New York is of course at the top of the list of the most visited cities on the East Coast of the US. While no one could dispute the attractiveness of The Big Apple, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington are just a few hours away and well worth the detour.
BOSTON: HARVARD CAMPUS AND CAPE COD
One of the oldest cities in the United States, founded in 1630, is also filled with students. This powerful combination of history and youth gives Boston a very special atmosphere that you can experience to the fullest on the Harvard campus. At the foot of an architectural complex listed for its historical heritage, students study on the manicured lawns. Two miles away, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is developing the technologies of tomorrow.
Often tied to its reputation as a (too) serious student, New England's capital is a surprising gem. Explore the trendy waterfront stores, followed by a terrace brunch against a backdrop of reggae or jazz on the Charles River. Venture into the South End neighbourhood with its Hispanic roots to discover young Californian designers at Flock and update your wardrobe on Tremont street. Pubs in the neighbourhood come to life in the evenings, and you can enjoy B&G Oysters or the Barking Crab or sample the famous Maine lobster. The next day head to Cape Cod to reach Martha's Vineyard. The quaint gingerbread houses and sandy dunes of State Beach have made the island a popular haven for the people of Boston. This tradition is definitely a good one!
PHILADELPHIA: STREET ART AND HISTORY
Philadelphia has over 3,000 murals, captivating museums, a famous music centre and a wealth of restaurants, shops and bars. The city, known affectionately as 'Philly' by the locals, successfully combines alternative art, classical art and the art of living. A hundred miles south of New York, the city of fraternal love has a lot to offer. Art is around every corner here. Start with the famous murals covering facades and retracing the history of each neighbourhood (a common theme to follow when discovering the city).
More classical art is not forgotten, especially in Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where the Barnes Foundation, the world's largest private Impressionist collection, has recently been established. The Philadelphia Museum of Art also has impressive collections from the likes of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, Rousseau and Soutine. Historically, the city collects monuments reminiscent of its founding role in the American nation and a walk through cobblestone streets and brick houses in Old City exudes a Europe of yesteryear. The streets of Philadelphia come alive with young people every night, especially in the lively 'Gaybourhood'.
WASHINGTON DC: ARTY CAPITAL
The federal capital is home to major American institutions and a walk or bike ride along the National Mall and Memorial Park is an absolute must. For the perfect introduction to DC, visit the White House (booked well in advance), admire the impressive Capitol Library, then pay your respects at JFK's tomb and tick off the Pentagon. Once the basics have been covered, Washington's quality of life is measured through its cultural and culinary dynamism.
Start at the Corcoran Gallery of Art with a pop explosion by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Then return to calm with the masters of the National Gallery and the private Duncan Phillips collection and Newseum dedicated to the history of the press, before a new whirlwind of contemporary art in the circular galleries of the Hirshhorn Museum. Once you've got your fill of culture, it's time to eat. The eclecticism of a great capital is measured by its cuisine: garden vegetables at Blue Duck Tavern, labneh at Zaytinya, tapas at Jaleo or risotto at Bibian are just some of the great options available. Finally, take a gourmet stroll through the chic Georgetown area before heading to Dupont Circle, DC's fashionable neighbourhood, popular for its dining and nightlife.
Cover Picture : Michele Pevide/Getty Images/iStockphoto