Day 1 Arrive Los Angeles
Meet up with your fellow travellers and Trip Manager before heading straight out into the city that mixes up glamour, grit and the American Dream: Los Angeles. It’s packed with legends, full of energy and there are loads of things to do. You’ll head out for an insider’s look at downtown LA on our morning walking tour. Your Local Guide will tell you all about the architecture, fill you in on American pop culture and show you some of the old theatres from Los Angeles’ heyday. Then head to mythical Hollywood and onto holy ground for the stars. Check out the Kodak Theatre, where the Oscars are held every year and the Chinese Theatre, where so many greats have pressed their hands into the cement. We’ll cruise down the hottest shopping street in LA, Melrose Avenue, and one of the best areas for nightlife, the Strip (Sunset Boulevard), with its billboards, clubs and eateries, before getting a glimpse at one of the world’s wealthiest suburbs in Beverly Hills, where your Trip Manager will give you the background on the who’s who of Hollywood. A little further west and we arrive in Santa Monica, LA’s oldest beach resort. Known for its liberal vibes, art galleries and wide sand beaches, Santa Monica is all about the California coast lifestyle. Your Trip Manager will give you some history on the city and then show you the famous pier, which serves as a permanent amusement park, complete with a solar powered Ferris wheel. Later, we travel out to LA’s quirkiest suburb where anything goes: Venice Beach. A favourite hang out spot for locals, colourful Venice Beach attracts all sorts of people. Get a feel for street life when you hit the buzzing boadwalk, where performers, tattoo artists, hair braiders, musicians and roller bladders gather. Make sure you check out the markets and stalls, as well as the greased-up body builders pumping iron at the famous open air gym, Muscle Beach. After dinner, you’ll head straight out for an optional Hollywood Pub Crawl through some of the towns hottest bars and clubs.
Day 2 Los Angeles to San Diego
Meet up with your Contiki crew and Trip Manager before cruising through Orange County and along the Pacific coastline to laid-back San Diego. Get a feel for the city’s easy-going vibes with a look around San Diego’s vibrant neighborhoods. In Old Town, your Trip Manager will give you the story behind the original pueblo (village), with its Adobe buildings (made of brick, straw and mud) and show you the 19th century buildings of the Gaslamp Quarter's. You’ll also see Balboa Park, which holds the largest urban cultural park in the USA and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Tonight, make your first night on trip one to remember and get to know the group over dinner before heading out for a fun night exploring the Gaslamp District’s funky live music venues or one of the many cool bars.
Day 3 San Diego
With a full day in San Diego, live a bit of the California lifestyle and get into some outdoor activities. With 42 miles of beaches, a Mediterranean climate and loads of parks, San Diego is all about kicking back in the pleasant surrounds. Otherwise, visit the San Diego Zoo, known for its conservation efforts and vast numbers of animals (over 4000!) If the weather is good, we’ll cruise out to the locals’ favorite spot, Mission Beach, for a few hours soaking up the sun or walking along the boardwalk for views of ocean. Don’t forget your towel and swimmers.
Day 4 San Diego to Phoenix
Things are about to get hotter as we head to Phoenix, a massive metropolis sitting smack in the middle of the desert. With around 300 days of sunshine per year, this place is all about shopping, sports and nightlife.
Day 5 Phoenix to the Grand Canyon
Kick start the day with an unforgettable optional excursion: a hot-air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert and “Valley of the Sun”. The combination of full blown vistas over the desert and a champagne breakfast upon landing make this an amazing experience. We continue deeper into the Wild West as we head to stunning Sedona. Chill out and watch the region’s recognizable red rock cliffs, rugged spires and mesas (flat-topped rock formations) go by from the coach. Your Trip Manager will tell you about this eco-friendly town that is also known for its high-energy red rocks. There’s a chance to explore this stunning red rock country with our Local Guide on an optional 4WD tour through the historic canyons. Learn local legends and even pick up a piece of Native American jewelery. We continue on to the mind-blowing landscape of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most recognizable natural wonders and pride of Arizona.
Day 6 Grand Canyon National Park
A day here means time to take in the immensity and spine-tingling beauty of the scene-stealing Canyon – it has got a rep for a reason! This morning get up close to this UNESCO World Heritage site on an optional helicopter ride and get another angle on the Canyon as you fly over it. Hike along the South Rim for mind-blowing vistas of the dramatic scenery. See some of the oldest exposed rocks on earth, take in the deep abyss and soak up the wildness of the area. There are trails for all levels of hiking, so take it up a notch or cruise along at your own pace. Wrap up the day with a canyon sunset and take in the stunning changes of light while the sun goes down.
Day 7 Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
Leaving behind the Grand Canyon, we stop off at Seligman, an historic Route 66 town. Get a feel for the old style as you check out 1940’s shop fronts and motels. Maybe pick up a souvenir for back home. Then following a section of the legendary Route 66, we head north. With down time on the coach, plug in your MP3, catch on some sleep or chat with your friends. Get ready to arrive in larger-than-life Las Vegas – a man-made entertainment oasis smack in the middle of the desert. Often dubbed Sin City, it’s all about glitz, neon lights, and excess. See the bright lights of this city and its world-famous casinos in a first taste of Vegas kitsch as the group heads down the main drag, the “Strip”, and your Trip Manager fills you in on the story behind Vegas. Then cruise downtown to Freemont Street and experience a slice of the spectacular at a light and laser show in a massive pedestrian mall.
Day 8 Las Vegas
With a free day, you’ve got time to get a real feel for this outrageous town, so keep an eye out for Elvis impersonators and fast-paced chapel weddings! Explore more of the Strip and check out over-the-top versions of international icons, like the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals and gondolas, a Roman temple or the pyramid, whose nightlight can be seen from the moon. Try your luck at one of the casinos, sit yourself down at a blackjack table and watch the high-rollers or go for a ride at one of the casino’s theme-parks. If you work up an appetite, tuck into an all you can eat buffet, and lunch American style. For something different, discover Las Vegas’ trademark art at the Neon Museum and for a look into this town’s atomic heyday in the 50s, visit the Atomic Testing Museum. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Trip Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your new friends.
Day 9 Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe
Leave behind the glitz, neon lights and excess as we head to the adventure capital of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Tahoe sits smack on the Nevada-California border and with blue lakes, green pines and tonnes of snow, it doesn’t come short on scenery. Settle into your hotel room and maybe stretch your legs down by the lake – it’s only a short walk.
Day 10 - 11 Lake Tahoe
Get into the alpine action and hit the slopes of some world-class resorts over the next two days. Ski and board some supreme powder, or have a go at snowmobiling and explore more of the mountain in a fun optional adventure activity. With hundreds of miles of slopes, there’s something for everyone, so you can slow it down or pick up the pace. Wind down after a day in the mountains with the group and kick back with a well-earned drink. Check out the movie theatre back at the hotel or head into the center for a night out. Try your luck at one of the casinos, sit yourself down at a blackjack table and watch the high-rollers. If you work up an appetite, tuck into a buffet and eat American style. Get some pointers on Tahoe’s hot spots from your Trip Manager and make the most of this town’s action.
Day 12 Lake Tahoe to San Francisco
We dust the snow off our boots this morning and make way to the city for the final leg of the adventure. Bye bye mountain air, it's been real. Colourful characters, freethinkers, and artists have all descended upon San Francisco to make this place an historically eclectic place. Via Oakland and the Sacramento Valley, we to descend upon the treasure of beatnik culture, cable cars and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Day 13 San Francisco
With a couple of days here, get a real feel for San Francisco and its hilly streets. Chalk up a local experience by jumping on a cable car and exploring the city. If you’ve booked ahead of time, catch a ferry out to Alcatraz, the former island jail that once held A-list criminals like Al “Scarface” Capone, Soviet spies and crime bosses. Walk around the old cells and get the background on these bad boys. Thriving with activity, Chinatown is a fun, kitsch experience. Choose the optional trip there with your Trip Manager and see its hidden spots. Learn about the history of the gold rush as you walk through the bustling district, past traditional herb-sops, Buddhas, and flashing neon lights. Then eat together at one of its many authentic restaurants. You could turn back the clock to the “Summer of Love” with a visit to cool Haight-Ashbury, the centre point of 1960s alternative culture. Once packed with 75000 hippies, it now has chilled-out cafes, record stores, second hand clothes shops and bookstores to rummage through. When night falls, we'll head to Chinatown for a tour and slurp on noodles, egg rolls and dumplings.
Day 14 Depart San Francisco
This morning the tour ends and it’s time to say goodbye to your new friends.