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
All our United States trips
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Articles on United States
5 reasons why bigger isn’t better in America
Posted on Fri, 07 Mar 2014 by Jacqueline Donaldson
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 by Sue Elliot
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
United States Highlights
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:
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
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Washington DC
- 313.2 million
- Time zone:
- (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
- Dialing code:
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.
Culture and customs
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Hotdog from street cart = US$2-3
Newspaper = US$0.50-$2
Cinema admission = US$10-12
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 21 Martin Luther King Day
Feb 18 Presidents Day
May 27 Memorial Day
Jul 4 Independence Day
Sep 2 Labor Day
Oct 14 Columbus Day
Nov 11 Veterans Day
Nov 28 Thanksgiving Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays in the US go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/united-states-america/public-holidays
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. Canada doesn't require a visa for many foreign nationals however you should check to see if this applies to your country. You can get further information from the US Department of State and the Canadian government websites:
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). USA TOURIST VISA:
Australia: No - ESTA required
Belgium: No - ESTA required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - ESTA required
Ireland: No - ESTA required
Netherlands: No - ESTA required
New Zealand: No - ESTA required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - ESTA required
UK: No - ESTA required IMPORTANT:
If you are refused boarding or denied admission at the US port of entry you will still be subject to Grand American Adventures cancellation charges in accordance with the terms of our contract with you. Die Einreisebestimmungen haben sich in den letzten Jahren verändert. Deswegen sollten Sie sich, auch wenn Sie bereits in die USA gereist sind, die folgenden Anweisungen sorgfältig durchlesen.
Reisende aus vielen Ländern sind zwar vom Visumserfordernis befreit. Dennoch ist eine Erlaubnis notwendig, die bescheinigt, dass man eine Reisegenehmigung besitzt. Diese Erlaubnis muss vor Antritt der Reise erteilt werden.
Bürger aus Ländern, die vom Visumserfordernis befreit wurden, können sich in den USA ohne Visum 90 Tage aufhalten, sofern sie bestimmte Voraussetzungen erfüllen. Bei Einreise muss ein elektronisch lesbarer Reisepass vorgelegt werden, der den US Voraussetzungen entspricht. Wer über keinen solchen Reisepass verfügt, muss ein US Visum beantragen. In Kanada gilt für viele Staatsangehörigkeiten kein Visumserfordernis. Bitte schauen Sie nach, ob diese Befreiung auch für Ihre gilt. Weitere Informationen erhalten Sie bei den Internetauftritten des US Außenministeriums und der Kanadischen Regierung.
Bitte beachten Sie, dass alle Reisende, die vom Visumserfordernis befreit sind, vor Einreise in die USA im Besitz einer elektronischen Reiseerlaubnis sein müssen (Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).
Alle ESTA Anträge oder Aktualisierungen kosten USD14, die mit Kreditkarte zu bezahlen sind. Die Beantragung der elektronischen Reiseerlaubnis sollten Sie mindestens 1 Woche vor Reiseantritt einreichen, um Verzögerungen in letzter Minute zu vermeiden. Benötigt werden Ihre Passdaten und Ihre Adresse in den USA. Hierbei können Sie die erste Hoteladresse angeben.
Australien: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Belgien: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Kanada: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Deutschland: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Irland: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Niederlande: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Neuseeland: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Südafrika: Ja – im Voraus
Schweiz: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
Großbritannien: Nein – ESTA erforderlich
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 New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
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
|Ticket to Ride||Sarah Darmody|
|America Unchained||Dave Gorman|
|Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee||Dee Brown|
|On the Road||Jack Kerouac|
|Travels with Charley: In Search of America||John Steinbeck|
|Into the Wild||Jon Krakaeur|
|The Autobiography of Malcolm X||Malcolm X and Alex Haley|
|Gone With the Wind||Margaret Mitchell|