Updated: Oct 5, 2021
My brother and I visited the East Coast of the US back in the summer of 2019 - before the terms coronavirus, social distancing and lockdown were a thing. It was our first trip together without our parents and we managed to navigate three of the US' biggest cities with only a few arguments! During our ten day trip we visited: New York City, Philadelphia and Washington. New York City will forever be one of my all-time favourite travel destinations in the world. It truly has everything you could want in a city - excitement, diversity, culture and above all, a great energy. I always feel so energised when I visit NYC. After spending a couple of days in NYC, we took the Greyhound Bus to Philadelphia. I'd never been to Philadelphia before so I didn't know what to expect. It's safe to say I was very pleasantly surprised! Philadelphia was such a cool place and I wish we got to spend more time there. After another couple of days in Pennsylvania's capital, we headed for the US capital - Washington DC. Luckily our cousin lives in Washington DC so we stayed at his apartment for the duration of our time there. You know what you're getting with DC and even though I'd visited once before, there was so much I hadn't seen or done yet. DC is the heart of America's culture and history and this is encapsulated by its many museums, exhibitions and memorials. Right - introduction over, here is all the important information that can help you plan your own trip to the East Coast of the US - accommodation, food, activities.
Day 1 - New York City
Accommodation - The Pod Times Square - $547 for two nights (I know, absolutely ridiculous!). That roughly equates to £395. The reason it was so expensive was due to its location (five minute walk from Times Square) and the dates we went (NYC is always more expensive in the summer).
On our first full day in NYC we went on a day-long walking tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn - full on tourist mode! We walked from Times Square to Brooklyn Bridge, taking in everything NYC had to offer. The best part about NYC - you can get so much for free! Every block you walk past has something on offer, whether that be a skyscraper, a local food truck or a street performance, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The walk from Times Square to Brooklyn Bridge was long and it was a very hot day in NYC. The view from Brooklyn Bridge was breathtaking and the walk across it was even better. The bridge is a tourist hotspot in itself and its a thriving part of NYC. There are opportunities to buy paintings, take photos and even hold a snake! I managed to capture some fantastic photos of the bridge as I walked across - navigating the hundreds of people doing the same as well as cyclists swerving in and out of the waiting tourists. As we made our way over the bridge to Brooklyn I was instantly amazed by Brooklyn's character and uniqueness. We didn't spend too much time in Brooklyn as time was getting on but we did stop by the Hudson River to admire the view of Manhattan across the bridge. To finish the day we stopped off at Subway for some food and then went to Times Square which comes alive at night. It makes me so sad to think about how Times Square has been affected by the pandemic - it thrives off having thousands of people fill its streets day after day.
Day 2 - New York City
Day two in NYC was just as busy as day one, if not even busier. After breakfast at Dunkin Donuts in which I had my favourite NYC breakfast (a cream cheese bagel), we decided to venture to one of NYC's most famous bakeries in Harlem - the Levain bakery. To get to the Levain bakery we walked from one end of Central Park to the other. It was a very long walk but I absolutely love Central Park - so it was all worth it! We tried one of the famous chocolate chip cookies and it's safe to say it didn't disappoint. After a day of walking we decided to get the metro back to Times Square and then went back to our hotel to prepare for our departure to Philadelphia the next day.
Day 3 - Philadelphia - Apple Hostel (Twin private room) - Approximately £120 for two nights
Greyhound Bus - NYC to Philadelphia. After arriving to Philadelphia in the afternoon, we didn't do too much on the first day after from try the famous Philly Cheese Steak! We couldn't visit Philadelphia without trying the local delicacy - it did not disappoint!
Day 4 - Philadelphia
Our first stop on our first full day in Philadelphia was the Museum of the American Revolution. I had never studied about the American Revolution so I was really interested in finding out more about America's past and how it has shaped the America we see today. We then went to the Eastern State Penitentiary which was one the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Today it stands in ruin - crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Admission for adults costs $19 which is a very reasonable price given how long we spent walking around. There was also lots of information about the current judicial system in the US - such as the issues with the system as well as what needs to be done to improve it. After exploring the Eastern State Penitentiary we took an Uber back into the centre of Philadelphia and visited the famous Liberty Bell. It was free to visit with no tickets required but there was a queue so bare that in mind when visiting at popular times. For dinner we went to an Indian restaurant and I had a delicious chicken korma - I'd highly recommend!
Day 5 - Washington DC
Day 5 took us to our third and final destination of our East Coast US trip. Instead of explaining everywhere we went and what we did in DC, I'll create a list below of it all including opening and closing times, prices etc.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Opening and closing hours: 10am-5:30pm
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Opening and closing hours: 11am-4pm
The Capitol Visitor Centre - guided tour and Senate Gallery
All tours, programmes and activities are free of charge.
Opening and closing hours: 8:30am-4:30pm
To access the Senate Gallery you'll need to show your passport as proof of ID if you're not an American citizen - I'd highly recommend visiting the Senate Gallery if you get the opportunity. The process of obtaining the required pass was a lot quicker and straight forward than I initially imagined.
Location: Western end of the National Mall, across from the Washington Monument.
National Air and Space Museum
Opening and closing hours: 10am-5:30pm
I'd highly recommend paying to do the Flight Simulator Experience. This cost $10 per person which was great value for money and a lot of fun! Make sure to avoid the busy times though as we did unfortunately have to queue.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Location: Near Constitution Gardens on the National Mall. The closest Metro stops are Foggy Bottom or Federal Triangle on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines.
Martin Luther King Memorial
Location: West Potomac Park at 1964 Independence Avenue.
D.C. United vs Real Betis - football match
Location: Buzzard Point, Washington.
Washington Nationals baseball match
Location: Along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighbourhood of Washington DC.
During our time in Washington we also met up with my friend Ellie who I met whilst travelling in Thailand. We drove to Shenandoah National Park and explored the area as well as going on a hike. My brother and I had been to a few National Park's in America before but I'd have to say that Shenandoah National Park was one of my favourites!
Overall, my brother and I had a fantastic time on our East Coast US trip! We both love visiting the US and what always excites me is the diversity within the country and amongst all the different cities. Each city offers something unique and I can't wait to return to the US soon - hopefully within the next year or so.
So, who's thinking of booking a trip to the East Coast of the US? I hope you find this itinerary useful!
All information provided is from our personal experience and OneGlobe360 cannot take any responsibility for any changes in prices or details of the information discussed.