- Spirit of the West
Experience the plucky frontier spirit of America's west coast on our 12 day adventure through inspiring landscapes, untamed sandstone backyards and cities with distinct personalities.
Depart London on you scheduled flight to Los Angeles where you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel.
Situated upon California's idyllic coastline, the 'City of Angels' represents a microcosm of America; from vast suburban sprawls to towering skyscrapers, bohemian beaches to snow-capped peaks, Los Angeles is a definitive landscape of extremes. Your full day tour begins in Hollywood, a neighbourhood imbued with cinematic legend from its glamorous 'golden age'. Wander along the star embedded Walk of Fame to a viewpoint of the iconic Hollywood sign upon the Santa Monica Mountains. Continue to Beverly Hills, a sophisticated haven of manicured mansions, star estates and Rodeo Drive's opulent boutiques. Later in the afternoon, stop at the ocean enclave of Santa Monica city to wander along it's century-old pier crowned by an illuminated Ferris wheel.
Today, travel through expansive desert biomes, passing San Gorgonio's 3000 turbines and the city of Palm Springs - once a swinging getaway for the likes of Elvis Presley and the Rat Pack. Cross state lines into Arizona, arriving at the affluent city of Scottsdale early in the evening, home to a melting pot of cuisines, particularly those from across the nearby Mexican border.
This morning, undertake an optional balloon ride and witness the magnificent spectacle of the Sonoran Desert illuminated by daybreak. Later that morning, travel to the mystical town of Sedona to experience alleged energy vortexes, which attract a wealth of new-age visitors; continue along Oak Creek Canyon to marvel at spectacular red sandstone formations that protrude through the verdant Coconino National Forest. Arrive in Flagstaff, brimming with small-town character and quaint diners that line the famous Route 66 for an evening at leisure.
Begin today with a drive to a tour highlight and one of The Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Grand Canyon National Park. Having absorbed its sheer immensity, peer down the 6,000ft drop to witness the snaking Colorado River, carving it's way through two billion year old basement rock. Wander along the south rim to admire jagged plateaus, rugged spires and crumbling ridges or take a walk along the Bright Angel Trail to spot inquisitive Albert squirrels, precarious bighorn sheep and the illusive Californian Condor. Later this afternoon, head back to Flagstaff for an evening at leisure. Optional excursion (payable locally) - Grand Canyon by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.
Set off this morning and arrive late afternoon to your hotel for an evening to unwind or experience the neon vibrancy of the Vegas strip.
Today is at leisure to explore the west's dazzling rhinestone at your own pace. Begin at the 1,100ft summit of Stratosphere Tower for a unique observation of Las Vegas; pass the Bellagio's soaring fountain plumes before trying your hand at poker in Caesars Palace or traveling the world in one day as you visit the city's replica landmarks. Whether you stroll beneath Fremont Street's captivating canopy light show or take in a spectacular performance at MGM Grand, this lavish city of multiple personalities spellbinds all who visit its bustling boulevard.
This morning, make your way across the dry expanse of the Mojave Desert, back to the 'Golden State' of California. En route, witness the peculiar spectacle of the 'boneyard', home to hundreds of obsolete commercial airliners preserved by torrid desert conditions. Your day concludes in Visalia, a quaint farming community brimming with old-town charm to a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Spend today in one of the world's most dramatic geological marvels, the UNESCO recognised Yosemite National Park. With varicoloured wild meadows, thunderous glacial rivers cascading from dizzying granite peaks and crumbling pinnacles, pines, cedars and oaks forming jagged silhouettes against the open sky, this display of the West's natural majesty is unparalleled. Well-maintained trails are available for those wanting a short hike, passing mammoth monoliths, grazing mule deer, specular pools and endangered bald eagles before arriving at the breathtaking tiers of Yosemite Falls, the parks highest waterfall. Later this afternoon, journey to the town of Salida for an evening at leisure.
In the morning, depart Salida for your final stop on America's west coast, San Francisco. Amid a rolling veil of mist, this slender peninsular occupies 47 elevated square miles populated by the clatter of old-fashioned cable cars, diverse neighbourhoods and an unmistakable collection of landmarks to discover on your afternoon tour. View China town's enchanting live markets, paper lantern marquee and pocket size side streets, continuing to the Presidio, a serene park inviting visitors to panoramic vistas across the bay, out towards Alcatraz Island and San Francisco's calling card - the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
Today, experience the sights of the city at leisure. Visit the vibrant boardwalk of Pier 39, lined with delicious seafood eateries and a herd of resident seals who mysteriously appeared after the 1989 earthquake. For unique views of the city, stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge to the 19th Battery Spencer fort or perhaps take a cruise of the bay and get up close to the infamous Alcatraz Prison. Stroll alongside technicolour houses set against a Frisco skyline know as the 'Painted Ladies'; alternatively, take advantage of California's idyllic climate by visiting the vineyards of Napa Valley to sample renowned wines including Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Optional excursion (payable locally) - San Francisco Bay Cruise.
Following a morning at leisure, transfer to San Francisco International Airport for your flight back to the UK.
Alison Mason17 Nov 16
Mary Lee was an excellent tour guide. She was interesting, informative, enthusiastic and very organised. We always felt safe in the hands of Allen our driver.
A visa is not required for entry into the USA for UK passport holders. You will need a tourist card which you can get on arrival by completing an immigration form provided either on the flight or on arrival at the airport. You will need to obtain an ESTA visa This must be applied for at least 7 days before you are due to land in the USA. Please advise if you would like us to arrange this for you. All UK passport holders must have a Bio-metric ePassport and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you are expected to arrive back in the UK. Important note: if you do not have a Bio-metric ePassport, you will be refused entry into the USA. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be who will be able to arrange the ESTA visa on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250590 and quote 'Mercury Holidays'. The cost of the visa is approximately £25. If you wish to apply for the visa yourself, you can do so online by visiting the <a href="https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/" target="_blank" rel=''nofollow''>website</a>. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you to check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding required passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight to Los Angeles International Airport is with British Airways (BA), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 5. Please note that all flight times and numbers listed above are provided for guidance only and are subject to change. Final flight details will be confirmed on your e-ticket and final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage. There is also an allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 25cm x 45cm x 56cm in size and one personal bag not exceeding 45 cm x 36 cm x 20 cm that you can take on the aircraft as hand luggage. Weight restrictions will be finalized on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay an additional fee for this at check-in. Heathrow Airport advises that you should arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to your flight time for international departures.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing of steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 25, and the maximum will be 45. If in the unlikely event there are less than 25 people booked on your tour date, we will endeavour to reduce any disruption to your holiday and try to operate your tour with lower passenger numbers. If we are not able to operate your departure date then you may be asked to change to a different date and a full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is a fully escorted tour meaning that you will be met on arrival and will have a guide with you throughout your stay until you depart San Francisco ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.
The currency in America is the United States Dollar (USD). You will be able to change currency both before you travel and whilst you are away. You will also have access to ATMs during your tour where you can withdraw money in the local currency.
You will need to take money with you to cover any personal purchases such as souvenirs, laundry and extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £500-£700 per person will be sufficient for the durations of the tour, depending on how much of a bargain-hunter you are! It is customary to tip your guide and driver. This is at your discretion but we recommend you allow approximately $3-$5 per person per day for Tour Director and $3-4 per person per day for driver.