Company : Contiki
Duration: 1 week to 2 weeks
Approx Costs: 1250 to 1500 £ Pound (UK)
From L.A. to the Bay, we've got you covered.
From L.A. to the Bay, we've got you covered.
Starting in L.A., the city known for it's temperate climate and awesome beaches you'll have a chance to admire the Grand Canyon, gallivant around the Las Vegas strip, delight in the natural beauty of Bass Lake and Yosemite National Park and finishing in 'the city by the bay', San Francisco.
1. LA 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. 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.
2. 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. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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. 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.
5. Grand Canyon National Park
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. There are trails for all levels of hiking, so take it up a notch or cruise along at your own pace.
6. 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. Then following a section of the legendary Route 66, we head north. 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 Tour Manager fills you in on the story behind Vegas. Then experience a slice of the spectacular at a light and laser show in a massive pedestrian mall.
7. Las Vegas
With a free day, you’ve got time to get a real feel for this city, 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. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Tour Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your new friends.
8. 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.
9. 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. Tonight, if the weather is good, cook up a BBQ on your chalet’s deck and enjoy eating under the open night sky.
10. 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. 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.
11. Depart San Fancisco
This morning the tour ends and it’s time to say goodbye to your new friends.
LA to the Bay gives you the opportunity to witness an ocean of sparkling lights in Vegas, pass through a blanket of red dirt on the way to the Grand Canyon, and swim in the picturesque Bass Lake on an evening cruise. Whether you’re there to party or take in as much of the West Coast as possible, travelling alone or in a group, on a budget or not, this trip could not be recommended enough.
Everyone on this tour is there for the same reason, and that is to see America. For those concerned about travelling alone, there’s no need to be. This tour has approximately 50 people (as an introvert myself, this wasn’t as daunting as it sounds), many of which are travelling alone. Between the games on the coach, dinners and roommates, everyone becomes friends fast and no one is left on their own. My brother and I became close with a group (another travelling pair and 3 solos) and two months on we still talk, but we could sit anywhere and talk to anyone like we had known them our entire lives.
As pointed out by my trip manager, LA to the Bay isn’t a holiday. It is a high energy tour jammed packed with adventures, so if you’re thinking about lounging by the beach every day then this trip is not for you. This tour is for those who wish to enthral themselves amongst the West Coast experiencing as much as they can while still having the opportunity to visit the beach. With inclusions such as guided tours through LA (Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Muscle Beach), San Diego (Gaslamp Quarter and Coronado Island), Las Vegas (Vegas Strip), Yosemite, and San Francisco (North Beach, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland Bay Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf), as well as hiking and watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon, a party bus in Las Vegas, swimming at Mission Beach in San Diego, and a Lake Bass evening cruise, there is so much to do.
On top of those inclusions, those that are willing to spend a little more can sign up for extras. These include, but are not limited to, driving a speedboat and visiting the zoo in San Diego, a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert, a jeep ride through Sedona’s red rock country, a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, a bike ride around the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas nightlife, zip-line over Fremont Street, Cirque Du Soleil and Las Vegas High Roller. My brother and I did almost all of the extras, and if you can only afford to do one, I would recommend the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Nothing will prepare you for the ground dropping away to reveal a vast opening, stretching kilometres deep with winding rivers, its length reaching further than the eye can see. It sounds cliché, but photos really don’t do it justice.
Unfortunately, our trip had one extra cancelled and that was the hot air balloon ride. People were disappointed but it was Phoenix’s first rain in eight months and there’s not much we can do about the weather. Yosemite was also cancelled due to the fires. It was upsetting, but we understood Contiki’s need to keep us safe and we respected that. In all honesty, that day when we were supposed to visit Yosemite but ended up staying at Bass Lake instead was one of my favourite days, if not my favourite. We hired a boat and were wake boarding and on the biscuit (tube, dinkie etc.) all day.
This tour was incredible and neither words nor photos could capture the true mesmerised enjoyment that I experienced throughout my trip, or the friendships I made. LA to the Bay won’t be my last Contiki, and I know that because I have two booked for January. If that’s not a sign that this is journey you should take, then I don’t know what is.
Have you booked with Contiki? Please share your experience and submit your review.