Best of California

Unearth the treasures of the Golden State on this epic two-week road trip from the ‘City by the Bay’ to the ‘City of Angels’.

Journey Overview

Unearth the treasures of the Golden State on this epic two-week road trip from the ‘City by the Bay’ to the ‘City of Angels’. Venture into majestic Yosemite National Park and motor down Highway 1 to Los Angeles along the dramatic Pacific Coast. Discover sunny beaches, quaint seaside towns, world class wineries, nature at its finest and vibrant cities with hand-selected lodgings along the way including a sweeping country ranch, mountain lodge and sophisticated city digs.

Journey Overview

  • Pedal across San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge
  • Hike the trails of Yosemite National Park with a private guide
  • Take to the waters of Elkhorn Slough by kayak in search of loveable sea otters
  • Drive the dramatic Big Sur on Highway 1
  • Taste your way around Santa Barbara on a food tour
  • Explore the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Observatory on a guided hike

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive San Francisco

Arrive into the charming coastal city of San Francisco and transfer privately to your hotel located within the historic Fisherman’s Wharf precinct. The afternoon is at leisure to settle in.
Argonaut Hotel

Day 2: San Francisco

This morning meet your private biking guide for an up close and personal exploration of San Francisco by bike. Ride with your guide along the city’s stunning waterfront, along a mostly flat bike path that will take you through the Fort Mason former military base and newly created arts enclave, the marina, Presidio National Park and onto the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. As you pedal across the mile-long suspension bridge, take in views of the bay and beyond and finish up in Sausalito with its brightly coloured houseboats and fishermen. Pick a waterfront spot for lunch and afterwards be picked up for your afternoon tour.

The rest of the day is spent with your guide on a customised tour of San Francisco’s favourite sights. Choose what interests you most: Union Square, North Beach, Chinatown, the “crookedest street in the world” (Lombard Street), Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill, Fisherman's Wharf, the colourful residences of the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood and the Victorian homes of Alamo Square.
Argonaut Hotel | Meals: B

Day 3: San Francisco

Step aboard the ferry headed for infamous Alcatraz Island, located two kilometres offshore. Home to the abandoned prison which once housed gangster Al Capone, it became notorious for failed escape attempts, and the subject of many famous movies (Escape from Alcatraz and The Rock to name a couple). Take a self-guided tour of the Cellhouse at your own pace with an award-winning audio presentation. Picture yourself in solitary confinement, hear the stories of doing time from real prisoners, and feel the intensity of a prison breakout as told by correctional officers who lived and worked on the island. Return to your hotel with the afternoon at leisure.
Argonaut Hotel | Meals: B

Day 4: San Francisco – Yosemite National Park

Pick up your rental car (not included) this morning and leave the coast behind on a road trip east to Yosemite National Park. Pause at a few wineries along the way, discover Oakdale’s cowboy culture and a smattering of historic Gold Rush towns. Drive time approx four hours.
Tenaya Lodge | Meals: B

Days 5-6: Yosemite National Park

The next two days are spent amidst Yosemite’s incredible natural wilderness. Your private guide will introduce you to the best aspects of the park leading you on some short walks. Admire soaring cliffs, thundering waterfalls, grassy meadows, shimmering lakes and forested hillsides and relax in a peaceful spot with a picnic lunch. In addition to hikes, allow the lodge to arrange horse rides and spa treatments or simply relax by the pool.
Tenaya Lodge | Meals: B (Days 5,6) L (Day 5)

Day 7: Yosemite – Elkhorn Slough – Carmel Valley

Return to the coast this morning (drive time 3.5 hours) to the Elkhorn Slough where you take to the calm waters on a kayak trip. This tidal salt mash is California’s largest outside of San Francisco Bay and it meanders for quite a distance inland from Monterey Bay. Biologically rich, the reserve is home to a diversity of bird life as well as sea otters, seals and sea lions.

Afterwards drive a short distance into the foothills of the Santa Lucia range to the Carmel Valley Ranch, your base for the next two nights.
Carmel Valley Ranch | Meals: B

Day 8: Carmel Valley

Today you are free to explore the Carmel Valley and surrounding area at your own pace. The “greatest meeting of land and sea in the world", Point Lobos on the edge of Monterey Bay is well worth visiting. Considered the crown jewel of California’s state parks, it is one of the state’s richest marine habitats with hiking trails offering fabulous views over headlands, across Carmel Bay to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach. It is geologically unique and contains a rich and diverse plant and animal life both on shore and in the water. Keep an eye out for sea otters, seals and sea lions.

A little further north you can take the scenic ‘17-mile Drive’ along the coast through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove past snow-white beaches and famous golf courses. Then stroll the charming streets of sleepy Monterey, home to some historic adobe buildings and an original customs house. The setting for John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, is it is also well known for its aquarium and the annual jazz festival held in September.

Be sure to pause in Carmel-by-the-Sea and wander through its quaint streets. Explore the historic Carmel Mission, one of the original 21 California missions dating to 1770, see the quirky fairy-tale Comstock designed houses down by the beach and take in the small boutiques and relaxed vibe of this artist’s colony that is also home to some Hollywood stars.
Carmel Valley Ranch | Meals: B

Day 9: Carmel Valley – Big Sur – Santa Barbara

Take to the road again as you drive south along scenic Highway 1 as it hugs the Pacific coastline crossing the iconic Bixby Bridge and passing through Big Sur, one of the most rugged stretches of road. Be sure to keep an eye out for the California condors that live in the area and marvel at their incredible wingspans, some up to 3 metres, as they soar aloft. Stop along the way and take in the breathtaking coastal views, plunging ravines and dramatic cliffs. At Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park a short walk lets you view the slender but elegant McWay Falls crashing onto the beach and into the Pacific Ocean.

It is also worth taking time to visit Hearst Castle near San Simeon. Perched on a hill with sweeping views of the coast this impressively opulent 165-room mansion was created by the media mogul William Randolph Hearst and is filled with historic treasures.

Arrive into Santa Barbara and your Moorish inspired waterfront hotel later in the day.
Hotel Californian | Meals: B

Day 10: Santa Barbara

Take to the streets on foot with a private food tour starting on lower State Street where the Funk Zone neighbourhood is a showcase of the mouth-watering cuisine which Santa Barbara is known for. Savour bites of fresh seafood, gastropub creations, lashings of Mexican and Spanish cuisine, artisan beer, locally grown wines and hand-crafted spirits. Along the way, you'll hear interesting tales from your guide about each place you visit and learn easy-to-shoot photo tip. You’ll soon be eating like a local and shooting insta worthy foodie pics like a pro’.
Hotel Californian | Meals: B

Day 11: Santa Barbara

Tailor today your way. Relax on one of the American Riviera beaches, star spot in Montecito, visit the historic Old Mission or tuck into a seafood feast at Stearns Wharf. The choice is yours. Or, head into the San Ynez hills to sample some of the region’s fabulous wines.
Hotel Californian | Meals: B

Day 12: Santa Barbara – Santa Monica – Los Angeles

Continue your drive along the coast via world-famous Malibu whose houses perch on stilts above the sand. From here head down to explore laid back Santa Monica and see the iconic ferris wheel at the pier jutting into the inviting waters of the Pacific Ocean. A little further along is bohemian Venice Beach filled with colourful characters, street performers and the Muscle Beach outdoor gym. Arrive into Beverly Hills and your opulent hotel.
Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills | Meals: B

Day 13: Los Angeles

Head into the Hollywood Hills above Los Angeles this morning with your guide and be amazed by the natural beauty and breathtaking views you'll encounter on this adventure up Mt Hollywood. Hear about the history of the ‘City of Angels’ as you hike to the summit where 360-degree views from the Griffith Park Observatory of the entire Los Angeles basin are jaw-dropping. Afterwards, hike to a viewing point overlooking the Hollywood sign while your guide tells you the fascinating evolution of this great American landmark and discover scenes from blockbuster films and television shows at the exact locations where they were shot through a fascinating interactive video presentation.
Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills | Meals: B

Day 14: Depart Los Angeles

Drive to Los Angeles Airport and return your rental car before checking in for your departure flight.
Meals: B

Note: this journey is designed to tie in with car rental that needs to be organised separately. Alternatively, we can provide a vehicle with a driver/guide. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

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Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Arognaut Hotel, San Francisco

Best of California

Located in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco's most popular destination, the boutique Argonaut Hotel features breathtaking vi... Read more

Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite

Best of California

Yosemite is the most popular national park within the US, millions of visitors coming from all over the world to view this spectacular sc... Read more

Carmel Valley Ranch

Best of California

Carmel Valley Ranch is surrounded by landscaped gardens and lush woodlands, this suite only hotel offers impeccable services and an array... Read more

Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara

Best of California

Stay on the American Riviera at family-friendly Hotel Californian, conveniently located in the centre of the Santa Barbara waterfront and... Read more

The Peninsula Beverly Hills

Best of California

The only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star-rated hotel in Southern California every year since 1993, The Peninsula Beverly Hills offe... Read more

Journey Dates & Prices

As this suggested itinerary can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send us a booking enquiry to book this journey.

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