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Top Five East Coast Destinations Perfect for a Summer Beach Escape

Need a Last Minute Summer Getaway Idea?

If you’re here, I’m sure you already love to travel. 

And as any travel enthusiast (and travel advisor for that matter) knows, booking vacations at least six months to a year in advance is generally the recommendation for getting your top choices, and also the best deals. 

East Coast Beach

BUT, despite our best efforts, life happens, right? Sometimes that summer vacation that you meant to book back in January slips through the cracks, and suddenly Memorial Day is upon you and the only thing on your calendar is a week of camp and a questionable visit from your great aunt Sally. 

Never Fear! Your favorite Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor has some magic up her sleeve: the Classic Beach Town Summer Escape. It just so happens that the whole East Coast of the country is lined with beach towns that bring back the nostalgia of a laid back family beach vacation, complete with boardwalk carnivals, mini golf courses, local homemade ice cream, and sandy beaches that stretch along the coast farther than the eye can see. 

East Coast Beach Town

Whether you are close enough to make it a road trip, or even if you have to fly from wherever you are, the beach towns of the East Coast are definitely worth the trip.

Here are the Top Five East Coast Destinations that are Perfect for a Summer Beach Escape:

East Coast Beach Town

1. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 

Hilton Head Island is just about as South into South Carolina as you can get before crossing over into Georgia; in fact, the closest city is actually the quaint and adorable city of Savannah (a great place to either start or cap off your vacation). Tucked in right along the coast, Hilton Head Island offers not just pristine beaches, but also pristine golf courses, too, not to mention a plethora of outdoor adventures and even a Disney property, as well!

Picture-perfect shores stretch for miles, inviting sun-seekers to bask in the warm glow of the Atlantic, and families can have fun splashing in the salty waves. While picturesque beaches dot the entire coast of the island, Coligny Beach Park stands as a focal point, offering not only golden sands but also a bustling atmosphere with shops, eateries, and entertainment.

East Coast beach town

Hilton Head Island’s allure also extends far beyond its beachy shores. Nature enthusiasts can explore the intricate web of marshes and waterways on guided kayak tours, spotting native wildlife like dolphins and herons. For those seeking a thrill, jet skiing and parasailing adventures provide an adrenaline rush against the backdrop of stunning coastal panoramas.

Golfers are spoiled with over 20 championship courses, including iconic greens like Harbour Town Golf Links, where the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage is hosted annually. Meanwhile, families can embark on biking excursions along the Island’s extensive network of trails, winding through lush forests and past scenic lagoons.

East Coast Golf

Furthermore, history buffs can delve into the island’s rich heritage at sites like the historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, and at the Coastal Discovery Museum, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the Island’s natural and cultural history, with interactive exhibits and guided tours.

Of course, like most beach locations, Hilton Head’s culinary inspiration comes from the sea. From waterfront seafood shacks serving up freshly caught shrimp and oysters, to upscale bistros offering innovative takes on Lowcountry cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

New England Beach Town

Whether you’re seeking relaxation on the beach, adventure on the water, or cultural immersion in the Island’s vibrant communities, Hilton Head Island promises an unforgettable summer getaway filled with warmth, beauty, and Southern hospitality.

East Coast Beach

2. Outer Banks, North Carolina

Stretched out along the coast of North Carolina, the skinny strip of islands known as the Outer Banks beckons travelers with their distinctive charm, rich history, and natural splendor, making the Outer Banks an ideal summer destination for adventurers and relaxation seekers alike. Stretching for over 100 miles, this string of barrier islands offers a diverse array of experiences, from tranquil beaches to bustling waterfront villages.

East Coast Beach town

The Outer Banks is renowned for its beyond-beautiful beaches, where soft sands meet the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Iconic spots like Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Jockey’s Ridge State Park provide ample opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports like surfing and kiteboarding. Animal lovers will appreciate how the beaches also serve as nesting grounds for majestic sea turtles, offering visitors a chance to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

East Coast Beach Town

History enthusiasts will delight in the Outer Banks’ rich maritime heritage, evident in the numerous lighthouses and historic sites along the shore. The towering Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, with its distinctive black and white stripes, stands as a symbol of the region and offers breathtaking views from its summit. Meanwhile, the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk commemorates the site of the first powered flight, where visitors can explore exhibits and even try their hand at flying kites on the same dunes where Orville and Wilbur Wright made history.

For outdoorsy-types, the Outer Banks offers a wealth of activities beyond the beach. Nature reserves like Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge provide opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting, while kayak tours through the tranquil waters of the Sound offer a peaceful way to explore the region’s diverse ecosystems.

East Coast Beach Town

Quaint coastal towns dot the landscape, each offering its own unique blend of history, culture, and cuisine. From the bustling boardwalk of Nags Head, to the charming streets of Manteo, visitors can sample fresh seafood, browse local art galleries, and immerse themselves in the laid-back coastal lifestyle.

When you’re looking for an idyllic beach vacation, the Outer Banks promises an unforgettable summer getaway filled with natural beauty, rich history, and endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

East Coast Beach Town

3. Cape May, New Jersey

Perched at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, Cape May, New Jersey, exudes timeless charm and seaside elegance, making it a quintessential destination for a summer getaway. Steeped in history and surrounded by natural beauty, Cape May offers a blend of Victorian grandeur, sandy beaches, and a vibrant cultural scene.

East Coast Beach Town

The crown jewels of Cape May are its stunning array of Victorian architecture, with over 600 beautifully preserved buildings dating back to the 19th century. Visitors can embark on guided walking tours, or even horse-drawn carriage rides to admire these architectural gems! Whether you opt for a tour or explore on your own, be sure not to miss the iconic Cape May Lighthouse and the grandeur of the Emlen Physick Estate, a Victorian-era mansion turned museum.

East Coast Beach

While the Victorian architecture might try to steal the show, the gorgeous beaches offer stiff competition. From the family-friendly shores of Cape May Point, to the secluded coves of Sunset Beach, there’s a stretch of sand to suit every preference. Visitors can soak up the sun, swim in the refreshing waters of the Atlantic Ocean, or indulge in water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing.

Nature enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Cape May’s diverse ecosystem. Birdwatchers flock to the region to witness the annual migration of thousands of birds, including raptors and colorful songbirds. The Cape May Bird Observatory offers guided birding tours and educational programs for enthusiasts of all levels.

East Coast Beach Town

Cape May’s vibrant cultural scene is another highlight of a summer visit. The town is home to numerous art galleries, theaters, and music venues, showcasing the work of local artists and performers. Visitors can catch a live performance at the historic Cape May Stage or browse the eclectic shops and boutiques along Washington Street Mall.

Foodies will delight in Cape May’s culinary offerings, which range from casual seafood shacks serving up fresh-caught favorites, to upscale waterfront restaurants offering innovative farm-to-table cuisine. Cape May’s dining scene is renowned for its emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and creative culinary flair.

East Coast Beach Town

If you’re looking for the perfect beach vacation with a dash of architectural flare, Cape May is definitely the choice for you, as it offers an idyllic summer escape filled with historic charm, natural beauty, and seaside splendor.

East Coast Beach Town

4. Montauk, New York

About 120 miles east of New York City, at the very end of the South Fork of Long Island, you’ll find one of the most perfect beach towns that’s ever existed: Montauk. Appropriately nicknamed “The End,” Montauk captures the essence of laid-back coastal living, making it a highly sought-after destination for summer getaways. Known for its rugged beauty, miles of beaches, and vibrant surf culture, Montauk offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure against the backdrop of stunning ocean vistas.

East Coast Beach

At the heart of Montauk’s allure are its world-class beaches, each offering its own unique atmosphere and amenities. Main Beach, with its powdery sands and rolling dunes, has been consistently ranked among the best beaches in the United States, while Ditch Plains Beach draws surfers from around the world with its legendary waves and laid-back vibe.

East Coast Beach

Surfing isn’t the only water sport on offer in Montauk; visitors can also enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing in the pristine waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound. Charter boats depart daily from Montauk Harbor, offering opportunities for deep-sea fishing excursions, sunset cruises, and even whale watching adventures.

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in Montauk’s varied landscape, which encompasses evergreen forests, scenic hiking trails, and panoramic ocean views. Hikers can tackle the challenging terrain of the Montauk Point State Park Trail, which leads to the iconic Montauk Point Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in New York State.

East Coast Beach Town

Montauk’s vibrant dining scene reflects the region’s coastal heritage, with an abundance of seafood restaurants, clam shacks, and waterfront eateries serving up fresh-caught favorites. Visitors can dine al fresco on lobster rolls and clam chowder while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean or savor farm-to-table cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients.

East Coast Beach Town

In addition to its natural beauty and outdoor adventures, Montauk also boasts a rich cultural scene, with art galleries, boutique shops, and live music venues lining the streets of its charming downtown area. Visitors can browse for unique souvenirs, catch a live performance, or simply soak up the laid-back atmosphere of this beloved seaside town.

While many people halt their eastern trek at the ubiquitous “Hamptons,” those who journey onward to “The End” of Long Island are rewarded with the more chill and authentic experience of a Montauk summer escape. 

East Coast Beach Town

5. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

While some beach destinations are just one small island or town, Cape Cod is an entire peninsula that juts out in the shape of a flexed arm from the state of Massachusetts, offering over 400 miles of coastline to be explored. This iconic peninsula offers a wealth of experiences, from seemingly endless beaches and scenic bike trails, to quaint seaside villages and historic landmarks.

Cape Cod’s renowned beaches are among its most iconic attractions, drawing visitors with their soft sands, gentle waves, and endless coastal scenery. From the family-friendly shores of Craigville Beach to the windswept dunes of Race Point Beach, there’s a stretch of sand to suit every taste and preference. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, or simply stroll along the shoreline, taking in the salty sea air and panoramic ocean views.

East Coast Beach Town

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Cape Cod’s diverse natural landscape. The Cape Cod National Seashore, a protected stretch of coastline encompassing over 40,000 acres of beaches, dunes, and marshlands, offers opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting. Cyclists can pedal along the scenic Cape Cod Rail Trail, which winds its way through quaint villages, historic sites, and quintessential New England coastal landscapes.

East Coast Beach Town

Cape Cod’s rich maritime heritage is evident in its historic lighthouses, charming fishing villages, and bustling harbors. Visitors can climb to the top of iconic landmarks like the Highland Light in Truro or the Chatham Lighthouse for panoramic views of the surrounding coastline. The region’s maritime museums and historical societies offer insights into Cape Cod’s seafaring past, with exhibits on whaling, fishing, and maritime commerce.

East Coast Beach Town

When it comes to cuisine, Cape Cod does not disappoint: from clam shacks serving up freshly shucked oysters and fried clams, to upscale waterfront restaurants specializing in locally sourced lobster and cod, there’s no shortage of culinary delights to tempt the taste buds. Visitors can dine al fresco on the waterfront, enjoying fresh seafood paired with expansive views of the ocean, or opt for a casual meal at one of the peninsula’s many seaside eateries.

East Coast Beach Town

No matter which Cape Cod town you choose to visit, from Hyannis at the start of the peninsula, to Provincetown at the very tip, to the neighboring islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard (each accessible by ferry), you’ll be swept away into the epitome of New England’s nautical charm for the ultimate East Coast Summer escape. 

East Coast Beach Town

Ready to Plan?

With these fabulous East Coast options for your Summer Vacation, you can still plan the Perfect Beach Getaway! And even if you’ve had this summer’s travel plans booked for months, why not take advantage of these East Coast destinations that allow for some spontaneous extra vacation days? Whether you prefer the warmer island breezes of Hilton Head and the Outer Banks, or the character of Cape May and Montauk, or the charm of Cape Cod, I’d love to help you plan a last minute summer escape! Contact me today at gina@lotmv.com to get started! And of course, whether you want to visit an East Coast Beach Town, or plan your summer getaway somewhere totally different, I will work with you to create the unique experience you’re looking for. 

 

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