How to Spend Three Months in America: East Coast

17 May 2018

So, you’re planning a three month adventure traveling across America, but you don’t want to do it the ordinary way. You want to see the big sights, but you also want to go off the beaten path and discover secrets of the cities and magical small towns. We happen to know a thing or two about budget travel and the kind of on-the-road adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and we’ve come up with the ideal itinerary for a trip across the country. 

If you’re kicking off your travels in the East Coast, there’s no missing the iconic cities of New York, Boston, and Washington D.C., where you can tick of big bucket list items like seeing the Statue of Liberty and eating all the lobster rolls. Plus, there’s the under-the-radar experiences you’ll get only from joining the tours and activities offered at HI USA hostels

Then it’s on to exploring the cities and towns where you’re likely to encounter more locals than tourists. From Richmond, which is the type of place that won’t remain secret for very long, to Martha’s Vineyard, where you can live the island life for a bit, you’ll uncover something to love. 

EAST COAST

New York City 

group of friends city in a park in front of new york city skyline

Why go: See the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, or a show on Broadway, and experience the buzz of the city that never sleeps.
How long should I stay: 3-5 days depending on your Big Apple bucket list.
Do I need a car: Nope. New York City has a pretty efficient public transport system that can get you to the big sights and beyond.
Must do: Everyone who goes on Jerry’s Grand Tour offered at the HI New York hostel raves about the knowledgeable guide and experience of walking around New York’s boroughs with a local.
Where should I stay: Along with excellent walking tours, HI New York offers travelers great accommodation within walking distance of Central Park and the Bronx neighborhood. 

Boston

street in boston

Why go: As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Boston has a wealth of history showcased in excellent museums and monuments, plus it’s a bustling metropolis with good food and culture.
How long should I stay: 2-3 days
Do I need a car: You can walk or use the T, which also runs outside the city to places like Cambridge, where HI Boston leads its famous “unofficial” tour of Harvard University.
Must do: Get your fill of lobster, which is possible even on a budget.
Where should I stay: Pick HI Boston to have access to the city's awesome sights and insider tips on the best of the best. 

Martha's Vineyard 

Beautiful scenery in Martha's Vineyard

Why go: Epic beaches, cute New England architecture, and all the lobster rolls you can eat.
How long should I stay: 2 days
Do I need a car: Getting around the island from the hostel is easy – there’s a bus stop right out front and a bike path in back.
Must do: Unplug and unwind on the beach, catch the ferry to Hyannis and spend the night at HI Hyannis to see more of the Cape.
Where should I stay: HI Martha's Vineyard makes for an magical retreat-like base when you want to escape to the beach and explore the island. '

Baltimore

A sunset in Baltimore

Why go: Visit the old stomping grounds of Edgar Allen Poe and Billie Holiday, scope out the historic boats, eat a lot of crab cakes with Old Bay Seasoning.
How long should I stay: 2-3 days
Do I need a car: There’s pretty good public transport in Baltimore, and it will get you all the way to Washington DC too.
Must do: Catch a baseball game or one of Baltimore’s quirky festivals, make new friends during the hostel’s walking tours or at DIY taco night!
Where should I stay: Take in the city's laid-back vibe from HI Baltimore, which has a gorgeous outdoor patio and awesome activities.  

Washington DC

washington monument and cherry blossoms

Why go: Incredible architecture, international cuisine, and some of the best museums in the country.
How long should I stay: 2-3 days
Do I need a car: You can get around pretty easily by foot or bike and there’s also a good metro system.
Must do: Bring good walking shoes and set aside a full day to just check out the National Mall. For your second day, ask the friendly front desk folk for their off-the-beaten-path recommendations.
Where should I stay: HI Washington DC is the perfect place from which to get to know the nation's capital - join a walking tour and make new friends while you're at it! 

Richmond 

fan neighborhood richmond, virginia

Why go: Southern charm, endless history, and easy access to the great outdoors.
How long should I stay: 2 days
Do I need a car: Richmond is fairly spread out and a car can be convenient, but you can also get around the bustling downtown, which has plenty to offer, without a car.
Must do: Rent a bicycle and explore the East Coast Greenway and the James River.
Where should I stay: Go off the beaten path at HI Richmond, which is blocks from both outdoor action and city sights. 

GETTING FROM PLACE TO PLACE

Many cities in the East Coast are easily accessible by train, which is perfect for budget travelers and is a much better way to see the country than a plane. You’ll also be spared the hassle of renting and driving a car. There’s also the option to go with Bolt Bus or Megabus, which both make it really easy and cheap to travel between Washington DC, Boston and New York City. Visit the Amtrak and bus websites for routes and schedules.


You Might Also Like:

woman driving in a car at sunset

How to Spend Three Months in America: Southeast and Midwest

The first part of our series covered the East Coast, and for the next installment of our cross-country trip, we’re taking a look at the great cities and secluded spots in the Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S.