The East Coast and West Coast of the US are both marvelous regions, with a lot to offer to both local and international visitors. But there are some very important differences between the two coasts.
The United States is a vast territory. But being vast also brings great variance in terrain, weather, culture, recreation, and foods, among others, and the East Coast and West Coast are prime examples of these differences.
The West Coast and the East Coast states are still American states, and that has prompted many to wonder how different the two zones can be.
Of course, they both have beaches, the English language is predominant in both, and they both have many tourist attraction sites, but they still have some striking differences.
That being said, what differences would you notice when traveling to the east coast vs. the west coast of the US? Here are:
25 Surprising Differences Between The East Coast and West Coast
Most states in the West Coast are extremely hot and muggy during summer- about 88 percent of the time- and extremely cold during winter.
The two major seasons- winter and summer- occupy the entire year and their effects are severely felt in this coast. As a matter of fact, some states here do not experience the 4 weather seasons.
The East Coast is relatively cooler during summer and doesn’t get too cold during winter. Most of this region experiences all 4 seasons.
The fall season, in particular, is breathtakingly beautiful in the East because leaves fall from the trees and turn into a beautiful shade of orange.
2. The beaches and waters.
Beaches in the West Coast, particularly in California, are scenic but too cold to swim in.
They are characterized by large waves, huge cliffs and rocks, clear water, and brown dark sands. It is accurate to say that these beaches are perfect for surfing but not the best for snorkeling.
Beaches in Florida are white and sandy, their waters are always warm and welcoming, the tides are small and bearable, and there aren’t any rocks.
They may not be as scenic as those in the west but they are family-friendlier. These beaches are perfect for snorkeling but not the best for surfing.
3. It’s easier to road-trip across the West Coast.
The West Coast has only 4 states while the East Coast has more than 10, meaning that you can traverse the west easier and quicker compared to the east.
When traveling to the West Coast, for example, you will have the glorious chance of taking a road trip on the California State Route 1 that spans from the Orange County to the Mendocino County.
The road passes through beautiful beaches and terrains, giving you a road trip of your lifetime.
L.A. to Seattle, on the other hand, is everyone's idea of a perfect road trip due to its unique blend of beaches, farms, and forests.
4. The East has more cities to experience.
With 14 small and compact states, the East Coast has a unique blend of big and small cities. Each city has a unique culture and quality attractions for you to see.
On the other hand, the West has 4 vast and spread out states, which means that there aren’t too many cities to experience. And, of course, New York’s sheer size dwarfs Los Angeles and other cities on the West Coast.
5. Natural forests
There are more natural forests in the west than in the east.
From Sierra National Forest (California), to Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Washington), to Tongass National Forest (Alaska), you will never lack forest options in the West Coast. The East has smaller and more sparsely distributed natural forests.
6. There is no hurry in the West
Do you enjoy cultures with a laid back vibe? Then the West Coast is your ideal place to visit.
The East Coast is always in a hurry; people here rush to get stuff done.
You will see Newyorkers wearing suits in the early morning rush hour but, just around the same time, people in California are walking leisurely in jeans and sneakers.
7. The East is more culturally diverse
There are more people from different backgrounds and cultures in New York City alone than in California and Oregon combined.
Chinatown in New York City, for example, hosts more Asians than the rest of the US. When visiting the East Coast, therefore, you will enjoy interacting with different languages and cultural foods.
8. More wineries in the West.
California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma are the leading wine regions in the United States and the world at large.
Washington and Oregon are also top world-class wine producers. The Easterners, on the other hand, aren’t too much wine people.
As a matter of fact, the West Coast produces more wine than the rest of the country combined. If you are a friend of the grape, the West Coast is your ideal place to visit.
9. Snow culture.
The West Coast is also referred to as the Powder Coast, and for a good reason. This region offers incredibly light and fluffy snow for the best skiing and snowmobiling experiences.
The East Coast, on the other hand, has icy and moist snow which isn’t the best for snow sports, especially if you are a beginner. However, that is not to imply that there isn’t a lively snow culture to try out when touring the East.
The terrain along the East Coast is gentler than in the West. In the West, you will have to bear with extremely steep trails as well as huge and rocky mountains.
11. Off-roading public land.
Are you a fan of off-roading? If yes, then the West Coast is your place to go. There are more off-road terrains in Colorado, Arizona, and California than there are in the entire East Coast.
12. The East has more low-lying islands.
Topographically speaking, you will see more low-lying islands and barrier reefs when traveling to the East than in the West.
13. The West has better, more diverse foods.
Sushi and burritos in this side of the world are unimaginably delicious. California’s street taco… to die for!
But if you love the traditional “American” dishes, e.g. the cajun dishes, then the East Coast got you covered.
14. Sports enthusiasm in the East is unmistakably delusional.
Well, the San Francisco 49ers and the San Francisco Giants are big sporting entities in West Coast and the US as a whole, but both of them are in the shadows of what the East Coast has to offer.
If you are a sports fanatic, make a point of visiting New England during an NFL match involving The New England Patriots or an NBA match involving the New York Knickerbockers.
Sports fanaticism is crazy in the East; fans literally idolize/worship basketball and football players.
15. The East boasts of a richer history.
The East Coast states were heavily affected by the Revolutionary and Civil wars. The same can’t be said about the West Coast. This fact is evident from the many museums and historical architectures that are distributed across the East.
16. The White House factor.
Well, who wouldn’t want to see the White House when visiting the US- The official residence of the leader of the free world? You will only have this rare chance if you travel to Washington D.C.
And by the way, New York City and Philadelphia previously served as US capital. That is to say that visiting the East Coast would be more ideal for those who love politics and power.
17. Commodity prices.
Traveling in New York City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Boston and other major cities in the East Coast is a lot cheaper than in San Francisco, Seattle, and LA.
Think of anything from food, accommodation, to commuter costs, the West is a little pricier.
18. Movie sites and celebrities.
This goes without saying: Hollywood, California is the undisputed global movie hub. Although filming is gradually developing in Pittsburg and New York, Hollywood remains to be a dream destination for movie lovers.
If you want to see most of the scenes you’ve watched in American movies, California has produced over half of them. Actually, Studios offer tourists tours to these sites, something that lacks in the East.
Unsurprisingly, you stand a higher chance of spotting a movie star in Los Angeles and Hollywood than in all East Coast cities combined.
19. Ease of access.
Accessing the West Coast from Asia by flight is a lot easier and cheaper than the East Coast. On the other hand, accessing the East Coast from Europe is a lot easier and cheaper than the West Coast.
20. Las Vegas VS. Atlantic City.
These two cities are often used to compare the East (Atlantic) and the West (Las Vegas), but there is a striking difference between them.
Of course, both cities would be ideal for you if you are into endless nightlife and gambling, but their proximity to the coastline brings the whole difference: Atlantic City is adjacent to the East coastline while Las Vegas is landlocked.
Simply put, Atlantic City is the East Coast version of Las Vegas, but it is a little classier due to the beach factor.
21. Language and accent.
Due to its proximity to Mexico and most of its states being former Spanish colonies, the West Coast has more Hispanics than the East.
Most of the East Coast was colonized by the British and that makes their English somewhat faster and harder than the westerners.
There is a small difference in the accents too. In the South East Coast, the natives have “Is” that sound like “ahh” and “Os” that sounds like “aw”.
In the West Coast, you will often hear people pronounce “IR” as “AR”, for example, they will pronounce VIRUS as VARSE.
22. The public transit system
Most West Coast cities- for example, San Diego, LA, and San Francisco- have an impeccable public transit system.
Things are different in the East; traffic here is extremely crazy and the transit system totally unreliable.
Renting a car is almost inevitable in the East while you can get along pretty conveniently with public transport in the West.
23. Swamps and rivers.
Florida boasts of the largest collection of swamps and rivers- The Everglades.
The Everglades is known as the gator capital of the world, along with playing host to many other species of reptiles, birds, mammals, and sealife.
This is the only place in the whole of US where you can see endangered sea animals such as the leatherback turtle, West Indian manatee, and Florida panther.
This area alone makes touring the East Coast very different from touring the West Coast.
24. Bear population.
The West has more bears than the East. You will see lots of black and grizzly bears in Alaska, but the East only boasts of black bears which inhabit some parts of British Columbia.
25. The art scene.
Art is astoundingly huge in the West Coast. If you are an art collector or enthusiast, you will definitely fall in love with the live art shows and street art competitions that are lined up along the streets of nearly all major West Coast Cities. The same cannot be said about the East Coast.
The West Coast and East Coast of the US may be different but they are equally worth visiting. The 25 differences in this post are there to guide you depending on the attraction sites you would love to see while visiting the US, and the outdoor activities you would like to participate in. the final decision is yours to make.