3 Weeks In USA: East Coast, West Coast, Road Trip

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Everyone should experience visiting the US at least once in their lifetime. It is a country with diverse nationalities and races, you’ll get to experience various cultures, from food to events. And honestly, they are undoubtedly one of the most influential countries when it comes to the economy, politics, and well, public figures.

Aside from that, it is also filled with natural and man-made wonders, tons of activities you can participate in, and overall make great memories. Less than a week and even a week is not enough, the United States is massive. That’s why I created a list of things that you can do and places to visit for 3 weeks in USA. 

This itinerary doesn’t only cover one location. I created one for those who plan to go to the east coast, west coast, north coast, and even south coast. This detailed guide might convince you to start looking for great deals right now, arrange your passports and visas, and book a flight for your trip to the US of A.

ALSO READ: Safety tips for a first-time traveller or solo traveller

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO THE US

4 images - Chicago cloud gate, California cost line, las vegas sign, Grand Canyon - 3 WEEKS IN USA ITINERARY

Before you go and book your flight and accommodation, there are a few things you should know and remember for travelling to the US. These tips will help you write a travel itinerary suitable for you and your budget.

When is the best time to go

Depending on what you want to do, the season is important Summer can be tricky if you want to go on a beach holiday. It’s a busy season since locals are also travelling during this time. This means a price hike is related to anything about holidays and travelling. It is also very crowded, and long lines are inevitable. You may consider going just before June or after August if you hate these things.

If you are coming to the US for a winter break, remember that the North of the US can have extreme weather that could lead to delays or cancellation of flights. So, make sure to leave a wriggle room for these situations.

Are 3 weeks enough for the US

Three weeks in the US is not enough. However, with good planning and realistic idea, it can be done. What I meant by that is choosing the places you want to see. For example, if it’s your first time in the US, it’s understandable that you want to see everything. But that’s just not possible.

Instead, you can see 2-3 states for this trip. It will even be better if you can stick to one region for now. Let’s say you’re visiting in the summer. For that, focus on the coastal states with fantastic beaches, such as California, Florida, and even spend 3 weeks in Hawaii.

But if you want to hike, the national parks have so much to offer, which is better than hiking in summer. There are plenty of options for those planning to go from California, Colorado, and Utah in winter. New England has many places for the autumn trip for beautiful fall foliage.

Another thing to remember when choosing where to go to maximise your time in the US is transportation. You might have to book a domestic flight if you want to visit multiple states. But if the places are near one another, road-tripping can do that.

One thing that many people fail to realise is how big the US is. The bottom line, be realistic and make sure not to cram too much on your itinerary. >> Read smartly packing for a 3-week trip

Average cost of 20 days in the US

Accommodation is the most expensive part of touring the US. On average, a decent double room costs about $100. You can find something cheaper but expect it to be low-quality, or you must book a bunk bed in a hostel. This is why if you plan to make a road trip, you might want to look at car rentals where you can also sleep in them.

On average, a single person can spend $2,500 for a 20-day trip in the US. If you’re on a tight budget, you can do it for under $1,800 if you don’t mind staying in dorm rooms. For people planning to stay at luxurious hotels, around $5,000 will do it very comfortably.

These prices per person don’t include flights to and from the US. Purchasing travel insurance is also recommended to avoid insane medical bills if something terrible happens.

Getting around

Moving around the US is pretty easy but costly. Most tourists would rent a car and drive around. It’s much cheaper and more convenient. However, driving can be exhausting and very time-consuming if you plan to travel from coast to coast or even from one state to two states over.

Of course, there are so many domestic flights. The challenge is how expensive it can be. Flying between European countries is far cheaper than flying between states in the US. Their geographical distance is really far, but maybe flight tickets are expensive.

Because you can find flights from Boston to London or Iceland for about the same price as flights from Boston to Los Angeles.

Visa and COVID-19

The US has one of the most challenging visas, like Australia and the UK. If you are from Canada, most of Europe, East Europe, some Oceania, and Chile, you don’t need a visa for 90-180 days. However, you must need to obtain an ESTA (electric authorisation) if you arrive via air or sea.

The US opened their international borders to tourists in November 2021. Fully vaccinated tourists will have to show proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated visitors must prove why they are exempted from the COVID-19 vaccine. Read for more information.

One last thing, medical services are costly in the US. Ensure you have travel insurance that covers medical and is valid in the US. Some immigration officers would even ask you to show proof of your coverage, and failing to provide one can be a reason to deny you entrance to the US.

Other basic tips

Just a quick blurb of tools I always use when travelling anywhere in the world, regardless of how long I’ll be there. Some of these services even offer flexible cancellations in case your plans change. Booking your hotel in advance is recommended, especially if you are coming during the peak season.

PINNED MAP OF MUST-SEE PLACES IN THE US

You can check out this map to help you visualise the must-visit spots in the US.

The US is such a massive country we won’t be able to cover all the must-see attractions there in this post. I only added the ones that we will mention in this itinerary.

Credit: Map data: Google, click the top right corner to enlarge the map

3 WEEKS IN USA ITINERARY

This itinerary will help you write your own travel plan. Of course, you don’t have to follow my travel, but I hope I can give you a tip or two on places to see and good to enjoy. I recommend you do the East Coast as a road trip.

Perhaps another road trip for the West Coast before catching a flight to Chicago. We have a specific 3 weeks on West Coast USA with 2 different itineraries you can choose from.

Itinerary #1: 3 Weeks In USA East Coast

The summer lasts from June to September for people who want to get tanned or are just fond of the beach. That’s why this is the perfect time for you to visit the East Coast, as it has a lot of beaches. If you prefer the snow, the best months are from December to February. I listed some states where you can spend your winter/spring/summer/fall vacation. 

You can visit these places by driving, especially if you’re going to stay for 3 weeks in the USA, it will be a great idea. So, here are the places you could visit for your 3 week US road trip. You can pick up the car in Massachusetts and drop it off in Florida.

>> ALSO READ: An article that focuses on 3 weeks on east coast USA – there are two itineraries to choose from

Massachusetts for 4 days

Massachusetts is part of the original New England region, established by Brits when they arrived in the US. It holds a lot of history and is rich in fantastic natural beauty. It’s great to start your trip here because Boston Logan International Airport is one of the busiest hubs on the West Coast.

Most people visit Boston, but there is more to explore, such as Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and world-class Harvard University. If you are planning to rent a car, you should set a pick-up at the airport, but see if you can drop it off in Florida or at one of your stops along the way down south.

Massachusetts’ trademark foods that are must-try include lobster rolls, cannolis, Boston cream pie, and a whole lot more which you’ll discover once you get there.

Accommodations in Boston:

New York City for 3 days

One must not miss New York City if one is visiting the west coast of the US. From great shows, news network headquarters, music scene, nightlife, great food, tasty dishes, and rich culture – New York has it all.

Three days here might not be a lot, but it’s an expensive destination, so this short of time should be enough to see the top sites such as Time Square, Film Studios, the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, see a show, and joining a food tour.

You can reach New York from Boston in 4 hours if you drive. You can also book a bus for 4 hr and 20 min. The train is the fastest, the travel time is 3 hr and 50 mins. A direct flight is only an hour and 30 mins.

Accommodations in New York City:

Washington D.C. for 3 days

Washington D.C. is known for being the capital of the US. It’s also the home of many excellent museums and historical locations. It is a great place to visit if you love history and culture. It also has so many government buildings that are open to the public. If you love history and politics, this is a must-not-miss destination.

Washington D.C is a historical destination filled with many places to explore. However, if you have a limited time here, you can still do a lot in 2 days in Washington D.C. Also, don’t miss out on food to try! This place’s signature dishes include avocado toast, saganaki, and pumpkin curry, among other varieties.  

Do not confuse it with Washington State (located on the west coast).

You can get from New York to Washington D.C by bus, which will take around 4 hr and 20 mins. The train travel is about 3 hr and 50 mins. If you’re driving, that’s approximately 4 hours. You can fly here, but you might need to make a connection somewhere.

Jefferson Memorial and Cape Cod - 3 WEEKS IN USA ITINERARY

Accommodations in Washington D.C:

North Carolina for 3 days

Some fantastic dishes that you can try out while staying here are chocolate chess pie, steamed oysters, shrimp hushpuppies, Malayan chicken tikka, and more. If you want to explore this state more, here’s a fun guide to the best North Carolina road trip itineraries.

You can take the bus from Washington D.C., to Raleigh in 6 hr and 30 mins. Surprisingly the train is now faster than the bus, around 6 hours. Driving to Raleigh will be the quickest option, taking 4 hours and 20 mins. Flying directly is the most comfortable, just a little over an hour.

  • Charlotte 90-minute electric cart tour – read the reviews and check the price
  • James B. Hunt Jr. Library
  • Pullen Park
  • Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park
  • Clingmans Dome
  • Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
  • Juniper Level Botanic Garden
  • Pisgah National Forest
  • Biltmore
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial
  • Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State
  • North Carolina Museum of Art

Accommodations in Raleigh, North Carolina:

Georgia for 3 days

Georgia is well-known for various foods and dishes, including fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, pralines, and peaches. Apart from that, Georgia is also loved for its diverse and wide range of activities, such as hiking, bird watching, and water excursions.

Regarding food and drinks, Georgia has a massive and passionate food scene featuring the best fried chicken, biscuits, and peach cobbler. There are also plenty of vineyards throughout the state if you want to do wine-tasting tours.

If you’re visiting at the right time, you can join Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Savannah Music Festival, and Georgia State Fair. Get to Savannah from Raleigh by bus or train, where the journey is around 9 hours. Driving will be the best option, which is about 5 hours. There’s a flight, although it requires a connection.

Accommodations in Savannah, Georgia:

Florida for 5 days

This 3 weeks in USA itinerary is incomplete without visiting the famous state of Florida. You and I both know how beautiful the beaches in Miami are. Do you also know that there are also nude beaches in Florida?

If you are a foody, don’t miss visiting local Latin American restaurants, you can even find vegan and gluten-free spots in Miami. And, of course, don’t miss seeing the Everglades. If you are going to rent a car, you may want to check out this Florida road trip guide.

Some of the best local dishes in Miami are Chicharron, Ceviche, Stone crabs, and the Cuban sandwich, among others. If you are travelling with children, check out this list of activities in Everglades National Park with kids.

You can drive down to Miami from Savannah in 7 hours, but you can also just go to Florida and spend a day or two there before continuing to Miami to break up the drive. There’s a non-stop flight to Miami as well, around 1 hr and 30 mins. If you want an affordable option, book a bus to Miami or to Orlando.

There are a lot of flights from Florida back to Europe or some other parts of the world, making it a suitable place to end your trip.

Accommodations in Miami:

Itinerary #2: 3 Weeks Across USA

Unlike what was discussed above, this portion of the article will focus on places where flying would be required as it would save time compared to driving, and the sites are more distant compared to the locations listed above. This road trip will span from California to Las Vegas, Arizona, Chicago, and Boston.

If you plan a road trip on some parts of the west coast US, you can rent a car in California, and then take it to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. Drop it off in Arizona and take a domestic flight to Chicago, then another to New York.

California for 5 days

California is famous for many things, but to ensure you don’t end up cramming too many attractions in your 3 weeks in USA itinerary, I recommend you list five things you want to see. It’s better if they are near each other and you can visit quickly without spending too much time driving around.

Remember that California is a massive state, though. So, it’s best to plan to see 1-2 cities only. Maybe for this trip, you can visit Los Angeles and San Francisco or Los Angeles and Anaheim if you want to go to Disneyland.

Venice Beach – Venice Boardwalk is a must-do in this area; there are lots of restaurants, wall paintings, and even a skate park.

Accommodations in Los Angeles:

Las Vegas for 3 days

A place that will make you forget what day it is or it is too early to start hitting the bar – Las Vegas have so much to offer. Whether you like gambling or not, the Las Vegas casinos are unique and worth visiting at least once.

But if you want to avoid that, you can still visit the desert, and fantastic buildings, do thrilling activities and get crazy with buffet options. You can even book a day trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. That way, you can save time and spend it on another destination or stay long in some cities.

To reach Las Vegas by car from California, the travel time is 5 hours. You can also get on a bus, a more affordable option, but it might be just a little slower. A direct flight is 1 hr and 20 min.

Accommodations in Las Vegas:

Arizona for 4 days

Many don’t know that Arizona is just a bunny hop from California when people think of exploring the West Coast. If you have Las Vegas on your itinerary, you might as well visit the home of the most popular attractions in the US – the Grand Canyon.

You can actually fly from Las Vegas to Phoenix, Arizona, in just an hour. Driving will take 8 hours if you’re reading to Phoenix, but if you’re going towards the Grand Canyon, drive to Flagstaff instead, which is only 4 hours or board a bus.

yosemite park and grand canyon - 3 WEEKS IN USA ITINERARY

Accommodations in Arizona:

Chicago for 3 days

Personally, when I was writing my itinerary for 3 weeks in the US, Chicago was not on the radar. Not only it’s kind of out of the way but also because I didn’t know or didn’t have an attraction in mind that I wanted to see.

However, a friend sent me a list of must-see places in Chicago, so I squeezed it into my itinerary. Here are the things to do and see in Chicago. If you have limited time, this two days in Chicago itinerary will be convenient.

The flight between Phoenix and Chicago is not about 3 hr and 30 mins. You can also fly from Flagstaff, but you need to connect somewhere, and the flight cost might be double.

Accommodations in Chicago:

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New York City3 days

Finishing the trip in New York is an excellent plan because two significant airports fly internationally. It will be easier to catch a flight home or to your next destination.

New York is popular for many things, but more importantly, it’s rich in culture, art, food, and unique people. Not on can you explore downtown New York, but you can also plan some day trips nearby.

One thing you can’t miss when visiting New York is seeing a live show, going on a food tour, taking photos at Time Square, and riding the infamous subway.

Plenty of flights between Chicago and New York, between 2 and 5 hours. But you’re up for the final stretch of driving, and you can stop by Cleveland to take a break for the night and continue the next day.

Accommodations in New York City:

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN USA ITINERARY

The USA is filled not only with diverse people and cultures but different types of places as well. There’s always something to see and do, regardless of your preferences. They have something in store for history buffs, beach bums, adventure junkies, and food lovers. Because there are just so many places to go to, some might even get overwhelmed or confused about where to start.

I hope that this guide has been helpful for those who are planning to stay for at least 3 weeks in USA. This comprehensive guide contains the most famous attractions in various states, the opening hours and ticket costs (if any) of the said attraction, and the states’ trademark foods that are must-try. 

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A trip to the USA offers diverse experiences: iconic cities like New York and Los Angeles, natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, cultural diversity, historic landmarks, and varied landscapes from beaches to mountains. via @threeweektraveller