The USA is an incredible country spanning thousands of miles, with diverse landscapes, rich history and culture, and amazing cuisine. There are over 328 million people here and you’ll get to meet a few of them when you travel the USA with Trafalgar. From local geology experts and renowned photographers to olive farm owners and modern architecture gurus, there are so many incredible adventures to be had. So if you’re wondering what to do in the USA, here are 7 of our favourite experiences to connect you to the heart and soul of the United States.
1. Learn tips and tricks from a renowned photographer in Moab
With a full trip ahead of us exploring places like Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, what could be better than learning how to capture all these spectacular landscapes?
We’ll head out to Moab to meet up with our friend and local photography specialist, Tom Till. With over 40 years of experience and hundreds of published photos across books and magazines, Tom is one of the top landscape photographers in the United States.
You’ll be in expert hands as Tom shares his exclusive tips and tricks with the camera. Before you know it, you’ll be taking your own publish-worthy photos during this trip and beyond.
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2. Experience a Navajo Cookout on the Monument Valley floor
We’ll take you into the breathtaking Monument Valley Tribal Park, where you’ll marvel at the sun reflecting off the rusty red sandstone towers, soaring to over 1,000 feet tall. Along with its beauty, Monument Valley is a sacred place for the Navajo people who have lived here for centuries.
Named the ‘Valley Between the Rocks’ by the Navajo people, you’ll have the chance to learn all about the sacred meaning and history behind this special place during a Navajo Cookout on the valley floor.
Not only will you get to enjoy delicious local specialities, but you’ll also witness a traditional Native American performance of song, dance and moving stories from a local Native American who is passionate about sharing their culture.
3. Meet the family who runs an olive farm in the Temecula Valley
With a Mediterranean-like climate, rolling green hills and superb wineries, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re in Tuscany when we visit the Temecula Valley Wine Country. This stunning region is home to over 40 wineries growing olive groves and over 50 grape varietals.
We’ll take you to one of the best, the Temecula Olive Oil Company, a family-owned and operated sustainable ranch. You’ll get to meet one of the family members who run the farm, then sit down to lunch under the shade of the olive trees.
They’ll guide you through an olive oil and wine tasting paired with the delicious food. While you indulge, you’ll also get to know what it really takes to run a farm out here, as they share their zero-waste methods and high-quality products filled with love and passion.
4. Explore the Grand Canyon with a local geology expert
Seeing the Grand Canyon up close is sure to blow you away. We’ll turn it up a notch by introducing you to ‘Canyon Tim’, our geology specialist in all things Grand Canyon. You’ll spend the whole day with Tim discovering the history and geology of this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Find out how the canyon was carved by the Colorado River and keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife including bighorn sheep and Gila monsters. Be sure to keep your distance from the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon… the feisty rock squirrel!
5. Spend the night in the famous Goulding’s Lodge
Immerse yourself in the wild west with a night at Goulding’s Lodge, set in the stunning Monument Valley. The history is just as spectacular as the surrounding landscapes, and you’ll find out how the original owner, Harry Goulding, helped create what we know as the American West.
He advocated for the valley to be used as a location in western films such as Stagecoach, starring John Wayne. It brought much-need income to the local community and Navajo people. Over the years, the Gouldings have hosted dozens of movie crews, artists and photographers. Now, thousands of tourists come from all over the world to see the iconic American West.
The lodge has continued their support for the local community with the on-site Trading Post Museum, where you can see the rich film history. Check out the incredible photographs and mementoes from the past, plus all donations go towards a Navajo Scholarship fund.
6. Discover the unique modern architecture of Palm Springs
If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the vibrant modern architecture of Palm Springs, here’s your chance! After the city became a popular getaway for movie stars and socialites wanting to escape the bustle of Hollywood in the mid-twentieth century, Palm Springs exploded into a mecca for mid-century modern architecture.
Local specialist, Kurt, will share his contagious passion for the area on an in-depth tour. You’ll get to see all the unique houses of the Hollywood idols and design stars of this era. Learn how the light and landscape inspired the architects to create modern structures that are so unique to the California desert.
7. Meet the owner of a classic American roadside diner
After an incredible day exploring the breathtaking canyons, rock formations and rivers of Canyonlands and Arches National Park, you’ll be more than ready to sit down to a local meal at a quintessential American roadside diner.
The Moab Grill is described as a ‘coffee shop meets local steakhouse’, and with a friendly atmosphere and delicious food, it’s clear why it’s one of the most popular spots in the Moab community.
You’ll get to meet the owner, Shawn, who was a waitress at the restaurant as a teenager. She now runs the restaurant and you’ll hear her stories and learn more about what she’s doing to keep the restaurant alive .
What are your favourite things to do in the USA? Let us know in the comments below!