Fly to California in the day time to make the most of your first evening in San Francisco. Check into The Fairmont, San Francisco, for the next few nights.
Immerse yourself in the bustle of San Francisco. Highlights include a ride on the historic cable cars and a trip to Alcatraz for a prison tour. Fisherman’s Wharf is home to a colony of sea lions on Pier 39, along with many waterfront restaurants and shops. In the evening, head to the North Beach neighbourhood, otherwise known as San Francisco’s Little Italy. Dine in one of the many Italian restaurants or seafood joints, before heading back to your hotel.
Leave San Francisco and head to Yosemite National Park, home to waterfalls, rock formations and remarkable natural beauty. You’ll have two nights at the chalet-style Tenaya Lodge, so you can really soak up the scenery. Discover Yosemite’s lofty views from the edifice of Half Dome, the granite wall of El Capitan or the banks of the Merced River. A hike through among giant sequoias, some of the oldest trees on Earth, is a great way to round off your visit.
As you head back to the coast, you’ll pass through the former Gold Rush town of Mariposa before joining world-famous Highway 1. The route soon leads to Monterey Bay, a national marine sanctuary, so keep an eye out for dolphins. Your hotel is the impressive Carmel Valley Ranch, just inland from the seaside town of Carmel.
The most dramatic section of the Pacific Coast Highway awaits, where the road hugs the coast and the ocean crashes against the cliffs. There’ll be ample opportunity to stop and take photos or to simply admire the views. We recommend spending an afternoon exploring Hearst Castle, former retreat of the newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst. It’s an incredible contrast to the homely Apple Farm Inn, which is your escape for the night.
Drive through Santa Barbara and Malibu to reach the incomparable city of Los Angeles. You'll stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the next two nights. Hone your West Coast style at the neighbourhood’s designer stores, then take a jaunt along Mulholland Drive. The road snakes through the Hollywood Hills and offers amazing views of the city. For something cultural, let us arrange a private tour of a film studio or a performance at the show-stopping Walt Disney Concert Hall.
After the excitement of Los Angeles, recharge in the desert oasis of Palm Springs. You’ll be staying at the stylish Parker hotel, an ideal base for enjoying the many PGA-accredited golf courses or native Indian wellness spas. Take time to explore the city’s fabulous mid-century architecture, or head out into the surrounding desert landscape. Easy trips include the San Andreas Fault or the otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park, home to thousands of spiky yucca palms and famously starry skies.
Last but by no means least: San Diego. With fascinating military ports and a rich downtown area known as the Gas Lamp Quarter, this city is the perfect conclusion to an action-packed trip. Set right on the beach, your hotel is the grand Hotel Del Coronado. You’ll spend a relaxing two nights here.
Return to the airport for your overnight flight back to the UK, maximising your time in California to the full.