Hit the open road and discover the natural wonders that lie between Chicago and New York.

Three major cities, three very different worlds. Head out on an all-American road trip that gets under the skin of the USA’s culture and throws in some of its natural wonders for good measure. From the laidback local vibe of Chicago, find the American dream rising again in the modern renaissance city of Detroit. Discover the man-made thrills of the Midwest in coaster city USA, then stand in awe at Niagara Falls - a roaring monument to the power of mother nature. Rolling hills, wineries and waterfalls welcome you to New York state, then skyscrapers and endless possibilities lie in store in the Big Apple.


Start
Chicago, United States
Finish
Newark, United States
Country
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
SSVC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why we love this trip

  • Kick things off with a stroll through the ‘Windy City’ of Chicago. Meander along lakeside paths, then dig into a signature deep-dish pizza

  • Detroit is back on its feet after hitting a rough patch. Feel its renewed energy and look back into its famous history of cars and Motown

  • Sandusky is a place for the child and thrill seeker inside you. Feel your stomach drop on one of the world’s best rollercoasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park

  • Worship at the sublime altar to Mother Nature that is Niagara Falls, taking an optional wet and wild boat cruise

  • Waterfalls and wine tastings await in the incredible Fingers Lakes, home to some of New York state's most prized wineries

  • This trip is a great way to cover a lot of ground, while also enjoying free time to explore. Cross four states and stop by six different destinations in a week

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a participatory trip. That’s a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride – you’re part of a team! You know the phrase ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’. Well that’s extra true on this trip. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand – everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!

  • That teamwork also extends to our optional food kitty of approximately US$10 per day, run to cover the cost of meals. This kitty saves you worrying about stuff like where to get food or what exactly sales tax is, and actually helps keep your costs down. Instead of paying individually as you go, it means we can bulk purchase items and cook our own food – though there’s always the chance to use it for the occasional pizza night! The kitty is optional and for your convenience, so if you've got specific dietary requirements you can opt out and purchase (and cook) your own food.

  • The United States is a world of endless possibilities – that’s why our Basix trips are designed so they fit together as (not quite endless) combinations. That means while you might just be starting your trip, some of your new travel mates may have been travelling together for a week or more (and so have some great tips for you). You can see how our trips fit together and all the different possible combinations at www.intrepidtravel.com/brochures. Simply click view/download on the North America brochure and look at the combo map on page 12.

  • Road tripping is the ultimate way to see the USA. So on this trip you'll be spending a fair amount of time in a van with other travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however, and you might even make some lifetime friends.

  • Traffic in and out of the big cities can be hectic, especially during holiday periods. There may be delays, so be prepared to take part in car games to keep you entertained.

  • During this trip you'll find you have some free time within the cities you visit. These are best explored on foot, so you'll get the most out of your trip if you're reasonably fit and able to walk moderate-to-long distances. However, public transportation in these cities is also modern and reliable.

Itinerary

Welcome to Chicago, aka ‘The Windy City’, aka ‘Chi-Town’. It’s laidback, lakeside and has a famously friendly local vibe. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until your welcome meeting at 6pm. Please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details, food kitty and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. As there's no time spent in Chicago on this trip, we recommend you arrive a few days earlier to see the sights.

This is one of the country’s most walkable cities, and days can be spent wandering the lakefront paths, checking out the soaring buildings, dropping into the top-notch museums, or cruising down the river. In the evening after the welcome meeting, maybe head out with the group for a slice of the city's legendary deep-dish pizza and some blues music.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Chicago - Adler Planetarium - USD12
  • Chicago - Art Institute of Chicago - USD23
  • Chicago - Field Museum - USD15
  • Chicago - History Museum - USD14
  • Chicago - Museum of Contemporary Art - USD12
  • Chicago - Museum of Science and Industry - USD27
  • Chicago - Navy Pier - USD16
  • Chicago - Willis Tower Skydeck - USD18
  • Chicago - Bobby's bike hike - USD35
  • Chicago - Baseball game (in season) - USD40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the welcome meeting. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Leave the state of Illinois and head east into Michigan and Detroit (approximately 4.5 hours). The city is gritty and urban, but it also has an undeniable energy that its recent bankruptcy hasn't been able to dim. More recently, Detroit has been reinvented with young artists and entrepreneurs moving in, as well as the opening of quirky bars, urban farms, and street art installations like the Heidelberg Project. You could also pay a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts for a look at one of America's most significant art collections. Alternatively, head to the Motown Museum and Ford Museum for an insight into two of the city's famous exports. The balmy evenings in the city are also perfect for strolling riverside paths and sitting on brew pub decks.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Detroit - Eastern Market - Free
  • Detroit - Heidelberg Project - Free
  • Detroit - Institute of Arts - USD8
  • Detroit - Ford Museum - USD20
  • Detroit - Motown Museum - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Skirt the edge of Lake Erie and cross the Midwest into Ohio, with Sandusky as your destination (approximately two hours). Make your way to Cedar Point Amusement Park, the so-called ‘Roller Coaster Capital of the World’. Cedar Point also features the Millennium Force, which has been voted the greatest roller coaster in the world, making it the place to be if you love an adrenaline hit. If the thrill of the ride gets too much for you, head to the nearby beach and simply stretch out on the sandy shoreline. In the late afternoon, set up camp near Lake Erie and wander down to the lakeshore for a memorable sunset.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sandusky - Cedar Point Amusement Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Visit one of the country's greatest natural attractions – Niagara Falls. Follow the edge of Lake Erie all the way up to this famous sight, which sits sandwiched between the borders of the United States and Canada (approximately 4.5 hours). There are numerous viewpoints from which you can appreciate the power of this amazing set of falls, but there's no better way than to approach them from the water. Don a blue poncho and experience the full force of the falls with an optional Maid of the Mist cruise. A word of warning though, prepare to get a little wet. For the ultimate show, head to the falls at night and see them lit up in all of their glory.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Niagara Falls - Maid of the Mist boat tour - USD16
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Cross into upstate New York and drive to the town of Seneca Falls on the Finger Lakes (approximately three hours). This area is named for its 11 finger-like lakes that stretch north to south between Lake Ontario and the state boarder. As New York’s largest wine producing region, the Finger Lakes region has over 100 wineries to discover (just don’t try and visit them all today!) Perhaps indulge in a wine tasting session or head out on a hike to a nearby waterfall. Taughannock Falls State Park is home to a 215-foot waterfall, 33 feet higher than Niagara Falls itself! The park's walks are dotted with little waterfalls along the way and the surroundings are just beautiful. Set up camp for the night in the state park.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Finger Lakes - Wine Tasting - USD15
  • Finger Lakes - Waterfall hikes - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave the natural setting of the Finger Lakes and head to the urban jungle. This journey usually takes around five hours, but as the traffic can be really busy, please be prepared for delays. This adventure comes to and end on arrival in Newark, just across the river from New York City. There is no accommodation included tonight. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, the possibilities are truly endless in the global city of New York, so why not stay a few days longer. We’ll be happy to help you book additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (4 nights), Hostel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Sandusky - Cedar Point Amusement Park

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival into New York in the afternoon on day 6.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.