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 deals in United States

Departing Days Price AUD
5 Aug 2014 Los Angeles to Seattle 17 $3510
5 Aug 2014 Los Angeles to San Francisco 8 $1380
6 Aug 2014 New York to New York 15 $1891
7 Aug 2014 New York to New York 3 $552
7 Aug 2014 Seattle to Anchorage 16 $3521

All our United States trips

Vintage car, Cuba

Cuba Culture & Heritage – Legal People to People trip for US...

8 days from
USD $4,489.00*

Become immersed in the culture and heritage of Cuba, from vibrant Havana to the beaches of Trinidad. This is a rare...

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Yosemite National Park

Vegas to San Fran

7 days from
USD $854.25
CAD $862.75
AUD $896.75
EUR €624.75
GBP £539.75
NZD $1,062.50
ZAR R8,168.50
CHF FR769.25

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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Union Station, USA

Wild Western USA

12 days from
USD $1,665.00
CAD $1,690.00
AUD $1,755.00
EUR €1,220.00
GBP £1,050.00
NZD $2,080.00
ZAR R15,975.00
CHF FR1,495.00

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

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usa new york central park manhattan lake bicycle walk tour

New York City To Niagara Falls

3 days from
USD $495.25*
CAD $504.71*
AUD $522.33*
EUR €363.72*
GBP £311.69*
NZD $608.50*
ZAR R4,753.68*
CHF FR446.77*

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

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Grand Canyon student group, USA

Best of America

23 days from
USD $3,140.00
CAD $3,180.00
AUD $3,295.00
EUR €2,295.00
GBP £1,980.00
NZD $3,920.00
ZAR R30,100.00
CHF FR2,835.00

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

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Lake Powell, USA

National Parks of California & Arizona

18 days from
USD $3,825.00
CAD $3,875.00
AUD $4,025.00
EUR €2,795.00
GBP £2,395.00
NZD $4,770.00
ZAR R36,635.00
CHF FR3,450.00

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

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Yosimite NP, USA

Explore California

10 days from
USD $2,195.00
CAD $2,225.00
AUD $2,295.00
EUR €1,595.00
GBP £1,385.00
NZD $2,745.00
ZAR R21,060.00
CHF FR1,985.00

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

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Joshua Tree National Park

LA to Vegas Adventure

7 days from
USD $731.25
CAD $738.75
AUD $768.75
EUR €536.25
GBP £461.25
NZD $911.25
ZAR R6,997.50
CHF FR660.00

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

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usa yosemite water falls forest mountains river hike

Yosemite and Tahoe

3 days from
USD $378.00
CAD $382.50
AUD $396.00
EUR €279.00
GBP £238.50
NZD $468.00
ZAR R3,600.00
CHF FR337.50

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

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Bryce Canyon

Utah Parks Circuit

9 days from
USD $1,160.00
CAD $1,175.00
AUD $1,220.00
EUR €850.00
GBP £730.00
NZD $1,445.00
ZAR R11,100.00
CHF FR1,045.00

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

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Mt St Helen's, USA

West Coast USA Journey

17 days from
USD $3,327.75
CAD $3,383.00
AUD $3,510.50
EUR €2,448.00
GBP £2,103.75
NZD $4,169.25
ZAR R31,985.50
CHF FR3,013.25

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

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Monument Valley, USA

USA: Cowboys, Canyons & Coast

16 days from
USD $3,065.00
CAD $3,265.00
AUD $3,390.00
EUR €2,360.00
GBP £2,030.00
NZD $4,020.00
ZAR R30,855.00
CHF FR2,905.00

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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Brooklyn Bridge, USA

East Coast Loop

29 days from
USD $7,275.00
CAD $7,375.00
AUD $7,660.00
EUR €5,330.00
GBP £4,585.00
NZD $9,080.00
ZAR R69,725.00
CHF FR6,570.00

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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Millennium sculpture, USA

America Unveiled

20 days from
USD $4,480.00
CAD $4,540.00
AUD $4,695.00
EUR €3,280.00
GBP £2,820.00
NZD $5,590.00
ZAR R42,910.00
CHF FR4,040.00

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

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New Orleans

Big Apple to Big Easy

8 days from
USD $1,044.00
CAD $1,057.50
AUD $1,098.00
EUR €765.00
GBP £657.00
NZD $1,300.50
ZAR R9,990.00
CHF FR940.50

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

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Skyline over water, Canada

USA & Canada City Explorer

20 days from
USD $5,280.00
CAD $5,365.00
AUD $5,570.00
EUR €3,960.00
GBP £3,325.00
NZD $6,600.00
ZAR R50,680.00
CHF FR4,880.00

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

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Coloured buildings, Canada

Grand East & South USA

29 days from
USD $7,275.00
CAD $7,375.00
AUD $7,660.00
EUR €5,330.00
GBP £4,585.00
NZD $9,080.00
ZAR R69,725.00
CHF FR6,570.00

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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Zion NP, USA

Western USA Highlights

19 days from
USD $2,555.00
CAD $2,595.00
AUD $2,695.00
EUR €1,875.00
GBP £1,595.00
NZD $3,195.00
ZAR R24,530.00
CHF FR2,295.00

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

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Niagara Falls, USA

Great Cities of America

29 days from
USD $7,125.00
CAD $7,220.00
AUD $7,500.00
EUR €5,330.00
GBP £4,490.00
NZD $8,885.00
ZAR R68,225.00
CHF FR6,570.00

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

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Harbour at night, USA

New Orleans to New York

19 days from
USD $4,558.50
CAD $4,626.00
AUD $4,801.50
EUR €3,334.50
GBP £2,857.50
NZD $5,697.00
ZAR R43,722.00
CHF FR4,122.00

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

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Niagara Falls, Canada

Chicago, Niagara & New York

10 days from
USD $2,930.00
CAD $2,970.00
AUD $3,085.00
EUR €2,145.00
GBP £1,845.00
NZD $3,655.00
ZAR R28,080.00
CHF FR2,645.00

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

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Piedmont Park, USA

New York to New Orleans

11 days from
USD $2,665.00
CAD $2,695.00
AUD $2,795.00
EUR €1,950.00
GBP £1,675.00
NZD $3,325.00
ZAR R25,515.00
CHF FR2,395.00

Travel from New York to New Orleans, via Washington DC and Philadelphia. Travel to Atlanta and explore Charlotte by...

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Statues, USA

New Orleans to Chicago

10 days from
USD $1,665.00
CAD $1,698.75
AUD $1,762.50
EUR €1,222.50
GBP £1,053.75
NZD $2,088.75
ZAR R16,027.50
CHF FR1,507.50

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

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Peaches, California

New York to Las Vegas

18 days from
USD $2,435.00
CAD $2,470.00
AUD $2,565.00
EUR €1,785.00
GBP £1,535.00
NZD $3,040.00
ZAR R23,345.00
CHF FR2,195.00

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

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Deep dish pizza, Chicago

America's Cowboy Country

9 days from
USD $1,692.00
CAD $1,714.50
AUD $1,782.00
EUR €1,237.50
GBP £1,066.50
NZD $2,115.00
ZAR R16,218.00
CHF FR1,521.00

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

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Surf culture, USA

California Coast

8 days from
USD $1,312.50
CAD $1,327.50
AUD $1,380.00
EUR €948.75
GBP £825.00
NZD $1,635.00
ZAR R12,551.25
CHF FR1,185.00

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

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Hanging peppers, USA

San Francisco to Seattle

10 days from
USD $1,807.50
CAD $1,826.25
AUD $1,905.00
EUR €1,323.75
GBP £1,140.00
NZD $2,257.50
ZAR R17,332.50
CHF FR1,635.00

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

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Ice climbing, USA

Alaska's Inside Passage

16 days from
USD $3,446.25
CAD $3,491.25
AUD $3,521.25
EUR €2,523.75
GBP £2,171.25
NZD $4,297.50
ZAR R33,011.25
CHF FR3,108.75

Travel the Inside Passage of Alaska and visit Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau and Yukatat. See icebergs, bears and glaciers...

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Surfboards on the beach, Hawaii

Hawaiian Highlights

10 days from
USD $2,925.00
CAD $2,961.00
AUD $3,078.00
EUR €2,142.00
GBP £1,840.50
NZD $3,649.50
ZAR R28,012.50
CHF FR2,637.00

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

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china shanghai shopping shoes market lady

North China Getaway

12 days from
USD $1,270.75
CAD $1,292.00
AUD $1,309.00
EUR €930.75
GBP £803.25
NZD $1,593.75
ZAR R12,223.00
CHF FR1,151.75

Travel to China on a getaway from Shanghai to Beijing. Visit Xi'an and Huangshan, see the Great Wall of China and...

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Yosemite waterfalls

USA Family - Western Discovery

14 days from
USD $2,170.00
CAD $2,310.00
AUD $2,400.00
EUR €1,670.00
GBP £1,435.00
NZD $2,840.00
ZAR R21,825.00
CHF FR2,055.00

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

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Perito Moreno Glacier

Santiago to Buenos Aires via Ushuaia

34 days from
USD $3,345.00*
CAD $3,448.87*
AUD $3,535.18*
EUR €2,554.49*
GBP £2,113.50*
NZD $4,185.98*
ZAR R26,552.12*
CHF FR2,855.51*

Visit South America and travel through Argentina and Chile, from Santiago to Buenos Aires via Ushuaia. Experience...

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San Antonio

Southern USA Road Trip

11 days from
USD $1,273.50
CAD $1,291.50
AUD $1,341.00
EUR €931.50
GBP £801.00
NZD $1,588.50
ZAR R12,204.00
CHF FR1,152.00

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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Joshua Tree, USA

Bright Lights & Canyons of the USA

14 days from
USD $1,920.00
CAD $1,945.00
AUD $2,025.00
EUR €1,405.00
GBP £1,210.00
NZD $2,400.00
ZAR R18,420.00
CHF FR1,735.00

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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Monument Valley, USA

Utah, Nevada & California

14 days from
USD $1,815.00
CAD $1,840.00
AUD $1,895.00
EUR €1,330.00
GBP £1,145.00
NZD $2,265.00
ZAR R17,385.00
CHF FR1,640.00

Journey from Las Vegas to San Francisco visiting Zion National Park, Death Valley and Yosemite National Park.

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Vegas money, USA

Western USA Circuit

25 days from
USD $5,260.00
CAD $5,335.00
AUD $5,540.00
EUR €3,855.00
GBP £3,315.00
NZD $6,570.00
ZAR R50,425.00
CHF FR4,750.00

Travel from San Francisco to see the highlights of Western America. Visit Napa Valley for some wine tasting, roll the...

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Iguazu Falls

Quito to Rio via Ushuaia

112 days from
USD $11,320.00*
CAD $11,808.49*
AUD $12,052.00*
EUR €8,499.04*
GBP £7,215.00*
NZD $13,777.50*
ZAR R111,975.20*
CHF FR10,079.71*

Visit South America and travel through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Follow the Inca trail,...

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Prince William, Alaska

Alaskan Family Adventure

13 days from
USD $2,675.00
CAD $2,845.00
AUD $2,955.00
EUR €2,055.00
GBP £1,770.00
NZD $3,505.00
ZAR R26,925.00
CHF FR2,535.00

Journey across the wondrous terrain of Alaska on a family adventure holiday. See glaciers, explore the wilderness and...

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Santa Barbara Mission, USA

Las Vegas to Seattle

25 days from
USD $5,275.00
CAD $5,350.00
AUD $5,555.00
EUR €3,865.00
GBP £3,325.00
NZD $6,585.00
ZAR R50,565.00
CHF FR4,765.00

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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Market sign, USA

USA: Wine, Desert & Coast

34 days from
USD $7,295.00
CAD $7,395.00
AUD $7,695.00
EUR €5,355.00
GBP £4,595.00
NZD $9,120.00
ZAR R70,000.00
CHF FR6,595.00

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

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Monument Valley, USA

Best of America's Southwest

16 days from
USD $2,125.00
CAD $2,150.00
EUR €1,555.00
GBP £1,335.00
NZD $2,650.00
ZAR R20,345.00
CHF FR1,915.00
AUD $2,235.00

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

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usa niagara falls night lights colour waterfall canada

USA & Canada Express

15 days from
USD $1,746.75
CAD $1,772.25
AUD $1,836.00
EUR €1,283.50
GBP £1,105.00
NZD $2,184.50
ZAR R16,774.75
CHF FR1,572.50

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

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Grizzly bear, Canada

Anchorage to Mexico City

52 days from
USD $5,345.00*
CAD $5,520.02*
AUD $5,252.70*
EUR €4,081.70*
GBP £3,567.50*
NZD $6,709.70*
ZAR R54,241.80*
CHF FR5,112.26*

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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Beach, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

Anchorage to Ushuaia

207 days from
USD $14,465.00
CAD $14,770.00
AUD $13,570.00
EUR €11,015.00
GBP £9,020.00
NZD $17,870.00
ZAR R137,205.00
CHF FR12,925.00

Travel the length of the Americas from North through Central and to the very tip of the South. From Anchorage to...

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usa alaska grizzly bear wildlife animal forest black brown

Alaskan Highlights

9 days from
USD $2,619.00
CAD $2,685.00
AUD $2,789.00
EUR €1,969.00
GBP £1,639.00
NZD $3,279.00
ZAR R25,385.00
CHF FR2,390.00

Take an overland tour of Alaska and visit national parks, the city of Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. Visit glaciers...

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Raccoon, Canada

Appalachian Trail Walk

10 days from
USD $2,489.00
CAD $2,550.00
AUD $2,649.00
EUR €1,869.00
GBP £1,559.00
NZD $3,119.00
ZAR R24,110.00
CHF FR2,270.00

Hike in the USA and walk the Appalachian Trail. Visit Acadia National Park in Maine, trek in White Mountains National...

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Route 66 highway sign, USA

Historic Route 66

14 days from
USD $3,009.00
CAD $3,070.00
AUD $3,189.00
EUR €2,249.00
GBP £1,879.00
NZD $3,759.00
ZAR R29,025.00
CHF FR2,735.00

Travel the historic Route 66 from Chicago city to Los Angeles. Visit Las Vegas, travel to the Grand Canyon, enjoy the...

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Traditional American cowboy silhouette at sunset

Texas Ranger

10 days from
USD $2,829.00
CAD $2,895.00
AUD $3,009.00
EUR €2,119.00
GBP £1,769.00
NZD $3,539.00
ZAR R27,390.00
CHF FR2,580.00

See some of the top cities and attractions in Texas, the USA’s largest mainland state. Visit Odessa, travel to Dallas...

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usa alaska grizzly bear wildlife animal forest black brown

Alaskan Adventure

12 days from
USD $2,689.00
CAD $2,745.00
AUD $2,849.00
EUR €2,009.00
GBP £1,679.00
NZD $3,359.00
ZAR R25,930.00
CHF FR2,445.00

Take an overland tour of Alaska and explore national parks, the city of Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. Visit...

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Lake Tahoe, USA

USA Parks

14 days from
USD $3,599.00
CAD $3,620.00
AUD $3,819.00
EUR €2,699.00
GBP £2,249.00
NZD $4,499.00
ZAR R34,210.00
CHF FR3,225.00

Take in some of the USA's most spectacular national parks – including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier and Mt. Ranier –...

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Lighthouse, Cape Breton Highlands National Park

New England & Canadian Maritimes

13 days from
USD $3,149.00
CAD $3,225.00
AUD $3,349.00
EUR €2,359.00
GBP £1,969.00
NZD $3,939.00
ZAR R30,485.00
CHF FR2,870.00

Visit New England and travel to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. See the Canadian Maritimes and travel to Acadia...

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United States trip reviews

Our United States trips score an average of 4.5 out of 5 based on 107 reviews in the last year.

USA Parks, May 2014

Texas Ranger, May 2014

Video

Articles on United States

Where to find local flavours and murals in the Mission

Where to find local flavours and murals in the Mission

Posted on Thu, 24 Jul 2014 by Claire Baxter

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.

Read more
5 reasons why bigger isn’t better in America

5 reasons why bigger isn’t better in America

Posted on Fri, 7 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

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
A place of refuge in Hawaii

A place of refuge in Hawaii

Posted on Mon, 25 Nov 2013 by Sue Elliot

Hawai’i is famous for its spirit of aloha, hula and surf, but learn more about the archipelago’s ancient culture and you’ll discover another dimension to your adventure. Intrepid’s Sue Elliot [...]

Read more

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

Trips Available: 48
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, colorful 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

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

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.

USA TOURISTENVISUM:
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 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