The east coast of the United States is a beautiful region with plenty to offer.
From mountains and lakes, to beaches and rivers, there are many reasons why people love coming here.
But if you’re looking for even more natural beauty, then you should visit one or more of these 10 national parks in the Northeast US that everyone needs to see!
If you are planning on traveling with kids, be sure to check out our list of the top eight national parks to visit with kids too!
1. Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park in Maine is famous for its scenic views, hiking paths and beautiful coastline.
There are also several Acadia lodges around to make your stay that much more comfortable!
Acadia is home to Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain east of the Rocky Mountains.
Cadillac Mountain provides unbelievable views and hikes that everyone can enjoy!
Be sure not to miss Cadillac Mountain on your next visit; it’s one of the “must see” places in all of Maine!
But, Acadia is also home to a lot more than just hiking paths and scenic views.
There are 165 miles worth of biking trails for you to explore too!
At over 67,000 acres big, many people refer to Acadia as America’s first national east coast park that has hardly been touched by man-made development.
This makes it a great place for hikers looking for an outdoor experience with low population density or crowds.
The 65 mile coastline area includes 21 different named peaks which offer some magnificent views.
There are also plenty of other things to do in Acadia National Park, from bird watching to visiting the Blackwoods Nature Center which is home to a range of wildlife native east coast species, including black bears!
2. Cape Cod National Seashore
Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts is home to the largest east coast barrier beach system.
With over 40 miles of beautiful coastline, Cape Cod offers plenty for everyone to enjoy!
There are many activities you can do at Cape Cod National Seashore including hiking and biking trails, wildlife watching or getting up close with nature by walking on one of their five sand dunes.
You could also take a boat ride out onto Buzzards Bay where there’s an abundance of marine life such as seals, osprey and even whales if you’re lucky enough!
If that doesn’t sound like your thing then how about taking a stroll down Scusset Beach?
The long stretches of soft white sand will surely put you in some good moods!
Another great place to visit is the Salt Pond Visitor Center.
This visitor center offers a one-of-a kind birding experience with plenty of unique east coast species for you to see!
There’s also an interpretation center, gift shop and bookstore too so don’t forget your wallet before heading out on your next adventure in Cape Cod National Seashore!
3. Antietam National Battlefield
Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland is well known for the Battle of Antietam which took place on September 17, 1862.
The battlefield has been preserved and protected as a way to remember those who lost their lives during this battle.
This national park offers visitors some insight into what life was like before bullets were fired!
Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour and explore various sites that hold significance such as Burnside Bridge or Bloody Lane where many soldiers died.
There are also plenty of monuments dotted across the landscape from stones honoring different regiments all the way up to statues commemorating President Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg following the Civil War (though he never visited Antietam).
4. Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland is famous for its coastal dunes and horse filled beaches.
This east coast park offers some fantastic views of the Atlantic Ocean, perfect for those who are looking to get away from it all!
There’s a wide range of things you can do while taking in these beautiful sights such as fishing, surfing or even just lazing on the white sand beach with your toes buried deep beneath the surface.
Be sure not to miss out on their annual Pony Penning event which takes place every July since it only happens once per year!
Make sure to visit the Assateague lighthouse while you’re there as well!
It is a 19th century light house that is still working!
Assateague Island has a lot to offer with a wide variety of activities to choose from!
The whole family will find something here that they will enjoy!
5. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park in Maryland is located along the Potomac River.
This east coast national park offers a great insight into how people used to travel before cars were invented!
Visitors can explore an old towpath which was once used by mules to transport goods from one side of the canal all the time, or they could take a hike on any number of hiking trails that are available too.
There are also many biking trails in the area for those looking to take a ride around the national historic park while they are there!
There’s even a replica lock for visitors who want to see what it would have been like as a boatman back in 1831 when locks became necessary due to changes in water levels within the canal system.
Be sure not miss out on this east coast gem while you’re exploring these sights because there’s plenty of things to see and do over the course of your visit!
6. Catoctin Mountain Park
Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland is the east coast’s largest section of public land, spanning over 87 square miles!
This national park offers a variety of hiking trails so you can choose one that suits your needs.
One famous trail to try out is Hog Rock Nature Trail.
This is a great option for those who are looking for a short, easy trail that still provides some great east coast views.
No matter which trail you decide to take, there’s plenty for you to see such as old growth forests and historical buildings like an apple house which was built around 1875 by two German immigrant brothers.
If those don’t sound appealing then how about looking at waterfalls?
Cunningham Falls is a beautiful waterfall that you can hike to in under four hours (or you can hike to the lower Cunningham Falls much faster) and it’s a great east coast destination which is perfect for the whole family.
Visitors can also spend time exploring some wildlife!
More than 500 species call this east coast gem home including deer, coyotes and even black bears!
There are countless possibilities when it comes to exploring Catoctin Mountain Park – make sure not to miss out on these east coast hidden gems while you’re on your east coast adventure!
7. Fire Island National Seashore
Fire Island National Seashore in New York is east coast’s only national park that encompasses an entire island!
This east coast gem offers visitors some of the best views of Long Island Sound, making it perfect for a day trip to enjoy the serene landscapes.
Visitors can also visit various sites which hold historical significance such as The Point at Robert Moses State Park or The Walkway Over the Hudson where you’ll find monuments and other tributes to those who have been lost along this east coast path.
There are plenty of beaches here too so be sure not to miss out on exploring these beautiful sights while you’re there – don’t forget your sunscreen though since many people get sunburned just by walking around all day!
They even offer a variety of tours for visitors who are looking for something more than just walking the beautiful east coast beaches.
Things like bike, canoe and kayak rentals as well as bird watching or lighthouse tours are available too and often include lunch options that will make your visit here extra special.
There’s always something new going on at Fire Island National Seashore which makes it an east coast national treasure not to be missed.
8. Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park in South Carolina is east coast’s largest protected area of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest which spans over 17,000 acres.
This east coast national park has a variety of habitats for visitors to explore and they’re all just waiting to be discovered!
Visitors can hike popular trails like the River Trail or Big Tree Loop Trail that showcase some incredible scenery as well as wildlife sightings too – don’t forget your camera because you’ll want to capture these moments forever!
You can even take the kids here since it offers plenty of different areas for them to enjoy such as children’s discovery stations where they can learn about local plants and animals, plus picnic shelters if you’d prefer not to eat out in the east coast sun.
Visitors can also take a boat tour of Congaree National Park which offers some unique views that you won’t find anywhere else – east coast visitors will love exploring this east coast treasure!
9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio is east coast’s only national park that includes both a river and valley!
This east coast national park offers visitors some of the best views of Lake Erie, making it perfect for a day trip to enjoy the serene landscapes.
After you can spend some time enjoying Lake Erie by relaxing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and so much more!
Visitors can also visit various sites which hold historical significance such as Canal Exploration Center or Western Reserve Historical Society.
There are plenty of trails here so be sure not to miss out on exploring these beautiful sights while you’re there – don’t forget your sunscreen though since many people get sunburned without realizing it!
10. Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri is one of the most famous sites in the United States!
The famous giant arch is east coast’s tallest man-made monument and visitor numbers are only going to keep on increasing.
The arch is 630 feet tall and offers east coast visitors some incredible views of St. Louis, as well as the Mississippi River.
It is made of stainless steel and is the tallest arch in the entire world!
Visitors can ride in an elevator all the way to the top of the arch!
Once up there they can look out of the many windows and see views of the beautiful city from 630 above!
The park is located just 20 minutes from downtown St Louis, Missouri where you’ll find plenty to do such as exploring the National Museum of Toys or one of its many theaters showcasing top entertainment too!
There are many famous restaurants in St. Louis as well including Broadway Oyster Bar!
The east coast is full of beautiful national parks that are just waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re looking for an east coast beach or a mountainous hike in the forest then these destinations should have it all!
Most are family friendly as well!
You are sure to make memories that will last a lifetime!
Enjoy your trip and be sure to check out Destinations Travel Guide for all your future vacation needs!
- Acadia National Park
- Cape Cod National SeaShore
- Antietam National Battlefield
- Assateague Island National Seashore
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park
- Catoctin Mountain Park
- Fire Island National SeaShore
- Congaree National Park
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Gateway Arch National Park