Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

The Grand Canyon is probably definitely one of the most impressive National Parks in the world. If you’ve been living under a rock (or a canyon) for your entire life, the Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, in the United States of America. No matter how you decide to explore the Canyon, I can guarantee one thing: it will not disappoint. Visiting the Grand Canyon should be at the very top of your USA bucket list, trust me!

I visited the Grand Canyon back in June 2015, while on the Best of USA Contiki tour. Although we we didn’t spend too much time at the Canyon itself, it was still one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. Contiki definitely came through and organised one of the most awesome ways to explore the Canyon.

Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

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Driving to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

Visiting the Grand Canyon is super easy, especially if you’re spending time in Las Vegas. There are a few different ways to get there, it all depends on the experience you’d like to have!


I visited the Grand Canyon during my time in Las Vegas with Contiki. I’ll share my personal experience shortly – so keep reading, you will absolutely want to know what we did! Until then, here’s my advice on the best way to get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

It takes around five hours to drive by car from the Las Vegas Strip to Grand Canyon West. Don’t be concerned about the drive, either. It’s a regular, paved highway the entire journey. This is my suggested option, because it gives you the opportunity to explore at your own pace, and continue your journey further if you wish!

You could also take a bus, but that’s quite a long trek.

The Grand Celebration Helicopter Tour

By far one of the best ways (if not the best way) to see the Grand Canyon, is from the sky. One of the extras that was offered to us on the Best of USA Contiki tour, was the Grand Celebration Helicopter Tour. As soon as I found out about this tour, I immediately knew I had to do it.

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

What is the Grand Celebration Helicopter Tour?

The Grand Celebration Helicopter Tour is an incredible experience run by Papillon that you will never forget. Instead of driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, the shuttle will pick you up from most major Las Vegas hotels, and take you to the terminal in Boulder City.

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon TravelsA Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

You will fly over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, enjoying breathtaking, panoramic views. Finally, reaching Grand Canyon West, you’ll have the chance to take in the incredible views, before landing at the bottom of the Canyon for a champagne picnic. Being 4,000 feet below the rim of the Grand Canyon, is definitely something you will never forget. Trust me!


Don’t forget to bring your camera and take more selfies than you ever have. You’ll want photos of this view from every angle possible! This is one experience you will want to share with your friends and family, in second by second detail.

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

How much does it cost?

The Grand Celebration Tour can cost anywhere between $294 and $350 per person. Prices vary depending on the time of year and day of week. These prices are based on purchasing tickets online, which is the suggested option. Papillon also offers a ‘super saver’ rate for anybody who purchases their tickets online, two weeks or more in advance.

If you would prefer to have the front seat in the helicopter, you can request this for an additional $50 per person. Please keep in mind that availability is limited and upgrades are not guaranteed. Ask at the counter when checking in for your tour!

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

How long does the tour go for?

The Grand Celebration Tour runs for a total of around four and a half hours. This includes your hotel transfers, the checking in process, return flight and picnic lunch.


The total duration of the flight itself, is around seventy minutes. The champagne picnic lasts for around half an hour. This is the perfect amount of time to spend at the bottom of the Canyon. If it’s a super hot day, you’ll be thankful to head back up in the helicopter again!

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

Pick up and drop off location

Papillon offer pick up services from most major Las Vegas hotels. This is included in the cost of the tour, so you won’t need to pay any extra on top of what you have already paid (except tipping, if applicable).

Helpful tips for the Grand Celebration Tour

Don’t forget your camera – This is absolutely something you should not do! The Grand Celebration Tour is one of the most breathtaking experiences you will ever have. You will definitely want to capture as much of it as possible! Pack your camera and take a spare memory card, just incase!

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

Bring your valid ID – If you have booked a tour (will be flying in the helicopter) you will need to show a valid, government issues ID. If you’re visiting from an international destination, your passport will work best.

Book your trip as early as possible – The tour sells out fast, and weeks in advance. Once you’ve booked your accomodation in Las Vegas, go ahead and buy your tickets for the Grand Celebration Tour. The earlier you book the better, and remember you will receive a discount if you book two or more weeks in advance!

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

Wear comfy shoes – Given that you’re going to literally be at the bottom of a Canyon, it’s best to wear comfy shoes. I wore sandals, which wasn’t the brightest idea. Don’t be like me – wear enclosed shoes!

Wear sunscreen and a hat – If you decide to book your tour during the summer months (Summer is between June and August in the United States) be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat! I visited in June, and I’m pretty sure it was around 40 degrees celsius (104 fahrenheit) the day I did this tour. It gets very, very hot in the helicopter and at the bottom of the Canyon, so it’s best to be prepared!

Make a pit stop at Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is a popular pit stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. I’ve seen it twice. The first time was on a family trip to Las Vegas a few years ago, and second was on Contiki during the Grand Celebration Tour. It’s pretty spectacular regardless of whether you experience it from the ground or the sky.

Being only a forty five minute journey by car, it’s the perfect morning or afternoon trip from Las Vegas!

A Guide to Visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas | Rhiannon Travels

Visiting the Grand Canyon should be on everyone’s USA bucket list. The magnitude and beauty of the Canyon will blow you away, and if you choose to do to Grand Celebration Helicopter Tour, you’re in for a treat. Don’t let the price scare you off. I promise it’s worth it!


Have you visited the Grand Canyon before? Did you drive or do the Grand Celebration Tour? Tell us in the comments below!

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10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

In June of 2015, I embarked on my first solo adventure. Although technically I wouldn’t be traveling alone, I still survived a 15 hour flight from Adelaide to Los Angeles on my own. After spending most of my life dreaming about visiting New York City, a couple of years ago I decided to do something about it. I found the perfect Contiki tour that would not only take me to New York City, I would also be able to finally visit San Francisco, too. I only knew a little bit about the things to do in San Francisco, but thankfully we already had a rough itinerary planned for us.

There’s only one thing that I was certain about at the time: I was very, very excited but at the same time, extremely I think I’m gonna vomit nervous.

Whether you’re visiting San Francisco for just one day, or an entire week, there are lots of things you should definitely see and do! From catching the ferry to Alcatraz to crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and indulging in delicious food at one of the cute cafes in San Francisco. Here are 10 things to do in San Francisco, that we believe all first time visitors should cross off their bucket list.


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

The following list are 10 of my recommendations for things to do in San Francisco for first time visitors. The order in which you do them, is totally up to you – I’m not here to suggest a jam-packed itinerary that may not work for you. Some of the suggestions below can take a few hours, so take note of the activities that do so. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you what you may need to allow extra time for. 

Visit Alcatraz

Alcatraz is located in San Francisco Bay, and is one of America’s most famous former prisons. Although the prison isn’t active anymore, there are tours departing from Pier 33 to Alcatraz Island daily, other than Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day. A couple of Contiki friends and myself decided to do the Early Bird tour, which is the first tour of the day and therefore much less busy. The Early Bird tour costs $37.95 for adults (ages 12+) and $23 for children aged 5 to 11. Kids aged four and under are free.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

We arrived at Pier 33 early in the morning, to make it in time for our 8:45am departure. If you choose to do the Early Bird tour, you’ll be glad to know there’s a cafe that sells light breakfasts, coffee, tea and souvenirs. We were then told to begin lining up, ready to board the ferry that would take us to and from Alcatraz Island. I can’t remember the journey itself too much, because I was too busy taking photos to concentrate on the fact that I get seasick. I didn’t vomit, so I guess my plan worked!


There’s a bit of a walk up some steep paved hills to get to the actual Alcatraz prison (it wouldn’t be San Francisco without some steep a** hills) so make sure you wear enclosed and comfortable shoes. Included in the entry ticket is your audio tour through Alcatraz prison. You’ll learn a lot of interesting history about the prison back when it was active, and be shown some awesome outdoor locations with incredible views of San Francisco Bay. The audio tour does have specific directions in order to follow along with what you’re hearing in your headset, but still explore at your own pace, and take as many great photos as possible.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Once you’ve finished the audio tour and explored the rest of Alcatraz Island at your own pace, catch the ferry back to Pier 33, which departs every half an hour between 9:30am and 4:30pm.

Alcatraz Tour Option 1: Early Bird Tour

Cost: Adult $37.25 (ages 12+), Child $23 (ages 5-11)
Family Ticket Cost: Two adults & two children for $112.75
Departure Time: 8:45am from Pier 33
Approximate Duration: 2.5 hours
Includes: Round trip ferry to Alcatraz Island and audio tour

Alcatraz Tour Option 2: Day Tour

Cost: Adult $37.25 (ages 12+), Child $23 (ages 5-11)
Family Ticket Cost: $112.75 (two adults and two children)
Departure Times: Roughly every half an hour from 9:10am until 1:25pm
Approximate Duration: 2.5 hours
Includes: Round trip ferry to Alcatraz and audio tour

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Alcatraz Tour Option 3: Night Tour

Cost: Adult $44.25 (ages 18+), Junior $43.25 (ages 12-17), Child $26.50 (ages 5-11)
Departure Times: 3:50pm and 4:45pm
Duration: 2.5 hours
Includes: Round trip ferry to Alcatraz Island, audio tour, special tour activities, on-board narration and guided tour

Alcatraz Tour Option 4: Behind the Scenes Tour

Cost: Adult $89.25 (ages 18+), Junior $85.25 (ages 12-17)
Departure Times: 2:10pm and 2:40pm (Thursday to Monday)
Duration: 4.5 hours
Includes: Round trip ferry to Alcatraz Island, audio tour, special tour activities, on-board narration and guided tour
Please Note: Children under 12 years old are not allowed on the Behind the Scenes tour

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Alcatraz Tour Option 5: Alcatraz Island & Angel Island

Cost: Adult & Junior $71.50 (ages 12+), Child $48.25 (ages 5-11)
Departure Times: See tour schedule for departure times
Duration: 5.5 hours
Includes: Round trip ferry to Alcatraz Island, audio tour, Angel Island tram tour


Once you’ve picked the tour you’d like to do, it’s best to book in advance. The Day Tours can book out quickly, especially during peak times throughout the year. If you want to be gold star worthy prepared, Alcatraz Cruises allows tickets to be purchased up to 90 days in advance. This is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out, and gives you the chance to plan your day around visiting Alcatraz!

Walk or Ride Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Walking or riding across the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the best things to do in San Francisco. There are a few different ways to get from one side of the bridge to the other. It all depends on the experience you’d like to have, and how much money you’re willing to spend to do so.

Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

There’s one thing you should keep in mind before deciding to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge: it’s quite long at 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) and takes anywhere from half an hour to complete the journey. The east pedestrian sidewalk is open from 5am until 6:30pm, staying open until 9pm during Daylight Savings Time. There are a few modes of transportation not allowed on the Golden Gate Bridge. Personally I think this is a good thing, because being knocked over by some douche on a skateboard is not a great way to spend an afternoon in San Francisco.


The following are not allowed on the bridge: electric scooters and bikes, rollerblades, skateboards, roller skates, animals (other than service dogs), wheelbarrows and similar.

Ride Across the Golden Gate Bridge

If you’re lazy like I am, or just prefer a more adventurous way to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, hire a bike and ride across in style! San Francisco is big on bike riding, and it seemed that almost every second person I saw, was riding a bike. Contiki organised a guided bike tour for us with Blazing Saddles, so just like the catamaran cruise, we didn’t actually have to book anything ourselves. But there are tons of stores throughout San Francisco that hire push bikes for an hourly or daily fee. If you choose to hire a bike, be aware that the Golden Gate Bridge is closed to pedestrians and bicycles during certain times throughout the day. Check out the prices for some of the most popular bikes available for hire, at very reasonable hourly and daily rates.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Hourly Bike Hire Cost: Starts at $8 per hour
24 Hour Bike Hire Cost: Starts at $32 for hire over a 24 hour period
Golden Gate Bridge Guided Tour: $55 for adults, $35 for children. 3 hour duration. *More on this particular guided tour later in the post! 

Ride a Cable Car to Union Square for Shopping

San Francisco’s cable car system is the last operating manual cable car system in the world. Not surprisingly, it’s quite a tourist attraction for first time visitors to San Francisco. There are only a handful of routes available, one of the most popular being from Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square in Downtown San Francisco. Union Square is the hub of shopping in San Francisco, and where a few Contiki friends and I shopped up a storm, a couple of days before heading to Las Vegas!


Union Square is an array of familiar clothing stores such as Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters and more. If you’re in the mood for a snack, you’ll be glad to know there are a ton of restaurants and familiar places to grab a bite to eat. I remember eating some pretty incredible waffles before we started shopping. Once you’ve finished spending too much money and eating everything that you said ‘omg yum’ to, catch the cable car back to Fisherman’s Wharf for some evening shenanigans.

Shop & Dine in Fisherman’s Wharf

I’ll be honest, Fisherman’s Wharf surprised me. In the best possible way, of course! There is so much more to see and do in Fisherman’s Wharf than I expected, and I was very excited to start exploring! When it comes to shopping and dining, Fisherman’s Wharf is the place to be. There are so many options, especially for you sport fans reading this. Did your eyes just light up? I’ll bet!

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Shopping in Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is souvenir and sporting merchandise heaven. San Francisco is home to one of the best and most successful NBA teams the Golden State Warriors, so you can bet that especially during basketball season, sport fans won’t leave home empty handed. I remember a ton of the guys in my Contiki group buying NBA caps and merchandise, to wear to the impromptu NBA final outdoor viewing party our Tour Manager hooked us up with.


Other than sporting goods heaven, Fisherman’s Wharf is also filled with stores ranging from apparel to shoes, electronics, beauty, hardware, jewellery and more. There are also a pretty good selection of liquor stores, to satisfy my fellow wine enthusiasts.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Dining in Fisherman’s Wharf

The dining options in Fisherman’s Wharf are what surprised me the most. I’m not quire sure what I was expecting, but I walked into the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf with all sorts of familiar and delicious choices in front of me. From Applebee’s, where I have fond memories visiting with my family in California, to classic favourites such as McDonalds, Hard Rock Cafe, Chipotle, Starbucks, Subway, Denny’s, iHop and more.

Chinatown in San Francisco

If you love Chinese food or crave the feel of Asia, head to San Francisco’s very own Chinatown. One of the biggest, and filled with winding streets of delicious smells and quirky sights. Our Contiki group had dinner in one of the cute restaurants in Chinatown, and it was a lot of fun. The food was wonderful, even for my picky self, and the service was of course fantastic.


Whether you choose to eat or not, take some time walking the streets and exploring as much of San Francisco’s Chinatown as possible. There’s a lot to see, and tons of photo opportunities. Only 25 minutes on foot from Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s a great little detour from the Western world of San Francisco.

Sunset Catamaran Cruise Under the Golden Gate Bridge

It’s been two and a half years since I visited San Francisco, but this is still one of my favourite memories. If you’re looking for a unique and incredibly memorable way to see San Francisco in all its glory, I highly recommend splurging a little and doing a sunset catamaran cruise. You definitely won’t regret it! We were lucky enough to have this cruise organised for us by our wonderful Contiki Tour Manager, but it’s easy enough to book yourself.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

The Sunset Catamaran Cruise

There are a couple of different cruise options available, but we did the Sunset Cruise – thanks Contiki! The catamaran cruise departs from Pier 39 at Gate J, with departure times varying depending on the time of the year. The tour itself goes for 90 minutes, taking you around San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge and even past Alcatraz. There are light snacks available and two complimentary beverages with your choice of beer, wine or soft drink (soda for those non Australians reading this).


If you’re looking for a breathtaking (and very, very romantic) way to see San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Sunset Cruise is perfect. There are also day cruises available, but why not wait a few hours and cruise past San Francisco in all of its sunset glory?

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Catamaran Cruise Tickets

Cost: Adults $60 (ages 13+)
Departure Location: Pier 39, Gate J
Departure Times: Varies depending on time of year. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes before departure time to find a park and locate the pier.
Duration: 90 minutes
Includes: Sunset cruise, 2 complimentary alcoholic or non alcoholic beverages and light snacks.
Note: No outside food or drinks allowed on cruise
Buy Tickets: Head to Adventure Cat Sailing Charters to buy your Sunset Cruise catamaran tickets

Bike Tour around San Francisco

This is the bike tour I mentioned earlier, which was included in the cost of the Best of USA Contiki tour. Blazing Saddles offer a guided tour, taking visitors to many different areas around San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge!

Where Does the Bike Tour Go?

The Golden Gate Bridge guided bike tour starts in Fisherman’s Wharf then continues onto Fort Mason, the Marina, Presidio National Park, then finally across the Golden Gate Bridge! Your tour guide will share all sorts of awesome facts and tips about San Francisco, the best places to visit and is of course open to any questions you may have. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll soar down an incredible 10 minute downhill ride, on the way to Sausalito, a nearby bayside town.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Keep in mind: The streets of San Francisco are incredibly steep. I was relatively fit back when I visited in June 2015, but these days, I probably couldn’t do this tour without severe suffering and overly dramatic panting like a dog. There are a few challenging hills to climb up, and most people ended up walking their bikes up these hills. I do remember successfully riding up one of the most challenging, and I was quite proud of myself. Bring plenty of water, wear comfortable shoes and a hat, and don’t forget sunscreen!

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Bike Tour Tickets

Cost: Adult $55, Child $35
Departure Times: 10am and 1pm
Duration: Approximately 3 hours
Distance: 12 kilometres (8 miles)
Buy Tickets: Click here for more information about the Golden Gate Bridge Guided bike tour, or to purchase tickets.

Eat at Boudin Bakery & Cafe in Fisherman’s Wharf

When we first arrived in San Francisco, our Tour Manager (Steph) told us to make sure we visit Boudin Bakery and Cafe. Just like most of my group, I had no idea what Boudin was, or why we just had to pay a visit. Well, it turns out it’s a super popular and well-known bakery in San Francisco, specialising in sourdough bread.


We were told that it gets quite busy, but I didn’t believe that as much as I should have. Turned out, Steph was right. It was busy. A lot busier than I expected, given the fact that it’s technically just bread. Well that may be true, but this particular sourdough bread was extremely delicious. You can order all sorts of carb-licious menu items, including bread bowls, grilled cheese (I can personally attest to the fact that these are incredible), burgers, pizzas and more. For some comfort food in the heart of San Francisco, head to Boudin Bakery (and order the grilled cheese. You can thank me later).

Boudin Bakery Quick Facts

Location: 160 Jefferson Street, Lower Level, San Francisco
Available: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, kids menu, souvenir store, demonstration bakery, indoor & outdoor seating
Opening Hours: 8am until 10pm (open every day including holidays)

Golden Gate Bridge Views

There are a few different places to see the Golden Gate Bridge in all of its glory. Where you choose to go, depends on your location and the type of view you’d like to have. As I’ve mentioned, heading out on a catamaran cruise is, in my opinion, the best way to see the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you’re prone to seasickness, or don’t fancy the thought of rocking back and forth on a small boat, maybe stick to one of the land-based viewing spots.

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors) 10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Here is a list of the best places to get a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. On our way from the airport to our hotel in San Francisco, we were taken to this viewing spot in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area. We had a great view of the Bridge, although it was a little foggy. Viewing the Golden Gate Bridge was one of my favourite things to do in San Francisco. Definitely set some time aside during your weekend in San Francisco, and do a tour of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge!

Enjoy the Winding Streets of San Francisco

Remember when I mentioned earlier that the streets of San Francisco are super steep? Well they’re also pretty windy, too. You may have heard about the famous winding street in San Francisco called Lombard Street. Sadly I wasn’t able to snap a photo of it myself, and since I try to use 100% my own photos on Rhiannon Travels, you’ll have to visit San Francisco and see for yourself.


The best way to ensure you make the most of your adventures through the ever steep and winding streets of San Francisco, is by wearing comfortable shoes. You’ll hate yourself if you don’t. I also like to make sure I’ve got a good backpack with me, to store the essentials like water, snacks and a small bottle of wine. Okay, I’m kidding. Sort of.


There you have it: 10 of the best things to do in San Francisco for first time visitors. This list is perfect to complete in one weekend, if that’s all the time you have to explore. Remember to set aside enough time for some of the bigger activities such as Alcatraz, the Bike Tour and Catamaran cruise! Most important of all – don’t forget to bring your camera, with plenty of memory space! San Francisco is a very interesting and wonderful city, and I guarantee you’ll be snapping hundreds of Instagram photos.


What are some of your favourite things to do in San Francisco? If you haven’t visited yet, what are you most excited to see and do? Tell me in the comments below! 

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10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors) 10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

As far as cities in the United States goes, Los Angeles is up there as one of the best. There are so many things to do in Los Angeles, you’ll hardly know where to start. With an endless amount of activities for all ages, Hollywood parties at every corner (if that’s your thing) and even theme parks, there’s no shortage of entertainment – regardless of how long you’re staying for. I’ve visited Los Angeles many times, and although I prefer to head out and explore more than just the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, it’s hard to deny the awesomeness of feeling like a celebrity while strolling down Hollywood Boulevard.

Whether you’re planning a short weekend in Los Angeles, a full seven days or even a month or two, there are plenty of options to keep you busy. The following 10 things to do in Los Angeles are some of my personal favourites. Since the last time I visited Los Angeles back in June of 2015, and looking back now, there are many things that I wish I had done. So until the next time I visit the wonderful state of California, these very tourist-y attractions will have to do! Here are 10 of the best, most popular or exciting things to do in Los Angeles, for a 5 day visit!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

Day 1: Explore Hollywood

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Boulevard is a good place to start, on this list of things to do in Los Angeles! I’m willing to bet you have at the very least, seen parts of Hollywood Boulevard in TV shows and movies – right? It may be painfully busy, loud, overwhelming and even a little scary, but Hollywood Boulevard is one of the most famous attractions in the world. With frequent movie premieres, celebrities gracing the streets on a daily basis, expensive boutiques that I can’t afford to shop in and a crap ton of awesome souvenir stores, there’s no shortage of entertainment.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

The Chinese Theatre and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum are must-sees during your time on Hollywood Boulevard. Ignore the ‘characters’ dressed up along the sidewalk, asking innocent passerby for a photo. You’ll be charged a lot of money, and they don’t look anything like the originals. Head straight for the best. Madame Tussauds is filled with extremely real looking celebrities, in their very best wax form. Back in 2013 when I last visited Madame Tussauds, I had selfies with all of my favourites. But by far the best photo I left with, was the one below of myself and Jim Carey.


Madame Tussauds is well worth the $20 (discounted price if you purchase online) and will give you a chance to let out your inner TV and movie geek. Have photos taken in cheesy poses, with all of your favourite celebrities!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LATop 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Hollywood’s Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of Los Angeles most popular and most-visited attractions. People travel from all over the world to see the 2,500 (and more) stars lining Hollywood Boulevard. With over two thousand of them proudly showcased in the movie hub of America, you’re bound to find your favourite celebrity crush’s star while walking through Hollywood. Walk the 15 blocks down Hollywood Boulevard, then make your way down the 3 blocks of Vine Street to continue your Walk of Fame. Don’t forget to take photos of your favourite celebrities’ stars!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

The Hollywood Sign

The best way to see the Hollywood Sign is on one of the many hikes. I didn’t get a chance to do this last time I visited (you can bet it’s on my bucket list for next time) however I did get to see it from afar at Hollywood & Highland Shopping Centre. There are a few different places to view the sign, including Beachwood Canyon and Griffith Park Observatory. If getting as close as possible to the Hollywood Sign is something you want to do during your stay in LA, ask around to find the best hike or viewing spot at the time!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Beverly Hills

Although it’s not really my thing, Beverly Hills is filled with billion dollar mansions, proudly owned by the best Hollywood celebrities. I haven’t personally toured through the streets of Beverly Hills, but we did drive past it on the first day of Contiki. With perfectly lined palm trees and lush greenery, it’s easy to see why celebrities flock to Beverly Hills. If you’d like to embark on your very own celeb search, there are actual tours to do so.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Day 2: Santa Monica & Venice Beach

Before I talk about Santa Monica and Venice, there’s one thing you should know: the two are very different from one another. Personally, Santa Monica is my favourite. From what I’ve heard, you either love or hate Venice Beach, and I guess I can see that. Although Santa Monica is my favourite out of the two, I still appreciate the uniqueness of Venice and definitely love the vibe it brings.

Santa Monica

Santa Monica is located roughly a 30 minute drive from Hollywood Boulevard, and is one of my absolute favourite things to do in Los Angeles. There are a few different ways you can get to Santa Monica from Hollywood, but the fastest and most reliable way would be to catch an Uber. The one way fare will be around $30, but if you’re traveling in a couple or with a group of friends, split the cost and save some cash!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular attractions in this beautiful beachside town. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen Santa Monica Pier in many TV shows and movies. But just incase you haven’t, here it is:

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Spend some time walking up and down the pier, browsing the stores and trying some delicious….pier….food? I mean, I guess it’s sort of street food. There are a ton of small cafes, restaurant and snack stands to keep your taste buds happy while you stroll along Santa Monica Pier. Don’t forget to walk along Santa Monica Beach, and take an Instagram photo at one of the Surf Lifesaving towers along the shore.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

If you’d prefer something a little further away from the sand and salt water, head to Third Street Promenade – Santa Monica’s most famous shopping and dining district. With tons of well-known stores such as American Eagle, Apple, Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters, and plenty of cuisines to choose from, you can easily spend a few hours exploring Third Street Promenade. Don’t miss Johnnie’s New York Pizza next to Urban Outfitters for a delicious Italian meal – I had the cheese pizza and it was delightful!

Venice Beach

As I’ve mentioned, Venice Beach is very different to Santa Monica. Not only with the beach itself, the shops and the restaurants, but also the vibe. You’ll notice that it’s a very laid back and hippie-esk of atmosphere, which I really did love. If you’re not used to a very bohemian, sometimes dirty, graffiti covered beach-town with skateboarders flying up and down the boardwalk, maybe give Venice a miss. I would definitely go back again, though, and spend some more time exploring the town. Venice is super unique, and if you visit with an open mind, I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LATop 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Personally, I think if you’re spending some time at Santa Monica, you should take that little detour. If for no other reason, than to compare the two for yourself. But I believe it’s well worth the 10 minute detour by car. I loved the old buildings, colourful street art, laid back locals and bohemian inspired clothing that lined the streets of Venice Beach. Stay and watch a street performance if you’re lucky enough to be there for one. The atmosphere is highly contagious, so stay a while and embrace the unique town!

Day 3: Universal Studios & Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Although both Universal Studios and Warner Bros. are different attractions, they’re super close to one another. You can actually see Warner Bros. from one of the multiple levels at Universal Studios. That means, it’s very possible to do both in one day. It may just mean waking up a little earlier. But trust me, it will be worth it!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Visiting Warner Bros. is one of my favourite things to do in Los Angeles. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour or Deluxe Tour will take you to see lots of behind the scenes action from some of your favourite TV shows and movies. You’ll be taken into many of the different backlots and sound stages used in classic television shows and movies such as Gilmore Girls, Friends, Batman and tons more. Back when I visited the last time, my Contiki group even got to sit in the Ellen Degenerous studios. Yep, where they film the show. Sadly Ellen wasn’t there, and we weren’t allowed to sit on her couch. But we did get to stand on the stage! Spoiler alert: the set is super, duper small. Photographs weren’t allowed inside the set, so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

The gazebo used in many TV shows and movies, but my favourite being from Gilmore Girls! This was back in 2013, and I still adore that show to this day.

There are always new exhibits in the works, and two of the latest (which weren’t there when I visited last, back in June 2015) are Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts and DC Universe. Here you’ll see props and outfits used in both movies and franchises, plus lots of behind the scenes dirt on actors and the movies themselves.


If you’re a huge Friends fan like we are, definitely pay a visit to the Central Perk Cafe. Back when I visited this was only a set, not an actual working cafe. Now you can actually order your very own cup of coffee or quick bite to eat at Central Perk! Bring along your camera – you’re gonna want proof of this!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

As a huge Friends fan, this is definitely one of my favourite memories! Sitting on the couch in Central Perk! #goals

THE STUDIO TOUR
Opening Times
: 8:30am until 3:30pm
Duration: Approximately 3 hours
Cost: $65 for adults and $55 for children
Purchase Discounted Tickets: For discounted tickets, head to the the Warner Bros. website and book in advance.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

THE DELUXE TOUR
Opening Times
: 8:30am until 3:30pm
Duration: Approximately 6 hours
Cost: $295 (tour available for ages 8+ only)
Purchase Tickets: Click here to find out more about the Deluxe Tour, and to book tickets.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Fan of Pretty Little Liars? You may notice the exterior building used as Rosewood High School, during your Warner Bros. Studio Tour! Another awesome highlight for me!

For some more tips and information about Warner Bros, check out this awesome post from Toni at Enchanted Serendipity. She shares tons of exciting photos from Warner Bros, and lots of sneak peak tips for your first visit. Toni’s blog focuses on filming locations from all over the world, and Warner Bros. is one of the best for TV and film fans!

Universal Studios

Universal Studios is hands down, one of the best things to do in Los Angeles. Even more so now that Harry Potter is involved! The last time I visited Hollywood’s Universal Studios was in June 2015 with Contiki. I had previously been multiple times before, so therefore decided not to purchase the VIP Tour Pass like the rest of my Contiki friends, since I had already done the VIP Tour with my family back in 2013. Instead, I walked around the park on my own, went on all of the rides and ate two or twelve churros. Like I said, this was before Hogwarts was built.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LATop 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Fast forward to February 2016 when The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opened. You can imagine my sadness, realising that if I visited one year later, I could have spent the day with magical powers, playing Quidditch and drinking Butterbeer. Although I did miss out on Hollywood’s Harry Potter World, I did get the chance to visit Japan’s version. It was as incredible as I had imagined!


Make your way through Hogwarts and embark on the motion simulator ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. You’ll fly down the corridors of Hogwarts to Dumbledore’s office, over the castle and many more magical areas of Hogwarts. Don’t forget to buy yourself some Harry Potter souvenirs, too. When we visited Osaka’s version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I bought myself Hermione’s wand and a Gryffindor scarf. The merchandise is quite expensive, so keep that in mind when planning your day.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Other than Hogwarts, there’s a lot to see and do at Universal Studios. From the Walking Dead walk-through attraction, to the Fast & the Furious, King Kong, the Simpsons, Transformers 3D, Jurassic Park water ride and more. Don’t forget to bring along your camera, and snap a selfie with Spongebob, Curious George, Scooby Doo and other familiar faces.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

Day 4: Disneyland

Although not amongst the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, Anaheim’s Disneyland is still one of the best things to do in Los Angeles. Not only is Disneyland the Happiest Place on Earth, it’s also one of Rhiannon’s favourite places on Earth. I’ve been to Disneyland more times than I can count, at various times in my life. The first time my family took me to Disneyland, I was three years old. The latest time I visited, I was twenty three years old. I’ve clocked up a lot of hours, walked around the entire park over a hundred times and made an endless amount of wonderful memories at Disneyland. It’s also home to my favourite roller coaster of all time: Space Mountain.

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LATop 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

If you’re a theme park fan or of anything Disney related, don’t leave Los Angeles without visiting Disneyland. I’ve written an entire post about the Happiest Place on Earth, so if you’d like to know more, click here. But for a quick rundown: you’ll need at least one day to explore the full park, arrive early and make the most out of Fast Pass tickets! Don’t know what a Fast Pass ticket is? Click to find out!

Related: Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim’s Disneyland & California Adventure Park

Day 5: California Adventure Park

Although California Adventure Park is located right next to Disneyland, they are quite different parks. Both are Disney themed, but California Adventure Park is created more with adults in mind. There are fewer rides just for the kids and a handful of semi-thrill rides. California Screamin’ is one of the best, and don’t forget to check out the new Guardians of the Galaxy drop style ride!

Top 10 Things to do in Los Angeles: How to Spend 5 Days in LA

You’ll also find tons of tips and advice for spending a day at California Adventure Park, in this post. Read it carefully before planning your day! There is a lot to see, tons of rides to scream on and plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy. It’s best to pace yourself!

Related: Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim’s Disneyland & California Adventure Park

So there you have it, 10 of the best and most popular things to do in Los Angeles. Personally, I love spending as much time as possible exploring theme parks and strolling along California’s amazing beaches. But whether you’re a thrill seeker or a fan of spotting celebrities in the middle of Hollywood, there’s something for everyone in LA!


Have you visited Los Angeles before? What did you love the most? Tell me in the comments below! Or if you have something else to add to this list of things to do in Los Angeles, I’d love to know your thoughts!

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How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour

Back in June 2015, I left Australia for my very first solo travel adventure. I had spent a long time trying to find a reliable and decently priced company to travel with, and finally came across Contiki. Given that it was my first time traveling overseas by myself, I wanted everything to be taken care of for me, leaving me with absolutely nothing to worry or stress about. If you would prefer to have everything planned for you, choosing a Contiki tour is definitely the way to go.

I’m gonna throw this out there straight away: Contiki tours aren’t for everybody. You need to have an open mind to fully enjoy everything that Contiki has to offer. But if you’re up for a good time, want to explore a new city or country with a bunch of strangers, keep reading! I’m about to share everything you should be aware of before embarking on a Contiki tour.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour

Once you first open the Contiki website, you’ll see a tab on the left hand side that says trips. By clicking this link, you can between all of the Contiki tours using a few different filters. If you already know which part of the world you would like to visit, you can select that region to make life even easier!

Some quick facts about Contiki

Here are some quick facts about Contiki, just to give you a bit of an idea as to what they’re all about, and whether Contiki is going to be the perfect tour company for you!

Contiki tours are for ages 18 to 35 only

Contiki tours are made for the younger generation, and only people aged between 18 and 35 will be allowed. Contiki tours have a very heavy party scene vibe about them, which is perfect for the age bracket.

Contiki travels to six continents 

Almost anywhere you wish to travel, Contiki can take you there. Contiki tours stretch across the world; and choosing to travel with Contiki means you’ll have a choice between: Australia, Europe, United States, Asia, Canada and New Zealand.

Over 300 different trips available across the world

Choosing the region you want to travel is only the first difficult decision you’ll have to make. Once you’ve picked where you want to go, you now need to choose a tour! There are over 300 different trips to choose from, traveling to countries all over the world. Good luck narrowing down your huge bucket list!

The regions that Contiki travels to

Contiki tours cover most of the popular continents around the world. Going from one tour to the next, will allow you to visit lots of incredible places around the world, and have a totally different experience every time. Below are the countries and continents that Contiki travels to.

Europe

Europe is one of the most popular Contiki destinations. Most travelers choose to do a Contiki tour across Europe, because you’re able to visit so many countries in a short amount of time. You’ll stay in a wide range of accomodation from hotels and hostels to boats and tents.


Most Contiki tours throughout Europe are bus tours. That means you’ll be traveling across the country by road as opposed to flying in and out of cities each day. Bus tours aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they’re a great way to see as much as possible!

Australia

Australia is another awesome country for road trips. This means, a lot of the tours across my wonderful country, are on the Contiki bus!

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour | Rhiannon Travels

Mooloolaba Beach on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

You’ll visit almost every inch of Australia, including Sydney, Queensland and even the Northern Territory. Experience Uluru or climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Contiki ensures the sky is the limit on your adventure to Australia!

United States of America & Canada

The Contiki tour that I did was in the United States. I did the Best of USA tour, and it was so much fun! I lived my dream of visiting New York City, finally made it to San Francisco, and partied in Las Vegas. Tours throughout the USA and Canada provide pretty comfortable accomodation.


The United States and Canada are also very bus tour heavy. You’ll find that most of the tours are on-road ones, meaning you’ll be traveling from state to state on a huge bus, pimped out with Contiki in huge letters on each side.

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour | Rhiannon Travels

The catamaran cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, that Contiki organised for us. The Best of USA tour takes you to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York City!

New Zealand

Explore the beautiful New Zealand on-road, on Contiki’s awesome pimped out bus. With four different ways to travel (see below), accomodation in comfortable hotels plus fancy, Special Stays, you’re sure to have the time of your life.

Asia

Staying in comfortable accomodation, explore Asia from one end to the other. From Japan to China, Thailand and Cambodia – you’ll see it all. Traveling across Asia with Contiki means a combination of on-road and flights between cities.

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour | Rhiannon Travels

The Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan. I didn’t visit Japan on a Contiki tour, but I highly recommend doing so! Japan is an incredible country.

Latin America

Visit beautiful countries like Brazil, Peru and Belize on Contki’s Latin America tours. You’ll stay in unique and comfortable accomodation, with flights between cities to save on time.

Enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu in Peru or being at the base of Christ the Redeemer in Rio. There’s tons of incredible things to see and do in Latin America, and Contiki does all of the planning and organising for you. All you have to do is have fun!


Clicking on one of the above regions will bring you to a new page, listing all of the seperate tours within that country or continent. If you’re unsure which region you’d like to visit but have a particular travel style, there’s a filter for this as well!

The types of travel that Contiki offers

Contiki offers a wide range of different tours, that will suit almost any type of traveler. Whether you want to party hard for two weeks in a row or take it slow and travel at your own pace. There are so many choices, you won’t know where to begin your search! Here are the eight different types of tours that are available with Contiki.

Independent Insider

The Independent Insider trips are perfect for anyone who wants to stay in control of what they do and where they go. These tours offer a lot more freedom than others, so they’re perfect for someone who doesn’t want to travel with a strict itinerary.

Camping

The Camping tours are only available in Europe, but they are perfect for someone who enjoys nature. With the opportunity to visit multiple countries over a short period of time, it’s the perfect way to fully experience everything Europe has to offer.

Discoverer

This type of travel is perfect for someone who enjoys lots of adventure and ticking off lots from your bucket list. If you’re hoping to see and do as much as possible while on Contiki, the Discoverer tours are perfect! The Discoverer tours are available in all countries and continents that Contiki travels to.

High Energy

The High Energy Contiki tours are perfect for anyone who loves to party. You’ll visit all the major sites in a short amount of time, then party the night away – most of the time in a brand new city! The High Energy tours are available in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Latin America.

In-Depth Explorer

In-Depth Explorer tours are for travelers who enjoy history and really getting to know a city. You’ll have your own time to explore beyond where Contiki takes you. If you’re hoping to see more than the most popular tourist attractions, the In-Depth Explorer tours are for you. The In-Depth Explorer tours are available in all countries and continents that Contiki travels to.

Short Trips & Festivals

Perfect for people who love to have fun and party the night away. The Short Trips and Festivals tours are available in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. Bring in the New Year in a totally different country while you dance the night away!

Winter & Ski

Dreaming of a white Christmas in New York City? How about skiing or snowboarding down a mountain in Europe? If so, the Winter and Ski tours are perfect. These tours are available in Europe, the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour | Rhiannon Travels

Seeing snow for the first time, in Nagano, Japan. *This wasn’t during a Contiki tour

Sailing, Cruise & Beach

If you’re someone who dreams of laying on the sand in the Whitsundays or enjoying Santorini’s breathtaking views, these tours are calling your name. The Sailing, Cruise & Beach tours are available in Europe, Asia and Australia.


This is a cool way to narrow down your options, especially for people who would prefer a winter trip over a summer trip, or an adventurous trip over an easy-going one. Choose the style of travel that suits you, and you’ll have a list of suitable tours right in front of your eyes!


You can also filter your search by length of trip, departure date and the budget you’ve given yourself. For instance, if you’re only willing to spend up to $3,000 and want to travel for two weeks, select both of these options in the right hand column, and all of the available tours with those specifics will be listed for you!

Review the tour you’ve chosen

Once you’ve picked the tour that’s right for you,  a new page will open with all the information you need to lock in your selection. At the top of the page you will find:

  • The name of the tour you’ve chosen
  • The countries you will be visiting
  • Some tours will take you to more than one country, such as any North America based tours!)
  • Duration of the tour
  • Cost of the tour
  • Amount of money you save through Contiki

When you scroll down, you’ll come to the itinerary section and all of the awesome things included in your Contiki Tour cost! The itinerary tells you how many days you spend in each city, what you’ll be doing as part of the tour group, and the inclusions and ‘me time’ that are offered.


Note: You get a certain amount of ‘Me Time’ each day. This means, most of the time you’re traveling, you’ll be given either half a day or a full day to go off and explore on your own. Everyone has a list of things they want to see while traveling, and those things may not be included on the itinerary that Contiki has created for you.

This is where your Me Time comes in! On those free days, head off on your own (or with your new friends) and visit those places that are on your bucket list! Contiki has a huge range of suggestions too, if you’re unsure of where to start.

If you keep scrolling down the page, you’ll come to the ‘What’s Included’ section. This tells you how many nights accomodation you’re paying for, information about your Tour Manager and Driver, how many meals are included, the cool extras that you can experience at a discounted price, Me Time suggestions and transport information.

Once you’re ready to book

Next comes the exciting part. Once you’ve chosen your dream tour, it’s time to book. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a button that says ‘Book Trip’. Clicking this button will open a pop-up page with a calendar. Here, you’ll be given the available dates that your tour will be running. Choose an appropriate time of year, and follow the prompts! You’ll be jetting off on the trip of a lifetime before you know it!

Things you should know & tips for your first Contiki Tour

Now that you’ve booked your trip, I’m sure you’re wondering what to expect when you arrive at your first destination. Right? Duh, of course you are! I know I was.

Contiki is well known for its party scene, people getting drunk and passing out on Hollywood Boulevard (okay, maybe that was just me), and crazy antics that no one ever remembers the next day. Sure, that’s all true. But there are so many other cool experiences you’ll have if you choose to book a Contik tour.


I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped foot into my hotel in Downtown Los Angeles at the beginning of June 2015. I had done quite a bit of research prior to my trip, and I had joined a Facebook group started for my specific Tour group, but I was still somewhat in the dark about what Contiki was really all about. So here are some things you should know, to prepare you for your first Contiki Tour!

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour | Rhiannon Travels

I lived my dream of visiting New York City on the Best of USA Contiki tour. I’ll always remember the moment I stepped out into Times Square for the very first time!

People do drink – a lot

The rumours are true, there’s a lot of alcohol involved in the world of Contiki. But that’s okay. Whether you drink alcohol or not, you can still have an epic time. Your tour group will consist of a wide range of people. There will be some who enjoy a cocktail each day with breakfast, and some who decide not to drink at all.


Once you’re settled in and start mingling with the people in your group, you’ll find the people who you click with the most and have more in common with. Stick to what your gut is telling you. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘trying to fit in’. It isn’t high school. You’re with a group of adults who are there to have an amazing and memorable time – just like you!

There will be differences of opinion

Being thrown into a group of people from all over the world and different ages and personalities, there’s bound to be clashing amongst one another. But if you’re mature about it and don’t let it ruin your trip, you’ll be fine. You may be in a group environment, meeting new people and making new friends, but it’s still YOUR trip. So don’t let anybody pressure you into doing something you’re not keen on. Do your own thing, and you can always catch up with your new friends later!

Your group will probably be mostly younger people

The first thing I noticed when my group started to roll in on the night before our Contiki tour officially started, was that we were all on the younger end of the scale. Considering the age bracket for Contiki is eighteen to thirty five, the small amount of older group members was surprising.

Something else that surprised me, was the fact that most of the members in my group were Australian! I was expecting to walk in and be greeted by people from all over the world. That wasn’t the case in my particular Contiki group unfortunately!

Make the most of your me time

One of the things I didn’t like about Contiki, was the lack of Me Time. Sure, on the longer trips you get quite a few days to explore and do your own thing. But most of the time, there’s a set time you need to be back to attend group events and things you’ve already paid for. If there’s something that you’re dying to see, make it a priority on one of these Me Time days.


Head out first thing in the morning (sleep is for the weak!) and cross it off your list first. You can then plan the rest of your free time accordingly. Spending as much time heading out exploring the city and crossing off those bucket list items, will ensure you make the most of all your time on Contiki!

Take plenty of spending money

The inclusions and even the ‘extras’ that are listed on the Contiki website or in one of their booklets, aren’t the be all and end all of your trip. Those booklets and the website aren’t updated regularly, so there’s bound to be some opportunities that present themselves, that you wouldn’t have planned on.


For example, while we were in New York City during the Best of USA Contiki tour, our lovely tour manager Steph, gave us the opportunity to go to a Yankees game! This wasn’t something that I had anticipated happening, but lucky I had enough spending money with me to be able to go. Don’t be caught short if something cool comes up. You’ll definitely regret it later! It’s always a good idea to have more money than you think you’ll need. Remember, you can always convert it back when you get home!

Related: Click here to read about my 5 days in New York City

How to Choose the Perfect Contiki Tour | Rhiannon Travels

Pack light

The Best of USA tour isn’t like other Contiki tours. Most are road trip style. You know, where you’re stuck on a bus most of the day or night, on your way to the next destination. This is cool if you like a good road trip, especially in a place you’ve never been. But I personally loved the fact that being an air travel tour, we had more time up our sleeves in each city, as our travel time was significantly shortened.


Whether you’re doing a bus or plane tour, it’s always a good idea to pack as light as possible. Not only will is cause less back aches and sore arms from carrying all your luggage, but you’ll also have lots of room to shop!

Tipping is sometimes included in the cost

If you’re new to the concept of tipping, don’t worry, sometimes a percentage of this is covered in the cost you pay upfront for your Contiki Tour. However, you will still need to tip for your own personal meals and any services that you receive when you are not with your group. So make sure you’ve got plenty of small bills on you to cover the cost of individual tipping. In a lot of countries, tipping is essential.

Some of your meals are included

Meals also tend to be included in the overall cost of your Tour. Most of the time, breakfast is one of those included meals. This gives you the chance to fuel up for a busy day of exploring, shopping and drinking! Dinner is also another frequently included meal. Usually, you’ll eat dinner out at a fancy restaurant with your group and tour manager! Most of the time, however, you’re on your own when it comes to lunch.

Always, always make sure you’re on time

This is super important! On the first night of the Best of USA tour, Steph (our tour manager) told us how important it was to be on time. Generally, you spend each day in a new city with your tour manager and tour group. Your tour tanager will give you a specific time to be up, ready and waiting in the lobby to leave for the day’s activities.


If you’re late, the group will leave without you. You’ll then need to find your own way to the first activity for the day (or the airport if it’s a travel day!). This can be especially difficult if you’re in a city you’re unfamiliar with – so always make sure you set plenty of alarms the night before!


I remember on my Best of USA tour, one of the guys in my group was late back to the bus after the couple of hours of free time exploring Hollywood. Our tour manager gave us a specific time to be back on the bus, and after waiting ten minutes with no sign of him, the bus left. He had to make his way from Hollywood to Santa Monica Beach on his own. Always make sure you set alarms for everything, to avoid being caught in this situation!

Related: Read about my experience on the Best of USA Contiki Tour, here

[bctt tweet=”Here are some tips and tricks for anyone planning their first @contiki tour! ” username=”rhiannontravels”]


Everyone has a different experience on their Contiki trip. Whether you’re a heavy partier or prefer to spend your free time exploring museums, the point of Contiki is to give you the freedom of choice. I would recommend Contiki for someone who is relatively new to travel. It’s also a great way to meet people if you’re a solo traveller.


Have you done a Contiki tour before? Which one did you do? Tell me what you thought in the comments below! 

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will always only share my 100% honest opinion, and will never endorse a product or company that I would not personally use.

Originally published in February 2017. Updated January 2018
Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & NYC

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & NYC

Back in 2015, I made one of the biggest decisions I have ever made. After dreaming about visiting New York City for most of my life, I started to do some research. There wasn’t anyone who I could travel with, so I looked into solo travel. There are a ton of options available when it comes to safe and easy solo travel, but I decided to go with Contiki. I had previously heard a little about Contiki online, but not enough to make an educated decision right there and then. So I researched as much as I could on the topic, and spoke to some people I know had done a Contiki tour before. Eventually, I took a chance a booked my very first overseas solo adventure.


Technically, I wasn’t traveling solo. There were over 20 other people in my Contiki group, most being fellow Australians, but there were a few people from other countries scattered amongst the group. I was a little nervous, knowing I would be forced to communicate with a group of very different people. But after a deep breath (and a little alcohol) I was ready to dive into the wild, weird and wonderful world of Contiki.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for continuing to support Rhiannon Travels, and keeping it a free travel guide and resource for everyone to use!

The Best of USA Contiki Tour

I studied the different Contiki tours very hard before making my decision. All I knew for sure, was that I had to go to New York City. The rest didn’t really bother me too much, as I would be stoked to travel anywhere in the United States. One day, I came across the Best of USA Contiki tour. This tour would take me to four major cities in the USA: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and yep, you guessed it – New York City. We would have at least four days in each city to explore, which is the perfect amount of time for a fast-paced, yet once in a lifetime, absolutely incredible trip. I was sold.

Generally, most Contiki tours are road trip style. Which means you travel across the country on a bus, as opposed to flying between cities like you do on the Best of USA tour. That was also another main draw for me in choosing this particular tour. I wanted to spend as much time as I could exploring each city, instead of wasting hours on end stuck on a bus.


The Best of USA Contiki tour is the perfect way to see the most popular and well-known cities across the United States. The Best of the United States you might say. See what I did there? Here is a (fairly) accurate recap of my itinerary, back in June of 2015 when I embarked on my first overseas solo adventure, on the Best of USA Contiki tour.

Day One: Los Angeles // Tour of LA

The first day of your Best of USA Contiki tour may be a little bit nerve-wracking, especially if you haven’t previously met your fellow group mates. There was a Facebook group made specifically for the Best of USA Contiki tour that I was on, so I was able to talk to some of the people who would be traveling across the United States with, weeks before we even arrived in the country. This made things far less awkward, and allowed us to make plans to hang out before the tour officially began.

Walking tour around Downtown Los Angeles

The first official day on the Best of USA Contiki tour started with a short walking tour of Downtown Los Angeles. Since our hotel was located in the heart of Downtown LA (spoiler alert: it’s a very, very loud place with a crap ton of sirens), that’s where we started our tour. It was cool walking through the heart of Los Angeles, seeing all sorts of crazy characters and unique sights and landmarks.


Before June 2015 when I did this Contiki tour, I’d visited Los Angeles many times before. I had explored Hollywood Boulevard a few too many times before and of course, being a Disney-aholic, I was very familiar with the city of Anaheim. But before that day, I had never walked around Downtown LA. It was interesting, to say the least.

If you choose to do the Best of USA Contiki tour, your hotel will probably be located in the same general area. Make the most of this and explore further in your own time. Take note during your walking tour of Downtown LA, of places you’d like to go back to.

Bus tour around Hollywood

Once we finished the Downtown LA walking tour, we hopped on a bus and headed out to explore the rest of Los Angeles. It was cool being able to see all sorts of different sights, and being taken straight to Hollywood Boulevard was super convenient. We were given a couple of hours to head out and explore Hollywood on our own, try to get a good shot of the Hollywood Sign or do some celebrity spotting. The only rule being, we were required to return promptly to the bus at the agreed time.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

This is where Contiki is super strict. If you’re late back to the bus after having some free time or sleep in and miss the bus to the airport, you’re on your own. The tour manager won’t wait, and your group will leave without you! This happened to one guy in our group, and he had to find his own way from Hollywood Boulevard to Santa Monica Beach. Moral of this story: don’t be late!

Bus ride to Santa Monica & Venice Beach

After exploring the eccentric Hollywood Boulevard, we were back on the bus, headed to Santa Monica Beach. Personally, Santa Monica is one of my favourite places in California, and no matter how many times I visit, I will always go back for more. We had another few hours on our own, exploring as much as we could of this wonderful beachside town, before it was onto the next: Venice!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Venice Beach is the total opposite of Santa Monica. The locals, the beach itself, the vibe, the buildings, shopping and just about everything else, will remind you nothing of Santa Monica. Although I do prefer Santa Monica, I love what Venice Beach represents. I love the brightly coloured buildings, street art and locals selling beautiful hand-made products. Keep an open mind during your visit to Venice, and try to appreciate the unique and contagious positive energy.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Hollywood Pub Crawl

One of the cool things about Contiki, is the cost of the tour includes some meals and activities. The first night’s dinner was one of those included meals! After dinner there’s an option to head out on a Hollywood Pub Crawl. You’ll be taking the metro though, so there’s quite a bit of walking involved. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes!

Day Two: Los Angeles // Disney Parks

Disneyland & California Adventure Park

Day two was our first proper free day. We had the entire day and night to do whatever we liked. Our group was split on this day, as half spent the day at Universal Studios, and the other half headed to Anaheim for a day of magic at the Happiest Place on Earth – Disneyland.

I was in the second half, because no matter how many times I visit Disneyland, I always have to go back. We all decided we would stay for the fireworks, because if you’ve visited Disneyland before, you know just how incredible this fireworks display truly is.


Well, around 10 minutes before the fireworks were due to start, there was an announcement over the loudspeaker, informing us the fireworks display was cancelled due to bad weather. That was a bit of a punch in the gut, especially considering we were all extremely hungover from the previous night’s pub crawl.

After complaining all round, we decided to make our way to the bus stop where we had been told to wait, 12 hours prior when we arrived at Disneyland!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Suggested Post: Disney Parks Guide: Tips For Anaheim & Tokyo’s Disney Resorts

Day Three: Los Angeles // Universal Studios

Universal Studios

On day three, our second free day, a small group of us headed to Universal Studios. Just like Disneyland, I had visited Universal Studios before. So instead of doing the VIP Tour* like the rest of my friends, I bought myself a regular day ticket and explored at my own pace. I have to say, though, it sure is weird walking around a theme park alone and going on rides by myself. It was nice not having to wait for anybody, though. If you don’t want to spend the day at Universal Studios, it’s another free day to do anything you like! Ask your Tour Manager for some suggestions, if you’re unsure.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

What’s the Universal Studios VIP Tour?

The Universal Studios VIP Tour is a private guided tour with your very own Universal Studios expert. You’ll have your own personal guide all day long giving you ride, dining and Studio Tour privileges. Upon arrival in the morning, you’ll be treated to a breakfast of fruit and delicious baked goods, before being escorted around Universal Studios like the celebrity you are! Read more about the Universal Studios VIP Experience.

Day Four: Los Angeles to San Francisco

Bright and early on day four of Contiki, we headed to the airport to fly with Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to San Francisco! Remember when I mentioned what’s included in your tour cost? Well, domestic flights between cities are one of them. This is another one of those don’t be late under any circumstances moments. If you’re late to the hotel lobby, you’ll be left behind and will need to find your own way to the airport!

San Francisco City Tour & Golden Gate Bridge

After landing in San Francisco from Los Angeles, a bus picked us up from the airport and took us on a short tour of some of San Francisco’s main sights. On the way to the hotel, we stopped at one of the best places to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and had a short amount of time to admire the view and take as many Instagram photos as we could!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

After our short city tour, the bus dropped us off at our hotel. We had a couple of hours of free time once we checked in and put our luggage in our rooms, so a few friends and I headed out to explore Fisherman’s Wharf. There are a ton of shops, restaurants, dessert stores and tons more in Fisherman’s Wharf, so it was the perfect place to kill a few hours before we had to meet up with the rest of our group and Tour Manager, before our first San Francisco group activity!

NBA Finals Game

I did the Best of USA Contiki tour back in June 2015. It was the tail end of the NBA Basketball season while we were in the United States, so we had the awesome opportunity to attend an NBA street fair/outdoor party, to watch the Golden State Warriors finals game.

I love watching basketball, so this was one of the highlights of Contiki for me! Cool things like this tend to happen quite frequently on Contiki tours, and it wasn’t the first time during our two week trip! Keep reading for a surprise in New York City. 

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

My Contiki bestie and I before the NBA Finals street party!

Days Five: San Francisco // Alcatraz

Day five, and the first full day in San Francisco, is a free day. Just like those couple of days in Los Angeles, you can use it to do absolutely anything you want. This is a great opportunity to ask your Tour Manager for some suggestions, or head out on your own to explore San Francisco. It’s the perfect time to see some places that aren’t on the Contiki schedule.

Alcatraz Island

Myself and a couple of friends had previously booked an Alcatraz tour for early that morning. There are a few different tour options available, but each of them include the ferry ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz. The tour itself was really interesting, and rewarded us with some pretty spectacular views of San Francisco Bay. The Alcatraz tour was a great experience, and I definitely recommend using a couple of hours from your free day to do it yourself!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!

Bike Tour around San Francisco

The afternoon of day five consisted of our optional bike tour around San Francisco. The tour went for around three hours, and departed from Blazing Saddles in Downtown San Francisco. We were taken through many different, beautiful places in San Francisco, and even rode across the Golden Gate Bridge! As this is an optional extra, there is an added cost of around $30 that is not included in the price of your Contiki tour. If you choose to do the San Francisco bike tour, be prepared for some incredibly steep hills!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!

Day Six: San Francisco // Catamaran Cruise

Shopping in Downtown San Francisco

Day six was another free day to explore at our own pace. A couple of friends and I decided to spend the day in Downtown San Francisco for some shopping. We all needed some outfits for our next stop: Las Vegas! There are some great shopping malls and familiar stores in Downtown San Francisco, so we made a day of it!

Catamaran Cruise around San Francisco Bay

Our last night in San Francisco was spent on an incredible catamaran cruise around the Bay. This was probably one of the highlights from my experience on the Best of USA Contiki tour. Being able to admire the views of the city, while cruising under the Golden Gate Bridge was unbelievable. The best part is, the catamaran cruise is also included in the cost of the tour!


Tip: Make sure to wear warm clothes on the catamaran cruise. Even during summer, when I did the Best of USA Contiki tour, it can still be cold at night. Even more so while you’re on the water, so be sure to wear layers just incase. And don’t forget to bring a camera!

10 Things to do in San Francisco in A Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Related: 10 Things to do in San Francisco in a Weekend (For First Time Visitors)

Day Seven: San Fransisco to Las Vegas // Dinner & Clubbing

Dinner at Planet Hollywood

Our included flight from San Franctisco to Las Vegas left quite early on the morning of day seven. After being dropped off at Harrah’s, our hotel, we were able to explore at our own pace until the included group dinner at Planet Hollywood Restaurant later that night.

After dinner, the entire Contiki group headed out for a bus tour down the Strip, then it was onto a night of clubbing and partying! You can either choose to head out for the night to party, or have a more laid back night in Las Vegas. The bus will drop you back at the hotel if you decide not to head out after dinner.

Las Vegas Clubbing Night

I had visited Las Vegas a couple of times before this, but I hadn’t been 21 yet. That meant I couldn’t drink or party. It was fun being able to go back and enjoy Vegas in a totally different way. I can’t remember which clubs we visited or really any other information about that night, as I’m sure you can imagine!

It was a wonderful experience, though, and I definitely recommend waiting until you are 21 to do the Best of USA Contiki tour. It will allow you to have the full being-legal-in-the-United-States experience.

Day Eight: Las Vegas // Free Day & Grand Canyon

Helicopter Flight over the Grand Canyon

One of the optional extras (not included in the cost of the tour) is a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Of course I decided to pay the extra $300 for this once in a lifetime experience. If you’re a bit concerned about spending such a large amount of money on a helicopter flight, let me just say, I truly believe it’s worth every cent.

Not only do you fly over the Grand Canyon, you also land at the very bottom for a champagne lunch. With endless incredible photo opportunities and breathtaking scenery, it’s definitely something that you should budget into your Contiki trip. I promise, it will be worth it!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Suggested Post: The Grand Celebration Helicopter Tour: Exploring the Grand Canyon

Limo Ride down the Las Vegas Strip

Later that night, we all headed out for an included limo ride with champagne down the Las Vegas Strip. This was an awesome chance to act a little silly, feel like a celebrity for an hour and make the most of being in the crazy city of Las Vegas. For optimal drunken happiness, indulge in some pre-limo beverages beforehand.

Day Nine: Las Vegas // Free Day & Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil Show

Day nine was another free day in Las Vegas. Depending on the time of year your Best of USA Contiki tour falls on, there will be a ton of different available activities. Your Tour Manager can suggest some attractions to see, food to eat or the best places to shop. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have the chance to see one of the incredible Las Vegas shows.

We were lucky enough to see a Cirque du Soleil show, was which incredible. My advice is to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. That’s the beauty of a Contiki tour. Being able to do and see incredible things, without having to plan a single one of them!

Rooftop Club & Bar on Las Vegas Strip

The last stop on our Las Vegas adventure, was an epic rooftop club and bar on the Strip. With incredible views of Las Vegas, while drinking and dancing the night away, it was definitely a fitting way to end out time in Las Vegas. One thing to keep in mind when visiting Las Vegas, is to always bring your passport out with you.

I know this might seem a bit strange and even nerve-wracking, given how important your passport is. But the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years old. So although Contiki tours are created for people between the ages of 18 and 35, you will only be able to purchase alcohol if you’re over 21.


Please Note: The optional extras that are offered for each city don’t have to be decided on when you first book your Contiki tour. Before arriving in each new city, you’ll be given the list of extras that are available, and will then have the option to say yes or no. Payment is generally taken by your Tour Manager either at the airport before boarding the next flight, or at the end of the trip.

Day Ten: Las Vegas to New York City // Times Square

I had been waiting for this day my entire life. Visiting New York City had been at the very top of my Bucket List for as long as I could remember. To this day, I still cannot explain the feeling I had when boarding the plane from Las Vegas to New York. Spending five days in New York City, and although that week will forever be one of the best times in my life, I still hope to one day visit again with Russell. There’s nothing better than living your dream with the person you love.

Seeing Times Square for the first time

The day I had been waiting 23 years for. Our included flight from Las Vegas to New York City left bright and early on day ten. Since we were flying from the West Coast to the East Coast, it was quite a long journey. By the time the shuttle dropped us at our hotel, it was close to eleven o’clock at night. Of course, that didn’t stop us from catching the New York Subway for the very first time, to Times Square though.


Our hotel was within walking distance to multiple Subway stations and surprisingly, it’s pretty easy getting the hang of New York City public transport. You just have to remember the difference between Downtown and Uptown.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!Best of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!

Day Eleven: New York City // Free Day

Day eleven is your first full day in New York City, so make sure to enjoy every minute of it! You’ll be taken through quite a bit of the city, so have your camera ready and plenty of caffeine in your system – it’s gonna be a big day.

Bus Ride around New York City

Our first full day in New York City started with an included bus ride around the city. We were taken past lots of famous sights, landmarks and well-known attractions and were able to hop out and explore on our own throughout the bus journey.

One of our short stops was Rockefeller Plaza, where we saw a live filming of the American Today Show. You may or may not have seen me waving my arms around like a moron. I’m sorry, America.

Right next door to the NBC Studios, is an NBC Studio Store, selling a huge range of TV show merchandise. I bought myself a huge Friends mug, which is actually more conveniently used as a small bowl, it’s that large.

Helicopter Flight over New York City

After the scheduled bus tour around New York City, the rest of the afternoon is free time. The group scattered off into different areas of New York, either going shopping or heading off to explore on their own. I decided to do one of the optional extras I booked myself in for – a helicopter ride over New York City.

Before leaving for this trip, I spoke to some people who had previously done the helicopter ride on their own Best of USA Contiki tour, and they highly recommended it. Being able to see New York from the sky was an incredible experience. It was a little foggy on the day, but that didn’t matter too much.

If you’re concerned about this though, be sure to research the weather in New York City to find out the least foggy months throughout the year. The helicopter flight over New York City tour costs $150 and goes for around 20 minutes. 

Best of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!

Dinner and shopping in Times Square

On the evening of our first full day in New York City, we headed to Times Square for one of our included group dinners. From memory, we ate at some pub style restaurant right in the heart of Times Square. After dinner, the night was free and ours to do as we pleased.

Some of the group headed out to experience New York City’s nightlife, but myself and a couple of friends decided to do some shopping. After all, I had been dreaming of the day I would finally step foot into the giant Times Square Forever 21, and I just couldn’t wait any longer!

Day Twelve: New York City // Statue of Liberty & Free Day

Statue of Liberty

Day twelve began with the highly anticipated ferry ride to the State of Liberty. This was one of the inclusions in the cost of our Contiki tour, which meant we didn’t have to pay any extra to visit. Given that Lady Liberty is one of the most famous attractions in New York City (and the world), to say I was excited is a huge understatement. It’s definitely one of my favourite memories from the Best of USA Contiki tour.


Have your camera ready, you’re going to want photos of the beautiful Statue of Liberty from every angle imaginable. Here’s a tip, too: move past the giant crowds of people and head towards the sides of Lady Liberty. There are far less tourists and you’ll be able to get a photo without anyone else in the background!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York CityBest of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!

World Trade Centre Museum & Memorial

The rest of day twelve is a New York City free day. A friend and I decided to spend the afternoon visiting the World Trade Centre Museum and Memorial. I highly recommend that anyone who is visiting New York City, takes the time to walk through the museum. It was one of the most upsetting and unexplainable moments in my life, and definitely an eye opening experience.

Yankees Game

Remember back when I was telling you about our opportunity to watch the Golden State Warriors basketball final, at a street fair in San Francisco? I mentioned that there was another awesome, unplanned opportunity when we got to New York City. Well, this was it! One of my favourite memories from the Best of USA Contiki tour, was our evening at a Yankees baseball game! Having the chance to not only watch a Major League Baseball game, but a New York Yankees game at that, was awesome and definitely worth the extra $50.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York!

Tip: Make sure to budget a little bit of extra money for these types of unplanned occasions. Sometimes they will be once in a lifetime experiences, so it’s best to come prepared. We were told about the Yankees game opportunity while we were on the bus from the airport to our New York hotel.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Day Thirteen: New York City // Free Day

Central Park Bike Tour

The last official day on Contiki was another chance to explore New York City at our own pace. However, most of the group decided to spend the morning on a bike tour through Central Park. This was another awesome optional extra, however, it’s only available during the warmer months in the year. Don’t worry though. It doesn’t matter which time of year your Best of USA Contiki tour falls on, there are always going to be a ton of amazing New York City experiences.

Shopping in Soho & Friends Building

The rest of day thirteen was spent with a good friend of mine, shopping up a storm in Soho. Considering it was my second to last day in the United States, spending almost $300 on clothes probably wasn’t a good idea. But the sales were crazy good, and I had been dreaming of spending far too much money on shopping in New York. Mission accomplished!


We also tracked down the exterior building used as Monica and Rachel’s apartment in Friends. If you’re a huge fan like me, type 90 Bedford Street, New York into Google Maps. You’re welcome.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Day Fourteen: Last Day in New York City

Top of the Rock Observatory

The Best of USA Contiki tour officially finished on day thirteen, but when I booked this tour many months beforehand, I decided to stay one extra night in New York City. On the morning of my very last day in New York, a friend and I (who also stayed longer) visited the Top of the Rock Observatory in Rockefeller Plaza. It’s definitely the best place to go for absolutely incredible, panoramic and unobstructed views of New York City.

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Related: Visit New York: A Guide to New York City’s Must-See Attractions

Conclusion: The Best of USA Contiki Tour

There are a lot of awesome things about a Contiki tour, and the Best of USA Contiki tour is no different. Your tour manager organises absolutely everything, so all you have to do is show up at the time you’re told and not be late! I loved having everything planned for me and being able to see a lot of places in a short amount of time. This can be disappointing for some, but sometimes fast paced travel is fun!


The Best of USA Contiki tour is perfect for someone who wants to visit the highlights and – essentially – the best of the USA! If you’ve dreamed of seeing the bright lights of New York City, or you’ve always wanted to take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard, the Best of USA Contiki tour is perfect for you.

Have you done a Contiki tour before? Which one did you do? Tell me in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pin it for later!

Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City! Best of USA Contiki Tour: LA, San Francisco, Las Vegas & New York City

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means, if you click on certain links within this post and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. As always, I will only ever share my 100% honest opinion, and would never endorse a company or product I would not use myself!

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim’s Disneyland & California Adventure Park

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim’s Disneyland & California Adventure Park

I’ve always loved anything to do with Disney. When I was a kid, my mum started a hardcover Disney book collection for me, which I still have to this day – I’m now 25 years old! I first visited Anaheim’s Disneyland parks when I was 3 years old, which sadly, I don’t remember actually doing. But I’ve been back quite a few times since then, and it never fails to amaze me.

Although I haven’t visited all of the Disney parks around the world, I like to think that I’ve learnt enough, to share this guide with you all. In this post, you’ll find a ton of useful information, tips and tricks for spending your day (or more) at Anaheim’s Disney Parks. I’ve included the cost for entry of both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, opening times and the best advice we could come up with, for anybody visiting for the first time!


Remember, this guide is for Anaheim’s Disneyland and California Adventure Park only. We have visited Tokyo’s Disney Parks too, though! For that guide, you can click here.

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

Anaheim’s Disney Parks Guide

Anaheim is home to two Disney parks: Disneyland and California Adventure Park. Disneyland was the first and original Disney park, opening its doors on July 11th 1955. California Adventure Park was born 46 years later, on February 8th 2001. I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time at both of Anaheim’s Disney parks, and I can honestly say, Disneyland truly is the Happiest Place on Earth. Here is some general information about Anaheim’s Disney Parks!

Ticket Prices & Opening Times – Disneyland & California Adventure Park

Note: All prices are in US dollars. Click here for a currency converter.

Park Hopper Tickets – Switch Between Both Parks on One Day

1 Day Ticket (Weekdays): Adult $157 – Child $151
1 Day Ticket (Weekends): Adult $165 – Child $159
2 Day Ticket: Adult $244 – Child $232
3 Day Ticket: Adult $315 – Child $303
4 Day Ticket: Adult $335 – Child $320
5 Day Ticket: Adult $350 – Child $335

Regular Park Tickets – One Park Per Day

1 Day Ticket (Weekdays): Adult $97 – Child $91
1 Day Ticket (Weekends): Adult $110 – Child $104
2 Day Ticket: Adult $199 – Child: $187
3 Day Ticket: Adult $270 – Child: $258
4 Day Ticket: Adult $290 – Child: $320
5 Day Ticket: Adult $305 – Child: $290


Tip: It works out to be a lot better value, the more days you choose to spend at the Disney parks. I highly recommend purcahsing the 5 Day Park Hopper ticket. In my opinion, it’s the best value for money, and you’re able to switch between both parks at your own pace. You also aren’t required to visit over five consecutive days, which is perfect if you’re spending an extended period of time in Anaheim.

[bctt tweet=”Here is everything you need to know about Disneyland’s tickets & prices! ” username=”rhiannontravels”]

Where to Purchase Tickets

The best place to purchase tickets for both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, is on Disney’s website. You’ll be able to choose how many days you want to visit, and whether you want a Park Hopper.

Opening Times – Disneyland & California Adventure Park

The opening times for both Disneyland and California Adventure Park vary, depending on the day you visit and the time of year. During holiday periods and special occasions throughout the year, there are certain activities, events and parties that may change the opening hours for both parks.

As a general guide, Disneyland and California Adventure Park is open from 9am until 9pm each day during the week. On weekends, the park can remain open up until midnight. For up to date opening times, check the monthly events schedule and calendar on Disney’s website closer to the day of your visit!

Tip: If you purchase any of the multi-day tickets, split up your time over each day. For example, on the first day of your visit, arrive in the morning and spend a full day exploring either Disneyland or California Adventure Park. The next time you visit, arrive in the afternoon, so you can enjoy a bit of a sleep in and experience Disneyland’s incredible fireworks display! This will give you a chance to rest (both Disney parks are huge, meaning a LOT of walking) and you’ll also be able to experience the parks at different times during the day.

[bctt tweet=”When does Disneyland open and close? Find out here!” username=”rhiannontravels”]

Disney Parks Guide: Disneyland Tips & Tricks

Disneyland is wild and wonderful place, no matter how old you are. There are 8 different lands within the park, and each are themed differently. I don’t know about you guys, but I like to be well-informed before visiting new places – and theme parks are no different! This is especially important if you’re planning a visit during peak times throughout the year. This is generally over the summer period, no matter which Disney Park you attend.


That’s where this Disney Parks Guide will come in handy! Disneyland may be the Happiest Place in the World, but it can also be the Busiest Place in the World. If you aren’t prepared, and haven’t had a Disney experience before, it will seem overwhelming. So that’s being said, sit back, relax and maybe grab a notepad and pen. I’m about to share some insider tips about Anahiem’s Disneyland and California Adventure Park. You’re welcome.

[bctt tweet=”Here are some awesome tips for your first visit to Anaheim’s Disneyland park!” username=”rhiannontravels”]

Always arrive at least 30 minutes before the gates open

This applies to both of Anaheim’s Disney parks. The earlier you arrive the better, as you’ll avoid having to wait in line for hours. Just wake up a bit earlier! It will be worth it, trust me.

Make Tomorrowland your first priority

Tomorrowland is home to Space Mountain, which is, in my opinion, the best ride on Earth. Before lining up for the ride, get yourself a Fast Pass Ticket. Simply put your park ticket into one of the machines located outside of Space Mountain, and it will pop out a second ticket with an hour time frame. Once you have your Fast Pass ticket, line up in the regular queue for Space Mountain. Then, during your designated hour, come back and ride it again! This may seem like a lot of effort (it’s really not) but it will definitely be worth it.

Don’t miss It’s a Small World and the Mad Tea Party Tea Cups

Head to Fantasyland and ride the awesome ride with an annoyingly catchy song, It’s a Small World. I also suggest riding the Tea Cups. Unless of course, you get motion sickness easily. Maybe give it a skip if that’s the case.

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

It’s a Small World in Disneyland, Anaheim!

Keep an eye out for Disney characters throughout the day

They tend to come out quite often (less frequently and for shorter periods of time during summer), but they’re easy enough to find. Park maps and Disney’s website should have updated times of planned Disney character interactions. If not, you’ll eventually see one of two while walking around the parks!

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

When in Disneyland, it’s a must to have a photo with Minnie Mouse!

Purchase some custom embroidered Mickey Mouse ears

These are so awesome, I have two pairs! You can have anything your heart desires, stitched to the back of your Mickey ears, so be creative! From memory, these cost around $14. The price might have changed since I visited back in 2013, but I wouldn’t imagine they’d cost any more than $20. They’re a great gift idea or souvenir for yourself or your kids!

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

My very own custom Mickey Mouse ears!

If you have kids, visit Disneyland in the morning

This is even more convenient if you purchase a multi-day Park Hopper ticket. I don’t have kids, but after seeing so many tantrums and sleeping children by 3pm, morning visits definitely seem like the way to go!

Grab a map when you enter the park

Your map will show you where every single ride and attraction is located within the park, and whether or not they have Fast Passes available. The map also shows where the toilets, ATM’s, smoking areas and first aid centres are located. There are also baby care centres spread out around the park, which you can find by looking at your map!

Get a free badge from City Hall

When you first enter Disneyland, use your map to locate City Hall. There are a few free badges available, including ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘My 1st Visit’. I’ve got about 5 First Visit badges, and a couple of Happy Birthday ones. It’s cool having people wish you a happy birthday while waiting in line for rides! It’s also a great souvenir, even if it’s not your birthday or first visit! I’m guilty of both of those. Oops!

Keep an eye out for Pressed Penny Machines

This is a super cheap and fun way to collect souvenirs around the park, and they’re pretty easy to find in each land. Check the stores outside of all your favourite rides – they tend to have themed pennies available!

Bring your own water bottle and snacks

This is a great way to save money, and will come in handy while you wait in those awful long lines. Other than having to pee, there’s nothing worse than being thirsty when you’ve still got 40 minutes left to wait for the next ride. Snacks are also a good idea to keep kids happy, distracted and far less bored.

Don’t leave without riding Indiana Jones in Adventureland

Whether or not you’re a fan of the movies, everything about this ride is awesome. The detail and thought put into the decorations, set and ride itself is incredible. Grab a Fast Pass early in the day, so you don’t miss out!

Use your Magic Morning ticket

This is only available to anybody who purchases one of the Multi Day passes. Your ticket will give you early access to Disneyland, for once day over the duration of your pass. Basically, for one morning, you’ll have (almost) the entire park to yourself and a handful of others. This is a great way to hit up your favourite rides before the long lines start to form. Definitely worth paying for a Multi Day ticket!

Tip: One of my favourite memories at Disneyland, was with my Contiki group back in June 2015. I did the Best of USA tour, and our group spent a full day at Anaheim’s Disneyland and California Adventure Park! Contiki is a great way to see a new city, and make awesome friends at the same time! You can read about my experience on Contiki here.

Disney Parks Guide: California Adventure Park Tips & Tricks

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

California Adventure Park entrance gates!

Make Cars Land your first priority

The last time I visited California Adventure Park, Radiator Springs was the most popular ride by far. The wait times were crazy long, and Fast Passes can run out fairly quickly, especially during peak times. So if you’re a Cars fan, definitely make this a priority.

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

The set of Radiator Springs ride in Cars Land, California Adventure Park!

California Screamin’ is an absolute must

It’s the only actual rollercoaster across both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, and it’s a LOT of fun. You can get Fast Passes for this ride too, and like Space Mountain, it’s definitely worth it. You’ll be turned upside down, do loops in Mickey Mouse’s ears and have a photo taken at the end that always provides a laugh. Make sure to experience the ride at night too. You’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the entire park, all lit up and sparkly!

Head to Paradise Pier for Instagram worthy shots

This is where everyone gets the classic rollercoaster and ferris wheel photos. It’s the prime location for incredible sunset photos, too. Make the most of the river in front of California Screamin – definitely one of the most Instagrammable spots in the park!

Make use of the Single Rider Lines

This applies to Disneyland too, but generally smaller children aren’t going to want to ride by themselves. For certain rides at California Adventure Park, I definitely suggest making the most of this. You can wait in line with your friends and family, you’ll just have to sit next to somebody you don’t know while on the ride. It’s totally worth it if you’re short on time and want to see as much as possible!

Alcohol is available at some areas in California Adventure Park (For 21 and over only)

Generally Carthay Circle and Paradise Pier are your best bet to enjoy some refreshing lunch time or dinner alcoholic beverages. I didn’t actually know alcohol was available until after I arrived home from my last trip to California Adventure Park. So I’m not sure of the prices or availability when it comes to purchasing alcohol.

Head over to Hollywood Land to experience the refurbished Tower of Terror ride 

It’s now Guardians of the Galaxy, and although I haven’t ridden it myself, it looks amazing! The exterior design is awesome, and if it’s anything like the original Tower of Terror, it will be one you cannot miss!

Check out Mickey’s Fun Wheel at Paradise Pier

There are two types of gondolas on the fun wheel: still or swinging. If you’re daring, and aren’t afraid of heights, choose the swinging one. You’ll slide back and forth along the inside of the wheel. Not recommended after eating lunch, though! I’m not too good with heights, but I still found it quite enjoyable! Just quietly, I probably would have preferred the still gondola, but it was still fun!

Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

Mickey’s Fun Wheel at Paradise Pier, California Adventure Park!

Don’t miss the Pixar Play Parade

If for no other reason, than the fact the parade has the catchiest song ever, and you will definitely have it stuck in your head all day long. All of the Disney characters come out for this awesome parade, interacting with guests and children in particular. There are 5 floats in the parade: Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story. I definitely recommend scheduling your day around the parade, it’s worth it!

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Both of Anaheim’s Disney parks are definitely worth a visit. I guarantee you’ll have an amazing experience, and make memories that will last a life time. If possible, spend more than a couple of days in Anaheim. There’s a lot to cover across both Disneyland and California Adventure Park, and you’ll want to soak in every single second!

I hope you found this Disney parks guide helpful! Tell me in the comments below, which is your favourite Disney park? What is your favourite ride? I’d love to know!

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Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park Disney Parks Guide: Anaheim's Disneyland & California Adventure Park

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