Thinking about taking a trip to the Eastern United States? It’s a wonderful region to visit, whatever type of experience you want. Whether you want to see iconic architecture and sites, walk through historic neighborhoods, or surround yourself with rugged natural splendor, here are some highlights to plan a great trip on a budget.

New York City

New York City is one of the most famous cities in the world. It’s a global financial hub, a culinary and nightlife Mecca, and is also one of the top theater and cultural centers in the world. 

When you go to the Big Apple, one of the first places you have to go is Central Park. You can check out Bethesda Terrace (as seen in countless movies), the American Museum of Natural History, and Belvedere Castle. If you just want to wander the park on your own, exploring it is a great way to spend a day.

The Empire State Building is definitely a sight worth seeing (don’t worry, there’s an elevator, unless you really want to get your steps in), and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a great way to see the iconic Manhattan skyline from a distance. On your way back, head to Chelsea Market—it’s a charming marketplace with a fantastic selection of food and shopping.

Salem, Massachusetts

If a smaller city is more your style, and you enjoy quaint shops, historic architecture, and history, you’ll love Salem, Massachusetts. If you’re into literature, you’ll definitely want to visit the House of the Seven Gables, the site of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous 1851 novel. It’s a perfect place to go when you’re planning a trip on a budget!

On the darker side of Salem’s history are the witch trials of 1692 and 1693. The Salem Witch Trials Memorial is the place to go for all the details and stories of that time.

Fortunately, there are also Salem sights to see for a more lighthearted take on the witchcraft theme. If you happened to see the cult classic film Hocus Pocus, you might remember the Halloween party scene. That was when the townspeople, under a spell cast by one of the Sanderson Sisters, couldn’t stop dancing. That was filmed at the Old Town Hall at 161 Essex Street, which is open to the public and hosts the Salem Museum.

Acadia National Park

If spending your vacation unplugged and exploring nature is your thing, Acadia National Park has spectacular forests, rocky coastlines, and waterways. Its Cadillac Mountain is the tallest peak on the East Coast, and you can go climbing, hiking, and tidepooling all over the park.

Fredericksburg, Virginia

If you’re interested in American history (particularly the Civil War), Fredericksburg is a fascinating city to visit. Four major Civil War battlefields are located there, and there are lots of self-guided historic walks. Many areas have charming architecture and shopping, and there are also lots of affordable museums and parks to visit for your trip on a budget.