On arrival in San Francisco you’ll be met by one of our local guides who’ll drive you to your hotel for the next three nights, the St. Regis San Francisco. Begin your San Francisco adventure with a self-guided, night-time tour of Alcatraz, one of the world’s most famous prisons.
Meet your guide in the morning for a half-day bike tour of San Francisco’s idiosyncratic neighbourhoods. Cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito for a leisurely lunch. This afternoon you’ll enjoy a seaplane tour above the Golden Gate Bridge, great fun for all the family. Soar along the coastline for sweeping views of San Francisco Bay and a unique perspective of the city skyline. Afterwards, return to Sausalito for the drive back to your hotel.
Time for an adventure aboard San Francisco’s only America’s Cup racing yacht. After leaving the marina you’ll help the crew raise the huge 200m² 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, get lost in the bustle of San Francisco with your guide leading the way
Pick up your hire car and hit the road: today you’ll head east towards Yosemite National Park, known for its waterfalls and natural beauty. Home for the next two nights is the mountain chalet-style Tenaya Lodge. Once you’ve settled in, take time to relax in your surroundings or head out to explore the park.
In the morning you’ll be met by your nature guide for an action-packed Yosemite tour. Visit major park highlights including Glacier Point, Tunnel View, El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Veil Falls and Swinging Bridge.
Leave Yosemite behind and return to the California coast. Today you’ll head to the seaside town of Carmel and your next hotel, the Carmel Valley Ranch. The hotel grounds encompass 200 hectares of forest at the foot of the Santa Lucia Mountains, so it’s perfect for a private nature walk.
The world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium is just north of Carmel on the Monterey waterfront. Here you’ll enjoy a private behind-the-scenes tour before exploring the coast’s marine life by eco-raft. The smaller, open vessel means you’re closer to the water, which makes for better viewing. Spot humpback whale, orca, blue whale, dolphin, seal and seabirds against a beautiful Monterey coastline backdrop.
Today’s the day for one of the world’s great drives. After breakfast, you’ll head south to Santa Barbara along Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Follow the rugged Pacific coastline along a series of looping curves and bridges, including the stately Bixby Bridge at Big Sur. The charismatic Belmond El Encanto is your home for the night in Santa Barbara.
Today enjoy a relaxing day of kayaking along the Santa Barbara waterfront. First you will board a group ferry over to the Channel Island. Keep an eye out spotted often are migrating whales and pods of dolphins. Once on the water, paddle a glorious three miles along the coast surrounded by beautiful kelp forests and rugged cliffs. If you fancy exploring the waters a bit more put on your snorkeling gear to explore the kelp beds of Scorpion Anchorage. This evening is at your leisure.
After breakfast, head south to Los Angeles where you’ll stay in Santa Monica for the next three nights. Your private guide will lead you to the city’s most popular sights, including the Hollywood Sign. Other highlights include a walking tour of the Hollywood Bowl. You’ll also visit Hancock Park, home to 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 paddleboarding. Enjoy a fun, leisurely paddling lesson here before spending the next two hours biking along the world-famous Venice Beach boardwalk. The wide stretch of beach is gorgeous, and you’ll pass plenty of colourful shops and local characters along the way.
Live life as an A-lister with a VIP experience at Universal Studios Hollywood. Children will particularly enjoy exploring Universal’s award-winning sound department and prop warehouse. Lunch is in a private dining room and it’s cooked by Universal’s executive chef. Afterwards, 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 attractions.
With paddleboarding already mastered, it’s now time to try your hand at surfing. You’ll spend the morning with a pro instructor, learning the art of becoming a true Californian surfer. The rest of the day is yours to relax, look around and make the most of the laid-back Los Angeles lifestyle.
Your last day is free to spend how you wish. You could browse the area’s many diverse galleries, followed by a picnic on the beach. Or take a ferry to Catalina and explore the island’s protected wilderness and wildlife. Make the most of your final evening in California by dining in one of Laguna Beach’s many excellent restaurants.
Drive the short distance to the airport, where you’ll drop off your hire car and board your flight back to the UK.