Best of America

Best of America
Best of America
Best of America
Best of America
Best of America
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Intrepid Travel

Let the United States flaunt its stuff on an action-packed 20-day journey from east to west with Lonely Planet and Intrepid

Let the United States flaunt its stuff on an action-packed 20-day journey from east to west with Lonely Planet and Intrepid. Snaking through the Appalachian Mountains via the nation's capital, this route encompasses everything from the pioneer and political history of Philadelphia and Washington DC to the musical legacies of Nashville and Memphis. Jump over to the City of Angels, Los Angeles, then stroll among the bizarre flora of Joshua Tree National Park, peer over the edge of the Grand Canyon and people-watch on the Strip in Vegas. For those who just want to hit the road and leave the world in their dust, the New York to San Fran adventure is just the ticket.

Highlights
  • Enjoy a full day to explore the USA capital, Washington DC, at your leisure. See the White House, Capitol Hill and the National Mall, and feel small next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln.
  • The hubs of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans are celebrated for their rich music and nightlife scenes, with unforgettable performances of blues, jazz, country and rock.
  • The Grand Canyon National Park takes time to discover – you'll spend two nights in the park, unlike on most trips, so there's a full day to explore properly and see the mighty canyon up close.
  • Discover another side to Yosemite’s Towering granite cliffs, redwood forests and epic night skies by hiking one of its best, lesser-known trails – Hetch Hetchy – with your expert guide.
  • Where better to end your adventure than in San Francisco – the eclectic and multicultural City by the Bay.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (11 nights), Hotel (6 nights), Hostel (2 nights)
Included Activities
  • Philadelphia - City highlights stop
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Memphis - World Famous Fried Chicken Lunch
  • New Orleans - Po'Boy dinner
  • Joshua Tree National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Grand Canyon National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Visit to Mono Lake
Transport
  • Private vehicle
Destinations
  • USA
  • North America
Tour Types
  • Lonely Planet Experience
Day 1: New York (Newark)

Welcome to the Big Apple. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm. New York is a huge metropolis and seeing as though you’ll start your adventure south tomorrow, we suggest that you arrive at least a couple of days early to experience some of what the city has to offer. If you do arrive with time to spare before the meeting, consider doing an Urban Adventures Midtown Sights & Bites Food Tour, which takes you past some iconic NYC landmarks and feeds you along the way.

Location: New York (Newark)

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2: Washington DC

Drive south towards the nation's capital of Washington DC, stopping at Philadelphia on the way for a look at some of the highlights of its Old City, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Rocky steps. After taking a look around Philly, continue onto DC. The total travel time for the day is up to 7 hours, including stops. Once arrived, your group leader will take you on an orientation walk around Washington DC to help you decide the best way to experience the city tonight, and for your free day tomorrow.

Location: Washington DC

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 3: Washington DC

Today is free to explore Washington DC, a city best discovered on foot. Choose from any of DC’s almost 100 world-class museums – the National Air and Space Museum, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Newseum are just a few. There are also many other small fascinating museums hidden around the city. The city is overflowing with historic buildings, so be sure not miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Monument, FDR and Jefferson Memorials. You’ll most likely do a lot of walking today, so wear your walking shoes, and reward yourself with a relaxing evening.

Location: Washington DC

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 4: Appalachian Mountains

Journey into the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains. Shenandoah National Park is one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachians and you’ll see all its beauty when taking Skyline Drive along its crest. Weave through the woods and past spectacular lookouts and stop to stretch your legs under the impressive oak trees. Arrive at your campsite in the late afternoon. The total driving today will be around 8 hours, including stops.

Location: Appalachian Mountains

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 5: Nashville

Drive for approximately 6 hours further south to Nashville, Tennessee. Once settled into the hostel, the group leader will orientate you with a short walk around Broadway and Downtown. After this, perhaps visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and approximately 200 music publishing houses are located. The Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot in the evening to experience authentic southern food and live music.

Location: Nashville

Accommodation: Hostel

Day 6: Memphis

Head west this morning to Memphis, which should take approximately 4 hours. Get to know Memphis over an included lunch at Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken. The rest of your afternoon is free, but leader will make sure you know the way around before you head out. There’s a lot to do in Memphis and you’ve got some time to explore some optional activities at your own pace. Just out of the city you can visit Graceland: Elvis Presley’s former home and the site of his tomb. Here you can see the famous jungle room, as well as his cars, private planes and much more. For those with an interest in history, there's the National Civil Rights Museum where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.

Location: Memphis

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Meals: lunch,

Day 7: Memphis

Wake up in Memphis and spend time exploring what you missed out on yesterday. Perhaps head to the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, which tells the complete Memphis music story. For something a bit unusual and out of place, take a visit to the Peabody hotel and experience their famous Duck Parade, which happens every day at 11 am and 5 pm. In the evening, consider heading down to check out Beale Street's traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as W.C. Handy, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King.

Location: Memphis

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 8: New Orleans

Today, make the long 8-hour drive across the state of Mississippi to find yourself in a city known as the Big Easy, New Orleans. If there’s time, your group might like the chance to stop by Honey Island for a swamp tour down one of the least-altered river swamps in the country. It's pretty much in its original condition; almost an untouched wilderness. Otherwise, head straight to New Orleans and get acquainted with an orientation walk of the city. Perhaps take a walk down colourful Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District, and be sure to head with your group for an included po'boy dinner at Johnny’s. It's a quintessential New Orleans experience, and Johnny's po'boy is one of the best.

Location: New Orleans

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: dinner,

Day 9: New Orleans

Enjoy a free day to fit in as much of New Orleans as you can! Perhaps cruise the Mississippi on a riverboat or visit the fascinating little Voodoo Museum. Better yet, why not check out an Urban Adventures experience like the Total New Orleans Tour – a comprehensive guide on food, cocktails and the jazz scene. In the evening, you could check out a jazz show or dance the night away in the bars along Frenchman Street.

Location: New Orleans

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 10: Los Angeles

Take a flight today from New Orleans and touch down in the City of Angels, Los Angeles. Tonight, gather together for another meeting, this time with a new group leader. There will be a meeting at 6 pm where you’ll welcome some new travellers on the next stage of your USA adventure. If you do arrive early, perhaps take a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or spend some time learning about the lives of the rich and famous on a celebrity homes tour. After the welcome meeting, you’ll head beachside and visit Venice and Santa Monica beaches for a stroll and some people watching. Tonight is again all about introductions, so why not spend some time getting to know your fellow travellers with an optional group dinner.

Location: Los Angeles

Accommodation: Hostel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 11: Joshua Tree National Park

Today, you’ll head away from the coast and drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Sitting between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park is famous for its spectacular desert plants – including the park’s namesake Joshua trees – along with cacti and Mojave yuccas. The area is also home to striking rock formations and mountain ranges, so you might like to head out on a scenic hike around the park or take a refreshing dip in the Colorado River. You’ll head to Lake Havasu City later on to your accommodation for the night, and check out London Bridge: a 280-metre structure rebuilt in Arizona in 1971 after being transported, piece by piece, from the banks of the Thames in London.

Location: Joshua Tree National Park

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 12: Grand Canyon National Park

Drive for 6 hours to Grand Canyon National Park, along a section of the famous Route 66, stopping in at the eccentric town of Seligman. Once we arrive at the Grand Canyon National Park, be ready to visually delight in the natural beauty for hours. This stunning gorge is 1.5 kilometres deep, formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River. You'll spend two nights here, and you’ll need it, to allow for a full day of exploration tomorrow.

Location: Grand Canyon National Park

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 13: Grand Canyon National Park

Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon, one of the largest canyon systems in the world. Stroll along the meandering South Rim Trail or hike your way down to Plateau Point. With eagles soaring overhead and chasms extending as far as the eye can see, it’s so important for you to experience its vast gorges from multiple viewpoints. If you're feeling adventurous, you can choose to take a scenic helicopter flight over the area (for an extra cost). In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one of the world's natural wonders.

Location: Grand Canyon National Park

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 14: Las Vegas

Head out of the Grand Canyon and cross the western deserts of Arizona to Las Vegas, which takes around 4 hours. Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness. As this stage of the trip comes to an end, it may be time to farewell some fellow travellers who are finishing their adventure, but for you, perhaps book yourself in to one of the many shows on offer – book in advance if you can!

Location: Las Vegas

Day 15: Las Vegas

Today is as clear as the blue skies in the deserts of Nevada. There are no planned activities until another meeting in the hotel lobby today at 6 pm, where you may meet some new travellers on your wild west adventure. After your briefing, why not go check out one of the all-you-can-eat buffets on offer with your new and improved crew.

Location: Las Vegas

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 16: Sierra Nevada / Keough Hot Springs

Leave the bright lights of Vegas behind and drive into the Eastern Sierra Nevada toward the quaint town of Bishop. On arrival, check out the town or perhaps treat yourself to the crispy cookies or ‘bear claws’ at Erick Schat’s German bakery. Later this afternoon, join the group for a soothing soak in a natural hot spring – perfect for those wanting to relax before an action-packed few days in Yosemite. Tonight, you’ll camp under the stars in Bishop.

Location: Sierra Nevada / Keough Hot Springs

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 17: Yosemite National Park

Prepare for some spectacular mountain scenery as you depart from Bishop and head west to Yosemite National Park. This morning, stop at crystal clear lakes – including Mono and Tenaya – before continuing through the Tioga Pass (snow levels permitting) into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Stop by Olmstead Point to marvel at Yosemite’s natural wonder, Half Dome, before arriving at one of the most famous parks in the USA. Yosemite's colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls (depending on the season) and redwood forests attract visitors from all over the world. You'll spend three nights in the park, meaning you have two full days to explore. The total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.

Location: Yosemite National Park

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 18: Yosemite National Park

Start today with an orientation tour of the village before heading out for a free day of exploration. There are plenty of hikes available, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike The Mist Trail to Nevada Falls (2–5 hours) or to the serene Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels and perhaps even a bear along the way. You might prefer to hire a bike and explore Yosemite Valley, visiting the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants along the way. In the heat of summer, a relaxing float down the Merced River followed by a few drinks at the park's cafe is just the trick.

Location: Yosemite National Park

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 19: Yosemite National Park

Today there’s a chance to explore a different side of the park as you join your leader on a guided hike to Hetch Hetchy Valley. Tucked away in the northwest corner of Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy is a wilderness of cascading waterfalls, towering cliff faces and beautiful wildflowers. Boasting one of the longest hiking seasons in the park, the ecologically diverse valley attracts a fraction of the visitors in comparison to other more well-known hiking spots in Yosemite – which means it’s an ideal area for those who have extra time to explore the park in depth.

Location: Yosemite National Park

Accommodation: Camping (with facilities)

Day 20: San Francisco

Leave Yosemite behind today and drive west to San Francisco (approximately 4 hours). The 'City by the Bay' has a beautiful setting and a vibrant, multicultural heart. You might like to check out the vintage stores along funky Haight Street, catch the tram down to the waterfront or take an Adventure Cat Bay Cruise. The trip finishes on arrival into San Francisco after a stop to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, and no accommodation is provided tonight. As there's a great deal to do in San Francisco, we recommend you stay a couple of extra days to make the most of the city. If you do wish to spend extra time in San Francisco, we'll be happy to help you book additional accommodation (subject to availability).

Location: San Francisco

Included

Visit to Mono Lake

Dates Price Single Availability
25-Apr-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
23-May-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
06-Jun-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
20-Jun-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
11-Jul-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
25-Jul-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
01-Aug-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
08-Aug-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
22-Aug-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website
05-Sep-2021 for 20 Nights Best of America Visit Website

Touring with Intrepid Travel

Intrepid was started by two friends from Melbourne, Australia, in 1988 after embarking on a trip through the wilds of Africa in a modified ex-council truck, crammed with friends, supplies, a handful of aviator sunglasses and a case or two of beer. Could this type of travel be something others would be interested in? The answer was a resounding yes and today Intrepid send 100,000 travellers across the globe each year with the help of a staff of 1,000.

After three decades, founders Darrell and Manch, feel they know what travellers want. They get that it’s a big decision to fly across the world to wander the souks of Marrakech or enjoy a dreamy Angkor sunrise. They understand that you’re looking for a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of classic highlights and local secrets you won’t find on Google. And of course, an authentic real life experience. Their leaders are born and raised in-country and they know their destination better than anyone. So you’ll do more than just see a place, you’ll live it. Small groups, big adventures and responsible travel – that’s Intrepid’s thing. With 1,000 trips in a variety of styles across 100 countries, you’re sure to find something you like.

Intrepid believe the real magic happens well away from the beaten path. It’s the little noodle bars, hidden galleries and backstreet bodegas and real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. Real life experiences are those moments you know you’re really alive and experiencing something special. While it could be the instant you see one of the world’s great icons for the first time, it is more likely to be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a village square soccer game, being treated to a home-cooked meal by your new local friends or sharing a laugh with your fellow travellers as you try a new mode of transport … camel anyone? These unexpected moments are what travelling with Intrepid is all about, giving you a trip like no other.

Intrepid realises the world is a really big place. And there’s a plethora of different languages to learn, borders to cross and cultures to negotiate. Small group adventure travel makes these things easy and allows you to maximise your precious time off. Instead of worrying about logistics, you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime. Their tour groups are small enough to feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe. Group size will vary depending on where and how you’re travelling, but the average group size is about 10.

Intrepid’s themed trips encompass all hobbies and interests or could pique an interest in a new hobby you never knew you needed. From foodie explorations across Asia or India, sailing the seas in Thailand or the Caribbean, wildlife encounters in the Serengeti or Antarctica, scenic cycling or walking to Base Camp or through Tibet, and epic expeditions in Burma or Russia, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Intrepid is committed to operating in a responsible manner, incorporating the principles of sustainable development in the way they provide travellers with real life experiences. These values are ingrained in the culture and daily operations of every Intrepid office and tour. In addition, they hope their travellers also demonstrate the principles of responsible travel - respecting people, cultures and local environments; in the distribution of wealth; in good will and cross-cultural sharing; and in contributing to sustainable development.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Intrepid Travel

20 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Group Size:1 - 13
Accommodation:Camping (with facilities) (11 nights), Hotel (6 nights), Hostel (2 nights)
Difficulty:physical=2, cultureShock=1
Meals:3 breakfasts, 1 lunches, 1 dinners
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