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Duration: 9 days Visiting: United States
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 modern L.A. hotel, in the city's entertainment destination.
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.
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.
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 trip. Please note, many Optional Experiences are operated by independent third party suppliers, not Insight Vacations.
Prices and availability of Optional Experiences are subject to change.
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
San Francisco (Traditional) - USA
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 (Heritage) - Usa
Yosemite (Traditional) - USA
California - Monterey (Traditional) - Usa
Santa Barbara (Resort) - USA
Los Angeles (Contemporary) - USA
Our guests rate us
11508 independent user reviews received during the past year.
28 October, 2018
Trip: Overall an excellent itinerary though would have been happy to miss the night in the national park.
Service: Another excellent Insight tour, this was our eighth with Insight and this was one of the best.
27 October, 2018
Trip: Great itinerary, good range of places
Service: Insight is well run, attention to detail, and first class. The director was fantastic
27 October, 2018
Trip: §de the vest of California in a single tour.
Service: A well-planned program that delivered. All expectations exceeded.
13 October, 2018
Trip: Good variety of itinerary in the time given. Absolutely loved Monterey and the choice of courthouse and museum at the mission in Santa Barbara was excellent
Service: The Insight customer service overseas was absolutely excellent. However dealing with the Auckland office was a bit more problematic. The person I liaised with was called Hayley McKay and at times I felt as though I was wasting her time on the phone. By contrast there is someone who answered the phone called Belinda to whom nothing was too much trouble. Whenever she did not know anything she said she would find out and get back to me and did so very promptly - a pleasure to deal with.I suggest that Hayley could do with some customer service training as at the moment she is not a good ambassador for Insight.
09 October, 2018
Trip: Staying overnight in Yosemite National Park was special The Haight-Ashbury walking tour was an eye-opener, but important as part of San Francisco. I was thrilled to go to the Los Angeles theatre, though I was unable to cope with stairs and go on stage. And Pebble Beach Golf Links was one of many highlights
Service: Insight were very efficient and courteous with customer service
06 October, 2018
Trip: We saw so many wonderful sights going down the coast of California. We went to places we would not have known about.
Service: When ever I called and spoke to a representative they were most helpful. We were planning a trip to Alcatraz on our own and I needed to know how far it was from our hotel and what means of transportation I could use to get there. They told me approximately how long it would take to get there and about taxi and Uber services.
06 October, 2018
Trip: Never would have seen all these venues if we had traveled on our own. Also some very unexpected venues, such as Haight-Ashbury, a Chinese fortune cookie factory, and walking across the Golden Gate bridge.
Service: Highlight for us was San Francisco and Sanoma valley and winery. I think the scheduling around Yosemite could be improved to allow more sightseeing time in this impressive national park.
29 September, 2018
Trip: Would have preferred more time in Yosemite.
Service: Our guide and driver were very accommodating and knowledgeable.
26 September, 2018
Trip: The selection of places of interest
22 September, 2018
Trip: Again, felt rushed. Need more time in each place.
Service: The vacation seemed a little rushed, which I understand on a tour, but it would have been nice to spend two nights in most places so we had a chance to see more. Also, our tour guide was very ditsy and, although she had been doing this same tour for years, didn't seem to have a handle on it. Seemed like her first time doing it. We got lost sometimes and she seemed lost sometimes. I have to say that she was very friendly, as was the driver.
18 September, 2018
Trip: I wanted to see The California coast and I did with the tour I liked the mix of having time to explore on our own, a few guided tours and a couple of dinners with the group. The dinners given we good and they made a great evening
Service: The tour director was great and enjoyable to be with the bus driver drove the bus well he knew what he was doing. The tour was well organized it gave me a good mix of group time and alone time
15 September, 2018
Trip: Hearst castle as a pleasant surprise. We wanted to see Yosemite. Enjoyed walking over the Golden Gate Bridge even though it was into a cold wind.
Service: The Tour guide and bus driver were excellent. We saw some excellent sites on the trip