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Trip Ideas

The 7 Best East Coast Getaways for Summer

Come summer, everyone heads to the coast (not that we blame them). Give us a pristine beach, a buttery lobster roll, and a fruity cocktail, and we’re set for the season—which is why we’ve rounded up our favorite East Coast spots to escape to this summer. Get packing!

Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.

See recent posts by Chelsea Bengier

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Montauk, NY

On the far east end of Long Island you’ll find Montauk, the Hamptons’ less-sceney sister. To get in the mood, kick your trip off with an Aloha smoothie (fresh pineapple, coconut, mango, and banana) and an organic wrap at Joni's Kitchen. Then, head out to Ditch Plains to hang ten with the surfer dudes, before exploring the Insta-perfect Montauk Point Lighthouse. When hunger strikes, eat al fresco at The Crow's Nest—we love the blue crab claw tagliatelle and the Montauk striped bass—or watch the sunset while tucking into mouthwatering sushi (the tuna, crispy calamari, and avocado roll is a must) at Inlet Seafood Restaurant. Round out the evening with a dance sesh at one of The Surf Lodge’s nightly parties or retreat back to Gurney’s or Sole East Resort to settle in for the night.

RELATED: Trip Matchmaker: Find Your Perfect Hamptons Escape

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Outer Banks, NC

Once home to Blackbeard, the notorious English pirate, this 200-mile chain of barrier islands is now an ideal respite for modern-day buccaneers. At 70 miles long, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the largest protected beach on the East Coast—and you can see it all from a bird’s-eye view at the top of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Brave the lines at Blue Moon Beach Grill, in Nags Head, and you’ll be rewarded with a heaping plate of fried oysters with jalapeno remoulade. Another go-to: Avenue Waterfront Grille, in Manteo, which overlooks Shallowbag Bay. While you’re here, stay at Sanderling Resort, where you can bliss out at the 6,000-square-foot spa, around one of the three pools, or in a cozy rocking chair on your private terrace.

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Acadia National Park, Maine Waterfall
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Bar Harbor, ME

Bar Harbor may be on the northern tip of Maine, but trust us when we say it’s worth the trek. The sleepy fishing village on Mount Desert Island is home to charming shops and mouthwatering seafood—particularly the lobster it’s best known for. Try some for yourself at the roadside Travelin' Lobster before venturing to Cottage and Main streets to peruse the artisanal wares. Nature lovers, meanwhile, can make a beeline for Acadia National Park to hike the 120 miles of trails and spot wildlife, such as bald eagles, whales, and moose. At the end of the day, wind down at the West Street Hotel’s rooftop pool (the only one in Maine), which overlooks the outer islands and Acadia.

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Nantucket, MA

This preppy isle off the coast of Massachusetts is famous for being the summer home of New England’s elite. Bed down at Greydon House, an 1850s Greek Revival mansion with nautical chic interiors by design firm Roman and Williams, plus a standout restaurant helmed by Marcus Gleadow-Ware, the chef behind New York City’s Michelin-starred Aureole. Steps from the hotel are some of Nantucket’s main sights, including the Whaling Museum and The Oldest House, built in 1686. And of course, you can’t miss sipping a Painkiller (a concoction of rum, pineapple juice, OJ, cream of coconut, and shaved nutmeg) on Galley Beach’s sunny patio.

RELATED: The 7 Most Charming Hotels on Nantucket

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Brewster, MA

Ditch the Cape kitsch for a secluded rural getaway in Brewster. The town in the elbow of Cape Cod feels as if it’s stuck in time: A mom-and-pop general store greets beachgoers as they putter in for the season, and generations of fishermen tend to the oyster beds when the tide rolls out. Take a tour of the flats and Brewster Oysters' farm, then head to Brewster Fish House and try some for yourself (the cod fish and chips are also a cult favorite). Once you’re fueled up, rent a cruiser and pedal the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail; then reward yourself with dinner at the 300-year-old Chillingsworth estate (a favorite of culinary legend Julia Child’s) before ending the night with sundowners on the terrace of the elegant Mansion at Ocean Edge or with a bonfire and s’mores under the stars on Bay Pines Beach, the hotel’s private stretch of sand.

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Fire Island, NY

New Yorkers looking to escape Manhattan—and the equally crowded Hamptons—should instead make their way to Fire Island. Much of this sandy stretch is made of state parks (the five-mile Robert Moses is a favorite for its marina and supreme surf) as well as maritime preserves like the Sunken Forest. The vibe here is laid-back to the max, where days are spent catching some rays on the beach or kicking back with your crew at one of the 17 car-free hamlets on the island. At the end of the day, head to the lighthouse and climb the 182 steps to watch the sunset over the Great South Bay and Manhattan skyline. Make the most of your stay at The Palms Hotel Fire Island, where friends and families alike gather year after year.

RELATED: A Town-by-Town Guide to Fire Island, NY

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Rehoboth, DE

A tiny sliver of a state, Delaware is oft overlooked for its neighbors. Rehoboth is one of the most underrated beach destinations, with one of the cleanest sandy stretches on the East Coast as well as a mile-long boardwalk that’s been around since 1873. Get a taste for the town at Dolle’s (the fudge, caramels, and saltwater taffy are out of this world), followed by a craft beer flight at Dogfish brewpub. Want to sip more suds? Consider crashing at the Dogfish Inn, a revamped '70s motel near Lewes Beach that has retro-inspired interiors, a kayak launch, and a lawn for Frisbee matches, cornhole games, and social time around the picnic tables (which have built-in ice coolers for beer, of course).

What to Wear on an East Coast Getaway

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