Arrive at the airport for your direct flight to LA.
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There are few places in the world that generate more iconic imagery than California and the western USA, and even fewer live up to it in reality! The sights and amazing natural wonders just roll off the tongue, with probably nothing more aptly named than the Grand Canyon. Then there’s Monument Valley, whose towering sandstone pillars are immortalised in countless Westerns, the Painted Desert, Yosemite, home to the highest waterfall in the USA, the lofty snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. The natural splendours of this huge region are quite simply astonishing. Combine these with the allure of such genuinely unique cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas and you have a destination that simply cannot be matched. Our tour visits all these and more besides!
Arrive at the airport for your direct flight to LA.
Entrance to San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter
LA, the city of glitz, glamour, the stars and miles of pristine beaches - it’s all here! This morning we see the best it has to offer - the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Sunset Strip and Santa Monica.
Later this afternoon we had south, following the coast, to charming San Diego. This classic
Southern California city is set around a sweeping bay and with its beautifully restored Gaslamp
San Diego waterfront
After an included city tour, you are free to experience San Diego’s numerous attractions. A great favourite is the Maritime Museum with its many historical ships, including the Star of India, the HMS Surprise, a replica of an 18thcentury frigate and used in the film ‘Master and Commander’ and a Soviet-era submarine.
During the afternoon, take the ferry across the bay to Coronado and the Victorian Del Coronado Hotel, used in the film ‘Some Like It Hot’. The 1,200 acres of Balboa Park, the largest cultural complex west of the Mississippi with 15 museums and numerous other attractions, all set amidst wonderful sub-tropical gardens and fountains.
Today we leave the coast driving towards Kingman in Arizona, climbing to 4,000ft, passing through the Cleveland National Forest, descending towards the wide plains of the Sonoran Desert. Heading north, we cross the Colorado River through Moabi Regional Park into Arizona. We then continue to Lake Havasu,
where you’ll see the London Bridge on our way to Kingman.
We take a drive from Kingman to Seligman, on the longest section of the original route 66, on
our way to the Grand Canyon. It’s a mindboggling series of shapes, colours and glaring desert light; contrasted with jet black shadows, formed by pinnacles of rock interspersed with stark promontories. The Grand Canyon south rim extends for 14 miles and we visit some of the best viewing points, each one providing a different perspective over the ever-changing panorama.
This afternoon you have the option of taking a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter flight for the ultimate panoramic view of the Grand Canyon, a truly magical display of natural beauty! As the light changes, the crisp shadows rapidly shorten and the greys and blues change to reds, yellows and ochres in a kaleidoscope of intensive colour.
From the Desert View Watchtower we have our final, lingering look over the canyon with the meandering Colorado River visible in the distance, before crossing the Painted Desert, through the vast 16-million-acre Navajo Indian Reservation, towards Monument Valley. We arrive a few hours before the best time to view the incredible flat-topped towers of red sandstone that rise so dramatically from the surrounding barren desert, with the softer light affording ideal photographic conditions. For those wishing to see the Valley from a different perspective and gain a greater understanding of its historic significance we have the option of a guided 4x4 tour by a local Navajo Indian. Tonight we stay for one night in the nearby small community of Kayenta.
After an early start we arrive at the town of Page just next to the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River and whose building created the vast Lake Powell. We then cross into the Mormon state of Utah and climb to almost 8,000 feet as we arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park. Created by thousands of years of erosion, Bryce Canyon presents an almost surreal landscape of multi-hued and delicate rock pinnacles – a quite exceptional, strange and exotic topography with a uniquely fragile quality.
Fire Wave rock in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
This morning the journey continues in a southwestly direction as we head towards Las Vegas en route we visit the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada’s oldest and largest state park covering an area of 40,000 acres. Created when dinosaurs roamed, this state park is known for the dazzling red sandstone formations, illuminating the valley, making it look like it’s on fire with rock colours changing from oranges and browns to deeper dramatic shades as we continue to drive through the valley towards the glittering bright lights of Las Vegas.
Tonight we have the option of a ‘Vegas by Night’ tour, probably the best time to appreciate its unique atmosphere with everything bathed in a glow of all-encapsulating neon – so brash it’s almost an art form.
Las Vegas at night
Today we have a full day at leisure to explore the self-styled ‘entertainment capital of the world’. It’s an almost surreal apparition growingout of the desert and where the world’s mostrenowned sights and cities such as Venice, Paris, New York and even the Pyramids have been recreated in such detail. You can even take a trip on a gondola on a canal on the 1st floor of one of the hotels! Tours by helicopter are also available to book locally to the west rim of the Grand Canyon. This is the only section of the canyon where helicopters are permitted to actually fly and even land on the canyon floor itself. This evening why not take in a show? Vegas shows are typically amongst the most impressive in the world, so you are assured of a memorable night whichever you choose.
Today we leave Las Vegas and drive through the barren Mojave Desert. Our route skirts the famous Edwards Air Force base, before climbing even higher through the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. On reaching the peak, literally from one minute to the next the climate changes from the burning heat of the desert to temperate grasslands and forest as we cross the Tehachapi Pass and travel through the vast fertile plains of the San Joaquin Valley.
We stay two nights nestled within the area of the Sierra National Forest in duplex-style wooden chalets, described by locals as ‘mountain lodging’.
Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park
This morning we enter the park and drive through incredible scenery to Yosemite Valley itself where we are confronted by one of the most staggering views in the USA. Our first stop is at Mariposa Grove the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite, home to over 500 mature giant sequoias (access subject to season). We continue to see a deep, lushly forested valley encircled liffs and domes rising by over 4,000ft on all sides, bisected by some of the highest waterfalls in North America. Dominated by the granite monolith of El Capitan on one side and the instantly recognisable Half Dome on the other, it is impossible not to find your heart touched by this overwhelming natural grandeur.
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
From its beginnings as a 19th-century mining boomtown to the sophisticated metropolis you see today, San Francisco is simply one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world. Nestling on a bay astride the blue Pacific Ocean, dominated by the instantly-recognisable Golden Gate Bridge, the city spreads out over forty-three steep hills on one side and a vibrant green carpet of forests on the other.
We travel to San Francisco this morning and enjoy an orientation tour of the city, which includes Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Golden Gate Park and Twin Peaks for splendid city views.
The rest of the day is at leisure, so why not take the included one-way ride on San Francisco’s famous cable car?
A classic tram in hilly San Francisco
Our final full day and there’s still so much to do. You can amble through Chinatown, the largest outside Asia, and marvel at the pagodas and oriental markets. Or perhaps take a stroll down to the renovated Ferry Plaza Building on the waterfront, converted into a huge alfresco Farmers’ Market every Saturday. Try the once predominantly Italian North Beach, still home to innumerable bistros, delis and bakeries,
which during the 50s attracted the bohemian writers and avant-garde artists of the Beatnik movement.
And don’t forget the Haight-Ashbury district and the ‘Summer of Love’ for which San Francisco is still famous today. Alternatively, there’s the option to take the short boat ride to the USA’s most infamous prison, Alcatraz Island, known as ‘The Rock’.
Our flight departs in the late afternoon, so why not use your final morning for some last-minute shopping on Union Square?
We arrive back in the UK after a very special tour with memories that will last a lifetime.
Along with your experienced and knowledgeable tour manager and local experts, you’ll discover so much on our award-winning Classic tours, offering the best value for money way for you to explore the world.
Our tour managers have been rated as the best in the business for their knowledge and experience and will go above and beyond to ensure every aspect of your holiday runs smoothly – so all you need to worry about is your packing.
San Diego USS Midway Museum – from £23 per person
Whilst staying in San Diego, known as the ‘Navy Town USA’, take a visit to explore America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th Century. When in service, the USS Midway was a floating city at sea. Now an interactive museum, located downtown San Diego and walking distance from our hotel, take the opportunity to meet on-board Volunteers in their yellow hats who tell their stories of when they served on this mighty vessel. Included is a self-guided audio tour narrated by Midway sailors, collected upon entrance.
Grand Canyon dancer helicopter flight – from £239 per person
Experience an unforgettable flight from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon over the Kaibab National Forest. You’ll soar toward the Tower of Ra through the Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest section of the canyon, and over the mighty Colorado River to the North Rim. During this 25-minute flight, you’ll enjoy views of some of the oldest exposed rock in the world. Your helicopter provides forward-facing seating for six.
Monument Valley 4x4 tour with a Native American guide – from £76 per person
Enjoy nature’s marvellous sandstone creations and see the places where ancient Anasazi families once lived among the enormous red buttes. On this 2.5-hour tour in 4x4 vehicles, expert Navajo guides will share fascinating insights into the history, culture and plants of this extraordinary landscape. This is a wonderful opportunity not to be missed.
Alcatraz Island day tour – from £38 per person
From Pier 33 the ferry ride is approximately 15 minutes to explore this world-famous fascinating former federal prison on a rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Historically, Alcatraz has been used as a Civil War Fort, a Federal prison and been a symbol of Native American plight. See the barracks from when the island was a military base, the cellhouse as well as the lighthouse. Included is an informative and atmospheric self-guided cellhouse audio tour (collected upon island arrival). Hear about Al Capone and other legendary inmates that made Alcatraz home. The distance from the island ferry dock to the Cellhouse is approximately 402 metres (¼ of a mile) with an elevation change of 40 metres (130 feet). Please note that this tour is pre-bookable only.
San Diego 2 Hour Harbour Cruise Tour - from £32 per person
This professionally narrated cruise journeys over 12 miles through the North and South ‘Big Bay’ of San Diego Harbour, with a short stop remaining on board in between both bays. Highlighting more than 50 landmarks, including the Cabrillo National Monument, Point Loma, Coronado Island, ship-building and dry-docking facilities, Shelter Island and Seaport Village. There is plenty of opportunity to capture the bay’s views by camera, video or simply marvel at the city skyline as you cruise around. On board is a snack bar selling light refreshments.
Please contact us to add any of the above experiences to your booking.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Los Angeles International Airport||Culver City||20 mins||San Francisco||San Francisco International Airport||1 hr|
Would you love to visit California and America’s Golden West, but think it’s a logistical nightmare to plan a holiday there? Think again. With our California and the Golden West escorted tour, it’s easy to travel to glitzy, star-studded locations, hip cities and see the all wondrous landscapes and iconic sights the region offers. Here are some of the highlights of our escorted tour of California and America’s Golden West.
We care deeply about our customers and the holiday experience they have. We’re passionate about travel and we want all aspects to be perfect, with personal service and attention at every step of the way. Our world-class holidays include everything you need, with no detail overlooked. We carefully curate every aspect of your trip based on our own first-hand experience and expertise built up over decades in the travel industry.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room and includes:
We guarantee there are never any hidden costs or surcharges, inflated prices or artificial discounts.
Four breakfasts are included, affording you the opportunity to experience dining out for lunch and dinner in the destinations we visit. Your tour manager may be able to help find restaurants to suit you. Alternatively, you could choose to dine in the hotels that have restaurants.
Single rooms are subject to availability, at the relevant supplement.
Requests to pre-book your seat are subject to the airline’s conditions. If you would like to pre-book seats please contact our Reservations Team, we will be able to provide further information regarding the possibility and also the cost.
Along with a valid passport, UK citizens must have an ESTA visa waiver or a visa in order to travel to the USA. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
ESTA cost is US$14 per person. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent with your booking confirmation.
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility, we encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
For regional flights with Aer Lingus, flights will connect via Dublin, where you are able to clear US immigration and customers before continuing your journey to America. For further details of this, please visit the Dublin Airport website. This connection will apply to both the outbound and inbound flights.
Flights from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic are direct to Los Angeles on the outbound journey, and from San Francisco on the inbound journey.
Mary Redshaw and Anne Gillott
I'm sending this to say a sincere thank you to Riviera Travel for a thoroughly enjoyable tour of Catalonia. The itinerary was well-structured and the tour guides, Bridget, Nando and Clara, were excellent, very well-informed and en...
Just back from an amazing trip to Provence, it was everything we wanted and more. The guide Bernadette really made the holiday she was very knowledgeable and informative but had a light touch with amusing and interesting stories a...