From exploring art deco Miami and driving a classic car through California to a wine hike in Oregon, Rhiannon Edwards looks at great ways to see the United States.

1. See the tallest peak in the US from the sky

Climb to the top of Mt McKinley without the trek, and see the mountain and Denali National Park from 21,000ft, on a plane tour of the area, running from the edge of the national park six times a day. With every seat on the aircraft a window seat, it's the perfect place for a jealousy-inducing selfie.

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2. Watch wolves in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone

Lamar Valley has been a wolf watching mecca since the pack animals were reintroduced in 1995. Source: Creative Commons video by the US National Park Service.

Wolves were once considered vermin in Yellowstone. Their population fell and they were non-existent up until the mid-1990s, when conservation workers reintroduced them there. Now they are all over the national park, but the Lamar Valley is the best place to observe wolf families — including pups — as they play, rest and hunt their prey. Wildlife Worldwide offers a wolf and wildlife safari.

3. Camp in the Grand Canyon

It is one of the most-visited national parks in the United States, but did you know you can sleep almost anywhere your feet will take you in the Grand Canyon? Seasoned hikers can apply for a back-country permit to hike and pitch away from the standard camping and RV sites. Alternatively, consider group hiking and camping. Arizona Outback Adventures offers a five-day camping and trekking trip around the Grand Canyon.


4. Let the road — and rail — take the strain

Perhaps the best way to see a country of superlatives is with a marathon road trip. Take Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, and see the US roll by and wonder at the crazy outposts you pass.

Or let someone else do the driving by hopping on the Amtrak service from San Francisco to Chicago, getting on and off as you wish.

Ride the Mother Road on an 11-day guided Harley Davidson tour with US Motorcycle Tours.

5. See California in a classic car

Following the coast from the Golden Gate Bridge all the way down to Los Angeles presents an opportunity to see much of what California has to offer.

Drink wine from the Napa Valley vineyards, take an excursion out to sea to watch whales, and tour various superb buildings along the way, including Hearst Castle, the former home of media mogul William Randolph Hearst. Do all this, and more, while hopping in and out of a classic car on a Black Tomato tour.

6. Discover the art deco buildings of Miami Beach

Join the Miami Design Preservation League (the oldest art deco preservation society) and tour the art deco properties of Miami Beach — the first 20th-century neighbourhood to be recognised by the National Register of Historic Places. The hotels on Lower Collins Ave and Ocean Dr, in the city annexe of Miami, were built to bring the area out of the Great Depression and are a treat for fans of the era.

7. Cycle in Aspen and Snowmass

Aspen regularly hosts stages of the US pro cycling challenge, and now is a great time to try out its varied cycle routes. It's not all sport, however. The cycle routes pass Woody Creek Tavern (a former haunt of Hunter S. Thompson), the old Snowmass monastery and the ghost town of Independence, all well worth pedalling uphill for. Aspen Cycling Tours runs cycling trips with guided tours.

8. Try some R&R at Scottsdale

Did you know that the hot stone massage was invented by Arizona's American Indians? Spa lovers looking for the ultimate retreat should head to Scottsdale, a city famed for its spa rituals, often using products created with rare plants from the nearby Sonoran Desert. The proximity to Los Angeles also means the area has long been loved by celebrities ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Beyonce Knowles.

American Airlines and United both fly into Phoenix, Arizona, a 20-minute drive from Scottsdale.

9. Drink and hike in Oregon

Knowledgeable wine drinkers may already be aware that the mix of cool and warm climates in Oregon allows growers there to produce a variety of world-class wines. There are 17 approved wine-growing regions in the state and more than 540 wineries producing 72 varieties of grape.

Given all of this, Oregon's wine trails are the perfect place to try out some new varieties, while taking in the inimitable scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Wine Hopper Tours offers "wiking" (wine and hiking) and "wafting" (wine and rafting) trails of Oregon. They offer daily wine tours, travelling in a private van.

Hiking down North Canyon at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo / Getty Images
Hiking down North Canyon at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo / Getty Images

10. Let's go surfing now

Take a private surf tour on Oahu with local board riders who know where the best waves are to be found. The fantastically named Big Wave Dave Surf Company runs tours for up to 16 people taking in the best of the incredible breaks on Oahu, getting you to the secret spots you wouldn't find on your own without getting into "unwelcome situations".

Getting there: American Airlines flies daily from Auckland to Los Angeles.

Further information: See