Aerial view of Cape May, New Jersey

9 Most Underrated Towns On The Atlantic Coast

The Atlantic Coast is home to some of the most affluent and well-known cities and beach towns in the United States. From famous Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to bustling Miami Beach, Florida, there are plenty of places to explore along this great stretch of shoreline. However, these popular spots alone cannot contain all the beauty that the Atlantic Coast has to offer. It is time to travel a bit farther afield and discover some of the most underrated towns on America's Eastern seaboard. Discover the lesser-known, yet equally remarkable, destinations for your next coastal tour. From artsy gems tucked away in tranquil woodlands, and fishing villages full of old-world charm, to sprawling historic districts with fascinating stories left untold.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth historic city center and Waterfront of Piscataqua River with Memorial Bridge aerial view, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, New Hampshire historic city center.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a charming coastal town situated along the Piscataqua River and only about 60 miles away from Boston. This unique destination includes plenty of historical attractions, outdoor activities, and fresh seafood restaurants that make it an ideal getaway for travelers looking to explore the northeast region. Visitors can learn about Portsmouth's past at Strawbery Banke Museum, a 10-acre outdoor living history museum featuring more than 30,000 artifacts. Additionally, there are many other historic sites such as the USS Albacore Park, or Historic Walking Tours, which provide guided tours of the city center.

For culture and entertainment, Portsmouth offers a range of opportunities to enjoy the arts. It hosts an array of plays, musicals, concerts, and more for visitors to experience. Additionally, there is the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, which hosts regular productions for theatergoers to take in. The food scene in Portsmouth will not dissapoint either! The town is known for its plethora of fresh seafood restaurants renowned for their lobster rolls and clam chowder.

Chincoteague, Virginia

Wild ponies swim in the harbor at Chincoteague, Virginia.
Wild ponies swim, Chincoteague, Virginia. Image credit Delmas Lehman via Shutterstock

Chincoteague is a small town located on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It is well known for its stunning beaches and diverse wildlife, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in America. Visitors come here to explore Assateague National Seashore and spot wild ponies roaming freely across the sand dunes. The area also offers plenty of opportunities for water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and fishing.

Apart from its gorgeous beach areas, Chincoteague also has an attractive downtown area with quaint restaurants and shops. Here you can find souvenirs to take home or sample local delicacies like freshly caught seafood dishes or homemade pies from local bakeries. For those who are looking for a bit of adventure, Chincoteague Island offers guided tours through the wildlife refuge. These tours provide an opportunity to spot local birds and other wildlife as well as learn about conservation efforts in the area. Overall, Chincoteague Island is an ideal destination for nature lovers and beach bums alike. With its stunning beaches, diverse wildlife, and vibrant downtown area, it is easy to see why this island is one of the most popular tourist spots on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

St Mary's City, Maryland

Waterfront at night in St Mary’s City, Maryland
Waterfront in St Mary’s City, Maryland.

St Mary's City, Maryland, is a unique and historic destination on the Atlantic coast. Founded in 1634 by English colonists, St Mary's City is one of the oldest towns on the eastern seaboard. Today, it offers visitors a glimpse into its rich colonial history with museums, exhibits, and sites to explore around town.

The Historic St Mary's City museum boasts a variety of displays that provide insight into the development of life during the early days of colonization in America. For outdoor enthusiasts, Point Lookout State Park provides plenty of activities, including swimming, bird watching, kayaking, and more. St Mary's City is also home to several notable events throughout the year, such as its annual Leonardtown Summer Music Festival.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Boats in the water and people on the shore at Bar Harbor shore front in Maine
Bar Harbor shorefront in Maine.

Bar Harbor, Maine, is a picturesque coastal town located in the Northeast region of the United States. It is an ideal destination for nature lovers looking to explore Acadia National Park or take a tour around Frenchman Bay. There are plenty of restaurants offering traditional local seafood dishes like lobster rolls and clam chowder, perfect for any foodie traveler! For those who prefer land-based activities, there is plenty to do, such as hiking trails, biking paths, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Bar Harbor also has many cultural attractions, such as the Abbe Museum and The Jackson Laboratory. These attractions are great for learning about the local history, culture, and wildlife of Bar Harbor and the surrounding area. The town also has a vibrant nightlife, with many bars, pubs, and cafes providing excellent entertainment options.

Beaufort, North Carolina 

Harbor in Beaufort North Carolina
Waterfront in Beaufort, North Carolina.

Beaufort, North Carolina, is a hidden gem located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Known as "America's Coolest Small Town," Beaufort offers some of the most beautiful scenery and activities in the South. With its historic downtown homes, galleries, and seafood restaurants, it is no wonder why so many people flock to this quaint town each year. From fishing and kayaking to visiting local museums and parks, there are plenty of things to do in Beaufort for everyone. If you love nature, exploring the nearby Fort Macon State Park or trying your hand at boating around Taylor Creek will be perfect for you. For those looking for a bit more history, take a stroll through downtown Beaufort and witness centuries-old architecture and boutique stores.

Beaufort is also home to a plethora of amazing seafood restaurants serving up some of the freshest catches around. From menus filled with shrimp, oysters, crabs, and more, it is almost impossible to leave this coastal town without trying something new. Whether you are looking for a casual lunch spot along the waterfront or a romantic dinner overlooking the marina, Beaufort has it all.

Key West, Florida

Colorful Higgs Memorial Beach Park Pier Palm Trees Blue Water Key West Florida
Higgs Memorial Beach Park Pier, Key West Florida.

Located in the Florida Keys, Key West is the southernmost point of the continental United States. It is a popular vacation destination due to its warm climate and beautiful beaches. Besides lounging on the beach and soaking up some sun, visitors can explore historical attractions such as the Ernest Hemingway House and Museum, take a tour around the mangrove islands, or visit Mallory Square for sunset celebrations.

A trip to Key West would not be complete without trying out its local cuisines! From seafood like conch fritters to tropical desserts like key lime pie, there are plenty of culinary options suited for all taste buds. Sloppy Joe's Bar is another popular spot that has been serving tourists since 1937. Visitors can enjoy live music, a variety of drinks, and delicious Cuban sandwiches! The city also offers plenty of water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, dolphin watching, and sailing.

St Augustine, Florida

St Augustine, Florida, USA Downtown Drone Skyline Aerial.
Aerial view of St Augustine, Florida.

St Augustine, Florida sits on Florida's northeast coast. History buffs will love exploring Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, and other landmarks such as Flagler College, Lightner Museum, and Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Beach lovers can enjoy some of Florida's best beaches here, from Anastasia State Park to Crescent Beach, or take a scenic boat tour at St Augustine Boat Tours. Foodies will not want to miss out on trying some of the area's delicious seafood dishes!

Cape May, New Jersey

Beach goers enjoy a beautiful day in Cape May, New Jersey.
Beach at Cape May, New Jersey. Image credit Racheal Grazias via Shutterstock

Cape May, New Jersey, is a beautiful coastal town located at the very southernmost tip of the state. This historic beach community has Victorian-style architecture, pristine beaches, and ample outdoor recreation opportunities. The city of Cape May is home to some of the most picturesque beaches on the East Coast. From sunrise to sunset, visitors can soak up the sun from one of Cape May's several public or private beaches. The area also offers various water sports activities, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing. Nature lovers will appreciate all the outdoor recreational activities in the area; hikes along nature trails and birdwatching are just a few of the activities available.

Cape May's historic district is full of Victorian-style buildings, restored to their original grandeur. Many of these buildings are now home to family-owned restaurants and shops that offer visitors an array of dining and shopping options. For those looking for historical sites in Cape May, there are plenty to choose from. In addition to architecture, visitors will find museums dedicated to maritime history, lighthouses, and the military. Guests can also enjoy a guided tour of the Emlen Physick Estate, a 19th-century Victorian mansion that is now open for public tours.

Old Lyme, Connecticut

Old Saybrook Old Lyme Bridge (train) and Raymond E. Baldwin Bridge (vehicle on Interstate Highway 95) at the mouth between town of Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, Connecticut CT, USA.
Old Saybrook Old Lyme Bridge.

The town of Old Lyme, Connecticut, is one of the most underrated locales in the state. The historic downtown area has been beautifully preserved, giving it a unique old-world charm that is hard to find elsewhere. The community includes friendly and welcoming locals who are eager to share their history with visitors. It also boasts a variety of outdoor activities for nature lovers, including kayaking, fishing, and beachcombing along miles of shoreline.

Old Lyme offers plenty for art and culture aficionados as well. There are multiple galleries featuring work from local artists and the world-renowned Florence Griswold Museum, which houses an impressive collection of American Impressionist paintings. The Lyme Art Association is another popular attraction, offering year-round art classes and workshops. The town also offers an eclectic array of dining options ranging from old-fashioned diners to sophisticated eateries with a contemporary twist. With its diverse selection of food options and relaxing coastal atmosphere, Old Lyme is the perfect spot for guests looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

With miles of beaches, coastal towns, and stunning natural wonders, America's Atlantic Coast is an incredible destination suitable for any type of vacation. From the untouched beauty of Chincoteague Island to the bustling energy of Key West, this diverse landscape is full of surprises. From relaxing resorts and waterfront restaurants to thrilling outdoor adventures, America's Atlantic Coast truly has something for everyone! So, make sure to plan your next trip with this amazing area in mind, you won't regret it!

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 9 Most Underrated Towns On The Atlantic Coast

More in Places