).
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Saint Simons is a small island off the coast of Georgia, where many local people have summer homes. Part of the famed Golden Isles, it’s quiet – the perfect place for a weekend respite – and home to miles of beaches and historic sites like Fort Frederica and the lighthouse.
In the summer months, there’s no better way to start your weekend than with some time on the beach. East Beach is one of my favourites, thanks to its pretty shoreline and dolphin-spotting opportunities.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Saint Simons island is its lovely driftwood beach. Spanning for miles, this beach is full of warped driftwood pieces, some the size of entire trees. It’s such a unique and romantic place to walk around and snap a few photos.
The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort is one of the best and most charming beach hotels you can find on the island.
Harper’s Ferry and New River Gorge, West Virginia
West Virginia is often known for its historic coal mining operations and its rock climbing, but there are also some amazing hiking and skiing opportunities, too.
Within West Virginia, Harper’s Ferry (a national historic park) is a cute little town to visit, marked by Civil War landmarks, brick houses, and sweeping industrial bridges. Did you know that it’s considered to be the site of a raid that helped spark the Civil War?
Delve into the history with a trip to the Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park – a collection of museums and historic buildings that pull you back in time.
That’s not all though, the town is a hiking hub – thanks to its prime position at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers and landscape dotted with beautiful trails and even better views.
The nearby New River Gorge Bridge shouldn’t be missed either, a magnificent structure built atop a staggering valley. If you’re looking for mountains and woods, West Virginia is an easy and accessible weekend getaway.
For those of you who want to stay local, the Light Horse Inn is one of the most highly rated properties in the area.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
With its tranquil atmosphere and abundance of lavish vacation homes, Cape Cod is a gem on the coast of Massachusetts and one of the most beautiful places to visit in New England.
The miles of beaches here are perfect for wandering around for hours with a loved one. Moreover, there are plenty of wonderful seafood restaurants, golf courses, lighthouses, and shopping areas to explore.
Provincetown, at the tip of the peninsula, is a good place to start. Known for its vibrant arts scene and LGBTQ+ friendly vibes, it’s got a great variety of galleries, shops and seafood restaurants that deserve a weekend exploring themselves.
Of course, there are beaches too – the Cape Cod National Seashore boasts some of the prettiest beaches in the Northeast – with miles of unspoiled coastline stretching out as far as you can see. Add in a couple of lighthouse trips to spots like Nauset Light and you’ve got the perfect itinerary.
Backpackers rejoice! There’s an affordable, clean, and well-located HI Hostel in Cape Cod (Hyannis) for solo or ultra budget travelers. While beach resorts in Cape Cod are a dime a dozen, the Seaglass Inn in Provincetown seems to be the crowd favorite, and it’s just a 4-minute walk to the beach.
Charleston, South Carolina
One of South Carolina’s first cities, Charleston captures the charm of a Southern town and mixes it up with the color and quaintness of a modern-day city.
While here, explore wacky colorful homes on Rainbow Row, or check out some of the historic landmarks like the bridges or the lighthouse. Don’t miss the Battery, a historic defensive seawall and promenade that offers must-see views of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor.
The nearby beaches in Charleston also boast stunning views and sunsets that are definitely worth visiting!
If you’re a serious foodie, all-you-can-eat oysters await you at Bowens Island Restaurant, or sample southern soul food at one of the many locally-owned institutions.
One of the most chic and best-ranked boutique hotels in Charleston is The Spectator Hotel, but there are a handful of other beautiful choices.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
It’s not the first place people think of for their weekend escape, but their loss is your gain as it’s perfect if you’re looking for a change of pace and to escape to somewhere quiet for your getaway.
Spend time relaxing in a cabin, go hiking to a nearby waterfall, or take a short steam train ride through some of the most beautiful parts of the area.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to see though – downtown Lancaster has a nice variety of art galleries and quirky boutiques for you to explore. Pop into The Central Market, the country’s oldest continually-operating farmers’ market to pick up some delicious goodies to bring home.
A few of the nicest hotels include the Lancaster Arts Hotel, which is housed in a regal brick building and boasts beautiful, well-designed interiors.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
One of the most highly trafficked National Parks in the country, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonderful place to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors for a weekend.
The park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and is a great weekend destination thanks to its diverse wildlife, lush forests and of course… those mountains.
Why Smoky? Because, if you get up early enough on a clear day, you can watch the sunrise over misty, fog covered valleys. Head to Newfound Gap or Oconaluftee Valley for the best views.
Here, hiking trails through craggy rocks, expansive valleys, and waterfalls are common. My favorite trail is the Cades Cove Loop for a low-key hike, Clingmans Dome (the highest peak in the park) for when I’m feeling very energetic. You can also go white water rafting in the nearby Pigeon River.
For a few special weekends in the summer, one of the most interesting natural phenomena in this part of the world occurs – the fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains have synchronized displays.
Camping is one of the best ways to see the park especially during firefly season, is to camp. You can find additional information and the list of available campsites on the National Park Service’s website.
On the Tennessee side of the park lies a small town called Pigeon Forge, where there are a handful of hotels and lodges. One of the most beloved of these hotels in Pigeon Forge is the Twin Mountain Inn & Suites.
New York City & Upstate New York
New York City is the ultimate weekend getaway for people looking for action!
If you’re looking for a big city getaway that packs a punch, there’s no better place to go than NYC. Even after you’ve been to Times Square and some of the more Instagrammable places in NYC, you can get lost for days exploring the eclectic, historic neighborhoods – and eats – in the city.
For a more peaceful getaway, upstate New York is a fantastic alternative. With many parts just a short train ride or drive from New York City, Upstate New York is the city dweller’s perfect respite.
With the striking Catskills mountains nearby, the topography makes for some lovely views year-round, and there’s great hiking in New York if you know where to look.
In the fall, the leaves turn vibrant colors, illuminating the surrounding farmlands, waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic drives. It’s easy to rent a cabin somewhere in Upstate New York and simply relax for a weekend, basking in the enjoyment of not doing much of anything.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
In the summer, Bethany Beach becomes a hotspot for beach activity on the East Coast, with families flocking to its shores to rent a house for a week and relax.
Vibrant boardwalks, kitschy golf courses, pretty lighthouses, and miles of sandy coastline make up this beach town, and its charm is mainly in enjoying the atmosphere.
Outdoors lovers should venture to the nearby Delaware Seashore State Park for more beaches, as well as some great fishing, boating and kayaking opportunities.
If you get bored of Bethany, nearby Ocean City and Rehoboth offer even more miles of sun and sand. Pack up from nearby Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, DC and head for a relaxing weekend where the sounds of the ocean surround you.
Many travelers recommend staying at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites by Marriott.
Charlottesville, Virginia is a mountain city steeped in history, culture, and nature, and is the perfect place to spend a weekend.
Accessible from Virginia, DC, and even areas like Baltimore and Philadelphia, a weekend in Charlottesville can be one of many different things.
History abounds here – kick things off with a visit to the University of Virginia, which was founded by Thomas Jefferson and is also home to a number of art galleries and museums. Same for Monticello, Jefferson’s old home and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that provides interesting insight into his life.
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and with dozens of vineyards surrounding the city, you can sample wines and enjoy the nearby rolling hills.
Or, if adventure travel is more your thing, try hiking, mountain biking, or skiing in the nearby mountains. In the evenings, peruse the Downtown Mall, or simply go stargazing in some of the dark skies nearby.
A hotel fairly close to the city center, the Graduate Charlottesville is located near the University of Virginia, a gorgeous, tree-lined area that’s accessible to all of the main tourist attractions of Charlottesville.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
I look back at summers of my childhood in the Outer Banks quite fondly. My family and I would pile into our van, rent a house for a week, and hang out with friends, whiling away our days on the sandy beaches, exploring a historic lighthouse, or playing mini golf at a cheesy dinosaur course.
Now that I’m back on the East Coast, I’ve been longing to return, even if just for a weekend.
With several different islands and regions, the Outer Banks, or OBX, is a fantastic weekend escape for people who like a bit of energy mixed with a bit of relaxation.
There are several regions of the Outer Banks that are popular with visitors, especially in the summer. Some of the most easily accessible areas are Duck, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, and Corolla.
White Mountains, New Hampshire
The White Mountains in New Hampshire are quite possibly some of the East Coast’s best-kept secrets.
Although this is a year-round destination, the best time to visit is quite possibly in the fall, when the leaves change colors in the most vibrant ways. Grab a cabin or a room in an inn or lodge, sit back, and enjoy the fall colors in this gorgeous landscape of mountains and valleys.
In Jackson, NH, the Inn at Thorn Hill is a popular and highly-rated choice.
Key West, Florida
Key West is one of America’s favorite vacation hotspots, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it on a list of East Coast weekend boltholes, too.
With its aquamarine water, its luxury resorts, and its nightlife (something lacking in many of these other places), it’s definitely a weekend getaway for the more high-energy of you.
Hop on a boat, ride a jetski, or just watch the world go by for a weekend in one of the most beautiful beach areas of the United States.
The Douglas House is a highly-recommended hotel with a pool and cozy residences that are within walking distance of the beach.
Acadia National Park
Renowned by many as one of the most beautiful parks in the country, this guide wouldn’t be complete without Acadia National Park.
With its stunning shoreline, beautiful hiking trails, amazing stargazing options, and picturesque historic sites, Acadia is a treat for all of the senses. And the sunsets? Super beautiful.
It’s not super easy to get to – a few hours by car from Portland, Maine – but it’s worth it for anyone who truly wants to unplug amidst some of the most beautiful nature the United States has to offer.
There’s no better way to see ANY national park, much less one as stunning as Acadia, than camping. You can find more information about campsites and reserving your space at Acadia National Park here. The best luxury hotel in the area is the Bar Harbor Grand Hotel.
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