Best Of California With Insight Vacations
California here we come. From a unique mix of modernity and boho influence in San Francisco, to the lively charms of Los Angeles, and rugged beauty of Yosemite national park, you'll be spoilt for choice in the Golden State. Delve into San Francisco’s flower power history and savour the unique wines in California's wine country with a Highlight Dinner overlooking Sonoma Plaza. Nature lovers, fear not, you'll be introduced to the striking scenery of Yosemite National Park, with a once in a lifetime stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge, a hotel located inside the park itself.
• San Francisco: 2 nights
• Sonoma: 1 night
• Yosemite: 1 night
• Monterey: 1 night
• Santa Barbara: 1 night
• Los Angeles: 2 nights
Day 1: San Francisco, the City by the Bay
California here we come. A mix of modern glamour and bohemian charms, you’ve arrived in the Golden Gate City, a location famous for its rolling hills, colourful houses and eclectic architecture. You’ll be picked up at San Francisco International Airport and whisked straight to your centrally located hotel, the Westin St. Francis, situated in the vibrant heart of the city and the only one on Union Square. There you’ll be left to settle in or go for a quick wander, before joining your Travel Director and fellow travellers at 18:00 for a Welcome Dinner and wine.
Hotel: Westin St. Francis on Union Square, San Francisco
Meals: Dinner with Wine
Day 2: Exploring San Francisco
Get ready for a fun-filled day exploring the city. Experience the bustling activity of Union Square, famous for its shopping, theatre and dining options. Head to the iconic Golden Gate Park. Rich in culture, the park boasts 10 lakes and more than 1,000 acres of land. This striking landmark is modelled on New York City’s Central Park and includes a wide range of show stopping features. From a Japanese tea garden to its botanical garden and conservatory of flowers, you won’t be disappointed.
Day 3: Haight-Ashbury and a Taste of Wine Country
Delve into San Francisco’s flower power history and revisit the ‘Summer of Love’ with a former hippie, your Local Expert. Tour Haight-Ashbury, the original iconic hippie district, where you’ll find colour and charm aplenty. Move on to California wine country, where you’ll walk through one of the state’s lush vineyards and enjoy a private wine tasting. End your day with a Highlight Dinner served with a local wine.
Hotel: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
Day 4: Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Say goodbye to the city lights of Sonoma and embrace the mountainous scenery of Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travelling through California’s Gold Country, you’ll drive through the imposing Sierra Nevada mountains. Explore the valley floor with its spectacular waterfalls and striking rock formations of El Capitan and Half Dome. The park is abundant in wildlife, so look out for Mule deer, and if you’re really lucky you may catch a glimpse of a black bear. Rest up at Yosemite Valley Lodge, located inside the park and close to Yosemite Falls, North America’s highest waterfall.
Hotel: Yosemite Valley Lodge
Day 5: Monterey, the Cradle of History
Take in the lush landscapes of the Sierras before you are swept through the fertile San Joaquin Valley to Carmel-by-the-Sea. There you will have the opportunity to browse a range of art galleries, local shops and the chance to stock up on souvenirs. Enjoy a relaxing drive across the Monterey Peninsula and along 17-Mile Drive, where you can take in the stunning ocean views, Pebble Beach Golf Links and multi-million dollar mansions, before arriving in the city of Monterey. Enjoy a delightful Highlight Dinner this evening.
Hotel: InterContinental The Clement Monterey
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
Day 6 Hearst Castle and the American Riviera
Today you’ll move south to La Cuesta Encantada, otherwise known as 'The Enchanted Hill', which rests high above the ocean at San Simeon. Once there you’ll join a guided tour of Mediterranean-style Hearst Castle, the grandiose estate of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. The residence was also the inspiration for the Xanadu mansion in the famous movie classic, Citizen Kane. Make your way to sunny Santa Barbara and check in to your idyllic beachfront hotel, ideal for making the most of your stay in the grand ‘American Riviera’. You’ll be presented with white buildings, terracotta rooves, beautiful weather and an array of bars and restaurants.
Hotel: Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort
Day 7 Santa Monica and the City of Angels
No trip to Santa Barbara would be complete without a visit to the iconic Mission Santa Barbara. Here you’ll learn about the chain of 21 missions along California's El Camino Real and explore its blooming grounds. Journey along the spectacular Santa Monica Bay, passing the hidden coves and coastal mountains of Malibu as you make your way to Santa Monica, L.A.’s exciting upscale counterpart. Continue on to your luxurious L.A. hotel, in the city's entertainment destination.
Hotel: JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE
Day 8 The Glitz and Glam of L.A
Channel your inner movie star and join a Local Expert on a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the historic Los Angeles Theater, one of the city’s iconic movie palaces. Continue exploring Hollywood with your Travel Director. Visit the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where stars leave their shoeprints in cement, and stroll along the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame, which honors icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. Feeling peckish? Head to the renowned L.A. Farmers Market with your Travel Director and enjoy time on your own to delve into fresh local delicacies. As your California adventure draws to a close, you’ll dine against a backdrop of glimmering lights and an incredible downtown cityscape as Café Pinot welcomes you for your Celebration Dinner.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine
Day 9 Depart Los Angeles
It's time to say goodbye to your fellow travellers before a transfer takes you to Los Angeles International Airport. Alternatively, if you want to see more, extend your stay in the City of Angels.
Good to know
San Francisco: Revisit the 'Summer of Love' with a Local Expert and former hippie at Haight-Ashbury, the iconic district where the hippie counterculture evolved.
Los Angeles: Join a Local Expert for a behind-the-scenes tour of a historic downtown theatre.
TOP RATED HIGHLIGHTS
San Francisco: See the iconic cable cars, Union Square and Golden Gate Bridge.Sonoma: Browse the unique shops on the historic Sonoma Plaza.
Yosemite National Park: Experience the park's natural beauty and wildlife. See the El Capitan and Half Dome rock formations.
Carmel-by-the-Sea: Browse the art galleries and shops in this quaint beach city.
San Joaquin Valley: Stop at a historic fruit stand where seasonal delights are grown, farmed, and sold.
Scenic Drives: 17-Mile Drive past the Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Santa Barbara: Visit Mission Santa Barbara, a historic Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in 1786.
Los Angeles: Drive along Sunset Boulevard, see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Sonoma: Sample local wines at a private tasting at an eco-friendly vineyard.
Accommodation on tour
San Francisco: Timeless yet modern, The Westin St. Francis on Union Square, San Francisco has a vibrant, directly located on Union Square, with cable cars stopping just outside the doors.
Sonoma: The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa is surrounded by lush vineyards and dotted with natural hot springs.
Yosemite National Park: Stay in the park and enjoy Yosemite after the crowds have left, just a short walk to Yosemite Falls.
Monterey: Located on Cannery Row, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is the most dramatic waterfront hotel in California.
Santa Barbara: Stay at the Double Tree Fess Parker in beautiful mission-style rooms, with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Los Angeles: Stay at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. situated in downtown L.A., within walking distance of the city's most noteworthy attractions.
Tours depart in Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct. Please speak to a Personal Travel Expert for further information.
Included in price
• An expert Insight Tour Director will guide you on your journey. Serving as your 'travelling concierge', this skilled guide will act as consummate organiser and be your 'friend in a foreign land'
• Insight's luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It's business class comfort
• A personal radio headset gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating insights and commentaries
• Baggage handling everywhere, with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
• Hotel and restaurant tips included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency
• All taxes and porterage charges at hotels.Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi
• Insight Flourishes - from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination
• Airport transfers on the first and last day of your tour
• 8 Breakfasts and 4 Dinners with wine.