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Epic New York to San Fran Road Trip


This 22-day road trip adventure through the USA’s many highlights is an epic way to see a lot of this diverse country in just three weeks! From New York to San Fransisco, you’ll see natural landscapes that wow, big cities that inspire and different cultures that bring it all together. Starting in the Big Apple, see monumental Washington DC, drive through the fabled Appalachian Mountains and follow the legendary music trail through Nashville and Memphis. Head deep into the country’s desert to marvel at iconic sites like the Grand Canyon (one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World) and Monument Valley (the backdrop of many famous Westerns). Spend your days travelling through ever changing scenery with your newfound friends and your nights in glittering cities like Vegas, or camping beneath a blanket of stars in Yosemite National Park.

22 days, from

$5,775

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: SSRJC
Style: Basix
Theme: 18 to 35s

Details

Countries Visited:  United States Of America
Accommodation: Hostel (multishare) 8 nights, Cabin (with shared facilities) 3 nights, Camping (with facilities) 10 nights
Transportation: Private van
Included Meals:

  • 2 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Take in the incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Shenandoah National Park and look out for deer, birdlife, squirrels and the elusive black bear.

  • Learn how to line dance in Nashville, Tennessee – the home of country music in the USA – then tuck into a Meat and Three lunch of fried chicken and sides (a southern classic).

  • Spend two nights right in the heart of Grand Canyon National Park. With plenty of time to explore its steep red-rock escarpments and gorges, you can tick off one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World off your bucket list.

  • Discover the glitz and glam of Las Vegas – let your hair down and be wowed all things over-the-top in this neon-lit desert city.

  • Cover Yosemite National Park’s many trails with a full day and two starry nights in this iconic park. With your free time, you can hike and explore until your heart (and camera) is content.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Brooklyn, NYC

Welcome to New York! Your adventure begins in Brooklyn this morning with a welcome meeting at 10 am at your hostel. After leaving your luggage at the hostel, take the subway to the Big Apple. Head out on a leader-led walk through Greenwich Village to the Highline Trail – a former elevated train line reinvented as a lush public park. After some free time for lunch at Chelsea Market, maybe visit the Oculus Memorial and walk over to Wall Street. Walk through Little Italy and Chinatown, then head back to Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge. Tonight, maybe join your group for an optional welcome dinner in one of the trendy spots nearby.

Day 2: Washington DC

This morning you’ll drive south towards the nation's capital – Washington, DC. Stop at Philadelphia on the way for a quick look at some of the highlights of the Old City, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the 'Rocky' steps – montage, anyone? You’ll have some free time for lunch before continuing to your hostel in Washington. Head out on a leader-led walking tour of the city with your group to orient yourself, then you’re free for dinner – maybe ask your leader for their recommendations on the best local restaurants.

Day 3: Washington DC

This morning, join your leader for a tour of Washington, DC. The rest of your day is free to explore on your own, so grab a map and ensure you maximise your time in this iconic city. Maybe visit one of the world-class museums here (there are almost 100 to choose from!) – including the National Air and Space Museum, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and the Newseum. The city is also overflowing with famous monuments and buildings like the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Monument, FDR and Jefferson Memorials. After a day of exploring on foot, maybe reward yourself with a relaxing evening at your accommodation or a local restaurant.

Day 4: Appalachian Mountains

Escape the city grind today and venture into the breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains – part of the Appalachian Mountains. Visit the Shenandoah National Park – one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachians. Drive along Skyline Drive, running the length of the park – a famed mountain highway that winds through deep woods and past spectacular vistas. Stop to stretch your legs under the impressive oak trees and admire the gorgeous views (this is the perfect spot for some photos). Look out for deer, elusive black bears, squirrels and the abundant birdlife that call this park their home. Arrive at your cabins for the night and enjoy an evening in the heart of the great outdoors. Share stories with your fellow travellers around the campfire and make s’mores – a traditional nighttime campfire treat in North America – as you look up to the stars.

Day 5: Nashville

Head south this morning to the USA’s Country Music Capital – Nashville, Tennessee. When you arrive, join your leader on a short orientation walk through Nashville’s Downtown area, focusing on the bustling entertainment hub of Broadway – a famed strip renowned for the honky tonk bars that offer live music every day of the week! Tonight, join your group for a typical Nashville dinner, including their famed fried chicken – The Nashville Meat and Three. ‘Meat and Three’ serves meats like fried chicken, country ham or meatloaf alongside three side dishes. The Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot in the evening to experience authentic Southern food and live music – you can even learn how to line dance!

Day 6: Nashville

Today is a free day to explore at your own pace. Maybe visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis or check out some iconic music venues like the Grand Ole Opry House and the Ryman Auditorium. Tonight, maybe ask your leader for some great recommendations for live music venues, bars and the best eats in town – they will know all the good spots to make the most of your night and avoid the tourist traps.

Day 7: Memphis

Say goodbye to the glitz of ‘Nashvegas’ this morning as you continue your musical pilgrimage to the birthplace of rock and roll – Memphis, Tennessee. Join your leader on a short walking tour to familiarise yourself with the city when you arrive. You’ll head down bustling Beale Street, where traditional blues clubs and ritzier tourist traps rub shoulders – but don’t worry, your leader will give you the lowdown on which bars are worth a look. The rest of the day is free to explore. If you have time, a must-see in Memphis is Sun Studio – the 'Birthplace of Rock', which boasts the first recordings of legendary performers like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. For those interested in history, there's the National Civil Rights Museum, where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. This evening, why not head out for a famous Memphis-style barbecue?

Day 8: New Orleans

It’s a long drive today as you head across Mississippi, down in New Orleans – otherwise known as the Big Easy. With a mix of Creole, Cajun and European culture reflected in the city’s architecture, cuisine and music, there’s plenty to explore here. When you arrive, head out on an orientation walk of the eclectic French Quarter – the historic heart of the city, famous for its cast-iron balconies and nightlife. Then, enjoy an included Po Boy sandwich picnic at Louis Armstrong Park with your group. The rest of the day is yours to explore – maybe take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or check out Frenchman Street's live music venues.

Day 9: New Orleans

Today is a free day to explore bustling New Orleans. You’ll have a second welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight, followed by a leader-led walk through the Garden District. After, why not get to know your new travel buddies a little better over dinner or maybe explore the city further with an Urban Adventures French Quarter Food Tour or a New Orleans Cocktail Tour (see urbanadventures.com for more info on these great options or ask your leader when you arrive).

Day 10: Houston

Today, you say goodbye to the buzzing hub of New Orleans and set sights on Houston. Today will be quite a long day on the road, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get stuck into your favourite book or podcast or get to know your fellow travellers a little better. If you spent last night immersed in Louisiana’s famous nightlife, maybe a long nap is in order.

Day 11: San Antonio

This morning you'll join the truckers along Highway 10 to San Antonio. This Mexican-influenced city is the home of the Alamo – an original reconstructed Spanish-American fort from the 18th century. When you arrive, why not walk in the footsteps of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie at the Alamo or stroll along the famous Riverwalk. Maybe grab some pan dulce (sweet bread) for a snack, then spend the afternoon at The Alamo IMAX Theatre or rent a bike and ride the streets for a different perspective of local life. Tonight, why not ask your local leader where the best spot for dinner is and indulge in some puffy tacos or Texas quail.

Day 12: Carlsbad

After a couple of days traversing the state of Texas, today you’ll enter the deserts of New Mexico on your way to Carlsbad Cavern National Park – one of the world’s largest caverns, still only just partially explored. After a long travel day, you’ll enter the park and take a hike with your group into the ‘Big Room’ – a popular route through the largest single cave chamber (by volume) in North America. Explore the cavern at your own pace, then spend the night at a local ranch under the star-studded skies.

Day 13: Santa Fe

Your road trip north continues this morning with a journey to Santa Fe – the oldest capital city in the United States! When you arrive, get your bearings on an orientation walk with your leader through the Downtown area. After, you’ll have free time to explore at your own pace. Maybe check out the pueblo architecture surrounding the town plaza or head to the San Miguel Mission – USA’s oldest church. If you’re a bit of an art buff, you’ll want to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum before finding a cosy spot for dinner – maybe try some of Santa Fe’s specialities like Frito pie or green chili stew.

Day 14: Monument Valley

Today’s drive takes you through some of the USA’s classic desert landscapes – a couple of hours staring out the window might be on this morning’s agenda. Your destination is Monument Valley – named after the giant sandstone formations scattered across this part of the desert, Monument Valey has been the backdrop for many of Hollywood’s great westerns. This is also part of the biggest Navajo reservation in the country and home to more than 200,000 Navajo people. When you arrive, you have the option to take a 2.5-hour Navajo-guided jeep tour of the valley. Alternatively, deep dive into the local culture with an overnight jeep tour.

Day 15: Grand Canyon

Today, it’s time for your journey to one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World – the Grand Canyon. Leave Monument Valley and make the drive through the desert, stopping at a Native American trading post along the way. When you arrive, enter the park and take in the stunning sight of the gorge – 1.5 km deep and formed over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River. You’ll spend the next two nights here, so you can properly explore this amazing site.

Day 16: Grand Canyon

Today is a free day to explore all that the Grand Canyon has to offer. Stroll along the South Rim Trail or hike along the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, maybe opt for the scenic helicopter flight over the canyon for a bird’s eye view of this vast, red landscape. In the early evening, rejoin your group at the edge of the canyon and watch a spectacular nightly display of colour during sunset. You don’t want to forget your camera today!

Day 17: Las Vegas

Say goodbye to the canyon and head on towards the glitzy lights of Las Vegas. Today, you’ll cross the western deserts of Arizona towards the original sin city. Vegas may be known for the casinos and late-night adventures, but there’s plenty to do if gambling isn’t your thing. Maybe hit the shops, see a world-class stage show or stroll along Fremont Street and soak up the neon lights and thriving energy of the city’s streets. Before you arrive at your accommodation today, make a stop at Seven Magic Mountains – a desert art installation featuring seven painted boulder totems by the artist Ugo Rondinone – just out of the city.

Day 18: Las Vegas

Today, you have another full day to explore Las Vegas. Continue to delve into the city’s highlights at your own pace and discover all things glitz, glam and over the top. Foodies might want to check out one of the celebrity chef restaurants around town – Giada De Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck all have places here. Maybe see the Bellagio Fountains or visit one of the many museums. If you didn’t head out on the town last night, this is your chance to get all the hot tips from your leader on the best shows, clubs and restaurants (maybe even hire a limo and go all out for the true Vegas experience).

Day 19: Sierra Nevada

Farewell, sin city – today, you head for the greener pastures of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, sandwiched between the Central Valley and Death Valley. After a scenic drive, you’ll arrive in the town of Bishop, where you’ll camp for the night. Visit some nearby hot springs with the group to soak away the tires of the road, then maybe head to the Erick Schat’s European-style bakery nearby for a well-earned sweet treat. Alternatively, head here tomorrow morning for a coffee and cake on your way to Yosemite.

Day 20: Yosemite

Today, drive west into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the famed Yosemite National Park. Stop at Mono Lake for some lunch and a few photos of this otherworldly scenery. Pass through the Tioga Pass if weather permits and continue on through serene landscapes like Tenaya Lake and the Olmstead Point Viewpoint. Here, you can see one of Yosemite’s most recognisable features – Half Dome. When you arrive in the park, settle in at camp and enjoy a night in the quiet surrounds under the stars.

Day 21: Yosemite

Today is a free day to discover the wonders of Yosemite National Park. This is one of the most famous parks in the country, boasting colossal granite cliffs, huge waterfalls and redwood forests that attract local tourists and visitors from all over the world. You might want to spend your day hiking – there are lots of routes available, each with varied difficulty, including the trail to Mirror Lake (45 minutes) or the trek under the cooling breeze of Nevada Falls (4 to 5 hours). Just ask your local leader if you’re not sure, and they can point you in the right direction! Maybe you’d prefer to hire a bike and explore the park that way or visit the park’s museum, gallery, shops and restaurants. In summer, you can also take a relaxing float down the Merced River, looking out for squirrels and bears along the way.

Day 22: San Francisco

Leave Yosemite behind this morning and drive further west to your last destination – San Francisco. The City by the Bay has a thriving energy and its multicultural heart is what makes this place so unique. Stop at the Golden Gate Bridge on the way for an iconic photo and the last walk with your group, then it’s time to say goodbye. Your trip ends when you arrive in San Francisco – but it’s heavily recommended that you stay an extra few nights here to see what this vibrant city has to offer.