West Coast Adventure Trip Overview
North America is truly one of the most beautiful continents in the world, and you will discover why on this action-packed 33-day adventure as we journey this summer from Canada though the west coast of the USA on our epic teen tour!
Our goal will be to experience each destination beyond the traditional sightseeing and hiking, so we will be including plenty of fun adventure activities to help you get the most out of each destination! Explore alpine lakes in Canada, Discover some of the United State’s most iconic cities, visit several national parks, and finish your trip at the most spectacular destination of them all: the Grand Canyon.
This month-long adventure will take you from Calgary to California with no shortage of stops along the way. Marvel at pristine Alpine Lakes in Banff National Park and ride horses through the Canadian countryside!
In Seattle, dive into the coffee culture at the first Starbucks at Pike Place Market, visit the Troll Under the Bridge in Fremont, and learn about the unique Scandinavia and Japanese influence on the city. Head south to Portland, one of America’s quirkiest cities on your way to Crater Lake National Park! If Crater Lake doesn’t take your breath away, then Lake Tahoe certainly will!
Next up in San Francisco, take the ferry to Alcatraz and see what it was like to be an island prisoner! Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on your way to marvel at giant trees in Muir Woods.
We’ll make our way to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and finally to the home of America’s iconic canyons: Arizona! From the mighty Grand Canyon we’ll travel to Page, Arizona to see the hidden natural gems of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend! Swim in bright blue Lake Powell and finish your Southwest adventure with a day trip through stunning Sedona.
On this journey through some of the most unique destinations in North America, we will go kayaking, ziplining, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, and much more. So, what are you waiting for? From starry skies to famous skylines, this west coast adventure has it all!
During this program, you will…
- Explore the majestic Crater Lake
- Kayak and enjoy a sunset cruise around Lake Tahoe
- Stand at the top of the famous Seattle Space Needle
- Bike San Francisco’s iconic streets
- Spend the afternoon on Lake Tahoe, trying our hand at sports fishing*
- Stand under the great redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument
- Watch sunset from Griffith Observatory and see LA light up
- Live out your childhood dream of visiting Disneyland*
- Hang ten on a surfboard, kayak secret caves and look for sea lions in La Jolla
- Take in the wonder of the mighty Grand Canyon
*This is an optional excursion
This program is the combination of our three popular but shorter Canada Adventure, USA: Pacific Northwest Explorer, and USA: Cali & the Grand Canyon programs. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, join us on our 44-day USA & Canada North American Expedition program.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN CALGARY (YYC)
Land in Calgary, Alberta, home of the 1988 Winter Olympics! We’ll stay downtown and walk to a delicious dinner before having our first meeting in Prince’s Island Park next to the Bow River.
DAYS 2-4: BANFF
Home to two of Canada’s most popular National Parks, Alberta is the perfect place to kick off your Canadian adventure! Leave the bustling city of Calgary behind to spend the first full day in the charming town of Banff. Located within the boundaries of the National Park, this small township is surrounded by natural beauty. The peaks of the Canadian Rockies frame the scene from all directions and wildlife such as moose can sometimes be seen walking down Main Street! Deep inside the park you’ll find the famous teal waters of Lake Louise and the quaint Lake Agnes Tea house just a short hike up the hillside. At Moraine Lake, hike or choose to canoe around the lake in the incredible Valley of the Ten Peaks. As you head north out of Banff towards Jasper, you’ll ride along the magnificent Icefields Parkway, rated as one of the best drives in the world! Make a pitstop at the bluest lake in the Rockies, Peyto Lake, before arriving at Athabasca Glacier for an afternoon glacier walk.
DAYS 5-6: GOLDEN
From Jasper we’ll head into British Columbia to the adventure haven of Golden. The Kicking Horse River runs through town, making it the perfect place to stay for the ultimate whitewater rafting experience! Even without the rapids, the river itself is a spectacle worth seeing. Bright blue water rushes through sturdy green forests where bear and deer can be spotted on the shores! If by now you haven’t satisfied your desire to see wildlife, we’ll head to a wolf conservation center to learn about these majestic animals and see them in their natural environment.
DAYS 7-9: ASHCROFT
As we make our way across the province of British Columbia, there’s no better place to stop than at our handpicked horse ranch in Ashcroft. Break up the drive by spending two nights at this at this traditional Canadian ranch. Ride one of 100 horses on the property, enjoy amazing views, and savor delicious home cooked meals.
New to riding or an experienced equestrian? All levels are welcome! If horses aren’t your thing, enjoy the heated pool, game room, or hiking trails around the undeniably beautiful property.
DAYS 9-10: WHISTLER
Upon arriving in Whistler you’ll dive right into the action. Take the gondola up the mountain to access some of the best downhill mountain biking trails in North America. You’ll get small group lessons from a trained professional catered to enhance pre-existing skills or start from scratch for beginners! Safety is a top priority and plenty of fun will be had on the back country trails. Biking is not mandatory and those who choose not to bike will have other hiking options instead.
While in Whistler we will also hike to Alexander Falls, zipline from peak to peak and even get the chance to ride a gondola from peak to peak on Blackcomb Glacier!
DAY 11: VANCOUVER
Then we’re off to Vancouver, a city nestled between the mountains and the sea, and our final Canadian city to explore! We’ll check out Granville Market, shop on Robson Street, and enjoy the summer afternoon while biking in Stanley Park.
DAYS 12-13: SEATTLE
We’ll continue our journey in the beautiful Emerald City. Seattle is a place full of character and endless entertainment for all ages. Ride the elevator to the top of the Seattle Space Needle and look for Mt. Rainier in the distance! Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in Pike Place Market, visit the quirky Fremont Troll and add your piece of gum to the infamous Gum Wall.
DAYS 14-15: PORTLAND > MT. HOOD NATIONAL PARK
Then our adventure will head south to the hip city of Portland, Oregon! We’ll take the coastal route to Cannon Beach to see the iconic beach where the Goonies was filmed. Admire the unique rock formations that dot the shore and take in the stunning beaches of the Pacific Coast.
Then it’s time to “Keep Portland Weird,” where quirky PNW culture is thriving in this West Coast city. Famous for having over 500 food carts celebrating a wide variety of cuisine, we’ll grab lunch from and then hit the town to discover all the fun, interesting things Portland has to offer!
In addition to enjoying Portland’s amazing cuisine we will experience all of the incredible outdoor activities on offer. Hike the Columbia River Gorge and try to photograph all of Multnomah Falls in one shot. Gaze at the reflection of Mt. Hood in Trillium Lake.
DAY 16: BEND > CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Bend will be our jump-off point for Crater Lake National Park. Hike to stunning waterfalls hidden in lush forest, including an epic basalt column waterfall, before reaching the ultimate view: Crater Lake. You’ve never seen a lake quite like this! The result of a volcanic eruption almost 8,000 years ago, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the most pristine lakes in the world. As you gaze from the rim down at its splendor, you can imagine the 1,949 feet (594 meters) of crystal clear water that fills the caldera.
DAYS 17-18: LAKE TAHOE
The next state on this action-packed adventure is sure to not disappoint. Your first view of Lake Tahoe will leave you speechless. The massive pool of bright blue water beneath the peaks of the Sierras is unlike anything in the world. Kayak, hike to Eagle Falls, and take a sunset dinner cruise around this magnificent landscape. We’ll even ride the Heavenly Gondola to get a bird’s eye view of the lake in all its splendor. By the time we leave Tahoe you will have experienced all of the action this area has to offer!
DAYS 19-22: SAN FRANCISCO
Leaving the adventure haven of Lake Tahoe behind is hard, but not when you’re headed for the greatest city in Northern California! Cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco and get ready to live it up like a local. Bike or walk through the famous neighborhoods and stop at sights like the Painted Ladies and Lombard Street. Go out for dinner in Chinatown and indulge in a chocolate sundae from Ghirardelli Square for dessert. Take the ferry to Alcatraz and imagine what it was like to be a prisoner on this island less than 60 years ago! Before leaving California, hike through the iconic mighty redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument.
DAYS 23-25: LOS ANGELES
Tackle the second-largest city in the US without feeling overwhelmed! Wander through “Tinseltown” to spot your favorite celebrity along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, window shop in Beverly Hills at Rodeo Drive and check out the Chinese Theatre. Spot the Hollywood sign on your way up to the Griffith Observatory where you’ll watch the city light up as the sun sets. Explore vibrant Venice Beach and shop in the famous Abbot Kinney neighborhood. Play on the Santa Monica Pier, or relax on the beach. You will even have the chance to go on an optional day trip to one of America’s favorite theme parks: Disneyland!
DAYS 26-28: SAN DIEGO
Our adventure continues in sunny San Diego. We’ll get a taste of the laidback Southern California lifestyle as we explore the neighborhoods and coastline that make this city so well known! Wander through Balboa Park and visit the world famous San Diego Zoo. Kayak through secret caves and watch the lazy seals in La Jolla. Take a surf lesson and learn to catch a wave in the Pacific. Absorb the history of the gaslamp neighborhood and enjoy colorful sunsets every night in the beautiful San Diego weather with your new friends.
DAY 29: LAS VEGAS
On our way to Arizona we’ll stop in the vibrant city of Las Vegas to stroll the Strip and check out some of the well known sites, including the dancing fountains at the Bellagio and the High Roller ferris wheel. We’ll hang by the hotel pool and catch a dinner show at one of Vegas’s top Casinos before heading to our next destination.
DAYS 30-32: ARIZONA CANYONS
You can’t visit Arizona without visiting the Grand Canyon National Park but we’ll take it one step further and visit some of the best-hidden gems of the Southwest. Discover one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon, and see for yourself what makes it one of the most incredible sights in the entire country! Page is home to both Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. If you love traveling to natural wonders off the beaten path, this stop is sure to satisfy your spirit. A short walk takes you to the overlook of Horseshoe Bend where the Colorado River wraps around the canyon below in a literal horseshoe shape! Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon secretly tucked below the ground. You’ll wander through the canyon, gazing up at the bright orange walls that make you feel like you’re on another planet. If you’re feeling up for a swim, stop by the beautiful Lone Rock Beach on the shores of Lake Powell. On our last day, we’ll stop in Sedona to see one of Arizona’s most beautiful areas.
DAY 33: DEPART FROM PHOENIX (PHX)
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017
"My first TFT trip was incredible. I got to see the various types of beauty found along the pacific west cost from national parks to vibrant cities. Not only were the destinations wonderful but so were the TFT staff. They were immensely caring and fun people to be around. Some of my fondest favorite memories came from those friendships. One of my favorite aspects of this trip was that we were taught to be travelers, not tourists. Where we are encouraged to seek and explore all corners of the earth. I loved my TFT trip and I hope to never stop traveling."
"Many thanks for navigating the kids through this special adventure! Amanda and I spoke before she left about how a trip like this would be life-changing and that she'd return viewing the world a little differently. Amanda speaks very highly of both of you and had an amazing time! Thank you for making this trip a beautiful experience for the kids."
"Thank you again for a fabulously descriptive update - what an experience this had been! And the pictures have been amazing. It’s been such a treat for us to be able to follow along with you all on your adventures. This truly was a trip of a lifetime! Muchas gracias!!!!"
Who can go on this program? What kind of teen typically goes on this program?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 11th and approximately 14 to 17 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners. All accommodations on this trip have been selected to ensure quality while still maintaining character of the places we are visiting. All hotels or dorms are guaranteed to be clean, safe, and equipped with 24 hour security.
In Calgary, we’ll stay at a downtown location convenient to restaurants and the park. In Banff, we’ll stay close to downtown in a quaint lodge. In Golden, a unique hotel in historic downtown will be our home for two nights. Our accommodation in Ashcroft is the most unique of all. We’ll spend two nights in on a family owned ranch in the middle of British Columbia. In Whistler, we’ll stay at a beautiful resort right off the mountain.
In Seattle and Portland, we’ll stay in hotels in proximity to downtown in order to fully take advantage of the food and entertainment around. In Bend, we’ll opt for a unique lodging experiencing to feel closer to the outdoors. In Tahoe, we’ll stay in South Lake Tahoe in a boutique hotel designed to feel like you’re camping indoors in bunk style dorms. In San Francisco, quality is priority in this older city.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most about this program?
Students love that they are able to explore so many national parks and beautiful destinations! On this trip you’ll hit several stunning national parks and iconic cities without feeling rushed! Mixed into the itinerary is a different activity for every place that will provide both new and enriching experiences for all types of interests.
What is unique about this program?
While visiting the natural wonders of Western Canada and the United States, you’ll also have the opportunity to see some unique and hip cities along the way. Rather than purely sticking to tourist attractions, we’ll pepper in activities and meals to provide an authentic travel experience.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, program related activities, program related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
Of course, you’ll try poutine, the famous fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds Canada is known for! As we move towards the coast, salmon and other seafood specialties will be offered in abundance!
Seattle is famous for its seafood but plenty of options will be offered for those who aren’t a fan. Pike’s Place Market is a perfect spot to have lunch and for coffee lovers, there’s no better city for a cup of joe! Portland is known for its many food carts (over 500!) and the famous Voodoo Doughnuts, both of which we’ll indulge in. We’ll have seafood and food influenced by the neighboring continent of Asia while in California. In the Southwest, try the best Mexican food you’ve ever had!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this program?
US citizens need a passport to visit Canada.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.