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California in Depth
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Get beneath the surface of California with this in-depth Journey, covering the delights of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, with the Pacific Coast Highway in between. Stopping at the beaches of Monterey, Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara, you’ll follow the rugged coastline, tasting the wines, eating the fresh seafood, hiking the paths, touring the lakes and admiring the dramatic scenery along the way.
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to San Francisco and check into your hotel.
Set off on your Bay in a Day tour and see the sights of San Francisco Bay. You’ll cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, explore Golden Gate Park and take the ferry across to Alcatraz Island to view the famous prison, which once incarcerated notorious gangster Al Capone. Perhaps explore the different neighbourhoods, each with a distinct character, and don’t forget to ride one of the famous cable cars, which run up and down the hills between Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, next door to the popular Mammoth Mountain ski resort, Mammoth Lakes is a stunning collection of snow-capped mountain peaks, evergreen forests and glassy lakes, with a couple of hot springs and a miniature canyon thrown in too. If you’re here in winter, skiing and snowshoeing are the main activities, while in summer it’s all about hiking, fishing, mountain biking and horse riding.
Continue your Californian adventure with a stay among the lakes and waterfalls of Yosemite National Park. One of America’s favourite national parks, Yosemite is a photographer’s dream. Everywhere you look you’ll be greeted with dramatic scenes – cliffs covered in wildflowers, deep valleys and giant sequoia forests. Come in spring for fresh growth, summer for hikes, autumn for golden leaves and winter for a beautiful dusting of snow. Just don’t forget your camera!
Most visitors to the waterfront town of Monterey head straight for the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. But there’s more to the place than just the marine life – Cannery Row was John Steinbeck’s inspiration for his depression-era novel, and today it’s lined with romantic hotels and tempting seafood restaurants - a great place for a stroll. And while you’re here, why not take a day trip to the beaches of Santa Cruz or the cute cottages and quirky shops of Carmel by the Sea.
Spend the day on the sweeping sandy beach at Pismo Beach, the perfect place to relax and watch the world go by. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling between October and March, do not miss the swarms of migrating bright orange monarch butterflies found in the eucalyptus groves. From Pismo Beach, it’s an easy drive to Paso Robles, where you can sample the fine local wines, and San Luis Obispo, home to the bizarre Bubblegum Alley, made up of 2 million pieces of chewed gum.
Tucked neatly between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara has charm in spades. Affluent but not flashy, youthful but not loud, Mediterranean yet oh so American, this pretty seaside town is the icing on the central coast of California’s cake. Terracotta roofs and white stucco walls provide a picture-postcard backdrop for the local cafés that serve fresh seafood and juicy burgers. Oh, and California’s best wines. Enjoy.
Lavish and opulent, home to millionaires and beautiful people, Newport Beach’s main attraction is of course, its beach. The wild waves of the Pacific Ocean offer great surfing opportunities, but the more sedate can chill out and watch the sunset over a plate of seafood, and there are a number of museums located along the foreshore. Try the Orange County Museum of Art and the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. Don’t miss taking the ferry to Balboa Island to explore the 1920s-built shops and restaurants, or to walk the 1.5-mile car-free promenade around the island.
Close enough to Los Angeles to retain a little gloss and glamour but far enough to have a culture all its own, San Diego is known for its 75 miles of coastline, temperate climate, excellent beaches and distinct air of casual chic. Head to the harbour where the USS Midway Museum sits ensconced in a giant aircraft carrier, then grab an ice-cream at the Embarcadero waterfront. Go on safari at San Diego Zoo, a family-friendly gem, housing more than 3,000 animals from 800 species.
Welcome to the City of Angels! Visit the sets of your favourite movies in Universal Studios, shop till you drop in Beverley Hills and hike Runyon Canyon for stunning views over the city. Explore the diverse neighbourhoods from glitzy Bel Air to arty Venice Beach, and dive into the smorgasbord of international cuisine you might expect from such a cosmopolitan city. While you’re here, you’ll join a Hollywood Stars Homes & City Tour, taking you to the mansions belonging to your favourite actors.
Return to Los Angeles and depart for the UK.
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