Road Trip USA
Day 1: Washington, D.C.
Our epic Topdeck American journey begins today in the 'Big Apple', New York! We depart the world's most famous metropolis and head towards the US capital, Washington DC, but en route we make a quick stop in Philadelphia. 'Philly' was once the capital of the US and centre of colonial history, and we have time to check out popular attractions such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Philadelphia is famous for being the home of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky, and for the incredibly popular local food: delicious Philly Cheesesteak! Why not try one while we're here?
After leaving 'Philly' we move on to Washington DC, where this evening we will enjoy an included night time guided tour of the illuminated Washington monuments, a memorable 'Totally Topdeck' experience.
Day 2: Washington, D.C.
We then have a full day in ‘DC’ (as it’s referred to locally) to see the sights. The majority of the city’s most famous monuments are centered on the National Mall, home to the US Capitol Building, Reflecting Pool and several War Memorials. Most structures here have strong links to America’s past – for instance the towering Washington Monument and the austere Lincoln Memorial were constructed in honour of two of the most famous US Presidents; George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
The area is also home to several world famous museums such as the Natural History Museum, Art and Science Museum and the Holocaust Museum, and we have the option to visit these to soak up some culture and knowledge. Later in the evening we can check out some fantastic restaurants and nightlife.
Day 3: Charlotte, North Carolina
We head south today to North Carolina, our destination being the rapidly-expanding city of Charlotte. The largest city in the state is relatively undiscovered by tourists but, with a vibrant nightlife and great restaurants alongside the famous 'Southern hospitality', Charlotte is an undiscovered gem. This evening we enjoy our first taste of good ol' Southern cooking with an included dinner.
Day 4: Savannah, Georgia
We have ‘Georgia on our mind’ today as we venture further into the Deep South. Savannah, known as one of the most attractive cities in the USA, has a European feel to it, with elegant, moss-draped squares sitting alongside 18th century buildings. While most of Georgia was burnt to the ground by the Union forces during the Civil War, General Sherman found Savannah so beautiful that he personally saved it and the wonderful architecture remains intact.
Day 5: Savannah, Georgia
We enjoy a free day here and have plenty of time to explore. We enjoy a frightfully fun ‘Totally Topdeck’ ghost tour through what is known as one of the most haunted cities in America, and can soak up the atmosphere of the Riverfront - packed with great restaurants, shops, and buzzing bars.
Day 6: Cocoa Beach, Florida
Welcome to the Sunshine State! Today we make our way down the eastern coast of the USA to Cocoa Beach, a chilled-out beachside town nestling on the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
On arrival we have the option to check out the surfing, relax on the beach, or head into downtown Cocoa Beach - a restored brick-walk village with a vibrant atmosphere. Later we can enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants on the beach, or enjoy the chilled nightlife of the beachside cafes and bars.
Day 7: Miami Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach had major growth during the 1960s as a result of America's space program, with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center only a short drive away. This morning we have the option to take one giant leap and visit the base of humankind’s greatest journey, where we can tour launch-pad areas, meet a veteran astronaut, see giant rockets, and train in spaceflight simulators!
After that we’re off to another out-of-this-world destination - Miami! It’s the most Latin city north of Mexico as it was a hub for thousands of Cuban immigrants escaping Fidel Castro’s communist regime. We’ll try some authentic Cuban cuisine with an included dinner tonight. Welcome to Miami! Bienvenido a Miami!
Day 8: Miami Beach, Florida
Miami is everything you would imagine and more, with golden beaches, world-class shopping, arts, culture, and gorgeous art deco architecture. And you’ll have a full free day to explore it. But save up some energy for tonight… Infused with energy and style from South America and the Caribbean, this is one of the hottest and most legendary party cities on earth!
Day 9: Florida Keys, Florida
We say a reluctant goodbye to Miami and head further south today, our destination the Florida Keys. During our drive today the land starts to open up, offering the realisation that we’re actually driving from island to island - the Florida Keys are an archipelago of over 1700 tropical islands!
Day 10: Florida Keys, Florida
On the free day, we can take things as easily or as action-packed as we like. There are opportunities to enjoy the famous Key West sunset on an optional cruise, or soak up the view from Mallory Square with the locals. Key West has a Caribbean feel (it’s closer to Havana than Miami) and even the sand was shipped in on barges from the Caribbean!
Day 11: Gulf Coast, Florida
Today we step back millions of years with an included tour of the Everglades, the ‘river-of-grass’ that covers much of the lower third of Florida. These wetlands once covered an area the size of Wales, but they have been whittled away to barely half their original size by 20th-century settlement, drainage and channelling. They’re now a protected national park, and the wildlife which has evolved here is astounding - alligators, the American crocodile, white-tailed deer, otters, raccoons, more than a dozen species of turtle and 350 species of bird, including herons and the endangered wood stork.
We then make our way towards Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, our base for the night, where we enjoy an included dinner.
Day 12: Orlando, Florida
Today’s challenge is trying to contain our excitement as we make our way to magical Orlando! There’s a reason over 50 million kids and big kids descend on this city each year, namely the best theme parks in the world.
Day 13: Orlando, Florida
On the free day, we have the option to spend a full day at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios (home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), Epcot Center or SeaWorld. Theme parks aside, there’s much more to Orlando than first glance. With a vibrant Downtown district, some of the best malls in Florida, and (perhaps surprisingly) excellent museums, the only problem is deciding what to do with your time!
Day 14: Panama City Beach, Florida
Today our goal is Panama City Beach on the west coast of Florida, with its 27 miles of golden beaches nestling on the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The city has a renowned nightlife and is known as “spring break capital of the world” due to the thousands of college students who descent every March and April! Despite its reputation as a party town, Panama City Beach retains a relaxed charm year-round, and is the perfect place to end our awesome Floridian adventure.
Day 15: New Orleans, Louisiana
Our next two night stop is a special one - New Orleans, ‘The Big Easy’, home of the French Quarter, Dixieland jazz, and the world famous Mardi Gras (Carnival). It’s a fairly long drive but well worth it, as this relaxed city has some of the best nightlife, restaurants, cafes, antique shops and good ol’ Southern hospitality it’s possible to find anywhere in the US.
Day 16: New Orleans, Louisiana
We have a full free day to explore some of the legendary local cuisine, dominated by seafood. Sample fried oysters, crawfish, shrimp jambalaya and other delicious specialities. And did we mention the nightlife?!
Day 17: Lafayette, Louisiana
It’s a relatively short drive to our next destination Lafayette, and we make an interesting stop en route at Avery Island for an included tour of the Tabasco sauce factory, with the chance to taste (if you’re brave enough!). We can also take an optional Swamp Tour to a ‘bayou’ to catch a glimpse of alligators and birdlife.
Lafayette is the centre of French-speaking Cajun culture in America. Cajuns are 18th century exiles from French Canada who have a strong and unique tradition of language, music and cuisine. Lafayette also has a strong Creole culture that comes from a mix of different African and European nationalities, mostly French and Spanish. Tonight we will be able to experience the unique and delicious Cajun cuisine for ourselves with an included dinner.
Day 18: San Antonio, Texas
The old saying goes that “everything is bigger in Texas” – well let’s hope that includes your appetite as our next destination, San Antonio, claims to the birthplace of chilli!
Today we’ll visit one of North America’s most popular historical tourist attractions, the Alamo Mission. The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 was a pivotal event in Texas history. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under Santa Ana launched an assault on the Alamo Mission. All but two of the Texan defenders were killed, and buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texans defeated the Mexican Army later the same year ending the Texas Revolution.
San Antonio itself is home to the Riverwalk, a development of the urban river section of the San Antonio River. It’s a lively nightspot with restaurants, shops, bars and Hispanic music, and a great place to spend our evening.
Day 19: Austin, Texas
Before we depart San Antonio we’ll visit one of North America’s most popular historical tourist attractions, the Alamo Mission. The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 was a pivotal event in Texas history. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under Santa Ana launched an assault on the Alamo Mission. All but two of the Texan defenders were killed, and buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texans defeated the Mexican Army later the same year ending the Texas Revolution.
We then move on to Austin for two nights, a city known as the “Live Music Capital of the World”.
Day 20: Austin, Texas
Austin is a liberal, quirky ‘island’ in what is otherwise perceived to be a conservative Texas. Known for its music festivals and nightlife, Austin is considered one of America's greenest and most desirable cities to live in. It even has a movement called “Keep Austin Weird” which is an attempt by locals to keep the city from becoming overly developed and commercial. You’ll have plenty of time to explore with a full free day and in the summer months there is an included tubing trip floating down the San Marcos River.
Day 21: Amarillo, Texas
Is this the way to Amarillo? You bet it is! Our destination today is the cowboy town of Amarillo. Yee haw! On arrival we can check out the quirky art-installation of Cadillac Ranch, which consists of 10 old Cadillacs buried nose-first in the ground. Visitors are encouraged to bring a can of spray-paint to add their own touches of artistic genius.
Those who've worked up an appetite may want to check out the infamous Big Texan steakhouse, a roadside attraction since Route 66 brought travellers into Amarillo. The Big Texan offers a 72oz. steak (that's four and a half pounds or two kilos of meat) and it's free of charge for anybody who can eat it in an hour. Man Versus Food host Adam Richman completed the challenge, could you? As they say, “everything is bigger in Texas”!
Day 22: Santa Fe, New Mexico
We’re on our way to Santa Fe! The state capital of New Mexico is the heart of Southwest culture, art and architecture. Originally a Native American settlement, it became one of the earliest European settlements in the United States and has long been a cultural melting pot. In fact, it’s the USA’s oldest state capital, and the highest capital city in the country at 7,000ft / 2135m above sea level!
Day 23: Santa Fe, New Mexico
With a full free day here, we’ve plenty of time to explore this historic city. The main attraction is the enchanting central plaza, where we can see the influence of Native American, Spanish, colonial Mexican and American cultures. A lot of Southwest and Native American art can be found on the plaza and in the museums.
Day 24: Monument Valley, Utah
Our destination today is Monument Valley, part of the Navajo Nation, a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory. It is home to a unique culture and stunning natural beauty - a series of impressive sandstone buttes dot the landscape, the largest towering almost 300m tall. It will probably seem familiar, having been featured in numerous Westerns and other films such as Mission Impossible II, Back to the Future III, Thelma & Louise and even the Doctor Who TV series!
While here we have an amazing included Navajo guided jeep tour of the Valley. We'll get an up-close look at the buttes and some other special places shown to us by our Navajo guide.
Day 25: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Today we'll drive to Arizona and visit Cameron Native American Trading Post where you can buy Native American jewellery and art, before heading on to the Grand Canyon, an outstanding natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There’s time to enjoy impressive views of the enormous gorge by walking between the many viewpoints along the canyon rim. Alternatively, we have the option to take a helicopter ride over the widest section of the canyon (18 miles wide!) This once-in-a-lifetime chance to savour bird's eye views of such an iconic location is sure to be a highlight of your Topdeck North American trip.
Day 26: Las Vegas, Nevada
From here we head back along Route 66 to 'Sin City', Las Vegas! There's time to relax before diving head first into the nightlife of the Las Vegas Strip. The dazzling lights of the incredible hotels and casinos are just the beginning, and the sheer scale of the attractions will make your jaw drop! Enjoy the people-watching and free outdoor shows, before we kick-start our Vegas party experience with an included Party Bus tour of the strip - it's like a private nightclub on wheels! Afterwards the night is ours to enjoy - why not visit one of the legendary casinos for a flutter?
Day 27: Las Vegas, Nevada
We then have a full day to make sure we get the complete Vegas experience. It’s impossible to run out of things to do here: take a gondola ride down a faux-Venice canal; marvel at twentieth-century Pyramids of Giza; enjoy the views from the city’s own Eiffel Tower; or check out any number of other recreated world wonders. And if you’re still at a loss for what to do there is always world class shopping, countless famous Las Vegas shows, helicopter rides, art museums, incredible buffets, indoor shooting ranges and more await us. Viva Las Vegas!
Day 28: Los Angeles, California
It's the final day of our amazing Topdeck North American trip. We’re heading to the freeways, palm trees, bright lights and urban sprawl of Los Angeles. On arrival in the 'City of Angels' our epic Topdeck Coast to Coast odyssey comes to an end, and it'll be time to say a fond farewell to our Topdeck Crew and travel buddies.
If you would like to book some post-trip accommodation through Topdeck, you'll give yourself time to explore more of this famous city. You could visit Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive and perhaps even Hollywood - a blockbuster end to a blockbuster Topdeck North American adventure!
Interested in this; ready to enquire?
Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. StudentUniverse should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.