Wild wild west coast
The USA’s west coast offers experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the world, says Courtney from our Grimsby Travel branch.
"Holidaying in the USA evokes a strange feeling of familiarity. You feel like you’ve visited the iconic landmarks before, because you’ve seen them in so many movies, particularly if you’re visiting the west coast, the home of Hollywood.
"For our springtime adventure we hired a car, giving us freedom to make last minute changes to our plans and enjoy an authentic experience of travelling across states. Our first stop was for a very special reason – my partner, Liam, and I were getting married in Las Vegas!
"The first few nights, we stayed at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino, the venue for our wedding. During our time in the city, we also stayed at Planet Hollywood and enjoyed a luxurious stay at the Palazzo as newlyweds. Each resort on the strip is themed to reflect a different city or time period, so you feel like you’re being transported into a different world every time you enter another hotel.
"In Las Vegas, there’s so much to do, it’s easy to get stuck in one section of the strip. I’d recommend staying in a central location but make sure you check out some of the resorts further afield. If we’d had more time, we also would’ve gone to see one of Vegas’ many awe-inspiring shows. The best seats and prices are released early, so book in advance. Our wedding day was perfect. Although we weren’t married by Elvis, we still got the full Vegas experience, with the friendly locals making us feel like celebrities when I walked the strip in my wedding dress. If I had a dollar for every time a stranger congratulated us, I could’ve been Vegas’ next high roller.
"After being dazzled by the bright lights of Vegas, we were ready for a change of pace. As avid hikers, we were keen to check out some national parks. We explored Zion, Yosemite, Death Valley, and Antelope Canyon to name a few. The cities of the west coast are all impressive in their own way, but you won’t find anything like America’s national parks anywhere else in the world.
"In our hire car, we drove through the hottest place on earth - Death Valley. What’s most impressive about this national park is its vast emptiness. The roads seem to go on forever and we rarely saw another car. We even saw tumbleweed cross our path at one point, it was like something out of an old spaghetti western. Although there’s often a lot of travelling involved in multi-destination holidays, in the United States, the landscapes are so spectacular you never get bored.
"After our stint in the desert, we travelled on to Yosemite, and spring had well and truly arrived in California. The National Park was adorned with flashes of colour from newly bloomed flowers, waterfalls had thawed and were in full flow, and the wildlife was abundant. There are lots of hikes here ranging in difficulty, and the views are always breath-taking!
"Our last stop was San Francisco. The hustle and bustle of such a vibrant city was the perfect way to end our trip. We only had a couple of days here, so we stayed in the central location of Fisherman’s Wharf. The public transport network in the city is excellent, so wherever you stay, it’s easy to get around.
"We wanted to try everything that was unique about San Francisco. So, we took a ride on the famous tram system and explored the steep hairpin turns of the world famous Lombard Street. We also hired a go-car, a little yellow vehicle that has GPS technology for self-guided driving tours. It’s like having a local show you around at your own pace and this little car can go where the tour buses can’t.
"You can’t visit San Francisco and not take a trip to Alcatraz prison – it’s an absolute must do. A self-guided audio tour was an excellent way to learn about the history of the infamous penitentiary. You travel to the island on a ferry, so they have a strict limit on tickets. It’s a very popular attraction so I’d strongly recommend prebooking.
"Overall, I think the best thing about the USA is the unmatched diversity of cultures, climates, and landscapes you encounter. Our springtime adventure to the states felt like three holidays in one. We will definitely be back, maybe to renew our vows. America hasn’t seen the last of us!"