Self-drive holidays – Get your motor running and head out on the highway…
Looking for adventure? Hit the open road with self-drive holidays across the USA and Canada. Whether you want to discover the best of the West Coast, the casinos and canyons of the South-West, or the great parks of Canada, driving holidays give you the freedom to go where you want, when you want.
Our Canada self-drive holidays take you from east to west, stopping off in famous Canadian cities and wilderness along the way. America self-drive holidays introduce you to the bright lights of New York, the breath-taking beauty of Yellowstone park and the iconic California highways. And who could resist America driving holidays that take you along the legendary Route 66? Whatever route you choose to take, we have self-driving holidays for everyone.
Not a fan of the open road? Not to worry, there’s plenty of other ways to discover the world with our exciting range of tours and safaris.
Lobsters and Lighthouses
One of those places you instantly feel like a local, New England’s scenery, old-world villages, and seaside communities are as welcoming and familiar as you can get, making for leisurely exploration. Breaking you into the easy-going air, Boston’s no sprawling urban jungle; it’s a cutesy enclave packed with history and charm. Its Freedom Trail links American Revolutionary landmarks with a simple stroll, peppered with endless dining and second-to-none shopping. But lobsters and lighthouses await. Hitting the road north takes you through Salem’s witch trial history, coastal communities like Gloucester, Rockport, and Portsmouth, and into Kennebunkport, whose bohemian vibe and historic homes make it a perfect overnight stop before heading on to Bar Harbor, where lobstermen bring in their catch for your chowder and lobster rolls. Most travellers drive into Acadia National Park, taking Park Loop Road or scaling Cadillac Mountain, before leaving the coast for the White Mountains and their covered bridges and forest-wrapped villages, heading over to Stowe; the Green Mountains and their bear and moose lled forests; and the famously chic region of The Berkshires. Back on the coast, the trail leads you to Newport, summer home of the super- wealthy, and Cape Cod, where incredible sandy beaches, sweet villages, and free-spirited Princetown make it the summer home of many more.
Great Parks of the East
You don’t always have to be an intrepid explorer to go off-grid: East coast Canada is one of the easiest places to travel out of the city and into the middle of nowhere. By mapping out the best routes, you get to mix days on the open road with days ‘off-tarmac’, submerging yourself in each stop; and mix rural idylls with city stopovers in Toronto, Québec City, Montréal and Ottawa. The cities’ iconic landmarks are a must, but foraging for lesser-known stops like Huntsville, Tremblant, Saint-Michel-des-Saints, and Kingston opens up a fresh compilation of Canadian sights; and the drives to each are part of the adventure. Travelling through Algonquin Provincial Park and along Georgian Bay bares beauty in places like the lake’s 30,000 islands, and history at spots like the native Penetanguishene village. Entering the Laurentian Mountains puts you in the same address as bison, elk, bears and wolves, making for fabulous hiking. Driving the Chemin du Roy links you to a string of charming French Canadian villages. And leisurely drives through the Lanaudiere region supplies sections of utter solitude. Capped with experiences like sailing into the mist of Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls and biking or kayaking at Auberge du Lac Taureau, there’s every possibility you’ll leave feeling like a bona fide adventurer.
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Rhythms of the South
Those after the full surround-sound experience of the South, can’t do better than this musical masterpiece. With its intro in Atlanta, often overlooked in favour of noisier neighbours Nashville and Memphis, you’ll discover a hotbed of musical talent, from hip- hop to gospel. It’s also lled with big-city attractions, like World of Coca Cola and Inside CNN tours. The pull of the musical maestros soon takes hold, and Nashville tempts you with its Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry – you could always crank up the radio for a detour to the Chatanooga Choo Choo or Jack Daniels distillery on your way. Moving to Memphis, country and western makes way for the birthplace of the blues. It may have sealed its fame in the Elvis years, and time at Graceland’s a must, but the blues still play proud in Beale Street’s bars. Tuning in to jazz stations instead puts you in the New Orleans spirit, as you drive through Natchez and Baton Rouge to The Big Easy and famously ornate Bourbon Street. But the sounds of the South aren’t all you’ll experience: there’s the taste of barbecue and gumbo; Vicksburg’s military connections; Pensacola’s Gulf beaches; Floridian capital, Tallahassee; and interludes among the antebellum homes of grandiose Savannah and Charleston.
In 1938, Route 66 became the first completely paved highway in the United States. Known as the 'Mother Road', it stretched from the Great Lakes to the shores of California’s Pacific Coast. This Historic Route 66 tour takes you on an unforgettable self-drive journey filled with captivating Americana and the history of the old west. You’ll visit Chicago and St Louis, experience the highlights of Las Vegas and Los Angeles and discover the captivating beauty of the Grand Canyon and the vast lands of the Texas Panhandle.
Casinos and Canyons
If ever two worlds shouldn’t survive side by side, it’s the canyons and casinos of America’s West. Las Vegas’s Bellagio fountains defy its desert setting. Its people-packed Strip defies its remoteness. And its manmade masterpieces defy the natural splendour of its surroundings. But that’s all part of the excitement.
Las Vegas is the ultimate love it or hate it destination. To some it sends shivers of trepidation, to others shivers of excitement, but you’ll never know which until you rock up and ride the experience.
A complete contrast to the encircling wilderness, it’s an unlikely city of faux-global landmarks and genuine luxury. Every inch of its famous Strip is lined with exclusive malls and themed hotels, each vying to beat the next for the best shows and restaurants, the biggest star residencies, the greatest casinos, and the wackiest attractions, from fake beaches to sky-scraping theme park rides.
Step away from the city, and nature, solitude and silence reign. Five nights out in the wilds in three national parks opens your eyes to nature’s own overthe-top creations, like the shadow-throwing hoodoos of Bryce Canyon; the light-catching turrets of Monument Valley; the endlessly changing terrains of Canyonlands; and the eye-defying depths of the Grand Canyon.
Best of the West
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.
Northern California Adventure
Canny travellers have been flocking to NorCal for decades — swapping the USA’s cookie-cutter cities for the dazzling nature and small-town feel of this picture-perfect patch of America. This little slice of California manages to squeeze in a national park, a vast lake, swanky vineyards, and one of the most-loved cities in the States. And this trip lets you explore them all; with its slow pace and long stopovers giving you time to truly immerse yourself in NorCal’s sights and spirit.
It all starts with three nights in San Francisco, a blissfully free-thinking city thanks to the swinging sixties’ hippies and today’s dotcom generation. With 24-hour bike rental included, you could cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, the beaches, and Muir Woods – or brave the hills and zigzagging Lombard Street. With so much to squeeze in, it’s lucky you return for an extra day at the end of your trip.
Some head to Sonoma County for the wineries and tasting rooms of Napa and Sonoma, others for the fabulous things the vineyards attract – like exquisite restaurants, chic galleries, and stunning vine-striped scenery for hiking and biking. Of course, with three nights here you can fit in the sightseeing and the wine tasting.
Blessed by Mother Nature, NorCal’s beauty comes into full view at Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. With two nights in each, you’ll have time to bike or hike your way through forests, past beaches, and along the shore of Lake Tahoe; and to snap Yosemite’s jaw-droppingly photogenic monuments like Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan.
Yukon and Alaska Explorer
Road trippers seeking trails less-travelled can rarely do better than Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. A 2-week loop can take you through Gold Rush relics, ice-crusted glaciers and mountains, and wildlife-stuffed national parks and forests. Epic scenery’s the main draw for wanderers heading here: and they’re never disappointed. Every stretch of road comes with dramatic vistas. The Alaska Highway leads to Kluane National Park, where glacier fields erupt into the St Elias Mountains, before historic towns trace your route into Fairbanks. George Parks Highway takes you to Denali National Park, with extremes of peaks and valleys and raging rivers and trickling streams on your way to Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak. The Matanuska Valley reveals lands where super-size vegetables grow from 20-hour summer days. The Klondike Highway cuts through Kaska Indian hunting grounds. And the fjord-hugging roads to Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site and the Top of the World Highway give the ultimate frontier feel for would-be nomads. These roads connect you to remote outposts for experiences like flightseeing over glacial parklands, panning for nuggets in gold rush towns, tracking moose, caribou, and grizzly bears in Denali National Park, citysurfing between Whitehorse, Fairbanks, and Anchorage, and riding the scenery skirting White Pass and Yukon Route Railway.
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Rockies to Vancouver, Canadian Style
Not all road trips keep you on the move. Travelling from Calgary to the coast, your car only exists to launch you from one incredible mini-break to the next, with proper time to get to know each stopover. And ‘getting to know’ the West means off-road adventures. Beginning in Banff, Canada’s original national park, hikes and bikes offer high-impact scenery, but you can revitalise in its famous hot springs before scaling Sulphur Mountain for equally invigorating views. Days are best spent on the water in Jasper, Lake Louise, and Lac Le Jeune. With three nights in each, you’ll lose hours canoeing and kayaking, and on included trips along Maligne Canyon, at atmospheric Maligne Lake, and navigating Jasper’s white water rapids with a local expert. Back to city life in Vancouver, you’ll tour urban sights like Granville Island and scenic ones like Capilano Suspension Bridge. The road’s still part of the fun though, whether you’re driving Yoho National Park’s high passes, crossing Glacier National Park in Mount Robson’s shadow, or squeezing between Fraser Canyon’s sky-scraping rocks. These roads are unforgettable, but none live up to Icefields Parkway, with photo stops including Peyto Lake and Columbia Icefield, where an Ice Explorer takes you onto the glacier to walk on ancient ice.
Call to book: 0203 668 8616
Great Parks of the West
There aren’t many places that rival Canada’s West for car-stopping scenery. And few places with such dramatic peaks, parks and lakes are so easy to cross; but this is the ultimate in civilised self-driving, with cosmopolitan resorts linked by smooth scenic roads. Before your coast to country drive, Vancouver provides a final burst of urban adventure. A long-as-you-like trolley tour gives you your bearings, before you’re left free to discover places like Stanley Park or the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Then it’s time to hit the highway, starting by crossing the coastal mountains for stays in lakeside Penticton and Revelstoke, where the outdoor adventures begin with hiking, fishing, and rafting. Even the mountain passes promise relaxed driving, as you cross Glacier and Banff national parks towards spa and snow hotspot Banff, and take Yellowhead Pass past the Rockies’ pinnacle, Mount Robson. But it’s Icefields Parkway that sums up Canada’s highways, with plenty of spots to pause or picnic, from Peyto Lake to Columbia Icefield, where you can ride an Ice Explorer onto Athabasca Glacier. Your drives lead to places like Jasper, where you could raft melted glacial waters and cruise photogenic Maligne Lake; 100 Mile House, an early Cariboo Gold Rush roadhouse; and activity-central, Whistler, with its wetlands canoeing and mountain biking.
Postcards of California
Some images of California regularly make the postcards: crimson-coated Golden Gate Bridge, Santa Monica Pier, Carmel’s Lone Cypress, Yosemite’s waterfalls. And driving the long way from LA to San Francisco exposes every snapshot.
Some spend a whole holiday in LA, but it’s just the start of your Californian crossing. That doesn’t mean you have to miss its attractions though, as you’ll have time for Venice Beach, or maybe a dose of Disney.
But your car really comes into its own as you drift up the Pacific Coast Highway. Taking two days to cruise one of the States’ most coveted coastal routes allows plenty of postcard picks like Malibu Beach, Monterey’s canneries and Carmel’s 17 Mile Drive, before hitting San Francisco. Once there, swap your car for cable cars, or one of the infinite bikes that bravely tackle the famous hills (but not before testing your driving skills on crooked Lombard Street).
An unforgettable drive over Golden Gate Bridge sees you in chic Sausalito, then Muir Woods to walk the boardwalks beneath neck-craningly-high redwoods, before you continue to California’s Wine Country. And the state’s historic Gold Country route connects you with Yosemite, where a two night stay lets you capture postcard favourites, including canvas-worthy views of Half Dome from Glacier Point.
Close Encounters of the Yellowstone Kind
Getting up close and personal with Mother Earth’s a sure-fire way to forget home and find yourself. Nowhere gives close encounters quite like Salt Lake City’s surrounds, which lead you through Yellowstone, cowboy country, and snow-draped mountain ranges.
A captivating cauldron of hot springs and geysers, Yellowstone’s probably the most extreme of the USA’s beloved national parks. With the next seismic burst due any century, 2-nights in West Yellowstone puts you near some of its most active sights, including the Norris and Old Faithful geysers, the Paint Pots, and its largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic.
But Mother Nature comes in all guises, and driving to and from Yellowstone reveals Vedauwoo’s ancient rock formations near Cheyenne, Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver, and Grand Teton National Park. Staying overnight at Jackson Hole and Steamboat Springs ski resorts puts you even closer to nature, with hiking, boat trips and soaking in hot springs.
Land of the cowboys, the Wild West spirit never left Wyoming and South Dakota, and nights in Cody, Deadwood, and Cheyenne let you experience their truly ‘western’ Main Streets, Deadwood’s daily ‘shootout’, historic spots like the Buffalo Bill museum and Calamity Jane’s grave, and maybe even one of the annual rodeos.