Best of California
The glitz and glamour of Hollywood attracts visitors from all over the world. Look beyond the veneer of fame, however, and you’ll discover the authentic beauty that keeps travellers coming back to California time and again. Make your way from thrilling San Fransisco, through California wine country to Yosemite, Monterey and on to Los Angeles for that obligatory dose of glam. You’ll get to explore the diverse faces of the Golden State, from its beautiful valleys to the enchantment of the American Riviera. There’s a unique magic to the culture here that you simply can’t experience anywhere else.
DAY 1 Welcome to San Diego
After your arrival at San Diego Airport, you are transferred to your hotel on the downtown waterfront. Perhaps take a walk along the bay before joining your Travel Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner.
DAY 1 San Diego Sightseeing
Discover America’s finest city as you embark on a sightseeing tour with your Travel Director. Journey through the Gaslamp Quarter, the historic heart of San Diego and Balboa Park, one of North America’s most iconic urban parks. Admire its lush and landscaped gardens in bloom thanks to the year-round pleasant weather. Finally, stroll among the atmospheric old and historic adobe ranch homes of the Old Town State Historical Park. Glimpse into the 19th-century colonial life and perhaps try some authentic Mexican flavours at one of the popular eateries.This afternoon, board the Pacific Surfliner and enjoy far-reaching ocean views as the train hugs the coast. Travel through Orange County to the Mission Modern-style Union Station in Los Angeles.
DAY 3 Los Angeles Sightseeing
An exciting day awaits as you set out to explore lively Los Angeles. Ride on the landmark Angel’s Flight funicular for a taste of early 20th-century nostalgia. Continue to the Los Angeles Theatre, inspired by French Baroque architecture, for a private guided tour. It has been closed to the public since 1994 but was once one of the grand movie palaces of the Broadway District. In legendary Hollywood, take your photos of the famous hillside Hollywood sign and stroll along the Walk of Fame. Look for the hand- and footprints of cinema’s greatest celebrities at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood’s most sought-after theatre for movie premieres. In the afternoon, explore Los Angeles with Insight Choice. Choose to visit the innovative Petersen Automotive Museum, a captivating experience about the history and artistry of motorized transportation. Alternatively, head to the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and take a deep dive into the history of filmmaking. Another option is to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a fantastic collection of artworks from ancient times to modern day. To top off your perfect day, dine at Nick and Stef’s, an outstanding steak house in Downtown LA.
DAY 4 Train Journey to the American Riviera
Return to the Union Station and board your Pacific Surfliner train. Travel through the valleys around Los Angeles before arriving at the coast where the shoreline wraps around to Santa Barbara. Spend time on State Street, a palm tree-lined avenue of shops and eateries before you further explore Santa Barbara with Insight Choice. Choose to visit the 18th-century Old Mission, one of the original 21 California Missions founded by Spanish Franciscans. Alternatively, take a relaxing stroll through the Botanical Gardens and learn about California’s diverse native plants.
DAY 5 Paso Robles Wine Country Relaxed Start
Join your Amtrak rail journey one more time and soak up sweeping ocean views as you ride along the coast to San Luis Obispo. Later, arrive to Paso Robles in the heart of wine country and spend time at the City Park and explore its boutiques, cafes and art galleries. In the afternoon visit the Eberle Winery for a tour of the vineyard and the unique underground caves. Born out of necessity to store more wine barrels, the caves provide the perfect backdrop for a tasting of a selection of excellent local wines.Tonight, join a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience with a Farm-to-Table dinner at Thomas Hill Organics—a 10 acre collaborative supporting local agriculture with a focus on fresh, organic and straight-from-the-earth ingredients.
DAY 6 Giant Sequoias
Journey to the majestic Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stop at the Mariposa Grove, home to over 500 mature sequoias and admire these gigantic trees. The oldest tree in the Grove is the Grizzly Giant, which dates back around 3000 years and stands 209 feet (64 metres) tall.
DAY 7 Exploring Yosemite National Park Relaxed Start
Join a park ranger and embark on a guided tram tour of the Yosemite Valley floor. You are surrounded by unspoilt nature as you take in the most iconic sights of the park. Get up close to the magnificent Yosemite Falls that cascade from a height of 2,425 feet (739 metres). See the Half Dome, a rock formation with a distinct shape, and El Capitan, a granite rock monolith rising 3000 feet (914 metres) above the valley floor. Take in the spectacular scenery from Tunnel View, encompassing towering mountains, dense forests and the Bridalveil Falls. Spend the rest of your day at leisure. Perhaps join an activity and explore further by renting a bike, going on a hike or visiting the Ansel Adams Gallery.
DAY 8 On to San Francisco
Travel towards the coast, cross the Bay Bridge and arrive in buzzing San Francisco. Head to the Fisherman’s Wharf, once home to the city’s colourful fishing fleet and today a popular district full of restaurants, cafes and shops. This afternoon, join your Travel Director for a stroll across the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of California, then continue on a short drive to the quaint town of Sausalito. Enjoy some leisure time before taking the ferry back to San Francisco, passing the infamous Alcatraz Island.
DAY 9 San Francisco Sightseeing Relaxed Start
This morning, venture across the road and to the Ferry Building and shop around at one of America’s most famous farmers markets. Browse the stalls offering organic produce, flowers and regional artisan specialties such as breads, cheeses, and jams. On your city sightseeing tour, journey past lively Union Square and vast Golden Gate Park. Travel through the SoMa District and Mission Bay to see the incredible growth and urbanization the city has experienced in recent years. Join your Travel Director for a culinary exploration of the Mission District. Sample local flavors in the area best known for creative ice cream parlours, craft doughnut shops, independent cafes and the best Mexican bites. Visit Balmy Alley and see the most concentrated collection of urban murals in the city.Tonight, toast to your travels at a local restaurant at your Celebration Dinner.
DAY 10 Farewell California
After breakfast, you are transferred to San Francisco Airport where your journey comes to an end.
About this trip
See 6 cities and 1 country
January to October
9 Breakfasts, 4 Dinners with Wine
All transport shown
San Diego: Board the Pacific Surfliner and enjoy far-reaching ocean vistas as your train journey takes you to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Travel the whole length of the service and experience the Southern California landscape from a unique vantage point.
Los Angeles: Ride the historic funicular, Angel’s Flight Railway in Downtown L.A.
Santa Barbara: Take a self-guided tour of the magnificent Old Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786. The Mission is one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks. Admire the grand double bell towers and lush gardens with the majestic San Ynez mountains as a backdrop.
San Francisco: Linking San Francisco to Marin County across the three-mile Golden Gate strait, this magnificent suspension bridge was built between 1933 and 1937. Renowned as an engineering marvel due to the precise planning, design and construction processes that were applied, all over treacherous open water, it remains one of America’s most fascinating landmarks.
San Francisco: See the city’s highlights on your sightseeing tour as you pass Union Square, Golden Gate Park, SoMa and Mission Bay.
The Bressenden difference
Visit the Los Angeles Theatre on a private tour, a special visit not accessible to the public. Known as the Grand Dame of the Los Angeles historic theatres, Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ premiered here in 1931. Admire the lavish interior inspired by the French Baroque period
Yosemite National Park: Join a Local Expert Park Ranger for a tram tour of the Valley Floor. Learn about the park and its history, see some of its most iconic rock formations and waterfalls, and admire the scenery from Tunnel View.
Choose between two carefully selected activities in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara
Highlight Dinner with wine at Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse, named ‘Best Steakhouse in the Country’ by the Food Network.
Visit the Eberle Winery for a tour of the vineyard and its unique underground caves. Learn about the wine region, the microclimate and grape varieties as you indulge in a wine tasting of local whites and reds.
BOOK with confidence
Low deposits – Booking protected.
Stay at highly rated hotels in desirable locations offering superb service, superior rooms with comfy beds to rest in.
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