Ask Joan: Exploring eastern US and skiing for Christmas

Washington, New York, Boston and a family ski holiday during the festive season

My husband and I and our teenage daughter are planning a three-week trip to the States in June. We plan to visit Boston, Washington and New York. We would like to chill towards the end of the holiday and maybe stay in a nice apartment with a pool. Can you please give us some advice on the best things to do there and places to stay and the best ways to travel?

– KC, Dublin. I would begin this trip in Washington and end in Boston with a week by the beach in Cape Cod or quieter Cape Ann. This way you would do the busiest cities first, and can take the train between them. Aer Lingus flies to Washington and Boston and return fare would be about €600 each.

Taking the train works out quite reasonable and saves on parking and negotiating city traffic. Fares would be about $105 each from Washington to New York to Boston. See Amtrak. com.

In each city take the guided bus tour to see the major places of interest and historical locations. Pick a few specific things to do in each place and allow some time to explore at your leisure.


Washington has more museums that any other city in the United States and you should pick a few to see. There are national museums for art, history, architecture, media, the Smithsonian and more. As the seat of government, there are many famous buildings to see, like the White House, the Capitol, Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and memorials to wars. See

In New York see the city from a height, either the Empire State Building, the Top of the Rock or One World Trade Centre. Go to a Broadway show, visit China Town, picnic in Central Park, have a cocktail in the Plaza, explore some of the museums, go to Ellis Island, see the Statue of Liberty. Plan your stay with Boston oozes history and you should take the tour of the city streets that brings to life the story of America. Boston is also a city famous for sports and if you could take in a game it would make it memorable. You can buy tickets from See

Take a car from Boston and explore the New England coast. Cape Cod is accessible at weekends by train from the city with the Book accommodation on and you will get a free night for every 10 booked or use self-catering or vacation rentals on and See also Discoveramerica. com.

We are a small family, and have decided to treat ourselves to a ski holiday this Christmas. We can go anytime between December 21st and 31st but can't make the weekly charter from Ireland. Could we could fly with a budget airline and reserve our own accommodation and ski pass? We would like a pretty resort, lively at night and guaranteed snow. – CF, Dublin. Snow can only be guaranteed in the highest resorts at Christmas, but you should be fine in France, Austria and Switzerland. You do not have to travel on the charter flights to use a tour operator.

In fact you will probably get better value accommodation and ski packs by booking though, or You can book your own flights or the agent can book them for you. has a number of chalets in France that are nice for family groups. Nightlife in Austria tends to be livelier than Switzerland and in France the resorts of Méribel and Courchevel are fun.

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