Meet up with your Contiki crew and Trip Manager before we hit the road. Journey through Southern California and the vast Mojave Desert, with its iconic Joshua trees, into Nevada. Get ready to arrive in larger-than-life Las Vegas - a manmade entertainment oasis smack in the middle of the desert. 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”, your Trip Manager will fill you in on the story behind the city. Then cruise downtown to Freemont Street where you'll experience the spectacular light and laser show in a massive pedestrian mall.
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.
Leaving the desert of Nevada, we head into Arizona's high country. With down time on the coach, plug in your iPod, catch up on some sleep or chat with your new friends. Following a section of the legendary Route 66, we stop in the town of Seligman. This historic town will give you a feel for the old style as you check out 1940s shop fronts and motels. This is a good place to pick up a souvenir for back home. 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.
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.
It's into the Wild West today as we travel past cacti, rocky plateaus and the iconic desert backdrop of Monument Valley. Packed with stone spires and mesas (flattop mountains), the valley is also home to Navajo culture. Learn about the American Indian and Navajo way of life as the group visits the Navajo Tribal Park. Your jaw will drop as we travel through a narrow gorge to the Painted Desert, where colorful rock formations dot the desert. Get your camera ready for a rock shaped exactly like a Mexican sombrero (hat). Then it's off to Colorado's adventure capital and old-mining town, Durango, with its rugged nature and masses of trees.
Get into the region's outdoor lifestyle in an adrenaline-pumping river-rafting optional or choose to discover the back country and an old mine on a four wheel drive excursion. This afternoon, it's a total change of scene when we enter New Mexico, where sun-baked earthen brick buildings stand out against the bright blue sky. When we pull into Albuquerque, you've got time before dinner to uncover the city's Spanish heritage. Check out the pueblo (old town), where the original settlement still stands, as well as small shops that sell knick-knacks, antiques and souvenirs.
Enjoy an unforgettable experience by choosing an optional hot air balloon ride over New Mexico in the early morning. This region is famous for hot air ballooning, so grab hold of your camera for the full-blown vistas over the desert and the Rio Grande. Next up is Santa Fe. It's a prime example of how New Mexico mixes up Mexican, Spanish, Anglo and American Indian cultures. Walk around town and see pueblo style architecture or experience Santa Fe's artistic flair and visit some of its 250 art galleries. It's a great place to pick up some turquoise jewelery - a traditional craft of the American Indians. For lunch, try out some local spicy specialties like caldillo (green chilli stew), fajitas (sizzling meat and vegetables wrapped in tortilla) and tamales (cornmeal, meat and chili). Eastbound, we travel into the heart of cowboy country to laid- back Amarillo, a small, quirky town known for its ranches and cattle auctions. Get your dose of Americana at the Cadillac Ranch - a roadside open-air collection of off-beat art. Cast your eyes over the time line of Cadillac models and learn about this classic American car. Make the most of our “old west” accommodation tonight, complete with a Texas-shaped pool and horse hotel (stables for those travelling steeds). Later on, if you're keen, put your hand up for the Big Steak Challenge and take on a 2.1kg portion (4.4lb) of beef.
Home to the Dallas Cowboys football team, oil millionaires, rich ranchers and a famous soap opera, Dallas doesn't do things by halves. The “Big D” dishes up big attitude. You'll get your bearings as your Trip Manager shows the group some of downtown Dallas' core spots. Then there's time to get out there among the city slickers and pound the pavements for a first taste of the Lone Star State's famous city.
With a day to discover why things are bigger and better in Texas, you'll get a real feel for this fast moving city. This morning, get the low down on one of Dallas' darkest moments at the Sixth Floor Museum. Learn about the background on JFK's life and assassination and even stand in the “gunman's nest” (from where Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have taken aim). In your free time, chalk up a local experience and move around at your own pace on the city's easy public transport. Check out where Dallas' elite shop at the landmark Neiman Marcus - an upscale department store complete with 6 stories of luxury items. For something different, head to Deep Ellum, a neighborhood packed with funky clothing stores, up-and-coming galleries and loads of affordable restaurants. Later, we visit Fort Worth and its historic stockyards. Pick up some cowboy boots and keep an eye out for the Texas long-horn steer.
With one foot in Texas and one foot in Arkansas, we visit the town of Texarkana! Make sure you grab a photo of yourself standing in two states. Stop by Little Rock and see the Central high school - a hot spot during the Civil Rights Movement! Then we cross over the mythical Mississippi River and pull into the 'musical mecca' and BBQ capital, Memphis. Hometown to blues, soul and rock'n'roll, Memphis moves to a lot of different beats. Get a feel for its rhythm as your Trip Manager points out the Gibson guitar factory, the Orpheum Theatre, Rock'n'Soul Museum and Beale Street.
Jump start the day with a tour of Graceland and pay homage to the King of Rock'n'Roll. Your Tour Manager will tell you Elvis' story before you tour his 70s style mansion and get up close to his lifestyle, gold records and jumpsuits. After Graceland, you've got free time to explore Memphis. If you're keen, we'll drop you at the Civil Rights Museum. Housed in the Lorraine Motel, this is where Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. You can find out more about the American Civil Rights movement and its legacy here. Stop by at Memphis' signature site, Sun Studios, where Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash all recorded. If you want to find out more about Memphis musical heritage, have a look around and even make your own record! If you're hungry while your here, make sure you try out some Memphis BBQ, as this place is known for it. Later, head to Memphis' core and former hub of African American culture, Beale Street. Birthplace of the blues, stomping ground of famous singers like B.B. King and Tina Turner, this historic street is a major landmark and a great place to listen to live music, kick back with a beer and party.
Drop by Jackson, Mississippi, and then cross Lake Pontchartrain on the longest causeway in the world. A meeting point of European style and Caribbean flavors, swinging New Orleans is busy with soul, flamboyance, festivities and a whole lot of jazz! Get your first taste of the city's romance as the group looks into New Orleans' spiritual heart: the historic French Quarter. See New Orleans' main drag, the city's original coffee shop Café du Monde, the French Market and thriving Jackson Square, with its pretty wrought iron balconies. Later, turn the energy levels up with a visit to Bourbon street. Humming night and day, it is all about music and bars. So make sure you live the New Orleans' motto “Laissez les bon temps rouler” - let the good times roll!
A free day means time to absorb the atmosphere and lose yourself in the energy and diversity of New Orleans. You could hop on a historic street car and head to the southern end of the Garden District, where you can soak up the rundown elegance and old-world charm of the quarter's Victorian mansions. Experience more of the stunning French Quarter, made up of hidden courtyards, soul-kitchens and jazz clubs. Hang out in Jackson Square and watch musicians, fortune tellers and artists. For a taste of tradition, sit down in historic Café du Monde and order the only two things on the menu: café au lait (milk coffee) and beignets (French donut). To learn more about local flavours, sign up for the New Orleans Cooking School optional and watch well-known local chefs make classics like gumbo (a type of stew), shrimp Creole and bread pudding, and then eat the food afterwards. Other ideas for your free time include rummaging through the farmers and flea markets on the square, visiting the Voodoo Museum for a look into more spellbinding traditions or reliving Mardi Gras at the Mardi Gras Museum.
With time to relax on the coach, enjoy a siesta or get some tips for the up-coming destinations from your Trip Manager. Travel through Southern Mississippi, with a stop in Jackson for lunch. Afterwards, we head to Southern Alabama to soak up some sun with an overnight stop at "The World's Most Beautiful Beaches" - Panama City Beach.
Get ready to arrive in the former farming town of Orlando. This ordinary town was transformed into the most-visited place in the state by Walt Disney's imagination, when he created Disney World. Now Orlando is all about wild rides, fantasy and amusement parks, so get some pointers from your Trip Manager and take your pick!
Free time means a day out in one of the many fun parks located here with some friends. There are loads of options; Disney World with its 4 parks, Universal Studios and several water parks. The parks also serve up theme-bars and clubs, so if you're keen, keep it moving tonight at one of them.
Flamboyant, flashy and fabulous, Miami is hot and loud. Packed with diverse neighborhoods, each with their own character, Miami is great place to hang out. First up it's a look around the downtown. You'll see the Miami Heat (basketball team) arena, the high rises of the financial district and the outdoor shopping area of the Bayside Marketplace. You'll also get a feel for the city's Latin vibe in Little Havana, with its Cuban influence and history. Then, discover stylish South Beach with its iconic art deco buildings, swaying palm trees and neon lights. Sizzling any night of the week, South Beach is where all the action is, so explore it in a night out with your friends.
Tropical Miami oozes energy and a free day here means time to get into this happening hub. Head down to Ocean Avenue and people-watch. If you're looking to relax, kick back among the toned, bronzed bodies on South Beach and take a swim in the warm waters of the southern Atlantic. Have a go on 2 wheels in a fun included biking excursion with the group and get familiar with the waterfront neighborhoods. Your Local Guide will give you an insider's view on this colorful town, and take you to many of Miami's signature sites like Casa Casuarina (Versace Mansion), the Bass Art Museum and the Holocaust Memorial before winding down with something cool to drink at Miami's Marina. If you've got time to live a bit of the local Latin lifestyle, return to Little Havana and order some Cuban rice and beans, followed by some sweet Cuban coffee. Try your hand at dominoes on one of the outdoor tables on Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) or pick up a Cuban cigar and some salsa music at one of the little shops. Before you hit the shops, get some pointers about where to head from your Trip Manager, who knows the ins and outs of Miami. For shopping in style, stroll through the outdoor shopping promenade of the Lincoln Road mall and for bargains, head to Espanola Way. Tonight, live a slice of the high life and party it up Miami style out on the water in our optional harbor party cruise.
Today you get the chance to touch base with outer space as you explore the incredible Kennedy Space Center before arriving in the NASCAR capital, Daytona Beach! PLEASE NOTE: Trips departing before April 2015 will head to Cocoa beach and visit the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow, as the below itinerary Today, we roll on to the surfing capital of the East Coast, Cocoa Beach. Our hotel is in walking distance to the beach, so hit some of the biggest waves in Florida or try out some volleyball on the beach. Watch the locals fishing off the pier and order some fresh seafood later on at beachside grill.
This morning there's time to chill on the beach, or for those adventurous thrill seekers why not ride shotgun in a NASCAR for a serious adrenaline rush! Back on the coach, we cruise through a wildlife reserve and journey on to pretty St. Augustine, America's oldest inhabited city, complete with cobblestones, a laid-back harbor and small beaches. Head to the timeworn streets of the Spanish quarter with the group, soak up the Mediterranean feel with its colorful buildings and courtyards, and see the 17th Century Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. PLEASE NOTE: Trips departing before April 2015 will head from Cocoa Beach to St. Augustine via the Kennedy Space Center as the itinerary below Hit the Space Coast, home to NASA, and visit the fascinating Kennedy Space Center, the only rocket launch point for space missions in the Western Hemisphere. You've got time to explore the massive series of buildings, as you learn about space exploration and get up close to pieces of the moon, mission capsules, astronaut's gear and space shuttles. You'll also see the launch and landing pad first hand. Back on the coach, we cruise through a wildlife reserve and journey on to pretty St. Augustine, America's oldest inhabited city, complete with cobblestones, a laid-back harbor and small beaches. Head to the timeworn streets of the Spanish quarter with the group, soak up the Mediterranean feel with its colorful buildings and courtyards, and visit the 17th Century Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
Free-wheeling Savannah is up next and its all about southern charm. Fall under its spell as you check out the old cotton warehouses, historic city squares and mansions. Spared from the destruction of the Civil War, you'll see original historic buildings here. Visit stunning Forsythe Park and see gorgeous moss covered oak trees, surrounding historic homes and inns. Take in the sub-tropical plants, flowers and lush greenery that spill onto the town's 24 public squares. Perhaps enjoy dinner along the waterfront tonight and experience southern hospitality at its best.
Practice your best Southern drawl and get ready for a little Southern hospitality as you cross the Carolinas today. On our way, we stop in charming Charleston for lunch before reaching the college town of Raleigh, where we'll have a bit of fun tonight.
This morning, cross over the border into Richmond for a slice of history. After a look around the old center we head to Carytown, a young and funky district, for lunch. Next up: the nation's capital, Washington D.C. It's the USA's political core, buzzing with decision makers and busy with museums, monuments and politics. Get inspired on our Illuminations Tour around D.C's famous structures and see the city brilliantly lit up against the night sky. Your local guide will fill you in D.C's signature sites and monuments, like the Capitol Building, Washington Monument and the White House. We'll drive along the National Mall, a traditional place of protest and of key events in the USA's past. Enjoy an overview of presidential history with a look at the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, the Jefferson memorial with its famous columns and the Roosevelt Memorial. Remember those who died in Vietnam and Korea as you check out the memorials to those conflicts.
With two full days to explore the capital, you can visit some fascinating museums and monuments, or hang out in the city's vibrant neighborhoods for a different feel. We'll visit Arlington National Cemetery, where JFK is buried and thousands of US soldiers lie. You'll see the sobering sight of endless rows of white headstones and have the chance to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then get some pointers from your Tour Manager on where to go next. Get a dose of culture at the Smithsonian Museums. This is a one-stop culture spot, made up of 19 different museums. It has it all - from natural history to space, so the choice is yours, and best of all, it's free! You can also visit the world-class Holocaust Museum and learn about one of history's darkest moments as you honor the victims. For something fun and intriguing, head to the Spy Museum. Find out about infamous FBI cases and what it means to be a secret agent, while you listen to bugs and play around with gadgets and interactive displays. Later, hit Georgetown, D.C.'s oldest district and see how it has injected itself with new energy. 200 year-old buildings hold hip galleries and boutiques - it's a great place to pick up something funky. It's also a global kitchen - try something from the 50 different types of ethnic food on offer. With a university crowd, Georgetown is vibrant and young, so spend some time exploring the laid-back lounges and upscale bars. For something more upbeat, get down and funky in Adams-Morgan, another trendy district.
Leaving the capital behind, we continue on to New York. First up is Philadelphia. Check out Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the historic Liberty Bell - Philadelphia's landmark that weighs in at 2080lb (944kg). Don't forget to try a Philly cheese steak, a local speciality before we head to the famous New York City!
Get familiar with the Big Apple as your Tour Manger & Local Guide open up Manhattan. See the USA's economic heart on Wall Street and the famous stock exchange NYSE, before checking out the cultural hub of Harlem and the famous Apollo Theatre, where jazz, blues and soul greats like James Brown performed. You'll see Museum Row, which includes some of the world's most prestigious museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Check out the towering Rockefeller center, which took 70,000 workers to build, the Gothic St Patrick's Cathedral and the exclusive jewelry store, Tiffany's before making a sobering stop at the World Trade Center Site, where the Twin Towers once stood. Then take an optional helicopter ride for the most unique view over the city.
Get up close to one of the world's most recognizable icons, the Statue of Liberty. Then, with a free day, you can take off at your own pace and discover more of the ultimate big city. Get on 2 wheels in a fun optional guided tour and peddle your way through Central Park, New York's heart and “lungs”. Our Local Guide knows this popular haunt's hidden spots and will tell you all about this iconic green space. Otherwise, get familiar with New York's various flavors and step into its global kitchen. Try some hand made pasta in atmospheric Little Italy, or authentic noodles from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in bustling Chinatown. Pick up a bagel and some salami from a deli or buy an authentic American hot dog from a street stand. Use your free time to explore New York's vibrant and diverse neighborhoods up close. Soak up the bohemian feel of the former center point of the folk movement, Greenwich village. This hub of alternative culture still has a buzzing street life and cute, sidewalk cafes. Take a walk through stylish Soho and check out its hip, funky boutiques, the warehouse district and its trademark iron architecture. Shopping-wise, New York is one of the world's hottest cities and a leading trend-setter, so get some tips from your Trip Manager on where to go for the latest fashions. If you're into the hit show “Sex and the City”, don't miss your chance to find out more with our fun optional locally guided tour around the girls' favorite city hot spots in New York this afternoon. Use your free night to head back to your favorite city spot for a cocktail or ask your Trip Manager for some fresh ideas and head out with your friends.
Use your free time to get out of the city for a change of scene. Head out to beautiful Brooklyn by walking over the historic Brooklyn Bridge or visit the colourful suburb, the Bronx, known for its zoo and botanical gardens. For something different, hit the Lower East Side and learn about New York's mixed history and immigrants at the Tenement Museum. If you're feeling hungry, visit the Chelsea Market - it's packed with gourmet foods from brownies to lobster. Tonight is the last night in NYC and we're going to make it unforgettable. After an included dinner, we'll head straight to the top of New York's most famous landmark, the Empire State Building. Take in the gorgeous night lights of Manhattan and sweeping views over the city from 102 floors up.
Meet up with your Contiki crew and Tour Manager in New York City, before we hit the road and drop by Providence, Rhode Island's capital city. Next up is Boston. Home to the Red Sox (the famous baseball team), many creative thinkers and historic rebels, this thriving university town is soaked in history and packed with things to do. Your Tour Manager will introduce the group to Boston's core spots. You'll see Boston Common - the city's oldest park - and the historic Quincy Market & Faneuil Hall, which served as a meeting place for those wanting independence from England and for slavery to end. Get to know your crew and Tour Manager over dinner tonight, before exploring more of the city in a fun night out. With everything from indie bands to nightclubs, there's something for everyone.
With a full day here, you'll get a feel for this user-friendly city, which is easy to explore on foot. In your free time, walk through a living time line and follow Boston's famous Freedom Trail, which takes you past 2 and a half centuries of history. Learn about Boston's rebellious role on its road to independence as you explore the cobbled lanes and historic hot spots. Discover more of Boston. Pound the pavements or choose our optional Hop-on-Hop-off trolley tour and cover more of the city. You'll get the background on Boston's famous Tea Party, when Boston citizens threw tons of tea into the harbor in protest against the British Crown. Head back to Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market for a bit of souvenir shopping and a dose of history. Dubbed the “Cradle of Liberty” this famous brick building has played a key role in the city for over 250 years. Check out the stalls loaded with New England's crafts, pick up some Boston-made items and order some local food at a push cart eatery or restaurant. For a bit of the local lifestyle, take in the waterfront by following the Haborwalk. Made up of 62.8 km (39miles) of paths weaving through diverse neighborhoods, it is a great way to experience Boston's maritime flavor and see its working ports in action. Get into the city's café culture on Italian flavored Hanover Street in Boston's oldest residential district. Sip on a cappuccino as you take in the city's iconic brick architecture. If you just want to relax, kick back with the locals and people-watch in one of the nine parks that make up the city's “Emerald Necklace”. You could return to Boston Common, where public hangings took place in the old days, - now it's a great place to hang out.
Wind down on the coach, plug in your MP3 and watch the wilderness of Maine unfold from your window. Keep an eye open for it fresh-water lakes, beautiful scenery and wildlife like moose, beavers, foxes and birds. Maybe even practice your French phrases as we cross the border into Canada. We continue on to North America's French flavored core, Quebec, and experience a slice of old Europe. Founded in the 17th century, this is the only city in Canada or the USA that has its original city walls, making it the only walled-city in North America.
Step back in time in Quebec's old-town as your Local Guide opens up the UNESCO World Heritage listed center. As you walk through this open-air museum, complete with cobbled streets and 17th century stone houses you'll learn about its history. With free time, discover more of the fortified city. Check out the Citadel, ancient point of defense, complete with a traditional changing of the guard. Otherwise, follow the city walls and uncover little boutiques and galleries tucked away within the time-worn streets. With its European heritage, Quebec has a buzzing café culture that fills its historic center. For lunch, grab a table in a Parisian style bistro and try some of the local specialties like tourtière québecois (meat pie) or duckling with maple syrup. Kick back and listen to the locals speaking French. For views over the St. Lawrence River, walk along Dufferin Terrace, Quebec City's most famous boardwalk. If you're keen for a slice of Canada's diverse history, get the low-down on the people of French-Canada at the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilization) See how the building cleverly blends both new design and old buildings. Otherwise, don't forget to visit the iconic Chateau Frontenac in the heart of the old town.
Continue on to the island city of Montreal. A happening hub and home to the famous Montreal Jazz festival, this hot, creative city mixes up a North American feel with French influence. It also has amazing food and is thriving with festivities. Get familiar with the city when we arrive. Catch some of Montreal's relaxed vibes down at the Old Port and get the background on its maritime history as the group drives around the quays. The well-preserved riverside old-town was a key player in early Montreal's development. Then, we'll take a drive up Mt Royal, which serves up sweeping views over the city. Check out this enormous park that was designed by the same person who landscaped New York's famous Central Park. Your Tour Manager will show you some of Montreal's signature sites. See the copper dome of St Joseph's oratory, the biggest monument built to honor Canada's patron saint. You'll get a look at Montreal's most famous architectural curiosity: the 1976 Olympic stadium, complete with the world's tallest inclined tower. For some action, hit the rapids of the St Lawrence River in an adrenaline-pumping optional jet-boat ride, and experience another side of Montreal.
With a free day ahead of you, explore Montreal's creative core and joie de vivre (joy of living). See some of the city's innovations, like the world-famous Biodome, where you can walk through different eco-systems, from ocean fronts to woodlands, and get up close to all sorts of wildlife. Montreal is a great place to shop. On St Laurent Boulevard (it's affectionately dubbed “The Main”) look through cutting-edge boutiques, jewelery stores and artists' workshops. Otherwise just hang out in an outdoor café among the throngs of people and get a real feel for Montreal's street life. For a different shopping experience, head underground to Montreal's famous underground-city. With 19 miles of shops and restaurants right under the heart of the city, it's got it all. Lunchtime: go local and head to Jean-Talon Market, with its bustling stalls and friendly atmosphere. Try some tasty baked goods, fresh produce or delicious snacks, like calamari and chips. Then kick back with some of the best coffee in town from near-by Little Italy. Tonight, explore Montreal's amazing nightlife with some friends. There's so much to choose from - jazz bars in the down town area, the student vibes of the Latin Quarter, the clubs of Rue St. Catherine or the festive outdoor atmosphere and cozy lounge bars back up the hill on Mt Royal, where Rue St. Denis is a happening night spot. Afterward, round off your night with a Montreal favorite: poutine (French fries with gravy and cheese curd).
As we stick to the St Lawrence River Valley, you'll see the local fresh water wonder: the 1000 islands of different sizes that are scattered across Lake Ontario and the river. Later, pull into Toronto, Canada's economic powerhouse, cosmopolitan capital and English speaking heart. Kick start your time here with a few of Toronto's key spots on a tour around the city. Your Tour Manager will fill you in on the iconic CN Tower, North America's tallest free standing structure at 553 meters. See buzzing Yonge Street, with its designer labels, funky boutiques and diverse stores. Enjoy a look into student life as you check out the University of Toronto, complete with Gothic buildings and ivy covered stone walls.
Toronto is loaded with things to do, so some ideas for your free time include getting away from it all by jumping on a local ferry and heading out to one of Toronto's leafy islands. With no cars, cute cottages and windswept nature, these are the perfect places to chill out. Or, for something different, visit the fantastic Bata Shoe Museum and see its quirky, impressive collection of footwear. If something sporty is more your thing, head to the Hockey Hall of Fame and honor Canada's national sport. Otherwise, explore Toronto's melting pot, experience different pockets of culture and taste food from all over the world. Start by having a bit of fun in colorful and chaotic Chinatown. It's packed with little shops selling anything from knick knacks to lanterns, and its streets are full of stalls dishing up all sorts of tasty Asian dishes. Check out the bustling vibe of near-by Kensington Market, a vibrant, multi-cultural neighborhood that is fascinating to walk around. Popular with locals, Kensington Market serves up bakeries, tapas (Spanish style nibbles), international grocery stores, Mexican and Jewish food, vintage stores and one-of-a kind boutiques. Round off your experience with some espresso and pastries in Little Italy. Get your heart racing in an optional excursion up CN tower, where you can walk the glass floor and enjoy the widest-reaching vistas in Toronto. Tonight, enjoy an optional dinner at Wayne Gretsky's. This popular restaurant is owned by the man Canadian's commonly refer to as “The Great One.” After dinner, get ready to laugh as we see a show at the popular Second City Comedy Club. Famous alumni include of Second City include, Steven Colbert, Tina Fey, and Mike Meyers among many, many others. You never know who might be famous one day, so save your program!
Head to the surging waters of world-famous Niagara Falls, right on the border of the USA and Canada. Jump on board the Maid of the Mist and cruise along the river to the base of the world's second largest falls for a closer look. You'll see the incredible volume of water pouring over the cliff and feel the sheer power of the spray. But don't worry - there is an included rain poncho! Choose to get a bird's-eye-view of it all on an optional helicopter ride and check out the falls from both sides of the border. Follow the river's path and see the tons of water that make up the falls- it'll make your jaw drop. Later, Enjoy an insider's look at Toronto's night life on an optional guided party pub crawl around the city's hot spots tonight and finish your time off in this city with a night to remember.
We leave Canada behind and continue on to Cleveland, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once an industrial working man's town, Cleveland has undergone a musical makeover and a cultural re-awakening. We visit Cleveland's claim to fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where you can get up close to rock memorabilia like Janis Joplin's Porsche, Jimi Hendrix's hand-written lyrics and Ray Charles' sunglasses. Learn about the history of rock and roll, listen to rare recordings and watch some fascinating films. If you're keen to get out and about tonight, head to the transformed industrial area, where old buildings and warehouses contain shops, galleries, cafes and a buzzing nightlife.
Today we depart Cleveland and head through America's Midwest towards Chicago. On our way, we'll turn back the clock with a visit to Amish Country. Next stop: the Great Lakes and Chicago, the USA's windy second city. Fusing the cutting-edge and the traditional, Chicago serves up innovative architecture, all-American sports, as well as an arts scene that pushes the boundaries yet keeps to its roots. Get to know the city as your Tour Manager shows the group around Chicago's sporting shrines; Soldier Field, home to the Chicago Bears American football team, and the U.S. Cellular Field, home to the legendary Chicago White Sox. The 110 story Wills Tower and other skyscrapers will make you understand why this town has the highest skyline in the USA, before we cruise down the Magnificent Mile, a shopper's paradise. This is the hometown of blues great, Muddy Waters. Tonight, maybe head to a back room blues club, for some authentic music, rough and raw. Chicago has some of the best nightlife in the States, so choose from the masses of jazz bars, dance performances, theaters and nightclubs.
This morning, we head to Navy Pier, a central hub of activity on the waterfront. Besides great views and a prime location, Navy Pier has fun rides, restaurants and shops selling trinkets. From here, it's easy to get out and explore more of Chicago. Use your free time and jump on two wheels to get a wide-ranging overview of the city's core sights with a Local Guide in a fun optional activity. Or, there's a chance to learn about the famous architects who helped design the world's tallest skyline on an architectural cruise. With unrestrained views from the river, you'll get a good look at the towering buildings. For a dose of some of Chicago's ground-breaking culture, visit a world-class museum, like the Art Institute of Chicago. For a bit of sporting action, check out if the White Sox or Cubs are playing, and spend an afternoon at the stadium watching a game. If you're hungry, make sure you try a hot-dog, Chicago style, from a street vendor. Other ideas for your free time include a visit to Lincoln Park, a favorite local hang out. With its beaches, sculptures, a free zoo and big green spaces it's a great place to relax among the locals. Shopping-wise, a return to the Magnificent Mile is totally recommended. It's packed with 8 blocks worth of stores and boutiques - in other words over 460 stores to rummage through.
We continue on into the USA's heartland and across the plains of Wisconsin. Next stop: Milwaukee. It's home to the nation's largest beer brewers and to Harley-Davidson. Learn about the city's famous brew in a behind the scenes look with our Local Guide at the Miller Brewery. Later, we pull into Madison, a friendly college town. If you're up for a night out, grab a few buddies and hang out among the lively student population on State Street, where there's a choice of taverns, local specialty breweries, comedy clubs and bars.(B,D)
Cross the Midwest and pretty Minnesota farmlands before hitting the wild and stunning state of South Dakota. We travel across the county's biggest prairies and enter a region once dominated by the Sioux Tribes - the only Native American Nation to defeat the US army. Arrive in Sioux Falls and get the background behind the city's name with a visit to Falls Park, where many tribes originally established their homes.
Watch the amazing natural sites of South Dakota go by as we journey through Badlands National Park, past a surreal, lunar landscape of rugged-edged cliffs, sharp spires and crevices. With a stop here there's time to walk the easy-going Fossil trail, take it all in and see fossils found within the park that are on display.
Today is all about South Dakota's Black Hills - sacred land to the Sioux and patriotic hot spot for Americans. We visit iconic Mt Rushmore and see the 18 m (60ft) stony faces of four former US presidents. It took over 14 years to carve Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelt into the rock. You'll be blown away by the massive monument of the famous Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse. Standing at 563 feet tall and carved out of rock, this work in progress is amazing. Get a crash course in heroism and learn how he led the Sioux tribes to victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Get ready for Deadwood and a real taste of the Wild West. Packed with old saloons, gambling parlors and Wild West storefronts from the gold rush era, Deadwood is National Historic Landmark. See shoot-outs in the street in the former stomping ground of outlaws like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
Cut into Wyoming's cowboy country and travel across historic routes that the legendary Pony Express (postal service on horseback) used to follow and see where the pioneers lived. Then it's on to Cody. With pick-up trucks, dusty streets, lots of cattle and legendary beginnings, this ‘rodeo capital of the world' still has its Wild West charm. Use your free time to check out Cody's Historic Trail Town and get the low down on the cowboys who used to hang out in the local saloons, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or see the Irma Hotel Bar, an expensive gift from Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill Cody, the town's namesake. Otherwise, if the season's right, you've got a chance to experience an authentic rodeo and see some of professional cowboys at work in a fun night time optional.
Today we're up for some of the USA's most awe-inspiring scenery as we head to Yellowstone, the world's first national park. The result of a massive volcanic eruption, the park is a breathtaking spectacle of nature. Tonight we head back to Cody.
This morning we explore the crown jewel of America's national parks. It's a masterpiece of wilderness, wildlife & natural wonders. Set you sights on the towering spires of the Teton Range & arrive in the chic, yet western-styled ski & boarding town, Jackson Hole.
Take in the views through Idaho before arriving in the mountain town of Park City. Although it's famous for its skiing & the Sundance Film festival, Park City is definitely a summer playground as well. PLEASE NOTE: Trips departing before April 2015 will stay in Salt Lake City as the itinerary below Enjoy the scenic drive through Idaho before arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah where you'll visit Temple Square and see the impressive six-spire Temple & Mormon Tabernacle.
Get active & hike among the richly coloured rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park on the road from Park City to Kanab
Today, we discover the mind-blowing landscape of the Grand Canyon, one of the world's most recognizable natural wonders and pride of Arizona. A day here means time to take in the immensity and spine-tingling beauty of the scene-stealing canyon - you won't be able to stop looking at it! Hike along the rim for full-blown vistas of the dramatic scenery. See some of the oldest exposed rocks on earth, take in the depths of the 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.
It's a change of scene today when we cut back into Utah and visit Zion National Park - with loads of greenery, waterfalls and colorful cliffs, it's a far cry from the dry parks and rock formations we've seen so far. Your Tour Manager will point out the park's landmarks, including the Watchman and the West Temple. 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 Tour 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.
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. If you just want to relax, position yourself poolside back at the hotel and soak up the Las Vegas sun. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas' hot spots from your Tour Manager and make the most of this towns' 24/7 action with some of your new friends.
Leaving behind Las Vegas, we journey through the vast Mojave Desert, with its iconic Joshua trees, into Southern California. Our tour ends once we arrive in Los Angeles, where it's time to say goodbye to your new friends.