The Most Beautiful East Coast Towns in the USA

Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the oldest cities in the United States
Providence, Rhode Island, is one of the oldest cities in the United States | © MIHAI ANDRITOIU / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Naoko Kunigami
22 July 2021

There’s a lot more to the USA’s East Coast than New York City, Boston and Washington DC. From art museums in Connecticut to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont, the East Coast boasts plenty of unique destinations. Here are some of the most beautiful cities in the region to visit on your next American road trip.

Manchester, New Hampshire

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Manchester, New Hampshire, USA Skyline on the Merrimack River.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

Only one hour north of Boston, this New Hampshire location was once a mill town. Manchester still retains much of its original architecture, though many of the historical, brown-brick buildings have now been repurposed as upscale restaurants and bars. The west side of Merrimack River gives a great view of the beautiful townscape, while the Currier Museum of Art is a must-see, with a great collection of art works on display and special exhibitions throughout the year. The museum also organizes a tour to Zimmerman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Gyro Spot on Elm Street is a perfect stop after a day of sightseeing in the town, serving fantastic Greek wraps and spanakopita.

Springfield, Massachusetts

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

In 1891, James Naismith invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Massachusetts. The town now houses the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, a compelling stop for any hoops fan. For those who are more artistically inclined, Springfield Museums is a collection of four museums, along with a sculpture garden commemorating legendary children’s author Dr. Seuss. Plus, there’s a new museum dedicated entirely to Dr. Seuss – so if you’re a Cat in the Hat lover, you might want to check it out.

Portland, Maine

Natural Feature
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Portland, Maine, USA downtown skyline.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

The Old Port district is filled with 19th-century buildings that house locally owned retail stores, restaurants and bars. The Arts District contains a number of galleries and museums, including the highly regarded Portland Museum of Art. Many cities have a minor-league hockey or baseball team, but Portland supports the Maine Celtics – a basketball club in the NBA’s Development League, who play throughout the winter.

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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Scranton Electric Building in Scranton, PA. Image shot 05/2016. Exact date unknown.
© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

In the mid-1800s, Scranton flourished as an industrial town with a large coal mining and iron manufacturing community. Subsequently, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad was established to transport the town’s coal and iron products to ports across the country. The Steamtown National Historic Site showcases the railroad system’s prosperity and decline. Meanwhile, fans of the American version of The Office series can look out for filming locations, such as the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

New Haven, Connecticut

Architectural Landmark
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Yale University Art Gallery, the oldest university art gallery in the Western Hemisphere, is one of the main reasons to visit this fantastic town. The outstanding collection includes several famous works such as The Night Café by Van Gogh. Take time to appreciate the building itself, designed by Louis Kahn. Just across the road, the Yale Center for British Art highlights works of Gainsborough, Turner and Constable, among others – plus it’s free for visitors. Finally, check out Louis’ Lunch, the restaurant which claims to be the inventor of the hamburger.

Albany, New York

Architectural Landmark
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Albany, New York, USA at the New York State Capitol.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

The capital of New York state is filled with plenty of historic buildings, including the New York State Museum – which houses several ongoing and temporary exhibitions. If the weather is accommodating, bring your camera and walk around downtown in search of intriguing sites. Finish your day at the City Beer Hall, a cozy gastropub located in a building once used as the office of the Albany Home Phone Company.

Hartford, Connecticut

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

Hartford is home to the nation’s oldest, continuously operating public art museum – the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Built with the philanthropic intention of educating the public, it holds about 50,000 works spanning over 5,000 years. Highlights include the Hudson River School paintings as well as Caravaggio’s Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy. Just west of downtown Hartford is the Mark Twain House and Museum, a beautiful old house that was once the home of the noted author.

Providence, Rhode Island

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Providence, Rhode Island cityscape at Waterplace Park.
© Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

The capital of Rhode Island, Providence has a rich history as one of the oldest cities in the nation. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from Massachusetts. The city is home to the Roger Williams House – one of the smallest sites in the National Park Service – which commemorates the life of the city’s founder. Providence is also home to many microbreweries, with Trinity Brewhouse and Union Station Brewery being two great options located downtown.

Waterbury, Vermont

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View

Just 30 miles east of Burlington, Waterbury is a perfect place for factory hopping. Cold Hollow Cider Mill offers tours of their cider-making facilities, and afterwards you can enjoy menus that combine their products with fresh, local food. Craft Beer Cellar opens up a whole new world for beer lovers, allowing them to take home freshly made draft beer in growlers. Finally, the Ben & Jerry’s factory is a must-do for ice cream lovers, offering a tour that finishes with sample tasting. You can try their Vermont-only special flavors, available for purchase, then take a look at their flavor graveyard – which lists varieties that have sadly gone to the great ice cream bowl in the sky.

Chesterfield, New York

Architectural Landmark
Map View

If you’re seeking a soul-cleansing weekend, Chesterfield is an ideal destination. This tiny town (population 2,500) is largely contained in Adirondack Park. For hikers, Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain – which is located in the southern area of the town – has an easy trail that leads to a breathtaking view, overlooking the magnificent forest spread across New York and Vermont. Chesterfield is located on Lake Champlain, and you can take a ferry across to Vermont.

These recommendations were updated on July 22, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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