dc cherry blossom festival
Travel USA

7 Biggest Differences Between the East Coast and West Coast

April 19, 2019

USA East Coast verses West Coast

Traveling through the USA soon? Even though we’re all a part of the same country, the east coast and west coast are more different than you think.

So, aside from different food chains and natural disaster risks, what are some of the huge differences between the USA’s east coast and west coast?

Number of states:

The west coast only has three states, while the east coast has 15-16 small states depending on whether you count Vermont. East coast states all have their own identities and personalities, whereas the west coast seems to have a more cohesive personality.

For instance, someone who lives in Georgia is going to be worlds apart from someone who lives in Massachusetts. On the west coast, Californians probably have a bit more in common with Washingtonians. They aren’t exactly alike, but compared to the colorful variety of the east coast, they’re pretty similar.

I think you’ll also see more of a divide within a state, which is why that proposal about splitting California into multiple states has been floating around the internet.

Capital building Washington DC

History:

The east coast is home to the original thirteen colonies, so naturally it’s rich with history – from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia. The west coast has some history, but if you’re looking to visit some of the USA’s most iconic historical sites, the east coast is the place to be.

Obviously D.C. and Philly are two of the most popular historical places to visit, but some of my personal favorites are Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Jamestown. They’re all smaller towns/cities that really let you immerse yourself in the history. And, of course, I recommend a stop in Baltimore (because it’s my home) and it offers some great historical spots.

ft mchenry baltimore

Ft McHenry, Baltimore – home to the Star Spangled Banner

The People/Vibe:

I know, I also hate that I’ve used the word “vibe”, but I don’t know how else to describe it. In short, the east coast is busier, and the west coast is chiller.

I’d say that generally people on the west coast are also nicer, but that depends where you are on the east coast. The south is famous for its friendliness and “southern hospitality”, whereas NYC is known for its abrasiveness.

As for vibes, I thought Seattle was one of the most chilled, laid back cities I’ve ever visited. It’s like night and day in comparison to NYC or Baltimore. Los Angeles is definitely busier and, in terms of hustle and bustle, the closest you’ll find to an east coast city.

east coast

Me pretending to like New York City

pike place market seattle

Me absolutely LOVING Seattle

East Coast & West Coast – The Beaches:

Everyone from the west coast will insist that their beaches are better, and they might be right… I’ve only been to a few, some I absolutely loved (Malibu) and some I really, really hated (Venice).

As for east coast shores, I’ve been to beaches all the way down the coast from Delaware to Florida. Some are better than others, but they really vary from beach to beach. I spend a lot of time in Ocean City, Maryland, a barrier island that’s notorious for its crowded beaches. Yet only a few miles south you’ll find Assateague Island, a nature reserve full of wild horses and empty beaches. And both of these beaches are wildly different to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and Crescent Beach in Florida.

West coast beaches are beautiful, filled with cliffs and big waves, but don’t sleep on the east coast beaches either. There’s a huge variety from state to state. Though if you’re looking for good surfing, the west coast would probably be the place to go.

ocean city maryland

Bay side of Ocean City, Maryland

The 4th of July:

This may have just been my experience, but it seems like the east coast takes patriotism, especially on the 4th of July, much more seriously. And maybe that’s because of its history.

I spent the holiday in California one year, right outside Los Angeles… and there was nothing. People weren’t even wearing red, white, and blue. As an east coaster, that was bizarre to see. We only saw fireworks because we were near Disneyland.

On the east coast, you’ll see parades in every town and city. And there’s a full week of varying late night celebrations and fireworks. No matter where you are on the east coast, it’s a big deal.

Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.

East Coast & West Coast – Climate/Weather:

By far, the two biggest differences between the east coast and west coast are the humidity and extremes of the seasons.

In most east coast states, excluding those far north or south, you get every single season to the fullest. Our leaves change for a couple of weeks, our springs are warm and blossoming with flowers, and our winters and summers are brutal. We get snowy winters in the negatives and killer summers that make you want to tear your skin off. The humidity is the worst thing about the east coast, but at least we get autumn.

During my recent trip to Seattle, I remarked that my makeup seemed to be holding up all day much better than it does at home in Maryland. I’m fairly certain this is because of the humidity levels. There are places on the west coast where it gets terribly hot as well, but it’s a dry heat, which is much more bearable. The difference is very noticeable.

ocean city storm

Ocean City during a thunderstorm

Public Transportation:

Public transport is pretty terrible in the USA as a whole, but the east coast is ever so slightly better.

South of Washington D.C. there isn’t much public transport, but most of the big cities in the north have some type of subway, lightrail, or metro to get around. Though they vary in reliability from city to city, I’d say New York City and Boston have the best public transport, but they’re still nothing in comparison to the London Tube.

As for the west coast… you can’t rely on public transport, even in big cities like Los Angeles.

seattle washington

Seatte, Washington

If you’ve visited both coasts or even lived on both coasts, what are some major differences you’ve noticed that I missed?

And… which coast do you prefer? 

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