The U.S. is a country of 50 states covering a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean.
Major Atlantic Coast cities are New York, a global finance and culture center, and capital Washington, DC. Midwestern metropolis Chicago is known for influential architecture and on the west coast, Los Angeles' Hollywood is famed for filmmaking.
5:00am-6:00pm : Times Square
Few places conjure up as many iconic images of New York as Times Square, the tourist center of the city, filled with bright video screens and LED signs flashing their messages 24 hours a day. Despite its name, this city landmark isn't a square at all, but the triangular intersections of several main roads in the middle of Manhattan. Stop at the prominent visitor center for restaurant and hotel recommendations, free maps, and ticket sales for many tourist attractions. Often called the crossroads of the world, the area features themed restaurants, theaters, and shops.
10:00am-11:30am : 9/11 Memorial
Commemorating the watershed event of recent American history, 9/11 Memorial marks the spot of the two World Trade Center buildings that were destroyed during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Gain a deeper understanding of the tragic events surrounding those attacks by taking a guided walking tour of Ground Zero. A museum features exhibits ranging from objects found in the rubble to multimedia displays offering the stories and final voicemails of those who died in the buildings. You can stop by the memorial's two reflecting pools, designed to inspire hope and renewal and to pay tribute to victims.
12:00pm-6:00pm : Central Park
In the midst of all of the city's concrete and high-rises, Central Park brings greenery and shady places for relaxation--as well as a zoo, carousel, skating rink, theater, and several fountains--to the northern part of the city. Stroll, bike, picnic, or people-watch among 341 hectares (843 acres) of lakes, jogging paths, woodlands, walkways, lawns, and trees. One of the country's major historical landmarks, the park hosts frequent concert, plays, and art shows. Stop by the Alice in Wonderland statue, a favorite place for photos.
12:30pm-3:00pm : National Gallery of Art
Renowned as one of the world's greatest museums, National Gallery of Art holds a collection of paintings, prints, drawings, medals, photographs, sculptures, and decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present. The museum's campus includes the original neoclassical west building designed by architect John Russell Pope, the modern east building designed by I.M. Pei, and a sprawling sculpture garden. Don't miss the two major highlights of the museum's collection: the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas and the largest mobile ever created by American sculptor Alexander Calder. For the sake of expediency, consider exploring the staggering collection of over 100,000 artworks on a guided tour of the galleries.
3:30pm-4:30pm : United States Capitol
Set at the convergence of Washington, D.C.'s four quadrants, United States Capitol serves as both a symbol of the U.S. government and the home to the U.S. Congress. The Neoclassical-style structure was constructed in several stages between 1793 and 1863; however, renovations and structural tweaks to support the weight of the massive, 88 m (289 ft) dome continued well into the 20th century. Walk in and look around--and up--the rotunda contains artwork, statues of presidents and important American figures, and an extensive fresco on the ceiling. You can learn more about the history of the U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C., and the building itself at the visitor center, which is spread over three floors set entirely underground. You'll need to book a tour well in advance (and a tour is the only way visitors can access much of the interior), as tour space is extremely limited.
5:00pm-6:00pm : Washington Monument
Standing at a height of 170 m (555 ft), Washington Monument represents the world's tallest structure made entirely from stone. Constructed in two stages between 1848 and 1884 as a memorial to George Washington, the monument at the time of its completion briefly seized the crown as the tallest building in the world. See the view for yourself by taking the tower's elevator to the top, where you'll find a small museum and a sweeping panorama of Washington, D.C. To ensure that you get to see the interior, reserve tickets ahead of time online (for a fee), or pick them up in person for no cost at the monument's lodge nearby.
10:00am-12:30pm : National Air and Space Museum
Housing the largest collection of air and spacecraft in the world, National Air and Space Museum features the Apollo 11 command module and the Wright Brothers' biplane that launched the age of aviation in 1903. View IMAX films, try a flight simulator, visit the planetarium, or just explore hundreds of air and spacecraft, plus thousands of smaller objects--including several spacesuits worn on the moon and a real lunar rock. The museum is a haven for fans of the history and science of aviation, spaceflight, geology, and geophysics. Check online or at the entrance for IMAX movie times, daily tours, and educational activities.
1:00pm-3:00pm : United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the Holocaust at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Adjacent to the National Mall, the museum serves as a memorial as well as a platform for documentation and study of that time. Travel through the exhibits chronologically, from the Nazi rise to power to the liberation. You can experience it all through a series of artifacts, photographs, and personal testimonies. Visit the Hall of Remembrance before you leave to light candles in memory of the victims. An exhibit called Remember the Children: Daniel's Story is designed for kids eight and older, and several other areas are suitable for young children as well as adults. However, children under 11 are discouraged from viewing the permanent exhibit due to the emotional and often horrifying subject matter.
3:30pm-4:00pm : Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Honor the thousands of Americans who served during the Vietnam War at Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Adjacent to the National Mall in Constitution Gardens, the memorial consists of two giant stone walls, stretching almost 76 m (250 ft) long, engraved with the names of more than 58,000 fallen U.S. soldiers. Despite its simplicity, the awe-inducing monument makes a powerful statement. The Women's Memorial statue, depicting two nurses treating a fallen soldier, represents the importance of women in the Vietnam War. After your visit, make the short walk down to the Lincoln Memorial or past the reflecting pools to the Washington Monument.
4:30pm-5:00pm : Lincoln Memorial
Parts of an iconic image of the capital city, Lincoln Memorial have been the site of some defining moments in American history. Overlooked by a marble Abraham Lincoln, the pool complements the monument's classic architecture, noted for its 36 fluted Doric columns. Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech here, and the site has since hosted dozens of other social and political events. The monument is open to the public 24 hours a day, so consider stopping by at different times to fully appreciate the building's architecture, the views across the 600 m (2,000 ft) long reflecting pool, and Lincoln's stony gaze. See less
5:30pm-6:00pm : Jefferson Memorial
A neoclassical building designed by architect John Russell Pope, Jefferson Memorial features a 6 m (19 ft) bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson and well-known excerpts from his writings. Designed with Jefferson's private library in mind and completed in 1943, the memorial contains circular marble steps, a colonnade of Ionic columns, a shallow dome, and a portico. In addition to the famous bronze likeness of Jefferson, the memorial also contains a sculptural group depicting the founding father with other historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. The memorial is especially photogenic when the surrounding cherry trees blossom in a profusion of gentle pink.
10:00am-11:30pm : Boston Common
The country's oldest city park, Boston Common dates back to the 1630s. Consisting of 20 hectares (50 acres), the common is part of an extensive chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways. It's named the "Emerald Necklace" because of the way it appears to hang from the "neck" of the Boston peninsula. Pick up a map at the on-site information kiosk to locate notable burial sites within the park, including the graves of painter Gilbert Stuart, composer William Billings, and poet Samuel Sprague. To see the first subway station in America, visit the southern corner of the park.
12:00pm-12:30pm : Granary Burying Ground
One of the oldest cemeteries in Boston, Granary Burying Ground is the final resting place of many important figures in American history. Founding fathers, patriots, and victims of the Boston Massacre lie here--making this an important stop on the Freedom Trail. Among the graves, you'll see the tombstones of three men who signed the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. The cemetery includes 2,345 graves, but an estimated 5,000 people are buried here. In the center of the cemetery, a 7.6 m (25 ft) tall obelisk marks the tomb of Benjamin Franklin's parents.
1:00pm-2:30pm : Boston Public Garden
A meticulously maintained park in the middle of the city, Boston Public Garden features swan-ornamented pedal boats and the world's shortest suspension bridge. The park, America's oldest public garden (established in 1837 by philanthropist Horace Gray), showcases permanent plantings that include roses, bulbs, and shrubs. As you stroll through the 10 hectare (24 acre) garden, notice the weeping willows, elms, horse chestnuts, dawn redwoods, and ginkgo trees lining the main pathways. Before you leave, stop by the equestrian statue of George Washington, a popular photo op near the west exit of the park. Just to the north of the garden, you can also visit the "Cheers" bar, made famous by the 1980s television sitcom.
3:00pm-6:00pm : Museum of Fine Arts
Boston's oldest cultural institution, Museum of Fine Arts is noted for its collection of French Impressionist paintings, including more works by Monet than any other museum or gallery outside of Paris. The museum also houses a vast collection of Egyptian, ancient Greek, and Roman art. The galleries displaying American works include paintings of famous historical figures, such as George Washington, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. In addition to works by the great European artists Gauguin, Renoir, Degas, and van Gogh, you can also see examples of some of the finest works produced by Americans John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, and John Singer Sargent. Be sure to leave a little time for exhibits of medieval sculpture and tapestries, as well as for displays of Chinese calligraphy and Japanese pottery.
10:00am-11:30am : Boston Duck Tours
12:00pm-2:30pm : Freedom Trail
Weave your way through the city center, the birthplace of the American Revolution, and soak up some of the country’s earliest history on Freedom Trail. The 4 km (2.5 mi) brick-lined trail passes 16 historical city monuments, including museums, churches, and political sites. Begin your walk in the Boston Common, the location of the British forces' encampment during the occupation of 1775-76. Then head to the impressive Massachusetts State House, which was built shortly after the revolution and now houses state government offices. Don’t miss a chance to visit the site of the infamous Boston Massacre, or to tour the oldest house in the city, the home of Paul Revere. While most visitors choose to walk the trail freely, guided tours and audio headsets are available at the tourist center.
3:00pm-4:30pm : North End
A taste of Italy in the middle of Boston, North End is the city's oldest continuously inhabited residential community, originally settled in the 1630s. Home to a sizable Italian-American population, this relatively small neighborhood boasts nearly a hundred Italian eateries and historical buildings, including Paul Revere's house. Often called "Little Italy," the area covering roughly five city blocks attracts visitors with its narrow streets lined with restaurants, cafes, bars, bakeries, and shops selling imported goods. Though Italian culture continues to dominate this part of the city, other ethnic groups also have left a mark on the neighborhood, among them Russians, Jews, and the Irish.
5:00pm-6:00pm : USS Constitution Meseum
Step back in time almost 200 years to experience maritime history at USS Constitution Museum. Housed in a restored shipyard building at the former Charlestown Navy Yard, the museum features an array of interactive exhibits and artifacts dedicated to the history and preservation of the USS Constitution. Experience life at sea aboard “Old Ironsides” by furling a sail and firing a cannon, or take a tour of the ship to explore below deck. Bring photo ID as you must have it to enter the museum.
10:00am-11:00am : Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Since its opening in 1742, Faneuil Hall Marketplace has served as a place of meeting and commerce for the city of Boston. Find your way to the city's famous Freedom Trail pathway, and the complex that represents the site of speeches by early American revolutionaries, including Samuel Adams. Today, the "Cradle of Liberty", as the building was known prior to the American Revolution, acts as a mall. Here you can visit an array of restaurants, market halls, eateries, and shops. You'll find numerous spaces for live musical performances and of art exhibits.