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USA: Wine, Desert & Coast Overview
- 2015-01-01 - 2015-12-31
Explore the west coast of America from San Francisco to Seattle
From the arid desert of Death Valley and the blinding lights of Las Vegas to the sun-blessed celebrities of Los Angeles and the towering trees of Sequoia National Park, the United States’ west is incredibly diverse. Meet Native Americans in Nevada, beer lovers in Portland and culinary connoisseurs in Sonoma. With a range of activities for foodies, adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, you will fall in love with the unique culture and exuberant locals of the western states.
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USA: Wine, Desert & Coast SummaryAdd to Shortlist
This chilled out waterfront city greets you briefly, but it is as swift a kiss as the breeze off Pier 39. If you'd like extra time to explore the wonders of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and SoMa, journey to this gorgeous city a few days early.
Welcome to wine country. Explore the vast stretches of rolling vineyards, quaint farms and acres of parkland around this scenic valley. Perhaps visit the home and final resting place of author Jack London and, of course, sample some the region’s best wine and cheese.
Be dwarfed by the world’s largest living tree, the giant sequoia tree, spot bucks prancing in the wild and gaze in wonder at the 3,081 sq km that is America’s most popular national park. Yosemite is an historic emblem of California and offers visitors incredible hiking trails, impressive geological formations and jaw-dropping scenic views. Spend a few days getting in touch with nature while hiking to the Nevada Falls and serene Mirror Lake.
Welcome to the land of giants, where every huge mountain has a twin plunging canyon. The major drawcard of this region is visiting the Giant Forest, where breathtakingly tall trees stretch up to 80 metres. Perhaps climb the impressive Moro Rock, which will elevate trekkers to 2,050 m above sea level. Be sure to visit the country’s deepest canyon and then take a breather in a quiet spot to truly appreciate the spectacular surrounding scenery.
It may sound grim, yet Death Valley is anything but. Explore huge sand dunes, sculptured rocks and volcanic craters before taking a stroll on the stunning salt flats. It is bizarre, unearthly and hot – but worth every moment.
There is no greater contrast than the serene surroundings of the great outdoors and the mouth of ‘Sin City’. Play responsibly, chomp away at an all-you-can-eat buffet, see a volcano at the Mirage, meet a gladiator at Caesars and spot the Eiffel Tower and pyramids on the strip. That’s Vegas, baby.
Discover some of Utah’s most captivating sights in Zion National Park. Stare up in awe at the enormous sandstone cliffs, be mesmerised by cascading waterfalls, rock-hop across gently flowing streams on the path out to the Emerald Pools and discover the unique flora and fauna that call this park home.
Leave behind the ‘city on lights’ and enter the desert of Arizona. Enjoy the wide open spaces and sleep overnight in a ranch hand’s bunkhouse at Lake Powell. Relax in a sandstone cave, walk around the area or get active on the lake, whether in flippers or on a kayak or boat.
Learn about the Navajo Indians, the largest Native American tribe in the US, at Monument Valley, where more than 200,000 native people live. Go for a walk past giant sandstone pillars and rock pinnacles in this truly unique and breathtaking landscape.
Taking between three and six million years to form, the incredible Grand Canyon is the US's most famous national landmark and stretches 28 km wide, 365 km long and more than 1.6 km deep. Explore this site on foot while walking the South Rim Trail or hiking to Plateau Point. Alternatively, opt to take to the skies on a scenic helicopter ride over the spectacular valley.
Once the capital of Arizona, Prescott is now a small town with a whole lot of charm. Stroll though Prescott’s historic downtown and head to Whiskey Row, a place where America’s most famous cowboys and notorious outlaws once came to drink. Perhaps head to Prescott National Forest, see the stunning Willow and Watson lakes or hang about in town and watch a true blue rodeo show.
Journey to the ‘City of Angels’ to see the Hollywood sign, shop on Rodeo Drive or laze on Venice Beach. Explore the impressive collection at the Getty Center, including the art works of Van Gogh and Monet, or chase down the city’s best food trucks.
Catch a train to Santa Barbara and be welcomed by white beaches and warm weather. Walk down Stearns Wharf for a breath of fresh air, visit the Museum of Art or sit down with a beer and view of the bay.
It claims to be the happiest place in America, so why not decide for yourself if this charming town’s proclamation lives up to its name. Visit Bubblegum Alley (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like), hike to the top of Bishop Peak for an impressive view or be blinded by the gaudy design of the glitzy restaurants at the world famous Madonna Inn.
Relax by the beach in Monterey, where the hikes are long and breezy, the seafood is fresh and the marine life is active. Visit the aquarium, explore the waters by kayak or journey down the coast to Big Sur to see pristine beaches, magnificent redwoods and some truly beautiful coastal landscapes.
The ‘City by the Bay’ offers a barrel of impressive sights. See the Golden Gate Bridge, walk along Fisherman’s Wharf, explore Alcatraz or peruse some zany art in SoMa. Head to China Town for a delightful plate of chop suey, find your fortune in a cookie or indulge in some fresh seafood. Later, step into the diverse night-life of San Francisco, whether it be in a chilled-out bar, at a gig or on a pulsating dance floor.
Head to Bend for a few days of outdoor adventure. Depending on the time of year, either hit the rapids of Deschutes River or the slopes of the nearby snowy mountains. The rolling landscape is a great place for a bike ride or get vertical rock climbing the rugged countryside. If the great outdoors gets a little too much, why not take a stroll around town, grab a coffee and hit the shopping malls and outlets.
In the Pacific Northwest, visit the intriguing up-and-coming city of Portland. As the greenest city in America, begin with a walk through Forest Park, the biggest inner-city park in the country or take in the tranquil air of the Classical Chinese Gardens. With the most breweries in the world found in Portland, be sure to relax with a beer and watch the bubbly characters of the city go by.
It may be cloudy and a little drizzly, but Seattle is anything but an indoor city. Head to the bohemian Pike Place Market, chill out with a latte in Hing Hay Park or take shelter from the rain at the Pacific Science Centre or Science-Fiction Museum. Seattle is all that is hip and cool while also appeasing active sportspeople and gourmet enthusiasts. Perhaps finish the tour by dining on Seattle’s signature salmon by the bay or a famous ‘hand forged’ Top Pot doughnut and Irish Coffee – it’s the way of the Seattleite.
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