Los Angeles, California
In association with: Brand USA
From Jimi Hendrix through to The Killers via The Beach Boys, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the Pacific Coast has given the world some of its most famous musicians. Its iconic cities are filled with live music venues and festivals, and their setting makes for a great driving trail.
Meanwhile, island-hopping around the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico means there’s not just one spot, or even two, but seven…or more. Surrounding them, the experiences of 200 smaller islands and cays could keep you coming back time and time again. These two Brand USA self-drive itineraries will surely hit the right notes.
Pacific Coast Music Trail
In Seattle, the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPop for short, is a must for music fans, who can catch big-name bands at the historic Columbia City Theatre or emerging indie artists at The Showbox.
Heading south to Portland, stop at Olympic National Park, which offers glorious hiking among glaciated peaks and ancient rainforests. Portland’s unique character is evident in its many microbreweries and along the Willamette River waterfront.
The road from Portland winds through Oregon Wine Country en route to the spectacular Pacific Coast, where the local seafood and the beautiful beaches of Coos Bay make a great reason to stop.
Arriving in San Francisco, the 1960s hippie subculture lives on in iconic neighbourhoods like Haight-Ashbury and its City Lights bookshop. Buena Vista Park is a great spot from which to view the area’s colourful Victorian homes. From here, the coastal route south along Highway One is one of the most spectacular drives in the world, dotted with picture-perfect coastal towns like Monterey, San Simeon and Santa Barbara.
Prepare yourself for LA by singing along to The Beach Boys or The Doors as you cruise along 10-lane highways. Iconic venues abound, particularly on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, where the Viper Room and the Roxy are to be found.
Leaving the city behind, the two-hour drive through the Colorado Desert’s Coachella Valley to the desert resort city of Palm Springs is a delight, as is the city itself and great live music can be heard year-round.
Skirting Joshua Tree National Park on the four-hour desertscape drive to Las Vegas is a treat not just for U2 fans, but anyone who loves captivating scenery. Vegas offers a very different kind – its sheer exuberance and glitz are uniquely memorable. With residencies from the likes of Elton John and Cher to The Who and Britney Spears, Vegas has something for everyone, nicely rounding off this most magical of music trails.
Download the full ‘Pacific Coast Music Trail’ itinerary here.
Do you have a client who is interested in making this trip a reality?
Gold Medal offers this itinerary from £2,929 per person based on two adults sharing. The price includes return flights with Delta Airlines from Heathrow, 15 nights’ accommodation and four-door compact car hire for the duration of the tour, picking up in Seattle and dropping off in Las Vegas. This price is valid for departures from June 1-30, 2023.
To book, please call Gold Medal on 0800 014 7777.
Island Discovery Series – US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
Situated on the eponymous main island, Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan is a great place to start this itinerary, exploring the centuries-old El Morro Fort and the narrow streets and historic buildings of colourful Old San Juan.
To the south, Ponce is notable for its architectural mix of art nouveau and neo-classical styles, and the wider island offers natural wonders such as El Yunque National Forest and Rio Camuy Cave Park, a network of 200-plus caverns.
On to Vieques, to Puerto Rico’s east, a night-time kayak tour across the blue-green glowing waters of Bioluminescent Bay is unforgettable. Much of the 135-square-mile island is preserved as a National Wildlife Refuge, as is most of near neighbour Culebra, where snorkelling among some of the healthiest coral reefs in the Caribbean is magical.
East of Culebra, the closest of the US Virgin Islands, St Thomas, is known for its tax-free shopping, but there’s culture too; the 17th-century Blackbeard’s Castle is a National Historic Landmark, while Red Hook is filled with artworks by local artists. Lovely Magens Bay is the place to head for a swim or snorkel, and vertiginous winding roads offer some thrilling driving and stunning views.
Just an eight-minute ferry ride away, the diminutive Water Island has no cars, supermarket or gas station, but plenty of golf carts in which to explore its picture-perfect coves and bays.
To the east, St John’s pristine beaches, Virgin Islands National Park and colourful arts and crafts in Cruz Bay wait to be discovered. An open-air bus plies the spectacular mountain roads to Trunk Bay, where underwater trails reveal corals and tropical fish.
It’s a quick and easy seaplane ride to the largest of the US Virgin Islands, St Croix, whose two main towns, Christiansted and Frederiksted, are filled with shady streets and historic buildings. The pristine Buck Island Reef National Monument, plus rum tours and tastings, are great ways to enjoyably explore the island’s past and present.
Download the full ‘Island Discovery Series – US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico’ itinerary here.
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PICTURES: Brand USA