Would you like to learn about the history of famous cities with behind-the-scenes experiences; wake up in America’s national parks before the crowds descend; and learn from local experts who live there? We chat to Carol Kendrick, a Travel Director at Insight Vacations, about what you can see, learn and experience on the Great Western American Adventure premium escorted journey. 

Why should we be tempted by the Great Western American Adventure?

During this 15 day trip, you’ll experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of California and the American Southwest. You’ll visit exciting cities to see Hollywood, Las Vegas and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco; and the landscapes range from Sonoma Wine Country to Yosemite National Park, the rugged ocean and California’s golden beaches. We’ve picked out some of the most scenic vistas in the American Southwest, so you’ll have time to explore stunning Monument Valley, the unexpected beauty of Bryce and Zion National Parks and the Grand Canyon.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

What’s so special about an escorted journey with Insight Vacations?

As it’s escorted, it’s a carefree travel experience. The group size is limited to 40 and you’ll have a knowledgeable Travel Director with you throughout to take care of every detail. Whether it’s by coach, ferry, cruise or train, you can expect to travel in style with experienced and professional drivers, spacious seats and extra legroom. We handpick hotels in fantastic locations, some inside national parks, and include fascinating and unique experiences, with the option to add on extra experiences if you want to. There is a great balance when it comes to dining – some meals are included and you’ll also have the chance to head out and explore the local restaurants nearby. Your Travel Director will always be on hand with recommendations to make sure you experience the very best of each destination. 

Yosemite National Park

What can you teach us about San Francisco city on this journey?

Like many cities, San Francisco has a multi-faceted past, leading to the city you can experience today. From the Native American tribes who originally inhabited the area, sea-faring explorers who ‘discovered’ the area, the Spanish missions, the Gold Rush, the epicenter of 1960s culture, its famous bridges, Chinatown, and the wine country, there is so much to discover about San Francisco. Your Travel Director and local experts will make each of these moments come alive during your stay in the San Francisco area and throughout the adventure.

San Francisco wine country

Tell us about the behind the scenes theatre tour in Los Angeles…

While many think of Los Angeles as beaches, amusement parks and the film industry, most don’t realise, or haven’t discovered, historic downtown Los Angeles. One of the experiences on the Great Western American Adventure is a private walking tour of the historic Broadway theatre area by a local expert. The Broadway area of Los Angeles was once home to a world-renowned row of 12 movie palaces, rivalling the great theatres and opera houses of eastern USA cities and beyond. You can visit a theatre, only open for our guests, and gaze up at the ornate ceilings, walls and floors. It’s a treat to walk in the footsteps of those who pioneered Los Angeles’ movie industry and to soak in the ambiance of days gone by.

Theatre tour, Los Angeles

What are your tips for visiting the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is absolutely stunning at first glance. The experience is heightened when the canyon is viewed at different times of the day and from different vistas. The colours and the personality of the canyon unfold with multiple views. While at the canyon’s edge, take a moment to stroll away from the main vista points and walk along the rim trail to find a place along the rim of the canyon where you find yourself all alone. Drink in the sights, then sit down and close your eyes to focus on the sounds and the smells of the canyon and the nature surrounding you. I promise it will be an unforgettable wow moment.

The Grand Canyon

Tell us about exploring Monument Valley with a guide…

Monument Valley is a highlight for many guests on this journey. You’ll see the stunning butte rock formations and the wide-open spaces allowing you to peer into three adjoining states, the setting of many Western movies starring John Wayne. We’ll arrange for you to see these sights, and learn about them, from a Navajo Native American who lives there. Venturing out into Monument Valley in an open-air vehicle with a Navajo Native American guide is an included experience of the Great Western American Adventure. They will share their insider knowledge about the tribe, the history of the area, the geology, the customs, the language, the movies made in Monument Valley, and so much more. It is an unforgettable day.

Monument Valley

What authentic dining experiences are included?

The journey covers lands settled by Native Americans, Spaniards, Mexicans, fishermen, gold seekers, and immigrants who came to seek a better life or employment. The dining experiences along the way are as varied as the scenery. You can taste freshly-caught fish from the Pacific Ocean and locally-grown produce from America’s farmland in Northern California. Southern California and Arizona bring the tastes of the Spanish, Mexican, and the ranching influences of beef dishes. You can also savour the gastronomy of the Navajo Taco and Fry Bread drizzled with just the right amount of honey for extra deliciousness!

What’s your favourite part of this adventure and why?

My favorite part of the Great Western American Adventure is the uniqueness of every day. After 40 years of living in the American West, it never ceases to amaze and delight me. By travelling just a few hours in any direction, the scenery drastically changes. The change in elevation from sea level to over 2700 metres (9000 feet) is responsible for the unique scenery and the ever-changing geological formations found only in the American West.

Exploring the Grand Canyon

What are your favourite places to stay on the journey and why?

The lodges of the national parks are my favourite places to stay on this journey. While I enjoy the luxury of a hotel or resort in the city, for me there is something magical and transformative about sleeping steps away from the rim of the Grand Canyon or surrounded by 300 metres (1000 feet) cliffs in Zion. On this adventure we don’t just visit the national parks, we stay in the national parks. There is peacefulness, calmness, and beauty you can not only see, but also feel when staying at the national park lodges. It is a feeling like no other and I cannot wait for you to experience it.

Zion National Park

Inspired?


Learn more about the Great Western American Adventure, Insight Vacations premium escorted journeys or our USA holidays. Talk to someone who has been there by searching for one of our USA experts or booking an appointment inside your local Kuoni store.

This feature was published on 20 March 2019. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print.

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Canada & USA 2019/20