It is far too easy to fall into mundane routines and allow time to flow unchecked. Getting out of your comfortable bubble and experiencing something or somewhere different is vital in ways that are difficult to explain.
We have good news if you long for a vacation but don’t want to worry about the unfortunate side effects of visiting popular East Coast destinations. There are plenty of beautiful hidden gems all along the East Coast. You have to be willing to look off the beaten path.
Top 10 East Coast Destinations Off the Beaten Path
1 - Stowe, Vermont
Vermont is a winter playground with no shortage of incredible winter resort towns. However, if you are looking for year-round fun in a picturesque town, Stowe, Vermont, is the place to be. Enjoy a scenic drive along the Auto Toll Road or hop on a hot air balloon for a novel look out over the Green Mountains.
The charming town makes for an idyllic romantic getaway. Visitors can explore the quaint streets lined with boutiques, antique shops, and cafes, all surrounding the white-steepled church. If you enjoy outdoor activities, then you are in luck. In the winter, you will be in ski heaven. Or in the summer, Stowe offers incredible hiking trails with a wide range of options for every experience level. You could also go golfing, mountain biking, kayaking, or swimming.
If you are a fan of Julia Roberts, then you might be familiar with this underrated coastal destination. Despite finding fame in the 1980s movie Mystic Pizza, Mystic, Connecticut, remains a hidden gem on the East Coast.
Plenty of fun outdoor activities, especially water-based activities like boating or kayaking, are available. Grab an ice cream and watch as boats pass through the 1920s drawbridge. If you like ships, head to the Mystic Seaport Museum for maritime history. On the grounds, you’ll find tons of fascinating historic sea vessels, a 19th-century village, and a working shipyard. You can also check out the aquarium for a little under-the-sea exploration.
Despite its prime location on the stunning Gulf of Mexico coastline, close to popular Florida beach towns, Punta Gorda remains a hidden coastal gem. Between its unique history and white sand beach, this quaint town is a great place to enjoy the summer sun without excessive crowds or escape the winter blues.
Punta Gorda’s incredible location allows for various activities on the beach and around town. One of the most popular activities is a quick boat trip to nearby barrier islands. You can explore islands like Gasparilla, Useppa, and Cabbage Key.
For art lovers looking for a relaxing yet inspiring vacation, Hanover, New Hampshire, is the perfect alternative to crowded metropolitan art hubs along the East Coast. You get culture and creativity nestled into small-town charm. Plus, as the home to Dartmouth College, you’ll find the stimulating culture of academia.
Hood Museum is the perfect place to start. It is one of the oldest teaching museums in the nation and hosts an extensive collection of contemporary and ancient art and artifacts that date back to 900 BC.
Acadia National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Still, if you want to enjoy the park’s beauty without the crowds, Bar Harbor is the perfect place. This gem sits atop Frenchman Bay, adjacent to the park. Its natural harbor makes it the ideal place to go boating or take out a kayak for an afternoon of fun on the water.
If you feel like a more relaxing day, you could go on a self-guided tour of the shore path. Food lovers can explore the delectable food found throughout the small town through a guided food tour. Don’t forget the lobster! Maine is famous for them. Fans of Jose Clemente Orozco should visit the Baker Library, where you’ll find one of his stunning murals in the reading room.
Cumberland Island is a charming East Coast destination with stunning beaches, historic ruins, and wild horses hidden in Georgia. You’ll find the state park tucked away in the string of islands on the coast of Georgia.
Walking around Cumberland Island feels like stepping into a novel. The park is full of whimsy and charm, from Spanish moss-covered oak trees and wild horses to alligator-inhabited lagoons and desolate sand dune-style beaches. You’ll need a ferry to get there, but it’s worth it.
Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most popular travel destinations for wine lovers on the East Coast. Vacationers swarm to the vibrant vineyards packed with tasty food and decadent wines every summer. But the wineries can get crowded, and if you don’t plan far enough in advance, it can be challenging to book the tastings and tables you want.
Instead, venture southwest to a hidden gem, Aquinnah. It’s where locals like to go to beat the crowds every summer. You can enjoy all the same culture and charm of the famous vineyards and then relax on Moshup Beach with the Aquinnah Cliffs hovering above you.
Rehoboth is a favorite destination for locals but is often overlooked by tourists, making it the perfect spot for a tranquil getaway. This lively beach town hosts 30 miles of breathtaking coastline, perfect for any number of activities. You can walk the trails at Gordons Pond State Park or play with your pup at Poodle Beach. Whatever floats your boat!
Jekyll Island is a small, quaint Island off the coast of Georgia. The serene beaches and captivating history set the scene for a relaxing and romantic getaway. The popular Driftwood Beach is lined with large pieces of driftwood trees, making it a quaint location for a morning walk or idyllic picnic.
Once you are done relaxing on the beach, head to the historic district. The island was home to an exclusive hunting club in the 1800s frequented by prominent families like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. It has since been turned into a hotel that you can explore along with the 33 other historic structures in the district.
Step back in time and enjoy the sandy beaches and Victorian homes that fill Block Island. It is the perfect place for anyone looking to enjoy a crisp breeze while drinking a beer and devouring fresh lobster as the sun sets. Think Cape Cod without the crowds of tourists.
You’ll need to take a quick boat ride to get there. You can catch one from Point Judith in Galilee. Once you’ve arrived, soak in some sun on Mansion Beach. If you are brave, you can drive the nerve-racking yet stunning High Street up to Mohegan Bluffs. Finish the day by sipping wine or tea on one of the many Victorian-style porches.
there are endless little coves and cozy towns along the East Coast where you can spend a few hours or days recharging. While popular tourist destinations are popular for a reason, we’re confident you won’t regret stepping off the beaten path to experience some of the local culture. And don’t forget, with your 2xcape membership, you can stay as long as you need without regard to the expense of nightly room rates rates. Learn more today!