This afternoon, meet up with your Contiki crew and Tour Manager 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. Get a real feel for this outrageous town and keep an eye out for Elvis impersonators and fast-paced chapel weddings! Explore 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 an “only in Vegas” experience, choose our optional Las Vegas show. Then 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 travel buddies.
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.
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 theater 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 Tour Manager and make the most of this town's action.
Today, cruise on through the San Joaquin Valley to free-wheeling San Francisco, via Oakland. Colorful, cosmopolitan and creative, San Francisco is packed with characters, free-thinkers, and artists. You'll see the signs of its recent history where it served as the hub of the gold rush, as well as the center for Beatnik and Hippy cultures. After crossing over the Bay Bridge for a panorama of the area, get familiar with this buzzing city as your Tour Manager shows you around San Francisco's key sights. We stop off at Fisherman's Wharf for a slice of the historic waterfront lifestyle, where you can order some fresh fish or crab from sidewalk stands. Cross San Francisco's landmark suspension bridge, the Golden Gate, and check out the city's iconic row houses on Alamo Square. Thriving with activity, Chinatown is a fun, kitsch experience. Choose the optional trip there with your Tour 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.
With a free day 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. 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. With over 3000 places to eat and drink, San Francisco has more choice per capita than anywhere else. Head to the city's gritty Latin American quarter, Mission District, for Mexican tacos or El Salvadorian pupusas (corn flat breads stuffed with cheese, pork or beans) or hit North Beach for some Italian.
Today we leave San Francisco behind and continue traveling through California. This afternoon, we travel south along the central coast and through the pretty wine country of the region before arriving in Santa Barbara. Experience the Spanish flavor of Santa Barbara and see the pretty white stucco buildings and red tile roofs that give the town its distinctive feel. Hit the main drag of State Street, lined with palm trees and interesting coffee shops, bookstores, and diners. Well-known for its hot shopping, you can find anything from indie clothe boutiques to surfer chic, from locally-made accessories to big label brands. Golden beaches make Santa Barbara a great place to surf, swim or catch some sun. You can also rent bike or roller blades and look around town California style. Later, we arrive in Carpinteria for our overnight stop.
Wrap up your tour in the city that mixes up glamor, grit and the American Dream: Los Angeles. It's packed with legends, full of energy and a bit rough around the edges. We head to mythical Hollywood and onto holy ground for the stars. Check out the Dolby Theater, where the Oscars are held every year and the Chinese Theater, where so many greats have pressed their hands into the famous cement stars. For a more in-depth look at movie star glamor and the lifestyles of the rich and famous, choose the optional movie stars' home tour, where you'll see over 40 mansions and learn about the celebrities who live in them. For more history on Hollywood, choose our optional walking tour around the area. Our expert Local Guide will show you the old theaters of Hollywood Boulevard as the group walks down this legendary street. Follow the star-studded Walk of Fame, with its 2000 brass stars, and see the Egyptian Theater and El Capitan Theater. Then it's time to say farewell to your new friends, as your tour ends in downtown LA.