Best of USA – Los Angeles Day 1

All right, so as promised, I am doing to update this blog with some posts about my trip last year. To recap, I did a Contiki – Best of USA, which encompassed Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York. I then spent a week back in my old home-town of Orlando.

Los Angeles was the first stop on the tour. Our hotel was Hotel Figueroa. The hotel, built in 1925 and apparently haunted, is a quirky Spanish/Mediterranean boutique hotel.

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Day 2 – San Diego Zoo

For the second day in Los Angeles, I actually left the city and fulfilled one of my bucket list items by visiting San Diego Zoo. It was a free day for us on the Contiki, with no planned activities. This was the day where people who chose the Universal Studios optional went there. Some people also went to Warner Bros Studios for their studio tour. But for me, it had to be San Diego Zoo. Two of the other girls on Contiki (Courtney and Sam) and myself had pre-booked a tour which included transportation from our hotel to San Diego Zoo and back. It was about a 2 and a half hour trip down there but I had always wanted to visit San Diego Zoo. And it was well-worth it. Continue reading

Day 3 – Disneyland

Day 3 and our final day in Los Angeles. Today we were off to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. This would be my second visit to Disneyland/California Adventure but as a huge Disney fan, I was just as excited as if it were my first visit. Even better was the fact I’d get to visit with my new Contiki family (the first time I went to Disneyland, I went alone.. which was a bit lonely to be honest!).

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Day 4 – San Francisco

This morning we had to get up really early to get our flight from LA to San Francisco. We flew SouthWest for all our flights on Contiki and they were pretty good – it was a bit of a strange system, no assigned seating, so you just sat wherever you could on the plane. And you could also have two checked bags, which some people took advantage of later on in the tour.

As per usual, our first day in San Francisco was basically made up of a city tour. We drove across the Bay Bridge and stopped off at Pier 39.

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Day 5 – Part 1 – Alcatraz

I’m gonna break this post into two parts, because I did a lot on this day!

The first part is going to be about Alcatraz. This is not something that Contiki offers, so we had to book this well in advance (you have to book for the specific day and the specific time and it usually books out weeks in advance). We booked our tickets through Alcatraz Cruises – it’s the only official website to book tickets through. We booked the Early Bird tour so that we would have time to do something else on the same day.

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Day 5 – Part 2 – California Academy of Sciences

After Alcatraz, it was time for a visit to a place I was really excited to go to – California Academy of Sciences. This is a Contiki Optional, but surprisingly, not many people were interested in going. This was one of the optionals that I knew I wanted to do even before our trip started, and luckily Ash and Sam decided they were keen to visit too.

The Academy is located in Golden Gate Park – we had to take a taxi to get here because it seemed too complicated to get there with public transport. Be warned that getting a taxi out front of the Academy after you finish is near impossible! Continue reading

Day 6 – San Francisco

For our last day in San Francisco, we had nothing specific planned. Tonight, we would be going on our Contiki-included Sunset Catamaran Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge. But for our last day, us girls (Courtney, Sam, Ash, Kellie, Sarah and me) thought it might be some time for some shopping. Shopping in America is incredible – everything is so cheap. To top it off, Macy’s was having a huge sale (I think it was for Labor Day or some other holiday). It was also a good way to see some of the city. Continue reading

Day 8 – Las Vegas

This morning we woke up to it raining! Yes, in Vegas – in the middle of the desert! We had nothing planned for today (although we did have our Limo Cruise later that night). So a bunch of us decided we needed to go and check out the Las Vegas Outlets. It worked out cheaper for all of us to hire a limo to take us down to the outlet mall.. so we did!

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Day 9 – Part 1 – Grand Canyon

We had to get up early on this day for something I was probably most excited about on this entire trip. We were going on a Helicopter Ride over the Grand Canyon. This was an optional that was offered by Contiki, and nearly every single person on our tour did this. I had never been in a helicopter before, so I was pretty nervous! But it was amazing! Literally one of the best things I have ever done in my life.

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