September 2024 Floral Calendar

10 reasons to visit the East Coast in 2024

For travellers seeking the best of the USA, the draw of the East Coast is undeniable. Whether it’s taking in the iconic skylines of cities like New York and Philadelphia, indulging in the creative cuisine of Boston or the Carolinas, or exploring destinations that have played a crucial role in the nation’s founding history, an East Coast adventure is hard to beat. But a visit here isn’t just about the big-hitters. Look a little further and you’ll find insightful exhibitions in Virginia, flower-filled celebrations in Pennsylvania and a raft of new openings and seasonal festivals taking place throughout the East Coast this year. 

1. Fantastic food festivals

While headline-grabbing events like NYC Restaurant Week offer an opportunity to sample some of the East Coast’s most famous cuisines, southern set-ups such as Miami’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival are equally worthy of a spot on any food-focused itinerary. This four-day event — which features everything from cookery classes and tasting sessions to chef’s table dinners and late-night parties — offers an ideal introduction to Miami’s fast-growing food scene, which saw 12 restaurants in the city awarded a Michelin star in 2023. Notable openings include Pastis Miami — a brasserie-style restaurant run by James Beard Foundation Award winners Keith McNally and Stephen Starr — and Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay.

Further north, the summer months in Pittsburgh bring with them a true celebration of the diversity and dynamism of the East Coast’s cuisine in the form of annual events like the Pittsburgh Taco Festival and Pittsburgh VegFest. Most entertaining is July’s Picklesburgh festival, when downtown Pittsburgh is transformed in a celebration of all things pickled. Highlights include pickle-themed cooking demonstrations, special dishes from local food vendors, musical performances and pickle-juice drinking competitions.

Free Printable Calendar - Floral - Paper Trail Design
Free Printable Calendar – Floral – Paper Trail Design

From brunch in New York to barbecue in the Carolinas, fantastic food is all but guaranteed along the East Coast. 

2. Illuminating new exhibitions 

In Washington, DC, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) reopened in October 2023 after a $70m (£55.3m) renovation that breathed new life into its striking neoclassical building. The first museum in the world dedicated solely to championing women through the arts, the NMWA features more than 5,500 works by over 1,000 artists. The renovations have allowed for extended gallery space, additional research facilities and accessibility infrastructure for the collections, making for an increasingly insightful experience.

This year, you can also catch several temporary East Coast exhibitions that shine a light on lesser-known aspects of American culture. At Richmond’s Library of Virginia, the Indigenous Perspectives exhibition runs until late August 2024 and offers insight into Virginia’s tribal communities. Meanwhile, in Boston, a new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts (home to 100 galleries) focuses on the ceramic works of Toshiko Takaezu, one of the 20th century’s greatest abstract artists. Aiming to challenge traditional American abstract techniques, Toshiko Takaezu: Shaping Abstraction will run until late September 2024.

September  Calendar Printable PDF with Holidays
September Calendar Printable PDF with Holidays

Home to more than 8,000 paintings and over 450,000 works of art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a must-visit for art-lovers.

Photograph by Ian Dagnall, Alamy

Floral Calendar Printable - Paper Trail Design
Floral Calendar Printable – Paper Trail Design

3. Alternative historic hotspots

The East Coast’s cities offer a true journey into US history. Key stops include Boston, known as the ‘City of Firsts’, in part due to the presence of the world’s first publicly supported free municipal library and the USA’s first public park; Washington, DC, with its long list of historic monuments; and Philadelphia, whose Independence Hall is where Benjamin Franklin and his compatriots signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

But there’s also plenty to learn away from the well-known historical centres. For insight into the nation’s nautical heritage, you can’t beat Maryland’s capital, Annapolis, home to the US Naval Academy. And while you may have heard of the Boston Tea Party, the Yorktown Tea Party in Virginia is equally enthralling. Most merchants here shunned British imports after the events in Boston in 1773. But when the Virginia sailed into Yorktown just under a year later, the boycott of British goods peaked, as locals who’d heard the ship was filled with British tea boarded the vessel and threw the goods into the river. In November 2024, several events will mark the Yorktown Tea Party’s 250th anniversary.

4. Sumptuous stays

With a number of highly anticipated hotel openings in 2024, the East Coast will get a variety of new accommodation options with southern Florida, in particular, seeing serious investment. Wellness will be the focus at the EVEN Hotel Sweetwater — Doral, which opens in summer 2024 just outside Miami’s city centre. In-room amenities can include Peloton bikes and yoga mats, and menus will be designed with health-conscious guests in mind. Equally opulent will be Hilton Singer Island Oceanfront/Palm Beaches Resort, which is set to emerge from a huge makeover in early 2024, part of a $1bn (£790m) development programme in Palm Beach County. Expect refreshed rooms, innovative dining concepts and a beachfront bar. 

The inaugural World’s 50 Best Hotels awards of 2023 also featured two New York properties — the Equinox Hotel New York and the Aman New York. Visiting at the start of the year? NYC Hotel Week sees more than 100 hotels offer discounts of around 25%, and is well worth considering for those looking for the most luxurious stay at the best price. 

5. The beauty of the blooms

Green-fingered visitors keen to explore the natural beauty of the USA should make a beeline for Pennsylvania, where the annual Philadelphia Flower Show is the country’s longest-running horticultural event. The 2024 edition, ‘United by Flowers’, aims to explore the ability of gardening to connect and inspire people and communities. Expect large-scale floral exhibits, expert-led educational sessions and a ‘Flowers After Hours’ party. 

For year-round horticultural activity, head to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania’s Chester County, where you’ll find 1,100 acres of intricate floral displays and sprawling woodland, as well as several vibrant, plant-filled conservatories. The gardens date back to 1921, and in autumn 2024, several new areas are set to be unveiled as part of ‘Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience’. Don’t miss the new West Conservatory, with its islands of stunning Mediterranean-inspired gardens. 

There are plenty of parks elsewhere on the East Coast, too. In Jacksonville, Florida, visitors can enjoy 400 publicly accessible green spaces — including the 46,000-acre Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve. Even New York City, often known as the ‘concrete jungle’, has more than 1,700 parks. 

6. Rural road trips

New England continues to inspire road-trippers year round, with a visit in the summer, spring or winter months quickly dispelling the widespread myth that autumn is the only time to visit the region. While routes such as New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway are famous for their fall foliage, the area also offers historic covered bridges, thundering waterfalls and diverse forested landscapes, all of which make it one of the USA’s top destinations for road trips. For the ultimate experience, make for Massachusetts and the coastline-hugging Route 127, where the most striking section (Route 127A) connects Rockport to Gloucester. You’ll pass offshore lighthouses and the Gloucester Fisherman’s Memorial, which honours the area’s fishing heritage. 

Alternatively, drive along Route 6A — also known as the Old King’s Highway — where highlights include Cape Cod and Provincetown, famous for its quirky boutiques and laid-back atmosphere. It’s worth spending at least three days exploring Cape Cod, settling into hotels such as the newly opened 30-room Greyfinch Chatham Inn, just a short walk from the beach. Its beautiful interior pays homage to the area’s nautical history.

7. From sharks to star wars, an education for all ages

For families, there’s much to explore on the East Coast beyond Florida’s famous theme parks. At Miami’s Frost Science Museum, a spherical planetarium and two-million-litre aquarium are ever-popular stops, while the newest exhibition, Sharks, features life-sized shark models and tactile displays.

In Washington, DC, make for the National Museum of American History — where exhibits include Abraham Lincoln’s iconic top hat — and the National Air and Space Museum, where ongoing renovation works saw eight new galleries open in 2022. Its exhibits range from Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit to an X-wing starfighter used in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

For hands-on entertainment, however, Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum simply can’t be beaten. Its galleries are filled with interactivity — some dedicated to rockets and motor vehicles, while another features a full replica of a Philadelphia neighbourhood.

8. A packed calendar of capital events

Many of the East Coast’s most popular annual events take place in the country’s capital, Washington, DC. From 20 March to 14 April, the National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the city coming to life in sumptuous shades of pink. Washington, DC has the largest blooming of cherry trees outside Japan, and marks the occasion annually with an extensive programme of events, parades and performances celebrating Japanese culture. 

In June, the city’s Capital Pride Parade and Festival is one of the largest Pride events in the USA, while July will welcome the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Dating back to 1967, this two-week event celebrates cultural traditions and communities. This year’s festival, Indigenous Voices of the Americas: Celebrating the National Museum of the American Indian, will highlight the traditions of Indigenous peoples with a focus on themes of relevance, resistance, representation and reclamation.

Looking across Tidal Basin to the Washington Monument amid the city’s famous cherry blossom blooming is a true seasonal delight. 

Photograph by Songquan Deng, Alamy

9. State-of-the-art sporting experiences

From the annual Formula One weekend in Miami — also a host city for the FIFA World Cup 2026 — to New York’s US Open Tennis Championships, the cities of the East Coast are known for their world-class sporting events. But 2024 sees a number of additional openings for sports fans to consider. From April through June 2024, The Messi Experience, a multimedia tribute to the famed footballer, will be open at Miami’s Hangar Coconut Grove. Expect high-tech interactive exhibits, skills games, extensive use of projection mapping and incredible 3D visuals.

Or for the ultimate fan experience, head to Orlando, where the Caribe Royale Orlando Resort opened its new Stadium Club in early 2024. This 500-seat sports bar will feature two huge 165-inch XHD projector displays, as well as screens that allow 360-degree immersion and interactive special effects. Snack on stadium-inspired cuisine and be sure to try one of the eight sports simulators that feature everything from American football to zombie dodgeball. 

10. Adrenaline-inducing openings

Florida remains the state thrill-seekers typically flock to for an adventure on the East Coast. The most talked-about opening in the USA’s theme park capital this year is the Evermore Orlando Resort, which opened its doors in January 2024 and features a 433-room Conrad Orlando hotel, two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses and a range of houses, apartments and villas. 

It’s also worth noting that in September 2023, the Brightline train opened its first Orlando extension, which makes it easier than ever to combine a holiday in the city with visits to Miami and Fort Lauderdale. In the parks themselves, new attractions at Universal Studios Florida include Villain-Con Minion Blast, a game featuring characters and backdrops from the Despicable Me and Minions films. Meanwhile at Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens, Phoenix Rising, a family-friendly suspended roller coaster, will open in spring 2024.

Plan your tripA number of airlines offer direct flights from airports across the UK to East Coast cities such as New York, Boston, Miami and Washington, DC. To travel between cities, it can be easier to hire a car, but train and bus routes also link most major hubs. 

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This paid content article was created for Visit the USA. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveller (UK) or their editorial staffs.

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