Aerial view of downtown St. Augustine in Florida.

7 Ideal Atlantic Coast Destinations for a 3-Day Weekend in 2024

The Atlantic Coast offers some of the United States’ most charming small towns for a three-day weekend getaway. With their unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, these destinations are ideal for travelers seeking a respite from the concerns of everyday life. Best of all, these coastal communities aren’t shy about celebrating their unique character. Visitors can explore historic landmarks, enjoy fresh seafood, and participate in fun annual festivals that unite communities as they embrace century’s old local traditions.

The summer of 2024 is shaping up to be an especially exciting time for these towns. So whether you are interested in history, nature, or simply relaxing by the sea, these seven ideal Atlantic Coast destinations promise an unforgettable three-day weekend.

Cape May, New Jersey

Waterfront homes and umbrellas along the beach in Cape May, New Jersey.
Rustic houses and umbrellas lines along the beach in Cape May, New Jersey. Editorial credit: Racheal Grazias /

Cape May is a lovely resort town that needs little introduction. Situated at the southern end of the Jersey Shore, this seaside town is well-known for its perfectly preserved Victorian architecture. It is such a significant collection that the entire town has been designated a National Historic Landmark, making it one of the most walkable small towns in New Jersey. Topping most attractions lists is the Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859 and boasting spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. Better still, it’s located within Cape May Point State Park, an ideal spot for birdwatching.

The summer of 2024 will also see the return of the Cape May Music Festival, a month-long event featuring classical, jazz, and folk performances. The Cape May Food and Wine Celebration in late summer is also fun and allows participants to indulge in gourmet tastings and wine pairings at local restaurants and vineyards. Cap it all with a great weekend stay at the Mahalo Cape May or La Mer Beachfront Resort, both close to New Jersey’s best beaches.

Beaufort, North Carolina

Boats and buildings along the dock at Taylor Creek in Beaufort, North Carolina.
Boats and buildings along the dock at Taylor Creek in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Located on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, a spectacular 85-mile-long stretch of land boasting 56 miles of protected beaches, Beaufort is well-known for its rich maritime history and lovely waterfront. Those interested in local tales must visit the North Carolina Maritime Museum with its exhibits on the infamous Blackbeard and his ship, Queen Anne's Revenge. Time it right, and you can even enjoy a little swashbuckling fun at the 2024 Beaufort Pirate Invasion, a summer’s end festival featuring pirate reenactments and themed parades where everyone dresses up as… yes, pirates.

The Old Homes Tour at the end of June is another great excuse for a weekend getaway in Beaufort. It provides a unique glimpse into numerous private homes and gardens. Looking for accommodation ideas? Popular places to stay in Beaufort for a three-day weekend getaway include Inlet Inn with its harbor views, and the quaint Inn on Turner, both an easy walk from the historic downtown area.

St. Augustine, Florida

Aerial view of the Castillo de San Marcos fort along the Atlantic coast in St. Augustine, Florida.
Aerial view of the Castillo de San Marcos fort along the Atlantic coast in St. Augustine, Florida.

For those looking for a romantic couples’ Florida getaway, St. Augustine is the place to go. The oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States, this lovely town's Spanish colonial architecture and cobblestone streets transport visitors back in time. Must-sees include the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish fort on Matanzas Bay, and the Lightner Museum with its fine and decorative arts collections from the Gilded Age.

Summer 2024 events to consider visiting include the St. Augustine Music Festival, a free event held in St. Augustine Cathedral Basilica that this year celebrates Juneteenth. There are also plenty of great places to stay within walking distance of George St., which has its shopping and dining opportunities. Favorites include The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens and the highly rated Casa Monica Resort & Spa, part of the luxurious Autograph Collection.

Chincoteague, Virginia

Buildings along the pier in Chincoteague, Virginia.
Buildings along the pier in Chincoteague, Virginia. Editorial credit: Kosoff /

Virginia’s not without a few great weekend destinations of its own, with the small town of Chincoteague offering one of the most unique coastal experiences. Here, visitors can watch the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim and Auction, a July event involving the rounding up and swimming of wild ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague, followed by an auction to benefit the local fire department. It’s also a great excuse to explore the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge with its bountiful wildlife, including those wild ponies.

The lovely beaches of Assateague Island are another draw, as are the Assateague Lighthouse and the Museum of Chincoteague Island. Plenty of first-rate accommodations are available, with popular choices including the Marina Bay Hotel & Suites, Ascend Hotel Collection, and the Waterside Inn.

Rockport, Massachusetts

Aerial view of the Rockport Harbor and Motif No. 1. in Rockport, Massachusetts.
Aerial view of the Rockport Harbor and Motif No. 1. in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Rockport is a picturesque coastal town on the north shore of Massachusetts that offers plenty of fun for weekenders seeking an authentic New England experience. Highlights include Bearskin Neck, a narrow peninsula lined with charming shops, galleries, and restaurants that are fun for a wander. You’ll likely pass one of the town’s most photographed landmarks, Motif No. 1, a famous fishing shack often depicted in artwork and photographs. Also worth visiting is Halibut Point State Park, which has dramatic ocean views and coastal hiking trails.

Summer guests will want to time a visit to coincide with the return of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, a renowned June event that attracts top classical musicians from around the world. Need a place to stay? Top-rated accommodations in Rockport include the Eagle House Motel & Guesthouse and The Seafarer Inn, both located close to the town’s best attractions.

Lewes, Delaware

View of downtown Lewes.
Quaint homes and greenery in downtown Lewes, Delaware.

Lewes is famous as the first European settlement in Delaware, located where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Established by the Dutch in 1631, the influence of this small European nation persists to this day, with the Zwaanendael Museum commemorating the town's Dutch heritage. More of the town’s history can be experienced at Lewes Maritime Museum at the Cannonball House, dating from 1765 and set in the former home of local mariners.

Those wanting a little weekend fun on the beach don’t have to go far. In addition to Savannah Beach, a long stretch of sand running from the Lewes Ferry terminal all the way to Roosevelt Inlet, Cape Henlopen State Park offers swimming and sunbathing, along with hiking, bird watching, and camping. If a tent’s not for you, check out the rates at the centrally located INN At Canal Square.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Vibrant homes along Main Street in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Vibrant homes along Main Street in Bar Harbor, Maine. Editorial credit: Sean Xu /

Up in Maine, the Atlantic Coast’s most northerly state, Bar Harbor offers weekenders a sizable slice of New England scenery and culture. Located on Mount Desert Island and popular for its proximity to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor offers easy access to spectacular Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet in height and the eastern seaboard’s highest point, the views of the surrounding rugged landscape are breathtaking. For those adverse to climbing and hiking, a handy car park is located just a short distance from the summit.

Summer 2024 promises to be a great time to visit and sees the return of the Bar Harbor Music Festival in July. Now in its 58th year, this month-long event features a variety of musical performances and other activities to participate in. Plan ahead for your trip, as popular hotels like Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina, and Bar Harbor Grand Hotel tend to book early.

The Final Word

These seven Atlantic Coast destinations provide weekend warriors with the perfect excuse for a summer getaway. From the charming Victorian streets of Cape May to the wild ponies of Chincoteague and the breathtaking landscapes of Bar Harbor, each of these seaside communities provides unique attractions and events that cater to various interests. As plans for that perfect summer 2024 getaway take shape, be sure to consider these ideal coastal towns for a truly memorable experience.

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