Some American hot spots are best visited in the cool of the autumn, writes Paul Blaney
Those who believe that all that matters is the destination have never been to Texas in August. Or the Pacific northwest in the wet season.
Of course, it does matter where you travel to, but it also matters when. Advising your clients which months are ideal for a particular destination – and which make no sense at all – is a major key to customer satisfaction.
Much of America (especially south of the Mason-Dixon line) is uncomfortably hot and humid in the height of summer. Then again, winter is no time to go visiting the midwest or northeast – unless your clients are looking for several feet of snow. By avoiding the un-British extremes of heat and cold – and the holiday crowds – your clients will get the most out of their American experience.
Here are five of the best for the Fall: holidays to be enjoyed in the milder temperatures of September and October.
Autumn may go on the world over, but nowhere can match the colourful Fall foliage that sweeps the New England states from Vermont and New Hampshire south in late September and October. As the nights turn cooler, whole hillsides and valleys of trees display a depth and variety of autumn colours that have to be seen to be believed. This is Mother Nature at her most breathtaking.
Bear in mind that the autumn colour is a major draw for Americans as well as for visitors from overseas. So be sure to advise your clients to plan and make their reservations well in advance, and to be creative when it comes to itineraries. Rural New England has some charming inns, but most are of limited size. Still, clients can rest assured that their advance planning will be amply rewarded. And after a day’s leaf-peeping and photography, there’s nothing like a slice of pumpkin pie or a bowl of clam chowder to tide you over till dinner.
Clients may be mostly interested in the foliage, but encourage them to discover some of the other charms of New England too. Boston has its Freedom Trail and Harvard University, while Walden Pond is only a short drive away. Providence, Rhode Island, is another engaging sight, as are the mansions of nearby Newport.
Book it: Hayes & Jarvis offers a seven-night Taste of New England self-drive tour in September from £985, based on two sharing. The price includes flights, room-only accommodation and car hire.
0871 200 2211
2 TEXAS, Y’ALL
Texas in summer is hotter than hell, but if your clients wait for the heat to die down, they’ll be in for a treat. The Lone Star state is unique, and if they’re looking for a slice of ‘the real America’, this is a great place to find it. For those keen to saddle up, it’s also prime dude ranch territory.
Texas combines stunning landscapes with bustling cities, and sizzling food with a white hot music scene. A great Texas road-trip would take in the cities of Dallas and Houston, hip Austin, famous for its music, and El Paso, where America comes face to face with Mexico across the Rio Grande. If your clients didn’t love Mexican food before visiting Texas, they sure will before they leave.
Book it: North America Travel Service offers a 14-day Texas Sights, Sands and Saddles fly-drive this September from £2,399 based on two sharing. The price includes return flights from Heathrow (into Dallas, out of Houston), room-only accommodation and car rental.
0845 766 0209
3 CRUISE CONTROL
Route 1, which hugs the Pacific Coast from San Francisco down to LA, is justly rated as one of America’s great drives.
Not only is the coastal scenery spectacular – nowhere more so than at Big Sur, reminiscent of the French Riviera – but the route takes in fascinating stops like Monterey, with its superb aquarium, Carmel, and Santa Barbara, with its Spanish Mission church. Californian food is superb and the wine’s not bad either.
In peak summer, Route 1 can get badly congested. Come the Fall, however, the traffic drops off and so does the temperature – perfect for putting the top down! Your clients can relax and stop off at beaches and restaurants. They can also decide how much time they want to spend in San Francisco and LA at either end of their coastal road-trip.
Book it: Virgin Holidays has a 14-night Pacific Coast fly-drive in September from £2,099, based on two sharing. The price includes return flights from London (into San Francisco, out of LA), room-only accommodation and car hire.
0844 557 3859
4 KEY CHANGE
Tennessee – known as the Volunteer State because of the role played by its soldiers in the War of 1812 – is the home of blues and country music, not to mention Elvis. It is a state of plantation houses and old-fashioned hospitality, bordered by the Smoky Mountains to the east and the Mississippi to the west.
Nashville is lively year-round, but best avoided in summer. The city has a built-to-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, but a bigger draw is the Grand Ole’ Opry where country musicians perform nightly, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. But visitors will find live music of all kinds in the city every night of the week.
At the far southwestern end of the state, on the bank of the Mississippi, is Memphis. The city’s blues heritage is celebrated in the clubs, studios and museums in and around Beale Street. Its most celebrated citizen, Elvis Presley, lived a short drive south of downtown. His Graceland mansion is a must-see for his legions of devoted fans.
Book it: Funway Holidays offers four nights in Memphis in October from £899 based on two sharing. The price includes return flights, car hire and accommodation.
0844 557 0626
5 RED ROCK CANYONS
For all the appeal of the eastern states, it’s the country’s great outdoors that really makes your jaw drop. America is at its most spectacular in the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Less widely known, but treasured by repeat travellers and experienced operators alike, are the national parks of southern Utah: Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches and Canyonlands. Pictures struggle to do justice to the grandeur of their rock formations and vast canyons.
In winter and early spring, Utah’s parks are often inaccessible due to snow. In summer, they can be packed, and the heat makes hiking and biking miserably tough. The best time to visit is in the autumn, when warm, sunny days give way to cool, star-lit nights. At this time of year, it’s easy to get away from it all and commune with the majestic wilderness. And, when you’ve had enough communing, a few hours’ drive will bring you to Vegas or Denver.
Book it: Collette Worldwide has a 13-day National Parks of America escorted tour (Grand Canyon, Utah, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Mount Rushmore) running until October from £2,854. The price, based on two sharing, includes flights, accommodation including most meals, transport and the services of a tour leader.
0800 804 8700
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