Cultural Experience | Massachusetts

East Coast Roundup: Must-See Destinations

Where to go when your clock is running on Eastern Standard Time #WestCoastBestCoast ? Not so fast.

With outstanding beaches and bustling cities, the East Coast rightfully claims the title of “best coast.” Here’s just a taste of what the greatest side of the country has to offer:

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania



Philadelphia is like no other city I have been to. Its deeply rooted history blends intricately with a strong urban vibe, and bursts with prominent music and art scenes. Each neighborhood is like its own character. From Old City to Center City to Fishtown to Passyunk, Philadelphia never fails to offer me something new and interesting, no matter how many times I visit.

To See:

Independence Hall/Liberty Bell/Betsy Ross House:

I’ve lumped all of these important historical sites together since they’re all so close to each other. You really can’t visit Philly without learning something about its history. Independence Hall is where the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were born, the Liberty Bell is the iconic cracked bell that once hung atop Independence Hall, and the Betsy Ross house is where Betsy Ross lived and (possibly) created the first American flag.


Only in Philly will you see this while walking down the street

To Do:

-Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a wonderful museum right by the river with an impressive collection. And you won’t want to miss the photo opportunity that the museum’s grand staircase provides—better known as the “Rocky Steps,” these are the stairs that Rocky infamously ran up in the movie.

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market, located on 12th and Arch Streets, is a huge indoor marketplace that draws thousands of visitors every day. While food is the hottest commodity (you’ll find coffee, sandwiches, deli meats, cheesesteaks, Philly soft pretzels, and so much more), there are also a few different stands, like a used book shop, jewelry shops, and a Philadelphia souvenir shop.

To Eat:

Talula’s Garden

If you’re looking for a fancy prix fixe dinner, check out Talula’s. If you’re looking for a nice, healthy lunch…still check out Talula’s. Cute café and coffee shop by day, and upscale dinner spot by night, Talula’s is a high rated restaurant right by Washington Square.

-Lee How Fook

-Philadelphia’s Chinatown is as vibrant and exciting as any other city’s. There are so many awesome restaurants to check out, but Lee How Fook is my personal favorite.


2. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May is an adorable, quaint town right at the southernmost tip of NJ. It draws a quieter, more family-oriented crowd, but is still a prime vacation spot. The locals are super friendly, and service no matter where you go is outstanding—it is truly a laid-back getaway.

To See:

-The beach

You probably came to visit the beaches—and Cape May’s are super nice and clean!

To Do:

-The Promenade

The Cape May Promenade is their version of a boardwalk. There are a few shops and restaurants, some arcades, and Cape May’s Conventional Hall.

-Washington Street Mall

There are plenty of cute, beachy shops located throughout this outdoor “mall,” which is essentially just a large section of individual stores. Grab some saltwater taffy and beach souvenirs before you return home!

To Eat:

-The Mad Batter

When my friends and I vacationed here for Senior Weekend last year, this was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The Mad Batter serves incredible American dishes, and are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.



3. Wildwood, New Jersey

Not far from Cape May is a different beach town that is more suitable for the younger crowd. Known as a party town, Wildwood promises fun for the duration of your stay, be it just a day or an entire week!

beach in wildwood new jersey image

There is nothing better than lounging on the beach

To See:

-The beach…again!

Okay, yes, this was the same must-see for Cape May…but isn’t that the point of a beach town?! Wildwood’s beaches are more crowded than Cape May’s, but are ideal for large groups of friends to hang out at.

To Do:

-Parasailing/Jet Skiing

There are dozens of companies that offer fun water activities, so hit up any of them! I went jet skiing a couple years ago, and I can safely say it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

-Morey’s Piers

Two giant piers of amusement park rides and games are probably the most popular place in Wildwood. Don’t miss out on the roller coaster, Great White!

To Eat:

-Boardwalk fries

This isn’t the name of a restaurant, rather the name of a delicious food that you must eat while on the boardwalk. There isn’t one particular place that does it best, but thick-cut French fries are a boardwalk must.

-Dog Tooth Bar and Grill

A popular restaurant not far from the beach. Order seafood!



4. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence is a gorgeous city in the tiny state of Rhode Island, situated at the head of the Narragansett Bay. An artistic community, the city’s new tagline is “Creative Center.” It is home to renowned schools like the prestigious Brown University and Rhode Island College of Design. A historical city, Providence retains a vibrant, youthful glow.

To See:

-Waterfire Providence

An interesting artistic display, this site features over 80 bonfires that light up the Providence River and provide visitors an amazing visual for an evening stroll.

To Do:

-Roger Williams Park Zoo

A fantastic zoo with plenty to see—great for a family outing!

-Providence Performing Arts Center

See a concert or play at this architecturally gorgeous venue. Draped in elegance with chandeliers and stunning décor, the PPAC is the place to be!

To Eat:

-Seven Stars Bakery

This cute place is baked-goods heaven. Whether you order fresh bread or pastries, you can’t go wrong with anything at Seven Stars.


American food prepared impeccably is what Gracie’s does best. This somewhat pricey restaurant may be a splurge, but it will be so worth it!



5. Boston, Massachusetts

My new home-away-from-home, Boston is a perfect city: clean, walkable, and exciting. Like Philly and Providence, Boston is a history nerd’s goldmine, but you’ll be blown away by the modern daytime fun and nightlife! “Bahston” has got it all. These suggestions are fresh—if you want more, check out my College Tourist Student Guide to Boston!

boston fenway park image

Boston’s iconic baseball stadium

To See:

-Leonard P Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

It’s quite a mouthful, but this huge bridge is gorgeous at night. Take a drive across the bridge and back. Be sure to take in the view of the beautiful Boston skyline while you’re at it!

-Financial District

This ritzy neighborhood is in the heart of downtown Boston. Skyscraper-lined streets provide that classic city feel that many other Boston neighborhoods lack.

To Do:

-New England Aquarium

Right by the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, this huge, popular aquarium will keep you entertained for hours. It was recently remodeled in several areas, so go check out the awesome renovations!

-Symphony Hall:

Home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this impressive venue is a must-see. Although the orchestra concert will move you, you may be distracted every once in a while by the gorgeous Renaissance-style architecture around you.

To Eat:

-Mike’s Pastries

A Boston favorite, Mike’s Pastries, located in the North End, is the perfect end to a night in the city. Grab a cannoli—what Mike’s is best known for—and be sure to take a selfie with the infamous white Mike’s box.

-No Name Restaurant

I swear, that really is the name of this outstanding family-run seafood joint on the pier off Seaport Boulevard. They’ve been serving straight-up delicious seafood for years, so treat yourself to the lobster!

Johanna Gruber

Boston University | 9 stories

I am a Boston University graduate with a passion for writing, traveling, television, and bubble tea. I have a BA in English with a minor in Journalism, and I interned with the College Tourist over the span of a few years as a writer and senior editor. Check out my website for more info and my portfolio:

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