Most people prefer to picture the magnificent West Coast national parks like Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone when they think of the US national parks. Even though everyone agrees that those places are truly magnificent, the national parks on the East Coast have a lot of natural beauty and land to explore.
Even though most national parks in the United States are in the West, the Eastern national parks provide many landscapes, including complex cave systems, coral reefs, marshy marshes, and beautiful mountain summits.
So, even though the East Coast has fewer national parks than other parts of the country, it still offers a wide variety of geographical features. The east also includes a lot of national monuments, national seashores, national historic sites, and more while having fewer national parks.
Acadia National Park (Maine)
Acadia National Park is one of the most visited national parks on the East Coast, and with good reason. The park provides terrific beauty, family-friendly activities, and many hiking and bike paths. Acadia is an excellent option if you’re searching for a national park with something for everyone. Because the park has a variety of habitats, you may experience woods, mountains, and coasts all in one location. Additionally, there are several possibilities for wildlife viewing, so keep looking for moose, bald eagles, and other creatures.
When travelling to Acadia with children, there are a few considerations. The park may become busy during peak season, so try to visit during shoulder season.
Second, some routes may be challenging, so be careful to choose a trek that will be doable for your family. The weather may change fast in the mountains, so prepare for all eventualities.
You can tour the attractions of Acadia National Park in 2 days, but if you have more time, there are many things to do to keep you occupied for a more extended stay.
The Ocean Path hike, a filling supper at Jordan Pond House, and dawn or sunset views from Cadillac Mountain are just a few of Acadia’s most fantastic attractions.
Everglades National Park (Florida)
For any family travelling to Florida, Everglades National Park is a must-visit national park on the East Coast. The park is particularly striking since it is one of the world’s great biological marvels. Everglades National Park is the most extensive subtropical wilderness in the USA. People identify it as a world heritage site, and it’s also globally acknowledged as a biosphere reserve, a crucial wetland, and a vital global wetland.
Kids may explore sawgrass prairies, get up close to alligators, and ride in an airboat through a swamp here. One of the most well-liked attractions in the Everglades are alligators, and for good reason too! These enormous reptiles often swim in the park’s lakes or laze in the sun. Children will enjoy having the opportunity to see these animals up close.
The park also offers several paths for biking and hiking, boating, and bird viewing. In Everglades National Park, several simple hiking routes are great for families. Pay attention to the Anhinga Path, which goes through a sawgrass marsh. Look for alligators along the boardwalks, but you may also spot turtles, vultures, herons, the trail’s namesake bird, egrets, and vultures. There is a lot to see, so give yourself two to three days to explore. Winter is the most fantastic time to come because of the dry weather and low humidity, making touring more bearable.
Biscayne National Park (Florida)
Biscayne National Park is one of the top national parks on the East Coast. Just outside of Miami in southern Florida is where you’ll find this national park. Most of Biscayne is underwater, making it a highly distinctive national park. The park consists mainly of water, about 90%, and it’s home to underwater life, mangrove forests, and stunning coral reefs.
There is no entrance charge, and the park’s waters are accessible all year round. However, you must visit the visitor center during regular business hours or utilize the boat launch at the park. The launch is open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., while the visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A half-day or full-day visit to Biscayne National Park is sufficient, depending on how much time you want to spend on the water. The best way to see the park is to take a guided trip with the Biscayne National Park Institute or go off alone if you have a boat.
The Institute provides many trips, including kayaking, snorkelling, and history cruises. The Heritage Cruise is a fantastic choice if you’re interested in the park’s history but want to avoid going in the water.
Gulf Islands National Seashore (Florida)
America’s longest coastline, the Gulf Islands National Coastline, stretches over 160 miles. It encompasses a portion of the Mississippi and the Northwest coast of Florida and receives more than 5 million people annually.
The beachfront is situated at the farthest north point of the Gulf of Mexico. Thus, there are emerald-green waves, powdery white beaches composed of quartz crystals, and ancient forts and monuments. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is open all year round, although the summer months are the busiest since most activities occur outside. The finest things to do are family-friendly pursuits like hiking, bird viewing, and camping. Water-related pastimes, including sailing, snorkelling, diving, swimming, fishing, and boating, are also possible. Sea turtles and dolphins often swim near the coast, so watch for them. Visit the Fort Pickens Area of the Pensacola, Florida, oceanfront if you wish to make the family vacation more informative. Before the American Revolution, this military fort had an intriguing past; stop one of the experienced park rangers and get the real scoop.
Cape Cod National Seashore (Massachusetts)
In 1966, President Kennedy made his beloved Cape Cod the first national seashore in the United States, the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Families will love the Cape Cod National Seashore because it has many sandy beaches. Eastham and Provincetown are two visitor hubs at each end of the National Seashore.
The Cape Cod National Seashore is next to the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s an excellent spot for swimming in July and August. In the colder months, visitors come to Cape Cod to engage in various activities, including hiking, cycling, and kayaking. Regular dune buggy trips will allow you to explore the dunes with a fascinating, unique ecosystem. After swimming across from the adjacent seal sanctuary on Monomoy Island, seals sun themselves on the beach. One of the best ways to conclude the day is to watch the sunset from Race Point Beach.
Several lighthouses are available for you to tour. You may also visit the Wellfleet Audubon Bay Sanctuary, Massachusetts Audubon operates.
The Cape Cod National Seashore has so much to offer that you could stay there for a weekend or a few weeks. The Cape Cod National Seashore is free to visit. Parking, however, is paid for. Since parking for cars may be costly, many people ride bikes to the beach.
Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
There are few national parks like the East Coast’s Mammoth Cave National Park. It has the longest-known cave system on Earth.
The length of caverns discovered is now above 400 km. On the surface, Mammoth Cave National Park isn’t very remarkable. The subterranean cave system and enormous underground domes are breathtaking. The park is free of admission charges. You’ll need a guide if you want to go underground. Numerous tours are available. Some excursions have a minimum age requirement of 6, but the vast majority are appropriate for kids of any age. No matter what time of year you decide to go, the caverns will be the same temperature.
It’s essential to remember that the tour dates will shift throughout the year. Please plan since not all cave trips are available daily, and tours sometimes sell out weeks in advance. The Frozen Niagara trip, lasting little more than an hour, is the shortest option. It also involves climbing less than 100+ steps, as many other tours do, only 12. Violet City’s time, on the other hand, is more strenuous, protracted, and secretive. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity if you’re game. Visit the caverns in a day on a single trip or spend many days exploring.
Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)
One of the most beautiful national parks on the East Coast is Dry Tortugas National Park. It is 70 miles from Key West, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico. It is in a beautiful place in the Gulf of Mexico. This park protects seven islands or “keys” spread over 100 square miles of ocean. However, 99 percent of the park is underwater.
The only ways to get to Dry Tortugas are via boat or seaplane. The ship to the Dry Tortugas is the only approved tour company that goes to the national park. It offers day trips directly from Key West to the park on a modern, air-conditioned catamaran. On the boat, you will be given both breakfast and lunch. On the way home, it has snacks like hamburgers and pizza and plenty of places for a big group to sit together.
Wright Brothers National Memorial (North Carolina)
The Wright Brothers National Memorial is a tiny national park regarded highly among parents with children. It is a reproduction of the Wright Flyer that flew in 1903 and combined a visitors center with information about the mechanics of flying. Additionally, it includes beautiful outdoor areas that children may learn from and explore. In the U.S. state of North Carolina, Kill Devil Hills is the location of the Wright Brothers Memorial. On these same dunes, Orville and Wilbur Wright performed their first experiments in controlled flight, eventually leading to the first successful flights ever achieved by humans. The five flight markers assist children in visually grasping where each flight landed and how the duration of each flight progressively increased from the previous flight.
New River Gorge National Park (West Virginia)
New River Gorge is often forgotten on people’s lists despite being one of the newest national parks. In 1978 the park was classified as a national river, and in 2020, it was changed back to a national park. Over 70,000 acres of land make up the park, which stretches along the river for roughly 53 miles from Hinton, West Virginia, to Hawks Nest State Park.
The park is most well-known for the river that flows through it, which offers fantastic chances for whitewater rafting. Numerous businesses in the area provide cruises down the river. Beyond rafting, the park offers a variety of activities that both adults and families, including hiking, climbing, biking, and camping, may enjoy.
Assateague Island National Seashore (Maryland & Virginia)
The barrier island, Assateague Island National Seashore, is off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. Assateague has something unique to offer with the wild ponies wandering the coastlines, even if it has natural beauty like the other national parks on the East Coast!
Assateague is a fantastic location for a family vacation since there are many simple hiking alternatives, sandy beaches, camping possibilities, and quick access to the ponies!
Seeing the wild ponies is one of the top activities around the Assateague Island National Seashore and a fantastic choice for families. As you reach Assateague Island National Seashore, you may see several ponies along the marsh on the right side of the road. The boardwalks out across the marsh, hiking routes, and via boat are other ways to see the ponies.