United States

With famous cities, epic landscapes, pop culture icons and enthusiastic locals, the United States has got something for everyone. From the sunny beaches of San Diego and the glacial wonder of Alaska to the luminous cityscapes of New York at night, there are magic moments waiting around every corner.

United States Tours & Travel

Top holiday deals in United States

Departing Days Price USD
14 May 2017 Best of America 22 $3181
30 Apr 2017 Best of America 22 $3181
14 May 2017 Big Apple to Big Easy 7 $999
30 Apr 2017 Big Apple to Big Easy 7 $999
16 Apr 2017 USA National Parks Explorer 18 $4833

All our United States trips

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USD $3,181
CAD $3,856
AUD $4,525
EUR €2,940
GBP £2,315
NZD $4,865
ZAR R51,925
CHF FR3,250
Journey across the heart of the US and experience the best of America. Visit the nation’s capital, relax in ‘The Big...
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7
FROM
USD $999
CAD $1,215
AUD $1,425
EUR €925
GBP £730
NZD $1,530
ZAR R16,350
CHF FR1,025
Wind across the Appalachians, through the musical hub of Memphis and on to Louisiana on this unforgettable journey...
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11
FROM
USD $1,660
CAD $2,016
AUD $2,365
EUR €1,535
GBP £1,210
NZD $2,540
ZAR R27,140
CHF FR1,700
Jump from nature to the city and back again. Keep your cool in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley; place a...
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5
FROM
USD $715
CAD $873
AUD $1,025
EUR €665
GBP £525
NZD $1,100
ZAR R11,760
CHF FR735
Set out on a road trip from lavish Las Vegas to stylish San Francisco, taking in Yosemite National Park and Death...
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6
FROM
USD $909
CAD $1,102
AUD $1,295
EUR €840
GBP £660
NZD $1,390
ZAR R14,860
CHF FR930
Travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a classic American road trip that stops by Joshua Tree National Park, the...
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9
FROM
USD $2,304
CAD $2,515
AUD $3,005
EUR €2,080
GBP £1,540
NZD $3,230
ZAR R27,690
CHF FR2,130
From the steep hills and ‘Painted Ladies’ of San Francisco to the flashing lights and Elvis impersonators of Vegas,...
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8
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USD $1,224
CAD $1,480
AUD $1,740
EUR €1,130
GBP £890
NZD $1,870
ZAR R19,965
CHF FR1,250
Visit some of North America's most outstanding national parks and experience the all out extravagance of Las Vegas....
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17
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USD $2,407
CAD $2,920
AUD $3,425
EUR €2,225
GBP £1,750
NZD $3,680
ZAR R39,305
CHF FR2,460
Travel through the best of the US and experience landmark national treasures. Cross the country from New York to Las...
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15
FROM
USD $2,730
CAD $3,310
AUD $3,495
EUR €2,270
GBP £1,790
NZD $3,755
ZAR R40,105
CHF FR2,510
Jump from nature to the city and back again. Keep your cool in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley; place a...
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10
FROM
USD $2,664
CAD $3,087
AUD $3,590
EUR €2,395
GBP £1,865
NZD $3,950
ZAR R33,835
CHF FR2,455
From the glitz of the Vegas Strip to the hush of Monument Valley; travel through Zion National Park and Boulder...
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7
FROM
USD $1,875
CAD $2,282
AUD $2,401
EUR €1,565
GBP £1,227
NZD $2,588
ZAR R27,648
CHF FR1,729
Visit Dry Tortugas National Park and the uninhabited Marquesas Islands on this unique sailing expedition through the...
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5
FROM
USD $1,510
CAD $1,784
AUD $1,861
EUR €1,258
GBP £965
NZD $2,053
ZAR R17,935
CHF FR1,294
Embark on an Intrepid Sailing expedition through the Florida Keys with stop-offs at Key West, Key Largo, and the...
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11
FROM
USD $3,200
CAD $3,504
AUD $3,748
EUR €2,596
GBP £1,928
NZD $4,032
ZAR R34,552
CHF FR2,660
From Chicago to New York, with Montreal and Boston in between, this tour of North America and Canada takes in the...
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9
FROM
USD $1,670
CAD $2,025
AUD $2,140
EUR €1,390
GBP £1,095
NZD $2,300
ZAR R24,555
CHF FR1,540
Set out on a road trip from lavish Las Vegas to stylish Los Angeles, taking in Yosemite National Park and Death...
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9
FROM
USD $2,805
CAD $3,405
AUD $3,595
EUR €2,335
GBP £1,840
NZD $3,865
ZAR R41,255
CHF FR2,585
Discover the incredible landscape of New England with hikes through Stowe and the White Mountain and Acadia National...
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25
FROM
USD $4,055
CAD $4,920
AUD $5,195
EUR €3,375
GBP £2,660
NZD $5,585
ZAR R59,615
CHF FR3,735
Buckle up for an epic road trip across the northern stretches of the US, from San Francisco to New York, with...
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10
FROM
USD $1,515
CAD $1,835
AUD $1,940
EUR €1,260
GBP £990
NZD $2,085
ZAR R22,260
CHF FR1,395
Buckle up for a road trip from San Francisco to Denver, taking in the Yosemite, Rocky Mountain and Arches National...
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3
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USD $695
CAD $845
AUD $895
EUR €580
GBP £460
NZD $960
ZAR R10,270
CHF FR645
Visit one of the most famous attractions in New York State, the thundering Niagara Falls. Travel from New York to...
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13
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USD $2,074
CAD $2,515
AUD $2,950
EUR €1,915
GBP £1,510
NZD $3,170
ZAR R33,855
CHF FR2,120
Gear up for some incredible travel through the USA's great west. Travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas via Joshua Tree...
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51
FROM
USD $8,690
CAD $10,535
AUD $11,125
EUR €7,225
GBP £5,695
NZD $11,960
ZAR R127,665
CHF FR7,995
Take a comprehensive journey around the US and experience the best of America. Visit the nation’s capital, relax in ...
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6
FROM
USD $970
CAD $1,175
AUD $1,240
EUR €805
GBP £635
NZD $1,335
ZAR R14,230
CHF FR890
Cross the northern ridge of the United States, taking in the metropolises of Chicago, Detroit, New York, and the...
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18
FROM
USD $2,808
CAD $3,402
AUD $3,995
EUR €2,595
GBP £2,045
NZD $4,295
ZAR R45,845
CHF FR2,870
Travel from Los Angeles up to San Francisco, passing through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park.
DAYS
9
FROM
USD $1,715
CAD $2,080
AUD $2,195
EUR €1,425
GBP £1,125
NZD $2,360
ZAR R25,190
CHF FR1,575
Experience the vast Alaskan wilderness. Hike through remote landscapes, stand in the shadow of immense Mt McKinley in...
DAYS
17
FROM
USD $3,080
CAD $3,735
AUD $3,945
EUR €2,565
GBP £2,020
NZD $4,240
ZAR R45,270
CHF FR2,835
Embark on an incredible American road trip that goes to Zion, Bryce Canyon and Yosemite National Parks and Monument...
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10
FROM
USD $1,332
CAD $1,615
AUD $1,895
EUR €1,230
GBP £970
NZD $2,035
ZAR R21,745
CHF FR1,360
Travel through the south of the USA and visit San Antonio, the Carlsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon en route from...
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11
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USD $3,915
CAD $4,284
AUD $5,095
EUR €3,530
GBP £2,620
NZD $5,480
ZAR R46,960
CHF FR3,610
Enjoy this Hawaiian tour taking in Oahu, Kauai, Maui and The Big Island, as well as volcanoes – Mauna Loa and Mauna...
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12
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USD $3,052
CAD $3,340
AUD $3,572
EUR €2,476
GBP £1,832
NZD $3,836
ZAR R32,952
CHF FR2,536
Get to know the south with this trip through Atlanta, Charleston, Asheville, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. The...
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14
FROM
USD $2,830
CAD $3,430
AUD $3,625
EUR €2,355
GBP £1,855
NZD $3,895
ZAR R41,600
CHF FR2,605
Experience the vast Alaskan wilderness. Hike through remote landscapes, stand in the shadow of immense Mt McKinley in...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $1,962
CAD $2,380
AUD $2,795
EUR €1,815
GBP £1,430
NZD $3,005
ZAR R32,075
CHF FR2,010
Embark on an incredible American road trip that goes to Zion, Bryce Canyon and Yosemite National Parks and Monument...
DAYS
10
FROM
USD $1,480
CAD $1,795
AUD $1,895
EUR €1,230
GBP £970
NZD $2,035
ZAR R21,745
CHF FR1,360
Visit the pristine wilderness of Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Badlands National Parks on this American road trip from...
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16
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USD $2,595
CAD $3,150
AUD $3,325
EUR €2,160
GBP £1,700
NZD $3,575
ZAR R38,155
CHF FR2,390
Travel from Denver to New York via the soaring granite formations of the Grand Tetons, the volcanic, geyser-filled...
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6
FROM
USD $1,205
CAD $1,460
AUD $1,545
EUR €1,005
GBP £790
NZD $1,660
ZAR R17,730
CHF FR1,110
Explore Alaska's untouched wilderness on a short trip from Anchorage to Homer and Seward.
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47
FROM
USD $7,790
CAD $9,445
AUD $9,975
EUR €6,480
GBP £5,105
NZD $10,725
ZAR R114,470
CHF FR7,170
Take a comprehensive journey around the US with Intrepid. This is the ultimate American road trip. Experience diverse...
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10
FROM
USD $1,400
CAD $1,700
AUD $1,795
EUR €1,165
GBP £920
NZD $1,930
ZAR R20,600
CHF FR1,290
Travel through the south of the USA and visit San Antonio, the Calsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon en route from Las...
DAYS
22
FROM
USD $4,055
CAD $4,920
AUD $5,195
EUR €3,375
GBP £2,660
NZD $5,585
ZAR R59,615
CHF FR3,735
Travel from Los Angeles passing through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park before returning to LA...
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12
FROM
USD $3,900
CAD $4,730
AUD $4,995
EUR €3,245
GBP £2,555
NZD $5,370
ZAR R57,320
CHF FR3,590
Explore the rugged landscape of icy Alaska. From Anchorage, head north into the wild of Denali National Park....
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12
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USD $3,366
CAD $3,780
AUD $4,415
EUR €3,025
GBP £2,285
NZD $4,835
ZAR R41,500
CHF FR3,095
Discover hidden pockets of beauty as you travel across America's southwest - visiting Joshua Tree National Park,...
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10
FROM
USD $2,808
CAD $3,402
AUD $3,995
EUR €2,595
GBP £2,045
NZD $4,295
ZAR R45,845
CHF FR2,870
Explore some of America’s most iconic national parks on a ten-day tour of this mountainous northwest region.
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14
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USD $2,295
CAD $2,785
AUD $2,940
EUR €1,910
GBP £1,505
NZD $3,160
ZAR R33,740
CHF FR2,115
Enjoy the best of the US. Explore the sights and history of Detroit, Chicago, Louisville, Kentucky, Washington DC,...
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14
 
 
Get your kicks on Route 66 and travel the iconic highway from Chicago to Los Angeles, stopping in at St Louis,...
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4
FROM
USD $700
CAD $845
AUD $895
EUR €580
GBP £460
NZD $960
ZAR R10,270
CHF FR645
It's California dreamin' on a cruise down one of the world's greatest drives. Highway 1 winds along rocky, surf...
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14
FROM
USD $2,340
CAD $2,835
AUD $2,995
EUR €1,945
GBP £1,530
NZD $3,220
ZAR R34,370
CHF FR2,150
Take in the bright lights of the Big Apple and the glitz and glamour of Miami, via the country music capital of the...
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3
FROM
USD $716
CAD $780
AUD $836
EUR €580
GBP £428
NZD $900
ZAR R7,712
CHF FR592
Explore the stunning California coast on this three-day tour from Los Angeles. Visit Santa Barbara, spend an evening...
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17
FROM
USD $2,605
CAD $3,155
AUD $3,335
EUR €2,165
GBP £1,705
NZD $3,585
ZAR R38,270
CHF FR2,395
Travel from Las Vegas to New Orleans and on to New York. Head through the south and San Antonio, the Calsbad Caverns,...
DAYS
15
FROM
USD $2,074
CAD $2,515
AUD $2,950
EUR €1,915
GBP £1,510
NZD $3,170
ZAR R33,855
CHF FR2,120
Embark on a classic American road trip from New Orleans to San Francisco and visit Santa Fe and Yosemite.
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20
FROM
USD $5,598
CAD $6,300
AUD $7,360
EUR €5,050
GBP £3,805
NZD $8,070
ZAR R69,195
CHF FR5,165
Explore cities, deserts, forests and valleys on this adventure through the West. From San Francisco to Vegas, via...
DAYS
7
FROM
USD $1,110
CAD $1,350
AUD $1,425
EUR €925
GBP £730
NZD $1,530
ZAR R16,350
CHF FR1,025
Wind from Louisiana, through the musical hub of Memphis and across the Appalachians on this unforgettable journey...
DAYS
19
FROM
USD $2,910
CAD $3,525
AUD $3,725
EUR €2,420
GBP £1,905
NZD $4,005
ZAR R42,745
CHF FR2,675
Spot bears in Yosemite National Park, be awed by Niagara Falls, and camp by the Mississippi River on an epic American...
DAYS
8
FROM
USD $2,808
CAD $3,402
AUD $3,995
EUR €2,595
GBP £2,045
NZD $4,295
ZAR R45,845
CHF FR2,870
Explore the rugged remote landscape of Alaska on the search for the aurora borealis. Visit Talkeetna in the shadow of...
DAYS
18
FROM
USD $4,810
CAD $5,431
AUD $6,335
EUR €4,345
GBP £3,290
NZD $6,945
ZAR R59,555
CHF FR4,450
This is the best of the West. Trek through the diverse scenery of parks filled with national treasures while also...
DAYS
8
FROM
USD $1,165
CAD $1,415
AUD $1,495
EUR €970
GBP £765
NZD $1,605
ZAR R17,155
CHF FR1,075
From New York to Washington, Nashville, Philadelphia and Chicago, tick off all the big names on this American road...
DAYS
20
FROM
USD $3,490
CAD $4,230
AUD $4,470
EUR €2,905
GBP £2,285
NZD $4,805
ZAR R51,295
CHF FR3,215
Take in the bright lights of Chicago and the Big Apple, and the glitz and glamour of Miami. Travel via the country...
DAYS
7
 
 
Be part of a unique wilderness expedition through Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole
DAYS
7
FROM
USD $1,165
CAD $1,415
AUD $1,495
EUR €970
GBP £765
NZD $1,605
ZAR R17,155
CHF FR1,075
The sandy beaches of Florida beckon, and who are you to refuse? Explore Panama City Beach and Key West, soak up the...
DAYS
5
FROM
USD $855
CAD $1,035
AUD $1,095
EUR €710
GBP £560
NZD $1,175
ZAR R12,565
CHF FR785
Set out on a road trip from stylish San Francisco to lavish Las Vegas, taking in Yosemite National Park and Death...
DAYS
15
FROM
USD $2,285
CAD $2,770
AUD $2,925
EUR €1,900
GBP £1,495
NZD $3,145
ZAR R33,565
CHF FR2,100
Explore North America with Intrepid Travel. Starting in San Francisco, discover the wonders of Las Vegas, the Grand...
DAYS
13
FROM
USD $2,180
CAD $2,645
AUD $2,795
EUR €1,815
GBP £1,430
NZD $3,005
ZAR R32,075
CHF FR2,010
Join Intrepid for an all-American road trip that heads from Chicago to New Orleans, with no end of culture and...
DAYS
32
FROM
USD $5,305
CAD $6,435
AUD $6,795
EUR €4,415
GBP £3,475
NZD $7,305
ZAR R77,975
CHF FR4,885
Strap in for an unforgettable journey across the United States with Intrepid. From hip San Francisco to vibrant,...
DAYS
5
FROM
USD $1,630
CAD $1,895
AUD $2,005
EUR €1,415
GBP £1,040
NZD $2,195
ZAR R18,850
CHF FR1,450
This self-guided US east coast tour gives you an introduction to the best of bustling New York, laid-back...
DAYS
39
FROM
USD $6,620
CAD $8,025
AUD $8,475
EUR €5,505
GBP £4,335
NZD $9,110
ZAR R97,255
CHF FR6,090
Join Intrepid on a small group adventure-filled road trip across the US, from San Fran to Miami. Stop in iconic...
DAYS
28
FROM
USD $4,665
CAD $5,655
AUD $5,975
EUR €3,880
GBP £3,060
NZD $6,425
ZAR R68,565
CHF FR4,295
Journey across the heart of the US and experience the best of America. Visit Niagara Falls, relax in ‘The Big Easy’,...
DAYS
19
FROM
USD $3,200
CAD $3,875
AUD $4,095
EUR €2,660
GBP £2,095
NZD $4,400
ZAR R46,990
CHF FR2,945
Explore the south of America from New Orleans to Las Vegas, through deserts, mountains and national parks, then from...
DAYS
22
FROM
USD $3,510
CAD $4,255
AUD $4,495
EUR €2,920
GBP £2,300
NZD $4,835
ZAR R51,580
CHF FR3,230
Explore North America with Intrepid Travel. Starting in San Francisco, discover the wonders of Las Vegas, the Grand...
DAYS
52
FROM
USD $6,610
CAD $8,656
AUD $9,128
EUR €5,931
GBP £4,562
NZD $9,210
ZAR R104,866
CHF FR6,591
Travel along the spine of North America and the centre of Mexico on a tour that takes you from the mountainous climes...
DAYS
18
 
 
The grandeur of the Rockies and the geological wonders of Yellowstone and Craters of the Moon National Monument...
DAYS
13
 
 
From Chicago, home of Yerkes Observatory and Fermilab, this trip heads across the US to Badlands NP, Mt Rushmore and...
DAYS
7
 
 
Head north from Salt Lake City to the geological wonders of Yellowstone and the impressive Grand Teton mountains for...
DAYS
13
 
 
Encompassing the biggest and best of America's West, this tour explores the nation's premier national parks and...
DAYS
9
 
 
The glaciated peaks of the Cascade Range with pastures of wildflowers form one of the most scenic parts of the US....
DAYS
10
 
 
Discover Seattle, the Oregon Coast and Crater Lake National Park before experiencing the beauty of a solar eclipse in...
DAYS
15
FROM
USD $2,755
CAD $3,225
AUD $3,950
EUR €2,390
GBP £1,755
NZD $3,640
ZAR R31,825
CHF FR2,450
Explore buzzing cities and get active in America’s big backyard. Walk the famous streets of LA and San Francisco,...
DAYS
12
FROM
USD $3,285
CAD $3,982
AUD $4,675
EUR €3,035
GBP £2,390
NZD $5,025
ZAR R53,650
CHF FR3,360
Tap your foot to the sounds of the South on this trip through Atlanta, Charleston, Asheville, Nashville, and Memphis,...
DAYS
207
FROM
USD $16,280
CAD $21,310
AUD $22,500
EUR €14,610
GBP £11,235
NZD $24,190
ZAR R258,200
CHF FR16,270
Travel the length of the Americas from North through Central and to the very tip of the South. From Anchorage to...

United States trip reviews

Our United States trips score an average of 4.69 out of 5 based on 677 reviews in the last year.

Vegas to San Fran , September 2016

Simon Towler

Hike & Kayak Yellowstone , September 2016

Margaret Burnett

Articles on United States

Seven jaw-dropping spots that prove Utah is the real American Beauty

Posted on Wed, 15 Apr 2015

If you watched Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote chase one another through the cartoon deserts as a kid and thought, ‘I’d like to visit there’, Utah is about as close as you’re going to get.

Read more

Where to find local flavours and murals in the Mission

Posted on Thu, 24 Jul 2014

Find out how to explore San Francisco's Mission District. It's the city's oldest neighbourhood and its culture is part-Latino, part-punk, part-hipster.

Read more

5 reasons why bigger isn’t better in America

Posted on Fri, 7 Mar 2014

So you’ve decided… you are going to travel to America. But where to go? Sure, cities like New York, San Fran, Las Vegas and Washington DC deserve the super-sized praise […]

Read more

How to get around Honolulu

Posted on Mon, 16 Dec 2013

One of the great things about Waikiki is that everything is within walking distance. You’ve got delicious eateries, famous hotels, shopping centres and of course stunning Waikiki Beach close by. […]

Read more

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in the US, you may find yourself travelling by:

Accommodation

Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When travelling with us in the US you may find yourself staying in a:

About United States

At a glance

Capital city: Washington DC
Population: 313.2 million
Language: English
Currency: USD
Time zone: (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
Dialing code: +1

Best time to visit United States

Being such a large country, the weather in the US is different depending on which area you are in. This means that it’s always a good time to visit, as the sun is always shining somewhere in the United States.

Summer (June to August) is the peak season due to school holidays. It can be uncomfortably hot in the desert areas and the south, but more pleasant in the north. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are generally considered to be the best times to visit, but the weather is still highly variable and these may be the wettest times in some parts of the country (such as Seattle). Winter can be cold in the north, and expensive in the ski resorts, but quiet in other areas, which can make it a pleasant time to visit.

Las Vegas weather chart Miami New york weather chart San Fransico weather chart Seattle weather chart

Culture and customs

Iconic Hollywood Boulevard street sign Bright, colourful, traditional native outfits
With immigration playing an important part in the development of America, it's now a nation made up of many different cultures. The population is made up of immigrants hailing from Asia, Africa, Europe, Central America and beyond - it’s no wonder modern America is rich with a variety of cultural traditions, cuisines, religions and festivals. Because of this, a large diversity of holidays are celebrated in America. You’re just as likely to see Kwanza, Hanukah and Chinese New Year celebrated, as Christmas and Easter. Annual holidays like 4th of July and Thanksgiving are usually celebrated by all regardless of religion or political persuasion, and give people a chance to reconnect with family and friends around the dinner table or grill.

From sports to soul music, popular culture to philosophy, and fine art to folk art, the tastes and desires of Americans vary around the country - from north to south, cities to small towns. A love of sport unifies the nation - it doesn’t matter if you live in a city loft or a trailer, sports like ice hockey, basketball, baseball and gridiron all attract a strong following, regardless of age, sex, income or race.

With an emphasis on freedom and achievement, entrepreneurs like Oprah, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg are respected, celebrated and held up as an example of how anything is possible when living in America. Sporting legends, celebrities, actors and pop stars are viewed as valuable commodities by most, leading to the recent explosion of ‘celebrity culture’.

In contrast to this, many Native Americans live on reservations and fight to retain their traditions and preserve their heritage, although when visiting reservations don’t be surprised to see Native Americans wearing modern clothing. With much of the language and many of the customs lost over the years, Native Americans strive to live a life of deep spirituality and in connection with the earth, as their ancestors did for centuries.

Eating and drinking

Traditional cream cheese and salmon bagel

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

In the United States, the portions are large and the calorie-count even larger. With a variety of international influences, try Creole cuisine in New Orleans, traditional Jewish fare in New York, and southern cooking in Texas. America’s got everything, from burger joints to taco shacks, organic cafes to refined Michelin-starred restaurants.

Things to try in United States

1. All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

The staple diet of most Vegas-visitors, a buffet session may not be for everyone, but you can’t argue that it’s not an economical choice. Fill up on soups, seafood, wings and ribs and you’ll be able to skip your next meal.

2. Bagel With a ‘Schmear’

Popular in New York and beyond, a bagel and ‘schmear’ (small amount of cream cheese) is a great, low-cost breakfast option.

3. Pies

A stock standard menu item in most diners, cafes and roadside truck stops, American pies are simply delicious. Choose from cherry, apple, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry or peach and wash it down with an endlessly refillable cup of hot coffee with cream.

4. Hot Dogs

Take a bite out of the Big Apple with a hot dog bought from a street vendor. Smothered in mustard and ketchup, this is a fave budget bite with cash-strapped travellers.

5. Donuts

In need of a sugar hit? Then indulge in a donut made of sugary, doughy goodness. Whether you head to a Dunkin’ Donuts chain or a cafe, in America you’re never far from a donut. On the road? There’s even drive-thru donut stores in some states.

Geography and environment

Bright red sands of Monument Valley Bright colourful lights of Times Square in New York City
From the lush everglades of Florida, through the red-hot deserts of Nevada and on to the urban jungles of New York and Philadelphia, the United States has many different environments and ecosystems within its boundaries. Sharing borders with Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, the United States has deserts, glaciers, freshwater lakes, rapid-filled rivers, mountain ranges, sprawling plains, forested national parks, beaches and bays.

The major national parks of America – Yellowstone, Zion, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Denali and Joshua Tree offer a glimpse into what much of America looked like before development. Lush vegetation, majestic mountains and sparkling lakes give deer, moose, bears, bison and many other species of wildlife a fertile home to live in.

When travelling, you’re likely to see modern cities filled with traffic, skyscrapers and high-density housing, as well as sleepy towns, trailer parks and Native American reservations. A complex network of highways connect the major cities, making overland travel a popular choice with visitors and locals alike. The great American road trip is still alive and well.

History and government

Native American man looking out over Arizona Desert Colourful Native totem pole usa native american dance festival parade

About UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

As one of the world’s most influential nations, major moments and events in American history ripple throughout the rest of the world.

The First Settlers interrupted the traditional way of life that Native Americans had been living for centuries, and soon brought disease, famine and dispossession of land to the tribes of North America.

Over the years, America has seen battles fought between its citizens (like the Civil War) and externally with other nations (Vietnam War and Gulf War). It has also endured terrorist attacks, natural disasters, depressions, recessions and other hardships. The American people are known for their resilience and irrepressible nature, and it is this spirit that allows them to continue to contribute to the world economically, scientifically and creatively.

In recent history, America has enjoyed the historic highs of the moon landings and the devastating lows of Hurricane Katrina. The world has seen American companies like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Starbucks change the face of the world. And people like Steven Spielberg, Lance Armstrong, Maya Angelou and Sidney Poitier create masterpieces, break records and win countless awards.

Top Picks

Statue of Liberty in front of Downtown Manhattan backdrop San Franciscos Golden Gate Bridge

Top 10 Must-See Cities in the US

1. New York

You can be anyone you want to be in NYC. Indulge your artistic side at MoMA, mingle with the Gordon Geckos on Wall Street, cheer like a pro at a Yankees game or kick back at a bar with a Manhattan and a new pair of Jimmy Choos.

2. San Francisco

San Francisco is made of sunshine, seafood and a whole lot of hills. This is the place to embrace your inner (or outer) bohemian. But it's not all 'flowers in your hair' and free thinking, be sure to take a ferry to Alcatraz and scoff down a clam chowder at Fisherman's Wharf.

3. New Orleans

The Caribbean meets France and Africa in New Orleans. Music is everywhere, and so are the friendly faces. The city comes to life after dark so have an afternoon nap, get some comfortable shoes on and get ready to bar hop the night away.

4. Las Vegas

Hello Lady Luck! Days somehow disappear in the hedonistic blitz of colour, light, showgirls, casinos and offers too good to refuse. Try to escape the endless buffets to catch a show; there's everything from death defying acrobats to Elvis on offer.

5. Chicago

The financial and political powerhouse of Chicago has been the home of two of the most influential people in the world - President Obama and Oprah. Famed for its distinctive architecture, booming performing arts scene and sports-mad locals, the 'Windy City' shouldn't be missed.

6. Miami

The air is warmer, the clothes smaller and the colours are somehow brighter in Miami. Jewish, Latin and Caribbean cultures blend to make a heady mix of great food, even better music and a nightlife filled with the spirit of fiesta. Hang out on perfect beaches, spot classic cars and gaze at the beautiful people as they strut their stuff.

7. Los Angeles

Search beyond the stardust of Hollywood and the excessive price tags of Rodeo Drive, to find the true essence of Los Angeles. Home to a melting pot of cultures, uber-cool restaurants, a hip art-scene and the eclectic vibe of Venice Beach, LA is so hot right now!

8. Seattle

The birthplace of grunge music and iconic super-companies like Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks, Seattle offers so much more than great coffee. Markets packed with fresh produce, a harbour perfect for boating, vibrant public art and a thriving live music scene combine to make Seattle a must-see city.

9. Memphis

History comes alive in the heritage-filled streets of Memphis. Whether it's at Elvis Presley's Graceland, the lively blues clubs and restaurants of Beale Street or the moving Civil Rights Movement Museum, it could be said that the soul of America lives in Memphis.

10. Boston

One of America's oldest cities, Boston is evolving. Working class neighbourhoods are being gentrified, industry is giving way to tech start-ups and modern architectural treasures sit alongside brown-stone buildings. Despite the change, get chatting to locals about the Red Sox and you'll soon find you're definitely in Boston.

Shopping

Music store shopping in the United States

It’s no wonder many people choose to do their clothes shopping in the United States. With iconic department stores like Bloomingdales and Macy’s offering a wide range of labels, and vintage/charity stores stocking American fashion classics like distressed denim jeans and leather cowboy boots, shopping in America is fun. Known for having great sales and even better customer service, it’s well worth leaving room in your backpack for a few extras. Please note that unlike in many other countries, tax isn’t included in the ticketed price.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in United States

1. Sephora

One for the ladies – this amazing institution of hair & beauty stocks a wide range of cult skin care and glam make-up products at great prices.

2. Amoeba Music

With stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco, this independent music store stocks an enormous range of music, posters, dvds and tour T-shirts. In-store artist appearances and concerts only add to Amoeba’s awesomeness.

3. Dean & DeLuca

Foodies will love perusing the gourmet goods on offer at Dean & DeLuca stores. Pick up some coffee to take home and try later or sample savoury bites from the specialty cheese counter.

Festivals and Events in United States

Burning Man Festival

Although entrance tickets start at $250, this unique, ‘cashless’ event, held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada is based on the theme of radical self-expression. Festival-goers are expected to bring something to share with everyone, so trading is used as a form of currency. Expect to see art, music, nudity, body painting, tarot, dance and performance art before the ‘Burning Man’ statue is set alight, signifying the end of the festival.

New Orleans Mardi Gras

Witness a chaotic collision of lively music, colourful costumes, masquerade masks, spicy food and joyful people at the parades, parties and masquerade balls of the New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Coachella

Tens of thousands of people flock to this iconic Californian music festival to see the hottest rock, electronica and folk acts from around the world. Art installations, camping and a karaoke lounge add to the fun.

FAQs on United States

Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before.

Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program (meaning a visa isn't required) however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel.

Many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to the USA without a visa for a 90 day stay, if they meet certain requirements. Travellers from all Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. You can get further information from the US Department of State website:
- http://travel.state.gov/visa/tempvisitors.html

Also please note, all travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14.00 fee paid by credit or debit card. You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least 1 week prior to travel to avoid any last minute delays. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel/hostel address).

Please note that if there is any discrepancy between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets and even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere.

If you are from a country eligible for the visa waiver program but are a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since 1 March 2011, you will not longer be eligible for the visa waiver program and will instead need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html
Tipping is very much a part of the culture in the US. Tips are expected at restaurants, cafes and diners, as well as by taxi drivers, valet attendants, porters and hotel maids. People working the service industry generally receive the minimum wage, which is quite low and therefore rely upon tips as a major source of their income. In general, leave 15% of the bill at places serving food, $1 to bar tenders and a few dollars for hotel staff who provide a personal service like carrying bags or cleaning your room.
Internet access is excellent in the US, and internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots are easily found in most cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is excellent in most parts of the US although coverage may be patchy in remote, mountainous areas like national parks and canyons. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.
Western-style flushable toilets are the norm in the US.
Cup of coffee = US$1.50-2
Hotdog from street cart = US$2-3
Newspaper = US$0.50-$2
Cinema admission = US$10-12
Drinking water from taps in the US is considered safe unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores in the US. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are common in the US, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
*Jan Martin Luther King Day
* Feb Presidents Day
*May Memorial Day
Jul Independence Day
*Sep Labor Day
*Oct Columbus Day
Nov 11 Veterans Day
*Nov Thanksgiving Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

*Exact date varies each year

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

The Intrepid Foundation

The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.

Bay Area Wilderness Training

Bay Area Wilderness Training creates opportunities for urban youth to experience wilderness first hand and often for the first time. Operating out of the San Francisco Bay Area, BAWT supports teachers and youth workers with training, gear, funding and community support to help them get youth outdoors.

Image supplied by Bay Area Wilderness Training

To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Ticket to RideSarah Darmody
America UnchainedDave Gorman
Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeDee Brown
On the RoadJack Kerouac
Travels with Charley: In Search of AmericaJohn Steinbeck
Into the WildJon Krakaeur
The Autobiography of Malcolm XMalcolm X and Alex Haley
Gone With the WindMargaret Mitchell