A family strolls down Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia, the oldest street in continuous use in the United States.

11 Oldest Founded Towns to Visit in the Mid-Atlantic

The Mid-Atlantic region is home to some of the most important historical events that have ever taken place off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in the United States. Experience the site of the American Revolution or the location where the Declaration of Independence was signed. One great thing about visiting the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States is that you will find the oldest cities and towns with the most in-depth cultural and historic places in all of America.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - June 30, 2016: Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park with sunlit Independence Hall in the background.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall. Image credit foto-select via stock.adobe.com

After New York City, Philadelphia is the most populated city in the Mid-Atlantic region and the country’s first World Heritage City. Dating back to the 17th century and well-preserved, visitors can appreciate unprecedented access to the spaces where the major decisions in America have taken place, including Independence Hall and Congress Hall. Make sure to see the Liberty Bell while you are there and snap a photo with one of the most prominent symbols of freedom and justice in the world. Learn the details about the birthplace of the American Flag by visiting the Betsy Ross House, and walk down the cobblestone streets of Elfreth’s Alley to experience one of the oldest residential communities. Only Philadelphia can offer a true time-traveling experience through historical and modern history.

Albany, New York

Tulips and The New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York.
The New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York.

Founded in 1614 as Fort Nassau, Albany is one of the oldest cities in New York State, and a must-see for anyone planning to see some of the most important places in American history. In the 19th century, New York was the epicenter of the industrial revolution, and rivers were turned into shipping lanes. Experience the diverse cultures that the Mid-Atlantic region has to offer by stopping off at Albany. Ideal for history lovers, this iconic location is where the musical Hamilton was born and the nearby Baseball Hall of Fame, offering a truly American experience. Visit New York State Capitol, and Washington Park and enjoy scenic views of rich geological and cultural history on your drive around town. Immerse yourself in the landscapes of epic cliffs and waterfalls while you wander and capture the history of one of the oldest cities in North America. An opportunity to experience it all awaits in Albany, New York.

Jersey City, New Jersey

The Liberation Monument is a bronze memorial in Liberty State Park, shows an American soldier and a Holocaust survivor.
The Liberation Monument in Liberty State Park, New Jersey. Image credit JMT Photography and Media via Shutterstock

Founded in 1617 as New Netherland, Jersey City, right across from New York City, is one of the oldest cities in America. Home to steamboats and a territory made up of the Hudson River colliding with the Hackensack River, Jersey City is an urban destination with a diverse and cultural population rich with history. Jersey City marks the beginning of development and industry in American history. The dockside facilities are worth a gander, and the Morris Canal to see how rivers became part of transportation and industry epicenters. Check out Liberty State Park, and Ellis Island Immigration Station, or gaze upon the Statue of Liberty. The opportunity to embrace diverse cultures, ethnic foods, and epic historical sites will all be at your fingertips on your next trip to Jersey City.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo City hall and Niagara Square ( State of New York) view from court Street during day time from the middle of the road.
Buffalo City Hall and Niagara Square.

Sitting across from Fort Eerie, and bordering Canada’s Niagara Falls, the city of Buffalo, New York, is the best escape for a travel enthusiast looking to kick back and relax. Enjoy the ambiance of decades-long history immersed in the ground as you walk through the city and feel the mist on a sunny day while walking next to Niagara Falls. Home of the primary inland port between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean and the second largest railway hub next to Chicago, the city of Buffalo is one of the main North American epicenters of manufacturing, industrialization, and economic advancements throughout history. Dating back to the 17th century as a trading post, the city holds strong geographical and cultural significance.

Washington DC

Washington DC in spring with pink flowers blooming on the trees
Washington, DC, in spring.

Serving as America’s capital since 1790, Washington, DC, is one of the best places to see landmarks, monuments, and memorials that are invaluable to the history of the country. Along with the history is great sightseeing, epic landscapes, and an outdoor environment that you won’t want to miss. Sail down the Potomac River during the day and talk about the founding fathers while you visit Capitol Hill at night. Get a view of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument while you take in all of the social justice, art, and activism that is vibrant and alive in the area. Don’t miss the White House or the Supreme Court Building and the five-star restaurants within blocks of century-old Victorian homes. Washington, DC, is one of the most important places to visit when looking at the oldest cities in the country.

Baltimore, Maryland

Aerial view of Baltimore, Maryland.
Overlooking Baltimore, Maryland.

Fascinating American history at your fingertips, Baltimore offers a wide array of culture, history, arts, and entertainment in one beautiful city. Visit Federal Hill and see the most iconic view of Inner Harbor while you gaze upon monuments commemorating the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. Catch the rays while you paddle down the Patapsco River, and at night. Get down to Fort McHenry for a lesson in history before heading to Oriole Park to watch a baseball game, America’s favorite pastime. One of the oldest cities in the Mid-Atlantic, Baltimore, often called "great red bank of clay" is one of the best cities to experience pre-revolutionary times. Capturing the importance of Maryland's history, Baltimore is a must-see for any history buff, travel enthusiast, or anyone looking for a fun experience.

Jamestown, Virginia

A replication of the original colonial town of Jamestown.
A replication of the original colonial town of Jamestown. Image credit Kathy Clark via Shutterstock

Founded in 1607, Jamestown, Virginia, is the oldest English settlement in North America. In the earliest days, only the wealthiest were allowed access to Jamestown as it was a commerce-based city where only business was conducted. Get into the old town feeling and immerse yourself in the story of three cultures, European, North American and African, and the collective impact that they had on the freedom, economy and justice of the United States. Along with a strong historical narrative, Virginia offers epic outdoor adventures and experiences from hiking, water excursions and expansive beaches. Relax among old-style architecture and historical sites while enjoying the modern arts and entertainment that Jamestown has to offer.

Rochester, New York

Welcome to Rochester sign in downtown.
Welcome to Rochester sign, downtown. Image credit Brett Welcher via Shutterstock

Dating back to the 1680s, Rochester, New York, is one of the United States' first boomtowns, which brought about its name as the "Flour City" when it burst with flour mills and manufacturing that brought the city to new levels of recognition worldwide. A popular culinary scene, local breweries, and outdoor adventures make Rochester one of the greatest cities for vacationing in the modern era. Home of women’s rights notable figure Susan B. Anthony and civil rights notable Frederick Douglass, Rochester is a city of excellence. Visit Highland Park and view the flower city in action or take an afternoon to golf at one of the best locations in the state. Cities holding history to this kind of cultural depth can take days to explore, and Rochester is a place that keeps on giving to its visitors with year-round attractions and experiences.

Newark, New Jersey

Aerial of Newark, New Jersey
Overlooking Newark, New Jersey.

The port cities that shot up during industrialization are some of the oldest and most culturally rich places to visit in the country. Newark is west of New York City and lies on the bank of the Passaic River, a landmark for the commercial industry at the time. Check out the sites and the origin of the process for making patent leather founded there by Thomas Edison in 1818. The port for printing and publishing, Newark is a major communications center and home to one of the busiest international airports in America. Plan a trip to Newark, and you won’t have to go far from where you land. Step outside to Essex, the county that is home to the famous Rutgers University, and explore the depth of knowledge available in the community. A walk through Branch Brook Park and some water excursions will remind you that history is not only behind the walls of the buildings in Newark, but also in the centuries of landmarks and scenic masterpieces that surround the city.

Chesapeake, Virginia

Great Bridge Battle Site, Both sides of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal between Oak Grove and Great Bridge Chesapeake
Great Bridge Battle Site monument. Image credit Tere Rottink via Wikimedia Commons

Chesapeake is an independent expansion of Norfolk and only gained its rights as a city in 1963, but Norfolk dates back to 1682. Located in Virginia, a short drive from Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, Chesapeake captures what life was like in the 1700s. Watch the reenactments at the site of the Battle of the Great Bridge, see the Great Bridge rise to allow for boats to pass, or spend some time walking through Battlefield Park. Head down the river is the Great Lock Park, with a busy canal and water activities that will keep you cool in the summer heat. As a diverse city with urban areas, it is also home to one of the largest and most substantial portions of wetlands which are home to the most fascinating flora and wildlife. Explore the history of the people and the land when you plan a vacation to Chesapeake.

New York, New York

The Statue of Liberty over the Scene of New York cityscape river side which location is lower manhattan, Architecture and building with tourist concept
The Statue of Liberty and New York cityscape.

New York City is one of the most visited tourist locations in the world. Holding some of North America’s most fascinating history, New York is the birthplace of the history of the United States. Explore some of the most famous burroughs that go back centuries from Staten Island to Queens and from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Discover the epicenter of American culture, the decision-makers of commerce, and an example of an all-American way of life. One of the oldest cities in North America, the diverse history of New York is full of cultural significance, offering one of the most abundant experiences for visitors from around the world. Check out the World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, or cultural objects from around the world with a gander through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Witness Times Square for yourself and experience all that New York has to offer on your next vacation.

The oldest towns and cities in the Mid-Atlantic offer historic experiences, cultural landmarks, quaint shops, and epic landscapes. Sitting on the road of the newly established trade routes, America was founded in these small towns and cities. Get your fill of civil war history, understand the War of 1812, and embrace the marks that civilization has left on the landscapes that date back centuries.

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