This all-encompassing self-drive itinerary takes you from Los Angles to California’s most iconic cities, towns and national parks, as well as along one on the world’s most iconic drives – the Pacific Coast Highway.
Suggested route & duration
Suggested duration 15 nights
• Los Angeles, California: 2 nights
• San Diego, California: 2 nights
• Palm Springs, California: 1 night
• Las Vegas, Nevada: 2 nights
• Mammoth Lakes, California: 1 night
• Yosemite National Park (Modesto/El Portal), California: 1 night
• Napa, California: 2 nights
• San Francisco, California: 2 nights
• Big Sur, California: 1 night
• Santa Barbara, California: 1 night
About this independent tour
Taste the West is a recommended self-drive itinerary. Destinations, durations and accommodation are all completely flexible and easily adapted to suit your own needs. All sightseeing is a suggestion only and is not included unless specified. This is an unescorted, independent journey and no Kuoni representative will be available. Transfers are not included so upon arrival at each destination you will be required to make your own way to your hotel and you will also be required to independently reconfirm any arrangements locally.
A useful e-Road Book (in PDF form) will be provided for you prior to departure that will help guide you along your itinerary and find local sites of interest as well as your accommodations. We can book a range of rental car types from a range of different providers, please speak to one of our Personal Travel Experts for more details.
LOS ANGELES Land of the rich and the famous, Los Angeles is full of wide palm lined boulevards, boutiques and restaurants. You can pack a lot into your time here - perhaps spend the morning in Hollywood, seeking your favourite stars of the stage and screen on the Walk of Fame and then head to the coast in the afternoon to soak up the typical Californian lifestyle.
Hotel: Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey.
SAN DIEGO We recommend spending a leisurely morning driving along the Pacific Coast highway between LA and San Diego, stopping in ocean-side towns such as Long Beach and Newport Beach en route. A year-round warm climate, Pacific Coast beaches and SoCal lifestyle come together in the city of San Diego. Highlights of the city include the 70 miles of beautiful coastline, the expansive Balboa Park and the USS Midway Museum.
Hotel: Manchester Grand Hyatt.
PALM SPRINGS It's time to turn inland towards the deserts of eastern California and the oasis city of Palm Springs. The city has long been a choice of A-listers seeking a break from Los Angeles, and therefore there's a certain air of exclusivity about the place. You can shop in high-end boutiques, tee off at one of the many golf courses, laze in hot springs or at a spa or just cool off in the pool of your chosen resort.
Hotel: JW Marriott Desert Springs.
LAS VEGAS Next up is neon-lit Las Vegas where you can try your luck on the spinning roulette wheel. A city of true decadence, there's so many entertainment, drinking, dining and shopping opportunities in Las Vegas it's likely that you'll hardly scratch the surface... but there's no harm trying! Alternatively, you can hop on a helicopter and head to the Grand Canyon if that's more your style.
Hotel: Wynn Resort.
MAMMOTH LAKES Leaving man-made Vegas it's time to experience some of the true natural wonders of California as you drive through Death Valley and up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The beautiful Mammoth Lakes are a an nature lover's paradise with plenty of hiking, biking and watersports to be enjoyed.
Hotel: The Westin Monache.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK The drive between Mammoth and Yosemite National has to be one of the world's most scenically beautiful. You'll travel through the High Nevada taking in the granite peaks and domes and through charming meadows that sit at over 2500 metres above sea level. On arrival in the breathtaking Yosemite Valley be sure to step out of your car and follow trails – from flat to well, not quite so flat – that radiate out from the village.
Hotel: Tenaya Lodge.
NAPA From a nature lover's paradise to a wine lover's paradise... the next stop is the world-renowned viticultural region of Napa Valley. Some of the world's most prestigious Californian varieties are produced in this narrow valley and you can visit some of the best vineyards and try the tipples out for yourself. We highly recommend taking the Napa Wine Train, which features luxurious 20th-Century Pullman carriages. As the train winds its way north to from the city of Napa to St Helena you can try local wines and mouth watering dishes and enjoy the scenery.
Hotel: River Terrace Inn.
SAN FRANCISCO A relatively short drive takes you to the City by the Bay, San Francisco. Due to its charming architecture, bohemian vibe and narrow streets, it often feels more like a European city than an American one; however the focus on the outdoors, healthy living and the laid-back vibe is pure California. You'll need to plan your days carefully if you going to experience all the city has to offer. There's the major sights such as Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf, the eclectic neighbourhoods that are a joy to explore on foot, and of course there's the parks and waterfront where you can while away a lot of time just watching the world go by.
Hotel: Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.
THE PACIFIC HIGHWAY, BIG SUR AND SANTA BARBARA There's really only one way you'll want to make your way back down to Los Angeles, and that's the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Route 1. Regularly touted as one of the world's best drives, driving this iconic route is an absolute joy. You'll be forgiven for taking your time, stopping multiple times just to take in the incredible ocean views. The entire route is pretty spectacular, however particular highlights include the region of Big Sur, the McWay Falls which tumble down onto an inaccessible cove, and the Spanish-esque city of Santa Barbara.
Hotels: Big Sur: Ventana Inn & Spa; Santa Barbara: The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.
Tailor your tour
Don’t forget that you can tailor make your own self-drive around the USA, choosing your number of nights, where you stay, and even adding excursions. Or combine your self-drive with a stay at any of our city, beach or resort hotels in USA.