STATES OF PLAY

Step off the plane, and a feast awaits from West Coast to East and be­yond

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - BEST OF THE UNITED STATES - MA­RINA KAY

Los An­ge­les is the first place most Aus­tralians see in the United States. And the cap­i­tal of en­ter­tain­ment won’t dis­ap­point next year. The 2028 Olympics host city is un­veil­ing new ho­tels in­clud­ing down­town’s 13-storey Proper DTLA (prop­er­ho­tel.com/down­town-la) and No­mad Ho­tel (sydell­group.com/ no­mad/los-an­ge­les), housed in the beau­ti­ful 1923 Gian­nini Build­ing, with din­ing by chef Daniel Humm of NY’s Eleven Madi­son Park (No. 1 on the World’s 50 Best restau­rants).

Man­hat­tan Beach, home to Olympic Gold beach volleyball player Kerri Lee Walsh Jen­nings and ten­nis pro Maria Shara­pova, de­buts west­drift (west­drift.com), a 10.5ha bou­tique ho­tel with a nine-hole golf course.

Tee reser­va­tions in ad­vance for win­ter dine L.A. (dineLA.com), from Jan­uary 12-26, to score spe­cially priced lunch and din­ner menus at more than 300 restau­rants. Our picks: Café Grat­i­tude for ve­gan with a side of celeb/peo­ple watch­ing; and E.P. & L.P., whose Asia- and Fiji-in­spired menu with a view of Hol­ly­wood Hills makes for a pho­to­genic com­bi­na­tion.

In New York, NYC Restau­rant Week re­turns from Jan­uary 22 to Fe­bru­ary 9 (ny­cgo.com/restau­rant-week) and NYC Broad­way Week, from Jan­uary 16 to Fe­bru­ary 4 (tick­ets on sale Jan­uary 5; ny­cgo.com/broad­way­week). New to Broad­way: SpongeBob Square Pants (De­cem­ber), Frozen (March), Mean Girls (April) and Harry Pot­ter and the Cursed Child (April) – an award-win­ning show per­form­ing to sold-out crowds in the UK since 2016, says Trav­el­man­agers’ Elle Bradley (trav­el­man­agers.com.au).

In Las Ve­gas, Park MGM, the re­branded Monte Carlo Re­sort and Casino, a 2700-room lux­ury re­sort con­nected to The Park din­ing and en­ter­tain­ment district, ar­rives in the US spring (park­mgm.com).

San Fran­cisco is host­ing the Rugby World Cup Sev­ens at AT & T Park on July 20-22. Book tick­ets and travel pack­ages via rwc­sev­ens.com. Ho­tel up­date: The Pre­sidio Trust opens its sec­ond prop­erty, Lodge At The Pre­sidio, in Pre­sidio na­tional park over­look­ing the Golden Gate Bridge and San Fran­cisco Bay (lodgeatthep­re­sidio.com).

Vir­gin Ho­tels, the life­style brand by Vir­gin Group founder Sir Richard Bran­son, un­veils a new ho­tel in Fe­bru­ary. Ho­tels, winer­ies, tast­ing rooms, restau­rants and at­trac­tions in Napa, Sonoma, Men­do­cino and other North­ern Cal­i­for­nia coun­ties are open for busi­ness fol­low­ing the Oc­to­ber wild­fires. Trafal­gar’s new 10day Coastal Cal­i­for­nia tour trav­els from Hol­ly­wood to San Fran­cisco, me­an­der­ing through Mal­ibu and Mon­terey, be­fore wind­ing down in Napa and Sonoma (trafal­gar.com).

Air­line up­date: This year, Fiji Air­ways added year-round San Fran­cisco ser­vice and flights be­tween Amer­ica and Ade­laide.

STATES 49 AND 50

Travel-Man­agers’ Dar­ren Chris­tensen rates Hawaii as a top des­ti­na­tion for 2018. While Waikiki is an all-time favourite, just a scenic 24km drive away is Kailua – “for­mer pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s favourite spot with one of the most beau­ti­ful beaches in the world.” Also, the North Shore’s surfer town Haleiwa is a must-see, he says, adding that “fa­mous surf beaches of Waimea Bay, Pipe­line, and Sun­set Beach are at their big­gest around Novem­ber to Fe­bru­ary.”

It’s a short flight from Honolulu to the Big Is­land (Kailua-Kona), loved not only for its nat­u­ral beauty, an ac­tive vol­cano and black-sand beaches, but aloha hos­pi­tal­ity.

Hawai­ian Airlines has added three new non-stop daily routes from West Coast US: Port­land-Maui; Oak­land-Kauai; and Los An­ge­les-Kona (hawai­ianair­lines.com).

Alaska’s great out­door spirit and wildlife lures na­ture lovers, ad­ven­tur­ers and pho­tog­ra­phers – even see­ing bearded seals and po­lar bears on air­port run­ways is not un­com­mon! Note: Fly­ing into Alaska has never been eas­ier thanks to more do­mes­tic flight links. The best way to see vis­tas up close though is via Alaskan Rail­road whose GoldS­tar Dome ser­vice fea­tures an out­door view­ing plat­form. Chris­tensen sug­gests tak­ing the Coastal Clas­sic train from Se­ward to Fair­banks with an overnight stop at An­chor­age.

New in coach tours: Topdeck’s Alaskan Ad­ven­ture for 18-39s, a nine­day off-the-beaten-track ad­ven­ture that starts/ends in An­chor­age and winds through De­nali Na­tional Park and gla­cial Prince Wil­liam Sound. There are two de­par­tures only: July 7 and Au­gust 25, 2018. TRAV­EL­MAN­AGERS.COM.AU

BIG EASY’S BIG YEAR

No shy vi­o­let on the party front, New Or­leans is re­build­ing its river­front and plan­ning a rol­lick­ing big pro­gram of events to cel­e­brate the 300th an­niver­sary of its found­ing. Along with NYC and Wash­ing­ton DC, New Or­leans fea­tures in tour op­er­a­tor Col­lette’s im­mer­sive Spot­light pro­gram next year (go­col­lette.com).

Brand new from Trek-Amer­ica (trekamer­ica.com) is The Big Easy Mu­sic Fes­ti­val tour, which de­parts on May 3 for the New Or­leans Jazz & Her­itage Fes­ti­val. And Trafal­gar (trafal­gar.com) has From the Windy City to the Big Easy: A new Cost­saver trip for 11 days jiv­ing to coun­try mu­sic, jazz, blues, and rock ’n’ roll.

THEME PARKS UP­DATE DIS­NEY PARKS

Dis­ney­land Re­sort in Cal­i­for­nia launches the new lim­ited-time Pixar Fest, bring­ing Pixar sto­ries to life.

In the US sum­mer, Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios at Florida’s Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort in­tro­duces Toy Story Land, set in Andy’s back yard. Sur­rounded by over­sized toys, guests feel as if they’ve shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz (dis­ney­world.dis­ney.go.com).

UNI­VER­SAL STU­DIOS HOL­LY­WOOD

The Will & Grace re­vival means Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Hol­ly­wood’s VIP Ex­pe­ri­ence guests can now step on to the sit­com’s Sound­stage 22. FYI: The VIP Ex­pe­ri­ence fea­tures un­lim­ited front-of-line priv­i­leges and re­served seat­ing at Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios rides and at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing Harry Pot­ter and the For­bid­den Jour­ney at The Wiz­ard­ing World of Harry Pot­ter (uni­ver­sal­stu­dioshol­ly­wood.com).

TREKKING NA­TIONAL PARKS

On the hori­zon for In­sight Vacations are its great Amer­i­can out­doors itin­er­ar­ies. En­chant­ing Cany­on­lands ex­plores the grandeur of Zion Na­tional Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Mon­u­ment Val­ley and Se­dona from a pri­vate coach (tours in­clude great ac­com­mo­da­tions too). Amer­i­can Parks Trail stops at Jack­son Lake Lodge, in Grand Te­ton Na­tional Park, with a panoramic view of pris­tine Jack­son Lake and ma­jes­tic Te­ton Range. And ac­com­pa­nied by a ge­ol­ogy lec­turer, guests learn about the Grand Canyon on the 22-day Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful (in­sight­va­ca­tions.com) tour that sweeps from Los An­ge­les to New York. It’s a grand ges­ture to the all-Amer­i­can pil­grim­age: a great cross­coun­try road trip.

PIC­TURES: SUP­PLIED, ISTOCK

E.P.& L.P Sam­ple some of LA’s best restau­rants at Win­ter dineL. A, in­clud­ing E.P.& L.P’s Asia- and Fiji-in­spired menu with Hol­ly­wood Hills views; Alaska’s out­door spirit and wildlife lures na­ture lovers (be­low right); and Kailua in Hawaii is renowned for beau­ti­ful beaches.

KAILUA

DE­NALI NA­TIONAL PARK

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