The Mid-Atlantic region is the perfect place to kick back and unwind this summer. Miles and miles of sandy beaches, balmy ocean breezes, and some of the best seafood around makes this segment of the East Coast a top-shelf attraction for anyone looking to get away from big city traffic jams. Here is a list of eight relaxing towns between New York and North Carolina perfect for all-season excursions to recharge those batteries.
This charming town on the northwestern side of Pennsylvania is known as the Black Cherry Capital of the World thanks to its proximity to the Allegheny National Forest and its thickly grown forests of Black Cherry Trees. At Allegheny, outdoorsy folks can partake in the hundreds of miles of trails for horseback riding, dirtbiking or swimming, boating and camping. The forest is only the first of many attractions drawing tourists from across the Northeast. City slickers missing the personal touch of small town America should find accommodations at the Kane Manor Inn, a bed and breakfast in town, is called one of Pennsylvania’s best kept secrets. Stop by the town’s drive-in theater and bask in the projector glow, or simply lay on a blanket for a crystal clear view of the starlit sky. Walking the quiet Main Street of downtown Kane is a surefire way back to simpler times.
St. Leonard, Maryland
Hidden in southern Maryland, this underrated gem comes complete with trails, unbeatable views of the Chesapeake Bay, and plenty of quiet. St. Leonard is the perfect place for a blue light detox thanks to its slow pace and natural wonder. For those looking to spend time at the water, Mataoka Beach is a must. This secluded strand is so beautiful, the $5 access fee may seem like an oversight. Bring a kayak or fishing rod and spend it in the company of the enchanting Atlantic Ocean. Next, see the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum for an educational exploration of human history with its archaeological exhibits and miles of trails. Relax at Perigeaux Vineyards after soaking up the sun and enjoy a sumptuous glass of Bordeaux on the shores of the Patuxent River.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
A fan-favorite destination among locals for years, the lovely town of Harpers Ferry sits nestled against the beauty of the Potomac River and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town is known for its dog-friendly atmosphere and furry friends are bound to enjoy the state’s natural splendor. The Maryland Heights loop trail leads hikers nearly seven miles up to a stunning viewing point over the town and the Potomac. Restaurants also have plenty of outdoor seating year-round through the use of heated decks. Stop at the Rabbit Hole Gastropub for gourmet sandwiches and cocktails at reasonable prices, or try The Rabbit Hole to fuel up between shopping sprints on High Street. True Treats Historic Candy shop is one of the most interesting parts of the town and comes highly recommended for its recreations of Biblical-era candies in addition to contemporary favorites.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
This Mid-Atlantic beach town is a favored summer destination by beltway bigwigs because of its peaceful, serene qualities and always tempting eateries. Indeed, even President Joe Biden has a home in town. Rehoboth Beach has a lovely boardwalk characteristic of beach towns, but the town also comes with an amusement park that is guaranteed to be a big hit with families with children. The town has more than hotdogs and fries on offer however. Bicycle between different eateries and taste small town cruising like never before.As part of the “culinary coast,” visitors to Rehoboth will be able to find gourmet sushi, French bistro fare and locally sourced delicacies at The Back Porch Cafe. Head to Cape Henlopen State Park and mosey over to the Rehoboth side to experience a peaceful section of the beach that is off the beaten path.
Located by the easy swells of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, this small resort town is the perfect place to unwind once the weather improves. Truly, people have continued to visit Chincoteague for generations due to the slower pace the town has to offer, literally: The speed limit in town is 25 mph. Animal lovers will find no shortage of excitement in Chincoteague. Horses are an inescapable feature of the island town and even inspired the classic “Misty of Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry. Each year, 150 wild ponies swim across the channel from nearby Assateague Island in July each year. Kayaking and biking are also commonplace at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Reguge and nearby islands. Take a trolley through the town and try small-batch ice cream, wander through art galleries and see the sunset as it was meant to be seen.
The historical town of Hagerston is absolutely packed with museums and artifacts. If the educational factor is high on the list when choosing a retreat, Hagerston is for you. The Antietam National Battlefield and National Cemetery are only minutes away from the town proper for any Civil War buffs interested, but there is plenty else to see without leaving Hagerstown. Learning about railway history, African-American history, and Hagerstown history is all possible at their respective museums for intrepid vacationers looking to broaden their minds. Lovers of the arts will feel at home here as well. Hagerstown also has a historic theatre which hosts the Maryland Symphone Orchestra and live plays are often produced by local theater companies. Stop by the County Museum of Fine Art which boasts of over 6,000 pieces on loan from around the world.
Port Jefferson, New York
This popular tourist spot was formerly a shipbuilding town thanks to its situation against the Atlantic Ocean. Today, Port Jefferson continuously draws summer crowds of folks pining for its waterfront views and the salt spray it has been known for. Port Jefferson is both pet and family friendly. There are a number of attractions for children such as Destination Science and The Rinx at Harberfront Park where visitors are invited to skate next to the ocean. Play tennis and basketball at Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park or picnic in the large picnic area. Charter a fishing cruise and cast away to your heart’s content or visit the scuba center for an under the sea adventure. Adults will find plenty of entertainment at the bars and breweries in-town where dancefloors and live music play late into the night.
Somerville, New Jersey
This underrated Mid-Atlantic gem is considered one of the best places to live in New Jersey thanks to its nightlife, schools and safety. The town hosts numerous events all year for residents and visitors alike such as classic car shows including the largest cruise night on the East Coast. Grab a seat on a reclining chair and enjoy an outdoor cinema experience at the Starlit Cinema outdoor movie series and visit the Sunday artisan market to get a piece of local New Jersey artisanry for yourself. Visit the gargantuan acreage and orchid range at Duke Farms for an escape into the state’s natural beauty. Try not to leave before seeing the Great Falls. This farm is larger than 75% of all New Jersey towns according to their website and exploring it is an all day affair. Pro tip: rent a bike to cover more ground.
Everybody needs a little time to unwind now and then, and what better way to destress than a visit to the scenic and serene towns of the Mid-Atlantic. Immerse yourself in acres and acres of forest, sink into the warm sands of the coast’s many beach towns, and stroll down Main Street for a heaping serving of small-town U.S. hospitality. When traffic congestion gets to be too much, consider some of the entries above for a getaway full of fresh air, sun, and simple living.