Northeastern US

North America

A One-Week Americana History Tour

Any time of year, a week-long circuit that runs through New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. can give families the chance to discover American history first-hand. Parents might find that the kids aren't the only ones learning about the Land of the Free.

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Day 1-3: New York

New York

Start a tour of the Big Apple by getting a view from the top. Skip the Empire State Building (which you'll want to see in the cityscape) and instead ride the elevator 70 stories to the observation deck of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. On the way up and down, visitors will learn about the building and its namesake, the great New Yorker John D. Rockefeller, from an exhibition and podcasts synched to their personal iPhones or iPods. Before leaving the famous sight, sign up for a tour of NBC Studios, which goes behind the scenes of the "Today Show", "Saturday Night Live" and "Nightly News with Brian Williams". Have a bibimbap at Kunjip in Koreatown, or visit one of the city’s many gourmet food trucks, serving everything from Taiwanese rice boxes to juicy lobster rolls (check out midtownlunch.com for a list of locations). Then catch a Circle Line Cruise around lower Manhattan, viewing the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governor's Island, the rising Freedom Tower and the incomparable New York City Skyline.

For a grown-up night on the town, make a reservation for dinner at Daniel or Eleven Madison Park then have a drink and listen to some jazz at Birdland, Blue Note, Blue Water Grill, Knitting Factory or Village Vanguard. Or with kids, go for pizza at the cool Lil' Frankie's, slightly more formal Otto, or one of the laid-back Patsy's Pizzeria outlets. (Tip: there's one on East 60th Street, across the street from Dylan's Candy Shop).

On your second day, head uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim or the Frick Collection, along what's known as Manhattan's Museum Mile. Take a walk in Central Park, or in winter, make that walk an hour of ice-skating on Wollman Rink. On the Upper West Side, stop for a late lunch at the ever-popular Shake Shack, then check out the big whale at the Natural History Museum. Get in and out of Times Square as quickly as possible, but don't miss catching a play or musical on Broadway or off-Broadway. Some current favorites include "The Lion King", "Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark", and "Wicked". Have a late dinner at one of New York's best open-late spots, such as classic French bistro Balthazar or funky Latin American Super Linda's.

Spend the morning stretching your legs before getting on the train, walking the streets of SoHo, the West Village and Meatpacking District, and pick up lunch on the elevated train tracks-turned public promenade Highline or foodie haven, Chelsea Markets.

Day 4-5: Philadelphia

Philadelphia

Depart from Penn Station to Philadelphia via Amtrak (a one-hour-and-twenty-minute journey). One of America's first cities, Philadelphia was the largest English-speaking capital in the world (besides London) for much of the 18th century and was the site of many of the United States' first major decisions and proclamations.

Have an afternoon tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. Walk to dinner from your hotel at the nearby cozy and romantic Friday, Saturday, Sunday or the Spanish wine bar Tinto.

On your second day in the City of Brotherly Love, tour the Franklin Institute, which celebrates Benjamin Franklin's genius and curiosity with interactive exhibits such as a 4-D motion stimulator. Pick up a Philly cheesesteak from Tony Jr.'s and then head to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Made famous from the training scene in "Rocky", the museum is also known for housing one of the world's leading collections of European and American paintings and furniture. For more art, walk through the LOVE Park, featuring Robert Indiana's iconic sculptures, see Claes Oldenburg's "Clothespin" and visit the Rodin Museum to see Philadelphia's version of "The Thinker". For more American History, visit the Betsy Ross House. Have dinner at seasonal farm-to-table Talula's Garden; the hip Mediterranean Barbuzzo; or European-style brasserie Parc.

Day 5-6: Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Depart from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.'s Union Station via Amtrak (a two-hour journey). Upon arrival, get a tour of the White House and walk the Mall, spotting the Washington Monument and Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, as well as the U.S. Capitol building. Visit the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum and the Newseum. If there are any performances at the Kennedy Center, ask the concierge to help get tickets or have modern Indian cuisine at Rasika, family-style Thai at Little Serow or a classic dinner at the well-established Old Ebbitt Grill.

Start your second day in the nation's capital with some of America's most impressive art collections at the National Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum, Phillips Collection and the Corcoran Gallery. Then head into Georgetown, a lovely walking area with shops focused on M Street, between 29th and 35th streets, and beautiful old houses (stop into Dumbarton Oaks for magnificent gardens and musical performances). Grab a coffee at Leopold's Kate & Konditorei. Have dinner at the sleek and contemporary Unum; 1789, known for its excellent tasting menu; or traditional American Blue Duck Tavern.

On your final day, drive thirty minutes to George Washington's house at Mt. Vernon and learn about America's first president on a personal level. En route to the train station, stop into the recently renovated Union Terminal Market and look out for Gina Chersevani's Soda Shop and Trickling Springs Creamery.

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