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The Big West

Want the USA & Canada? Get the best of the west with some of the countries favourite spots. From the beaches to cities to mountains to lakes, this trip is an epic blend of adventure, culture & chilled out times

North America
  • Duration: 23 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Physical rating: Easy
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID/Link Tour Code: LACR/168043
  • Starts: Los Angeles, United States
  • Finishes: Vancouver, Canada
You will Visit
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix
  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas
  • Bass Lake
  • Yosemite National Park
  • San Francisco
  • Vancouver
  • Whistler
  • Kamloops
  • Jasper
  • Banff
  • Vernon

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Los Angeles

Meet up with your Contiki Team this morning then cruise down the star-studded Hollywood boulevard and the Sunset Strip, shop or chill at Santa Monica and get the into the energy of Venice Beach.

02

Day 2: Los Angeles to San Diego

Meet up with your Contiki crew and Trip Manager before cruising through Orange County and along the Pacific coastline to laid-back San Diego. Get a feel for the city’s easy-going vibes with a look around San Diego’s vibrant neighborhoods. In Old Town, your Trip Manager will give you the story behind the original pueblo (village), with its Adobe buildings (made of brick, straw and mud) and show you the 19th century buildings of the Gaslamp Quarter's. You’ll also see Balboa Park, which holds the largest urban cultural park in the USA and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Tonight, make your first night on trip one to remember and get to know the group over dinner before heading out for a fun night exploring the Gaslamp District’s funky live music venues or one of the many cool bars.

03

Day 3: San Diego

With a full day in San Diego, live a bit of the California lifestyle and get into some outdoor activities. With 42 miles of beaches, a Mediterranean climate and loads of parks, San Diego is all about kicking back in the pleasant surrounds. Otherwise, visit the San Diego Zoo, known for its conservation efforts and vast numbers of animals (over 4000!) If the weather is good, we’ll cruise out to the locals’ favorite spot, Mission Beach, for a few hours soaking up the sun or walking along the boardwalk for views of ocean. Don’t forget your towel and swimmers.

04

Day 4: San Diego to Phoenix

Things are about to get hotter as we head to Phoenix, a massive metropolis sitting smack in the middle of the desert. With around 300 days of sunshine per year, this place is all about shopping, sports and nightlife.

05

Day 5: Phoenix to the Grand Canyon

Kick start the day with an unforgettable optional excursion: a hot-air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert and “Valley of the Sun”. The combination of full blown vistas over the desert and a champagne breakfast upon landing make this an amazing experience. We continue deeper into the Wild West as we head to stunning Sedona. Chill out and watch the region’s recognizable red rock cliffs, rugged spires and mesas (flat-topped rock formations) go by from the coach. Your Trip Manager will tell you about this eco-friendly town that is also known for its high-energy red rocks. There’s a chance to explore this stunning red rock country with our Local Guide on an optional 4WD tour through the historic canyons. Learn local legends and even pick up a piece of Native American jewelery. We continue on to the mind-blowing landscape of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most recognizable natural wonders and pride of Arizona.

06

Day 6: Grand Canyon National 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.

07

Day 7: Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

Leaving behind the Grand Canyon, we stop off at Seligman, an historic Route 66 town. Get a feel for the old style as you check out 1940’s shop fronts and motels. Maybe pick up a souvenir for back home. Then following a section of the legendary Route 66, we head north. With down time on the coach, plug in your MP3, catch on some sleep or chat with your friends. 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 Trip 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.

08

Day 8: Las Vegas

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. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Trip Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your new friends.

09

Day 9: Las Vegas to Bass Lake

Today, it’s a total change of scene when leave behind flashy Vegas and the desert to arrive in the outdoor capital of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Make the most of picturesque Bass Lake and wind down in your chalet. With two nights at this lakefront resort, you can unpack your things, kickback on your chalet’s deck and soak up the views.

10

Day 10: Yosemite National Park

Get back to nature with a day in Yosemite National Park. This place has a reputation for a reason – it’s absolutely stunning. With a dramatic combination of waterfalls, woods, towering mountains and wildlife, Yosemite will take your breath away. Keep an eye out and a camera handy in case you’re lucky enough to see black bears, deer and coyotes. Your Trip Manager will tell you all about Yosemite as you check out the massive El Capitan rock and the sheerest cliff in the USA, Half Dome. It’s guaranteed to impress. You’ll also see the breathtaking Yosemite and Bridalveil Falls. Add to your time here and hike or bike along the park’s trails to experience this unique environment first hand and close up. Tonight, if the weather is good, cook up a BBQ on your chalet’s deck and enjoy eating under the open night sky.

11

Day 11: Bass Lake to San Francisco

Cruise on through the San Joaquin Valley to free-wheeling San Francisco, via Oakland. Colourful, cosmopolitan and creative, San Francisco is packed with characters, free-thinkers, and artists. You’ll see the signs of its recent history where it served as the hub of the gold rush, as well as the center for Beatnik and Hippy cultures. After crossing over the Bay Bridge for a panorama of the area, get familiar with this buzzing city as your Tour Manager shows you around San Francisco’s key sights. We stop off at Fisherman’s Wharf for a slice of the historic waterfront lifestyle, where you can order some fresh fish or crab from sidewalk stands. Cross San Francisco’s landmark suspension bridge, the Golden Gate, and check out the city’s iconic row houses on Alamo Square.

12

Day 12: San Francisco to Vancouver

This morning, say farewell to the Golden Gate Bridge & American dream. Next up, we're headed on an afternoon flight to Vancouver, Canada, a place well known for its majestic natural beauty & it is frequently ranked as one of the "best cities to live in". There are 11 more days of endless adventure awaiting, enjoy every moment & make the most of this beautiful country 'ay' (as the Canadians would say).

13

Day 13: Vancouver to Whistler

Meet up with your fellow travellers, Tour Manager and Driver in gorgeous Vancouver. With beaches, forests and mountains, this town is all about location and fusing big-city living with an outdoor lifestyle. Today we wind our way along the spectacular cliff-top Sea to Sky highway and arrive in Whistler, one of the most popular ski resorts in North America and home to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

14

Day 14: Whistler

Today is yours to enjoy this beautiful mountain resort. Perhaps you'll want join us in an exciting Peddle and Paddle trip (optional), challenge yourself to the Ziplines or do some hiking on one of Whistler's trails. This afternoon you'll have an opportunity to take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Whistler/Blackcomb Mountain.

15

Day 15: Whistler to Kamloops

Leaving the mountains behind, we make our way to the desert and to Canada’s impressive interior. Passing the picture-perfect Seton Lake, we’ll make a stop in Lillooet, a former gold rush town. We travel on to our next night stop, Kamloops, sitting at the confluence of 2 rivers. Once a former meeting point for traders, it continues to serve as a stop over point for travelers and still has touches of the Wild West.

16

Day 16: Kamloops to Jasper

Sticking to the famous Yellowhead Highway, we stop off at the highest peak of the Rockies, Mt Robson. Get your blood pumping in a thrilling white-water rafting optional on the Fraser River. Then pull into small-town Jasper and kick back in the Rockies’ largest national park – our home for the next two nights.

17

Day 17: Jasper

Be sure to keep your camera ready for wildlife shots on the short drive to Maligne Lake this morning, where you will have the opportunity to enjoy the amazing scenery. We'll also visit Maligne Canyon, the deepest and longest limestone canyon in the Rockies, where you'll marvel at this impressive gorge carved by generations of raging water. The afternoon is free to hike, bike or simply enjoy the beauty of Jasper. Tonight, sample the local Rocky Mountain cuisine.

18

Day 18: Jasper to Banff

The Wonder Road ... It's non-stop beauty today as we travel the famous Icefields Parkway, considered one of the most scenic highways in the world. The highlight will be the ride aboard the specially designed "Ice Explorer" on the Athabasca Glacier! This afternoon we'll visit Lake Louise and make several photo stops, including the vivid blue Peyto Lake (seasonal). We arrive in Banff late this afternoon.

19

Day 19: Banff

We have two days free to enjoy everything that Banff National Park has to offer. You're able to sightsee, hike, shop, or just relax in the beautiful town of Banff. Why not take the optional gondola ride to Sulphur Mountain where spectacular views of Banff await? Or take a breathtaking helicopter ride over the Rocky Mountains, a once in a lifetime experience. Join us one night for an optional horseback ride and steak fry.

20

Day 20: Banff to Vernon

Bye Bye Rockies! We bid farewell to the Rockies today as we drive through three national parks in a single day. Yoho, Glacier and Mt. Revelstoke National Parks all await us as we make our way back into British Columbia. Tonight we stay in the Okanagan Valley - Canada's fruit basket, full of orchards, farmlands and vineyards.

21

Day 21: Vernon to Vancouver

Hello Big City! Today we travel via the Coquihalla and Transcanada highways enroute to the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver with time to explore the city this afternoon.

22

Day 22: Vancouver

Schedules cleared, today is yours to explore Vancouver your way. And boy oh boy will this city steal your heart. Hipster shops, cafes and bars spill out onto the streets all across the city, just begging you to stop by for a flat white and an almond croissant. Our faves? Matchstick on Fraser St. is all over that tasty pastry vibe, whilst Gene on Main Street will give you the ultimate coffee hit. Fancy hanging with us later? Then hop on board our Me Time Optional dinner cruise around the harbour; the perfect party starter before a night on the town.

23

Day 23: Depart Vancouver

Today its time to say a final farewell as your tour ends this morning.

Inclusions:
      Staff
    • An experienced & professional Trip Manager and Driver
      Food
    • 24 meals: 14 breakfasts & 10 dinners
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Tour Highlights:
  • See the famous Hollywood sign, Mann's Chinese Theatre & Hollywood's Walk of Fame
  • Visit Santa Monica and its famous pier
  • Visit Venice Beach
  • Drive through the O.C. & along the scenic Pacific Coast
  • See downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Coronado Island & Old Town San Diego
  • Panoramic view of the city's skyline from Coronado Bridge
  • Visit Mission Beach (weather permitting)
  • Go loco as you feast on traditional Mexican cuisine
  • Scenic drive through Cleveland National Forest, the Anza Borrego and Sonoran deserts
  • Drive the scenic route through "Red Rock" country
  • Shop for Native American jewelery
  • Drive through beautiful Oak Creek Canyon
  • Visit Grand Canyon National Park
  • Capture incredible photos with a visit to a panoramic viewpoint
  • Visit a panoramic viewpoint for photos
  • Stop for photos & souvenirs along Route 66
  • Evening tour of the famous Vegas 'Strip'
  • Visit Fremont Street & see the light-and-laser show
  • Experience some of the world's largest hotels & casinos
  • Go wild in Vegas with a Party Bus
  • Non-stop nightlife
  • See the famous Joshua Trees
  • Relax in the stunning mountain paradise of Bass Lake - swim, catch some rays & enjoy watersports (seasonal)
  • See Yosemite's famous rock formations, El Capitan & Half Dome
  • See incredible Yosemite & Bridalveil Falls
  • Hike around Yosemite Valley's Park trails (seasonal)
  • Cross the Oakland Bay & Golden Gate Bridges
  • See North Beach, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury & the city's iconic cable cars
  • Visit Fisherman's Wharf
  • Drive the scenic Sea to Sky Highway
  • See Whistler & Blackcomb Mountains
  • Enjoy the shopping & activities in and around the quaint village
  • Hike one of Whistlers' many trails
  • Scenic drive through the Lillooet Mountain Range
  • See Seton Lake reservoir & picturesque Lillooet, Duffey & Kamloops Lakes
  • Scenic drive along the Yellowhead Highway into the Rocky Mountains
  • View Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies (weather permitting)
  • Stay in Jasper National Park
  • Get back to nature as you picnic in the Rocky Mountains
  • Visit Maligne Canyon, the deepest & longest limestone canyon in the Rockies
  • Visit Maligne Lake, the largest in the Canadian Rockies (seasonal)
  • Walk to Athabasca Falls
  • See the majestic Banff Springs Hotel
  • See the vivid blue colour of Peyto Lake (seasonal)
  • Visit Lake Louise & the enchanting Lake Louise chateau
  • Drive through Yoho, Glacier & Mt. Revelstoke National Parks
  • See the incredible Spiral Train Tunnels
  • See Kicking Horse Valley
  • See Lake Okanagan & its large floating bridge
  • See Gastown, Chinatown & Lion's Gate Bridge
  • Visit the Totem Poles of Canada's First Nations People in Stanley Park