The best of the west is at your fingertips. Each day will see someone’s eyes go wide with amazement

Take the family on an adventure that explores the biggest, best and most iconic sights of the West. Starting in the home of the rich and famous; star spot in LA and take to the beach in San Diego before exploring the sizzling desert and awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. Discover the bright lights of Las Vegas then get active and look out for bears in Yosemite. Get a culture hit in cosmopolitan San Fran and get closer to nature in Monterey. Share wonders and fun with the family on a trip you’ll never forget.

Los Angeles, United States
San Francisco, United States
United States
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 5
Group size
Min 2 Max 13
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


  • Rub shoulder with the celebs while walking down Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles' Beverly Hills
  • Try and think of a word that can properly describe the amazing sight of the Grand Canyon. Camp in the wilderness, rise early to see the sun light up the rock, then head below the canyon rim to explore its depths
  • If you want it, Vegas has got it! Be energised by the bright lights and endless entertainment options in this oasis of fun in the desert
  • Channel your inner cowboy as you explore the rugged Wild West, home to westerns, moon-like landscapes, and much more
  • Yosemite is the definition of natural beauty. Two nights camping gives you loads of time to seek out bears, crane your neck to look up at incredibly tall trees, and walk to towering granite cliffs and through wildflower valleys
  • Head underwater to come face-to-face with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s outstanding sea life, then hop in a kayak to seek it out in the wild
  • End this American adventure in the bustling melting pot of San Francisco and take a walk across the world’s most iconic golden bridge


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Touch down in the ‘City of Angels’ to kick off this American adventure. Your trip begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm this afternoon – double check with hotel reception for the time and place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. After meeting your group and leader, get an introduction to the seaside retreat of Santa Monica, home to the historic Santa Monica Pier and the end of the Route 66 highway. The pier is home to carnival games and amusement rides (including the famous Ferris Wheel), and offers the chance to interact with local fisherman and watch people roller-blading along the shore. Time permitting, continue to Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade, a pedestrian zone of shops and stand out restaurants. Tonight you can get stuck into some good old American food – and be wowed by the portion sizes!

Notes: For those who arrive on later flights there will be an additional meeting at 8am tomorrow.
This morning you’ll head into the heart of Tinseltown and search for your favourite entertainer’s star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Check out the beautiful Art Deco building facades and bright neon lights, and see the hand and footprints in the cement outside Grauman's Chinese Theater. Of course, no visit to Los Angeles would be complete without the perfect holiday snap in front of the iconic Hollywood sign! After lunch, head to the home of the stars in the exclusive district of Beverly Hills – the setting for endless movies and lined with street after street of upmarket boutiques and designer stores. Experience the luxury and glamour of Beverly Hills (without the high price tag) while window-shopping in central Beverly Hills’ ‘Golden Triangle’, and acting all 90210 on Rodeo Drive.
Take a drive south to San Diego (approximately 100 kilometres), where the weather’s perfect every day. Everything is super laid back here, and the city’s climate, location and environment make it perfect for a relaxing day of beachfront activities. Stroll through the flowering gardens of Balboa Park, explore the beachside neighbourhoods and Ocean Beach Park by bike, rollerblade along the shorefront, or paddle and surf in the clear ocean. For something different, the city is also home to one of the world’s most ethical zoos, which can leave kids feeling educated about conservation and protection, and uplifted by the amazing diversity of the planet. With the city so close to Mexico, San Diego is also a great place to get a taste of tacos, tortillas, and maybe a little sip of tequila (parents only!).
Road trip beneath the big blue skies of the Mojave Desert today, past high plateaus and distinctive Joshua Trees as you drive through A-Grade Arizona (approximately 5 hours). The astonishing scenery will keep you entertained and the air-conditioned vehicle will keep you cool, but just looking at all that sizzling desert can still make you sweat – so cool off with a refreshing plunge in Lake Havasu. One thing that has to be high up on the list of ‘Things You Don’t Expect to Find in the Middle of the Arizona Desert’ is London Bridge. That’s right, the 1830 version of the bridge, famous from the song about it falling down, was bought by an American entrepreneur and shipped from England to Lake Havasu piece-by-piece almost 50 years ago! Kayak, canoe, swim, fish at the lake, or simply watch the sun go down over the surrounding hills.
Nothing you've ever seen will prepare you for what you're about to see next. Try to think of any word similar to ‘amazing’ and you bet it’s been used to describe the Grand Canyon. Drive through central Arizona (approximately 3.5 hours) to spend two nights being awed at the sheer scale of the canyon. Get as close to the edge as you dare as you peer over the rim and try to take it all in. There are plenty of things to see and do during your time here, so be prepared for busy and active days. Stand in awe and watch the setting sun ignite the multi-coloured rock walls. For the next two nights you’ll camp out in one of the world’s most magnificent settings, surrounded by the smell of pine and cedar and enveloped by a stunning canopy of stars at night.
Take the day to explore at your own pace. Maybe rise early for an incredible sunrise, then maybe soar like a California Condor over the canyon with a scenic helicopter flight (not included). Your leader can suggest trails to discover, or you could just relax with a book and a backdrop like no other. If you get active, then descend through pine trees into the heart of the immense abyss, hiking from red rock to white powder. Discover this stunning gorge – 1.5 kilometres deep and formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River – by strolling around the edges, or heading below the canyon rim for a hike along the South Kaibab trail or to Plateau Point. Or perhaps join rangers to learn about the park’s geological story, or watch an IMAX film to discover the canyon from a different perspective. Whatever you choose, you’ll find that the canyon depths are nothing short of mind-blowing.
Today you’ll drive a stretch of the most famous road in the US – Route 66 – which was once the only way to travel on the great American road trip. Stop along the historic highway and go back in time in the quirky little town of Seligman – a place where it feels like the 1950s every day (approximately 1.5 hours). Check out classic drive-ins and shops overflowing with retro memorabilia – perfect gifts for the folks back home. Continue on and admire the ingenuity behind the imposing Hoover Dam, where you can look down from its heights (approximately 2 hours). Then watch the neon city, the entertainment capital of the world, appear out of the desert (approximately 45 minutes). Enjoy the desert sun and go for a splash around in the pool, before heading out to the iconic Las Vegas Strip in the evening. Stand under the dazzling show of lights and look out across the crazy hotels that have recreated the icons of Egypt and Europe here in the desert.
If you want it, Vegas has got it – today is a free day to choose the activities that interest you and your family. Las Vegas caters to all tastes, from opulent casinos on the Strip, heavyweight chef run restaurants and all night party spots, to stimulating museums, dazzling circus shows, aquariums and botanical gardens. Try your luck on the casino floor, catch an eye-popping show, test your limits at an all you can eat buffet, hit top speed at a theme park, watch the casino fountains dance, max out the credit card at luxurious boutiques, relive the city’s past at the Neon museum (graveyard of iconic Vegas signs), head downtown for a slice of retro Vegas, or just simply relax at the pool.
Swap the streets of Vegas for the desert of Death Valley (approximately 3 hours). Brave the country’s hottest, driest region and you’ll be rewarded with a geographically stunning and unique landscape. We’re definitely not exaggerating when we say it's hot. The mercury tips at over 56°C in the summer, but it’s this heat that has created the spectacle that everyone comes to see: never-ending low shimmering salt flats, mountainous peaks and the bizarre ‘Devil’s Golf Course’. The national park features huge sand dunes, sculpted rocks, isolated valleys and volcanic craters, and the canyon and mountain walls beautifully change colour with the changing light. Get the camera ready for stunning pictures – grab some props and have some fun creating some great ‘perspective’ shots. You will spend the night in nearby Bishop (approximately 2 hours), where thankfully it's not quite as hot.
You won't know where to focus your gaze as you drive along the winding roads that look out across the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. You'll cross the peaks to visit the birthplace of the national park – Yosemite (approximately 2 hours). You’ll be trading sweeping sand dunes for giant sequoias; Yosemite couldn’t be more different to its neighbouring National Park. The scenery you’ll pass will have you itching to get on your hiking boots and go explore. Yosemite National Park is nature's greatest back yard, the very definition of outstanding natural beauty. With so many options, you're bound to find a walk or hike that suits you. Choose to take a short walk through the valley for views of towering granite cliffs, or take a more vigorous hike to higher elevations. Camping here is an incredible way to get closer to nature and appreciate the park’s beauty.
Explore this vast wilderness at your own pace today. Famous for its Giant Sequoias and abundance of incredible wildlife, such as bears and coyotes, you should probably keep your camera on hand at all times. Pick another a hike (like Nevada Falls or the serene Mirror Lake) and be amazed at the magnificent waterfalls and epic cliff faces, or perhaps cycle through the valley and play I-spy on the lush valley floor. Views of Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Tuolumne Meadows, wildflower-filled meadows and snow-capped mountains will leave your jaw on the floor. In summer you can also take it easy and soak up the stunning vistas as you float down the Merced River, with a finishing drink at the park’s café just the trick.
Today you’ll leave behind the giant granite peaks and verdant valleys of Yosemite as you head westwards to the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay (approximately 4 hours). Monterey is home to the legendary Cannery Row, subject of John Steinbeck's novel by the same name, and also a National Marine sanctuary, with an incredible deep ecosystem just metres off shore. Mammals, seabirds, fish, invertebrates and plants all thrive in a remarkably productive coastal environment. After checking into your hotel, head out on one of the highlights of the trip and get closer to the beauty lying beneath the ocean in Monterey Bay. Hop in a kayak to tour the bay, with 2.5 hours giving you plenty of time to explore this amazing and diverse ecosystem. If you’re lucky you will see sea lions and otters, and maybe a whale far off in the distance. Tonight, make sure you try the clam chowder the city is famous for.
Begin your day with a visit to the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, where you can better understand the diversity of marine life and the fragile ecosystem. This is one of the world’s greatest aquariums and the sharks, otters, turtles, and the interactive Splash Zone offer a fun, educational and eye-opening experience for all ages. After you underwater exploration, head north to the cultural melting pot of San Francisco (approximately 2 hours). With spectacular coastline, iconic sights, and a humming cultural mix across its unique neighbourhoods, San Francisco is the perfect chilled-out place to end this American adventure. Taste pure ocean with a bowl of famous clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf and hear the sea lions bray at Pier 39. Check out North Beach with its cool beatnik history and panoramic views from Coit Tower, or catch a tram down the sloping streets to Ferry Plaza Famers Market – filled with stalls of local farmers and producers selling their wares – feast like a king in Chinatown or peruse zany artwork in SoMa.
Start the day with a pilgrimage to the City by the Bay’s most illustrious sight – The Golden Gate Bridge. After a trek across the bridge, continue on to the quaint seaside town of Sausalito, picturesquely perched on a hillside across the bay. After lunch return to explore San Fran’s eclectic neighbourhoods (like the Mission District), climb stairways up steep hills dotted with colourful houses, try to even scratch the surface of this serious foodie heaven, or get hands-on with the exhibits in the interactive playground of the Exploratorium. As there's a great deal to do in San Francisco we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. Consider doing a one-day sightseeing tour of San Francisco with Urban Adventures, like ‘Temples, Tea and Beatniks’, where you'll make your own fortune cookie in Chinatown, explore the city's oldest temple, and discover the Beatniks of North Beach. Tonight, maybe gather your group together and celebrate this amazing American adventure with one final dinner.

Notes: This trip doesn't allow time for a visit to Alcatraz, so you'll need to make your own arrangements to visit. Tickets must be booked in advance as they are limited and sell out quickly. You can make your reservations online: or by calling +1.415.981.7625 between the hours of 8am-7pm, Pacific Standard Time (USA). We recommend you reserve your tickets for the day after the tour finishes.
This epic family journey of the Western United States comes to an end today. There are no activites planned and you are free to leave at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


13 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 6 dinners
Camping (with facilities) (6 nights), Hotel (8 nights)
Included activities
  • Los Angeles city tour
  • San Diego Beaches
  • Beach time in San Diego
  • London Bridge
  • Take a refreshing swim
  • Grand Canyon hiking
  • Las Vegas Strip tour
  • Seligman Town exploration
  • Route 66
  • Hoover Dam Visit
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Death Valley National Park Hikes (seasonal)
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Yosemite National Park Hikes
  • Monterey Kayak tour
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Walk Across Golden Gate Bridge


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Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

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Our Western USA family Holiday trips score an average of 4.86 out of 5 based on 7 reviews in the last year.

Western USA family Holiday , August 2016

Western USA family Holiday , August 2016