East Coast Travel Destinations for your Summer Bucket List

East Coast Travel Destinations for Your Summer Bucket List

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While I don’t get to enjoy it anywhere near as often as I’d like, I love to travel. The number of travel opportunities was one of my favourite things about life in Bath and, to some degree, college in Gettysburg. Here in the middle of nowhere (my current home base), the chance to travel is pretty rare. Reaching public transit to get anywhere is a trip in and of itself!

Still, the east coast offers some fantastic destinations. I’ve been lucky enough to visit quite a few, and others are on my own bucket list. So, with summer on the horizon and vacation plans being made, I thought there was no better time to share some of my top east coast summer travel spots.

Before we get into my favourite destinations, a few disclaimers are in order. A majority of these spots are in the Mid-Atlantic region since that’s my area of expertise. I even included a touch of Pennsylvania, though it’s not technically on the coast (most resources consider it a part of the region, if not literally touch the coastline).

Interested in PA travel in particular? Read about my weekend in Harrisburg!

There are a few must-see travel destinations, though, that I haven’t had the chance to visit just yet. Through my insatiable wanderlust and travel (ghost) writing experience, I’ve had the opportunity to “see” some incredible cities and points of interest across the country and beyond! Naturally, a few have piqued my interest and made their way onto my travel bucket list. Have you been to one of these places? Share your best tips in the comments or @anideallifeblog!

The Best Summer Travel Destinations on the East Coast:

Of course, be sure to follow any applicable health & safety guidelines when travelling, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

Frederick, Md

Carroll Creek Park, Image via Visit Frederick

Frederick is quite possibly one of my favourite places anywhere, not just on the east coast. This city has all the amenities you’d expectyet somehow achieves a friendly small-town feel. I love the artsy atmosphere and see a dog nearly any which way I turn! Plus, Voila! tea is basically a dream come true.

It may very well be different for the people that live there (I know Gettysburg was like that for me), but, until proven otherwise, Frederick will remain one of my favourite spots in Maryland and beyond.

Miami, FL

Image via Miamigov.com

Beaches aren’t necessarily my forte, but the city of Miami has most definitely caught my eye.

From my writing projects and pop culture, the diversity here astounds me. If nothing else, I won’t turn down a chance to practice my Spanish listening skills!

Gettysburg, PA

Gettysburg Pennsylvania | An Ideal Life
Devil’s Den

Going to school there dampened my love for Gettysburg a bit, but I still have a soft spot for the tourist-packed summer months. Any history fan—or civil war buff, in particular—should have the National Military Park on their bucket list!

In addition to the battlefield, Downtown Gettysburg has a lot to love. Visit the Blue and Gray Bar & Grill for a veggie burger or grab a drink at the Pointe Pub (within the Federal Pointe Inn). Learn about Jennie Wade, the only reported civilian killed during the battle, or “meet” some Gettysburg ghosts at one of the town’s many paranormal tours. More spiritual visitors should be sure to visit The Crystal Wand’s new location on Baltimore Street.

Myrtle Beach, SC

Image via Visit Myrtle Beach

Technically, I have been to Myrtle Beach, but it’s been well over a decade. So, while I don’t have much in terms of specific recommendations, I do have a ton of happy memories.

It’s all too possible that my view of Myrtle Beach is clouded by nostalgia—as my disdain for sand & sun grew through the years, I think I’d still enjoy this one. But, still, that rose tint maintains my love of this South Carolina hot spot, hence its inclusion on this list of east coast summer travel ideas.

Inner Harbor, MD

Baltimore Inner Harbor | An Ideal Life

Apparently, most of my favourite destinations are in Maryland—who knew? Aside: one of my current writing projects is inspired by the town of Berlin, too!

Between family vacations as I was growing up and then school and professional trips in later years, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is near the top of my list of favourite places. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I’ve considered moving there!

But, so far as summer travel plans are concerned, Inner Harbor is the perfect weekend or day trip destination for anyone within a reasonable driving distance. From museums to adventures on the water, you’d be hard-pressed to not find something to love.

New York, NY

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, also known as Central Park Reservoir Manhattan | An Ideal Life
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, Manhattan

Given my limited interest in beaches, it’s only natural that I’d include some cities as potential east coast destinations to visit this summer. NYC has a special place in my heart, and it’s not only because of Tiffany’s.

From Times Square to Central Park, New York City is “centre of the universe” for a good reason. But there’s more to the Big Apple than tourist attractions alone. My number one stop? VLife, the source of some of the best vegan food I’ve ever eaten!

Amherst, MA

Amherst Town Hall
Amherst Town Hall, Image via Encyclopaedia Britannica

Amherst is the newest addition to my travel bucket list, primarily due to the Emily Dickinson Museum. But any destination described as being “known for its bookishness, its artsyness, its local food obsession, its openness and tolerance, and its beauty” is the sort of place I need to visit!

Save for Salem, I’ve never had much of an urge to travel through the more northern United States. The more I learn about Amherst, though, the more that changes.

Petersburg, VA

City Point, Petersburg | An Ideal Life
City Point

My experience in Petersburg was limited to a Civil War conference half a decade ago (in my “former life” as a historian).But, from what I did get to experience the battlefield and surrounding area, I really enjoyed my stay!

If you do visit Petersburg’s National Battlefield, try to catch a program with my friend Emmanuel—he’s an incredible ranger and so passionate about his work!

City Point is especially beautiful, and its stunning views have stuck with me through the years. And, returning to my Pennsylvania roots, the 48th’s efforts had a particular impact as well.

Ocean City, MD

Ocean City, MD | An Ideal LifeAnother notable exception to my not-so-positive feelings about beaches, Ocean City, Maryland (not to be confused with its New Jersey equivalent) is anotherwonderful destination for a summer vacation. The boardwalk, in particular, has such fond memories!

As a bonus, the shore is just a few minutes away from one of my all-time favourite places, Assateague Island. They’ve basically mastered the formula for getting a place to catch my attention—they have cute animals and some literary references.

There’s much more to the east coast than these particular destinations. But these are a few of my favourites—and hopefully future favourites, too!

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