5 Top Cities to Visit on the USA East Coast

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The United States is a vast country covering a huge 9.834 million km² and multiple time and geographical zones. The overall vibe changes from the east coast along the Atlantic Ocean to the west along the Pacific, and so does the country’s perception you will carry. It is impossible to explore both these coasts in one single visit. So, if you pick the east side for your trip, here are some must-visit cities that you can include in your itinerary, depending on the time and the season that you plan to travel.

Here are 5 of the best cities on the USA East Coast to visit.

1. New York

Situated between the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean, New York is one the most talked about, visited, and photographed cities not only in the United States but the world.

With its cool vibe, cosmopolitan crowd and constantly evolving culture, there is a lot to draw tourists. The city stands at an altogether different level for the art, food and fashion scene. At the same time, the street scene of zipping taxis amidst the tall skyscrapers on one side and the Hudson River on the other is the ultimate definition of an urban landscape. New York’s every nook and corner is an attraction in itself.

In the city of skyscrapers, you will be tempted to keep looking toward the sky, marvelling at the architecture, but that is just a starter. There are plenty of things to do in New York. You can pose with the Madame Tussaud wax celebrities, or wander amongst dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. Having a picture with the flags of the Rocker Feller Centre and in the foreground of the flickering neon lights of Times Square is a must-do in New York. You can watch the skyline draped in the orange glow of the setting sun from the One World Tower observatory. After the night falls, hop on a dinner cruise, watch a Broadway show, or enjoy a pub crawl until late at night in a city that never sleeps.

The fall and spring months are April to June, and September to November, which are pleasant and great for staying outdoors in New York.

New York Skyline
Photo © sepavone |

2. Washington DC

Washington DC lies in the Mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast between the states of Maryland and Virginia. On the one hand, it is a city of monuments, memorials and museums, and on the other a place to enjoy good music, gourmet food and world-class sports. It is the political heart of the country. Major decisions of the world and the game of power originate here in Washington DC, and there are certain places where you can have a first-hand experience of it.

A tour of the Capitol Hill area, where most government buildings are concentrated, is the first place for all the political action. There are impressive war memorials and shrines dedicated to legendary leaders of the country around the area. Visiting them all is a powerful experience and provides a unique window into the nation’s history. Do not forget to pre-book a tour of the White House, the home of the country’s president.

Washington is also the hub of the Smithsonian Institutions, the world’s largest group for education and research. While there are various Smithsonian museums across the city, with many of them concentrated between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue. The Museum of Natural history, the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of American History are very popular among tourists.

The city has a cosmopolitan food culture. While there are all sorts of international cuisines, make sure to have an experience of Ethiopian cuisine. Refugees from Ethiopia live in the city in an area called Little Ethiopia. Here they keep their culinary and cultural tradition alive.

One of the best times to visit Washington D.C. is during March and early April, around the time of the National Cherry Blossom Festival when the streets of the city are laden with white and pink cherry flowers.

Capitol Building in Washington DC
Photo © lmel900 |

3. Miami

The coastal metropolis in southeast Florida is known for its distinct style of architecture, art, food, nightlife and weather. The Wynwood, South Beach and Coconut Grove are some neighbourhoods to enjoy Miami’s legendary nightlife. From mega-clubs, warehouses, international DJ bars and pop star performances, the city has you covered no matter what you have in mind for a party. Don’t forget to check out the Lowe Art Museum, the Wolfsonian and the Freedom Tower for some great art.

Miami has a strong influence of Cuba because of its proximity. It even has Little Havana, where you can have a slice of authentic Cuban culture, food, Latin festivals and a game of dominoes.

The eye-catching Art Deco style of architecture is ubiquitous on the city’s streets. The official Art Deco district lies between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, where all the brightly coloured buildings from the 1920s form a picturesque streetscape.

There are also plenty of beaches in and around Miami. Lummus Park, Crandon Park, South Beach and Hallandale Beach are good places to enjoy the coastal vibe. To get out of the bustle, hit the road for a scenic drive to the Florida Keys. Alternatively, you can take a day trip to the Everglades for an airboat ride through the mangroves.

Miami is in the tropics, and the summers can be sweltering, but the winters are mild. December to February is an excellent time to escape the rest of the chilling east coast weather and enjoy the sunshine in Miami.

Aerial photo of beaches near Miami
Photo © felixtm |

4. Orlando

The world’s “Theme Park Capital” lies in central Florida, surrounded by many lakes. Whether you are seeking an adventure, shows of exotic animals or encounters with your favourite characters from movies, its numerous theme parks will invoke the kid in you.

Walt Disney, Universal Studios and Sea World are some of the most popular theme parks for adults and children. Orlando can be hot, and you can escape to the Volcano Bay water park to cool the heat off.

The International Drive area of the city has an array of restaurants; be it Greek, Ethiopian, or Brazilian, you can find everything around this place. When you are tired of park hopping, drive to Clearwater or Cocoa Beach to relax and unwind.

The beauty of Orlando is that the city is under constant evolution. New theme parks are added frequently, and new features to existing theme parks. So no matter if you have visited Orlando once, you will find something that interests you and hasn’t been explored before.

5. Boston

If you are looking for a city with rich history, architecture and delicious food, Boston should be on your list of the must-visit cities on the USA east coast. This city is the capital of the state of Massachusetts, located in the northeast region of the United States. It is the ground zero of the American Revolution, and since then, Boston has been known as the “cradle of modern America”.

To walk back in time, take a tour of the 2.5-mile-long walk of the Freedom Trail. The trail is dotted with 16 historical sites related to the events of the revolution, including churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks and a ship.

Boston’s seafood also has a cult status among Americans. The chowder of Boston is a classic local favourite, and you can try it at the New England Clam chowder.

Boston is also an amalgamation of old and new. The new-age skyscrapers coexist in the cobblestoned alleyways of the city. You can walk along the Charles River Esplanade for endless views of the river on one side and downtown on the other. Head to the observatory at the Prudential Tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the skyline.

Baseball is the most beloved game in the United States, and the Red Sox is the most beloved team in baseball. Home to the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, is the oldest ballpark in the country and worth a visit. You can either watch a game if it is on or just stroll the surrounding areas that have some hip bars and restaurants.

There are plenty of parks in the city, including the Boston Commons, the oldest part of the country. Experience the greener side of Boston by visiting the Emerald Necklace, a seven-mile stretch of interconnected parks across the city.

Boston is also the mecca of educational institutions. Some of the world’s most renowned colleges and universities are located here, including Harvard and MIT. You can sign up for a guided or self-guided tour that will take you across mapped campus stops. The Boston Duck tours are unique to the city. The tour offers a ride on an amphibious vehicle that drives on the road and descends into the water directly. It is worth an experience to sit in ancient World War II vehicles.

Boston can be very cold in winter; therefore, the best time to visit the city is from June to October.

Boston Harbour
Photo © marcorubino |


While the debate is endless as to which US coast has more to offer, the country’s history and making lie on the east coast. If you are looking for a genuinely American experience with less hustle and bustle, then the East Coast could be your pick.

Besides these five cities on the list, there are plenty of other cities such as Portland in Maine, Atlantic City in New Jersey and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania that are on the same coast and definitely worth a visit. Still, it all narrows down to what region of the east coast you plan to include and how much time you have in hand. Considering the size of the country, make sure you do not spend too much time on the flight or driving the car.

Also read our article on a California Coast Road Trip(The Ultimate Itinerary) if you’re interested in the West Coast.

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Shalbha Sarda

Shalbha is passionate about exploring places off the beaten path and discovering unique cultures and experiences that may be unknown to the broader world. From Cambodia to Kazakhstan, she documents her experiences across countries and genres for well-known publications. Writing for the likes of BBC, CNN, CondeNast, Fodors, and Condenast, among others, is a testament to her skill and expertise in the field. With over 150 articles published in print and online, Shalbha's extensive portfolio demonstrates her dedication to her craft.

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