Best of California - San Francisco

Best of California (Summer 2017)

Duration: 9 days Visiting: United States

Prices from {{lowPrice}}

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Highlights
  • Optional experiences
  • Accommodation
  • Reviews
  • Dates & prices

The lively and glamorous cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles contrast with the rugged beauty of the Californian coast and grandeur of Yosemite National Park.

Read 'Celebrating 100 Years of The US National Parks Service' on the Insight Vacations blog

  1. Day 1

    San Francisco, the City by the Bay

    Welcome to California. On arrival at San Francisco International Airport, your airport transfer takes you to your hotel. At 18:00, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception with drinks and appetizers.

  2. Day 2

    Exploring San Francisco

    Spend the morning taking in the sights of the city – the bustling activity in Union Square and beautiful Golden Gate Park. Later, join your Tour Director and fellow guests for a Signature Evening with an informative walking tour through Chinatown followed by an authentic Chinese dinner at a restaurant loved by the locals.

  3. Day 3

    A Taste of California’s Wine Country

    Enter the Napa Valley in California's lush premier wine country with a visit to the Benziger Family Winery for a private tram tour. Take an up-close look at the vines and learn about the biodynamic and certified organic farming approach and history of the winery, while enjoying the breathtaking views. See the terraced vineyards and visit the crush pad, barrel aging caves and Tasting Room where you'll enjoy an exclusive tasting. Later in the afternoon, peruse the quaint shops at Sonoma's historic plaza. The evening is at leisure.

  4. Day 4

    Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Travel through California's Gold Country and into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Yosemite National Park. Explore the valley floor with its spectacular waterfalls, the imposing rock formations of El Capitan and Half Dome and abundant wildlife. Enjoy your hotel, located inside the park and close to North America's highest waterfall.

  5. Day 5

    Monterey, the Cradle of History

    Drive down the Sierras and through the fertile San Joaquin Valley. As you arrive in Carmel-by-the-Sea browse the art galleries and shops on Ocean Avenue, before a relaxing drive across the Monterey Peninsula and along scenic 17-Mile Drive. Pass the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links and multi-million dollar mansions before arriving in charming Monterey. For your dining pleasure, you have a spectacular selection of local restaurants to choose from.

  6. Day 6

    Hearst Castle and the American Riviera

    Head south to La Cuesta Encantada, 'The Enchanted Hill' high above the ocean at San Simeon, for a guided tour of Hearst Castle, the grandiose estate of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Continue south through the vineyards of the Central Coast to the resort town of Santa Barbara, often billed as the 'American Riviera'. Check in to your beachfront hotel.

    Highway 1/Big Sur advisory – Travel along Hwy 1 between Carmel and Ragged Point/Hearst Castle is now restricted due to recent mudslides and bridge closures. Re-routing via US-101 may be necessary depending on conditions at time of travel.

  7. Day 7

    Santa Monica and the City of Angels

    Visit the beautiful Mission Santa Barbara and learn about the chain of 21 missions along California's El Camino Real. Then journey along spectacular Santa Monica Bay, passing through glamorous Malibu on your way to Santa Monica. Take time to stroll along the popular Third Street Promenade. Visit the stunning Getty Villa, a recreation of an ancient Roman country house. Continue on to your luxurious hotel at L.A. LIVE, the city's one-of-a-kind entertainment destination.

  8. Day 8

    The Glitz and Glam of L.A

    In the morning, spot the Hollywood Sign during your sightseeing tour, view Grauman's Chinese Theatre and stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Experience the glitz and glam of Hollywood on a private tour of the Dolby Theatre, home to the Academy Awards ceremony. Spend the afternoon at the historic L.A. Farmers Market with a Local Expert to take you through the collection of restaurants and shops for a tasting before taking time to explore on your own. In the evening, enjoy a Celebration Dinner of American comfort classics with a Southern twist at Engine Co 28, a renovated firehouse from 1912.

  9. Day 9

    Depart Los Angeles

    Your California tour comes to an end with a departure transfer to Los Angeles International Airport.




  • Hearst Castle: Ascend the 'Enchanted Hill' for a guided tour of one of America's grandest private estates.
  • Santa Barbara: Visit Mission Santa Barbara, a historic Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in 1786.
  • Los Angeles: Visit the Getty Villa, a recreated ancient Roman country house.
  • Los Angeles: Step beyond the red carpet. A behind-the-scenes look at the Oscars on a private tour of the Dolby Theatre.


  • San Francisco: See the cable cars, Union Square, Alamo Square and Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Sonoma: Explore the shops of this Spanish Plaza.
  • Yosemite National Park: Experience the natural beauty and wildlife. See the El Capitan and Half Dome rock formations.
  • San Joaquin Valley: Stop at a historic fruit stand.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea: Browse the art galleries and shops.
  • Santa Barbara: Drive down State Street, view the Court House and Stearns Wharf.
  • Santa Monica: Stroll along the Third Street Promenade.
  • Los Angeles: Drive along Sunset Boulevard, see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theater.
  • Scenic Drives: 17-Mile Drive past the Pebble Beach Golf Links.


  • San Francisco: Enjoy a Signature Evening with a walking tour through Chinatown, followed by an authentic Chinese dinner.
  • Napa Valley: Visit Benziger Winery for a private tram tour featuring the barrel aging caves and an exclusive tasting.
  • Monterey: Dinner with wine is available from a selection of restaurants on your Dine-Around evening.
  • Los Angeles: Spend the afternoon touring and tasting your way through the historic LA Farmers Market with a Local Expert.
  • Los Angeles: Enjoy an end-of-tour Celebration Dinner of American comfort classics with a Southern twist at Engine Co 28, a renovated firehouse from 1912.
  • 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 8 Full Breakfasts (FB), 1 Signature Evening (SE), 1 Dine-Around (DA) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD).


  • San Francisco: Your boutique Omni hotel is a sophisticated, urban retreat located only a short walk to Union Square.
  • Sonoma: The Fairmont is the ultimate Wine Country resort, surrounded by lush vineyards and dotted with natural hot springs.
  • Yosemite: Stay in the park and enjoy Yosemite after the crowds have left, just a short walk to Yosemite Falls.
  • Los Angeles: Located In the heart of the city and setting a new standard of luxury, the stunning JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE Hotel is the focal point of L.A.


  • An expert Insight Tour Director, at the pinnacle of their career, 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'.
  • Enjoy the unique comfort of 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. Plus we include 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.
  • Included airport transfers on the first and last day of your tour.

Optional experiences

Most Insight trips already include a host of bonus highlights and comprehensive sightseeing. There may also be an exciting array of Optional Experiences which will turn an already amazing experience into the trip of a lifetime! These are entirely optional and can be booked through your Travel Director/Local Representative at the commencement of your trips. Please note, many Optional Experiences are operated by independent third party suppliers, not Insight Vacations. The Optionals and pricing listed here are a guideline only and subject to change.

Golden Gate Bridge Walk & Sausalito

Stroll across the 1.7 mile span of the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge and learn how the bridge was an engineering marvel and about the people who gave so much time to build this icon of San Francisco. Arrive in the quaint seaside community of Sausalito and have time to leisurely browse the charming shops or have lunch along the picturesque bay. Your adventure concludes with a wondrous ferry cruise across the bay, passing haunting Alcatraz Island and catching an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Approx. duration: 3.5 hours

Adult Price: 39.00

Code: SFO0003



Omni San Francisco

San Francisco (Central) - USA

Omni San Francisco Hotel provides luxury accommodations in the heart of downtown San Francisco – the jewel of California. This beautiful downtown hotel is located right on the cable car line and is only a short walk to Union Square, the San Francisco neighborhood that has become a mecca for high-end shopping and art galleries. Omni San Francisco Hotel offers modern amenities in a boutique ambiance due to its Florentine Renaissance architecture. Built as a bank in 1926, the lobby is adorned with Italian marble, rich fabrics and Austrian crystal chandeliers. All 362 guest rooms and suites exude modern luxury and classic sophistication with plush beds, Chinese marble vanities in every bath, expansive ceilings and beautiful crown molding.

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Yosemite (Scenic) - USA

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa

Monterey (Central) - USA

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa is dramatically located, literally over the Monterey Bay on Cannery Row on the great Monterey Peninsula. It is the highest rated of all hotels in Monterey and for the past three years it has been rated the #1 hotel in Monterey on Trip Advisor. From the resort, you'll be able to enjoy the best of Northern California such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, historic downtown Monterey and Fisherman’s Wharf. These beautiful, 400 square foot, guestrooms offer the same plush beds and elegant furnishings you’ll only find at the Monterey Hotel & Spa.

Fess Parkers Doubletree Resort Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara (Scenic) - USA

The Fess Parker is everything you want for an authentic California vacation. This dramatic mission-style hotel sits on 24 beautiful beachfront acres in Southern California. Its rich amenities and extensive array of activities are perfect for any need. Lounge by the pool, walk along the soft sand beach, dine on delicious cuisine at one of five restaurants, or relax in your luxurious accommodation, one of 360 guest rooms, each including a furnished patio or balcony, high speed internet access, mini bar and personal coffee maker.

Jw Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at La Live

Los Angeles (Central) - USA

Discover unparalleled luxury, style and convenience when you stay at the lavish JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. This 54-story Downtown LA hotel is within easy reach of some of the city's most popular attractions and a variety of restaurant cuisines. After an exhilarating day of exploring the city, unwind at the full-service spa, lounge at the spectacular rooftop pool. Or simply relax in your luxurious guest room, featuring contemporary decor, marble bathrooms, plush bedding and plasma TVs.


Our guests rate us 4.5 out of 5 based on 7828 independent user reviews received during the past year.

  • 30 October, 2017


    Trip: As previously noted - great variety in sights and especially the ability to adapt to changing conditions (fire/smoke) to keep the experience going.

    Service: Itinerary was great, good variety of sights. Tour director (Joseph) was more that super in his ability to adjust to changing conditions and obvious care that we travelers were given the best possible experience. Also, great food and wine.

  • 30 October, 2017


    Trip: Little less time at the Villa Getty and Hearst Castle would be good, everything else was great.

    Service: The accommodation, itinerary, and bus were all excellent on this tour. The tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly enough. Enjoyed the trip thoroughly, lots of inclusions, some surprise stops and lots of meals included.

  • 28 October, 2017


    Trip: California is an awe Inspiring place!

    Service: Driver and director were a good team - working well together.

  • 22 October, 2017


    Trip: Would have liked more time in Yosemite National Park and less time in Los Angeles

    Service: Yes

  • 22 October, 2017


    Trip: Give more details so we can be prepared and take full advantage of the stops

    Service: Guide, Driver and Bus were all better than expected. It would have be nice to have a specific outline of the itinerary instead of a vague description. This would have allowed me to research the stops better and know in advance how best to use free time and pick restaurants.

  • 21 October, 2017


    Trip: I would like to have spent more time on the actual California coast. I don't care for spending/ wasting time in small insignificant towns when there is so much else to see.

    Service: I completed a survey and submitted it to my travel director.

  • 21 October, 2017


    Trip: Sites and scenes were breathtaking.

    Service: We were more than pleased with the entire trip. Our tour guide was outstanding. We would certainly choose insight again.

  • 08 October, 2017


    Trip: Would have liked more time in Yosemite. Got there late in afternoon. Left early the next morning. A long day to get there and did not want to spend more time on a park bus to see the rest of the park. Of course, there was no time to see anything the next morning.

    Service: Trip was and driver were extremely courteous. Bus extremely comfortable!

  • 07 October, 2017


    Trip: the cities were great as were the locals,the timing at each location was just right

    Service: the hotels were great,your customer service functions very well.the organization runs smoothly,the bus and driver were supberb

  • 07 October, 2017


    Trip: Loved the locations! Especially Yosemite

    Service: Awesome trip thanks Anand and Darren

  • 05 October, 2017


    Trip: The itinerary was very detailed as to what I can expect. Broke down what you would be doing each day of the trip and where you be going and what you would be seeing.

    Service: Provided excellent customer service, answered all my questions.

  • 30 September, 2017


    Trip: Every thing we wanted to see

    Service: The tour director was very knowledgeable and efficient and the bus was very comfortable as usual. The trip was jam packed and there was something amazing every day. There are cheaper tours but they don't include as many things as Insight. Our 6th trip and we haven't been disappointed once

*Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking. Prices displayed reflect available discounted rates such Early Payment Discount or Last Minute Deals (discounts are not combinable). Discounts may be withdrawn at anytime, book early to confirm space. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however is subject to change, please confirm all details at time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions page.
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