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.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO THE US
Before you go and book your flight and accommodation, there are a few things you should know and remember for travelling to the US.
Best time to go
Depending on what you want to do, the season is very important. If you want to go on a beach holiday, summer can be tricky. It’s a busy season since locals are also travelling during this time. This means that there is a price hike related to anything about holidays and travelling. It is also very crowded and long lines are inevitable. If you hate these things, you may consider going just before June or after August.
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.
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, if you plan to travel from coast to coast or even from one state to two states over, driving can be exhausting and very time-consuming.
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. The geographical distance between them is really far, but who knows, maybe flight tickets are simply 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
US have one of the hardest visas to obtain 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 will need to obtain an ESTA (electric authorisation) if you are arriving via air or sea.
The US opened their international borders to tourists in November 2021 and eased the entry requirements further in 2022. Unvaccinated tourists will have to present a negative COVID test result 24 hours before boarding the flight. Fully vaccinated tourists will have to show proof of vaccination, negative test results took 3-days before boarding the flight. Visitors who recovered from COVID-19 90 days prior will have to show proof and no need to present any test results. Read for more information.
One last thing, medical services are really expensive in the US. Make sure you have proper travel insurance that covers medical and is valid in 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:
MUST-SEE PLACES IN THE US (pinned map)
To help you visualise the locations of must-visit spots in the US, you can check out this map. You may click the logo on the top right corner to enlarge the map.
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
3 WEEKS IN USA ITINERARY
This itinerary will help you write your own travel plan. Of course, you don’t have to follow my own 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 that has 2 different itineraries you can choose from.
Itinerary #1: 3 Weeks In USA East Coast
For people who want to get tanned or are just fond of the beach in general, the summer season lasts from June to September. 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 to come are from December to February. I listed some of the 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, 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.
Massachusetts for 4 days
Get yourself a Boston Go City Pass, this will allow you to visit 40+ attractions. Here are some of the places that you could go to during the summer:
- Cape Cod National Seashore – open from 9 am to 5 pm. The admission is free but the parking fee of $15 to $25
- Boston Common and Public Garden Swan Boats – open depending on the season. Their rates are $4.50 for adults and $3.00 for children ages 2-15 and children ages 2 and below can board the boat for free. The senior’s ticket costs $4.00.
- Plimoth Patuxet – boasts historic landscapes, ocean views, and the newly restored ship Mayflower II. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily and the combination pass costs $39.95 for adults, $36 for seniors, and $24.95 for children. If you only want to visit Plimoth Patuxet, it costs $32 for adults, $29 for seniors, and $19 for children.
Some of the places that you could go to during the winter season include:
- Wachusett Mountain – activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and view lifts. The prices vary from $18 to $68. Their hours of operation during ski seasons are 9 am to 9:30 pm then 7:30 am to 9:30 pm during weekends/holidays/school breaks.
- Jiminy Peak – the hours of operation are 9 am to 9:30 pm during the weekdays and 8:30 am to 9:30 pm during the weekends. Their lift ticket rates range from $39 to $99.
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:
- Budget hostels – HI Boston Hostel or Boston Homestel
- Mid-range hotels – Oasis Guest House or DoubleTree by Hilton
- Luxury hotels – Encore Boston Harbor or InterContinental Boston – if you are looking for something very unique, you should definitely check out these awesome hotels with rooftop pools in Boston
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 amazing museums and historical locations. It is a great place to visit if you love history and culture. Do not confuse it with Washing State (which is located on the west coast).
- United States Capitol and Capitol Hill – are recognized as the symbols of the United States. It is open every day, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. They offer free tours but you have to make a reservation online. You can also book a Washington D.C. – Old Town Trolley Tour.
- The White House – the residence of the current US president. It is available for viewing from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday but advance planning must be done.
- National Air and Space Museum – opens from Thursday to Monday from 10 am to 5:30 pm. Currently, the small group and private guided tours cost $79.50 onwards, depending on the group size.
- Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin – The white memorial is designed as a dome, standing at the end of the Tidal pool. All around the edge are cherry trees which become one of D.C.’s greatest attractions during the spring. It is open 24 hours every day. The visitation itself is free. However, they offer some activities which require payment.
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park – perfect for animal lovers. This haven is open from 8 am to 4 pm daily. They offer a free daily entry pass for which you need to reserve at least 30 days before your intended visit. If you don’t have an entry pass, you can pay for the parking pass instead which costs $30 and will cover the entrance of all the people in your car.
Washington D.C. is such a historical destination filled with lots of 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.
Accommodations in Washington D.C:
- Budget hostels – Duo Housing or Duo Nomad
- Mid-range hotels – Washington Plaza Hotel or citizenM Washington DC
- Luxury hotels – JW Marriott or Sofitel Lafayette Square
North Carolina for 3 days
- James B. Hunt Jr. Library – also known as the library of the future. It is dubbed as one of the most advanced libraries in the whole world and is open 24 hours.
- Pullen Park – the fifth oldest amusement park in the US. It is open 7 days a week from 11 am to 6 pm. Walking on the public grounds is free but riding their carousel, trains and boats costs $1.50 per person. One-year-olds and below are free.
- Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park – the largest museum art park in the country. The museum is open from Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.
- Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve – open every day from 9 am to 8 pm. Visiting this natural scenery is free.
- Juniper Level Botanic Garden – is one of the most spectacular gardens and is a sanctuary for plant lovers all over the world. They have 27,000 types of exotic plants and unusual specimens. The gardens are open from 8 am to 5 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and from 1 pm to 5 pm on Sundays. No reservation is needed and admission is free.
Some amazing 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.
Accommodations in Raleigh, North Carolina:
- Budget hostels/Inn – Super 8 or Days Inn – both are by Wyndham
- Mid-range hotels – Best Western Plus Crabtree Valley or Hyatt Place
- Luxury hotels – Embassy Suites or The StateView
Georgia for 3 days
- The Davenport House Museum – is open 7 days a week, from 10 am to 4 pm on Mondays through Saturdays, then from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays. The general admission costs $9, then $7 for students, $5 for children ages 6 to 17, $8.10 for seniors, active military and AAA, $7 per person for past partners, and if you’re in groups of 10.
- Get an overview of Savannah once you hop on their Old Town Trolley Tours. It is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The tickets range from $32 to $39.
- Watch award-winning live performances at Savannah Theater. The theatre is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. The ticket cost varies depending on the shows.
- Tybee Island – is open for visitors daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm for those who are fond of the beach, eating freshly caught seafood, and visiting some historical sites. Going to the island itself is free but it has an island-wide standard parking fee of $2 per hour.
- Visit the Service Brewing Company for beer tasting. It is open from 12 pm to 7 pm from Wednesdays through Saturdays.
- Georgia is well-known for various foods and dishes including fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, pralines, and peaches.
Accommodations in Savannah, Georgia:
- Mid-range hotels/Inn – Hotel Indigo or The Thunderbird Inn
- Luxury hotels – Mansion, Kessler Collection or The Marshall House
Florida for 5 days
This 3 weeks in USA itinerary is not complete 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 visiting the Everglades. If you are going to rent a car, you may want to check this Florida road trip guide.
- In Miami Beach, you’ll find South beach. You can also visit the Art Deco history district which consists of pastel buildings with architectural styles that are famous in the 1930s and 40s.
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens – open from Wednesday through Monday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The admission rate is $22 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 to 12.
- Everglades National Park – is open 24/7 while the gate at Shark Valley entrance on US.41/Taiami trail is open from 8:30 am to 6 pm every day. Passes cost $30 for private vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, $15 for cyclist/paddle crafts, $15 per person. Make sure to book Everglades Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show.
- Deering Estate – open every day from 10 am to 4 pm. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $7 for children ages 4 to 14, children ages 3 and below could enter for free.
- Orlando – this city is probably the unofficial theme park capital in the world. It has of course Disney World, Universal Studios (and resort), and Fun Spot America. It doesn’t mean that it’s only suitable for young children though, it’s also popular with adults who are young at heart.
- Coral Castle – open from Thursday through Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm on Thursdays and Sundays and 9 am to 7 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission costs $18 for adults and $8 for children ages 7 to 12. Children ages 6 and below can enter the premises free of charge.
Some of the best local dishes in Miami are Chicharron, Ceviche, Stone crabs, and the Cuban sandwich, among others. If you travelling with children, check this list of activities to do in Everglades National Park with kids.
Accommodations in Miami:
- Budget hostel – Art Hostel Wynwood Concept
- Mid-range hotels/Inn – Hampton Inn/Coconut Grove or Hilton Garden Inn
- Luxury hotels – East Miami or InterContinental
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 places are more distant compared to the places listed above. This road trip is going to span from California to Las Vegas to Arizona Chicago and Boston.
California for 5 days
California is popular for many things, but to make sure you don’t end up cramming too many attractions in your 3 weeks in USA itinerary, I recommend you make a list of 5 things you really want to see. It’s better if they are near each other and that you can visit in a short period of time without spending too much time driving around.
- Venice Beach – Venice Boardwalk is a must-do in this area, there are lots of restaurants, wall paintings, and even a skate park.
- Disneyland is an ideal place to visit for those who are young and young at heart. To avoid hassle and spending so much time acquiring tickets, make sure to get them in advance. You also need to beat the crowd and arrive there early in the morning. Disneyland is more populated during the weekends so it would be better to go during its off-peak days which are Mondays through Thursdays. Disneyland opens between 8 am to 10 pm and even through midnight. The ticket costs $104 for one day pass, $128 per day for two days, $110 per day for 3 days, $90 per day for 4 days, and $76 per day for 5 days.
- Yosemite National Park – is a UNESCO world heritage site. All park entrances except for the Hetch Hetchy are open 24 hours daily. Passes for a non-commercial pickup truck, car, van, or RV with 15 or fewer passengers cost $35, motorcycle pass costs $30, bicycle, horse, or non-commercial bus or van costs $20 per person ages 16 and above. Try visiting the park during the popular summer months to avoid huge crowds. You can book a day tour for a hiking trip.
Accommodations in Los Angeles:
- Budget hostel – Samesun Venice Beach or HI Los Angeles Santa Monica
- Mid-range hotels – Hotel Figueroa by Hyatt or H Hotel by Hilton
- Luxury hotels – Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills or Four Season Beverly Hills
Las Vegas for 3 days
A place that will make you forget what day it is or is it too early to start hitting the bar – Las Vegas have so much to offer. Here is a list of must-sees in Las Vegas.
- Head to The Strip -it is a 2.5-mile-long central section found on Las Vegas Boulevard where you’ll see numerous luxury hotels, casinos, and performance venues. The Strip is more marvellous to see at night because that’s when the parties and performances start. There are also loads of free things to do in Las Vegas.
- The observation decks and rides in The Stratosphere Tower are open from 10 am to 1 am from Sunday to Thursday then 10 am to 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays. On weekdays, the entrance fee costs $5 for the Casino guests, $14 for children aged 12 and below, $16 for the military, residents of Nevada, and senior citizens, and $25 for adults. On weekends and holidays, tickets cost $10 for the Casino guests, $17.50 for children aged 12 and below, $20 for the military, residents of Nevada, and senior citizens, and $30 for adults. Ticket rates for the rides vary.
- Vegas Indoor Skydiving – open from 10:45 AM to 6 PM daily. They offer two packages, which are the Learn to Fly and The Indoor Skydiving experience. The learn-to-fly package is designed for first-time flyers and costs $85 while the indoor skydiving experience costs $149.
Accommodations in Las Vegas:
- Budget hostel – The STRAT Hotel or The D Las Vegas
- Mid-range hotels – Bally’s or Downtown Grand Hotels & Casino
- Luxury hotels – Bellagio or The Palazzo
Arizona for 4 days
When people think of exploring the West Coast, many people didn’t know that Arizona is just a bunny hop from California. If you have Las Vegas on your itinerary anyway, might as well visit the home of the most popular attractions in the US – the Grand Canyon.
- The drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon takes four hours and 15 minutes. The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, every day but the Park’s visitor centre and other facilities are open from 7 am to 6 pm from May to September, which is the peak season. During the off-peak season of April to October, the facilities are open from 8 am to 5 pm. The easiest way to explore Grand Canyon is through West Bus Tour with Hoover Dam Stop.
- There are tons of things to do at the Grand Canyon. You can walk the Trail of Time, do day hikes, overnight backpacking, biking, desert view driving, mule trips, raft trips or ride the Grand Canyon railway. There are also Park Ranger programs.
- You can also combine Las Vegas and Grand Canyon into a 2-day tour. This will really save you time while making sure you get to enjoy both places.
Accommodations in Arizona:
- Mid-range hotels – Hilton Garden or Best Western
- Luxury hotels – Renaissance Downtown or Sheraton Downton
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 doesn’t have an attraction in mind that I really wanted to see. But, a friend of mine 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 2 days in Chicago itinerary will be very handy.
- Feast your eyes on the city’s wondrous architecture with the Chicago Architecture river cruise. The vessels cruise at 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, and 5 pm departure times. The tour lasts for 90 minutes and the tickets start at $48.18 plus tax for a daytime river cruise and $52.91 for a nighttime river cruise.
- Cloud Gate – that metal, kidney-bean-shaped sculpture is a must-see on your Chicago visit during your 3 weeks in USA trip. It can be found right at the heart of the city near AT&T Plaza and Millennium Park.
- Skydeck Chicago is open from 9 am to 8 pm daily. Admission costs $28 to $35 for adults ages 12 and up and $22 to $26 for children ages 11 and below, children under 3 years of age can get inside for free. The best time to come is during its opening hours or after 5 pm to capture the sunset and the city nightscape. You can skip the line by booking this tour including The Ledge ticket.
- North Avenue Beach is one of the most popular swimming spots in Chicago. It is free to access and is open from 6 am to 11 pm but swimming is only allowed when there are lifeguards on duty which are from 11 am to 7 pm. Please take note that parking fees in this part of the city during peak season are expensive.
Accommodations in Chicago:
- Budget hostels – Freehand Chicago or HI Chicago Hostel
- Mid-range hotels – Club Quarter Hotel Wacker or Central Loop Hotel
- Luxury hotels – Sofitel or Viceroy
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Boston for 3 days
- Boston is well-known for some of the most prestigious schools in the country, such as MIT and Harvard. Harvard Art Museums are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $18 for seniors. Those who are below 18 can enter for free.
- New England Aquarium has more than 20,000 types of fish and over 550 species of other aquatic animals. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm from Mondays through Fridays and from 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. The adult pass costs $32, tickets for children ages 3 to 11 cost $23 and tickets for seniors cost $30. Children below three years of age can enter for free.
- Watch a game or take a tour at Fenway Park, which is known as America’s most beloved ballpark. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm if there aren’t any games and from 9 am to 15 minutes after the game during game season. Ticket prices vary, depending on the game.
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 to do, regardless of what your preferences are. They have something in store for history buffs, beach bums, adventure junkies, or food lovers, among others. 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.