On arrival in San Francisco you’ll be met by a local guide for your transfer to Hotel Vitale, your hotel for the next three nights. After checking in, you can head back out to begin your San Francisco adventure right away. Take an evening tour of Alcatraz, one of the world’s most notorious prisons from which there has never been a single confirmed escape.
Meet your guide in the morning for a half-day bike tour of San Francisco’s idiosyncratic neighbourhoods. One highlight is the cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for a leisurely lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy a seaplane tour of the city. Soar along the coastline for sweeping views of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay and a unique perspective of the city skyline.
Time for an adventure aboard San Francisco’s only America’s Cup racing yacht. After leaving the marina, help the crew raise the huge 200-metre-squared mainsail and jib sail, and then you’re off. The route takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz Island. Back on dry land, let your guide lead you through the bustle of San Francisco for more sightseeing opportunities.
Today it’s time to pick up a hire car and hit the road. Journey east to Yosemite National Park, known for its mountains, meadows and waterfalls. You’ll be staying directly among these spectacular natural scenes in the mountain chalet-style Tenaya Lodge. Once you’ve settled in, take time to relax in your new surroundings or head out to start exploring right away.
In the morning you’ll be met by your nature guide for an action-packed tour of Yosemite National Park. Visit major park highlights including Glacier Point, Tunnel View, El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls and Swinging Bridge. As you go, look out for mountain beaver, great grey owl and other remarkable creatures.
Leave Yosemite behind and return to the coastline of California. Today you’re heading to the seaside town of Carmel where you’ll find the Carmel Valley Ranch, your next hotel. The grounds encompass 200 hectares of forest at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains, making this the perfect destination for seeing more of the wild side of the States.
The world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium lies just to the north of Carmel. Here you’ll enjoy a private behind-the-scenes tour before setting out to explore the coast’s marine life by eco-raft. This small open vessel means you’re closer to the water for better viewing. You may even see humpback whale, orca, blue whale, dolphin, seal and a variety of seabirds.
Take one of the greatest American roadways down to Santa Barbara. Head south along the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll pass by spectacular coastal scenes as you traverse looping curves and historic bridges, including the Bixby Bridge at Big Sur. On arrival, check into your hotel and relax or explore your new surroundings.
Enjoy a kayaking excursion along the Santa Barbara waterfront. Board a ferry over to the Channel Island, keeping an eye out for the migrating whales and dolphins often spotted here. On arrival, set out to paddle a glorious three miles alongside rugged cliffs and coastal kelp forests. You can also use snorkelling gear and head beneath the waves to discover kelp beds of Scorpion Anchorage. After such an active and exciting day, spend your evening at leisure.
After breakfast, continue south to Los Angeles where you’ll stay in Santa Monica for the next three nights. Your private guide will take you on a tour of the city’s most popular sites such as the Hollywood Sign. Other highlights include a walking tour of the Hollywood Bowl and a visit to Hancock Park, where you’ll see the stately mansions and Art Deco apartments built for the stars of Hollywood’s heyday.
Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey is one of the best spots in Los Angeles for paddle boarding. Enjoy a fun lesson here before spending the next two hours biking along the world-famous Venice Beach boardwalk. This wide coastal stretch is simply picture perfect, and as you ride you’ll pass all the local characters, from surfer dudes and skateboarding youths to street entertainers of all descriptions.
Experience life as an A-lister with a VIP experience at Universal Studios Hollywood. Children will enjoy exploring Universal’s award-winning sound department and prop warehouse. Lunch is prepared by Universal’s executive chef and served in a private dining room. Next, visit Universal’s theme park. Your VIP guide will escort you to the best seats in the house, with front of the line access to all the attractions.
Known for its artsy galleries, sporty culture and incredible natural beauty, San Diego is a go-to retreat for Californians and international visitors alike. Check into your hotel and head straight to San Diego Zoo, one of the only zoos in the world that successfully breed giant panda. Here you’ll enjoy an intimate animal encounter as you learn how they’re are cared for, visit off-exhibit areas and even help out with the feeding. Afterwards, enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
The surf’s up, and it’s time to spend the final day of your California road trip enjoying this quintessential Californian activity. Meet your expert surf instructor on San Diego’s Pacific Beach and get acquainted with your equipment. From warm up to wrap up, you’ll learn all the secrets of the pros. Hop on your board and get riding these world-famous waves before an end-of-session photo with your instructor.
Drive to LAX airport where you’ll drop off your hire car and board your flight back to the UK.