School trips to the West Coast USA

West Coast cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas offer eye-opening cultural learning experiences and a give students a chance to witness the impact of rapid urban development firsthand. It’s also an amazing opportunity for any class to unravel the innate differences between American states.

For keen geographers and geologists, the USA’s West Coast offers spectacular diversity in both natural environments and human settlements. This makes it a highly valuable learning opportunity for school groups, particularly those studying KS3, GCSE and A-level.

The region varies from the Rocky Mountains and other mountainous terrain in the northern states, to sprawling canyons, panoramic deserts and pacific landscape further south. There’s also a number of captivating national parks – Yosemite and Yellowstone, in particular.

If you’re looking for more information or free advice on planning your perfect school trip to the West Coast of USA, get in touch with one of our expert travel advisors today. We have extensive experience in this area and are more than happy to talk through your options.

Browse our curriculum-linked school trips to the West Coast USA

Geography, Geology & Environmental Science

Geography, Geology & Environmental Science

A geography school trip to West Coast USA offers unparalleled opportunities for pupils of all ages, with many geography and geology visits directly relating to KS3, GCSE and A-level study. Rich in biodiversity, the spectacular waterfalls and giant sequoias of Yosemite contrast dramatically with the harsh, arid environment of Death Valley.

Learn more about our geography trips to the West Coast here.

Cultural & Enrichment

Cultural & Enrichment

Don’t hesitate to visit America’s West Coast. With its areas of great natural beauty coupled with some of the world’s most awe-inspiring cities, you’ll be far from disappointed. Film studios strip back the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to give a true impression of what really goes on behind-the-scenes.

Learn more about our cultural trips to the West Coast USA here.


West Coast USA highlights - our groups love...

San Francisco tour

San Francisco Tour
The city lies on the world-renowned San Andreas Fault, and is well documented for its approaches to hazard management. Admire the amazing view of the city from Twin peaks, opt for a San Francisco Bay cruise under Golden Gate Bridge, visit Alcatraz, or head down to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. We highly recommend a visit to the new California Academy of Sciences for all groups. The Academy recently opened a new 400,000 square foot facility which houses an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum, and a four-storey rainforest all under one roof.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Students can experience first-hand Death Valley’s harsh, arid environment, dramatic scenery and landscapes. Your group will cross over the 5,000ft Towne Pass before taking a closer look at the desert. One of the hottest places on earth, this region is contrasted by the dramatic backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

This vast chasm is arguably one of the most spectacular geographical sites in the world. Opt to take one of several set walks to explore this awe-inspiring canyon. A once in a lifetime opportunity!

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

This glitzy city, built in the middle of the desert, is a testimony to man’s ability to overcome the challenge of the physical environment. Its main street and focal point is the Strip, just over 4 miles long. This boulevard is home to themed hotels with elaborate displays such as fountains synchronized to music as well as replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, the Venetian Grand Canal, and the Eiffel Tower.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

A wilderness park renowned for the mountain and valley scenery, waterfalls, grand meadows and forests containing the groves of giant sequoias. (May to October only due to seasonal weather)

Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf

Pier 39 & Fishermans Wharf

Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf is a shopping centre and popular tourist attraction built on a pier in San Francisco. At Pier 39 there are shops, restaurants, a video arcade, street performers, an interpretive centre for the marine mammal centre, the aquarium of the bay, virtual 3D rides and views of California sea lions hauled out on docks on Pier 39’s marina. 

Hoover Dam Tours

Hoover Dam Tours

For groups staying for two nights in Vegas, a visit to the famous Hoover Dam is a must. You can take a 30 minute tour of the Hoover Dam power plant and take a look around the visitors centre. Alternatively, opt for the hour long guided tour, which includes the 30 minute option plus a tour of the passageways of the dam itself.

West Coast USA School trip experts

Hundreds of groups travel with NST to the West Coast USA every year, and members of our team regularly visit the USA to really get to know the ins-and-outs of the area, from logistics and visits to our range of student-friendly accommodation.
  
Your dedicated Tour Co-ordinator will use their knowledge of the West Coast to create an itinerary that’s tailor-made, perfectly timed and meets your exact school travel needs.

They’ll be able to share their first-hand experience, suggest options you might not have considered and give you insight into the feedback other teachers have given us too.

When you arrive in the West Coast our representatives will meet you at the airport and accompany you to your accommodation, they'll also be on-hand for any questions you might have whilst you're on your trip.

Planning your first school trip?

If you're planning your first school trip, our essential guide will take you through each step of the process...

  • Choosing your destination
  • Gaining approval from your Local Authority and/or your Head
  • Promoting your tour in school
  • Confirming your booking
  • Tailor-make your tour
  • Completing your risk assessments (including a sample risk assessment)
  • Quick reference timeline
  • Pre-tour checklist

Additional support, resources & information

Tour planning service

Tour planning service

With NST, you’ll get your own dedicated, knowledgeable Tour Co-ordinator who’ll work with you from start to finish. You’ll benefit from their unrivalled destination knowledge, and their experience gained from working with many other groups too. They’ll tailor-make your itinerary from scratch and take care of everything for you:

  • Pulling together an itinerary that runs smoothly
  • Planning the right balance of visits every day with realistic timings
  • Pre-arranging and pre-booking your visits, entrance tickets, passes and meals

You’ll receive your final itinerary a full 4-weeks before you travel too.

Free school trip promotion pack

Free school trip promotion pack

We’ll support you and provide everything you need to advertise your school trip around school and to parents. Our free school trip promotion pack consists of:

  • Parents’ letter & permission slip template for you to complete A3 posters to promote your trip around school
  • PowerPoint presentation templates which you can tailor to your own needs
  • Parents’ leaflets covering how NST manage safety, financial protection and details of our travel insurance
  • Online parents’ video which showcases the benefits of taking a school trip

For selected destinations, we’ll provide a trip launch web page using video footage and imagery. This web page is provided by a weblink and can be shared with pupils and parents in many ways.

Risk assessment support including preview visits

Risk assessment support including preview visits

Risk assessment plays a vitally important part in the planning and organisation on any school tour.

Our risk assessment guide aims to help you understand more about your obligations and how you can more effectively manage group safety on your next educational visit and provide you with risk assessments for your trip.

Planning first school trip

Planning your first school trip

Organising your first school trip can appear to be a daunting process. If you're planning your first school trip, our guide will help to take you through each step of the planning process, answering frequently asked questions and providing tips and support along the way. Our helpful guide covers the following:

  • Choosing your destination
  • Gaining approval from your Local Authority and/or your Head
  • Promoting your tour in school
  • Confirming your booking
  • Tailor-make your tour
  • Completing your risk assessments (including a sample risk assessment)
  • Quick reference timeline
  • Pre-tour checklist


View our essential guide to a successful school trip here.

Get live updates on your group's tour location

Get live updates on your tour group's location

NST's new trip tracker, Locate My Trip, is the easy, convenient way for your school to follow your group's location whilst on tour.

Our app has been specifically designed to provide reassurance to both parents and teachers.

Watch our short Locate My Trip video here.

Your online school trip organiser - My Tour Manager

Your online school trip organiser - My Tour Manager

Locate My Trip uses GPS technology and is the easy, convenient way for your school to follow your location whilst on tour. Specifically designed to provide reassurance to both parents and teachers, NST will know where your group are 24/7. If your schedule needs to change, we’ll put plans in place to keep your tour on track. 

With Locate My Trip your group can also share photos and videos with the school and parents, via a secure link, to keep them updated on your experience whilst you’re away.

Find out more and watch out short My Tour Manager video here.

Free classroom resources

Free classroom resources

We've created a range of free resources and educational posters to brighten up your classroom!

Take a look at our downloadable posters here.

  • Unrivalled knowledge

Your dedicated tour co-ordinator will use their unrivalled local knowledge and expertise of the West Coast USA to create a tailor-made, curriculum-linked itinerary to meet your group’s exact needs.

  • Making it easier for you

With our online school trip organiser, travel app, FREE classroom posters and trip launch resources to support in-school promotion.

  • Risk assessment guidance

Our risk assessment guidance will help you to manage group safety on your next educational trip. 

  • FREE group leader inspection visits

We offer a free inspection visit to your chosen destination to support your risk assessment planning.

 

Why choose NST...

Here's why thousands of teachers choose NST each year...

  • Value for money

We’re committed to bringing you the best possible value trips to help make every penny count.

  • Peace of mind

Your group’s location can be followed with our trip tracking device - Locate My Trip - plus you’ll have 24/7 support from us whilst you’re away.

  • More than 50 years’ experience

With over 50 years’ experience, with NST you can rest assured that your group is in safe hands.

  • Offsetting carbon emissions

For every trip taken, we'll plant a Maya nut tree in Peru to support reforestation, local communities & biodiversity. Plus, we'll offset an additional tonne of CO2 to guarantee carbon emission reductions. 

 

Looking for protection on your next school trip?

Booking with a school travel company is the best way for you to protect parents’ money and give yourself peace of mind.  

 

Don’t forget – if your school arranges transport, accommodation and other services directly, you’ll be liable under the Package Travel Regulations – meaning you’ll have all the responsibilities of a travel company, both legal and financial.

Financial protection from the moment you book

NST are fully bonded:

  • ABTA
  • ATOL
  • IATA

Managing safety on school trips

For your protection, NST's independently audited Safety Management System covers:

  • 24-hour emergency cover
  • Audited accommodation & transport
  • Excursions & school visit assessment
  • Group leader preview visits to assist with risk assessment planning

We're LOtC Council’s Quality Badge assured

The Department for Education advises schools to always look for the LOtC Quality Badge when choosing a school travel provider.