The best time to visit the Northeast region of the US is usually summer as you can enjoy long sunny days exploring the area's cities, towns, parks and coasts. This is also the busiest time of year as both locals and travellers come out to enjoy the weather, so expect crowds wherever you go. For a quieter time, try the start of autumn or end of spring as these shoulder months should still have outdoor-friendly weather.
If you're looking for a trip filled with snow days and cosy fireside meals, winter in the Northeast is a magical time. Snow usually starts falling around November in the northern states and temperatures can start to drop below freezing by January. Crowds will pick up around December for the festive season as Christmas decorations light up the region and New Year's Eve celebrations kick off, bringing celebrators from across the world.
Our tours in Northeast USA
Best for: hiking, Fourth of July celebrations, beach days
Unsurprisingly, summer is a very popular time for the Northeast. With even the northern regions of Maine getting up to 26ºC highs, there are so many reasons to be outside enjoying the great outdoors. Summer runs from June to August and is generally known for long sun-filled days and cool evenings. The southern end of the Northeast region gets the warmest, with Washington D.C. sitting at an average of 26-31ºC highs from June to August. It can get quite humid at this time of year as well, especially in the big cities. There'll also be plenty of competitors for bookings and reservations during the summer high season. If you're hoping for a quieter time, try booking either end of the school holidays towards the spring and autumn shoulder months.
The great thing about this area of the US is that there are so many ways to fill an itinerary and a range of activities that suit any type of traveller. If you love to learn some history while on the road, stop by Pennsylvania to see Gettysburg and the national icons of Philadelphia. For campers and nature lovers, hike the Appalachian Trail and Presidential Peaks in New Hampshire or stop by Niagara Falls for a refreshing journey aboard the Maid of the Mist.
Best for: road trips, photography and fewer crowds
If you're looking for a time with fewer crowds, a mix of warm to cool weather and stunning natural scenery, autumn is the best time to visit the Northeast US. Towards the summer side of the season, temperatures can still reach 24-29ºC highs, with lows sitting around 3-13ºC, getting cooler towards the north and at higher elevations. If you're hoping to visit the national parks before the snow starts around November, visit during September or October when there are also fewer people around. Because the temperatures and conditions can vary so much this season, it may be worth packing a variety of clothing options.
A picture really tells a thousand words, and no sentence really does the foliage colours of autumn justice. Find some of the most breathtaking scenery at the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that winds through 14 states for over 3524km. Or, why not road trip along the many beautiful states in the Northeast? Stop by Amish communities in Lancaster Pennsylvania or check out the many museums in Washington D.C. when the crowds have lessened after summer. Autumn is also the time of some special events for many people in the US. Thanksgiving celebrations occur towards the end of November and the spooky festival of Halloween is a favourite of many.
Best for: snow days, low crowds, Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations
While winter brings in the coolest temperatures, it also hosts some of the best celebrations. You will need to rug up while in the Northeast for winter as in Maine, the average lows can drop from -4ºC in Bangor to -16ºC in Caribou while the daily highs only get to 3ºC. Similarly, New York gets cool lows of -2ºC in January with average maximums only getting to about 10ºC. Being so northern, this region does get snowfall, but there's often a lot of seasonal variation. In New York City and Philadelphia, snowfall can get up to 500mm but on average only gets about 165mm over the January to February period. Boston usually receives more snow with a monthly winter average of 221mm and in New Hampshire, snow can average 391mm. Since there's so much snow around, many people come to the Northeast for ski seasons in the many resorts dotted throughout the states.
Because the weather isn't super friendly at this time of year, many of the big tourist destinations will have very low crowd numbers, except during the major holidays such as Christmas and New Year's Eve. But if you're keen to party your way into the new year, then New York is home to one of the biggest NYE celebrations in the US. It's also an amazing place for getting into the Christmas spirit with amazing decorations from the Rockefeller Christmas Tree to the decked-out storefronts lining Fifth Avenue.
Best for: cherry blossoms, warmer weather and humpback whales
If you're looking for a time with good weather, lower crowds and plenty to do, then spring could be the season for you. Not only will the sun chase away the wintery weather, but the new blooms will liven up the streets and you can spend your days wandering through big cities before the summer crowds arrive. While the start of the season will still have a wintery bite, the temperatures usually get to double digits by mid-April. It'll still be rather chilly in the more northern states, but that just means fewer people around and off-season prices (other than the spring break holidays). While snow isn't common during spring, there can still be a bit of rain. The average monthly rainfall for New York, Philadelphia and Boston sits at about 90mm to 99mm with about a 30% daily chance of precipitation as well.
From humpback whale watching in Maine, Cape Cod or Long Island to wandering the cherry blossom-filled avenues of Washington D.C., nature really rolls out the red carpet from March to May. But for those more city-bound, Boston is a lively choice for spring with the start of the baseball season underway towards the end of March and St Patrick's Day greening up the city on the 17th.