We’re always finding great flight deals to the USA, but we’re also dab hands when it comes to advice on what to do there. A road trip is invariably high on our agenda, conjuring up images of cruising down Route 66 (yes, we know it no longer exists) in a Caddy, trying to emulate Jack Kerouac.
As amazing as that sounds, figuring out the best route and arranging accommodation in various cities could be a bit of a headache. In that case, an organised coach trip could be just the ticket.
The driving is done for you and packages include food, accommodation and entrance to parks and monuments. You’ll also make lots of new friends – trust us, living with your fellow adventurers on a coach definitely speeds up this process. Best of all, the drivers know where they’re going and can take you to both the famous sights and the little-known ones off the beaten track.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, California © Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia
The Yosemite National Park tour, beginning and ending in San Francisco, packs a great deal into three days. In Yosemite Valley you’ll hike up to the waterfalls of the Mist Trail and explore deserts, mountains and the stunning Mono Lake, an ancient inland sea. You’ll also swim in the Tuolumne River, visit the Giant Sequoias and scale Lembert Dome for breathtaking panoramic views of Yosemite’s high country. The whole trip is wrapped up with a late stop at a Gold Rush-era saloon. Likelihood of karaoke = extremely high.
Bryce Canyon, Utah © Jay Mudaliar
The 14-day east-to-west Southern Dream trip takes you from Boston to San Francisco through the southern states. City slickers will love the stops in Washington DC, home of the 18 Smithsonian museums, and Austin, Texas, where you can swim in Barton Springs. You’ll also get a taste of the vibrant nightlife of New Orleans and Las Vegas. The activities seem endless; you can hike in Great Smoky Mountains NP and Canyon de Chelly, take a Jeep ride through Monument Valley, climb the scary-but-worth-it Angels Landing trail at Zion NP, and much more.
Florida Everglades and Keys
Key West, Florida © FloridaStock
On the week-long Florida Everglades and Keys tour, you’ll find there’s much more to the Sunshine State than Disney. Starting from Miami, you’ll discover the Everglades, hiking the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo Trails – just remember to watch out for gators! At the John Pennekamp and Bahia Honda State Parks activities include snorkelling, kayaking and glass-bottomed boat tours. In Key West, hop on the Old Town Trolley and check out the many galleries, museums, shops and restaurants, rounded off with the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square.
Arizona Desert Explorer
Sonoran Desert, Arizona © Anton Foltin
The seven-day Arizona Desert Explorer tour begins and ends in Phoenix. You’ll explore Montezuma’s Castle and Tuzigoot National Monument in Verde Valley before settling in Dead Horse Ranch State Park, which we’re assured is nicer than it sounds. The captivating names continue in abundance; Lost Dutchman NP, Superstition Mountains and Goldfield Ghost Town are all on the list. How could you not be intrigued? The tour also takes you underground to Kartchner Caves, and to Saguaro National Park, boasting more cacti than you can shake a stick at.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco © jared ropelato
The two-week Pacific Coast tour takes in California, Washington and Oregon, offering a wide range of attractions from stunning mountain vistas to buzzing cities. It’s national parks galore: check out the mind-bogglingly huge trees in Yosemite NP and Redwood NP, and climb the mountain glaciers (or just admire them from a distance, we won’t judge) of Mount Rainier NP and Olympic NP. You’ll also walk San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, become star-struck in Los Angeles and be whisked up Seattle’s Space Needle.
Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada © topseller
The three-week Northern Trail tour from LA to New York offers too much to fit in one paragraph, but we’ll try. You’ll start by touring Hollywood and San Francisco, hiking or biking through Yosemite NP and taking a sunset cruise on the beautiful Lake Tahoe. You’ll get a taste of the Wild West (and white-water rafting) in Wyoming, spot bison and elk in Yellowstone NP and admire Mount Rushmore. Next stop after camping out in Badlands NP is a bike tour of Chicago and the ‘Maid of the Mist’ tour at Niagara Falls, before exploring New York’s Pocono Mountains. Phew!
Alaskan Caribou Crawler
Bald eagle in Alaska © FloridaStock
The 14-day Alaskan Caribou Crawler tour takes in the USA and Canada, both offering vast unspoiled tundra, snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear seas. It’s another national park-heavy tour; you can hike the Balu Pass Trail in Glacier NP (and treat yourself to the hot springs afterwards), admire the cascades of Johnston Canyon in Banff NP and explore the river gorges of Jasper NP. After travelling through the Canadian Rockies, a ferry takes you past stunning fjords, home to humpback whales and grizzly bears. It ends up in Alaska’s capital, Juneau, so don’t forget to organise your flights back! Also, don’t forget your hat and scarf.
Capitol Building, Washington DC © SFC
For a taste of America’s east, from famous cities to scenic countryside, try the seven-day Freedom Trail tour. You’ll start off with an evening tour of Washington DC, featuring impressive museums and illuminated icons such as the White House and Capitol Hill. After a scenic drive through the Appalachian mountains in Pennsylvania, it’s time for the Niagara Falls ‘Maid of the Mist’ tour, complete with fetching blue poncho. You’ll travel through the Berkshires in Massachusetts and Connecticut, followed by a trip to Boston where you can take the Freedom Trail Walk.
Death Valley and the Mohave Desert
Joshua Tree National Park, California © agap
Despite the ominous name, the six-day Death Valley and Mohave Desert trip is full of exciting activities with national parks, hot springs and cave tours on the agenda. You’ll scramble over sandstone in Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rocks National Conservation Area. Next stop is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the USA at 282 feet below sea level, followed by a soak in Tecopa Hot Springs. Finally you’ll explore the Kelso Sand Dunes at Mojave National Preserve and hike trails at Joshua Tree NP. Try climbing Ryan Mountain for a panoramic view of the park.
If the idea of coach travel through the States really appeals but you’d rather make up your own itinerary, check out Greyhound. It’s the largest North American intercity bus company with over 3,800 destinations and 13,000 daily departures. You’re bound to come up with a tailor-made American adventure at a great price.
Or, if you like the sound of these trips but you’re still determined to be your own chauffeur, you can find fantastic deals on USA car hire here.