Top 4 Mid-Atlantic Cities to Visit

State House and Capital in Annapolis
Westend61 / Getty Images

The Mid-Atlantic is a sub-region of the United States occupying the central area of the Eastern Seaboard. The states generally considered part of the Mid-Atlantic include:

  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • The Nation's Capital, Washington, DC (roughly the heart of the Mid-Atlantic as it is located between the states of Virginia and Maryland)

The state of New York, to the north, West Virginia, to the west, and Virginia, to the south, are occasionally lumped into this group, but I will exclude them for the purposes of this list.

Geographically diverse, with seashores and mountains, and concentrated with culturally rich cities, the Mid-Atlantic is home to many of the same cities listed on the top cities in the eastern USA.

There are, however, a few standouts in the Mid-Atlantic that receive too few tourists to qualify for "Best in the East," yet are very much worth a visit. This round-up of the top places to visit in the Mid-Atlantic will show you where to go.

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Washington, DC

US Capitol Building, National Mall and Northwest Washington at sunrise from Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
Danita Delimont/Getty Images

Washington, DC, registers on just about every list that is made of the top destinations in the United States simply by virtue of being ​the capital of the nation. The city that tourists usually see contains the National Mall, a wide open space between Constitution and Independence Avenues that is anchored by the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument at the center. Lining the path of the Mall are nearly one-dozen Smithsonian Museums as well as war memorials, fountains, gardens, and more—the White House is nearby.

Apart from monumental DC, there is also a bustling city filled with award-winning restaurants, historic neighborhoods (see Georgetown and Capitol Hill, for example), and more. Browse the links below for more ideas on what to see and do in Washington, DC.

For more on tourism in Washington, DC, see Washington's official tourism website Destination DC.

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Baltimore, MD

Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland
Wikimedia Commons

Approximately one-hour north of Washington, DC, Baltimore is worlds away from DC in terms of the tourist experience. Where DC has national monuments, Baltimore, the largest city in the state of Maryland, has church spires, several skyscrapers, and a downtown centered around the Inner Harbor and sports stadiums.

Baltimore was founded in 1729, pre-dating the foundation of DC for more than half a century. The most famous of Baltimore's historic attractions is Fort McHenry, site of the Battle of Baltimore, which was inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner," America's national anthem.

In recent years, it has become almost impossible to talk about Baltimore without mentioning the award-winning HBO series "The Wire," a fictional depiction of the underbelly of Baltimore and the cops working to manage it. 

Baltimore has long attracted visitors in search of the macabre. For example, the former home and grave of writer Edgar Allan Poe (currently closed) is located in the city. But there are many things to love in the town called "Charm City," including world-class museums in the Baltimore Museum of Art and The Walters Museum; the National Aquarium; a superb baseball stadium in Camden Yards, vibrant ethnic neighborhoods with corresponding must-try restaurants and edible delights, and much more.

For more on tourism in Baltimore, see Baltimore's official tourism website Visit Baltimore.

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Philadelphia, PA

Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
B. Krist for GPTMC

One of America's most famous historic cities, Philadelphia is where the United States were born. Many travelers to "Philly" come for the history lessons available at Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. But then they stay for all of the other attractions that the city has to offer.

Included among Philadelphia's premier attractions are a trio of art museums:

  1. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Made famous from Sylvester Stallone's triumphant stair climb in "Rocky."
  2. Rodin Museum: Contains the largest collection of Rodin sculptures outside of Paris.
  3. The Barnes: a renowned collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works.

Philadelphia is also a town for foodies, having risen beyond its famous cheesesteaks to have restaurants worth traveling for. 

For more on tourism in Philadelphia, see Philadelphia's official tourism website Visit Philly or click on the links below:

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Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania From Mt Washington Hill Looking At Golden Triangle And The City Skyscrapers Where The Three Rivers And Red Incline Cars Coming Up The Mountain
Premium UIG / Getty Images

Known as the "Steel City," Pittsburgh made its fortune in the 20th century from its steelworks, which were founded by Andrew Carnegie. While Carnegie established the southwestern Pennsylvania town as an industrial center, he also laid the foundation to Pittsburgh becoming a hub of culture and learning.

As the city's greatest patron, Carnegie and his trust established higher institutions of art and learning in Pittsburgh, including:

Located at the confluence of three rivers — the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio — Pittsburgh is also known as the "City of Bridges." A world-record 446 bridges connect Pittsburgh 90 neighborhoods.

For entertainment, Pittsburgh has professional sports teams for football, hockey, and baseball.

Additional attractions in Pittsburgh include the National Aviary, a bird sanctuary with more than 600 birds; the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh; and the Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum.

Fallingwater, considered the masterpiece of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is located 90 miles south of Pittsburgh and is open to visitors.

With all of these offerings, it's no surprise that Pittsburgh has been cited several times as one of America's most livable cities.

For more on tourism in Pittsburgh, see Pittsburgh's official tourism website Visit Pittsburgh.

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The Rest of the Mid-Atlantic

Annapolis City Dock
Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau

Should you wish to explore more of the Mid-Atlantic, here are links to more information about additional cities in the region:




New Jersey