19 Aug 2011 - 12 Sep 2011
It was a couple of years ago now that my sister and I went on this tour, but I still have vivid memories. I have absolutely no regrets about choosing this tour, we got to see so many different sides of America!
Already on the first night my sister and I were blown away by the accommodation, it was well above what we expected. In the smaller towns it was less luxurious but still more than adequate.
I would never have thought to visit some of the cities on this tour; there were some very pleasant surprises. For me, the first half of the tour was the most memorable. Boston, Montreal and Chicago were just fantastic. So much great architecture and history. I really think I could live in Boston or Chicago!
The extras, like going to a baseball game in Chicago, were outstanding, and something I never would have done otherwise. We didn't choose to do all of them as it got too expensive, but we chose the ones that appealed to us the most. You really can tailor the whole experience to suit you.
Our tour guide was lovely, and had the great idea of making a 'tour song' - playing the same pop song every few days, so that years down the track we would remember the experience every time we listened to that song.
The main issue we found was that the tour was very long. By the end of it we were exhausted and very ready to say goodbye. I wasn't too into all the national parks, either. Not much of a nature person. But it was a great overview of the US and I think if I were to ever go back (it's a killer flight from Australia!), I would visit a lot of the same places as I did on this tour!
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
05 Aug 2011 - 29 Aug 2011
Overall I am glad I did this tour. However it is a draining experience. The USA is a massive country and you cover a lot of ground in a less than 4 weeks. This means some looooong drive days but it does feel worth it as you see a lot of places with Contiki you would not go if organising it yourself. Yellowstone National Park is an absolute standout as was Quebec City. Chicago was a lowlight, don't go into the Willis Tower unless you want to go through airport style security and be treated like a terrorist and the included meal of Chicago Deep Dish pizza is a guarantee of a rush to the hotel toilet if you make it that far. This is a great trip overall and going out with a bang in Vegas is a great way to end, however the long tour duration mixed with the massive distance covered mean it may not suit everyone.
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
23 May 2014 - 17 Jun 2014
This tour was absolutely incredible, people ask what my favourite part of it was, but it is impossible to narrow down just one part when the entire tour was amazing!!!
Craig our tour manager is a god and if you dont think so well then you're just wrong!!!
Do this trip and be sure to listen to your managers they know what they are talking about especially in regards to optionals :D
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
23 May 2014 - 17 Jun 2014
It is hard to describe how amazing an experience like this is.
I would highly recommend this trip not just for the sights, or the hotels, or the awesome places like Vegas or Niagra Falls. Don't get me wrong, all of this is incredibly awesome. But what makes a trip is the people you meet while enjoying the travelling at the same time.
You are constantly in a social environment whether it be at dinner, room 'gatherings', nightlife, on the bus for half a more of a day or just enjoying the local sights or getting lost going to the wrong restaurant or getting locked into an Ivy league university, you are being social, and even if your tired you don't care.
The sights that we did see and the attractions we joined in on include down town Boston, Harvard University, Old Quebec City, jet boating on the St Lawrence river in Montreal (highly highly times a million recommend), the CN Tower, Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Cleveland, a Chicago baseball game (personally organised by our awesome tour guide as we were lucky to be in Chicago when a game was on) visiting small local country bars in Madison and Sioux Falls, Mt Rushmore, Cody rodeo, Yellowstone National Park, Trail riding on horse and cookout dinner, Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas (crazy crazy!!) with VIP access to each night to the club organised by our insane club promotor) and every tourist attraction you could imagine plus shopping in Vegas before heading to LA plus so so so much more that I struggle to remember as a lot of the days roll into one.
And remember that yes, you will be hungover for some, (ok maybe more than some) of the days, but the great thing is, you can sleep on bus if you need to. Not when there are awesome sights to see along the way however. That and if you have an amazing tour manager like I did, they will keep you highly motivated along the whole way of the trip, even if they are also tired and hungover from taking the group to the best nightlife the night before, they never let it show. Basically your tour manager reminds you that you are on contiki and you can sleep later!!
The day song will also help you stay awake, usually played at very loud volume first thing in the morning!!! And yes, every single day, the same song. Our day song was The Walker by Fits and the Tantrums. It was so appropriate for our group as well. We learned to love on about a week, and it is also a great way to bring back memories after contiki when you randomly hear the day song and you find yourself smiling about what seemed another life time ago when you had the time of your life...
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
05 Oct 2012 - 30 Oct 2012
I would like to start off by saying, that a few of the people on my tour had previously already done the Grand Southern and said that they preferred the Grand Southern over this tour- so if you're trying to choose between the two- hope that helps!
But anyway here is my experience on the Grand Northern..
-NEW YORK - absolutely incredible- read my review on the New York Uncovered which I did as an add on tour before the Grand Northern
-BOSTON - went to a hilarious restaurant called Dicks Last Resort which was extremely crude food wasnt great but drinks were strong and a good night was had by all
- EVERYTHING IN CANADA - candian landscape was beautiful especially in French Canada around Quebec! Fantastic city great places to go out, Niagara Falls was definitely one of the highlights
-CHICAGO! We were very fortunate to get to see the Chicago Bulls NBA game while we were there
- Mt Rushmore
- Snow in Wyoming and Yellowstone
- Grand Canyon- most humbling and beautiful place
- VEGAS! Unlike the Grand Southern this tour has 3 nights in Vegas and every second is a fantastic blur
- Tour gets really quiet between Chicago and Vegas... We stayed in lots of smaller towns and a lot of places were closed for the season as it was the last tour of the season before Winter .. also not many activities or places to go out
- Some of the accommodation was a little dodgy especially Cleveland and Kanab
- Kanab in general is a pretty dodgy little town and the included dinner was awful!
- Budget for tipping! And plenty of spending money (I took around $4000 AUD for the whole tour and that worked out about right! And I did almost all of the optionals)
- Make sure you are 21 before you book! A few underagers on the tour had to miss out on nights out which was a little disappointing for them :(
- Do the FULL tour (some of our group were only doing parts of the tour like North by North East etc.) rather than the full 26 days and they were very disappointed to have to leave us :(
- Go mid season as opposed to end of the season (October) a lot of activities (included and optionals) were unavailable and some days we had to make detours to our destinations because of the snow
-Pack for every season! Some places are incredibly hot and others incredibly cold, so pack a variety of warm and cool clothes because the weather changes in every city
- Talk to everyone on the bus! One of the best things about travel is the people you get to meet along the way.. Don't judge people before you get to know them and put yourself out there to make friends with everyone. You will be suprised at who you're doing Tequila shots with at the bar at the end of the night..
Overall, had an amazing time, made the best new friends I could possibly ask for and currently saving up to do the Grand Southern in 2013!
For anyone who hasn't done Contiki before, the experience is what YOU make of it and it will be different for everyone. Some people on my tour hated it and were very anti-social... needless to say they didn't have much fun. It is really about putting yourself out there, putting in the effort to make new friends, try things you wouldn't normally do and overall get out of your comfort zone!
Review written Dec 2012event 0.3
03 Aug 2012 - 28 Aug 2012
Grand Northern was AMAZING! The hotels we stayed at were good, most of the optionals were great. Our tour mates were killer and I would totally reccomend it! Its a good party / sight seeing ratio.
We have got the best photos and even better memories ;)
Review written Sep 2012event 0.3
17 Jun 2011 - 11 Jul 2011
What an amazing tour! This tour was one of the best ways to see all that northern U.S.A and Canada has to offer. Keep in mind that it is go, go, go like all Contiki tours but one of the best ways to see a lot of the northern part of North America in a short amount of time. When you go to Canada, you HAVE to go on the Jet Boating tour. BEST MONEY SPENT ON TOUR! Not to give too much away but you won't walk away from the experience disappointed. There is a little bit of a lull between Chicago and Salt Lake City, but you will need it to get your energy back for LAS VEGAS!
My top three places (in no particular order);
- Chicago (pizza is awesome and so is the music. An architecturally beautiful city. Definate wow factor)
- Québec City (in fact all of Canada - it's like it stepped out of a postcard. Culture is fantastic and the people are super nice!)
- Las Vegas (need I say more?)
If you are thinking about seeing a lot of the north, then do this tour!
Review written Nov 2011event 0.3
17 Sep 2010 - 11 Oct 2010
This was an AMAZING trip!
Our guide Kris was great fun & organised a lot of extra activities for us to do, like seeing a baseball game in Chicago, and a hockey game in Montreal, going to a jazz club, cocktails at the top of towers, pub crawls, beer pong, karaoke.... he even managed to get the AFL grand final on the big screen for us in the middle of a busy Toronto night club!
Kris knew an awful lot about the history of each town too, so while we were driving around in the bus he'd give a run down of how each town came to life and point out all the great place to eat, drink, take great photos and the sights to see.
Our driver, Jerry, was such a laugh and always making jokes and the people feel at home. A great driver too, so you always felt safe when he was behind the wheel.
I met a lot a great people on the trip and quite a few I still catch up with and keep in contact with...and not only people that were on the bus, but people we met in the towns we visited. Facebook does make this very easy.
If you're thinking about doing this trip I'd highly recommend it! You get a bit of everything. The big cities, the bright lights, the cowboy towns, the national parks, the mountains... It really is a great way to see a LOT of the USA in a short amount of time.
Review written Sep 2011event 0.3
30 May 2008 - 22 Jun 2008
Grand Norther was awsome!! I travelled solo and had a fantastic time!! I made heaps of friends which I still catch up with 3 years on from the tour!! I would highly recommed everyone to do this tour who wants a good taste of what America has to offer!!
Review written May 2011event 0.3