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  • Writer's pictureS. Parris

Atlantic Coast's Best Small Towns For A Weekend Escape

The Atlantic Coast is brimming with lovely destinations, and many of these coastal vacation spots can easily be explored or enjoyed in just a few days. From beachy getaways near the Kennedy Space Center and adventure trips in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge to relaxing on Martha's Vineyard, your quick holiday does not need to be over-the-top for you to have a marvelous time. Continue reading for ten of the Atlantic Coast's best small towns for a weekend escape that will fit the bill for any and all type of traveler!

Montauk, New York

The perfect summer vacation awaits visitors in Montauk, New York. Established in 1660, this upstate haven has been a place for people to relax and enjoy the good life ever since. Considered a part of the Hamptons, specifically East Hampton, Montauk is a little on the high end as far as weekend escapes go. But if you happen to be a beach lover or are searching for world-class surfing, which can be found at Ditch Plains Beach, then this small town is an excellent option. Montauk is also home to six state parks and has ample points of interest, including the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse. So, if you are intrigued, then Marram Montauk, an exceptional oceanfront hotel, is definitely worth considering for your getaway accommodations.

Cape May, New Jersey

A weekend escape to Cape May in New Jersey for history buffs is pure paradise. This small town on the Atlantic Coast is a designated historic district and has the second-largest collection of Victorian houses and buildings in the US. After marveling at the stunning architecture, you can spend some time lounging at the beach, shopping, indulging in a diverse culinary scene, and participating in various leisure activities. Wildwoods Boardwalk is also a wholesome theme park that stretches more than two miles down the coast and is worth visiting. You can book your weekend getaway accommodations at the historic Congress Hall, which is one of the top hotels in Cape May and has been a boarding staple in the community since 1816.

Rockport, Massachusetts

Yet another gem on the East Coast is none other than the town of Rockport. Located in Massachusetts, this quintessential New England city is ideal for couples or anyone looking to slow down a bit and relax. Just north of Cape Ann, Rockport boasts a rich history, the Windhover Performing Arts Center, some of the freshest seafood around, pristine beaches, and limitless outdoor recreation. Popular touristy spots such as Halibut Point, Sandy Bay, and the Antique Trail are just a few ways visitors can pass the time. Known for its hospitality, Rockport has several great lodgings, including the posh Addison Choate Inn, the city's first boutique hotel.

Mystic, Connecticut

A quaint town also worth a weekend vacation is Mystic, Connecticut. Known for its leisure activities, historical sites, culinary delights, brewing companies, and wineries like the lovely Saltwater Farm Vineyards, this city is a true coastal experience. There is plenty for visitors to do in Mystic thanks to the city's endless entertainment options, which range from escape rooms and tree trails to the Mystic Museum of Art. And if you want to stay in the center of it all, consider booking Steamboat Inn for your lodgings. Located on the waterfront and in the middle of the downtown area, the Steamboat Inn has recently renovated rooms with fireplaces and waterfront views for a steal.

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

A summer hot spot, Martha's Vineyard has something for everyone—watersports, horseback riding, shopping, beach fun, health and wellness activities, plus more. That said, sightseeing is a must while on the island. Popular points of interest like the Gingerbread Cottages, the Aquinnah Cliffs, and the Gay Head Lighthouse are just the beginning here. Overall, Martha's Vineyard is a small town or, rather, an island that is just what the doctor ordered, with great food, a wholesome vibe, and no shortage of things to see and do. In terms of places to stay, this small town definitely has some options, including Inkwell Beach House, which is a modern-style bed and breakfast that overlooks the ocean.

Cambridge, Maryland

Small-town lovers are in for a real treat in Cambridge, Maryland. Besides having ample tours, including the Chesapeake Ghosts, a walking ghost tour, Cambridge has a historic downtown district, a famous art scene, abundant water activities, great shopping, and excellent restaurants. Cambridge also has some fascinating maritime heritage and is near the birthplace of Harriet Tubman. It is safe to say travelers to Cambridge will have a diverse and authentic weekend escape. As for accommodations, you can find ample places to stay for any budget. For instance, the Cambridge House Bed & Breakfast is a wonderful choice for mid-range budgets. This notable bed and breakfast is also ideal for history enthusiasts, as these lodgings were once an 1847 sea captain's estate.

Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Travelers in need of a bit of rest and relaxation should head to Chincoteague Island in Virginia. This is another small town with a lovely historic downtown area, quaint bookstores and shops, lush green spaces, a farmers' market, and a picturesque waterfront. The Island Theater Performing Art Center is also an entertainment hub with classic films and concerts. But the real beauty here lies in the wild ponies, which you can see swim and run free when exploring the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Add a stay at the Waterside Inn to the mix, and you can slow down and simply enjoy this little seaside haven with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality, of course.

Hilton Head, South Carolina

With 12 miles of pristine shoreline, Hilton Head in South Carolina is undoubtedly for the beach bums. You can spend much of your weekend escape sunbathing, swimming in the ocean, strolling along the seemingly limitless white sands, picnicking on the beach, and marveling at gorgeous sunsets by the sea. For the more active types, outdoor adventures are available, including parasailing, kayaking, biking, ruin excursions, the Gullah Heritage Trail Tours, and boat charters. Hilton Head also has a thriving art and culture scene, which is worth a gander, especially if the beach gets rained out. If you happen to be staying at the family-friendly and luxurious Sea Pines Resort, however, the resort amenities are aplenty. So, try to remember to venture out occasionally to see the rest of this small town.

Hot Springs, North Carolina

Located in Madison County, North Carolina, the town of Hot Springs is one more Atlantic Coast summer playground. Even so, this outdoor haven is more of a peaceful getaway than a bustling hotspot. Conveniently located near the Great Smoky Mountains, Hot Springs (once Warm Springs) has been a touristy destination since 1831. Not only is this town home to the only natural hot spring in North Carolina, but it is also an outdoor paradise. So, visitors can do it all — explore Pisgah National Forest, go road cycling, hike The Appalachian Trail, do some in-town fishing, try whitewater rafting, and even have a nice mountain picnic. Likewise, Hot Springs Resort & Spa is a rustic campground and lodge on the banks of French Broad River, where camping in all its forms is available — tent, RV, and cabins. Plus, Hot Springs Resort & Spa has an array of vacation rentals and suites if you aren't big on camping.

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Further down the Atlantic Coast, the sleepy little town of Cocoa Beach in The Sunshine State is an amazing weekend escape for all ages. Whether you want to line dance at local watering holes, go surfing, sip drinks at the Cocoa Beach Pier, or watch the rockets take off at the Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach has got you covered. Situated along Florida's Space Coast, this small town is a fun mix of touristy sights, wholesome adventures, tasty eateries like Pier 62 Oceanfront Restaurant & Bar, surf shops, and street art. And a superb place to stay while living your best life is Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort, which has luxury suites, a lazy river, and easy access to this town's iconic pier.

Ultimately, these are only a handful of small towns on the Atlantic Coast that were made for a weekend escape. Whether you’ve got your heart set on fun in the sun, history with a side of ghost tales, regional eats, or outdoor adventure, these coastal cities mentioned above can absolutely accommodate you. So, if you have been contemplating a quick vacation on the eastern side of the US, consider adding these stellar destinations to your travel bucket list!

*This article was originally published here on World Atlas Travel

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