You’ll be hard-pressed to leave the blessed shores of Cape Town for anywhere else in the world, but take heart that, if you do, Uncle Sam will welcome you with open arms. Great food, great wine, great views, great roads – we have them all in the Cape, and more, but the USA certainly does give us a run for our money, says Theresa Szejwallo, Trafalgar South Africa MD and Cape Town resident.
“The USA seems to have risen on the radar in recent years as South Africans realise that visiting the States is more affordable than they thought. While Disney remains one of the most popular holiday choices for South African families, in particular, the outdoor splendour of the West and glamour of such destinations as New York and Las Vegas are certainly attracting South Africans, who realise that waiting for the rand-dollar exchange rate to improve means they never high-tail it across the pond.”
So, if you love Cape Town, as much as Szejwallo does, here are her top USA picks to embrace your inner Yankee Doodle Dandy in 2018:
That Cape Town’s gripping gourmet scene has yet to grace the hallowed halls of Michelin-star status, is simply criminal. Who could forget the city’s favourite flavours – the freshly baked pasteis de nata at Jason’s on Bree, Masala Dosa in the City Bowl, and vetkoek and inqina with Mama Nomonde at Mzansi’s in Langa.
If you’re a foodie, trade Cape Town for California this winter. This US State comes up trumps (excuse the pun) for epicurean excellence. Trafalgar’s Coastal California trip takes visitors to Paso Robles where they’ll meet Jenny and her mother Karen, who delight in sharing their passion for olive farming.
Visitors will have an opportunity to stroll through the olive groves at The Groves 41 with a glass of local wine and learn about the process of making olive oil. Next up is a visit to Earthbound Organic Farms in Carmel Valley, where guests embark on a tour and tasting to explore the difference between organic and conventional farming before savouring freshly picked salads.
Not to be outdone by the famous road that stretches from ‘(almost) Sea to Shining Sea’ in the US, the Cape’s very own Route 62 has grown in popularity as South Africans discover the likes of Ronnie’s Sex Shop near Barrydale, Crystal Cave in Tulbagh and the wineries in the Breedekloof and Robertson wine valleys.
Who doesn’t love a road-trip? And if you do, hit the Mother Road in 2018, traversing the USA from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66. The Main Street of America is a spectacular backdrop for Trafalgar’s Route 66 Discovery.
Learn how to mix up your own dry rub for a sizzling rib-sticking barbecue dinner in St. Louis, descend into the former hideout of Jesse James in the Meramec Caverns and “Get your Kicks” in Texas, viewing the famed Cadillac Ranch pop art installation, with a little motel and roadside diner fun added to the mix.
The epic views of 12 Apostles, the Cape Winelands and Table Mountain make Cape Town and surrounds one for the record books. There are few things better than taking a leisurely drive along Clarence Drive or up Chapman’s Peak (when it’s open) on the weekend and capturing their beauty on Instagram.
Keep your phone close at hand when you switch the scenic landscapes of the Cape for America’s Wild West. See the golden pink and yellow sunrise over the Grand Canyon, the red and lavender shades of the Painted Desert and Sedona’s red rock cliffs and buttes on Trafalgar’s Trailblazer tour through Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
Embark on an open-air vehicle for a drive across Monument Valley, passing mesas and iconic rock formations that rise up from the red valley floor. See the mesmerising pink, orange and red spires of Bryce Canyon National Park – home to the world’s largest collection of hoodoos and the longest-living trees known to man. Then, admire the canyons, towering cliffs and monoliths, carved out over 200 million years from the orange sandstone in Zion National Park.
If the vintages of Chardonnay, Pinotage and Shiraz run through your veins, you’ll be a frequent visitor to the Cape Winelands – whether you’re a Stellies, Paarl or Franschhoek fan. Spare a thought for your designated driver and swop the vineyard-clad valleys of the Cape for California’s Napa Valley.
Wind your way through the sun-kissed seaside cliffs of Big Sur and board the Napa Valley Wine Train’s lovingly restored Pullman cars on Trafalgar’s Northern California sojourn. Enjoy an on-board gourmet experience, paired with local vintages, and visit some of the wineries that feature along one of the many winery tours on offer. Sorry Franschhoek Wine Tram, we love you, but we have to leave you for a short while.
Both Cape Town and Jamestown on the East Coast of the US were once the gateway to a New World for European settlers. Their heritage remains to this day and can be explored in both centres. Fast-forward a few hundred years and delve into the fight for freedom that both regions endured – from the pivotal battle at Gettysburg to the return of Nelson Mandela from Robben Island.
In Trafalgar’s Historic Highlights, travellers explore a young nation’s triumphs and toils as they gave up their homeland to establish a permanent settlement in a faraway land. Gain insights into the lives of early 17th century colonists and learn about the abolishment of the slave trade during a rousing encounter with storyteller, Sylvia Tabb-Lee, at Carter’s Grove.
Then it’s on to the bloody battlefields of Gettysburg and the history of the American Revolution explored at the Yorktown Victory Center, as well as dinner at the 19th century Dobbins House, which is said to be haunted.
See the City of Brotherly Love and the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Then, explore the UNESCO-listed Independence National Historic Park and see its famous cracked bell whose inscription has inspired so many to “proclaim liberty”.