The rugged Atlantic coast of North America is captivating to see, riddled with rocky cliffs, mixed forests, ancient mountains, marshlands, and sandy beaches alike. Walk along the shore or view atop dramatic rock faces the Atlantic in all her fury and beauty at any season. In the autumn, you can even treat yourself to beautiful colours seen nowhere else in the continent.
Astounding natural seascapes aside, the northern Atlantic coast is host to charming cities that dot the landscape with vibrant old-world buildings, food, music and even more vibrant people.
Boston, Massacheusetts, USA
No discussion of charming cities on the Atlantic Coast is complete without Boston Massachusetts. This iconic city hosts the many experiences essential to an east coast experience. Quinebequin peoples knew the value of this gem on the harbour, setting up their fishing weirs and homes in the summer. The charm of Boston in the summer with the cool Atlantic breeze appeals to thousands of tourists and residents alike. But what is there to do?
Take in the glistening waters reflecting the city lights on the harbour, or stroll along the boardwalk before taking in a bowl of patented Boston clam chowder, take in the sites of Beacon Hill or set on one of Boston's many ghost tours. Home to Harvard, the liberty trail and the Skywalk Observatory, Boston offers historians, artists and scientists something to love in Boston.Thriving with history and alive with people from all walks of life, enjoy a city that embodies the East Coast's fusion of romanticism and modernity.
Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
A city with a small-town feel, Plymouth sits directly on the wild waves of the Atlantic and is close enough to visit Boston while being far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the state capitol.
Home to the Mayflower's final landing, there's no surprise Plymouth is brimming with history. Plymouth rock juts into the water showing the place of the Mayflower's landing, her daughter ship the Mayflower II stands beside it, as if it just arrived. Replica pilgrim settlements and buildings of a by-gone era such as the Parish church tell a story of a city coming to its own. You can also visit the Pilgrim Hall Mueseum to learn not just about the Pilgrims, but also the Wampanoags who lived there thousands of years before the arrival of the Champlain in 1630.
If nature is more your thing, than you are in the right place. Take in the beauty and fury of the Atlantic from Plymouths many beaches, both rocky and sandy. Many of which are suited to swimming as well as strolling. You can also take in the immense greenery that dots the landscape including old growth trees. Downtown Plymouth is bustling with quaint local shops and a lively local spirit that grants warmth to the sometimes chilly climate. Relax on the beach or take in one of America's oldest storied cities. You will be sure to enjoy yourself here.
Portland, Maine, USA
Old and new beauty fuse in this picturesque town beneath the watchful eye of the Portland Head Light, a light tower that has beckoned ships into Casco Bay for hundreds of years. While this particular site is technically in Cape Elizabeth, it is a stone's throw away, and one could walk to it along the Eastern Promenade Trail, a beautiful Portland nature trail that weaves along the blue of Casco Bay.
Speaking of Casco Bay, you can actually board a tall ship to cruise across the bay as sailors of old. Further inland enjoy the stunning architecture of the historic port district Old Port, alive with colours of the past and present, with museums, restaurants, and more. Visit Allagash brewery and make your trip complete with a fresh pint of local beer by the stunning city centre.
Bangor, Maine, USA
Home to Stephen King and Paul Bunyan, this city encapsulates Maine in a way no other does. Charming Victorian houses dot the landscape while the Penoboscot River feeds it both metaphorically and physically. A river port city in boglands allow forests to thrive with extiquiste biodiversity. Enjoy this on the Orono Bog Board Walk or explore Bangor City Forest to enjoy the awe and beauty of nature.
Stroll along the river, a stone's throw away from the thriving downtown where you can find the best pint at Feet Brewing or find unique finds at countless local boutiques. Tour the verdant Cascade Park or gorgeous Mount Garden Cemetary before catching a sight of all-American folklore with the Paul Bunyan statue. From Paul Bunyan to Stephen King, Bangor, Maine in all its beauty and wonder gives birth to great stories and memories.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Balitmore is one of America's oldest port cities, to this day you can find or even book a cruise on tall ships sailing the Inner Baltimore Harbour. Over looking the glistening harbour is the eighteenth century starfort Fort McHenry, once the city's greatest defence, now serves as a national monument and historic shrine. For history lovers, there are no shortage of sights to take in, from the Peabody library and B&O Railroad Museum to the historic Fell's Point neighbourhood with buildings dating back to the city's founding.
Lovers modernity will also have plenty to do in Baltimore. Visit the Baltimore Visionary Museum or enjoy art from all eras in the Walters Art Museum. Learn about the local and international marine life at the National Aquarium or take in America's favourite passtime of baseball in Oriole Park at Camen Yards. From historic to adventurous chose a Balitmore trip that will leave you aching to return.
Providence, Rhode Island, USA
A major port city in this sleepy state sits where the Providence River meets the Narragansett Bay, Providence Rhode Island is teaming with natural and architectural beauty spanning back centuries. During your Providence visit be sure to both river and bay waterfronts where you will be met with good food, beer and historic buildings. Water Place Park downtown allows travellers to explore the city on foot, while being near both natural and manmade wonders. A spooky touch can be added for those who tour the Swan Point Cemetary. Animal lovers can enjoy the natural beauty of Rogers WIlliams Park before heading to the Rogers WIlliams Park Zoo,
Art efficinados can easily find a place to entertain themselves. Enjoy works of art through the ages at the Rhode Island School of Art and Design Museum. HIstorians are sure to enjoy the sight of the Rhode Island State House or downtown's Bennefit Steet, packed with important locations. Book your trip to this charming city on the Atlantic coast.
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
New Haven is right on the water, dominated by the Yale University campus, centuries old buildings tower over this walkable city's landscape, truly fitting to its region's name of New England.
Find the beauty of the Atlantic while enjoying the ammenities on Long Wharf, including Long Wharf Theatre where you can take in a play for a reasonable price. Nature lovers will enjoy the verdant landscapes and spectactular views of East Rock and Edgerton Parks or the fusion of nature and by-gone eras and view the defunct carosel at Lighthouse Point Park. Historians may enjoy a stroll through Grove Street Cemetary or the New Haven Museum while artists can visit the Yale Museum of Art. There's truly something for everyone in the aptly named city of New Haven.
Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
We travel back up to Canada for our last charming city on the Atlantic Coast. Rather than being on the ocean, it's on the historic Petticodiac River that's fed from the impressive Bay of Fundy. The interaction between the river and the bay cause a unique tidal bore that is a site to behold. A short drive southward will bring you to Hopewell Cape and to the famous Hopewell rocks.
A bilingual city with an active French community, downtown Moncton is host to many restuaraunts and buildings. This includes cathedrals and basilicas contributed by the prominent French and Irish settlments back in the eighteenth century. Atlantic Canada's unique wilderness can be enjoyed at the Irishtown Nature Park and Mapleton Park. Add whimsy to your trip as you stroll along the river with the Butterfly World and Boardwalk.
Moncton's most famous attraction is due to a unique phenomena called a gravity hill where the terrain makes it appear things are being pulled uphill by magnets. Few of these exist, and it is worth the sight. While there visit the Magnetic Hill Zoo or have a glass of New Brunswick's finest wine at the Magnetic Hill Winery. Take in the wonders of the natural world in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada on your next Atlantic Coast trip!
St John's, Newfoundland and Labradour, Canada
Set atop beautiful cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, the ocean is St. John's lifeblood. Brightly coloured buildings jut from the landscape dubbed Jelly Bean Row, with attractive 18th and 17th century architecture. Watch the waves from the vantage point of Signal Hill, home first trans-Atlantic wireless transmission and stunning hiking trails hugged by ancient conifers. The view can also be taken from Cabot Tower, a stunning structure overlooking the ocean evocative of old Scottish castles.
The stunning, rugged landscape is host to its own share of ghost stories. As North America's oldest city, many have lived and died within the bounds of the cities. From pirates to witches and jilted lovers, these stories are best experienced with the Haunted Hike to provide all the historical context with the places.
Like Nova Scotia, Newfoundland is renowned for its unique style of folk music inspired by the many cultures that settled the area. Experience the best of Newfoundland music and storytelling in St John's Story Telling Festival. From rugged wilderness and vikings to a bustling coastal city with an anachronistic charm, St John's, Newfoundland truly is a city with everything.
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Not to be confused with our previous entry, Saint John sits on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, granting residents and tourists alike views to the highest tides in the world. Take in the one of a kind sight of reversing falls along the boardwalk, just a stone's throw away from the charming, thriving uptown centre with countless waterfront restaurants.
Uptown Saint John is like entering a portal to the past with cobbled streets, narrow alleyways, and towering buildings dating back to the 17th century. Market Square boasts a seaside market similar to paintings from years past. But don't let the old-world charm fool you. Market Square has all the modern amenities common to any city's largest shopping centre.
The wonders of the natural world are not limited to the Bay of Fundy, but countless salt and fresh water beaches complete with hiking trails, can be found around the city. Enjoy wooded trails, under towering pines, tour the walkable downtown, watch the Dragon Boat festival or the Festival of Sound. From history buffs and nature enthusiasts to connoisseurs of maritime culture, this is one of the most charming cities on the Atlantic Coast.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Home of the iconic schooner, the Blue Nose II, Halifax, Nova Scotia is one of Canada's oldest cities and therefore one of its most storied. Downtown Halifax hugs the Halifax Harbour where one can stroll along the boardwalk or watch the ships come and go from one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Buildings dating back to the 1600's are not only gorgeous, but they have a soul of their own to them. You can still see the scars from the Halifax Explosion in 1917 if you pay close enough attention, as they were repaired and restored. But these aren't the only scars, according to locals, who claim ghosts haunt the many old buildings and factories, including the 1749 star fort, Halifax Citadel and the 19th century Alexander Keith's Brewery.
We move from boardwalks and ghosts to food. Halifax is one of the East Coast's most diverse cities and the restaurants reflect that. Have a pint and cod at one of Halifax's many Irish pubs, or tuck in to Lebanese Mashawee Mediterranean Grill. No discussion of Halifax would be complete without discussing music. A Stroll along during the Busker's Event on the boardwalk every summer, attend a concert, and every spring hosts a Celtic music festival weekend.
Enjoy these Charming Cities on the Atlantic Coast
And be sure to visit the surrounding towns and villages that fill out the region with iconic East Coast charm. From songs and tales to ships and natural wonders, you are certain to find what you need in your vacation in Atlantic Canada and New England!