USA East Coast

Traditionally, the east of the USA generally refers to the states east of the Mississippi River however for the purposes of this guide we have included Texas and Louisiana.

The eastern seaboard was the first area of the USA to be settled and is still home to its most populous cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, as well as the capital, Washington DC. You can get your fill of urban pursuits like shopping, theatre, dining and major league sports in these centres, but there are also charming small towns to potter around and natural wonders to explore. Wherever you travel in the east you will be reminded of movies, TV shows and books, and this is a popular reason to visit this region, especially in New York where there are myriad tours allowing you to walk in the footsteps of your favourite characters. Despite this 'familiarity' with much of the culture and landmarks, however, the region still has the ability to surprise, with its multiculturalism, natural beauty and especially in the south - hospitality.

 

History & Culture

For lovers of history, the eastern states are exciting destinations. Home to the original 13 states that formed the union that would become the United States, the east coast contains the majority of the nation’s sites of historical and cultural significance. The turbulent beginning of America can be traced from the old streets of Boston, to the original capital city, Philadelphia, and from the darkest days of the nation at the Gettysburg Museum, to the three main formative documents of the United States and its government: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, displayed in the National Archive in Washington DC. And then there is the South with a culture all of its very own - music, culinary delights and charming old-world cities. There are also civil war museums and monuments dotted around the countryside as well as reminders of the slave economy that once dominated the region.

Civil War Recreation

Must-Do Experiences

If you are travelling in the eastern states in summer and want to immerse yourself in American culture, you would do well to go to a baseball game. Baseball is known as America's pastime and attending a game offers an insight into American culture that is unique. Yankee Stadium in New York, Fenway Park in Boston and Sun Trust Park in Atlanta are three of the big ones, but any of the major league stadiums will be an experience and in the season (Spring/Summer), they play all the time!

From a culinary perspective, must-do's include pizza in New York, Gumbo or Jambalaya in New Orleans, Philly Steak in Philadelphia and Barbecue in Texas and The South. You can also tour distilleries in Kentucky and Tennessee with Bardstown and Lynchburg being the highlights.

Shopping in New York offers unparalleled choice and access to name brands. For many people, the prices are also a major attraction, with clothing and make-up a particular highlight. Outlet malls accross the country also offer great value for money.

Baseball game

Points of Interest

Language
English is the official language of the USA, however Spanish is spoken widely in the West, South West & Texas.
Currency
US Dollar (USD)
Electricity
120V/60Hz
Time
USA East encompasses two different time zones - Central Time & Eastern Time. The time difference is 14 hours for Eastern Daylight Time and 15 hours for Central Daylight Time compared to AEST. Daylight saving is observed from March to October.
Visas

Most Australian citizens are able to travel to the United States without a visa by using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), with an approved ESTA. For more details go to http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html

Important Info
Tipping is a way of life in the USA and the extremely low wages of many professions, especially hospitality workers, means that it is a necessary evil. Restaurant staff (not fast food outlets) should be tipped 15-25%; Taxi driver 10-15%; Valet USD3-5; Housekeeping USD3-5 per day; Porterage USD2 per item of luggage carried; everything else (you pretty much need to tip for every service) - approximately 15%.

Best Time to Visit

There is something to do at any time in USA East and a preferred time for every experience. Generally Spring, Summer and Autumn is more tolerable in the North where winter temperatures can plummet to levels impossible to comprehend for most Australian travellers. It can get very hot in the south during summer but it can get pretty chilly in the winter too. Basically it depends on what you want to do if you want to ski then a northern winter is heaven, if you want to experience a sultry southern clime then summer is ideal.
Activity Time
Skiing December to March, but you may get snow in late November & early April
Autumn Colour From September in the north to November in the south
See a baseball game The Major League Baseball season runs April to September
Mardi Gras - New Orleans Mardi Gras take place on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) which is a Tuesday in February or March immediately before Ash Wednesday

Getting Around

The USA is the perfect self-drive destination, so don’t be scared of driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road! With so many fancy cars available for hire at very reasonable prices, why not spoil yourself and hire that ruby red Mustang you’ve always wanted to drive? Put the top down and let the wind blow through your hair as you cruise from destination to destination at your own pace.

If you’re not quite ready to jump in the driver’s seat of a canary yellow Chevy Camaro or on a Harley-Davidson motorbike, there is always the fantastic rail network to transport you around the country. Amtrak is quite extensive, and connects with a lot of other transport options, like buses and ferries, to make getting from point A to B a breeze.

Dining

A spectacular array of culinary delights is on offer throughout the East Coast, starting with every option under the sun in New York. From 99c pizza by the slice to $1000 plates at the most exclusive restaurants, along with staples like bagels and the New York hotdog. A Texas BBQ with Brisket, coleslaw, beans and potato salad is a must try or deep dish pizza in Chicago. Southern specialties in Nashville or New England signature dishes in Boston, the options are endless and delicious!

Shopping

New York baby! Need we say more? Be sure to pack a spare suitcase for your purchases if planning a spot of shopping in this fabulous city. Macy’s, Century 21, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue are the department stores not to be missed. For a designer splurge visit Prada, Chanel, Hermes and Giorgio Armani on Madison Avenue or perhaps Tiffany & Co on Fifth Avenue. Pop into Sephora, located all around Manhattan, for your beauty needs or the NBA and Niketown stores for sporting goods.

If you are heading to the Deep South, Myrtle Beach is famous for its shopping and is the largest shopping district in South Carolina.

What to Pack

The weather can vary greatly along the East Coast of the USA depending on the season and location. Summer is June to August and winter is December to February. During summer the northern states experience warm days and cooler nights while the southern states and tropical areas are much hotter. The southern winter is fairly mild but the north and Midwest will experience much colder temperatures and even snow.

So pack for the season and destination. Layers are always a good idea as is a waterproof wind jacket and comfortable shoes for walking, sightseeing and exploring. Pack your swimmers for Florida, a popular beach destination year round, and your thermals for the snow.

NASA Fact!
NASA's rockets, shuttles and satellites are blasted into space from Cape Canaveral on the east coast of Florida. This site was chosen due to year-round good weather and its remoteness.

Traditionally the east of the USA has referred to the states east of the Mississippi River however for the purposes of this guide we have included Texas and Louisiana.

The eastern seaboard was the first area of the USA to be settled and is still home to its most populous cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia as well as the capital Washington. You can get your fill of urban pursuits like shopping, theatre, dining and major league sports in these centres but there are also charming small towns to potter around and natural wonders to explore. Wherever you travel in the East you will be reminded of movies, TV shows and books and this is a popular reason to visit this region especially in New York where there are myriad tours allowing you to walk in the footsteps of your favourite characters. Despite this 'familiarity' with much of the culture and landmarks however the region still has the ability to surprise with its multiculturalism, natural beauty and especially in the south - hospitality.