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. Finish the day at one of the city’s excellent local restaurants. Make sure you get some tips from your Tour Manager on where to go and order some of Boston’s famous lobsters, clams or oysters.
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. 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.
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.
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 order a deep dish pizza, Chicago’s iconic dish, at an Italian restaurant. Otherwise 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. Stop off at the Devil’s Tower, a massive natural monument formed by volcanic activity. 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.
Start the day off with a white-water rafting optional on the river if the conditions are right - and have a go with the paddle in a fun ride. Then 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.
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.
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.
Kick start the day with an optional hot-air balloon ride over pretty Park City, which holds the annual Sundance Film Festival. Enjoy sweeping vistas over the state of Utah and get another angle on the impressive Wasatch Mountains, which divide the lush eastern and arid western halves of the state. We hit another national park known for its hoodoos (thin rock spires streaked in whites, yellows and oranges), Bryce National Park. Take in the strange shapes, vivid colors and rugged rocks that rise up as we hike a trail in the park.
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.