The USA is a vast country home to countless different landscapes and some of the most famous cities in the world. Whether you are looking for a beach holiday, an adventure holiday or a cultural tour of towns and cities we can build the perfect itinerary for you.
USA Beach Holidays
The USA has some great beach holiday destinations. From the party beaches of Florida to luxury retreats on lesser-known Hawaiian islands there is a destination to suit everyone.
Florida Beach Holidays
Florida is a great place for a beach holiday and has lots of variety – ranging from quiet luxury retreats to lively party beaches.
On the west coast facing the Gulf of Mexico is the popular resort of Clearwater – great for fishing, snorkelling and dolphin watching. To the south of Clearwater is the 7km long St Pete Beach – near the city of St Petersburg.
Further south still on the Gulf Coast is the quieter luxury area of Longboat Key. Behind the beautiful beach there are lots of great shops, restaurants and bars.
Captiva Island is towards the southern end of the Gulf Coast. The island is quieter than most other resorts in Florida and is great for water sports. Near to Captiva Island is the city of Naples. There are lots of beaches in the area and it provides a great base to explore the Everglades and other parts of Southern Florida.
On the eastern coast of Florida, facing the Atlantic, is the city of Miami. Famous for its Art Deco buildings and lively South Beach, Miami is a great place for a beach holiday if you are looking for a mixture of sun, nightlife and shopping.
Fort Lauderdale is just up the coast from Miami. The long beach is backed by lots of bars and restaurants, but is more low key than Miami. Behind the beach there are lots of waterways and canals.
North of Fort Lauderdale is the barrier island of Palm Beach. The area is home to a lot of luxury hotels and is one of most upmarket resorts in Florida.
To the south of mainland Florida are the Florida Keys – a long line of islands stretching out into the Gulf of Mexico. The most popular destination is Key West – right at the end of the line of islands. You’ll find beautiful beaches, lively towns and great diving opportunities.
Hawaii Beach Holidays
Hawaii is famous for its stunning volcanic islands, beautiful beaches and surfing scene. There are 8 main islands in Hawaii and several smaller islets and atolls. Each of the major islands offers something different to visitors.
The island of Oahu is home to Hawaii’s capital – Honolulu. The island is home to over 85% of the state’s population and is home to Hawaii’s most popular resort – Waikiki. Waikiki is a district of Honolulu with over 2km of beach that is home to a lot of resorts, bars and restaurants and is the liveliest resort in Hawaii. Elsewhere on Oahu the north of the island is particularly popular with surfers for its big waves, whilst the west of the island is quieter and is a great place for snorkelling and swimming.
Big Island – officially called Hawaii – makes up over half the land mass of the State of Hawaii. The island is home to the most active volcano in the world and is great for hiking and astronomy as well as beach holidays. The west of the island – around the town of Kona – is the best area for beaches and has lots of resorts. The waves are smaller here than elsewhere in Hawaii making it great for swimming, snorkelling and learning to surf.
Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii. The most popular resorts are on the west of the island. Kapalua and Kaanapali have a range of luxury resorts that offer spas, water sports, golf and tennis. Nearby is the town of Lahaina that has lots of bars, restaurants and clubs that become very lively at night. On the south side of the island there are luxury resorts along the beautiful beaches near Wailea and Makena. These areas are quieter than the west of the island but there is still a lot to do including surfing, sailing and golf, making it an ideal place for a luxury beach holiday in Hawaii.
The other islands are less visited and tend to be quiet. Lanai is a small, scarcely populated island that is home to a few luxury resorts, whilst Molokai is one of the least developed islands – perfect for a quiet and more traditional Hawaiian beach holiday.
Where to Go in the USA
The 50 States (and other territories) that make up the USA cover a huge area and have very different climates, terrain and cultures.
New England is made up of the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. These states are mainly rural and sparsely populated, but are also home to some of the oldest cities in the USA.
Travelling around New England is a mixture of small-town America, some large and old cities including Boston, and rural areas with national parks such as Acadia and White Mountain National Forest.
Boston was founded in 1630 and is one of the most culturally important cities in the USA and has lots of museums and historic sites. The city is easy to explore on foot, and the Freedom Trail takes you to the most important areas of historical interest.
Cape Cod on the east coast of Massachusetts is a beautiful seaside area with great seafood and whale watching opportunities. To the south of Cape Cod is the exclusive Martha’s Vineyard – a beautiful island full of great restaurants and beaches.
The Mid-Atlantic region includes New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The area includes two of the most important cities in America – Washington D.C. and New York City, however, the area also has a beautiful coastline and beaches, as well as interesting rural areas and communities.
New York City is one of the most famous in the world. There is so much to do in the city, from walking the famous streets of Manhattan – past Wall Street and Time Square to Central Park – to exploring Brooklyn and its many craft breweries and bars. Some of the best museums in the world are in New York, particularly the Met and the Guggenheim. Plus a trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The city also has great bars and restaurants – it’s possible to spend weeks in New York without seeing everything you want to.
New York State has more to offer than just the city though. Upstate New York is home to the impressive Niagara Falls, and the lakes, rivers and forest around Lake Placid – home to two Winter Olympics.
New York isn’t the only major city in the area – Washington DC as the capital of the USA has the major political sights including the White House, The Capitol Building and the National Archives where you can see the original Bill of Rights, Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
The centre of Philadelphia has retained many of its original features dating back to the 17th Century with cobbled streets and old houses. The city was once capital of the USA and was where the Declaration of Independence was written. In addition to its history, Philadelphia is known for its food and particularly its cheesesteak.
Outside of the major cities the area has a beautiful coastline – best seen along the boardwalks in New Jersey or the beaches of Delaware.
Further inland there are vast rural areas, especially in Pennsylvania where large areas are dedicated to farming. There is a large Amish community in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Wilds is a heavily forested area in northern Pennsylvania that is great for hiking, cycling, horse riding, canoeing and seeing wild Elk.
In south Pennsylvania is Gettysburg – site of a famous Civil War battle and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
South East (The Deep South)
The South East is often simply called The South or The Deep South. There are arguments over where it begins and ends, and which states it includes and doesn’t. It is separated from the South West by its history – especially relating to the Civil War. States included in the South East (or Deep South) are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Florida.
Travelling through the Deep South is a unique and varied experience. From the beaches and Everglades of Florida, to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, to the jazz-filled city of New Orleans.
New Orleans is a highlight of any trip. The French Quarter is the old part of the city and is full of colourful Creole-style buildings with balconies overlooking the streets. This area is lively both day and night – with lots of high-quality restaurants and bars with exceptionally high quality live music, particularly Jazz. The French Quarter is not the only interesting part of New Orleans though – venture into the Uptown area to see the impressive colonial style and Victorian mansions along St Charles Avenue. These are best seen from the St Charles Avenue Streetcar, which has been running since 1835.
New Orleans isn’t the only Southern city with amazing live music. Nashville in Tennessee is famous as the home of country music and you’ll find a great selection of bars with live music in the city. There is also the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum. It’s not just about music though – numerous craft breweries and distilleries have opened that offer tours and tastings.
Not far from Nashville is Memphis – the blues capital of the world. Beale Street is the main destination for tourists with lots of high-quality blues and rock n roll bars. However, the biggest draw is Graceland – the former home of Elvis Presley, which is on the outskirts of the city.
Savanna in Georgia is one of the oldest cities in the South and is the best surviving example of antebellum architecture. The city centre is full of historic houses and old streets and combined with moss trees it does give Savanna a historic feel that you rarely get in the USA. Nearby is Tybee Island – a small island ringed by beautiful beaches with lots of beach bars and seafood restaurants.
Across the South nearly all of the many cotton plantations used slaves to work the fields. Many of the plantations houses – usually large mansions – are still intact and have been converted into museums where you can learn more about the history of cotton farming, slavery and the Civil War.
Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina are the Great Smoky Mountains, also known as the Smokies, which form a national park that is home to wild bears. The Smokies are part of the Appalachian Mountains that stretch down the east of the USA. The scenery in the mountains is stunning and is best seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway – a long road that passes through Virginia and North Carolina along a ridge, reaching over 1800m above sea level with frequent viewing points.
Alligators are something many people associate with the Deep South and there are lots of opportunities to see them, whether it’s on a swamp tour in Louisiana and Mississippi or a tour of the Everglades in Florida.
Aside from cities, monuments and nature the South is famous for its food, drink and hospitality. Whether its shrimp and grits in Savannah or Gumbo in Louisiana; craft beer in North Carolina or whiskey in Kentucky everything arrives with a smile.
The Midwest is the region that has historically fueled the USA through both manufacturing and farming. The area includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin.
In many ways the Midwest is home to stereotypical small-town America, but it also has great cities, including Chicago, and the amazing Great Lakes.
Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest and looks out on Lake Michigan. The city has some great architecture including the Willis Tower – once the tallest in the world. The best way to see the architecture is by boat tour. Chicago is one of the best cities in the USA for restaurants – the quality of food and service is exceptional. At night the city earns its place as the start of Route 66 with lots of live music, especially blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. During the summer the beaches are a great place to spend the day.
Elsewhere in the Midwest Minneapolis is famous for its theatres and art galleries, Milwaukee has an attractive city centre and the Harley Davidson museum, whilst Detroit has the Henry Ford museum and lots of bars playing music inspired by Motown.
Outside of the cities, the Midwest is covered by farmland, national parks and lakes – including The Great Lakes, which have over 20% of the earth’s fresh water. The water is calm and clear and is great for fishing, swimming, and kayaking.
The Ozarks is a large plateau filled with mountains, rivers and man-made lakes. The Lake of the Ozarks is 92 mile long man-made lake in the northern part of the Ozarks. The area is popular with tourists for its fishing, swimming, boating and kayaking. There are lots of golf courses around the lake. Some parts of the lake are very quiet, whilst others have a party scene – either onshore at some of the many bars and restaurants, or on the lake at Party Cove.
The South West is made up of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. The area is very influenced by Spanish and Mexican culture. The terrain is mainly rugged cattle ranches and empty deserts that make driving through the states a thrilling experience.
Austin is the state capital of Texas. The city is famous for its alternative cultures and the university plays a big role in the city. Rainey Street is one of the main areas for nightlife and has old bungalows converted into new bars selling local craft beers and other drinks. There is lots of live music around the city at night, and it is one of the best places to have a southern barbecue.
San Antonio in Texas is the most historic city in Texas, famous for its missions. The Alamo is the most famous mission thanks to the 1836 battle that played a pivotal role in the Texas Revolution. There are several other missions close to the city – four are located in the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park.
Santa Fe is a city perched high on a plateau in New Mexico. The city is the USA’s oldest state capital (founded in 1607) as well as its highest (at over 2100m). The city has a distinctive architectural style. Many of the buildings in the centre are built in the Pueblo style – an earth coloured mix of adobe bricks and sun-dried earth that gives the buildings rounded edges and a soft look. These buildings are centred on the main square, which also has an impressive cathedral. There are lots of museums in the city covering American Indian art and history, Spanish colonial art and history, as well as a museum dedicated to Georgia O’Keeffe who was a resident of the city.
Salt Lake City in Utah is known for the being the headquarters of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as the Mormon Church. The headquarters are an impressive temple in Temple Square – the most visited site. However, the city is also a great base from which to explore the amazing surrounding countryside. There are mountains and lakes around the city that are great for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and climbing. In winter there are ski resorts near to the city – it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The Grand Canyon is one of the USA’s most impressive natural wonders. The canyon is surrounded by a national park, and you can see it from either the north rim, south rim or on a trek through the canyon itself. The scale is hard to imagine without seeing it – in some places the canyon is over 1500m below the rim.
A key economic activity of the south-west is its cattle ranches. These cover enormous swathes of land and vary from rolling green hills to dry, rugged terrain on the plateaus of New Mexico. Many ranches welcome visitors to stay and experience the life of a cowboy, as well as exploring the amazing scenery on horseback. Going to a rodeo is another great way to understand their way of life.
The south-west is the home of the old Wild West and nowhere brings the Wild West to life like a ghost town. There are many of these dotted around the desert and plateaus of the south-west – often left almost exactly as they were back in the 19th Century. Wander around the deserted buildings and down the dusty main streets to get an idea of what life was like in south-west a few hundred years ago.
Although not everyone’s idea of a good destination, Las Vegas, Nevada is one of America’s iconic cities. Even if you don’t fancy playing poker in one of the casinos, Las Vegas can still be worth a visit to see this surreal city. There are lots of good bars and restaurants around the city, as well as the famous pool parties. It is also a good place to explore the Grand Canyon from.
The Great Plains
The Great Plains contains some of the least densely populated states in the USA – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
There are a number of interesting cities including Oklahoma for its museums, Lincoln for its alternative feel and live music, and Sioux Falls for its city centre waterfalls that give the city its name. However, the main reason to visit the areas is to escape cities and explore the vast and empty countryside.
The Great Plains is a huge area of flat land covered by grasslands and prairie that stretches across these states. The area is primarily used for farming and ranches and has an interesting Native American history.
The Badlands National Park in South Dakota contains canyons, domes and jagged rock formations climbing out of the Great Plains. The rugged terrain is one of the richest fossil beds in the world – including fossils from rhinos and sabre-toothed cats.
The Black Hills are a mountain range also in South Dakota. Their name comes from their forest cover and dark rock. The area has lots of caves – Wind Cave National Park claims to have the densest cave system in the world. There are also lots of rivers and waterfalls that are great to explore on hikes, and at night the lack of light pollution makes this an excellent place to star gaze.
Mount Rushmore is an iconic monument in South Dakota. The monument has the faces of four presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln – carved into the white rock. Each of the faces is around 60ft high. The monument took 14 years to complete – starting in 1927 and finishing in 1941.
The Rocky Mountain States
The Rocky Mountain States of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and Idaho are named for the Rocky Mountains that run through them. The area is famous for its national parks and outdoor activities.
Towns and cities in the region are mainly used as bases to explore the surrounding countryside. That said, Denver is a lively and fast growing city with lots of museums, and Boulder attracts a lot of serious athletes as well as alternative cultures.
The biggest attraction in the area is Yellowstone National Park, which straddles Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It was the first national park in the world and contains lots of geysers and hot springs. The park has over 300 geysers – two-thirds of all the geysers in the world. It’s not just thermal activity that attracts visitors though – the park is home to bears, wolves, lynx, elk, moose and many other mammals.
Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado contains some of the best archaeological sites in the USA amongst its desert landscape and canyons. The park contains the remains of 1400-year-old dwellings built into caves.
Other national parks in the region include the Glacier National Park in Montana that has the most scenic mountains lakes in the whole of the USA, and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming that is particularly popular with climbers.
Custer in Idaho is a great example of a ghost town. Founded in 1879 it prospered thanks to mining, growing to a population of 600 in the 1890s. However, the mining declined and so did the town, which was abandoned by 1910.
In winter the Rockies are a great place to ski. There lots of resorts in the mountains including the famous Aspen.
Pacific North West
Oregon and Washington make up the Pacific North West. The interior is filled with forests and mountains, whilst the coastal areas have beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan cities.
Seattle is the largest city in the northwest. The city is surrounded by water, with Elliot Bay to the west and Lake Washington to the East. Pioneer Square is an area with cobbled streets and lots of bars and restaurants at the centre of the city. The city is famous for its art and music and has lots of museums.
Portland, Oregon has a great music and art scene and is one of the best places in the USA for craft beer and wine – with other 70 breweries in the city.
Mount Rainier National Park surrounds the huge Mount Rainier volcano, which rises to 14,410 ft. The park has lots of hiking trails and is not far from Seattle. There is also the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington that commemorates the 1980s eruption of the volcano.
Oregon is a great place for outdoor activities. Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood are ski resorts in winter, and popular hiking destinations in summer. Wallowa Lake attracts visitors who want to go boating, fishing and hiking.
California has the highest population of any state in the USA. From north to south the state is over 800 miles long and its terrain is hugely varied – from mountainous forests to arid deserts. California is also home to some of the USA’s most visited cities and national parks.
San Diego is a city at the southern end of the Californian coastline. Pacific and Mission Beaches are in the centre of the cities coastline and are great beaches backed by restaurants, lively bars and nightclubs. To the south is the laid-back Ocean Beach, and to the north is the more upmarket beach area of LaJolla. The beaches offer water sports, including surfing and sailing.
To the north of San Diego is Los Angeles. The main attractions in the city are Hollywood (including Universal Studios Theme Park) and the area around Venice Beach, where the seafront has the iconic outdoor gyms and behind the beach there is a beautiful network of canals and boardwalks. Technically outside the city, but still considered part of Los Angeles is Santa Monica Beach and its famous pier, and slightly further away is the surfer’s paradise of Malibu. In the hills behind the city are the famous mansions of Beverley Hills.
Santa Barbara sits further up the coast from Los Angeles. The city dates back to 1782 making it one of the oldest in California. Originally founded by a Spanish Priest, the main sight in the town is the beautiful 18th Century Santa Barbara Mission.
Between Santa Barbara and San Francisco is the region of Big Sur. Big Sur is famous for its dramatic scenery and cliffs as you drive along next to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way there are lots of quiet, small beaches and coves that you can stop at. Away from the coast it is a great area for hiking with lots of mapped out routes. Carmel is a town at the southern end of Big Sur – it has beautiful beaches, golf courses, spas and is a great place to hike from.
San Francisco is an iconic city in northern California. Famous for the impressive Golden Gate Bridge, steep city streets, Alcatraz Prison and a very liberal attitude there is a huge amount to see and do in San Francisco. In addition to that city has famously good nightlife, with lots of bars and restaurants.
North of San Francisco are the famous redwood forests and the Redwood National Park. Some of the trees are over 2000 years old and the national park is a great place to go hiking through these historic forests.
Away from the coast in northern California is Napa Valley. Napa Valley is the most important wine growing region in the USA. You can explore the valley by bike, stopping off for tastings at vineyards along the way.
East of San Francisco is the Yosemite National Park – one of the most visited national park in the USA. The park is famous for its dramatic granite cliffs, waterfalls and bears. There are lots of hiking trails in the park.
Death Valley National Park is in the Southern California Desert. It is the largest National Park in the USA and is one of the hottest places in the world, with temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius common in summer. The park has mountains that rise to over 11,000 feet near to Badwater Basin – the lower point in the park at almost 300 feet below sea level.
Alaska is the largest state in the USA and is popular with people looking for outdoor adventures. Hiking is the most popular thing to do, although other activity based holidays are possible including rafting.
The state has lots of national parks with incredible wildlife and scenery including Denali – the USA’s highest mountain. Wildlife is everywhere in Alaska with a huge population of black and grizzly bears, lynx and wolves. In the sea around Alaska you may catch sight of a humpback whale, whilst the rivers are home to salmon. If you’re lucky you’ll see the brown bears catching the salmon as they descend the rapids.
Most holidays to the USA involve self-drive either in a car or an RV. This means that itineraries can be extremely flexible. It’s generally best to stick to one region to limit the amount of time you need to spend driving.
One popular itinerary is down the coast of California, stopping at Napa Valley, San Francisco, Yosemite, Los Angeles and San Diego.
If you are big on jazz, blues and country music then travelling from Nashville to New Orleans via Memphis and Clarksdale is a great trip.
Let us know what you are looking for and we will tailor make an itinerary for you.
Where to Stay
The USA has a vast range of accommodation from boutique city centre hotels in New York to luxury spa retreats in Napa Valley.
Getting Around The USA
If you plan to travel around a particular region then hiring a car or an RV is a great option. You can drop these off either where you picked them up or at a different destination. If you plan to visit a few of the larger cities only then flying is very easy.
Getting to The USA
There are lots of daily direct flights from the UK to many cities around the USA.
When to Go to the USA
You can visit the USA anytime, however, the north gets very cold in winter. The hottest months are July and August, for travelling around the south April or May are great months as there is lots of sunshine but it doesn’t get too hot.