page contents

3 East Coast city adventures

A guest post by Renee Zweerink, written for the rad family collective series.

Some links may be affiliate links.

East Coast road trip with kids

Rocky, ferris wheels, and the White House

We live smack dab in the middle of the United States.  A huge plus when it comes to planning travel adventures.  We can easily reach many places within a day or two when we have more than a week to get away.

Even though we enjoy living in the midwest, our family tends to be drawn out west to travel.  However, we realized we needed adventures with a different flavor.  We decided to try out a different part of the map, leading us on an East Coast Adventure.

Copyright: Vichaya

Over a span of 10 days we hit Washington D.C., Ocean City, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  

Our family of 5 packed up the car and traveled for two days to reach our first destination: Washington D.C.  Driving along the green, rolling river valleys of Ohio and Pennsylvania was gorgeous.

Once we arrived in D.C., we met up with some awesome friends who have kids similar in ages to ours.  These friends hail from the great state of Tennessee, where sweet tea should be declared their state beverage!

We planned for three nights and two full days in D.C. Our kids were 14, 12, and 8 at the time and we decided to give them a taste of our nation’s capital without totally overloading them.

The really awesome thing about D.C. is many things are FREE! We truly saw a lot the two days we were in the city.  And all three of our kids loved it.

picture of U.S. Capitol: Copyright: Vichaya

Washington D.C. highlights:

  • Smithsonian - Consists of 19 museums and galleries. We chose to do the American History Museum and the Air and Space Museum

  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (free tickets, but reserve your time online )

  • Riding the MetroRail system to travel into the city (clean, relatively inexpensive, easy to use, unique experience for our Midwest kids)

  • Hopping on a guided night tour of the city on a double decker bus. See the city’s most iconic landmarks lit up against the night sky. This is definitely worth every penny, especially if only spending two days in D.C. like us. A fantastic way to see the city in the cool of the evening if you're visiting in the summer. Also gives everyone's legs a break.

  • Strolling past the White House and snapping some selfies! If you want to tour the inside, arrange it with your state congressman several weeks in advance.

  • Observing the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery stirs patriotic feelings. Just outside D.C. in Arlington, Virginia.

Next stop: We said goodbye to our southern friends and headed towards Ocean City, Maryland, where we would relax and play the next three days.  My husband always encourages us to aim for a good balance of rest and adventure on our vacations. A beach destination provides both, and Ocean City's beach happens to be the cleanest in the country.

Ocean City was an easy 2 ½-3 hour drive from D.C.  We arrived there right after lunch, just in time to soak up some fun in the sun on the beach that afternoon.  

Copyright: John Bilous 123rf stock photo

Ocean City, Maryland highlights: 

  • Grab a cheap boogie board at a local tourist shop and head to the beach to catch some waves. Build sand castles, chill on the beach, and throw a frisbee.

  • Ocean City Boardwalk: Glittery and even more fun at dusk, guiltlessly enjoy fried and sugary delights from walk-up food joints. We rode the ferris wheel for an amazing view of the coast with the Boardwalk all lit up for evening festivities. Be sure to score a cheesy souvenir.

  • Take a short jaunt to Assateague Island National Seashore, just outside of Ocean City. We spent two fabulous days here. Learn the story of the wild ponies that habitate the island. Rent a kayak and check out more wildlife. Quiet, clean beaches void of hotels, condos, etc. We did some body boarding here too.

  • Splurge on an evening meal at The Shark on the Harbor – delight in a variety of fresh caught seafood. We ate like Kings and Queens!

After three days of playing on the beach, we drove another 2 ½ hours to our last stop: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

We arrived before lunch and checked into a fancy Doubletree Inn room (237 S. Broad St.) that provided an eye-catching view of the city. 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania highlights:

  • Liberty Bell—fantastic history here (think Benjamin Franklin). Free, but entrance is first-come, first-serve. In other words, get in line for a short wait to see it.

  • Other historical sights within minutes walking distance, like Old City Hall, Independence Hall (where Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were both signed), and Congress Hall.

  • Indulge in a legit Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and steak fries from Pandora’s just a few blocks away from the Doubletree Hotel.

  • Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. If you enjoy America's favorite past-time and visiting other baseball stadiums, this is a must. Our family rule: Always cheer for the home team, unless the away team is the Kansas City Royals.

  • Rocky Statue on the steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Might sound cheesy, but worth your time as a quick adventure. Selfies and videos of your family running up the steps are a must.

Thank you Renee!  We appreciate you sharing one of your family's favorite travel adventures with rad family collective!

Looking for more East Coast cities with kids? Check out these trip itineraries for Boston and New York.

Cities with kids - you can do it!

Carve out time for playing, relaxing, and plenty of ice cream pit stops to make sure these cities with your kids are a blast!  History and culture lessons everywhere you look, and plenty of opportunities to explore and run wild when you make it happen.

Quick tips for the road:

Take along any beach gear you'll need: beach umbrellas, towels, chairs, frisbees, etc.  

Travel with a cooler for picnic lunches on the road or at your destinations.

Download Rocky movies to watch for fun while on the road to Philadelphia.

Not sure how to pack it all in?  Check out the ultimate packing hack for adventurous families on the road.  Pssst... it may not be what you think!

Don't miss these cities: Washington D.C., Ocean City, MD, and Philadelphia, PA. See the U.S. capitol, Smithsonian, wild ponies, Liberty Bell, a Phillies baseball game and more. This East Coast adventure is sure to be a family travel hit! [Rad Family Collective series]  Photo credit: Renee Z. |

What tips do you have for traveling with kids to big cities?  Where would you recommend traveling with your family on the East Coast?  We'd love to hear, so please comment below!