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Lonely Planet Eastern USA

Lonely Planet Eastern USA

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Lonely Planet Eastern USA

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Apr 1, 2020


Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet's Eastern USA is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore the tropical islands of the Florida Keys, hit the streets of New York City and watch the leaves change color in New England - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Eastern USA and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Eastern USA:

  • NEW pull-out, passport-size 'Just Landed' card with wi-fi, ATM and transportation info - all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel
  • Improved planning tools for family travelers - where to go, how to save money, plus fun stuff just for kids
  • NEW Accommodations feature gathers all the information you need to plan your accommodations
  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, people, music, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, politics
  • Covers New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New England, Washington DC, Florida, the Great Lakes, North & South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Eastern USA is our most comprehensive guide to Eastern USA, and is perfect for discovering both popular and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveler since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travelers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, video, 14 languages, nine international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more.

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Important Notice: The digital edition of this book may not contain all of the images found in the physical edition.

Apr 1, 2020

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Anteprima del libro

Lonely Planet Eastern USA - Trisha Ping

Eastern USA


Plan Your Trip

Welcome to Eastern USA

Eastern USA’s Top 25

Need to Know

What’s New


If You Like…

Month by Month


Road Trips & Scenic Drives

Outdoor Activities

Eat & Drink Like a Local

Family Travel

Regions at a Glance

On The Road

New York, New Jersey & Pennsylvania

New York City

New York State

Long Island

Hudson Valley


Finger Lakes

The Adirondacks

Thousand Islands

Western New York

New Jersey



Jersey Shore



Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Pennsylvania Wilds


New England



Around Boston

Cape Cod

The Islands

Pioneer Valley

The Berkshires

Rhode Island



East Bay



Litchfield Hills

Connecticut Coast


Southern Vermont

Central Vermont

Northern Vermont

New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire

Lakes Region

White Mountains





Midcoast Maine

Downeast Maine

Inland Maine

Washington, DC & The Capital Region

Washington, DC




Eastern Shore

Ocean City

Western Maryland


Delaware Coast

Wilmington & Brandywine Valley



Northern Virginia

Historic Triangle


Virginia Beach

The Piedmont

Shenandoah Valley

Blue Ridge Highlands & Southwest Virginia

West Virginia

Eastern Panhandle

Monongahela National Forest

New River & Greenbrier Valley

National Parks

The South

North Carolina

North Carolina Coast

The Triangle


North Carolina Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

South Carolina



Myrtle Beach

Greenville & the Upcountry




Eastern Tennessee



Bluegrass Country

Central Kentucky



North Georgia

Coastal Georgia








Mississippi Delta



Gulf Coast


Little Rock

Hot Springs

Tri-Peaks Region

Ozark Mountains


New Orleans

Around New Orleans

St Francisville

Cajun Country

Cajun Wetlands


South Florida


Fort Lauderdale

Palm Beach

The Everglades

Around the Everglades

Florida Keys

Atlantic Coast

Space Coast

Daytona Beach

St Augustine


Amelia Island

Southwest Florida


St Petersburg


Sanibel & Captiva Islands


Central Florida


Walt Disney World® Resort

Universal Orlando Resort

Florida Panhandle



Great Lakes



Around Chicago

Central Illinois

Southern Illinois



Central Indiana

Southern Indiana

Northern Indiana



Erie Lakeshore & Islands

Ohio Amish Country


Yellow Springs



Southeastern Ohio




Ann Arbor

Central Michigan

Gold Coast

Straits of Mackinac

Upper Peninsula



South Central Wisconsin

Western Wisconsin

Eastern Wisconsin

Northern Wisconsin



St Paul

Southern Minnesota

Northern Minnesota



The Way of Life

Arts & Architecture


Landscapes & Wildlife

Survival Guide

Directory A–Z

Accessible Travel

Customs Regulations

Discount Cards


Embassies & Consulates

Food & Drink



Internet Access

Legal Matters

LGBTIQ+ Travelers


Opening Hours


Public Holidays





Tourist Information



Women Travelers



Getting There & Away

Entering the Country




Getting Around





Car & Motorcycle


Taxis & Ridesharing


Behind the Scenes

Our Writers

Welcome to Eastern USA

From a megacity to a gator-filled swamp in the space of a plane ride – the East rolls out adventure from the Atlantic to the mighty Mississippi River.

Mighty Metropolises

Brimming with 8.6 million people, the megalopolis of New York is the cultural capital of the Eastern USA, offering a mind-blowing array of cuisine and entertainment. Cloud-poking Chicago, power-brokering Washington, DC, history-steeped Philadelphia and Latin-infused Miami are close on its heels. Look deeper to find the captivating European-style charms of New Orleans, and rebounding Rust Belt cities such as Detroit, Buffalo and Cincinnati, where scrappy entrepreneurs and young DIY devotees are branching out and transforming the built environments.

Beaches & Back Roads

The East Coast offers plenty of chances to get your beach on, from the whale-rich waters of Cape Cod to the taffy-shop-lined boardwalks of Ocean City, the towering golden sand dunes on Lake Michigan or the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. Inland, nature puts on a show in the swampy Florida Everglades, wolf-haunted Boundary Waters, mist-tipped Appalachian Mountains and New England’s forests, which blaze red, orange and yellow each autumn. Slowpoke byways unfurl throughout so you can soak up the landscapes.

Foodie’s Smorgasbord

Good eatin’ reaches epic proportions here: hulking steamed lobsters with melted butter in Maine’s seafood shacks, bagels and lox in Manhattan’s delis, saucy barbecue ribs in Memphis’ roadhouses, butter-smothered biscuits in North Carolina’s diners, hot-spiced gumbo in New Orleans’ cafes…and for dessert, thick slices of berry pie. Wineries can be found from northern Michigan to North Georgia, and the craft brewery scene is even more prolific. And don’t forget: Atlanta gave the world Coca-Cola.

Cultural Cradle

The museums in the Eastern USA are the nation’s greatest hits – the Smithsonian, housing everything but the kitchen sink; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a city-state of treasures; and the Art Institute of Chicago, hanging impressionist artworks by the roomful. Explore the roots of blues, jazz, and rock and roll at Memphis’ Sun Studio, where Elvis got his groove on; Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for artifacts like Jimi Hendrix’ Stratocaster; and the juke joints of Clarksdale, where blues slide guitar first pierced the air. For sky-high designs, Chicago and New York City are drawing boards for the modern era’s great architects.

Chicago’s Navy Pier and skyline | F11PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Why I Love Eastern USA

By Trisha Ping, Writer

Even after decades of living and traveling in the Eastern United States, I’m still surprised by its natural beauty and vast range of cultures and activities. Moving between regions can feel like going to another country, with unfamiliar menus and new landscapes, not to mention the dialect: a non-English speaker could be forgiven for thinking that a drawling Southerner and a nasal New Yorker were speaking completely different languages. So pick a state, any state – we guarantee you a memorable adventure.

For more, see Our Writers

Eastern USA’s Top 25

New York City

Home to striving artists, hedge-fund moguls and immigrants from every corner of the globe, New York City is constantly reinventing itself. It remains one of the world centers of fashion, theater, food, music, publishing, advertising and finance. A staggering number of museums, parks and ethnic neighborhoods are scattered through the five boroughs. Do as every New Yorker does: hit the streets. Every block reflects the character and history of this dizzying kaleidoscope, and on even a short walk you can cross continents.


Top Experiences

National Mall

Nearly 2 miles long and lined with iconic monuments and hallowed marble buildings, the National Mall is the epicenter of Washington, DC’s political and cultural life. In the summer, massive music and food festivals are staged here, while year-round visitors wander the halls of America’s finest museums lining the green. For exploring American history, there’s no better place to ruminate, whether tracing your hand along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or ascending the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool | KAMIRA/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is where the mountains meet the sea. Miles of rocky coastline and even more miles of hiking and biking trails make this wonderland Maine’s most popular destination, and deservedly so. The high point (literally) is Cadillac Mountain, a 1530ft peak that can be accessed by foot, bike or vehicle. Early risers can catch the country’s first sunrise from this celebrated summit. Later in the day, cool off with a dip in Echo Lake or take tea and popovers (buttery, hollow muffins) overlooking Jordan Pond.


Top Experiences


The Windy City will blow you away with its architecture, lakefront beaches, top-notch dining scene and world-class museums. But its true mojo is its blend of high culture and earthy pleasures. Is there another metropolis that dresses its Picasso sculpture in local sports-team gear? Where the demand for hot dogs equals the demand for North America’s top restaurants? Winters are brutal, but come summer, Chicago fetes the warm days with food and music festivals that make fine use of its waterfront.

Field Museum of Natural History | BUSARA/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

New Orleans

Caribbean-colonial architecture, Creole cuisine and a riotous air of celebration seem more alluring than ever in the Big Easy. Nights are spent catching Dixieland jazz, blues and rock amid bouncing live-music joints, and the city’s riotous annual festivals (Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest) are famous the world over. ‘Nola’ is also a food-loving town that celebrates its myriad culinary influences. Feast on lip-smacking jambalaya, soft-shelled crab and Louisiana cochon (pulled pork) before hitting the bar scene on Frenchman St.

Restored southern-style house, Esplanade Ave | FOTOLUMINATE LLC/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Everglades National Park

The Everglades unnerve. They don’t reach majestically skyward or fill your heart with the aching beauty of a glacier-carved valley. They ooze, flat and watery, a river of grass mottled by hammocks, cypress domes and mangroves. You can’t hike them, not really. To properly explore the Everglades – and to meet its residents, like the snaggle-toothed crocodile – you must leave the safety of land. Push a canoe off a muddy bank, tamp down your fear, and explore the waterways on the Everglades’ own, unforgettable terms.

Crocodile swimming among water lilies | ALKHUTOV DMITRY/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences


Philly is often overlooked in the pantheon of great American cities, and that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful place, its streets dotted with gracious squares linked by cobbled alleys. As the ‘birthplace of American government’ – where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – history abounds (the Liberty Bell! Ben Franklin’s office!). But it’s not all about the past: the dining scene has heated up way beyond the famed cheesesteak sandwich. A democratic selection of eateries lurk on every corner, and many are reasonably priced.

Liberty Bell | DSZC/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences


Forget the ‘ruin porn’ pictures you may have seen: today’s Detroit has a contagious freewheeling energy. Downtown, seek out restored art deco skyscrapers, whimsical public parks and edgy street art, as well as sports venues for all of the city’s major teams. Motor City’s automotive past comes to life at places such as the Packard Plant, the nearby Henry Ford Museum and the River Rouge Plant, the sounds of Motown and jazz ring from historic venues, and restaurants ranging from vegan soul diners to Polish bakeries showcase the city’s diverse heritage.


Top Experiences

Great Smoky Mountains

Named for the heather-colored mist that hangs over the peaks, the Smokies are the most-visited national park in the US. The pocket of deep Appalachian woods is split between Tennessee and North Carolina, protecting thickly forested ridges where black bears, white-tailed deer, antlered elk, wild turkeys and more than 1600 kinds of flowers find sanctuary. Nearly 10 million people a year come to hike, camp, ride horses, cycle, raft and fly fish, though it’s easy to lose the crowds if you’re willing to walk or paddle.


Top Experiences

The Catskills

Although the original flower children may now have grandkids of their own, their free-spirited ethos lives on in the indie-loving towns of this picturesque region in upstate New York. In recent years there’s been an influx of creative farm-to-table restaurants, bespoke breweries and distilleries, and a growing array of arts collectives and high-profile concert venues. This beautiful region also happens to be prime leaf-peeping territory during the fall, a hiker’s paradise in the spring and summer and an ample playground for winter sports.


Top Experiences


How does one city get so lucky? Most content themselves with one or two highlights, but Miami seems to have it all. Beyond the stunning beaches and Art Deco Historic District, there’s culture at every turn. No other US city blends the attitude of North America with the Latin energy of South America and the rhythm of the Caribbean. Throw in an African American heritage, gastronomic edge, pounding nightlife, a skyline plucked from a patrician’s dream and miles of gorgeous sand, and say hello to the Magic City.


Top Experiences

Michigan’s Gold Coast

Michigan’s 300-mile western shoreline is a charming collection of beaches, dunes, wineries, orchards and inn-filled towns, all set against the clear blue waters of Lake Michigan. In Harbor Country, towns such as Harbert and Sawyer, ‘Green Acres’ meets Greenwich Village for a bohemian farm-and-arts blend of local antique shops, galleries, boutiques, bakeries and restaurants. Don’t miss the sunsets.


Top Experiences

White Mountains

The White Mountains are New England’s ultimate destination for outdoor adventures and inspiring landscapes, with 1200 miles of hiking trails and 48 peaks over 4000ft, including Mt Washington (6288ft). Franconia Notch is a perfect starting point, with trailheads for dozens of different hiking routes, an aerial tramway that whisks passengers to the top of Cannon Mountain, and the spectacular rush of water through Flume Gorge. It’s a destination for all seasons, with opportunities for hiking and biking, skiing and snowboarding, sitting fireside and sitting lakeside.


Top Experiences

The Outer Banks

More than 100 miles of scenic, underdeveloped shoreline are calling your name in North Carolina’s beautiful Outer Banks. Chase wild mustangs on a cinematic barrier island; explore the history of flight at Kitty Hawk; drive through 21 charming coastal villages on the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway; stuff your belly with fried fish; or go local and shuck oysters on Ocracoke Island. Some of the Eastern USA’s best waves can be caught here, and wind-powered activities like windsurfing, sailing and hang gliding await the adventurous.


Top Experiences

US Civil Rights Trail

Launched in 2018, the US Civil Rights Trail links more than 100 museums, monuments, parks and historically significant places related to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s across the Eastern USA. Sites include Martin Luther King, Jr’s childhood home in Atlanta, and Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas – visit to truly understand how the movement inspired similar pushes for civil rights worldwide and still serves as a model for activists challenging systemic injustice today.

Martin Luther King Jr Birthplace, Atlanta | ALISAFAROV/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Kentucky Bourbon Country

Bourbon has been distilled in the state of Kentucky since the 1780s, and the rolling bluegrass within the triangle formed by Louisville, Lexington and Elizabethtown is where this seasoned spirit comes to life. You’ll find an enticing network of the country’s most well-known distilleries and top-notch restaurants with bourbon-inspired menus along the official Bourbon Trail, which begins at the Frazier Museum in Louisville. Be sure to try a mint julep, the archetypal Southern bourbon drink made with a simple syrup and crushed mint.


Top Experiences

Blue Ridge Parkway

Take in sublime sunsets, watch for wildlife and lose all sense of the present while staring off at the vast wilderness surrounding this 469-mile roadway traversing the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Hikes take you deeper into nature, from easy lakeside trails to challenging scrambles up to eagles’-nest heights. Camp or spend the night at forest lodges, and don’t miss the bluegrass and mountain music scene of nearby towns such as Asheville, North Carolina and Floyd and Galax in Virginia.


Top Experiences

Amish Country

Life slows way down in the Amish communities of northeast Ohio, southeast Pennsylvania and northern Indiana – the USA’s three largest Amish clusters. Little boys in straw hats steer horse-drawn buggies, long-bearded men hand-plow the tidy fields, and demurely dressed women and girls carry shoofly pies to market. The ‘Plain People,’ as they’re known, are a centuries-old sect who live a simple life without electricity, telephones or motorized vehicles. Lancaster in Pennsylvania, Berlin in Ohio, and Middlebury in Indiana, are good places to see the clock turned back.


Top Experiences

Florida Keys

This island chain drifts as far south as you can get in the continental USA. Except for drinking and partying, people come to the Keys to fish, snorkel, dive, kayak, hike, cycle, fish some more, snorkel again. North America’s best coral reefs percolate under the jade-green water and provide brag-worthy expeditions. Then there’s Key West, the gloriously unkempt, bawdy, freak-loving exclamation point at the end of the line. Hippies, bikers, fire-jugglers, artists and other free spirits converge on its carnival atmosphere after dark.

Pelicans, Islamorada | ROMRODINKA/GETTY IMAGES ©

Top Experiences


Credit the eponymous TV show, the central location or the world-famous hot chicken – whatever the reason, these days Nashville is on the travel wish list of millions. Most come to see Broadway Ave, where honky-tonks are surrounded by boutique hotels, rooftop bars and acclaimed restaurants, but the city’s neighborhoods offer quieter charms. Beneath it all, Music City still thrums, with live music of all genres every day of the week and attractions such as the storied Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.


Top Experiences


From cobbled colonial lanes to crazed sports fans, Boston brews a colorful scene. It is arguably the USA’s most historic city: site of the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s ride and the first battle of the Revolutionary War – all of which you can trace on the 2.5-mile, red-brick Freedom Trail. Harvard University’s campus lets you be a little rebellious yourself at its edgy music clubs, while Boston’s oyster houses, cafes and trattorias (especially thick in the Italian North End) fortify you for the evening’s exploits.

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum | JON BILOUS/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Niagara Falls

Crowded? Cheesy? Well, yes. Niagara is short, too – it barely cracks the top 500 waterfalls worldwide for height. But c’mon, when those great muscular bands of water arch over the precipice like liquid glass and roar into the void below, and when you sail toward it in a little boat soaked by mist, Niagara Falls impresses big time. In terms of sheer volume, nowhere in North America beats its thundering cascade, with more than one million bathtubs of water plummeting over the edge every second.


Top Experiences

Walt Disney World® Resort

Want to set the bar high? Call yourself the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.’ Walt Disney World® Resort does, and then pulls out all the stops to deliver the exhilarating sensation that you are the most important character in the show. Despite all the frantic rides, entertainment and nostalgia, the magic is watching your own children swell with belief after they have made Goofy laugh, been curtsied to by Cinderella, guarded the galaxy with Buzz Lightyear, and battled Darth Maul like your very own Jedi knights.


Top Experiences

Appalachian Trail

The country’s longest footpath is over 2100 miles long, crosses two national parks and slices through 14 states from Georgia to Maine. Deep woods, alpine peaks, cow-dotted farms and foraging bears are all part of the landscape. It’s estimated that two to three million people trek a portion of the trail every year, inhaling the fresh air and admiring the spectacular scenery. Fewer than 800 hikers make it the entire length. Got six months and fortitude to spare? The reward is sublime – true for shorter stretches, too.


Top Experiences

West Virginia

Though often overlooked by both American and foreign travelers, West Virginia is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Hiking and biking options abound across the Mountain State, with many of the best trails found in and around the Monongahela National Forest. White-water rafting and rock climbing are also top-notch in the mountain regions. You can also dip into Civil War history at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, which boasts a collection of historic structures and museums, or tour a Cold War bunker at Greenbrier, one of the country’s poshest resorts.

White-water rafting, New River | MOUNTAINBERRYPHOTO/GETTY IMAGES ©

Need to Know

For more information, see Survival Guide


US dollar ($)


English, Spanish


Visitors from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and many EU countries do not need visas for stays of fewer than 90 days, with ESTA approval. For other nations, see


ATMs are widely available. Credits cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops.

Cell Phones

Foreign phones operating on tri- or quad-band frequencies will work here. Or purchase inexpensive cell (mobile) phones with a pay-as-you-go plan when here.


Eastern Time Zone (GMT minus five hours): NYC, New England, Florida; Central Time Zone (GMT minus six hours): Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans.

When to Go

High Season (Jun–Aug)

A Warm, sunny days across the region.

A Accommodation prices peak (30% up on average).

A Big outdoor music festivals abound: Milwaukee’s Summerfest, Newport’s Folk Fest, Chicago’s Lollapalooza etc.

Shoulder Season (Apr–May, Sep–Oct)

A Milder temperatures; can be rainy.

A Wildflowers bloom, especially in May.

A Fall foliage areas (ie New England, Blue Ridge Parkway) remain busy.

Low Season (Nov–Mar)

A Short, wintry days, with snowfall in New England and the Great Lakes.

A Lowest prices for accommodations (aside from ski resorts and warmer getaway destinations such as Florida).

A Attractions keep shorter hours or close for the winter.

Useful Websites

Lonely Planet ( Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Eater ( Foodie insight into two-dozen American cities.

National Park Service ( Gateway to America’s greatest natural treasures, its national parks.

New York Times Travel ( Travel news, practical advice and engaging features.

Roadside America ( For all things weird and wacky.

Thrillist ( Food, drink, travel and entertainment, from New York.

Important Numbers

To call a number within the USA, dial 1, followed by the area code and the seven-digit number.

Exchange Rates

For current exchange rates see

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than $100

A Dorm bed: $20–40

A Campsite: $15–30

A Room in a budget motel: $60–80

A Lunch from a cafe or food truck: $6–10

A Travel on public transit: $2–4

Midrange: $150–250

A Room in a midrange hotel: $80–200

A Dinner in a popular restaurant: $20–40

A Car hire per day: from $30

Top End: More than $250

A Room in a top hotel/resort: from $250

A Dinner in a top restaurant: $60–100

A Big night out (plays, concerts, clubs): $60–200

Opening Hours

Typical opening hours are as follows:

Banks 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday (and possibly 9am to noon Saturday)

Bars 5pm to midnight Sunday to Thursday, to 2am Friday and Saturday

Nightclubs 10pm to 3am Thursday to Saturday

Post offices 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Shopping malls 9am to 9pm

Stores 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, noon to 5pm Sunday

Supermarkets 8am to 8pm (some open 24 hours)

Arriving in Eastern USA

JFK International (New York) From JFK take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station and then LIRR to Penn Station ($12 to $16; 35 minutes). A flat-rate taxi to Manhattan costs $52, plus toll and tip (45 to 90 minutes).

O’Hare International (Chicago) The CTA Blue Line train ($5) runs 24/7. Trains depart every 10 minutes or so; they reach downtown in 40 minutes. Airport Express shuttle vans cost $32 to $34 (around one hour); taxis cost around $55 (30 minutes or so).

Miami International SuperShuttle to South Beach costs $22 (50 to 90 minutes), a taxi to Miami Beach costs $36 (40 to 60 minutes) or take the Metrorail to downtown (Government Center) for $2.25 (15 minutes).

Getting Around

Car Driving is the main way to access the region. In big cities (New York, Chicago) it can be a hassle, though, with traffic gridlock and hefty parking fees (upward of $40 per day). Car rentals are available in every town and airport.

Train Outside the Boston–Washington, DC, corridor, train travel is mostly for scenic journeys. Amtrak ( is the national carrier.

Bus Short-haul carriers such as Megabus ( and Bolt Bus ( are popular for getting between main cities (eg New York to DC) – this is typically the cheapest way to travel. Tickets must be purchased online in advance.

For much more, see Getting Around

What’s New

Dense with cities and towns, yet rich in natural beauty, the Eastern USA is able to capitalize on both urban renewal and the rise of experiential travel to provide an ever-expanding roster of destinations and activities for visitors.

Best in Travel

Miami was awarded fourth place in Lonely Planet’s list of top-10 cities in 2019. Famed for its beautiful beaches and buzzing nightlife, the city has long captivated travelers seeking a slice of tropical paradise while the rest of North America shivers. Although the Magic City still makes a fine wintertime escape, the past few years have seen Miami transform into a burgeoning center for the arts, a foodie destination and an innovator in urban design. Miami’s downtown continues to be rejuvenated with the arrival of a celebrated $305-million science museum, while the Design District has become a cultural magnet with new eye-catching architecture, public art installations and expansive new cultural programming.

CBD Craze

If you see signs for ‘CBD’ in cafes and bars, it’s a reference to cannabidiol – a non-psychotic (completely legal) substance derived from the cannabis plant. Said to reduce anxiety and inflammation, CBD has become a secret ingredient in everyday items such as baked goods, matchas, lattes and cocktails.

Presenting Real History

As the USA continues to strive to truly deliver ‘liberty and justice for all,’ attractions of all kinds are evolving to present history through the eyes of enslaved people, Native Americans and other minority groups, presenting experiences and angles not previously seen. A few new or revamped places to get the real story:

A Native Plymouth Tours , Plymouth, MA

A Mississippi Civil Rights Museum , Jackson, MS

A National Memorial for Peace & Justice , Montgomery, AL



Trisha Ping, Lonely Planet Writer

With political feuds dominating the news cycle, the adage that anything goes in conversation except politics and religion feels more relevant than ever in today’s polarized Eastern USA. Luckily, there are plenty of other topics that concern Americans today: the glut of prestige TV, the endless debate over plastic straws, affordable housing in rapidly gentrifying cities. Speaking of cities, the sharing economy (home rentals, car-sharing services) and the influx of new residents (immigrants, young families looking for affordable places to settle down) have turned many mid-sized cities into exciting places to visit. From the Rust Belt to the Bible Belt, once overlooked cities like Columbus, OH, and Birmingham, AL, boast enviable food-and-drink scenes and enough sights to easily fill a long weekend. Travel-jaded domestic and international travelers are hopping on board. Adventure-minded travelers can also find plenty to jump onto in the Eastern USA, with experience-based travel on the rise, and activities such as ice climbing and kite-surfing joining the roster of more traditional outdoor fare in the country’s state and national parks and recreation areas.

Hudson Yards

At the northern end of the High Line, a $4.5-billion engineered neighborhood has emerged, transforming a once grotty corner of NYC’s Midtown. As well as the highest open-air observatory in the Western Hemisphere and performing-arts space the Shed, it houses the Vessel – an astounding Escher-like steel structure of interlocking walkways and staircases for climbing.

Foothills Parkway Extension

After years of construction and tens of millions of dollars in investment, a new 16-mile stretch of the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened in late 2018.

The Wharf

Washington, DC, has transformed the lonely docks that used to sit along the Southwest Waterfront into a sparkling development of public piers, promenades, concert halls and chic restaurants.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

The city’s premier gallery, which first opened in 1928, underwent a $196-million renovation program, with architect Frank Gehry designing new galleries and common areas, and helping to improve navigation around the museum.


For inspiration, visit

This American Life ( Long-running NPR program and podcast featuring in-depth reporting on culture and society.

The Nod Pop-culture podcast with a focus on Black life.

Insta @usinterior Stunning images from the USA’s federal lands.

Bitter Southerner ( Perspectives on life and culture in the Southern USA today.

LatinoUSA ( US news, culture and media insight from the Latinx community. Travel inspiration and articles from across the country.


Food trend CBD (cannabidiol) in everything

Number of US presidents born in the Eastern United States 38

Miles of coastline 3700

Population 199 million

Chicago’s Malt Row

What happens when you have scads of old industrial buildings sitting vacant as Chicago’s brewery boom is taking off? They get filled with beer makers, and Malt Row is born – a stretch of six breweries and a distillery conveniently lined up along a 2-mile path.

Highlights include the following:

A Begyle Brewing

A Koval Distillery

A Spiteful Brewing .


Find more accommodation reviews throughout the On the Road chapters.

Types of Accommodations

B&Bs & Inns Range from small comfy houses with shared bathrooms to romantic historic homes with private bathrooms. Reservations essential.

Camping Typically there are three types of campsites: primitive (free to $10 per night; no facilities); basic ($10 to $20; toilets, drinking water and fire pits); or developed ($20 to $50; more amenities such as showers and RV sites with hookups). Camping is usually limited to 14 days and can be reserved up to six months in advance.

Hostels Most hostels have gender-segregated dorms, a few private rooms, shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen. Dorm-bed fees range from $25 to $45 (though in NYC, a dorm bed can cost upward of $75).

Hotels Hotels in all categories typically include cable TV, in-room wi-fi, private bathrooms and a simple continental breakfast.

Motels Distinguishable from hotels by having rooms that open onto a parking lot, motels tend to cluster around interstate exits and along main routes into town.

Resorts Found mainly in Florida, resorts can include all manner of facilities, such as fitness and sports, pools, spas, restaurants and bars.


Rates listed are based on double occupancy for high season (generally May to September, with the exception of Florida and ski resorts), and do not include taxes, which can add 10% to 15% or more. When booking, ask for the rate including taxes.

$ less than $150

$$ $150–250

$$$ more than $250

For New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC, the rate is as follows:

$ less than $200

$$ $200–350

$$$ more than $350

Best Places to Stay

Best on a Budget

Traveling on a budget is easy in the Eastern USA, even in – maybe especially in – the largest cities. As in most countries, campsites and hostels remain the best options for those keeping a tight rein on their finances, but hotels and B&Bs can also offer impressive value.

Best budget accommodations:

A Carlton Arms , New York City

A Crash Pad , Chattanooga, TN

A HI Washington DC Hostel , Washington, DC

A Bywater Bed & Breakfast , New Orleans

Best for Families

While homesharing websites remain popular choices for families, hotels and resorts are upping the ante by providing amenities such as board games, milk and cookies, and spacious suites to lure parents and little ones. And of course, pools provide hours of fun.

Best accommodations for families:

A Hotel Beacon , New York City

A Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort , Shenandoah Valley

A Tranquilo , Fort Lauderdale

A Trapp Family Lodge , Stowe

Best for Solo Travelers

Solo travel in the Eastern USA is only as lonely as you want it to be. From big cities to small towns, locals are usually friendly and curious about visitors. Hostels offer the best chances to meet other travelers, and the best prices, but B&Bs are also welcoming to solo travelers, with engaging hosts to give you the lay of the land. Small hotels and pod hotels also have single rooms at typically low rates.

Best accommodations for solo travelers:

A SoBe Hostel , Miami

A Found Hotel , Chicago

A Freehand New York , New York City

A Apple Hostels , Philadelphia



For all but the cheapest places and the slowest seasons, reservations are advised. In high-season tourist hot spots and on holiday weekends, hotels can book up months ahead.

Lonely Planet ( Find independent reviews, as well as recommendations on the best places to stay – and then book them online. ( The largest B&B booking site in the world features thousands of properties in the Eastern USA.

Hostelling International USA ( National network of hostels; free membership required to get the best rate. ( Make reservations to camp in national parks and other federal lands.

Reserve America ( Make reservations for state park and other campsites.

Internet Access

Most properties offer in-room wi-fi. It’s usually free in budget and midrange lodgings, while top-end hotels often charge a fee (typically $10 to $20 per day).

If You Like…

Big Cities

New York City You can’t get bigger than NYC – 8.6 million people strong, loud, fast, pulsing with energy, symphonic and always evolving.

Chicago The Great Lakes’ metropolis is a cultural stew of skyscrapers, public art, vast museums, indie clubs and a delirious number of eats.

Baltimore The port city has morphed into a hip beauty, sporting world-class museums, trendy shops and boutique hotels.

Philadelphia History is everywhere in the USA’s first capital, but Philly’s urbane side comes out in its energetic food, music and arts scenes.

Detroit The birthplace of motors and Motown is experiencing a revival, drawing chefs and entrepreneurs back to its once deserted downtown.

Atlanta Diverse and dynamic, the ATL sets the standard for the modern South.

National Parks

Great Smoky Mountains Heather-colored mist clings to the peaks, while black bears, elk and wild turkeys roam the USA’s most-visited park.

Acadia Maine’s unspoiled wilderness offers surging coastal mountains, towering sea cliffs, surf-pounded beaches and quiet ponds.

Shenandoah Spectacular vistas unfurl along the Blue Ridge Mountains, with great hiking and camping, including along the Appalachian Trail.

Everglades South Florida’s watery wonderland is home to snaggle-toothed crocodiles, stealthy panthers, pink flamingos and mellow manatees.

Indiana Dunes The USA’s newest national park sports massive golden dunes, dotted with thistle and dune grass, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Isle Royale Floating in Lake Superior, it’s devoid of roads, cars and crowds, giving moose and loons room to roam.

Fabulous Food

New Orleans Hot-spiced gumbo, fresh-shucked oysters and bourbon-soaked bread pudding highlight the Creole menu in America’s most food-centric city.

New York City Whether you crave steak frites, sushi, chicken tikka masala or gourmet hot dogs, globe-trotting Gotham has you covered.

Birmingham From pit-smoked BBQ at Saw’s to the restaurants of James Beard Award–winner Frank Stitt, the Magic City is an under-the-radar foodie gem.

Charleston The well-bred, gardenia-scented city brings on decadent, Lowcountry fare such as shrimp and grits and she-crab soup.

Minneapolis It has been called ‘America’s next great food city’ for its creative, sustainable, Scandinavian-tinged eateries.


Chicago Birthplace of the skyscraper, Chicago has magnificent works by many of the great 20th-century architects.

Newport Mansions Newport, Rhode Island’s ostentatious clifftop mansions, ushered in an era of opulence at the turn of the 20th century.

Miami Miami’s Art Deco Historic District is a Technicolor dream come to life.

Columbus Believe it: there’s big architecture in small Columbus, IN – thanks to the town’s forward-thinking industrialists.

Savannah Georgia’s oldest city packs Georgian town houses, antebellum mansions, Gothic churches and art deco shops into its compact center.

Mercer-Williams House, Savannah | ROLF_52/SHUTTERSTOCK ©


Smithsonian Institution The nation’s premier treasure chest is actually a group of 19 museums, including the National Air & Space Museum. The best thing is that they’re all free.

Metropolitan Museum of Art The top-draw attraction in NYC is like a cultural city-state, boasting a trove of two million artworks.

Art Institute of Chicago The nation’s second-largest art museum (after the Met) hangs masterpieces aplenty, especially impressionist paintings.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum It has Jimi Hendrix’ Stratocaster and John Lennon’s Sgt Pepper suit, all in Cleveland.

National Civil Rights Museum Moving exhibits set across the street from where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis.

Newseum Celebrating freedom of expression and tracing the history of journalism, this fun, sparkling new museum is hard to resist.

National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC | SEAN PAVONE/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Theme Parks

Walt Disney World® Resort Plunge into the fairytale world of the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ and get swept up in miles of nostalgia and thrill rides.

Dollywood A paean to the much-loved country singer Dolly Parton, with Appalachian-themed rides and attractions in the hills of Tennessee.

Cedar Point Home to several of the globe’s tallest and fastest roller coasters, including the 120mph Top Thrill Dragster.

Universal Orlando Resort Famed home of Universal Studios as well as the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Busch Gardens Epic roller coasters and rides, animal encounters and oodles of live entertainment await in this African-themed mega-park.

Outdoor Activities

Appalachian Trail Even if you choose not to walk all 2100-plus miles, hop on for a day hike to experience the sublime scenery; 14 states provide access.

Boundary Waters Canoe deep into Minnesota’s northern wilderness to camp under the stars and perhaps glimpse the aurora borealis.

New River Gorge National River Legendary white-water froths in West Virginia, ripping through a primeval forest gorge that’s utterly Eden-like.

Long Island Surf’s up in New York, from Montauk’s waves to Nassau County’s Long Beach.

Stowe Mountain Vermont practically invented snowboarding. The state’s premier crag is the place to shred.

Presidential Range Challenging trails, lofty peaks and an excellent hut-to-hut system in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.


New England has Colonial and Revolutionary hot spots, while the Mid-Atlantic and South hold the majority of Civil War battlefields.

Independence National Historic Park Highlights include the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where America’s founders signed the Constitution.

Boston’s Freedom Trail Visit Paul Revere’s home, an 18th-century graveyard and 14 other Revolutionary War sites along the 2.5-mile path.

Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village Just out of Detroit, these two museums hold US history’s greatest hits: the bus Rosa Parks sat in, the Wright Brothers’ airplane workshop and more.

Washington, DC See the sites where Lincoln was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr gave his most famous speech and Nixon’s presidency was undone.

Colonial Williamsburg Step back into the 1700s in this preserved town, the largest living history museum on the planet.

Montgomery, AL Visit Civil Rights sights like the Rosa Parks Museum and the groundbreaking Memorial to Peace and Justice.


New Orleans Go beyond Bourbon St into the neighborhoods where Sazerac swirls in glasses, and the sounds of jazz, Dixieland and zydeco spill from clubs.

New York City As Sinatra sang, it’s the city that doesn’t sleep, with bars and clubs staying open till 4am nightly.

Athens The compact little college town boasts a mighty music scene that launched the B-52s and R.E.M.

Nashville The music truly doesn’t quit here; come for a show-stopping good time.

Key West A lot of booze goes down the hatch in this raucous, free-spirited, carnival of a town.

Offbeat America

NashTrash Tours Nashville’s tall-haired ‘Jugg Sisters’ take visitors on a deliciously tacky journey through the city’s spicier side.

Spam Museum Try your hand at canning the sweet pork magic in Austin, MN, the blue-tinned meat’s revered birthplace.

American Visionary Art Museum Peruse outsider art (including pieces created by the clinically insane) at this Baltimore gem.

World’s Largest Ball of Twine It’s a 17,400lb behemoth sitting in a Minnesota gazebo.


New York City and Chicago are the stars, while smaller cities such as Minneapolis give voice to emerging talents.

Broadway It doesn’t get more iconic than the bright lights and glittering marquees along this most famous Midtown Manhattan street.

Steppenwolf Theatre John Malkovich, Gary Sinise and other now-famous actors launched Chicago’s scene here more than four decades ago.

Guthrie Theater Minneapolis has so many theaters it’s nicknamed ‘the Mini Apple.’ The uber-cool Guthrie leads the pack.

American Players Theatre Stages Shakespeare and other classics outdoors amid the woodlands of Spring Green, WI.

Grand Ole Opry There’s more than country music under the lights – it’s a fully-fledged, foot-stompin’ variety show.


South Beach The world-famous strand is less about wave-frolicking than taking in the parade of people on Miami’s favorite playground.

Cape Cod National Seashore Massive sand dunes, picturesque lighthouses and cool forests invite endless exploring on the Massachusetts cape.

Michigan’s Gold Coast Endless stretches of sand, dunes, wineries, orchards and B&B-filled towns blanket the state’s western shoreline.

Outer Banks North Carolina’s isolated barrier islands offer everything from popular beaches to remote strands where wild ponies run free.

Wild horses on the beach at Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina | PATRICIA CAMEROTA/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Month by Month


Mardi Gras, February or March

National Cherry Blossom Festival, March-April

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, June

Independence Day, July

Art Basel Miami Beach, December


The New Year starts off with a shiver as snowfall blankets large swaths of the northern regions. Ski resorts kick into high gear, while sun-lovers seek refuge in warmer climes (especially Florida).

z Mummers Parade

Philadelphia’s biggest event is this brilliant parade ( on New Year’s Day, for which local clubs spend months creating costumes and mobile scenery in order to win top honors. String bands and clowns add to the general good cheer.

z Chinese New Year

In late January or early February, you’ll find colorful celebrations and feasting anywhere there’s a Chinatown. NYC and Chicago each ring in the occasion with a parade, floats, firecrackers, bands and plenty of merriment.

z St Paul Winter Carnival

Is it cold in Minnesota in late January? You betcha. That doesn’t stop denizens from bundling up in parkas and snow boots to partake in 10 days of ice sculptures, ice skating and ice fishing (

Mummers Parade, Philadelphia | AIMINTANG/GETTY IMAGES ©


Unless they’re indulging in winter sports or hiding out in Florida, most Americans dread February for its long, dark nights and chilly days. For foreign visitors, this can be the cheapest time to travel, with ultra-discount rates for flights and hotels.

z Savannah Black Heritage Festival

Every year during Black History Month, this multidisciplinary festival ( features events that range from cultural educational programs, ethnic cuisine demonstrations and craft fairs to historic tours, visual arts exhibitions and dance and spoken-word performances.

z Groundhog Day

Made world famous by the 1993 film, the little town of Punxsutawney, PA, has long held the nation’s attention at sunrise on 2 February, when marmot maven Punxsutawney Phil makes his predictions about the coming of winter’s end.

3 Mix NYC Experimental Film Festival

New York City’s longest running queer film festival ( is a stalwart on the global LGBTIQ+ film festival circuit and a must-attend for avant-garde and experimental film buffs.

3 North Carolina Jazz Festival

Since 1980, this volunteer-run not-for-profit festival ( has been warming winter hearts with the magic of world-renowned jazz musicians, over three days in February.

z Mardi Gras

Held in late February or early March, Mardi Gras is the finale of Carnival. New Orleans’ celebrations ( are legendary, with colorful parades, masquerade balls and plenty of feasting leading up to the big day.


The first blossoms of spring arrive – at least in the Southern USA. In New England’s mountains, it’s still ski season. Meanwhile, the Spring Break masses descend on Florida.

z National Cherry Blossom Festival

The brilliant blooms of Japanese cherry blossoms around DC’s Tidal Basin are celebrated with concerts, parades, taiko drumming, kite-flying and loads of other events during the three-week fest ( More than 1.5 million people go each year, so don’t forget to book ahead.

5 Maple Syrup Tasting

Vermont’s maple-syrup producers invite the public to their ‘sugarhouses’ to see the sweet stuff being made during the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend ( in late March. Maine producers do the same on the last Sunday of the month.

3 Baseball Spring Training

Throughout March, Florida hosts Major League Baseball’s spring training ‘Grapefruit League’ ( 15 pro baseball teams train and play exhibition games, drawing fans to the Orlando, Tampa Bay and southeast areas.

z St Patrick’s Day

On the 17th, the patron saint of Ireland is honored with brass bands and ever-flowing pints of Guinness. Huge parades occur in NYC, Boston and Chicago (which goes all-out by dyeing the Chicago River green).

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, DC | SEAN PAVONE/SHUTTERSTOCK ©


The weather is warming up, but April can still be unpredictable, with chilly weather mixed with a few teasingly warm days up north. Down south, it’s a fine time to travel.

2 Boston Marathon

At the country’s oldest marathon (, tens of thousands of spectators watch runners cross the finish line at Copley Sq on Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts holiday held on the third Monday of April.

3 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The Big Easy hosts the country’s best jazz jam ( for 10 days in late April with top-notch horn blowers and ivory ticklers. Almost better than the music is the food: soft-shell crab po’boys, Cajun rice with pork sausage and white-chocolate bread pudding.

3 Tribeca Film Festival

Robert De Niro co-organizes this NYC soiree ( showcasing documentaries and narrative features, held during 12 days in late April. It has quickly risen in stature since its 2002 inception.


May is true spring and one of the loveliest times to travel in the region, with blooming wildflowers and generally mild, sunny weather. Summer crowds and high prices stay at bay until Memorial Day (the last Monday in May).

3 North Charleston Arts Festival

Now in its fourth decade, this five-day South Carolina festival ( has grown from humble beginnings to be one of the most comprehensive arts festivals on the eastern seaboard.

3 Kentucky Derby

On the first Saturday of the month, a who’s who of upper-crust America puts on their seersucker suits and most flamboyant hats and descends on Louisville for the horse race ( known as the ‘greatest two minutes in sports.’

3 Movement

Billed as the world’s largest electronic music festival (, Movement packs Detroit’s Hart Plaza over Memorial Day weekend. You’ll find both up-and-comers and the big names in the biz, such as Snoop Dog, Skrillex and Felix da Housecat, at the dance-loving extravaganza.


Summer is here. Americans spend more time at outdoor cafes and restaurants, and head to the shore or to national parks. School is out; vacationers fill the highways and resorts, bringing higher prices.

3 Chicago Blues Festival

It’s the globe’s biggest free blues fest (, with three days of the electrified music that made Chicago famous. More than a half-million people unfurl blankets in front of the multiple stages that take over Grant Park in early June.

3 CMA Music Festival

Legions of country-music fans unite in Nashville for boot-stomping fun and concerts featuring the genre’s top crooners. More than 400 artists perform at stages in Riverfront Park and Nissan Stadium (

3 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

Set in Tennessee’s heartland on a 700-acre farm, this sprawling music fest ( showcases big-name rock, soul, country and more over four days in mid-June.

z Mermaid Parade

In Brooklyn, NYC, Coney Island celebrates summer’s steamy arrival with a kitsch-loving parade (, complete with skimpily attired mermaids and horn-blowing mermen.

3 Summerfest

Milwaukee lets loose with a heckuva music fest ( for 11 days in late June/early July, with hundreds of big-name rock, blues, jazz, country and alternative bands swarming 10 lakefront stages. Local beer, brats and cheese accompany the proceedings.


With summer in full swing, Americans break out the backyard barbecues or head for the beach. The prices are high and the crowds can be fierce, but it’s one of the liveliest times to visit.

z Independence Day

The nation celebrates its birthday with a fireworks-filled bang on the 4th. In Philadelphia, descendants of the Declaration of Independence signatories ring the Liberty Bell. NYC, Nashville and Washington, DC, are also great spots to enjoy the fun.

3 Newport Folk Festival

Newport, RI, a summer haunt of the well-heeled, hosts this high-energy music fest ( in late July. Top folk artists take to the storied stage, best remembered as the venue where Bob Dylan went electric.

3 Eastern Music Festival

For half a century, North Carolina’s musical treasure ( has been educating and entertaining through its month-long series of workshops and performances.


Expect blasting heat in August, with temperatures and humidity less bearable the further south you go. You’ll find people-packed beaches, high prices and empty cities on weekends, when residents escape to the nearest waterfront.

3 Lollapalooza

This massive rock fest ( in Chicago is a raucous event, with 170 bands – including many A-listers – spread over eight stages in Grant Park the first weekend in August.

5 Maine Lobster Festival

If you love lobster like Maine loves lobster, indulge in this five-day feeding frenzy ( held in Rockland in early August. King Neptune and the Sea Goddess oversee a week full of events and, of course, as much crustacean as you can eat.


With the end of summer, cooler days arrive, making for pleasant outings region-wide. The kids are back in school, and concert halls, gallery spaces and performing-arts venues kick off a new season.

3 Fraley Festival of Traditional Music

What began as a family reunion in the 1970s has become an annual three-day celebration ( of traditional southern music in Kentucky. Held at the Carter Caves State Resort Park.

3 Music Midtown

Atlanta’s biggest and best music festival (, this two-day Piedmont Park extravaganza attracts the biggest names in music over the course of a long weekend.

3 New York Film Festival

One of several big film fests in NYC, this one features world premieres from across the globe, plus Q&As with indie and mainstream directors alike. Lincoln Center ( plays host.

5 New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival

The inaugural Fried Chicken Festival ( in 2016 drew crowds of up to 40,000 – come join the hordes for a three-day weekend dedicated to the juicy, golden-fried bird.

3 Together Festival

Boston’s burgeoning and aptly named week-long Together Festival ( is all about how music, art and technology converge in this historic yet high-tech city, home to Harvard, Cambridge and cutting-edge MIT.


Temperatures are falling as fall brings fiery colors to northern climes. It’s high season where the leaves are most brilliant (New England); elsewhere expect lower prices and smaller crowds.

z Fantasy Fest

Key West’s answer to Mardi Gras brings more than 100,000 revelers to the subtropical enclave during the week leading up to Halloween. Expect parades, colorful floats, costume parties, the selecting of a conch king and queen and plenty of alcohol-fueled merriment (

z Halloween

It’s not just for kids: adults celebrate Halloween in costume, too. In New York City, you can don a costume and join the Halloween parade up Sixth Ave. Chicago does a cultural take with skeleton-rich Day of the Dead events that take place at the National Museum of Mexican Art. In Salem, MA, the Haunted Happenings Halloween builds on the city’s witchy history.


No matter where you go, this is generally low season, with cold winds discouraging visitors. Prices are lower (although airfares skyrocket around Thanksgiving). There’s much happening culturally in the main cities.

z Thanksgiving

On the fourth Thursday of November, Americans gather with family and friends over daylong feasts of roast turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, wine, pumpkin pie and loads of other dishes. New York City hosts a huge parade. Plymouth, MA, where the Pilgrims landed, hosts events as well.


Winter arrives, though skiing conditions in the Eastern USA usually aren’t ideal until January. Christmas lights and holiday fairs make the region come alive during the festive season.

3 Art Basel Miami Beach

This massive arts fest ( has four days of cutting-edge art, film, architecture and design. More than 250 major galleries from across the globe come to the event, with works by some 2000 artists, plus much hobnobbing by a glitterati crowd.

z New Year’s Eve

Americans are of two minds when it comes to ringing in the New Year. Some join festive crowds to celebrate; others plot a getaway to escape the mayhem. Whichever you choose, plan well in advance. Expect high prices (especially in NYC).


Up the Coast


Get your big-city fill in the biggest city of all, then mosey into New England for small-town pleasures.

The great dynamo of art, fashion and culture, New York City is America at its most urbane. Spend three days blending touristy must-dos – Top of the Rock viewpoint, Upper East Side art museums, Central Park rambling – with vibrant nightlife and dining adventures, perhaps in the East Village. After big-city culture, catch your breath at the pretty beaches and enticing charms of Montauk on Long Island. Back in NYC, catch the train to Boston for two days, visiting historic sights, dining in the North End and pub-hopping in Cambridge. Rent a car and drive to Cape Cod, with its idyllic dunes, forests and pretty shores. Leave time for Provincetown, the Cape’s liveliest settlement. Then set off for a three-day jaunt taking in New England’s back roads, covered bridges, picturesque towns and beautiful scenery, staying at heritage B&Bs en route. Highlights include Salem and Concord in Massachusetts; Bennington in Vermont; and Portsmouth in New Hampshire. If time allows, head onward to Maine for lobster feasts amid beautifully rugged coastlines – Portland is a fine place to start.


Eastern Grand Tour


This road trip loops around the East through towns large and small, as blues joints, pie shops and civil-rights sights flash by.

Start in New York City (but hire a car more cheaply in New Jersey) and hit the road for week one. Head west toward Lancaster to explore the idyllic back roads of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Next is Pittsburgh, a surprising town of picturesque bridges and cutting-edge museums. Enter Ohio by interstate, but quickly step back in time amid the horses, buggies and byways of Amish Country. See the skyscrapers rising on the horizon? That’s big-shouldered Chicago. Hang out for a few days to marvel at famous artworks and steely architecture, and chow through the city’s celebrated restaurant scene.

For week two, motor south from Chicago on old Route 66, at least for a few time-warped, pie-filled miles. Memphis is the next destination, a draw for Elvis fans, barbecue connoisseurs, civil-rights students and blues-music buffs alike. Follow the Great River Rd south from here through juke-jointed Clarksdale, the Civil War battlegrounds of Vicksburg and the antebellum mansions of Natchez. It’s not far now to New Orleans, where you can hear live jazz, consult with a voodoo priestess and spoon into thick, spicy-rich gumbo.

Begin journeying back east for week three. Wheel along the Gulf Coast to the azalea-lined boulevards of Mobile, then inland to Montgomery, to see the world-renowned Memorial for Peace and Justice, a tribute to the victims of lynching. Fall under the spell of live oaks in Savannah and pastel architecture and decadent food in Charleston. Take your pick of Durham or Chapel Hill, side-by-side university towns offering groovy nightlife.

Begin week four brushing up on your history in Virginia. Visit Jamestown, where Pocahontas helped the New World’s first English settlement survive, then wander through the 18th century at nearby Williamsburg. A pair of big cities completes the route: Washington, DC, is a museum free-for-all, while Philadelphia fires up the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin and the mighty, meaty cheesesteak. Finally, it’s

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