Looking for a secret vacation spot? Head east and delve into the rich history and culture of the US East Coast. Here we outline some great vacation spots you will surely love.
If you are seeking a lesser-known, more secluded vacation spot, why not consider the dramatic windswept Atlantic coastlines of the East Coast. Sprinkled with hidden gems, our coastal states are all delightfully unique in their own ways. Whether it be UNESCO World Heritage sites, pristine beaches or charming little villages and historical landmarks, there is something to suit everyone.
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida is a good place to start. Nestled on the Gulf of Mexico, Indian Rocks Beach is close to Clearwater Beach and the vibrant cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa, boasting live music, a collection of eclectic shops and exciting restaurants often serving up the freshest catch of the day.
Indian Rocks makes for a scenic destination any time of year, but maybe consider a Spring getaway, when the holiday crowds have eased and summer break is still a little way off. In terms of accommodation, there is a plethora of AirBnB options available, through to the more luxurious digs of the Opal Sands Hotel.
In almost all instances, no matter where you decide to stay, you are usually within walking distance of the local sites and amenities. Nature lovers will get a kick from the Indian Rocks Beach Nature Reserve, where visitors can wander through lush native flora and take in the tranquil views hidden around every corner.
Enjoy: Beaches, coastal scenery, parasailing, deep sea fishing
When to Go: Spring
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Cumberland Island, just off the southern coast of Georgia, is truly a hidden gem that is well worth going that extra mile to experience. Cumberland Island is actually a thriving state park, filled with oak trees festooned with Spanish moss, wild horses roam freely and alligators lurk in the lagoons. The beach areas fronting the Atlantic Ocean are often empty and the dramatic dunes make for a great hiking destination. On calmer days, particularly in the morning, the beaches are ideal for a quick dip.
The main port area offers bike rentals and guided tours of the island that will cover some of the historical ruins, mansions and local landscapes there to be discovered. Before getting the ferry out to the island, visitors can also take a look around the town of St. Mary’s. A small border town between Georgia and Florida, this charming little hamlet is steeped in local history and culture.
Enjoy: Beaches, historical ruins, wild horses, ideal for families
When to Go: Winter
Punta Gorda, Florida
Punta Gorda, or ‘PG,’ as the locals refer to it, is nestled on one of the loveliest sections of the Florida coast. Boasting beautiful white-sand beaches, lots of parks and green spaces around the harbor front, Punta Gorda also has a lot of unique local history to be explored further.
Marine activities abound and visitors will likely want to visit the nearby barrier islands of Useppa, Gasparilla and Cabbage Key to name only a few. Many of these tours actually include a little time for ‘shelling,’ where guests can explore deserted sand bars and beaches to find themselves a beautiful gift or two from the sea.
Punta Gorda makes a good year-round destination thanks to the consistently glorious Florida weather, but those in the know prefer the winter months when daytime temperatures are a bit more comfortable and the summer crowds have long since moved on.
Enjoy: White sandy beaches, sweeping coastal views
When to Go: Winter
Wilmington, Delaware might sound like an unlikely holiday destination, but the vibrant little city is definitely one of the most underrated in the US. The Wilmington Riverfront is a great place to start exploring and is home to Frawley Stadium, the Horizon Riverfront Ice Skating Rink, Delaware Children’s Museum, IMAX Theater, bustling bars, restaurants and more. Hikers and cyclists will enjoy the Jack A. Markell Trail, an eight-mile long dual-purpose path connecting the Wilmington waterfront with historic New Castle while passing through small, scenic nature reserves.
Of particular interest is the DuPont Environmental Education Center, a 200-acre wildlife refuge that is home to local bird species, otters and turtles. Finally, history buffs will revel in the beautiful Brandywine Creek area, where visitors can immerse themselves in important American history, as it was the site of a major battle in the Revolutionary War.
Enjoy: City getaway, lush green spaces, great food
When to Go: Spring
One of the Connecticut shoreline’s most underrated destinations has got to be the quiet and secluded Mystic. Aside from great local cuisine and stunning outdoor sights, Mystic is also known for the Mystic Seaport Museum, which is one of the best maritime history museums in the US. Speaking of history, the Mystic River Bascule Bridge is another iconic local landmark worth checking out.
This unique drawbridge was built in 1922 and still functions perfectly to this day. The drawbridge actually has all of its internal mechanics exposed, which means visitors can watch the delightfully ingenious mechanism do its thing several times a day. And a visit to the bridge wouldn’t be complete without grabbing an ice cream cone from the Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop.
Last but not least, film buffs will get a kick from visiting the Mystic Pizza shop, setting for the 1988 Julia Roberts romantic comedy of the same name.
Enjoy: Outdoors, beautiful coastal views
When to Go: Summer
Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park, Maine
Located on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, Acadia National Park is one of the most underrated destinations not just on the East Coast, but anywhere in the US, for that matter. The park has started to gain popularity recently, but blissfully still remains nowhere as busy as some of the bigger national parks.
When it comes to accommodation near Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is going to be the best option. Those looking to splurge a little can opt for a few glorious nights at Bar Harbor Inn & Spa, otherwise, there is a bunch of great little B&Bs and inns around town. Those with a love of hiking, cycling and camping will be in heaven since the park offers an eclectic and stunning mix of scenery and diverse local wildlife.
Enjoy: Outdoors, hiking trails & scenic beauty
When to Go: Spring and fall
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