Best of the West

The United States of America is a huge country of 50 states covering a vast area of North America with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending US presence into the Pacific Ocean. Our Travel Partner, First Class Holidays, have it covered with the American West Coast being one of the most popular regions with a huge variety of destinations on offer.

Image Courtesy of Visit California

Our Travel Partner, First Class Holidays, have a number of package holidays which have been prearranged for you and which include most of the destinations in this region that are on traveller’s bucket lists.  This gives you the option of taking one of their Escorted Tours or if you want more flexibility a Self Drive Touring Package.

Their tours include destinations such as Los Angeles.   Known as the ‘City of Angels’ it is an essential stop and a good starting point on any itinerary of the western USA.  It offers an endless array of sightseeing and entertainment and is exactly as you imagine it to be from the movies and television shows. A city of glamour, glitz, sun, palm trees, beaches, shops, landmarks and legends, whatever you are looking for you are sure to find. Los Angeles is a fun destination yet has a sophisticated vibe with a lot of ‘must do’s’ such as a visit to Hollywood, synonymous with the film industry, glamour and nostalgia. Spot your favourite star on the Walk of Fame and glimpse the iconic Hollywood sign in the background or head to West Hollywood for the nightlife of Sunset Strip.  Do not miss Beverley Hills, with its million dollar mansions, top scale shopping on Rodeo Drive and its own City Hall and Police Department. Beverley Hills stands in a class of its own and together with Bel Air are good for celebrity spotting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                     

                                                                                                                                                                                     Image Courtesy of Visit California

Anaheim Orange County, is home to world-famous theme parks including Disneyland – this is the original park where it all began and what the world knows now as “The Happiest Place on Earth” also Disney’s California Adventure Park, or spend the day at America’s first theme park, Knott’s Berry farm.

Pacific Coast Highway & Big Sur This has got to be America’s dream drive! The 1000 mile route from California’s northern border to its southern border offers stunning coastal views along with its twisting roads and ample vista points for you to soak up this coast’s rare and astounding natural beauty.  Twist and turn amongst endless rolling vistas: snow capped mountains, vast deserts, towering forests and crystal blue lakes, en route to the Napa Valley.

This is the best route to take in most of California’s stunning beaches, stopping off at whichever takes your fancy – the choice is endless!  Drive north from Los Angeles and go through Santa Monica with its fabulous shoreline and breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean. 3rd Street Promenade with its abundance of restaurants, entertainment centres and nearby excellent hotels makes Santa Monica an ideal base if you wanted to stay a while in the Los Angeles region.  It is also near to Malibu, a must for all beach lovers and film buffs as this beach and its beach front properties have featured in numerous Hollywood films and is also home to many of the stars.

Enjoy the coastal drive up north to Santa Barbara, famous for its miles of glorious beaches, beautiful architecture, the chilled vibe of State Street and the nearby wineries.  This beautiful city has an average of 300 days of sunshine a year as well as a noticeable European ambience with old world beauty that has become known as “The American Riviera”.   Its downtown area has Mediterranean style white stucco buildings with red-tiled rooftops reflecting the city’s Spanish colonial heritage and leafy streets are lined with designer boutiques and restaurants offering local wines and delicious food whilst the waterfront is teeming with yachts, kayaks and stand up paddle boarders.

The Santa Ynez Valley sits behind Santa Barbara, home to stunning wineries and was the location for the film ‘Sideways’.  No wonder then that this is where the film stars come to get away from it all and where A-listers such as Brad, Ellen and others have estates tucked away in the coastal enclave of Montecito.

Undoubtedly one of the world’s most spectacular drives, Big Sur stretches from San Luis Obispo to Monterey, with a host of scenic attractions along the way.  Monterey is a charming seaside community where you can explore the iconic Cannery Row or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Take in pretty Carmel and the famous Lone Cypress tree along 17 Mile Drive and be sure to visit opulent Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle is 1920’s tycoon William Randolph Hearst’s awe inspiring ‘castle’ in the hills.  Stop here to see where Hollywood came to party in the 1920’s.  Pebble Beach is a must for golf fans; play the infamous 18th hole overlooking the ocean.  An air of relaxed grandeur pervades this outstanding location and is a regular haunt of celebrities and golf aficionados.

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint and charming city, with deep roots as a Bohemian destination and a particularly artistic history with a slow pace of life.  This delightful settlement was home to many writers, poets and artists in the early 20th Century and even today Carmel is still infused with an infectious artistic ambience.

Discover the hidden gems of California’s famous wine regions, Sonoma and Napa Valley – the perfect spot for some world-class wine tasting.  From the simple and rustic to the internationally heralded wine house you just have to smell, sip and smile.  Napa Valley is the place to go if you want to experience the very best food and wine the state has to offer – the focus on fine dining here is unrivalled.  Further west is Sonoma, where you can try innovative varieties and escape the crowds.

San Francisco The “City by the Bay” arguably the most beautiful city in America. It is a place of unrivalled natural and man-made wonders. The area was first sighted by Sir Francis Drake in 1579, it was the centre of the California Gold Rush in 1849 and a Sixties hotspot.

Image Courtesy of Visit California

Top of most visitor’s list is a trip to Alcatraz island where “America’s Most Wanted” such as Al Capone and ”Machine Gun” Kelly were incarcerated but if you want to do this you must book in advance to avoid disappointment.  It is an easy city to walk around but don’t forget to take a tram from the waterfront back up as it is quite a hilly city!!   The food is incredible with a vast choice of restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf where you may enjoy a “Taste of San Francisco”: local seafood, famous sourdough breads or decadent Ghiradelli’s Chocolate not forgetting a visit to Chinatown and getting a good view of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  Or embark on a wine tasting tour to Napa Valley, world renowned for its fine wineries and beautiful scenery.

Las Vegas – the city that never sleeps!  There is nowhere else on earth quite like it – the entertainment capital of the World, famous for its spectacular shows, dazzling casinos and supersize resort hotels – some like mini cities – so much so that you can travel to New York, Egypt, Paris, Rome and Venice in a day, stroll through the streets of ancient Rome, relax in lush Polynesian gardens, ride gondolas on the Grand Canal or walk in the path of the ancient Egyptians and marvel at the scale and theatrical complexity of this ever changing city.

This city of bright lights is a must for all grown ups, it is an adult playground, a glittering man-made jewel which sits in the middle of the desert is, quite simply, amazing and offers non-stop fun to all who seek it.   At the heart of the action and home to the biggest and showiest is the famous Las Vegas Boulevard or ‘The Strip’, stretching from the Downtown/Fremont area in the north to the Mandalay Bay in the south, offering 24 hour action.  With so much to see and do in Sin City, it’s hard to know where to start but if you’re limited to time, the best way to see it all is from a helicopter, for a bird’s-eye view of the Strip, its casinos and further afield, the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon you will see it all!

National Parks

There are nine national parks in California – the most of any state in America – as well as numerous state parks, nature reserves, mountains, lakes and forest lands.  The most famous of California’s national parks is Yosemite – a vast landscape of granite cliffs and glacier carved valleys – which sits high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Nearby you will find beautiful Lake Tahoe, which attracts people with its outdoor recreation opportunities year round. Journey northwest to Death Valley, a vast wilderness of desert surrounded by mountains which is one of the hottest places in the world.

Standing in Yosemite Valley you will see around you more natural wonders than most other places in the world.  From black bears, mule deer and chipmunks; white-flowering dogwood trees and the Merced River; to countless waterfalls (including the mighty Yosemite, Bridalveil and Sentinel Falls), the impressive rock formations of El Capitan and Half Dome, and more adventure and activities than you can imagine, you’ll find it all here.

Death Valley is a magical kingdom all of its own and the largest national park outside of Alaska at 3.3 million acres.  Home to mountainous sand dunes, mysterious singing rocks, colourful sandstone canyons and bizzarely-shaped Joshua Trees.  It is the hottest, driest and lowest National Park and in this below sea level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes.  But these extremes bring striking contrasts with the towering peaks frosted in the winter snow, rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers and lush oases harbour tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans.  So despite its morbid name a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly ‘Grand’.   For centuries people from all over the world have travelled to gaze out over the red and orange grandeur and it still leaves its approximately six million visitors a year awestruck. However, be warned it can get very crowded – the South Rim is particularly popular with sightseers and hikers whilst the North Rim is the place for backwoods camping and hardcore hiking .

Rapid City

Known as the gateway to Mt. Rushmore, the largest National Monument of the United States, with 4 presidents cut in stone represent 150 years of American history.  The Custer State Park and the Wind Cave National Park are certainly worth a visit.  Don’t miss the impressive Crazy Horse Memorial which was meant to become the tallest sculpture in the world.  The Badlands National Park is vast prairie country with bizarre rock formations, rare animals like bison or big horn sheep and fossils from primeval times.

Palm Springs

It is a beautiful drive to Palm Springs thanks to the desolate isolation you feel for half the journey.  You’ll see Joshua Trees a-plenty and also join the world famous Route 66 before arriving into Palm Springs.  Fed by underground springs, the desert comes alive here and it is where back in the 1950s stars like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley built sleek estates and it has not lost none of its appeal.  The stylish hotels, golf courses and spas still attracting visitors together with its fine examples of mid-century architecture and its core shopping district along Palm Canyon Drive featuring vintage boutiques, interior design shops and restaurants not forgetting the championship golf courses.

San Diego

Two hours drive south of Los Angeles and just 30 minutes north of the Mexican border sits the beautiful city of San Diego.  Blessed with a wonderful year-round climate, San Diego is modern California at its best. Its spectacular Pacific coastline boasts prime surfing beaches, the rugged cliffs and upscale seaside resort of La Jolla, the yachting marinas of Shelter Island and the laid back beach resorts of Mission Bay and Coronado.  With endless sunshine, over 70 miles of sandy beaches, buzzing nightlife, great restaurants and shopping, this is the perfect summer holiday destination where there is something for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally what can we say about the California beaches – Venice Beach – known locally as ‘Muscle Beach’ , today, it is known for its canals, beaches and circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two and a half mile pedestrian only promenade that features performers, fortune tellers, artists and vendors. Redondo Beach – an ideal destination for the entire family with its arcade, pier, board walk and beaches.

Long Beach – home to one of Britain’s most famous liners, The Queen Mary, now one of the world’s most famous floating hotels, still decorated in 1930’s fashion and adorned with wood panelling and Art-Deco furniture. Huntington Beach – known as ‘Surf City USA’ this is the place to learn to surf. This casual beach town is perfect for sunsets and low-key shopping.

Newport Beach – with miles of trails and board walks, rent a segway or bike and explore the coast making stops along the way to take in the scenery.

Laguna Beach – home to delectable mansions and a strong surfing culture, you will find this small artsy, walk able village located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego.

It has been some years since I took a similar holiday visiting most of these places leaving me with some of the most memorable experiences that I have ever had!

Tailor Made Travel can fulfil your dreams and aspirations so contact us to help you plan your dream holiday to meet all your specific requirements and/or for further information on the holiday packages from our Travel Partner, First Class Holidays.

Call 0333 3441786 or visit your local Tailor Made Travel agency – for telephone numbers and addresses of our branches click onto this link to our website

Don’t forget without a Travel Agent you are on your own.
Images supplied by Visit California
All Holidays Subject to availability
Terms & conditions may apply.
Tailor Made Travel Ltd act as Agents on behalf of First Class Holidays  (Atol No.5421)

 

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