USA holiday highlights

It is standard practice for resorts/hotels within the USA to charge a mandatory resort fee which is payable locally. This fee can be anywhere between 5USD to 40 USD per room per night and is not included in the cost of your Kuoni holiday. 

West coast
The ‘Golden State’ of California is the US destination of dreams. Like cities? California has its fair share of famous towns with San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego dotted along its magnificent coastline. More at one with nature? California has more national parks than all but one of the country’s 50 states. Alongside the poster child of Yosemite, which attracts millions of visitors each year with its granite valleys, tumbling waterfalls and world-class hikes, there are a handful of smaller, less-frequently visited parks such as geothermic Lassen and mountainous Sequoia.

If you ‘re in search of the most underrated yet up-and-coming cities and picturesque coastlines in the USA head to the Pacific North West. Within just a short space of time you can get to know cities such as Portland or Seattle, drive along the Pacific Coast Highway and head inland to enjoy mountain adventures in the Cascades.

Islands
The string of volcanic islands that make up the island of Hawaii sometimes seem as if they’ve purely been created by Hollywood studios as the backdrop to Jurassic Park. However, there’s nothing fake about the forest-clad peaks and valleys, the active volcanoes with their constant lava flows and the rolling waves speckled with surfers.

National parks
Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon couldn’t be more different– Vegas is a man-made city in the desert where anything goes while the Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most famous natural wonders. But a visit to the ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ is only enhanced by taking some time out to appreciate the beauty of this region. With the west rim of the Grand Canyon just a short helicopter ride away it’s an easy trip to make and you’ll be back in Vegas in time to enjoy some fine dining before a show or a bit of shopping. Grand Canyon National Park is a little further afield so we highly recommend heading out from Vegas on a South West road trip and making the park your first stop.

Aside from the canyon, Arizona has some real natural beauties as well as modern cities and artsy towns surrounded by red rock canyons. The real gem in the state’s crown is Monument Valley; the word awesome is often misused but that’s definitely not the case here – the views of the buttes and mesas rising up from the valley floor really do inspire awe. Head onwards in to Utah and it’s a case of spectacular landscape after spectacular landscape. In Moab there are the twin national parks of Arches and Canyonlands while in the south west of the state the other-worldly scenes belong to Bryce Canyon National Park, a land of sandstone hoodoos, and Zion National Park with its sheer-sided valleys and rock temples.

The USA’s west seems to have an embarrassment of riches with the parks and coast of the Pacific states and the scenically stunning Utah and Arizona. Add to this the Rocky Mountain states of Wyoming and Montana and what you get is wilderness lover’s paradise. Yellowstone National Park is the region’s most famous attraction and it’s not hard to see why with its distinctive geological and geothermal wonders and animal inhabitants.

Eastern states
New York City hardly needs an introduction. It’s been the backdrop to so many films and television programmes we feel like we know it inside out. Nothing beats actually being there and feeling the tangible energy the city has. The first time you walk down a Manhattan street, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of a city that is never silent and never rests, is unforgettable. There’s so much to see and do that one visit will never be enough and every time you visit you’ll discover something new whether it’s another green space – try people watching in Bryant Park – a museum or a favourite viewpoint.

Nearby Boston is the gateway to New England, and it has a whole different vibe to New York. It’s less frenetic but no less intriguing and its Revolutionary history, which you can recall on the self-guided Freedom Trail, is its main draw. While the south-west states may boast epic landscapes, it’s the villages and towns of the north east that are full of charm and welcoming residents which perhaps creates a more familiar atmosphere.

Iconic monuments, cities with a rich heritage, battlefields and beautiful coastlines are just a few highlights of USA’s Capital Region. Washington D.C. sits has lots of well-known sights such as the White House, The National Mall and the Capitol building. What’s a little less expected are its eclectic range of neighbourhoods from DuPont Circle to Georgetown.

The South
It would be hard to find a place that is as soulful as the South. In cities such as Memphis, Nashville and Tennessee music spills out onto the street as budding musicians make a name for themselves, while the vast plains of Georgia and South Carolina are home to antebellum mansions surrounded by historic plantations and cities that radiate that renowned Southern charm.

Family-favourite Florida is home to world-famous theme parks, ultra-modern coastal cities and the paradise Keys, a string of islands and cays that stretch for over a hundred miles off the southern tip of the state. If you have children, or are just a grown-up kid yourself, head to Orlando to meet iconic characters and raise your adrenaline levels on seemingly gravity-defying rides. If your tastes are more sedate, the resorts of the Gulf of Mexico such as Naples and St Pete’s or the Keys may be more your style. Glistening Miami has a completely different character with its lively beaches, and world-class nightlife.

Shopping

It almost goes without saying that the USA is one of the biggest shopping destinations for us Brits. Whether you’re on a dedicated shopping trip to New York, or shopping is just a small part of your holiday, there’s pretty much nothing you can’t buy here. While the exchange rate may not work in our favour as it once did, you can still find many brands cheaper across the pond. Clothes and shoes are the obvious choice, as are electronics (although you’ll need to check if there are any regional usage restrictions), make up and confectionary.

Getting around
The USA’s wide, open roads, spectacular scenery, iconic cities and incredible national parks are made for self-drives. Hitting the open road is a great way to explore the places and attractions that you long to see, while travelling at your own pace. It’s also ideal for families, groups of friends and couples who enjoy a more independent holiday. You can choose between a hire car or motorhome which are available in a number of different sizes and styles.

To cover long distances between cities, the most convenient and cost effective way to travel is by plane. The United States has a vast network of routes and airlines to choose from. Train travel in the USA is not as widespread as it is in Europe. However, it is a convenient way to travel between some of the main cities in the eastern states such as Boston, New York City, Washington D.C and Philadelphia.

USA key facts

Time difference

Eastern Standard Time: GMT -5 hours
Central Standard Time: GMT -6 hours
Mountain Standard Time: GMT -7 hours
Pacific Standard Time: GMT -8 hours
Alaska Standard Time: GMT -9 hours
Hawaii-Aleutian Time: GMT - 10 hours

Capital

Washington D.C.

Currency

US Dollar ($)

Flying time to destination

Boston: 7½ hours
New York City: 8 hours
Philadelphia & Washington D.C.: 8¼ hours
Chicago: 8½ hours
Orlando & Atlanta: 9½ hours
Miami, Tampa & New Orleans: 10 hours
Savannah (indirect flight): 11¼ hours
Memphis (indirect flight): 11½ hours
Las Vegas: 10¼ hours

Denver: 10 hours
Phoenix: 11 hours
Salt Lake City (indirect flight): 12½ hours
Seattle: 9¾ hours
Los Angeles & San Diego: 11¼ hours
San Francisco: 11 hours
Anchorage, Alaska (indirect flight): 13½ hours
Honolulu, Hawaii (indirect flight): 16 hours

Language

English

Passport & visas

British passport holders must have a full 10-year British Passport that is valid for six months after you return to the UK. You will also need a USA visa or waiver form/ESTA. Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling (http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).

Voltage & electricity

The domestic electrical supply is 110V, 60 cycles AC. Sockets are for plugs with two flat pins.

USA good to know

Health and vaccinations

No vaccinations are compulsory but it's recommended you have one for tetanus. For more information, contact your GP or a specialist vaccination centre.

Tipping

Tipping is an established and accepted custom in America. For good service, waiters and taxi drivers expect 15-20%, and counter and bar staff 10-15%. Porters can expect from $3-$5 per case, while tour guides can be given the equivalent of £2-£3 per day.

Public holidays

• 01 January: New Year's Day

• Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

• Third Monday in February: Presidents Day

• Last Monday in May: Memorial Day

• 04 July: Independence Day

• First Monday in September: Labor Day

• Second Monday in October: Columbus Day

• 11 November: Veterans Day

• Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

• 25 December: Christmas Day