Finally it’s time to make that longed-for trip to the United States a reality. After a 604-day Covid shutdown, flights resumed last week with a synchronised departure from Heathrow by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic jets heading to New York.
So, whether you’ve been waiting for a short break or making plans for a longer trip, here are the best to book now.
A bite of the Big Apple
Visitors admire New York’s dazzling skyline from the One Vanderbilt skyscraper in Midtown
New York’s iconic skyline can be seen from a new vantage point at the One Vanderbilt skyscraper in Midtown, with glass-floor ledges 1,000ft above Madison Avenue and views of both the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.
If you’re an art-lover, visit before January 2 to see the immersive Van Gogh Exhibit at Pier 36.
Whisky aficionados can try six-course whisky and culinary pairing experiences at the Great Jones Distilling Co, Manhattan’s first whisky distillery to open since Prohibition.
Book: Four nights’ room-only at the contemporary Aliz Hotel Times Square with flights included from £579pp (ba.com).
Drift down the Mississippi on a steamboat cruise of the Deep South, including stops at the Civil War site of Vicksburg, and Natchez, famous for its spectacular antebellum (pre-Civil War) houses. A week aboard American Countess, with space for just 166 guests, is bookended with two nights in Memphis, home of Elvis’s Graceland, and two in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
Book: From £3,746pp with flights and full-board on the cruise, room-only in hotels (northamericatravel service.co.uk).
Go glamping in Utah…
Take a tour of Monument Valley in Utah (pictured above) with a Navajo guide
Sleep in a luxury tent amid the cacti and canyons of Utah’s Zion National Park for two nights as part of a week-long family trip starting and ending in Las Vegas. The holiday includes a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, a tour of Monument Valley with a Navajo guide and two nights on Lake Powell.
Book: Seven nights from £2,400pp based on four travelling, full-board in Zion, otherwise B&B, with flights, car rental and select activities included (scottdunn.com).
… or rafting instead
Go white-water rafting as part of a 16-day holiday taking in national parks including Grand Canyon, Grand Teton and Yellowstone
Get off the tourist trail on a family rafting trip through spectacular scenery, including Dinosaur National Monument, as well as tackling rapids named Disaster Falls and Hell’s Half Mile. The three-day Green River adventure, with overnight camp stops, is part of a 16-day holiday taking in national parks including Grand Canyon, Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
Book: From £10,600 for a family of four, with flights and car hire (stubbornmuletravel.com).
The knockout Rockies
Spend two days winding your way through the American Rockies in a glass-domed coach
Famous for its luxury trips in Canada, the glass-domed coaches and viewing platforms that make up the Rocky Mountaineer train now spend two days winding their way through the American Rockies. Then you’ll continue by coach to explore Utah’s national parks – Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion – before flying back from Las Vegas.
Book: Six nights from £2,649pp with flights and some meals included (americansky.co.uk).
Calm way to do Disney
Best of both worlds: Combine a trip to Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort with a stay at a luxury hotel
Visiting Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort is fun… but it can also be frantic.
The solution is to book in to a luxury hotel, such as Four Seasons Resort Orlando, which provides an oasis of calm to return to between park forays. It has water slides and a lazy river as well as an adults-only pool, golf course and spa.
Staff can arrange breakfast with Disney characters, and it has a planning centre to organise your visit and runs complimentary transport to and from the parks. If you go in December, you’ll experience the magical run-up to Christmas – as well as two free nights.
Book: A week’s room-only with flights for a family of four costs from £4,949 (elegantresorts.co.uk).
Old New England
Small in distance but big on variety, New England makes a superb place for a fly-drive, with less emphasis on the drive.
Start with Boston’s revolutionary history and make small hops to Freeport and Bar Harbour where you can take a fishing trip on a lobster boat and go whale-watching. Another highlight is Maine’s Acadia National Park and the trip ends with the sandy shores of Cape Cod.
Book: 14 nights’ room-only from £1,595pp including flights (americaasyoulikeit.com).
Big family road trip
Grab the grandparents for a road trip in Capital Region, with mini-van hire for four adults and two children and an itinerary to please all ages.
Start in Washington DC and explore Maryland and Virginia – you can surf on Virginia Beach and discover Shenandoah National Park, with walks, rides and rafting.
Book: 12 nights in four-star hotels with flights and van hire from £2,195pp (bon-voyage.co.uk).
Going wild in Montana
Try your hand at lassoing on a working cattle ranch in Montana (stock image)
Take the family for a fortnight of fun, half of which is spent on a working cattle ranch in Montana.
Depending on which ranch you pick, there’s riding, fly-fishing, archery and zip-wiring, as well as honing your lassoing and country-dancing skills. There’s also time in the second week to spot bison and bears in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and explore massive Yellowstone, with its phenomenal geysers.
Book: From £4,750pp, full-board at the ranch, otherwise room-only, with flights (originaltravel.co.uk).
The Keys to Miami
Enjoy a classic drive down Florida Keys Overseas Highway (pictured) and soak up some sun on Miami’s best beaches
Follow the Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys before a well-earned beach break in Miami.
This road trip is one of America’s most scenic, with 42 bridges linking islands between Key Largo and Mile 0, the most southerly part of mainland USA.
Book: Eight nights’ B&B with flights and car hire from £1,635pp (abercrombiekent.co.uk).
A hot trip to Alaska
Explore the icy landscape of Prince William Sound and the College Fjord (above) in Alaska
Immerse yourself in the Alaskan landscape by joining other intrepid travellers, or gather 12 friends and family together for a private tour.
Take the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park, travel up the Chulitna River by jet boat to a trapper’s cabin, and explore the icy landscape of Prince William Sound and the College Fjord.
Book: Six-night guided tour from £3,050pp, B&B with some meals and all excursions but flights not included (insightvacations.com).
The art of Sin City
There’s way more than gambling in Las Vegas, starting with its art scene where you can check out everything from the new Omega Mart interactive experience to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.
Add in museums dedicated to the mob and the Nevada State Railroad, plus the chance to shoot an AK-47 at a gun range, and you won’t have time for too much blackjack.
Book: Four nights’ room-only in Luxor Las Vegas with flights from £649pp (virginholidays.co.uk).
California from top to toe
Big attractions: Tick the Golden Gate Bridge off your San Francisco bucket list
Fly in to San Francisco and out of San Diego on this 14-night road trip.
Cruise the scenic coastal road with stays in Carmel, Cambria, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara. At Santa Monica, be sure to bike along the beachfront and venture into the heart of LA before continuing to San Diego.
Book: 14 nights’ room-only from £1,979pp with flights and car hire included (trailfinders.com).
This easy motorhome tour of the North East has campsite fees and several experiences included.
Leave New York behind for the calm of the Adirondacks and fishing, hiking and rafting. Boat hire on Lake George and white-water rafting on the Hudson are included. Then drive through Vermont to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and hike the peaks and back country around Mount Washington with a guide.
Book: 12 nights’ in June, flights not included, from £3,540pp (redsavannah.com).
The desert town of Scottsdale is the perfect playground for outdoors enthusiasts.
In January, temperatures are about 20C, making it an ideal time to hike the iconic Camelback Mountain, kayak down the Lower Salt River or mountain bike across the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Then return for some well-earned pampering at the Scott Resort & Spa.
Book: One week room-only with flights and car hire included from £2,449pp (premierholidays.co.uk).
Get your kicks on Route 66
Route 66, which begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angles, is the ultimate holiday for petrolheads
America’s ‘Mother Road’ turns 95 this year, and you can follow the 2,448-mile Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles enjoying kitsch and nostalgia at every turn.
This is a holiday for petrolheads, driving 120 to 338 miles a day for two weeks, and switching from a normal car in Las Vegas to make the last leg to LA in a convertible. Or you can do it on a Harley-Davidson for the ultimate bike trip. And for 2022, the usual one-way vehicle drop-off fee has been ditched.
You’ll see small-town America at its best, with all your motels and lodges booked along the way.
Book: 15 nights’ room-only with flights and car hire included from £2,595pp (bon-voyage.co.uk).
The sound of Music City
Don’t miss the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to the preservation of American vernacular music
Nashville is to music what Hollywood is to film. Visit the recently opened National Museum of African American Music as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, then head back to the chic and central Holston House hotel for a dip in its rooftop pool.
Book: Four nights with flights included from £698pp (ba.com).
AIRPORT NERVES – BUT IT’S PLANE SAILING
Our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson was among the first to fly the Atlantic after Covid restrictions lifted. Here, he reports on how it went – and what you need if you’re off soon.
We’re at Heathrow check-in and the chat reveals that, like me, everyone is nervous about the new rules, with piles of paperwork and phones at the ready to prove vaccination status and test results. But after a few questions at the desk and a quick look at a couple of screenshots, it is off to security, boarding pass in hand. On board, my flight seems full of 50-plus couples and solo travellers, many of whom are heading west to see grown-up children or new grandchildren.
Things are even easier at US immigration. Covid doesn’t get a mention. A quick ‘What is the purpose of your visit?’, a satisfying stamp in the passport and it is on to baggage reclaim. After a night’s sleep, the stress is forgotten, and trust me: breakfast in America tastes better than ever! As for Covid requirements, all over-18s must be at least double-jabbed, with the second at least 14 days before flying. US immigration accepts the NHS app, website or official certificates as proof.
Under-18s do not need to be vaccinated, but everyone must have a negative result from a test taken within three days of departure. Under-twos are exempt from all rules. Before you return, a Passenger Locator Form for UK Border Agency must be filled in. You also need to book a test to take on or before day two of your return. Details at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.