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With border restrictions relaxing all over the world, 2022 is looking to be the year of travel. Stop dreaming and start planning with these ten bucket list adventures – from exploring Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to driving across volcanic Japan.
Drive across volcanic Japan
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic island of Kyushu is Japan’s third-largest island, located southwest of Honshu. Closer to Korea than Tokyo, but easily reached from every major Japanese city, Kyushu was an early centre of Japanese civilization and offers historic treasures, modern cities and natural beauty.
Explore the beautiful volcanic mountains and dramatic Mount Aso caldera at Aso-Kuju National Park, take a boat ride down the Takachiho Gorge amidst waterfalls and unwind in the hot springs of Kurokawa. Audley offers a Best of Kyushu self-drive tour for 18 days from £7,330 per person.
Explore mountains and healing spas in Greater Palm Springs
Take in this desert oasis during a Southern California tour and experience its renowned spas, mountains and natural beauty. Arrive in Greater Palm Springs mid-way through the Trailfinders Leisurely Southern California tour, and go straight into the wilderness to experience a once-in-a-lifetime dining adventure under the starry night sky atop Mount San Jacinto. Over the next few days, enjoy the heart of Palm Springs with its trendy galleries, boutique stores and luxury spas before visiting the diverse landscape of Joshua Tree National Park and its unique wildlife. Trailfinders Leisurely Southern California 12-day tour: £1,398 per person based on two adults sharing a room.
Head to the breathtaking Colorado Rockies
Home to towering peaks, glistening lakes, welcoming mountain towns and a wealth of wildlife, Colorado is a must-visit for outdoor lovers and thrillseekers alike. Discover Colorado’s magnificent landscape with Audley Travel’s Colorado Rockies Explored tour. Itinerary highlights include a visit to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, learning about Colorado’s gold rush era in Breckenridge, whitewater rafting in Aspen, and wildlife watching in Rocky Mountain National Park. Audley offers a Colorado Rockies Explored self-drive tour for 15 days from £3,445 per person.
Tackle Route 66 and celebrate in West Hollywood
The road that drastically reduced the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles can be experienced first-hand with this self-drive tour. Take the historic route over 15 nights with Premier Holidays visiting world-famous West Hollywood along the way. The city hosts a number of bucket-list activities ready and waiting to be ticked off.
Whilst in town visitors can explore the Sunset Strip and its famed shops as well as discover the city’s renowned music scene. Those with a passion for film can now brush up on their film knowledge at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures before heading to any one of the city’s incredible rooftop bars. Premier Holidays Historic Route 66 Self-Drive Tour: £2,275 per person.
Conquer the epic Highway 1 in California
California is renowned for epic road trips, and Highway 1 from San Francisco to Fort Bragg is one of the best routes for travellers to explore the Golden State. Covering 175 miles, the drive begins with the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and Marin County, where travellers will encounter the coastal hills and redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument, followed by the dramatic sea cliffs and remote beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore. From there, they can drive through the rolling vineyards of Napa Valley and Sonoma County’s wine country. Then, explore the seemingly untouched beauty of the North Coast, from the craggy coastline at Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands and through the rugged terrain at Mendocino Headlands State Park, to the quaint, Victorian-style town of Mendocino.
Next, travellers can head north on Highway 1 to Fort Bragg and explore MacKerricher State Park to see seals, migrating whales (from November to April) and Glass Beach. The American Road Trip Company offers a ‘Classic Highway 1’ package for £1599 per person.
Cycle from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
A world-class path for all kinds of adventure-seekers, The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) encourages every type of outdoor recreation from cycling, running and hiking. The 150-mile route begins in Pittsburgh and winds through valleys, snakes around mountains and plays witness to some of the most beautiful scenery in North America.
The GAP Trail connects to the C&O Canal Towpath that links Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. Pittsburgh is the perfect spot for launching or concluding a journey along the GAP, with opportunities to explore the city’s Downtown and South Side. Travellers can indulge in culture at the Andy Warhol Museum or experience the city’s ever-growing craft scene. Since 3 June, UK travellers can now reach Pittsburgh direct from London Heathrow with British Airways from £505 return.
Indulge in true luxury in California wine country
If you want to experience the best of California’s wine country, led by the state’s coolest winemakers, then a visit to San Luis Obispo County, aka SLO CAL, should be on your bucket list. Your stay should start at the 29,000 sq ft residence of JUSTIN Winery founder Justin Baldwin. SLO CAL’s most expensive nightly property (£10,424 a night) sits on a hilltop with four bedrooms, magnificent rare art, a private chef-in-residence, housekeeper, and private concierge to attend to your every need. The only way to travel in style is to fly to your favourite winery.
Paso Air Tours, by Sinton Helicopters, will take you on a custom flight as you vineyard hop between three of 20 approved wineries to land at. Add on a decadent picnic lunch, and your afternoon journey could reach upwards of $4,170. For dinner, make sure you get a reservation at the 12-seat restaurant Six Test Kitchen, located in Paso Robles at hip neighbourhood Tin City. You’ll enjoy an eight-course tasting menu that evolves seasonally for $129 per person, or you can push it to 12-courses with the Grand Tasting Menu for $154 per person.
Ski with Olympians in California
At 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain boasts the highest summit of any California resort, making for deeper, better snow, and beautiful vistas over California’s High Sierras. With 3,500 skiable acres, an average of 400 inches of snowfall, 300 days of sunshine per year, and a season that typically stretches from November to June, a trip to Mammoth Lakes should be on every skier’s bucket list. You might even bump into an Olympian, as it’s the home of the US ski team.
The Unbound Terrain Park, a favourite of pros like Shaun White and Chloe Kim, has three halfpipes, 100+ jibs and up to 50 jumps spread across seven unique parks. Those looking for a more serene experience should try cross-country skiing with majestic views of ice-covered lakes and snow-clad peaks of Mammoth Lakes and the Inyo National Forest. Return flights from London to LAX with BA and seven-day car hire with Avis from £1519 based on two people travelling in December.
Escape on your own private island in The Islands of Tahiti
Nukutepipi is considered one of the most beautiful private islands in the world. An idyllic and unspoiled paradise 6,000 km from the closest continent, the island is owned by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté who welcomes guests to make “Nuku” their exclusive escape from reality.
Available only for exclusive rental, the resort features 16 beachfront bungalows and villas offering elegant accommodation with high-tech amenities and expensive artworks. Guests can kitesurf, canoe, stand-up paddleboard, sail, go deep-sea fishing and whale-watching, stargaze at the island’s observatory and visit the lush spa. Price for renting the island is £815,000 per week per group allowing for up to 52 guests at a time.
Hug a Giant Sequoia in Yosemite Mariposa County
Located in the southern portion of Yosemite, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite and home to over 500 mature giant sequoias. Among the most popular specimens in the grove is the Fallen Monarch which was made famous for an 1899 photograph of the US Cavalry officers on their horses up on top. Another must-visit tree is the Bachelor and Three Graces, a cluster of Giant Sequoias which can be visited via the Lower Loop hiking trail.
The trail starts at the Fallen Monarch continuing on through the Redwoods and eventually coming to the Bachelor and the Three Graces. The most famous tree in the grove is the Grizzly Giant, one of the largest trees in the Mariposa Grove and, at an estimated age of 2,700 years, is one of the oldest living sequoias. Prices from £252.50 per person for one day tours with Viator inc. Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point and Giant Sequoias.
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