Eastern USA travel guide

When to go, what to see and what to expect: your Eastern USA travel guide

Have a dose of America’s history by exploring the sites of the cities and towns that are substantial artefacts of the United States. Colonial Williamsburg is packed with history and charm and offers visitors a chance to feel the influence of the American Revolution and how it shaped the country. On the theme of colonial patriotism, Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Gettysburg are memorable visits and essential sites for education. Discover details of the lives of America’s presidents and stand in awe in the fields of Gettysburg, where memorials remind visitors of the epic battles that helped shape America. It is a chance to experience history that can't be found in textbooks. Wrap these up with a trip to Washington DC – one giant monument to the Nation and its history. With the Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, and Washington memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Vietnam, WWII, and Korean War memorials, there is no shortage of things to do and see. The night lights here are not to be missed as these massive stone monuments, along with the White House and Capitol Building, come alive when illuminated and leave a lasting impression of the pride of the United States of America.

When is the best time to visit Eastern USA?

The East Coast is stretches far enough to have its own distinct climates, so differs from north to south. The winter months are snowy in the north and mild in the south, while the summer months bring warm days to the north and long, hot spells to the south. One of the best times to travel to the East Coast is autumn (‘fall’), when thousands flock to New England and New York to see the blazing leaf colour that permeates the parks, forests and National Parks.

Why visit the East Coast?

There is nothing quite like the charm and beauty of the historic eastern United States. It is a land steeped in culture, American history, beautiful colours and adventure. Between New England, New York, Washington DC, Cape Cod, Boston, or Martha’s Vineyard, the Atlantic Coast states offer a wide variety of sights and activities, and cater to history buffs, shopaholics, foodies and nature lovers!

New England, one of the first English settlements in North America, contains some of the most profound beauty and culture found in the US. Comprised of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, this region of the US is a peaceful but vibrant part of the country. Stroll the streets of Boston – a bustling historic centre – and then travel north to savour the lobster, corn on the cob, and chowder for which Maine is so well-known. It’s called New England clam chowder for a good reason!

Take in lovely New Hampshire and Vermont travelling to North Conway in the heart of the White Mountains, the outdoor adventure capital of New England. In Vermont’s Green Mountains, New England villages such as Montpelier, Stowe, and Essex offer ample opportunities to enjoy local culinary treats. Visit maple farms and experience the fresh flavour of the syrup pulled straight from the trees, or sip the region’s best wine and learn about the sustainable ‘vine-to-wine’ processes that created it, using locally sourced grapes. Tour West Point Military Academy, located in New York’s stunning Hudson Valley, to hear stories of cadet life, the important role West Point played in the American Revolution, and famous graduates who shaped our nation. It’s recommended to travel here during the fall to witness the most fantastic autumn colours in the nation!

Cape Cod and the islands off the coast are not to be missed, as they offer some of the most glorious beach scenes in the country. Experience blissful peace and sophistication on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, some of the most sought-after holiday spots in America and known for their elegance and colonial-style charm. Bar Harbor, a popular seaside resort, is the gateway to the beautiful landscapes of Acadia National Park. Located on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor is home to waterfront galleries, gift shops, and boutiques, as well as award-winning microbreweries.

Top off a visit to New England in Newport with the ultimate experience of luxury and opulence on a visit to Cornelius Vanderbilt’s magnificent home – The Breakers.

The great New York City has been described as the cultural capital of the world and every New York day aims to prove that to its residents and visitors. New York features some of the most amazing dining, entertainment, and sightseeing in the world. Get in a visit of the highly pictured Times Square, seen in countless films and every New Year’s Eve. Take a tour of the famous and influential Greenwich Village, cruise the Manhattan harbour, and go to Chinatown for a taste of authentic New York culture. Of course, visitors don't want to miss the fabulous Empire State Building, the 102-story skyscraper with indescribable views of the city. It’s also the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a Broadway show… on Broadway! Over 40 professional theatres there are famous for hosting some of the most phenomenal performances in the history of theatre.

Neighbouring New York, Philadelphia is another destination for history buffs as it was the birthplace of the Nation. It holds the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were conceived and carried out. It is an essential place of history pride for the United States of America.

Weather and climate on the East Coast

When travelling to the eastern United States, please keep in mind that the temperature can vary greatly between destinations. On average, the farther north you travel, the cooler it gets. Coastal cities like Washington DC, New York, and Boston have a tendency to be humid during the summer months. The humid air dissipates the further inland you travel. We recommend checking the local weather in each of your destinations prior to travelling to ensure you are adequately prepared for the conditions.

To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Eastern United States.

Eastern USA food and fun facts

Food specialities of Eastern USA

Along the East Coast of the United States, food is a major part of the culture. In Maine and the New England areas, lobster and corn on the cob, New England clam chowder, Vermont cheeses, and maple syrup are some of the essentials of East Coast cuisine. In some restaurants you can pick your own lobster, and the chowder is so rich and fresh – perfect on a day with a mild chill in the air. Fresh berry pies are also well known in New England along with many maple syrup-enhanced desserts. Aside from all the lobster styles, a trip to Cape Cod means you can find the freshest hand-shucked oysters, scallops, and clams. They also boast about their handmade fudge.

In the DC area, there is not a style of cuisine that can't be found. With so many visitors and a constant collision of cultures, you can find just about anything. But the one thing not to miss are the Maryland crab cakes.

Philadelphia offers distinct food specialties, like the iconic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, made ‘the right way,’ soft pretzels, tomato pie, pork rolls and peanut chews. And in New York City, you can find entire neighbourhoods dedicated to different food styles – pasta in Little Italy, Chinese traditions in Chinatown, soul food in Harlem, or Russian delicacies in Brighton Beach. Try a few New York favourites: a slice of pizza, bagels, a Coney Island dog, Manhattan clam chowder, a pastrami sandwich or New York style cheesecake.

Fun facts

  • New York City has over 650 miles of subway track

  • The first department store in the US, called Wanamaker's, was located in Philadelphia

  • Montpellier, Vermont’s capital, is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States

  • Beantown, Boston’s nickname, derives from early resident’s love for baked beans in molasses

Things to consider before visiting Eastern USA

How to call Eastern USA: Country code

The country code for Eastern USA is +1. When calling to Eastern USA from overseas, dial your international access code, followed by the country code, area code, and phone number.

Eastern USA’s currency

In USA the local currency is the American Dollar ($). Although credit cards are widely accepted in the United States, we recommend our passengers carry some cash (~$50) to use in circumstances when credit cards are not accepted or in destinations where cashpoints are not readily available.

Shopping in Eastern USA

New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington DC all provide some of the best shopping. Of course if you're visiting Washington DC, every museum offers a wide assortment of treasures and if you collect postcards, you can find one for each and every memorial.

In New York, visit the one-of-a kind boutiques of Soho and Tribeca or look for bargains in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Don't miss the many stores in Greenwich Village and Chelsea where you can also find many outdoor flea markets.

Philadelphia has some great antique stores in Chestnut Hill and Old City offers boutiques and vintage shops. A little more upscale shopping can be found in Rittenhouse Square and regional food specialties are available at the Reading Terminal Market.

If you visit Boston, Newberry Street is an absolute must. Great restaurants, bookstores, boutique clothing, and local markets can all be found on this classically “Bostonian” street. Harvard Square is also a great place to pick up some souvenirs.

In New England you'll find smaller and more intimate shops with great art galleries, antique stores, hand blown glass, artisan products, and fresh preserves. Cape Cod in particular showcases a great deal of artwork, as it is one of the most iconic and picturesque destinations on the East Coast.

When and how much to tip in Eastern USA

In USA, tipping is widely spread: the general rule is between 15 and 20% for bartenders or waiters ($1 to $2 a bag for porters). If in doubt, ask your Tour Director.

Plugs, sockets and electricity in Eastern USA

USA uses 110-120 volt power, so you may need a voltage converter, usually for appliances that heat up such as hair dryers and straighteners. However, you’ll definitely need a plug adaptor: USA uses a flat two- or three-prong plug. It’s better to have a two-prong adaptor which will fit either.

Holidays in Eastern USA

Available tours & cruises: 13

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