The Northeast region of the United States is full of amazing places to visit, from bustling cities to sites of the nation’s founding to beautiful nature. Here are a few destinations that will make any regional trip fantastic.
The 18 Best Places to Visit in the Northeast
The Northeast region of the USA is full of things to do. History lovers have to stop here at least once because this is where the United States was founded.
From the historic city of Boston to important sites from early settlements and the American Revolution, lovers of U.S. history will have so much to see and do.
The Northeast is one of the most urban regions of the United States, featuring big cities such as New York City and Boston, but it also has some beautiful nature. You can go hiking, rafting, and cycling.
Or join the thousands of leaf peepers each fall that come to see the beautiful foliage spread over the mountains.
Whether you check out small New England fishing towns or go partying in big cities, spend your days exploring history or nature, the Northeast is sure to have something for you!
1. New York City, New York
New York City is one of the best places to visit in the world, let alone the Northeast. There is so much to do in the city that never sleeps.
Check out the lights of Times Square but head out of there fast to take in some culture at the Metropolitan Museum or escape from the bustle in Central Park.
New York City is chock-full of landmarks and attractions, but one of the best things to do is go to a neighborhood where New Yorkers live, take in the atmosphere, and enjoy some great international food.
Head into Queens for some excellent Chinese food in Flushing, or take in the arts scene in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Read Next: Is New York City Safe to Visit? & Where to Stay in New York City
2. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is one of the most historic cities in the United States and is full of historic sights. You can take in most of them by following the Freedom Trail, which includes attractions such as the Boston Common and the Boston Massacre site.
Once you get your dose of history, return to the present day with a stroll through Boston’s pleasant brick buildings, shopping on Newbury Street, or maybe a Red Sox game in the famously sports-mad city.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Boston & The Best Time to Visit Boston in 2023
3. Niagara Falls, New York
The Northeast has some spectacular natural sites, but few are as impressive as Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is actually a group of three waterfalls across the Canadian and American borders.
It is the largest waterfall in North America and one of the largest in the world. Make sure to take in the view of the falls, both from land and from the water on the Maid of the Mist cruises.
The town of Niagara Falls is now a tourist attraction, with everything from glitzy hotels to cheesy arcades to keep everyone busy.
Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Niagara Falls in 2023
4. Nantucket, Massachusetts
If you want to check out the beautiful Atlantic coastline in the Northeast, one of the best places to do that is Nantucket.
Nantucket is an island off the coast of Massachusetts that is a mix of laid-back fishing village and glitzy vacation resort — it’s been a vacation spot for the rich and famous for decades.
You can splurge for an expensive resort if you feel like it or stay in one of the quieter towns on the island and enjoy a relaxed beach vacation.
There is plenty to do on Nantucket, like shopping, cycling, and exploring the dining scene, but the best thing is definitely to relax on the beach.
Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Nantucket in 2023
5. Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor in Maine is one of the most picturesque small towns in the entire Northeast. Located on Mt. Desert Island, it is the perfect destination for a relaxing New England getaway.
Use Bar Harbor as a base to get into nature when you head towards nearby Acadia National Park or beaches such as Sand Beach.
There is also plenty to do in the town itself, such as sampling lobster rolls at the many amazing seafood restaurants and walking around the picturesque town center.
Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Bar Harbor & Where to Stay in Bar Harbor in 2023
6. Portland, Maine
Portland is one of Maine’s most beautiful cities. It is large enough to be a city and have all the excitement you could want, but it has also preserved its small-town charm.
It has something for nature lovers, history buffs, and hedonists.
Nature lovers can walk out to Portland Head Lighthouse and look over the Atlantic Ocean — the site makes for particularly beautiful star gazing at night. Visit historic Victoria Mansion and other old buildings, or just gorge yourself on lobster.
Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Portland, Oregon in 2023
7. Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City in New Jersey is the ultimate party destination in the Northeast. Once a beach town, it is now the Las Vegas of the East Coast, with plenty of resorts, casinos, and nightclubs to keep every hedonist happy.
Check out one of the casinos (go inside to gawk even if you don’t want to gamble), visit Steel Pier amusement park, and of course, join the crowds on the fabulous beach.
8. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod is another excellent beach destination in Massachusetts. Cape Cod is on the part of Massachusetts that juts into the ocean, making it perfect for fun in the sun.
Stay in one of the quaint small towns such as Yarmouth to get a feeling for the laid-back lifestyle.
All the best things to do on Cape Cod are relaxing: swimming on the beach, cycling between towns, and sampling amazing local seafood.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Cape Cod & Is Cape Cod Safe to Visit?
9. Stowe, Vermont
Vermont is full of beautiful small towns nestled in the mountains, but even with such stiff competition, Stowe stands out.
The city center feels just like a postcard with a white church steeple, unique boutiques, and a historic town center, including the Trapp family lodge (yes, run by those von Trapps).
Stowe is an excellent base for exploring Vermont’s beautiful nature. Take in the foliage in the fall or go skiing in winter at Stowe Mountain Resort.
10. Newport, Rhode Island
If you want to see how the rich and famous lived, then you have to stop in Newport, Rhode Island. Gilded Age robber barons chose this town to build their mansions, and the opulent buildings survive to this day.
The best way to take in the beauty of the location as well as the mansions is by walking along the Cliff Walk. Some of the mansions are open to the public if you want to explore the gilded interiors.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Newport, RI in 2023
11. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park in Maine is one of the most beautiful parks in the Northeast. It is one of the only places where you can take in the craggy coastline as well as inland forests, mountains, and more.
Follow one of the many hiking trails to take in Acadia sites, such as the top of Cadillac Mountain, picturesque Jordan Pond, and more. If you’re pressed for time, Park Loop Road will take you past the highlights.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Acadia National Park & The Best Time to Visit Acadia
12. Mystic, Connecticut
Mystic, Connecticut, is the quintessential New England small town. It was once an important seaport and whaling town and is now a great tourist destination, especially for families.
History lovers will want to visit the Mystic Seaport, complete with an authentic 19th-century shipping village and ship, while children will probably make a beeline for the beluga whales in the Mystic Aquarium.
Don’t forget a stroll through the charming town center!
13. White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire
The White Mountains are the perfect destination for nature lovers, especially those in search of some adventure. The national forest is full of adrenaline-inducing activities such as hiking up Mount Washington, zip lining, and rafting.
If you prefer to take in nature at a slower pace, take any of the beautiful hiking trails and admire the views, which are especially impressive in the fall.
14. Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island, is a smaller city with a big heart that has something for everyone. The cultural scene is famous, as is the LGBT scene.
Check out the many galleries, bars, and clubs in the fun-loving city. Providence does have a calmer side, including highbrow culture featured in the RISD Museum.
15. Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York features some of the most beautiful scenery in the Northeast. The series of long, narrow lakes that really do look like fingers are in a mountainous, craggy region.
The best thing to do around here is to go hiking and explore the lakes and waterfalls. Check out Watkins Glen State Park with its beautiful pools or Taughannock Falls State Park.
The Finger Lakes region also has some nice creature comforts, including beautiful wineries, unique museums such as the Corning Museum of Glass, and historic sites such as the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls.
Read Next: Where to Stay When Visiting the Finger Lakes in 2023
16. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Some people don’t include Pennsylvania in the Northeast, but it’s worth including just to convince you to visit Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is a must-visit for lovers of American history as it is home to important sites from early America, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.
Philadelphia is also an exciting modern city with plenty of free museums, a thriving underground culture scene, and a sports fanbase famous for its passion.
Read Next: Where to Stay in Philadelphia in 2023 & Is Philadelphia Safe to Visit?
17. Cape May, New Jersey
If you want to explore the Jersey shore but are looking for a calmer destination than Atlantic City, Cape May is the perfect place for you.
This small town was once the most attractive destination for wealthy Northeasterners looking to vacation by the sea in Victorian times. You can check out some of the old mansions, such as the Emlen Physick Estate.
Enjoy the beautiful seashore at Cape May, and be sure to check out the famous Cape May Lighthouse. Kids will adore the seashore and fun at the beach, while adults can take in wine tastings at nearby wineries.
18. New Haven, Connecticut
The Northeast is also associated with the nation’s finest universities (and what Gen Z would call the “dark academia aesthetic”). There’s no better place to take in the academic atmosphere than in New Haven, home to Yale University.
You can visit some of the museums on the university campus and walk around the historic Ivy League institution. It would be a mistake to make New Haven just about the university.
You should also check out the museums in town, walk through the fun downtown, and try some of the pizza, which locals swear is even better than those in New York City.
Things to Consider
Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the Northeast:
- The weather here gets very cold in the winter, so make sure that you bring warm clothing. Only drive if you are confident driving in the snow.
- The big cities are pretty and historical, but also have some dangerous areas. Research neighborhoods to avoid ahead of time and make sure you take precautions such as not walking in unfamiliar alleyways at night and keeping a grasp on your valuables.
- If you are heading out on hiking trails or other outdoor adventures, make sure that you are going on trails that are appropriate for your skill level and that you have the right emergency numbers, just in case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions people have about traveling in the Northeast:
Which Northeastern state is the most beautiful?
It’s hard to answer this question since there is so much beauty in the Northeast. Maine probably has the most natural beauty because it has the largest areas of untouched wilderness, gorgeous mountains, and a coastline.
What are the unique places to visit in the Northeast?
When you’re visiting the Northeast, make sure that you visit at least one small town to get a feeling for the unique regional culture. Visit a Vermont mountain town such as Stowe or a coastal town such as Nantucket or Bar Harbor.
Where to go in the Northeast during summer?
During the summer, everyone in the Northeast heads to the shore! You can check out the hedonistic Jersey Shore, rub elbows with the nation’s elite in Nantucket or other Massachusetts summer destinations, or go to Maine for a wilder summer getaway.
What is the Northeast best known for?
The Northeast is most famous for its cities. Places such as Boston and New York City were some of the earliest settlements in the country and boast hundreds of years of history, as well as modern universities, sports teams, and cultural institutions.
How do I plan my Northeast trip?
First, decide how much time you have and try to adjust your itinerary accordingly — you won’t see every state in a week, and it’s better to enjoy fewer destinations than to rush through more towns. Then, try to get a mix of cities, small towns, and untouched nature into your itinerary.
So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in the Northeast?
There is something in the Northeast for everyone. Head to New York City for the big city experience, small towns such as Mystic for historic charm, and for untouched nature, you can’t beat Acadia National Park in Maine. Happy travels!