Cut a swathe through the east coast of the USA starting and ending in New York

The USA is vast, so it makes sense to see the country in bite-sized chunks. This eastern USA adventure begins and ends in New York, but covers a lot of ground along the way. Learn about the country’s rich history. from the American Civil War in Louisville and the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, to the presidential monuments in Washington DC and the bankruptcy in Detroit. Lose your voice screaming on the sky-scraping roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park before slipping into nature with a walk along the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. This tour of the US will give you a feel for this huge country, and will leave you wanting to explore the west US next!

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Terms & Conditions

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

Why we love this trip

  • The almighty Niagara Falls is a sight to behold. Get wet and wild with a boat cruise to the base of the falls by day and see it lit up in technicolour by night. Nearby accommodation provides ease of access to the falls

  • For unforgettable scenes of rural America, walk through the lush lands surrounding the Appalachian Trail and wind your way through the Blue Ridge Mountains

  • Enjoy the rolling hills and fresh country air of the Finger Lakes wine region, sampling some local tipple in a tasting session

  • Washington DC was built with the blocks of American history. Discover the capital by day and then see its famous monuments and memorials lit up in lights on an optional night tour

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.

  • There's a large amount of driving involved in this trip and much of the time is spent in the van, which can feel a bit cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however, and gives you the opportunity to really get to know your fellow travellers.

  • Even in the summer, it can get very cold in the areas visited on this adventure (especially at night). Bring warm clothing with you and a good raincoat for your visit to the base of Niagara Falls.

  • The Maid of the Mist boat tour is subject to weather conditions. While this trip runs during the warmer months (from 1 April to 30 October), if you're travelling at the very start or end of the season it's possible that the boat tour might be cancelled if the weather is bad. We organise an alternative activity if this is the case.

  • The cities visited on this trip are quite expensive, so be prepared to pay above average prices for meals when eating out. If you do a bit of research, there are plenty of affordable options and your guides will be able to recommend some great restaurants.

Itinerary

Welcome to the USA. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until your welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6pm. 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 of these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, perhaps see the sights of Manhattan, such as Times Square, Broadway or Central Park. As there's no time spent in New York City on this trip, we recommend you arrive a few days earlier to see the sights. Consider joining our one-day sightseeing tour of New York at urbanadventures.com.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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 for the group meeting, 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 New York behind in the morning and journey to Washington DC, stopping to visit Philadelphia along the way. Founded in 1682, Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell and it was here that Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. You'll have time to see a couple of the highlights of this city before continuing on to Washington DC. Don't worry about not having too much time to explore today, as you'll have a full free day tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Philadelphia - City highlights stop
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day to explore Washington DC, with the city being easily explored on foot. To see as much as you can today, it may be an idea to get a map and make a plan. Don't miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and National Air and Space Museum. These are just a few of the optional activities available, as there as tons of museums, monuments and parks to venture to.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Washington DC - National Museum of Crime and Punishment - Free
  • Washington DC - National Museum of Natural History - Free
  • Washington DC - Newseum - USD22
  • Washington DC - National Archives - Free
  • Washington DC - National Air & Space Museum - Free
  • Washington DC - National Museum of American History - Free
  • Washington DC - National Gallery of Art - Free
  • Washington DC - Bike and Roll Tour - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning you'll cross into the state of Virginia and drive along the scenic Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the south of the state (approximately 8 hours). The Blue Ridge Mountains are one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of the American landscape, with an abundance of flora and fauna peppering the steep slopes of the mountains. This is a long travel day but it is incredibly scenic with views over the Shenandoah Valley along the way, as well as the snaking and looping Shenandoah River.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Cross into the state of Tennessee this morning to the town of Gatlinburg in the Great Smoky Mountains (approximately 2-3 hours). Depending on the group's arrival time, you should be able to use your free time to see some of the town's attractions. Take a stroll on one of the nearby trails or pay a visit to Dollywood, the Dolly Parton-themed amusement park that's also owned by the singer.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive approximately 4 hours east to Nashville, Tennessee. Once settled into the campground, perhaps visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and approximately 200 music publishing houses are located. The Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot in the evening to experience authentic southern food and live music.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nashville - Ryman Auditorium Tour - USD14
  • Nashville - Grand Ole Opry Tour - USD19
  • Nashville - Wildhorse Saloon - USD10
  • Nashville - Country Music Hall of Fame - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Nashville behind today and drive north for around three hours to Louisville, Kentucky. On arrival, you'll have free time to explore this huge city. Louisville is perhaps best known as being the home of the Kentucky Derby, although it's also famous in baseball circles as being the birthplace of the Louisville Slugger bats. Aside from sports, Louisville has an up-and-coming food scene, several interesting museums, pretty parks, the largest collection of Victorian-era homes in the country, and to top all that, it is the final resting place of Colonel Sanders. Of course Kentucky is also well-known for its bourbon, and in Louisville you can follow the Bourbon Trail, learn about the history of the beverage, visit distilleries and perhaps trying a sample or two.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Louisville - Bourbon Trail - Free
  • Louisville - Muhammad Ali Center - USD9
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a six hour roadtrip to Chicago. In the evening, search out an authentic blues bar for a night of music. B.L.U.E.S is a great place to spend your evening, but be prepared to be drowned out by the music.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
With more than 45 kilometres of lake front paths, Chicago is also one of the world's most walkable cities so it's a great place to explore on foot. For amazing views of Chicago, visit the Skydeck at Willis Tower, which has huge glass panels and a glass balcony so you can see all the way down.
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
As this is a combination trip, your leader and the composition of your group may change at this point. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. You're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new travel companions. After the meeting, you'll be free to enjoy your last night in this energetic city.
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) (10 nights), Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Philadelphia - City highlights stop
  • Sandusky - Cedar Point Amusement Park

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our East USA Adventure trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival into New York in the afternoon on day 7.

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.