Postcards Of California: San Francisco, Yosemite, Highway 1 to Los Angeles & More
- 8 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 2,073
FIRST-CLASS | SELF DRIVE: What can you say about driving Highway One from San Francisco to Los Angeles, except that you absolutely must do it at least once. Driving south, with the Pacific at your right, the views opening ahead of you are breathtaking. The stretch between Carmel and San Simeone is delightfully rugged and dramatic, but is soon followed by whimsical tiny beach enclaves, worth a quick stop. 17-Mile Drive, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and Malibu add their iconic names to a truly exquisite trip.
An 8-day journey which will sweep you up from the moment you begin and will have you California dreaming long after you return home.
The song says, “if you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” and you’ll feel so inclined as that chill vibe of hippie era San Francisco still throbs through this coastal city of pastel painted homes, elaborate gardens and endless small bistros and artsy boutiques. It’s easy to get immersed by walking or grabbing a restored cable car to take you to wherever you desire. Art lovers will swoon over the Diego Rivera murals (there are three) including the “Allegory of California,” representing the spirit of California. Chocolate your thing? Ghirardelli's is a public landmark; scoop up some sea salt caramel squares and head to the Buena Vista Cafe, where legend has it the Irish coffee was born for the perfect pairing. Stroll along the nearby beach and take in the incredible views of Alcatraz and the Marin Headlands where the sun melts orange by the Golden Gate Bridge.
Weave your way past the wise gaze of towering redwoods, stop to stretch your legs and capture a slivery waterfall or pause by an old-growth forest to see if that really is a bald eagle perched in the boughs. Strap on your best walking/hiking shoes - in Yosemite you’ll want to have your camera ready and your feet steady as you breathe in the fresh earthy air and explore glacial-shaped rock formations, thundering waterfalls and majestic valleys where mountain lions, big horn sheep and mule deer thrive.
Was that a glint of gold in them thar hills? The mountains of the Sierra Nevada lead you through California Gold country where gold is still found occasionally in the trickling streams. In Monterey, kayak in the Monterey Bay, feel the sand under your toes along the beach, count the seals sunning on the rocks or the otters out in the seaweed beds and meander down to Old Fisherman's Wharf to chow down on some creamy clam chowder at Abalonetti's.
The longest coast in California is also one of the most scenic drives in the world where the ‘Lone Cypress’ stands as a testament to tenacity against the backdrop of the ocean. It’s no wonder Clint Eastwood wanted to be made mayor in Carmel-by-the-Sea; (and was for one term) this little town with no addresses (to keep it from being “citified”) is a pure gem.
Into catching the perfect wave or the perfect sunrise? In Santa Barbara, nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, this quintessential beach town with Spanish influences is classy yet relaxed. As Miley Cyrus says, “the sky is more blue in Malibu,” and in Santa Monica, with the waves crashing off of Palisades Park as the sun setting pink over your last meal, you send out a little wish to return to California, where everybody must be dreaming because life is rarely so beautiful.
- 8 Days
- Prices From:
- US$ 2,073
Itinerary View Trip Map
Arrive at San Francisco International Airport and transfer independently to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you might be able to explore a little bit of the city by the Bay. San Francisco is a walking city, and you are going to have a wonderful time if you plan your day in advance. The city has great neighborhoods such as North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf, but you might also consider visiting Alcatraz by boat or have lunch just a little bit out of town in delightful Sausalito.
Overnight San Francisco
Today, the entire day is yours to enjoy the sights and sounds that make San Francisco such a wonderful place. Ride the famous San Francisco cable car to Fisherman's Wharf Gate Bridge and experience the outdoor stands selling fresh Dungeness crab or various gourmet restaurants offering the freshest of fish from the day’s catch. Chocolate lovers must visit the local chocolatiers, Ghirardelli's, whose founding location is now a public landmark and part of the National Register of Historic Places. Treat yourself to a fabulous walk from here to Union Square. On the way, check out North Beach, steeped in Italian heritage with retro-flavoured bars, coffee shops and trattorias. Next is Lombard Street with its famous one-block section of eight, steep hairpin turns before you pass Telegraph Hill and Nob Hill to arrive at Union Square. In the evening you may wish to stroll the Embarcadero, sample Dim Sum in Chinatown or see the twinkling city lights atop Twin Peaks (bring your jacket!).
Overnight San Francisco
San Francisco - Yosemite
Although the drive from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park only takes about four hours we recommend an early start in the morning. This is considered one of the most captivating drives in California, full of lovely winding roads, lined with redwoods, offering delightful views throughout.
A full day to explore a mesmerizing part of California. Yosemite National Park offers some of the world’s most spectacular scenery including enchanting waterfalls that can be found throughout the park, gorgeous meadows, and forests with groves of giant sequoias. Take your time to marvel at the sheer granite domes and cliffs that soar thousands of feet up from the valley floor. The massive glacial-shaped rock formations of El Capitan and Half Dome are the most famous landmarks of the park and keep a majestic watch over the valley.
Leaving Yosemite, you drive across California’s agricultural Central Valley. Descending the mountains of the Sierra Nevada you travel through California Gold country, following in the footsteps of thousands of gold seekers during the gold rush of 1949. Today this area’s streams and creeks still rank among the best for gold panning enthusiasts. Once you reach the coast, you can enjoy your first taste of delightful Highway One scenery on your way to Monterey. The city’s Cannery Row is forever associated with novelist John Steinbeck as well as its famous music festival in 1967, immortalized by Eric Burdon and the Animals’ song ‘Monterey’. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, with thousands of marine animals and plants is well worth a visit and the city’s popular strip of shops, boutiques, seafood restaurants and bars in converted factory buildings is a bustling spot.
Monterey/Carmel – Highway One – Central Coast
Leaving Monterey in the morning, a must-see part of your trip is to follow famous 17-Mile Drive until you arrive at a spellbinding world of pure white beaches, dramatic coastal cliffs, enchanting forests, and Pebble Beach Golf Course. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the world with its iconic view of the ‘Lone Cypress’ but also the giant trees at Cocker Grove and lovely Fanshell Beach. Fabled Carmel-by-the-Sea is just 15 minutes down the road, known for the museum and library of the historic Carmel Mission, but more so the fairytale cottages and galleries of its village-like center. The next stop of note is Big Sur, a majestic stretch of land with the Santa Lucia Mountains rising abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. Continuing south towards San Luis Obispo the Highway One vistas become more breathtaking with every turn of the road.
Overnight Central Coast
Central Coast – Santa Barbara – Malibu – Pacific Coast Highway - Los Angeles
Your first highlight of the day is a stop at fabulous Santa Barbara with its downtown area of red-tiled roofs on Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings that beautifully reflect the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. The Santa Ynez Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop, and it is well-worth stopping for a late lunch or strolling along State Street, lined with upscale boutiques and restaurants. The celebrity homes and beaches of Malibu, including wide and sandy Zuma beach, are a little over an hour away and from there it is only another short drive to Santa Monica. It’s a lovely spot and Santa Monica Beach fringed by the tall palms of Palisades Park, offers delightful views over the Pacific Ocean.
Overnight Los Angeles
Make your way to Los Angeles International Airport for your flight home unless you plan to extend your stay in the City of Angels or elsewhere in California.
Daily departures: November 1, 2023 - March 31, 2025
- 8 days Intermediate Car Rental with unlimited mileage (Mazda 3 or similar)
- Detailed day by day itinerary
- 2 nights first-class accommodations in San Francisco
- 2 nights first-class accommodations in Yosemite
- 1 night first-class accommodations in Monterey / Carmel
- 1 night first-class accommodations in Central Coast
- 1 night first-class accommodations in Los Angeles
- Car rental insurance
- Travel insurance
- International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
- Entrances fees to sites not explicitly listed as included
- Meals and beverages not mentioned
- Road tolls
- Items of a personal nature
- Visa fees if applicable
- Explore the mysteries of Alcatraz Island (optional)
- Walk along the railings of San Francisco’s world-famous Golden Gate Bridge
- Glimpse the largest monoliths of exposed granite in Yosemite National Park
- Marvel at 17-Mile Drive’s the Lone Cypress
- Witness beautiful waterfront views in Southern California’s seaside communities
- Explore Santa Barbara, the American Riviera
- Experience California’s Central Coast splendor on Highway 1
- Get closer to the stars at Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the world’s most famous sidewalk
- Experience the magic of Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth (optional)
- Go behind the scenes of the world’s largest working movie studio, Universal Studios Hollywood (optional)
TERMS AND CONDITIONS:
Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request. Additional terms and conditions apply for car rental - please inquire.
1 Oct 2024