20 Cheap East Coast Family Beach Vacation Spots

The East Coast of the United States offers several diverse beach destinations. Stretching from Florida to Maine, the Atlantic Ocean beaches have something for everyone.

However, not every beach destination on the East Coast is cheap.

I have vacationed on spots along the East Coast for most of my life. As such, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the cheapest beach destinations to help you decide where to go.

1. Key Largo, Florida

Key Largo is the first and largest island off Florida’s mainland, an hour’s drive from Miami Airport.

Accommodation in Key Largo is often cheaper than in other nearby Florida Keys, such as Key West and Marathon. Three-star hotels typically range from $120 to $350 per night, depending on the time of your visit.

Key Largo is commonly known as the Diving Capital of the World. Popular dive spots here include:

  • Molasses Reef
  • Christ of the Abbys statue
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

However, if you don’t fancy snorkelling or scuba diving while in Key Largo, don’t worry. Other, more relaxing activities here include both kayaking and paddle boarding.

2. Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach is one of the best affordable vacation spots on the East Coast for families. Located on the central coast of Florida, Cocoa Beach is close to several famous attractions such as:

  • Walt Disney World: 65 minutes
  • Universal Orlando Resort: 65 minutes
  • Kennedy Space Center: 20 minutes

A three-star hotel in Cocoa Beach usually costs around $200 to $350 a night. However, during peak seasons, such as Spring Break, prices can be much higher.

3. Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island is also located in Florida. As part of the East Coast barrier islands, it’s an excellent spot for families. Popular areas in Amelia Island include Fernandina Beach and Main Beach Park. Meanwhile, popular activities include:

  • Horseback Riding
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Cycling

Three-star hotels in Amelia Island cost around $200 a night. Meanwhile, five-star hotels such as The Ritz Carlton are closer to $1,000 a night.

4. Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in New England. However, it’s often overlooked when it comes to vacations along the East Coast.

There are more than 17 miles of uninterrupted coastline in Hampton Beach. This makes the incredible beach resort a great place to kick back and relax. Popular activities in Hampton Bach include:

  • Hampton Beach State Park
  • Explore the Ocean World Aquarium
  • Casino Ballroom

Meanwhile, the resort hosts several annual events, especially during the peak season between July and August.

5. Key Biscayne, Florida

Key Biscayne is just 7 miles from Miami’s South Beach. This amazing Florida town is home to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, one of the best beaches in the United States. Plus, it has the only underwater archaeological trail in the country.

Three-star hotels in Key Biscayne typically cost around $180 a night, while luxury, five-star resorts here cost closer to $600.

6. Delray Beach, Florida

Delray Beach is a quaint beach town on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Known for its charming streets, this town has restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries. Popular things to do in or near Delray Beach include:

  • Palm Beach Zoo
  • Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
  • Silverball Museum

This town is also home to the Delray Beach Golf Club, which dates back to the 1920s. When it comes to accommodation at Delray Beach, three-star hotels can often be had for as little as $125 a night.

7. St. Simons Island, Georgia

St. Simons Island is the largest barrier island in the Golden Isles, located along the South coast of Georgia. Famous for its pristine beaches and warm weather, this island attracts visitors year-round.

My favourite beach on St. Simons Island is Tranquil East Beach. Here, you can relax or enjoy watersports such as windsurfing and paddle boarding.

Only a few hotels and holiday rentals are available on St. Simons Island. As such, if you want to stay here, I recommend booking as far in advance as possible.

8. Tybee Island, Georgia

Tybee Island is a barrier island in Georgia. This budget-friendly beach destination has been a family favourite since the 1800s.

Despite Tybee Island being just 8.2km², there is still a lot to see and do here. Some of my favourite things include:

Alongside hotels and vacation rentals, Tybee Island is also home to River’s End Campground. This camping and RV park is ideal if you want to save money on accommodation while on vacation.

9. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island is a popular beach destination on the East Coast. Home to sandy beaches and a charming harbour town, Hilton Head Island has a lot to offer those on vacation. Some of my favourite things to see and do here include:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Visiting the Coastal Discovery Museum
  • Exploring the nearby Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

A three-star hotel on Hilton Head Island usually costs around $200 a night, while a five-star hotel usually costs around $375.

10. North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

North Myrtle Beach is one of the best family beach destinations on the East Coast. Located 30 minutes north of the bustling Myrtle Beach.

Several beaches are in North Myrtle Beach, including Cherry Grove Beach and Ocean Drive. For entertainment, Barefoot Landing and Main Street offer some great restaurants and stores.

North Myrtle Beach has some fantastic budget accommodation options and chain hotels. You can get a hotel here for under $150 a night.

11. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Wrightsville Beach is located near Wilmington and offers a relaxing getaway for families looking to visit the East Coast. Some of my favourite things to do in Wrightsville Beach include:

  • Fishing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Kayaking
  • Surfing

There are also several white, sandy beaches where you can set up your umbrella and beach chairs for the afternoon. Accommodation in Wrightsville Beach is often higher than elsewhere on the East Coast.

For example, a three-star hotel usually costs between $275 and $350 a night. As such, you’ll want to book as far in advance as possible to maximise availability and lock in those cheaper prices.

12. Nags Head, North Carolina

Also in North Carolina, Nags Head is one of the best beach towns on the East Coast. This is part of The Outer Banks, a secluded chain of barrier islands off the mainland, accessed via a bridge.

Nags Head’s secluded, isolated nature makes it a great place to visit for a laid-back vacation. Popular spots including Jockey’s Ridge State Park and the Nags Head Woods Preserve

Given the town’s size, accommodation in Nags Head is limited. However, you can still get three-star hotels like the Ramada Plaza here for under $200 a night.

13. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach needs no introduction. Located in southern Virginia, this incredible city has welcomed tourists for decades.

Given the size and popularity of the city, there are plenty of things to see and do here. Some of my favourites include:

  • Virginia Beach Boardwalk
  • Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
  • Cape Henry Lighthouse
  • Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • First Landing State Park

Virginia Beach offers a wide range of accommodation options, with chain hotels starting at $150 a night.

14. Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City is a resort town known for its sandy beaches. However, the Ocean City Boardwalk sets this town apart. The Ocean City Boardwalk has been attracting visitors for more than 100 years. It features rides, games, and food stalls to entertain kids of all ages.

Aside from the boardwalk, Ocean City also benefits from an extensive range of water activities. These include kayaking, jet skiing, and paddleboarding. Meanwhile, Assateague Island is a popular day trip for unspoiled nature and wildlife.

Regarding accommodation in Ocean City, you’ll find plenty of chain hotels here. However, prices can be higher than other nearby East Coast vacation spots, with 3-star hotels starting at around $250 a night.

15. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Rehoboth Beach is a classic mid-Atlantic beach town. Known as the “Nation’s Supper Capital”, Rehoboth Beach was once the destination for those from Washinton DC.

Today, this town attracts visitors from across the US thanks to its picturesque boardwalk and sandy beaches.

Rehoboth Beach is an excellent base for those interested in wildlife and the outdoors. There are several wildlife areas nearby to explore. My personal favourites include Cape Henlopen State Park and Gordons Pond State Park.

Hotels on the boardwalk here typically cost $300 a night plus. However, a few blocks back, you can get a two- or three-star hotel for under $200.

16. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May doesn’t live up to the New Jersey reputation. Instead, this quaint beach town is a popular spot for families looking for relaxation. Some of my favourite things to see and do in Cape May include:

  • Cape May State Park
  • Sunset Beach
  • Cape May Historic District

There are also several RV parks and campsites nearby. Ideal for those looking to save money on accommodation.

17. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket is a well-known beach destination in Massachusetts that’s incredibly popular during summer. Some of the best things to do in Nantucket include:

  • Whaling Museum
  • Brant Point Lighthouse
  • Nantucket Shipwreck and Life Saving Museum

Despite being smaller than the nearby Marthas Vinyard, Nantucket is significantly cheaper. As such, I recommend staying here if you want to explore Cape Cod on a budget.

18. Brewster, Massachusetts

Brewster is my favourite beach destination for families in Cape Cod. Located on the northern side of Cape, this small beach town is less than a two-hour drive from Boston.

I love Brewster because of its fantastic beaches and laid-back atmosphere. However, that doesn’t mean there are not some fantastic things to see and do here, such as:

  • Nickerson State Park
  • Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
  • Crosby Landing Beach

Accommodation in Brewster can be pricy compared to other destinations on this list. However, if you book far enough in advance or stay out of season, you can still visit here for cheap.

19. Ogunquit, Maine

Ogunquit is a hidden gem for cheap beach destinations on the East Coast. This small town has a quaint and relaxing atmosphere that is often overlooked. However, it’s the perfect place to relax.

Ogunquit is the most walkable town in Maine. As such, you don’t need to rent or use a car while you’re here. Instead, the coastal paths will take you to different restaurants and stores. Meanwhile, the historic fishing village of Perkins Cove is less than 30 minutes away.

Large hotels and resorts are rare in Ogunquit. Instead, self-contained apartments and guest houses are more common. This makes Ogunquit an excellent place for large families looking for somewhere with several bedrooms.

20. Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Situated on the inner side of Saco Bay is the famous seaside town of Old Orchard Beach. Here, you’ll find 7 miles of white sandy beaches alongside Old Orchard Pier, which dates back to 1898.

Being a seaside town, it’s no surprise Old Orchard Beach has a fantastic amusement park. Palace Playland is on the oceanfront and offers several fantastic rides, games and attractions. Meanwhile, the nearby Funtown Splashtown USA water park is a hit with families.

Most accommodation in Old Orchard Beach is independently owned and run. However, prices are still surprisingly competitive, with two and three-star hotels available for under $200 a night.


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