Enjoy the sun, family fun, and more excitement at these East Coast summer destinations for families! From beautiful Maine to gorgeous Georgia, the United States boasts a lot of warm-weather locations to spend time as a family. Whether you want to relax seaside, hike, or learn more about unique local history, we guarantee there’s a perfect place for you. Adventurous families will love Bar Harbor thanks to its convenient location near Acadia National Park, for example. If it’s water sports you’re after, you can’t go wrong with destinations like The Hamptons, Montauk, or The Outer Banks. Of course, where you choose to spend your vacation largely depends on what your family is looking for. With our parent-approved suggestions on the best East Coast summer destinations for families, you’ll have all the information you need to plan a trip. We even include hotel suggestions, so keep reading for our advice!
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor is a must-stop on our list of East Coast summer destinations for families! With its mild temperatures and proximity to Acadia National Park, you’ll find countless things to do with kids in this scenic Maine destination. Firstly, take a whale watching adventure with Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. to spot whales, puffins, and dolphins. Kids will also enjoy learning about the local marine life at the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History. Don’t miss the chance to try iconic Maine cuisine at Beal’s Lobster Pier or Thurston’s Lobster Pound. If you plan on visiting Acadia National Park, hike along the Cadillac Summit Loop, The Beehive Trail, or the Ocean Path Hike. Then, stop in Jordan Pond House for the most delicious popovers. Kids will also love participating in the Junior Ranger Program, which includes activities in a workbook to learn about the park.
Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect family getaway. With luxury hotels, seaside restaurants, and sun-filled days at the beach, summer is a great season to visit. Popular beaches for families include South Beach in Katama, Fuller Street Beach in Edgartown, and Long Point Beach. Expect to find calm waves, clean shores, and lots of opportunities for swimming or sandcastle building! Other things to do in Martha’s Vineyard depend on which town you’ll be staying in. In Edgartown, families can eat breakfast at an airport, visit the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, or grab ice cream at Mad Martha’s. Oak Bluffs boasts the scenic Ocean Park,Oak Bluffs Marina, and Flying Horses, America’s oldest carousel! Stop in Vineyard Haven for fudge at Murdick’s, or appreciate the art in West Tisbury at the Field Gallery & Sculpture Garden. Hike to the Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook or Menemsha Hills Trail to see a stunning summer sunset.
Most families staying in Martha’s Vineyard choose a rental property from agencies likeMartha’s Vineyard Vacation Rentalsand Sandpiper Rentals. For a hotel experience, the waterfront The Harborside Inn in Edgartown has seven “houses”. Each offers accommodations, including some with patios and suites. The recently renovated Harbor View Hotel has traditional rooms in the main historic building, alongside one-, two- and three-bedroom cottages. In Oak Bluffs, consider Summercamp Hotel with fun décor, kid and pet-friendly rooms, and a game room. The Surfside Hotel has spacious suites, gear rentals, and a convenient location. For an oceanside resort, families love Winnetu Oceanside Resort, which has both a hotel and homes for rent.
Summer on the Jersey Shore is always a blast! From Perth Amboy in the north to Cape May in the south, this large stretch of beach towns spans the Atlantic Ocean. Head to spots like Long Beach Island, featuring high-end restaurants, great ocean views, and endless fun. Sunbathe in Bayview Park, bike to Surf City or Brant Beach, then visit Fantasy Island Amusement Park. For a quieter Jersey Shore experience, visit Spring Lake, conveniently located near NYC. Swim in Spring Lake, then stroll the shops down Third Avenue! Further south, there are more popular destinations such as Ocean City, famed for its Ferris Wheel, exciting boardwalk, and clean, family-friendly beach. Or, head to Wildwood for a vintage ambiance. Kids will love Morey’s Piers Amusement Park or Raging Waters Water Park.Cape May, which boasts attractions like the Cape May Public Beachor Cape May Zoo, is also great for families.
Search no further than Hilton Head for your next summer vacation! Famous for its incredible beaches, golf courses, and tons of outdoor activities for kids, we’re not surprised it’s one of the best East Coast summer destinations for families. Take advantage of the great weather at popular beaches such as Islanders Beach Park, Driessen Beach, or Coligny Beach, all great for families. Kids can swim, build sandcastles, or visit the playground while parents unwind. Then, you can horseback ride at Lawton Stables or visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge to see more local animals. Families can also see Hilton Head’s wildlife by water by taking a sailing tour or go bird watching with Commander Zodiac. Or, go dolphin watching with Hilton Head Dolphin Tours.Adventure Cove is always fun for mini-golf, and kids will love the arcade. Visit The Sea Pines Resort to climb up its legendary lighthouse!
Where to Stay in Hilton Head with Kids
Hilton Head has multiple accommodation options during the summer. If you want a luxury stay, consider booking the Montage Palmetto Bluff, which has a big property and accommodations ranging from one-bedroom suites to Southern-style cottages. Though it’s about forty-minutes outside of Hilton Head, it’s still a great hotel. In Hilton Head, there’s also Omni Hilton Head, which features three golf courses, a kayaking lagoon, and three outdoor pools. Disney fans will love a stay at Disney’s Hilton Head Resort, which is located less than a mile from Shelter Cove Harbour. Amenities include complimentary parking, a shuttle to Disney’s Beach House, plus a kids’ pool. For apartment-style accommodations, try Marriott’s SurfWatch. Families also like the Inn & Club at Harbour Town. Or, explore homes and condos in Palmetto Dunesand The Sea Pines Resort, among other options.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains are definitely one of the best East Coast summer destinations for families! Families will love Whale’s Tale Water Park, Santa’s Village, or Story Land. With gorgeous views of Cannon Mountain, families can also enjoy Echo Lake’s sandy beach. Kids can swim, pedal boat, kayak, and canoe, accessible by reservation with facilities at the Lakeside General Store. Or, hike through waterfalls, glacial pools, and moss-covered walls at Flume Gorge. You could also visit the Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves, a one-mile trail with boulders kids can climb. White water rafting is also available through outfitters North Woods Rafting, Raft NH, and ELC Outdoors. Kids will love riding New Hampshire’s longest Skyride, the Loon Mountain Resort Gondola, to a 2,733-foot summit! At the mountain’s base, enjoy ziplining, rock climbing, hiking, and more. Ride the Mt. Washing Cog Railway to see the highest summit on the East Coast!
The Isle of Palms is one of the best East Coast summer destinations for families. Located in South Carolina only 12 miles from downtown Charleston, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly activities, resorts, and vacation rentals. Firstly, there are seven miles of beach where families can lounge, soak up the sun, and swim. Parents who like golf should make sure to bring their clubs since Isle of Palms showcases world-class golf courses where you can tee off with the kids! If you’re more of an adventurous family, you can also enjoy the water by renting SUP boards or wave-runners. Kids will love this exhilarating summer activity! Be sure to also check out the Windjammer for beach volleyball and live music. A legend says there’s even buried pirate treasure on the island! As the sun sets, give your kids metal detectors to explore. You never know what treasure you might dig up!
Summer in Lake Placid is just plain fun! Though this upstate New York destination is famous for its winter skiing, summer is still a great time to visit with your kids. In this scenic mountain town, families can enjoy elegant dining, cute shops, and endless outdoor fun! On Mirror Lake, kids can canoe, paddleboard, kayak, or swim while overlooking picturesque cottages. At Lake Placid’s south end, relax on Village Beach, featuring soft sand, shallow water for kids, and a tennis court. Nearby, families can also stroll the pier and take in views of the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains. Want a longer hike? Try the half-hour High Falls Gorge, where you’ll be rewarded with wonderful views of the falls! Kids visiting Lake Placid may also be interested to know it once hosted the Winter Olympics. Stop at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum or Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex to learn more!
Where to Stay in Lake Placid with Kids
If you need somewhere to stay in Lake Placid with kids, consider these family-friendly options. A mile from the shores of Lake Placid, the picturesque Whiteface Lodge offers kids a complimentary summer camp program, plus chances to enjoy water sports. Families can also enjoy a complimentary shuttle to the resort’s private beach club. Overlooking Mirror Lake, the Mirror Lake Inn & Spahas an outdoor pool, a private stretch of beach, and offers other fun summer activities such as boat tours. The Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is also located along Mirror Lake, and has its own private stretch where families can enjoy non-motorized water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and more. Home rentals on Airbnb or VRBO are also an option.
Lake George is gorgeous in the summertime. With mountains reflecting inside its glistening waters, families will love this upstate New York destination. Soak up the warm sun at Ushers Park Beach, popular for little kids due to its shallow waters and nearby playground. Families can also pack a picnic, go for a swim, or rent a kayak to explore Lake George. If you’re into hiking, drive to reach the Stone Bridge Caves. Even little kids will be able to complete this easy hike! You could learn more about Lake George’s history at Fort William Henry. Then, enjoy the ultimate family fun downtown at the Lake George Village. Kids will love going on rides, playing carnival games, or visiting The Around the World Golf Course (it features popular U.S. landmarks as different holes!). Or, visit Bolton Landingand eat dinner at popular restaurants like Cate’s Italian Garden or The Huddle.
Where to Stay in Lake George with Kids
Families staying in Lake George can choose between home rentals, camping, and boutique hotels. Adventurous kids may love nearby sites like Adirondack Camping Village,Battleground State Campground, or Lake George Escape, which have heated pools, sports fields, and organized weekend activities. Or, stay on your own specially reserved island campsite by booking in advance through Lake George’sofficial camping website! For a hotel experience, try luxury resorts like The Sagamore Resort. It has multiple pools, a 10,000 square-foot recreation center, kid-friendly restaurants, and the opportunity to rent available boats!
Visit Ogunquit, a quaint town on Maine’s southern coast, for your family vacation! Showcasing sandy beaches, age-appropriate activities, and delicious dining, it’s the perfect place to visit with kids. Families will love lounging on the beautiful Ogunquit Beach, which is bustling, large, and clean. Parking is available nearby, and kids can rent gear from various vendors along the shore.To sightsee, hop on the Ogunquit Trolley, which will resume regular service in the future. Of course, you can’t forget to stroll the famous Marginal Way for more picturesque views. This mile-longscenic cliff walk passes through incredible vistas, historic mansions, and private beaches. Eventually, you’ll reach a small fishing village, Perkins Cove. Explore its charming shops, restaurants, and cafes. Families can also visit the Ogunquit Playhouse. Featuring live musical performances during the summer and a special Kids Theater Program, you’re destined to find some entertainment your little ones will enjoy!
Families will find countless kid-friendly accommodations near Ogunquit, Maine. We recommend booking a room at The Beachmere Inn, a Cape-Cod-style hotel overlooking the ocean. Families also love the Anchorage By The Sea, which has indoor/outdoor heated pools, nightly fire pits, and rooms overlooking the ocean. It’s also not too far from Ogunquit Beach! Though it’s a little bit outside of Ogunquit, families can also stay at the Cliff House Maine in Cape Neddick.
Montauk, New York
Montauk is another of the best East Coast summer destinations for families! Located at end of The Hamptons, this walkable Long Island town is particularly great for older kids. And, warm weather presents endless summer fun! Teens can surf at Ditch Plains Beach, home to numerous surf schools, and plenty of waves to practice. For younger children, visit Kirk Park Beach. Every Wednesday during summer, The Surf Lodge also hosts a family night with live music, activities, and more! Families will find lots of other kid-friendly things to do Montauk too, like visiting the Montauk Point Lighthouseor exploring the historical Camp Hero State Park. Besides hiking, Montauk is also great for fishing, chartering a boat, or renting a bike to ride through town. Or, horseback ride at Rita’s Stable! Afterward, enjoy a lovely dinner at The Crow’s Nest, which has a huge beach area for kids to roam!
There’s no place quite like The Hamptons! With miles of white sand, this Long Island destination is perfect for your next summer vacation. Families with younger children will love the calm Long Beach, while older kids may prefer Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack Harbor. Stay long enough for the Sagg Main Monday drum circle! If you’re hungry, grab a slice from World Pie Pizza, and also visit the famous Buddhaberry for frozen yogurt. In Hampton Bays, Meschutt Beach has tranquil waves and a snack bar to satisfy the kids! If you’re near Amagansett, visit Atlantic Beach, or Main Beach in East Hampton. The low-key Ponquogue Beach, which occasionally hosts live music, will be great for families staying in Westhampton. Don’t forget Shock Ice Cream for dessert! Cooper’s Beach in Southampton is also popular among families, followed by dinner at 75 Main. Most beaches require daily parking passes and tags.
Where to Stay in The Hamptons with Kids
Need somewhere to stay in The Hamptons with kids? Most families choose to rent a home from a site like VBRO. If you’d prefer a hotel stay, try The Hampton Maid, featuring spacious, resort-style rooms and suites in a convenient location. Sea Crest Resort in Amagansett is another fantastic option for families. It has a seasonal cabana service and quick access to grassy-covered dunes and the ocean.
Ashville, North Carolina
Ashville is absolutely one of the best East Coast summer destinations for families! It features stunning nature, historical architecture, and artistic city culture. Outdoorsy types can hike in Pisgah National Forest, where locals from all over the state flock to slip down Sliding Rock Falls. The Looking Glass Falls is also very beautiful. Slightly outside of Ashville, there are kid-friendly trails at the top of Mount Mitchell or through Grandfather Mountain. Or, cool down from the summer heat with a white water rafting adventure down the French Broad River with Nantahala Outdoor Center or French Broad Adventures! Daredevil families will also love zip-lining at The Adventure Center of Ashville.Plus, don’t miss The Biltmore, a historic mansion and estate nestled in Ashville’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Tour the property, then spot animals at the Barn and Farmyard. In nearby Little Switzerland, visit the Emerald Village to learn about gem mining.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Look no further than St. Simmons Island for your next summer escape, nestled in the Golden Isles on Georgia’s Atlantic coast. With fantastic fishing, great eats, and miles of beach, it’s a great place for families to stay and play! Soak up the sun with your kids at East Beach, featuring swimming, kiteboarding, or beach biking. Families can also ride bikes on the St. Simons Island Trail System. On a hot summer day, there’s nowhere better to cool down than Neptune Park, which has a Funzone Water Park, a public pool, and mini-golf. Fishing is also popular on St. Simons Island. Families can charter a boat through Coastal Island Charter Fishing and wake up early to marmalade, seagulls calling, and dolphins dancing. Other kid-friendly activities include horseback riding, taking a trolley tour, and more. Don’t forget about delicious cuisine at Crabdaddys Seafood Grill, The Half Shell, Porch, or Cafe Frederica!
Where to Stay in St. Simons Island with Kids
St. Simons Island has plenty of accommodations for families. Book a room with a view at the historic The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort, a resort with southern hospitality as sweet as the tea! If you have a bigger family, check out VBRO for a 2 bedroom private residence on St. Simons Island.
Thank You To Our Community!
As always, this article on the Best East Coast Summer Destinations For Families would not have been as helpful, informed, or family-friendly without the contributions and input from the amazing members of our Facebook group, Families Who Love To Travel! For more travel recommendations on East Coast summer destinations for families, be sure to also join us on Facebook at Families Who Love To Travel. It’s a community of dynamic families who also love to adventure and explore through travel. Plus, follow us on Instagram (@families.love.travel) to also connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer. And also get sneak peeks of upcoming articles!
*Due to COVID-19, some of the hotels, restaurants, or things to do on this list may be closed or offering reduced services. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.