United States

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

Top holiday deals in United States

Departing Days Price USD
9 Aug 2015 Southern USA Road Trip 11 $1317
12 Aug 2015 California Coast 8 $1721
12 Aug 2015 West Coast USA Journey 16 $4050
14 Aug 2015 Southern USA Road Trip 11 $1317
17 Aug 2015 Explore California 9 $2120

All our United States trips

Vegas to San Fran - Reverse

6 days from
USD $1,020
CAD $1,050
AUD $1,030
EUR €695
GBP £595
NZD $1,145
ZAR R10,310
CHF FR840

Set out on a road trip from stylish San Francisco to lavish Las Vegas, taking in Yosemite National Park and Death...

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Vegas to San Fran

7 days from
USD $945
CAD $975
AUD $955
EUR €660
GBP £550
NZD $1,065
ZAR R9,550
CHF FR795

Set out on a road trip from lavish Las Vegas to stylish San Francisco, taking in Yosemite National Park and Death...

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Wild Western USA

12 days from
USD $1,875
CAD $1,930
AUD $1,895
EUR €1,305
GBP £1,095
NZD $2,110
ZAR R2,000
CHF FR1,580

Drive from Los Angeles up to San Francisco and explore Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon.

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New York To Niagara Falls

3 days from
USD $539
CAD $556
AUD $548
EUR €378
GBP £318
NZD $612
ZAR R5,486
CHF FR454

Visit one of the most famous attractions in New York State, the thundering Niagara Falls. Travel from New York to...

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Best of America

23 days from
USD $3,415
CAD $3,525
AUD $3,455
EUR €2,375
GBP £1,995
NZD $3,845
ZAR R34,585
CHF FR2,880

Explore North America with Intrepid Travel. Starting in New York City, discover the wonders of Washington DC, New...

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San Francisco to Las Vegas

9 days from
USD $2,395
CAD $2,795
AUD $2,945
EUR €2,080
GBP £1,525
NZD $3,230
ZAR R27,690
CHF FR2,130

From the steep hills and ‘Painted Ladies’ of San Francisco to the flashing lights and Elvis impersonators of Vegas,...

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National Parks of California & Arizona

17 days from
USD $4,225
CAD $4,365
AUD $3,925
EUR €2,700
GBP £2,270
NZD $4,370
ZAR R39,305
CHF FR3,275

From the sprawling vineyards of northern California to the incredible depth of the Grand Canyon, this trip promises a...

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Explore California

9 days from
USD $2,325
CAD $2,400
AUD $2,355
EUR €1,615
GBP £1,380
NZD $2,625
ZAR R23,940
CHF FR1,955

Explore the best of everything between San Francisco and Las Vegas. Eat and drink your way through Sonoma, hike...

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LA to Vegas Adventure

7 days from
USD $950
CAD $985
AUD $965
EUR €665
GBP £560
NZD $1,075
ZAR R9,640
CHF FR805

Travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a classic American road trip that stops by Joshua Tree National Park, the...

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Yosemite and Tahoe

3 days from
USD $455
CAD $480
AUD $470
EUR €315
GBP £270
NZD $520
ZAR R4,695
CHF FR385

Visit the charming city of San Francisco on a three-day trip to Yosemite and Tahoe. See the beautiful San Francisco...

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Utah Parks Circuit

9 days from
USD $1,220
CAD $1,270
AUD $1,285
EUR €850
GBP £700
NZD $1,390
ZAR R12,485
CHF FR1,030

Visit some of North America's most outstanding national parks and experience the all out extravagance of Las Vegas....

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West Coast USA Journey

16 days from
USD $4,500
CAD $4,645
AUD $4,600
EUR €3,105
GBP £2,630
NZD $5,070
ZAR R45,595
CHF FR3,755

Get a taste of life on the balmy west coast of the USA. This trip takes you through the highlights of California,...

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New York to Las Vegas

18 days from
USD $2,310
CAD $2,385
AUD $2,340
EUR €1,610
GBP £1,350
NZD $2,605
ZAR R23,380
CHF FR1,945

On an American cross-country journey, discover the wonders of New York, Las Vegas and everything in between. Whether...

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New Orleans to New York

19 days from
USD $5,485
CAD $5,650
AUD $5,595
EUR €3,780
GBP £3,205
NZD $6,180
ZAR R55,555
CHF FR4,575

Get a diverse American experience on a trip that loops from New Orleans to Louisville, to Toronto to New York.

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Chicago, Niagara & New York

10 days from
USD $3,320
CAD $3,425
AUD $3,360
EUR €2,265
GBP £1,945
NZD $3,745
ZAR R33,640
CHF FR2,745

Travel from Chicago to New York via Canada. Travel to Toronto, visit Niagara Falls and make a stopover in Montreal...

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East Coast Loop

29 days from
USD $8,540
CAD $8,810
AUD $8,895
EUR €5,885
GBP £4,995
NZD $9,620
ZAR R86,490
CHF FR7,125

From New York to New Orleans, Toronto to Montreal, get a fresh and diverse taste of North America on a vibrant, city...

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US & Canada Discovery

11 days from
USD $3,740
CAD $4,380
AUD $4,595
EUR €3,245
GBP £2,385
NZD $5,040
ZAR R43,190
CHF FR3,325

From Chicago to New York, with Montreal and Boston in between, this tour of North America and Canada takes in the...

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New York to New Orleans

11 days from
USD $3,420
CAD $3,530
AUD $3,460
EUR €2,335
GBP £2,000
NZD $3,855
ZAR R34,665
CHF FR2,830

Travel from New York to New Orleans, via Washington DC and Philadelphia. Explore the historic town of Savannah and...

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Great Cities of America

29 days from
USD $8,540
CAD $8,810
AUD $8,895
EUR €5,885
GBP £4,995
NZD $9,620
ZAR R86,490
CHF FR7,125

Toronto, Boston, New York, New Orleans, Nashville and more – discover the diverse treasures of the USA and Canada.

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Big Apple to Big Easy

8 days from
USD $1,095
CAD $1,130
AUD $1,110
EUR €765
GBP £630
NZD $1,235
ZAR R11,080
CHF FR925

Wind across the Appalachians, through the musical hub of Memphis and on to Louisiana on this unforgettable journey...

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Las Vegas to Los Angeles

10 days from
USD $2,760
CAD $3,235
AUD $3,395
EUR €2,400
GBP £1,760
NZD $3,650
ZAR R31,920
CHF FR2,455

From the glitz of the Vegas Strip to the hush of Monument Valley; travel through Zion National Park and Boulder...

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New Orleans to Chicago

10 days from
USD $2,270
CAD $2,340
AUD $2,300
EUR €1,690
GBP £1,450
NZD $2,565
ZAR R25,065
CHF FR2,045

Travel across the USA's musical south, visiting Nashville, the home of country music, and listening to the blues in...

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America Unveiled

20 days from
USD $5,560
CAD $5,735
AUD $5,680
EUR €3,830
GBP £3,250
NZD $6,265
ZAR R56,310
CHF FR4,640

See highlights of the east coast, the south and the Midwest of the USA on a vibrant city-hopping tour.

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Southern Comfort USA

12 days from
USD $3,565
CAD $4,175
AUD $4,380
EUR €3,095
GBP £2,270
NZD $4,795
ZAR R41,190
CHF FR3,170

Get to know the south with this trip through Atlanta, Charleston, Asheville, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans. The...

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America's Cowboy Country

9 days from
USD $1,940
CAD $2,005
AUD $1,960
EUR €1,410
GBP £1,230
NZD $2,185
ZAR R21,135
CHF FR1,695

Travel around the USA, from the casino mecca of Las Vegas, through the desert of Arizona and towards Monument Valley....

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San Francisco to Seattle

9 days from
USD $2,535
CAD $2,615
AUD $2,565
EUR €1,990
GBP £1,710
NZD $2,860
ZAR R29,560
CHF FR2,410

Travel from California, through Oregon and finish in Washington on this west coast tour of America. See the Golden...

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USA & Canada City Explorer

20 days from
USD $5,690
CAD $5,870
AUD $5,760
EUR €3,960
GBP £3,330
NZD $6,410
ZAR R57,610
CHF FR4,795

From Toronto to New York to New Orleans, get a diverse experience of the USA and Canada’s top cities.

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Western USA Highlights

19 days from
USD $3,110
CAD $3,205
AUD $3,145
EUR €2,140
GBP £1,815
NZD $3,485
ZAR R30,880
CHF FR2,570

Travel from Los Angeles up to San Francisco, passing through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park.

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Hawaii Discovery

11 days from
USD $4,065
CAD $4,760
AUD $4,995
EUR €3,530
GBP £2,590
NZD $5,370
ZAR R46,965
CHF FR3,610

Enjoy this Hawaiian tour taking in Oahu, Kauai, Maui and The Big Island, as well as volcanoes – Mauna Loa and Mauna...

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California Coast

8 days from
USD $1,822
CAD $1,876
AUD $1,840
EUR €1,269
GBP £1,062
NZD $2,052
ZAR R18,436
CHF FR1,525

Travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco on a California coastal tour. Walk down Santa Barbara Wharf, explore San...

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Hawaiian Highlights

9 days from
USD $3,120
CAD $3,225
AUD $3,160
EUR €2,365
GBP £2,030
NZD $3,515
ZAR R35,125
CHF FR2,865

Appreciate the natural wonders of the Hawaiian archipelago by hitting the surf in Honolulu, hiking around live...

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Grand East & South USA

29 days from
USD $8,455
CAD $8,725
AUD $8,555
EUR €5,885
GBP £4,945
NZD $9,525
ZAR R85,635
CHF FR7,125

Get a rich picture of American life on a city-hopping tour of North America's east and south. Visit New Orleans, New...

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USA Cowboys, Canyons & Coast

16 days from
USD $3,700
CAD $3,820
AUD $3,340
EUR €2,295
GBP £1,935
NZD $3,720
ZAR R33,425
CHF FR2,785

Unearth the natural wonders of the USA’s west coast, from the deserts of Arizona to the sparkling beaches of California.

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USA Family - Western Discovery

14 days from
USD $2,360
CAD $2,560
AUD $2,330
EUR €1,725
GBP £1,395
NZD $2,765
ZAR R25,125
CHF FR2,090

Hike into the Grand Canyon and be amazed by the scale and spectacular scenery of some of America’s best-known...

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Southern USA Road Trip

11 days from
USD $1,253
CAD $1,296
AUD $1,270
EUR €875
GBP £735
NZD $1,415
ZAR R12,720
CHF FR1,058

Travel through the south of the USA and visit San Antonio, the Calsbad Caverns and the Grand Canyon en route from New...

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Utah, Nevada & California

14 days from
USD $2,130
CAD $2,200
AUD $2,160
EUR €1,425
GBP £1,250
NZD $2,400
ZAR R21,395
CHF FR1,730

Embark on an incredible American road trip that goes to Zion, Bryce Canyon and Yosemite National Parks and Monument...

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Bright Lights & Canyons of the USA

14 days from
USD $2,050
CAD $2,115
AUD $2,135
EUR €1,415
GBP £1,195
NZD $2,310
ZAR R20,775
CHF FR1,695

Gear up for some incredible travel through the USA's great west. Travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas via Joshua Tree...

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Western USA Circuit

24 days from
USD $5,885
CAD $6,055
AUD $5,705
EUR €3,920
GBP £3,295
NZD $6,350
ZAR R57,070
CHF FR4,740

Travel from San Francisco to see the highlights of western America. Visit Sonoma for some wine tasting, roll the dice...

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Greenland & Canada's High Arctic (Sea Explorer) 2015

13 days from
USD $9,820
CAD $12,105
AUD $11,870
EUR €8,540
GBP £5,950
NZD $13,220
ZAR R118,815
CHF FR9,885

Get up close and personal with the wildlife, landscapes and local communities of the Arctic, from Greenland to the...

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USA Wine, Desert & Coast

32 days from
USD $8,435
CAD $8,710
AUD $8,796
EUR €5,818
GBP £4,939
NZD $9,515
ZAR R85,508
CHF FR7,048

Travel to the United States of America for an all- encompassing adventure in the west. Travel from San Francisco to...

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Las Vegas to Seattle

24 days from
USD $5,815
CAD $6,000
AUD $5,885
EUR €4,050
GBP £3,400
NZD $6,555
ZAR R58,890
CHF FR4,900

Beginning in Las Vegas, travel around America's West to see the enormity of the Grand Canyon, tinsel of Los Angeles,...

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Best of America's Southwest

16 days from
USD $2,270
CAD $2,340
AUD $2,295
EUR €1,580
GBP £1,325
NZD $2,555
ZAR R22,970
CHF FR1,895

Embark on a classic American road trip from New Orleans to San Francisco and visit Santa Fe and Yosemite.

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USA & Canada Express

15 days from
USD $1,329
CAD $1,374
AUD $1,347
EUR €924
GBP £780
NZD $1,497
ZAR R13,479
CHF FR1,122

An Overland adventure through Canada and the USA. Visit New York, Niagara Falls, Quebec, Montreal, Washington, Boston...

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Ulitmate Northwest Passage (Kapitan Khlebnikov) 2016

18 days from
USD $23,345
CAD $29,825
AUD $30,580
EUR €22,045
GBP £15,780
NZD $31,720
ZAR R289,125
CHF FR23,480

Discover the magical landscapes, intriguing cultures and bounteous wildlife on a cruise through the Northwest Passage...

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Epic Northeast Passage (Kapitan Khlebnikov) 2016

26 days from
USD $31,945
CAD $40,810
AUD $41,845
EUR €30,170
GBP £21,600
NZD $43,405
ZAR R395,630
CHF FR32,125

From the remoteness of Franz Josef Land to meeting nomadic tribes and the people of the Russian Arctic, this...

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Anchorage to Mexico City

52 days from
USD $5,780
CAD $6,260
AUD $6,196
EUR €4,226
GBP £3,510
NZD $6,849
ZAR R61,425
CHF FR5,110

Travel along the spine of North America and the centre of Mexico on a tour that takes you from the mountainous climes...

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United States trip reviews

Our United States trips score an average of 4.7 out of 5 based on 250 reviews in the last year.

Vegas to San Fran, July 2015

Big Apple to Big Easy, July 2015

Video

Articles on United States

Seven jaw-dropping spots that prove Utah is the real American Beauty

Posted on Wed, 15 Apr 2015

If you watched Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote chase one another through the cartoon deserts as a kid and thought, ‘I’d like to visit there’, Utah is about as close as you’re going to get.

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Where to find local flavours and murals in the Mission

Posted on Thu, 24 Jul 2014

Find out how to explore San Francisco's Mission District. It's the city's oldest neighbourhood and its culture is part-Latino, part-punk, part-hipster.

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5 reasons why bigger isn’t better in America

Posted on Fri, 7 Mar 2014

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 […]

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How to get around Honolulu

Posted on Mon, 16 Dec 2013

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. […]

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Transport

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:

Accommodation

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

Capital city: Washington DC
Population: 313.2 million
Language: English
Currency: USD
Time zone: (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Electricity: Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
Dialing code: +1

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.

Las Vegas weather chart Miami New york weather chart San Fransico weather chart Seattle weather chart

Culture and customs

Iconic Hollywood Boulevard street sign Bright, colourful, traditional native outfits
With immigration playing an important part in the development of America, it's now a nation made up of many different cultures. The population is made up of immigrants hailing from Asia, Africa, Europe, Central America and beyond - it’s no wonder modern America is rich with a variety of cultural traditions, cuisines, religions and festivals. Because of this, a large diversity of holidays are celebrated in America. You’re just as likely to see Kwanza, Hanukah and Chinese New Year celebrated, as Christmas and Easter. Annual holidays like 4th of July and Thanksgiving are usually celebrated by all regardless of religion or political persuasion, and give people a chance to reconnect with family and friends around the dinner table or grill.

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

Traditional cream cheese and salmon bagel

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savoring 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.

3. Pies

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.

5. Donuts

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

Bright red sands of Monument Valley Bright colourful lights of Times Square in New York City
From the lush everglades of Florida, through the red-hot deserts of Nevada and on to the urban jungles of New York and Philadelphia, the United States has many different environments and ecosystems within its boundaries. Sharing borders with Canada in the north and Mexico in the south, the United States has deserts, glaciers, freshwater lakes, rapid-filled rivers, mountain ranges, sprawling plains, forested national parks, beaches and bays.

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

Native American man looking out over Arizona Desert Colourful Native totem pole usa native american dance festival parade

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 Picks

Statue of Liberty in front of Downtown Manhattan backdrop San Franciscos Golden Gate Bridge

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 color, 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.

5. Chicago

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.

6. Miami

The air is warmer, the clothes smaller and the colors 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!

8. Seattle

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.

9. Memphis

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.

10. Boston

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.

Shopping

Music store shopping in the United States

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

1. Sephora

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 savory 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.

Coachella

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

Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before.

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:
- http://travel.state.gov/visa/tempvisitors.html
- http://canadainternational.gc.ca

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).
Tipping is very much a part of the culture in the US. Tips are expected at restaurants, cafes and diners, as well as by taxi drivers, valet attendants, porters and hotel maids. People working the service industry generally receive the minimum wage, which is quite low and therefore rely upon tips as a major source of their income. In general, leave 15% of the bill at places serving food, $1 to bar tenders and a few dollars for hotel staff who provide a personal service like carrying bags or cleaning your room.
Internet access is excellent in the US, and internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots are easily found in most cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is excellent in most parts of the US although coverage may be patchy in remote, mountainous areas like national parks and canyons. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.
Western-style flushable toilets are the norm in the US.
Cup of coffee = US$1.50-2
Hotdog from street cart = US$2-3
Newspaper = US$0.50-$2
Cinema admission = US$10-12
Drinking water from taps in the US is considered safe unless otherwise marked. For environmental reasons, try to use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores in the US. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are common in the US, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
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

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 Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

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

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Ticket to RideSarah Darmody
America UnchainedDave Gorman
Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeDee Brown
On the RoadJack Kerouac
Travels with Charley: In Search of AmericaJohn Steinbeck
Into the WildJon Krakaeur
The Autobiography of Malcolm XMalcolm X and Alex Haley
Gone With the WindMargaret Mitchell