The United States of America (USA) is one of the most diverse, beautiful, and developed countries in the world. While the history of the USA is only a few hundred years old, the stories that formed this nation are timeless and plentiful. A tour around the East Coast to New York City, Washington DC, and Philadelphia will take visitors on a trip through time from our founding fathers to modern-day skyscrapers and bustling financial hubs. Follow in the footsteps of Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin to discover some of America's greatest achievements. These cities were the epicenter of early colonial life and hotbeds of political debate during the rebellion leading up to the Revolutionary war and have remained economic, cultural and political centers to this day.
Today, Washington, DC, is our nation's capital and one of the most historic and culturally rich cities in the world. Most first time visitors begin their trip at the National Mall, nicknamed "America's Front Yard," which includes over 1,000 acres of land and many of the most iconic sites such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The White House sits to the North and the U.S. Capitol on the East. Many of the attractions and museums in Washington D.C. are free of charge, although advanced tickets are required for tours of many popular attractions such as the White House, U.S. Capitol, and Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Congressional offices provide tickets and tours to their constituents on a first-come, first-serve basis. It is recommended to apply for tickets 90 days or more in advance. Other popular sites for visitors to Washington DC include the Library of Congress, which is the largest library in the world, the Smithsonian museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery. The Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a profoundly moving and somber experience that occurs every 30-60 minutes year round.
Mention New York City and images of towering skyscrapers, glistening lights, Broadway, and Times Square immediately come to mind. But the city's American history dates back to the 1600s when it was a Dutch Republic. New York also served as the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790. Beautifully positioned on one of the world's largest natural harbors, Ellis Island immigration center, which opened in 1892, saw 12 million newly arrived immigrants pass through its doors. Some estimates postulate that nearly 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace an ancestor to Ellis Island. Today the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is located in the Main Building of the former immigration station complex. Visitors can learn about the arduous journey immigrants undertook and the lengthy process of medical inspections and legal questioning that was required before they were allowed to step on American soil officially.
Tours of Ellis Island are often combined with a visit to Liberty Island where travelers can experience the grandeur of the Statue of Liberty and learn about her storied past. Statue Cruises is the only ferry service authorized by the National Park Service to provide transportation to the islands. Visiting the crown of the Statue of Liberty is one of the most exhilarating experiences of any New York visit. Still, due to its extreme popularity, tickets to the crown require reservations and advanced planning.
By many accounts, Philadelphia, the "City of Brotherly Love" is the birthplace of America. Founded in 1682 by William Penn the city quickly attracted many of the brightest minds of the time, including Philadelphia's most famous resident, Benjamin Franklin. It served as center stage for the Founding Fathers to debate, write and adopt the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Today's visitors can experience early American history by touring Independence Hall and visit the room where these crucial documents were both signed. From March through December, entrance requires timed tickets, which should be purchased in advance. Following a tour of Independence Hall, visitors can make their way to the Liberty Bell, a universal symbol of freedom which had once rung to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. Families with children will also enjoy a visit to the home of Betsy Ross. This charming, 18th century house is carefully preserved as a museum dedicated to sharing the story of America's first Stars and Stripes and the woman credited with creating the young nation's first flag. Following a tour of the historical sights, travelers will enjoy Philadelphia's burgeoning culinary scene, active nightlife, and world-class museums. A run up the infamous "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is a great way to conclude this city tour.