The East Coast of America offers travellers a thriving combination of big cities, coastal highlights and captivating natural wonders to explore. If you are keen to embark on an American holiday, here are some of our most loved destinations to include in your trip.
New York City
No USA holiday would be complete without a visit to the Big Apple. The home of Broadway shows, luxury shopping, world-famous buildings and huge pizza slices, New York is fast-paced and breeds excitement and endless big city adventures. A city uniquely shared by locals and tourists, New York is a concrete jungle that you can't help but love.
Theatre on Broadway is a must-see with new shows continually opening alongside the mainstays and well-known productions. Other must-see sights include Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Central Park.
When snow falls on Central Park, it’s quite unlike anything else, especially for Australian travellers. Experience ice skating, horse-drawn carriages or snowball fights in winter, and outdoor concerts, picnics and sunbathing in the summer months.
Nestled down in sunny Florida, Miami is a mesmerising world all its own. Characterised by elegant beaches, big attractions, the occasional celebrity pop-up and just a hint of times gone by, the city is a blend of American, Latin, Caribbean, European and Jewish cultures (among others, of course).
Miami offers tourists plenty of fun in the sun. Must-see destinations include the Miami Zoo, Ocean Drive, South Beach, Coral Castle and the Vizcaya Museum. Shopping is endlessly popular here as well, and keen shoppers should check out the Bayside Marketplace, Dolphin Mall, Aventura Mall and Lincoln Road.
Florida has plenty to offer holiday-makers away from Miami too. Why not spend some time enjoying the theme parks of Orlando, or admiring the wildlife of the Florida Keys?
The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. is iconic. Not to be confused with the state of Washington (where you’ll find the city of Seattle) on the west coast, Washington, D.C. is relatively small. However, what makes it such a wonderful tourist destination is the sheer amount of attractions packed into such a small city.
In addition to the White House, museums and memorials make up most of the highlights here, with the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Centre, the National Air and Space Museum, the Eisenhower Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery open almost all year round. Beyond this, there’s the National Mall, a wide stretch of national park area. At one end of the mall is the United States Capitol Building and at the other, the Lincoln Memorial. In the middle of the two is the Washington Monument, a tall spire visible from many places around the city. A walking tour of the Mall is recommended, as it’s the best way to take in each and every attraction.
Being the capital, Washington, D.C. is home to the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Natural History and plenty more! In fact, there’s a museum for just about everyone, including news buffs (Newseum). A stroll through Georgetown or the Botanic Gardens is also a great daytime activity and those looking to connect a little more with nature can visit the National Zoo or head to Great Falls Park.
Beyond the landmarks and attractions, Washington, D.C. is unique for its atmosphere. The district’s laws have specified that no building may be taller than 34m high, which means it’s hard to feel dwarfed, or lost in this city.
Set on the eastern edge of Massachusetts, Cape Cod is an alluring coastal town that is often considered a favourite holiday spot for both international and American travellers. There is much to explore in Cape Cod and many activities such as visiting the beaches, dunes and coves, whale watching and seal watching, cycling or hiking across the island, gazing at the original lighthouses and exploring the art galleries and museums. The famous American painter, Edward Hopper, immortalised Cape Cod in many of his contemporary paintings.
Also in Massachusetts, Boston is a unique experience to add to your holiday. This historic city is filled with a magnificent culture dating back to the 17th century. The New State House, the King’s Chapel and the USS Constitution merge with the Chinatown district, the Symphony Hall and the Franklin Park Zoo to bring the past and present to life in Boston. Other remarkable sights not to be missed include Fenway Park, Newbury Street, the John F. Kennedy Library, Quincy Market and the Boston Harbour Islands.
An East Coast journey should also include the city of Philadelphia. Just a short drive from New York City, Philly offers visitors a vibrant atmosphere that includes prestigious art museums, glorious nightlife hotspots and fun city celebrations.
If you love museums and architecture, make sure you visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Masonic Temple and the Eastern State Penitentiary. Exploring the city’s neighbourhoods will introduce you to a range of bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops and attending any of the city’s exciting festivals will give you a great chance to mingle with the locals.
Arcadia National Park
The state of Maine may not be at the top of your list when it comes to visiting America, but the Arcadia National Park is definitely worth a visit. Once a popular Rockefeller family vacation spot, Arcadia’s diversity offers up many treats for the nature-loving traveller. There are incredible forests, lakes, hiking and cycling trails to discover and a day’s journey out to the coast is also recommended.
Visitors will also find a range of museums and visitor centres in the park and organised tours can be arranged as well. If camping out in the National Park doesn’t take your fancy, the city of Bangor (and its many hotels) is a quick 45-minute drive away.
Moving north, you might find yourself in Chicago, Illinois - one of America’s great cities. ‘The Windy City’ boasts phenomenal architecture and is a joy to explore. Buildings like the Tribune Tower, the John Hancock Centre and Trump International Tower are breathtaking behemoths, each with a fascinating story behind them. For a view out over Lake Michigan, those with a head for heights can head up Willis Tower to see the city from the 103rd floor!
Your to-do list in Chicago should include the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Navy Pier, Millennium Park and the Chicago Water Tower. If you love shopping, Michigan Avenue is the place to be! Also known as the Magnificent Mile, there’s plenty of shopping to be done, with world-class fashion and flagship stores ready to take your spending money.
A little further down town, you’ll find the iconic Buckingham Fountain and just two blocks over, there’s Millennium Park, with the world-famous Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor - no trip to Chicago is complete without a selfie reflected in this stunning piece. Chicago is also bursting with history and culture to enrich your holiday, which is reflected in the Field Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Science and Industry.
Before you leave, check out the Art Institute of Chicago, which has one of the finest collections of art in the country. Even for those with a passing appreciation of art, it’s an almost surreal experience – around every corner, you come face-to-face with original artworks you’ve only ever seen in pictures.
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