Classic California Itineraries
Natural California Tour
If you wish to be face to face with majestic redwood trees, and hike through California’s famous National Parks, consider the following northbound and southbound itineraries:
Day 1-2: Start in San Francisco for a southbound trip, or Los Angeles to head north.
Day 3-7: Depending on your starting point, you have the following options:
If you start from San Francisco, head to the Central Valley, home of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and visit Sequoia National Park or Sierra National Forest. Last but not least, visit Yosemite National Park, head up to Glacier Point and take in the view of Half Dome.
If you start from Los Angeles, head east over to Joshua Tree National Park and see the two desert ecosystems of the Mojave and Colorado collide. Spend a night, then head northeast to the infamous Death Valley National Park.
Day 8: Return to the city from you which you started your trip, and consider the following add-ons:
San Francisco: Visit Alcatraz, Fisherman’s wharf, and/or the Golden Gate Bridge
Los Angeles: Visit Hollywood Boulevard/Walk of Fame, Disneyland, and/or Universal Studios
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California’s Wine Country
For wine lovers, Napa Valley and Sonoma are a must. Aside from tasting at the wineries, you can choose trips with itineraries that are as active (cycling) or as relaxing (spa visits) as you desire.
Day 1-3, San Francisco: visit Fisherman’s Wharf, the Cable Car Museum, Chinatown, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Time permitting, take a ferry over to Alcatraz for a tour of the famous prison. (You also have the option of starting in St. Helena, Napa, if you want to skip San Francisco - see the Walking Connection tour below.)
Day 4-5, Napa Valley and/or Sonoma: Enjoy tastings at various wineries, and have an exquisite dinner with a splendid view on the famous Napa Valley Wine Train. Visit Downtown Napa and the Oxbow Public Market.
Day 6 (optional), Calistoga or Glen Ellen: Take a day to visit Calistoga’s hot springs and relax in a spa, or visit the nearby village of Glen Ellen and walk through historical Jack London State Park.
Day 7: Head back to San Francisco
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The Best of Northern and Southern California
If you are looking to see the highlights of California, consider a trip that touches on San Francisco, Monterey, Los Angeles, and perhaps San Diego. Some trips will include excursions to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite.
Day 1-3, Arrive in San Francisco for a southbound trip; For a northbound trip, start in Los Angeles (or San Diego):
San Francisco: Visit the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, or ferry over to Alcatraz Island. You may also have the option of wine country in Napa Valley or Sonoma.
Los Angeles: See the famous Chinese Theater, Hollywood strip, and Beverly Hills.
San Diego: Check out the Victorian Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, or join an optional visit to the San Diego zoo.
Day 4-7: The next couple of days will depend on your preference to see coastal cities, or set your sights on famous natural landmarks:
Coastal cities: Santa Barbara, Monterey (Cannery Row), Carmel (17-mile drive, Pebble Beach Golf Links), and/or San Simeon (home of Hearst Castle).
Natural landmarks: Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, Grand Canyon, or Death Valley.
Optional: Some trips may take you to Las Vegas where you can stroll along the Las Vegas Strip and spend time casino-hopping.
Day 8, Arrive at your destination city: If you started in Los Angeles/San Diego, you may end up in San Francisco, and vice versa. Typically your tour will give you free time at this point to explore on your own. See suggestions listed on Day 1 for each city.
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