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Best of the West

14 days Self Drive Tours
  • Los Angeles
  • Palm Springs
  • Phoenix
  • Grand Canyon
  • Las Vegas
  • Death Valley
  • Yosemite
  • San Francisco
  • Napa Valley
  • Monterey
  • Carmel
  • Santa Barbara
  • Ventura
  • Malibu
  • Santa Monica

Virgin Holidays' view

When you’ve only got two weeks to squeeze in all the greats of states like California and Nevada, a supersonic driving holiday’s just the ticket. Stopping in a new place virtually every night, but slipping in extra nights in each of the major metropolises (think LA, Las Vegas, and San Francisco) lets you experience the very best of the West.

Every West coast attraction’s covered, with time for the delights of Disney, old west vibe of Scottsdale and skyscraper-studded Phoenix, and A-lister’s desert hangout, Palm Springs.

Driving yourself gives the freedom to stop where you want as you follow one of Route 66’s best sections, heading for Hoover Dam; or skirt above Yosemite on the stunning Tioga Road; or drive California’s historic Gold Rush route; or travel parallel to the Pacific through Big Sur’s big scenery on Highway 1.

All the top-dollar names make an appearance. There’s the Grand Canyon with its knee-wobblingly high overlooks; Yosemite, with its unfathomably beautiful waterfalls; and Death Valley, with its Zabriskie Point lookout showcasing rippling landscapes. The manmade musts don’t shy away either, with Las Vegas just as dazzling as its neon canopies, San Francisco’s tourist favourites and nearby Napa’s wineries, and LA laying out the big guns from Rodeo Drive to Venice Beach.

Itinerary

Day 1: Los Angeles

Fly to Los Angeles from the UK and on arrival pick up your hire car.  Upon check–in, please ask the hotel reception for your ATI Tour documentation pack, which will include your tour essentials. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Los Angeles.

Day 2: Los Angeles – Palm Springs

Today make your way south to Anaheim, Orange County’s headquarters for fun. Spend the day surrounded by icons and classic characters at the original Disneyland Park. Visit the nation’s oldest theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, filled with old west history, or one of Anaheim’s many other fun-filled attractions before continuing east to Palm Springs. This ultimate desert playground nestled at the base of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains offers the perfect blend of outdoor entertainment and casual relaxation. Take time this evening to dine in one of the many excellent restaurants in downtown Palm Springs or escape the heat and ride the aerial tramway high up above the desert floor for panoramic views of the Coachella Valley. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Palm Springs.  Driving distance 237 km.

Day 3: Palm Springs – Mesa

Spend the morning lounging by the pool, walking along palm tree lined streets, or exploring countless shops, art galleries and museums before setting out east through the Coachella Valley to Phoenix and Scottsdale, two of Central Arizona’s top destinations. With Phoenix’s skyscraper-filled skyline complemented by famed Camelback Mountain and Scottsdale’s Old West charm, it’s guaranteed you’ll enjoy this uniquely Southwestern playground. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Mesa. Driving distance 430 km.

Day 4: Mesa – Grand Canyon

Today, head north to Grand Canyon National Park, a natural wonder that you simply have to see to believe. Spend the day discovering the distinct South Rim of the Canyon. Stop at one of the numerous overlooks, walk part of the Rim Trail or along the historic Hermit Road, visit a Photo Hot Spot, or climb to the top of a stone Watchtower for panoramic views that extend over 100 miles on clear days. Accommodation stay – 1 night in the Grand Canyon. Driving distance 370 km.

Day 5: Grand Canyon – Las Vegas

Leave the grandeur of the Canyon behind as you head west today through Williams and Kingman, the heart of Historic Route 66 and one of Arizona’s hidden treasures, to Hoover Dam. Considered the largest single public works project in the history of the U.S., Hoover Dam straddles the mighty Colorado River, which forms the border between Nevada and Arizona and brings much-needed water and power to the Southwest. Continue to Las Vegas, Nevada, a city that needs no introduction. Accommodation stay – 2 nights in Las Vegas. Driving distance 444 km.

Day 6: Las Vegas

Enjoy a full day Las Vegas style. Walk the famous Strip lined with mega-resorts and flashing neon lights, place a bet at one of the many casinos, dine at world-class restaurants, catch the latest must-see show, shop designer boutiques, ride a rollercoaster, lay by the pool, the list goes on. With so much to do, 24 hours in a day hardly seems like enough.

Day 7: Las Vegas – Death Valley

This morning, take the opportunity to capture a photograph at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign before your journey takes you west to the lowest elevation in North America, Death Valley National Park. Here, the Mojave is at its most magnificent with geological history on full display in this rugged, severe, sublime section of California. Enhance your desert experience with a stop at Zabriskie Point offering spectacular views of the wildly eroded and vibrantly colored badlands. Don’t miss the opportunity this evening to cast your eyes upon the night sky for some of the best stargazing in the world. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Death Valley. Driving distance 224 km.

Day 8: Death Valley - Yosemite Gateway

This morning, travel north into the High Sierra where Tioga Road, the highest drivable pass in California, leads you into Yosemite National Park. Best known for its impressive waterfalls, grand meadows, and spectacular rock formations, Yosemite was one of the first wilderness parks in the United States. Delve into the depths of the park with a walk to a waterfall, each as distinct as the granite cliffs they dive over, or learn about the wonders of the park during a ranger-guided stroll. Explore a giant sequoia grove and meet the most massive trees on earth, or spend an evening under the stars. With approximately 800 miles of trails, Yosemite is also a great place to hike. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Yosemite Gateway. Driving distance 525 km.

Day 9: Yosemite Gateway – San Francisco

Leave the wonder of Yosemite behind as you journey west through Gold Rush-era attractions, California’s State Capital, Sacramento, and on to San Francisco. Considered one the greatest cities in the world for many reasons, San Francisco offers one-of-a-kind sights and something to suit your every need. Accommodation stay – 1 night in San Francisco. Driving distance 314 km.

Day 10: San Francisco – Monterey

This morning, head south to Monterey along Highway 1 which offers breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of Monterey at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in downtown. Explore Cannery Row’s historic waterfront district, John Steinbeck’s inspiration for his novel of the same name. Visit the quaint area of Carmel, and enjoy an exhilarating trip along 17-Mile Drive from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Monterey. Driving distance 210 km.

Day 11: Monterey – Ventura

Continue south along central California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway. This twisting, cliff-hugging route starts in Monterey and takes you through Big Sur where mountains plunge into the Pacific Ocean. Farther south, the landscape mellows to oak-studded hills as the road passes Hearst Castle and ends in Morro Bay. A short distance inland is the heart of the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo. From here, continue south to Ventura passing through Pismo Beach, inland agricultural valleys of rolling countryside, and Santa Barbara, often described as the American Riviera. Located along the southern-most part of California’s Central Coast, Ventura is a classic beach town in a spectacular setting. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Ventura. Driving distance 451 km.

Day 12: Ventura – Los Angeles

Today, travel further south through Oxnard, yet another beautiful stretch of coast in Malibu, and the seaside town of Santa Monica. Arrive in Los Angeles with enough time to glimpse some of the glitz and glamour of the City of Angels. Check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame TCL Chinese Theatre, formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Drive; some of the best sights Los Angeles has to offer. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Los Angeles. Driving distance 120 km.

Day 13-14: Depart Los Angeles - UK

Return your hire car to the airport prior to your flight back to the UK.

This tour is based on a Room Only basis.

*Denotes local charge – Optional trips and excursions suggested on the itinerary are bookable and payable locally.

This is a set tour itinerary, if you have booked any pre/post or optional tour arrangements please refer to your separate vouchers and final documents.

Dates & prices

The table below shows our escorted tour departure dates.

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated. Single room and flight prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Tour information

Please click here to download a pdf of the itinerary and additional tour notes

Pre/Post Tour information

If you would like to extend your trip or make the tour part of a longer holiday, we can easily add on a pre or post night stays for you. Our Sales Team will work with you to arrange the best connecting flights and book any additional hotel stays. Simply tell us what you’d like and we can arrange it.

Time difference

Eastern Time Zone: GMT -5 hours

Pacific Time Zone: GMT -8 hours

Mountain Time Zone: GMT -7 hours

Central Time Zone: GMT -6 hours

Tour inclusions

  • Accommodation listed above
  • Welcome phone call from American Tours International
  • Virgin Holidays branded rucksack with tour documentation and Atlas, please ask when you check in at your first hotel for your ‘ATI Pack’
  • Beach Blanket
  • Starbucks gift card.

Tour exclusions

  • All flights and airport transfers in the UK
  • Travel Insurance
  • Car hire and insurance unless this has been booked by the sales consultant
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, tips & gratuities, video camera fees at monuments
  • The required ESTA application
  • Anything not detailed on the itinerary

Dining inclusions

Room Only

Accommodation

Accommodation listed on the itinerary is a mix of 3-4V graded properties. Please note some tours are up to 3 weeks in duration and there may be some nights when staying in remote locations e.g. the National Parks, when the ‘V’ rating may vary. Hotels are subject to change up until 30 days prior to departure, but you will be advised of any changes.

Extensions

Warner Bros Hollywood Studio Tour and Movies Stars Homes Tour

With so many exciting things to see and do in and around Los Angeles, it can be hard to fit everything in. This inspired combo is ideal if you’d like a memorable flavour of Tinseltown in a single day. It combines a unique tour of the working Warner Bros Studio lot – home to everything from the DC movies to The Big Bang Theory and Ellen – with a brilliantly entertaining tour of Hollywood stars’ homes that’s practically a show in its own right. So grab a coffee at the Central Perk from Friends, take a selfie in Harley Quinn’s cell from Suicide Squad and experience the process of taking a script to screen, before seeing how (and where) the A-list lives. 

Hollywood Hills Hiking Tour

Walking in the Hollywood Hills is an LA rite of passage, and this guided two-and-half-hour hike takes you into this arresting natural environment en route to spectacular 360-degree views over the City of Angels and the San Fernando Valley. You can take the tour in the morning or as the sun begins to set and, as you walk, your entertaining and fact-filled guide will give you an insider’s history of the area, sharing clips from movies and series filmed in the locations you visit. There’s a selfie-op with the Hollywood sign, and you’ll crest the Hills at the world famous Griffith Park Observatory.

Grand Canyon West Rim (by Ground and Helicopter)

Staying in Las Vegas? The Grand Canyon is so close that it would be verging on criminal not to see it with your own eyes. This exceptional experience offers a magnificent change of scenery from the glittering distractions of The Strip – a helicopter ride that gives you spectacular aerial views of the Mojave Desert, Hoover Dam and adjacent Bypass Bridge, and Black Canyon. And all of this as a prelude to an exhilarating flight below the rim of the Grand Canyon itself. You’ll also land at Grand Canyon West for a two-hour visit, where you can meet members of the indigenous Hualapai Tribe and visit the scenic West Rim for yet more amazing photo ops.

Early Access to Alcatraz and Exclusive Cable Car Sightseeing Tour

Set foot on the notorious ‘Rock’, following in the footsteps of Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, or Nicholas Cage. You can get ahead of the curve (and the inmates… sorry, crowds) with this early-access experience. Set sail on one of the first ferries out to Alcatraz and explore this infamous prison, without the hustle and bustle. Immerse yourself in the audio tour, featuring commentary from former inmates and guards, and discover the island at large with its beautiful bay views. Escape to enjoy a spot of sightseeing around the city in a converted classic cable car. Capture those beautiful city sights around Chinatown, North Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving yourself time to enjoy an evening of freedom.

Yosemite and Giant Sequoias Day Trip

You don’t have to plan an entire holiday on the edge of the awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park to experience its XXXL vistas and to go all Ansel Adams with your camera. This full-day trip departs from San Francisco, taking you east through historic Gold Rush towns en route to Yosemite. Once there, you’ll embark on an easygoing and photogenic one-hour hike to Tuolomne Grove and its soaring Sequoia trees, visit Inspiration Point for a staggering photo op of peaks El Capitan and Half Dome (while learning about the park from an experienced guide) and enjoy some free time to, well, simply be in nature. Perfection.