California is a glorious combination of vibrant cities and majestic nature.
The Golden State is a sun-kissed expanse of diversity. From movie magic and city lights to enchanting valleys and sky-scraping sequoias, California is bursting with treasures. Begin in San Francisco where the mist tumbles over the Golden Gate Bridge, an icon which proudly overlooks streets of artists and crooked Victorian houses. Then, for a sparkle of stars, visit Los Angeles – a whirlpool of creativity where the city stretches across the hills and down to the beach. Contrast this with the nature of Monterey Bay. Experience the famous 17 Mile Drive, where wildlife adorns the dramatic cliffs.
Sip wine in the scenic Napa Valley, a modern wine region where the vines reach for miles. California grows around 90% of America’s wine producing grapes so this area is a haven for wine lovers. Enjoy several wine tours and tastings during your group tour of California, in San Joaquin Valley and Santa Ynez Valley as well as Napa. In addition to admiring the beautiful vineyards and cities on the sea, visit Yosemite National Park. This park alone warrants a trip to California, with its soaring mountains, misting waterfalls and breathtaking valleys.
Dates throughout 2019
Welcome to San Francisco
Fly to San Francisco. You will be met at the airport by a local tour director and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore and rest.
Start the day with a guided tour of San Francisco, one of the most photographed, filmed, and documented cities in the world, a tantalising mixture of history and modern sophistication. Built on several hills, the city is the gem of the magnificent bay at the foot of these hills. You will see the business district, Union Square and Chinatown. Spend your afternoon at leisure, exploring the city at your own pace. Perhaps take the cable car or do some shopping.
This morning, you will cross the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge to the picturesque town of Sausalito. After a brief orientation of town, have some free time to walk around this artists’ village. Continue the day in the famous Napa Valley! The region is one of the top spots for production of the best California wines, as well as some wines produced following French and Italian methods. Visit the prestigious Robert Monadavi Vineyards for a tour, wine tasting and gourmet lunch. Next, enjoy another tour and tasting at a local winery. Late this afternoon, drive back to San Francisco.
Today, head to Monterey Peninsula. With splendid beaches, cypress trees and cliffs. it has been a favourite spot for many American and European painters and poets. Enjoy a tour of the town of Monterey, particularly the fishing port and Cannery Row, immortalised by the writer John Steinbeck. After lunch at leisure, continue on to the nearby town of Carmel for a visit. Carmel is one the most charming coastal towns of California, with untouched beaches and attractive shops. This afternoon, embark on the famed 17 Mile Drive, which offers spectacular views of the coast and dramatic cliffs. Stop along the way at Seal & Bird Rocks where you’ll see pelicans, cormorants, seals and sea lions , before returning to Monterey for the evening.
San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara
Leave for San Luis Obispo, where the region’s wineries are known for their sustainable and environmentally conscious productions. You will have the opportunity to enjoy a tour and tasting. After some free time for lunch, depart for the Santa Ynez Valley. The area is home to four viti-cultural regions, producing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. Enjoy another visit and tasting at the Gainey Vineyard (wineries are subject to change based on availability). Arrive in Santa Barbara this evening, and begin exploring at leisure.
Santa Barbara & Los Angeles
This morning, start the day with a tour of lovely Santa Barbara with its golden beaches and palm-lined bay, red-tiled roofs and Spanish architecture. Visit the beautiful mission Santa Barbara, the largest Franciscan convent in California today, considered to be the queen of California’s missions. Continue to Los Angeles and, upon arrival, visit Hollywood. Take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard with legendary Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where you will find the hand prints of famous stars in the cement.
Today you will depart to Fresno, deep in the heart of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley has been called “the food basket of the world.” Crops grown here include cotton, asparagus, almonds, pistachios, oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa, raisins and wine. At 61,000 vineyard hectares, this is by far the largest wine region in the state. Visit of a local winery and enjoy lunch, before continuing with a visit of the Forestiere Underground Gardens. In the early 1900s, Sicilian immigrant, citrus grower and visionary Baldassare Forestiere began turning what was useless farmland into a vast network of rooms, tunnels and courtyards as a subterranean escape from the sweltering Central Valley summer heat. Using only shovels, picks and other hand tools, Baldassare was inspired to excavate for forty years, going as deep as 25 feet underground and spanning over 10 acres. He grew fruit trees and grapevines underground – many of which are still thriving today. Enjoy dinner with your group in Fresno this evening.
Drive to majestic Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the state of California. Yosemite surprises and delights with its fresh Alpine landscapes, pine forests and magnificent waterfalls. Sheer white monolithic cliffs tower over the valley. You will discover Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls, as well as a pioneer village in the southern part of the park. Enjoy a picnic lunch in this remarkable national park. Enjoy dinner nearby tonight.
Enjoy some time at leisure today, before your transfer to the airport in San Francisco for your early evening flight. Arrive the following day in the UK.