Such is the variety of the United States that there’s never a bad time of year to visit.
Geographically, the country stretches from Atlantic Maine to the Florida Keys and from San Diego to Seattle. And while it may be snowing in Yellowstone, the chances are it’s perfect beach weather in Miami.
Most of the national parks are open year-round – and less crowded in the cooler months – while cities such as Las Vegas, New York and Los Angeles are never shut for business. And if America’s shops ever close, it will only be to re-stock the shelves.
Add in seasonal activities, festivals and events, theme parks and wildlife attractions, and the US maintains its appeal whatever the date on the calendar.
That said, there are definitely times of the year when cities and regions are at their very best. Few clients will enjoy North Dakota in January or central Texas in midsummer, and even Florida has its notorious hurricane season.
And, of course, events like the Superbowl, Mardi Gras and Halloween happen only once a year. So the key is to know where to steer clients when.
Here’s a month-by-month 2012 calendar to help you decide.
Hula Hula Hawaii
While the rest of America, and Europe, shivers, the Hawaiian islands carry on basking in their subtropical splendour. Add colourful flora, spectacular scenery and nightlife to the sand and surf and you have an unbeatable winter getaway. The flight from the UK is a long one, but that’s just an excuse for a few nights in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Book it: Virgin Holidays offers five nights in Los Angeles followed by nine nights in Honolulu in January from £1,799 including all flights (returning via San Francisco), room-only accommodation, transfers and taxes.
0844 557 3859
Skiing by Lake Tahoe
The US boasts immaculate slopes, high standards of organisation and safety, short queues at lifts, excellent accommodation, and quality food and service. Lake Tahoe’s resorts, including Heavenly, Northstar and Squaw Valley, offer spectacular slopes by day and casino fun and frolics by night. With new developments, competitive prices and a range of slopes, it’s not hard to see why Tahoe is emerging as America’s favourite winter wonderland.
Book it: Funway Holidays offers three nights in San Francisco followed by seven nights at the Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa in Lake Tahoe in February from £1,179 including all flights and room-only accommodation.
0844 557 3333
Vegas meets Utah
These two destinations make a perfect contrast. Flights to Vegas are plentiful and the Strip rocks year-round. But the city is also just a couple of hours’ drive from the wilderness wonders of southern Utah. The closest attraction is heavenly Zion National Park; from there clients can move on to Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley and more.
Book it: Hayes & Jarvis offers seven nights’ room-only at the five-star Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, for £1,349. The trip includes Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick on March 26 and car hire in a standard five-seat vehicle.
0871 200 2211
Touring the Capital Region
Spring comes early to Washington DC and the cherry trees around The Mall are in rosy blossom. There’s the new Martin Luther King memorial to visit as well as museums and art galleries, most of them free of charge. After touring the Capitol building and snapping the White House, your customers will be ready for one of Washington’s fabulous restaurants and/or a jazz club. Nearby Baltimore is celebrated for its harbour area while colonial Williamsburg, the Smoky Mountains, and Richmond, capital of the rebel South, are within a couple of hours’ drive.
Book it: Complete North America offers a 14-night Capital Region Fly Drive from £1,419 including return flights, taxes, room-only accommodation, and 10 days’ car rental.
0115 961 0590
The Best of the West
The Western Rocky Mountain states offer the most spectacular scenery in America – some would say on the planet. May is the ideal time to visit, after the winter snows have receded but before the summer crowds arrive. The two most famous parks are Yosemite and Yellowstone. Clients can expect tranquillity, close encounters of the natural kind and jaw-dropping views. The food and accommodation aren’t bad either.
Book it: Complete North America has a 14-night Best of the West tour that combines self-drive with guided tours from £1,669, including flights, seven-day car rental and room-only accommodation. The itinerary connects San Francisco to Yellowstone, by way of Yosemite, Death Valley and Vegas.
0115 961 0590
The Big Apple
As the old song goes, ‘I like New York in June’, and it’s easy to see why. By now the city has shrugged off its winter coat but the mercury has yet to climb to its stifling mid-summer highs. The park is at its best and Manhattan looks great from the water. Two new outdoor attractions are Governor’s Island, great for walking, biking, arts and events, and High Line Park, which follows the route of an elevated railway from Chelsea down to the Meatpacking District.
Book it: Virgin Holidays offers seven nights’ room-only in New York in June from £2,919 based on two adults and two children (under 12) sharing a standard room, including direct flights from Heathrow and transfers.
0844 557 3859
The Maine thing
When the rest of America starts to swelter, the Atlantic coast of Maine is the ideal place to cool off. Think rocky shores, fishing towns and cabins by refreshing lakes. Clients will also want to check out Acadia National Park, which combines rugged coastline with the highest peaks on America’s Atlantic shoreline.
Kennebunkport, Maine, is the location of the summer home of the Bush family, and has hosted the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Gorbachev, Sarkozy and Putin.
Book it: Complete North America offers a 15-day New York and Best of New England fly-drive from £1,999 including flights, accommodation and car hire. The route takes in Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor in Acadia National Park.
0115 961 0590
Summer winds in Chicago
The Windy City is a fabulous high-summer destination. In August the arts and theatre scenes are in full flow. Clients can catch drama, comedy, live music and dance, in between visiting the superb Art Institute of Chicago. Summer is great for hanging out by Lake Michigan or in Millennium Park, or for taking an architectural boat trip along the city’s canals.
Book it: Kuoni offers seven nights’ room-only at the Palmer House Hilton in August 2012 from £1,475 including BA flights from Heathrow and car hire.
Seattle is sound
Seattle in September is just about perfect, with clear skies, ocean breezes, cafes and music. Clients can enjoy fabulous views from the Space Needle, search for the original Starbucks or tour the Nirvana sights. A short ferry ride away is Olympic National Park with its rainforest, mountains, coastline and Twilight movie locations.
Book it: Virgin Holidays has 10 nights’ room-only in Seattle in September from £1,149 including flights from Heathrow (via Atlanta) and car hire.
0844 557 3859
Fall into New England
This is the place to be in autumn. Against the backdrop of the Green and White mountains, clients will enjoy fall foliage like nowhere else. The region is renowned for its food and the warmth of its country inns. Plus, of course, there’s historic Boston to explore, with its Freedom Trail, markets and historic quarters. Another highlight is Rhode Island.
Book it: Jetset Holidays has a Best of New England self-drive package in October from £1,399 including flights, car rental and 11 nights’ accommodation in Boston, Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor, The White Mountains, Stowe, The Berkshires, Newport and Cape Cod.
0845 0257 757
Flee to Florida
You can’t beat taking off under grey skies in Manchester or London only to arrive hours later to warm sunshine, palm trees, hothouse flowers and abundant birdlife. Orlando has great hotels and enough eating and nightlife to keep clients busy for a month of Sundays. As for theme parks, choose between Mickey and Harry – or why not take in both?
Book it: Virgin Holidays offers seven nights’ room-only in Orlando in November from £725 including flights and transfers.
0844 557 3859
Philadelphia has all the charm of Manhattan but is cheaper and easier to navigate. Heritage lovers will enjoy the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall; shoppers should head for the King of Prussia Mall; and art fans need look no further than the Philadelphia Art Museum, Rodin Museum and Barnes Foundation. Everyone should try a Philadelphia Cheese Steak – a perfect winter warmer.
Book it: Kuoni offers five nights’ room-only at the Holiday Inn Historic District in December 2012 from £825 including BA flights from Heathrow.
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