Asking for my friend who is 74 and single and wants to see the USA, any recommended tour companies out there? She's considering a few different tours offered by Collette.
Friends of ours enjoy the Road Scholar trips and recommend them.
Odysseys Unlimited is an excellent tour company and has a few trips offered in the USA and Canada.
I'll second Lola's recommendation for Road Scholar tours. I've done 10 of them - 5 US and 5 Europe. I've got #11 set for October to the South of France. There are always a number of solo travelers on the trips. They are similar to Rick's tours in that they will room you with another person if you choose to do that. I, personally, always pay extra for the single supplement but that's just my preference.
The 5 US tours I've done have all been activity based. I've done a Yellowstone hiking program, 2 birding programs (SE Arizona in winter and SW Florida in winter) and 2 genealogy programs. I'd not hesitate to travel on any of their programs.
I like that Road Scholar is very specific about which sights are included in the tour and do not have "optional" add ons to see the good stuff. I like that tips are included (like Rick's tours). I am not sure if they even do any larger groups any more as all the ones I've been on in the last 6 years have been 24 or fewer people. I also like that there are no shopping stops - I want tour time, not shopping time so a guide gets a kickback on purchases. (Both Rick's tours and Road Scholar do NOT have shopping stops) I like the emphasis on education and learning about a new area.
Road Scholar usually includes a lot of meals. Sometimes this is good, sometimes I get tired of this and would want to go off on my own but for a new traveler this is usually comforting.
Each program has an activity level specified. I find these are pretty accurate. They changed the way they do this a few years ago and they are now pretty good.
If you book airfare thru Road Scholar they will often include a transfer from the airport to the first hotel. It does depend on the program. I always just book my own airfare as I am generally going a day early and also because I fly out of a small airport to one hub and want to use a particular airline.
If your friend is interesting in Road Scholar and has questions, I'd be happy to talk with her via PM or email.
Collette Vacations, Grand Circle Travel, Tauck, and previously mentioned Road Scholar.
Is your friend a member of AARP? They may have member discounts with a few national tour companies.
Thank you all for your responses--and especially to Pam for offering to chat via PM or email, I'll run that past my friend :)
These are highly recommended tour companies.