You should arrive at the airport for your scheduled flight to Washington DC. After our early afternoon arrival, we transfer to the three-star superior Courtyard Washington DC/US Capitol for three nights. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Washington DC - nestling serenely on the Potomac River, we have all seen this amazing city’s glistening array of world-famous monuments in countless political thrillers like ‘All the President’s Men’! But when you imagine the worldwide importance of the decisions taken here, the reality of Washington can be overwhelming. On our guided tour this morning we’ll have the benefit of an expert local guide to show us the world-famous museums, buildings and memorials of the Capitol, the White House, the Vietnam and World War II Memorials, the Lincoln Memorial and so much more. The afternoon is at leisure.
This morning we drive through beautiful countryside to nearby Mount Vernon, George Washington’s stunning home and estate. There is so much to see here: the impressive, yet intimate, formal ground floor rooms display a wealth of original furniture. Walk through the original gardens, where the ‘greats’ of 18th century America once strolled and still supply plentiful vegetables and fruit. You will visit Washington’s tomb, the slave quarters and the pioneer farm with its unusual 16-sided threshing barn, designed by Washington himself. Returning to the city this afternoon you are free to explore some of the excellent Smithsonian Museums, perhaps the world-famous Air and Space Museum or the host of other attractions in this amazing city.
This morning, a poignant visit to Arlington, America’s renowned military cemetery, huge at 624 acres and final resting place of the Kennedys, John and Robert, with memorials to the two space shuttle disasters plus the Lockerbie bombing amongst many others. We transfer to Union Station and board the impressive sleek Amtrak train for its 3.5-hour journey to New York, then transferring to the four-star Doubletree by Hilton Times Square West for three nights.
This morning we enjoy a fascinating tour of New York’s amazing sights with a two day New York Hop-On-Hop-Off bus pass, including bustling Times Square, the iconic Rockefeller Centre, laid-back Central Park and the Empire State Building. Our tour allows you the freedom to use your pass independently and get off at whichever particular sight you want to see, or join your tour manager on a fixed itinerary visiting the major sights. The afternoon is free to explore New York’s many fascinating museums, shops and neighbourhoods. You could take a cruise around Manhattan, see the Statue of Liberty, a wander round the superbly restored Meatpacking District or perhaps a memorable helicopter flight over this most photogenic of cities. One of the simplest pleasures though is just a stroll through Central Park, used in countless films’ sets and undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous urban spaces - the perfect place to watch New Yorkers taking it easy. ‘The Met’, with its extraordinary collections of Native American art, Impressionists and ancient Egyptian treasures is a New York landmark and an absolute ‘must-see’ world-class institution. A wander through Chinatown or Little Italy helps you appreciate the mammoth ethnic melting pot New York was, is and always will be. Another great option is the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Centre for the finest sunset views. The latest landmark is of course the thought-provoking ‘ground zero’ visitor centre where the World Trade Centre once stood. This evening, explore ‘the city that never sleeps’, there’s a vast choice of restaurants and entertainment from classic Broadway musicals to jazz clubs or just Greenwich Village’s intimate little bars. Absorb the ‘buzz’ - this is truly one of the world’s greatest cities!
You have the entire day to explore the Big Apple and its multitude of world-class attractions. Making use of the 2-day Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour pass you can see more than 5,000 years of art from around the world at the Metropolitan Museum through its intriguing exhibitions and events. Or visit the Guggenheim, as famous for its landmark building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as it is for its impressive collection and daring shows. Take a walk through colourful Chinatown and explore its streets lined with shops selling exotic foods, jewellery and various gifts. Here you’ll find some of the best restaurants representing the cuisine of not only the numerous provinces of China, but also of Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and more. Then there is St Patrick’s Cathedral, a breathtaking masterpiece of neo-Gothic architecture and significant landmark that stands out amidst the city’s many contemporary buildings.
Early this morning from Penn Station, a wonderful classic building in its own right, we board the Amtrak Empire Service to Niagara Falls. This iconic American journey takes us through up-state New York’s wonderful bucolic scenery, following the Hudson River valley, bisected by finger lakes, forest-covered hillsides and studded with the neat settlements so typical of small-town America. Arriving in Niagara late afternoon, we cross into Canada for the most spectacular views and our hotel for two nights, the four-star Marriott on the Falls (Falls view rooms available from £26pp supplement) or the four-star Sheraton on the Falls.
Niagara Falls has long been a magnet for daredevils, sightseers and honeymooners but there are few superlatives which can describe the sheer spectacle in front of you as the equivalent of over one million bath-fulls of water cascade every single minute over a 200 foot high cliff, crashing in a deafening roar below. We have included a thrilling boat cruise on the famous Hornblower Cruise to get you as close as possible to the thundering waters at the base of the falls (subject to weather in Apr & Nov). For a real close-up experience, you’ll also explore the tunnels, staggeringly behind the very falls themselves, for an astonishing view of the massive wall of water - but from the inside! Then we’ll take a lift, walking along the bottom of the Niagara Gorge for a truly spectacular ‘close-up’ view of some amazing white-water rapids. Next it’s a visit to the Niagara Daredevil Exhibit at the IMAX Theatre, where you can enjoy the short ‘Miracle, Myths & Magic’ film, learn about the thrill-seekers who hurtled over the falls, and see the only collection of the original barrels constructed to survive this incredible feat – sometimes!
This morning we say goodbye to Niagara Falls and continue on to Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Its soaring glass skyscrapers contrast with the parks and lakefront boardwalks of a host of communities. Dominated by the CN Tower – at 1,815 feet the western hemisphere’s tallest freestanding structure, we take an exhilarating ride to its observation deck in exterior glass lifts. Once there, are you brave enough to walk on the glass floor? This afternoon we transfer to the airport for our return overnight direct flight.
We arrive back in the UK after a truly memorable tour, the memories of which will last a lifetime.