Best of California

Best of California (Summer 2019)

Duration: 9 days Visiting: United States

Prices from US${{lowPrice | number:0}}

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

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.

100% Risk Free National Parks Booking Guarantee: A full refund of the land-only portion on select Insight Vacations trips inclusive of U.S. National Parks will be provided if the park(s) visited are closed due to the U.S. Government shutdown at time of trip departure. Trips available for this guarantee are: Best of California; Enchanting Canyonlands; American Parks Trail; Wonders of the American West; Great Western American Adventure; America’s Magnificent National Parks; Grand Journey of America’s West; America the Beautiful; and Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Coast. Not valid if full refund is issued as part of an insurance claim. Further conditions apply. For details, contact your travel advisor or Insight Vacations.

  1. Day 1

    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.


  2. Day 2

    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.

  3. Day 3 - Relaxed Start

    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.

  4. Day 4

    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.

  5. Day 5

    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.

  6. Day 6

    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.

  7. Day 7

    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.

  8. Day 8

    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.

  9. Day 9

    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.

Highlights

 

INSIGHT EXPERIENCES

  • San Francisco: Revisit the 'Summer of Love' with a Local Expert and former hippie at Haight-Ashbury, the iconic district where the hippie counterculture evolved.
  • Los Angeles: Join a Local Expert for a behind-the-scenes tour of a historic downtown theatre.

TOP RATED HIGHLIGHTS

  • San Francisco: See the iconic cable cars, Union Square and Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Sonoma: Browse the unique shops on the historic Sonoma Plaza.
  • Yosemite National Park: Experience the park's natural beauty and wildlife. See the El Capitan and Half Dome rock formations.
  • Carmel-by-the-Sea: Browse the art galleries and shops in this quaint beach city.
  • San Joaquin Valley: Stop at a historic fruit stand where seasonal delights are grown, farmed, and sold.
  • Scenic Drives: 17-Mile Drive past the Pebble Beach Golf Links.
  • Santa Barbara: Visit Mission Santa Barbara, a historic Spanish mission founded by the Franciscan order in 1786.
  • Los Angeles: Drive along Sunset Boulevard, see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

AUTHENTIC DINING

  • Sonoma: Sample local wines at a private tasting at an eco-friendly vineyard.
  • Dining Summary: 8 Breakfasts (B) and 4 Dinners with wine (DW).

STAY AT THE BEST ADDRESSES

  • San Francisco: 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: The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa is surrounded by lush vineyards and dotted with natural hot springs.
  • Yosemite National Park: Stay in the park and enjoy Yosemite after the crowds have left, just a short walk to Yosemite Falls.
  • Monterey: Located on Cannery Row, Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa is the most dramatic waterfront hotel in California.
  • Santa Barbara: Stay at the Double Tree Fess Parker in beautiful mission-style rooms, with views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains.
  • Los Angeles: Stay at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE. situated in downtown L.A., within walking distance of the city's most noteworthy attractions.

INCLUDED INSIGHT SERVICES

  • Our highly-skilled Travel Director will ensure your journey is seamless, serving as your expert guide, consummate organiser, and friend overseas
  • Enjoy the comfort of Insight's luxury, air-conditioned, 40-seat coach with double the standard legroom and onboard washroom
  • Personal radio headsets give you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating commentary
  • We carry your bags for you and promptly deliver them to your hotel door
  • Hotel and restaurant tips are included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency
  • We also include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi (where available)
  • From time to time, your Travel Director will enchant you with an Insight Flourish, which is a local specialty representing the destination
  • If your arrival and/or departure flights are as per the itinerary start and end dates, then transfers are available at scheduled times
  • If your flights are outside these times, or you have booked additional nights accommodation with Insight Insight Vacations, you may purchase transfers or make your own way from/to the airport.

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 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.

San Francisco Bay Cruise

Come aboard one of San Francisco’s most popular bay cruises. Sail past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. As you head west towards the Golden Gate Bridge, cruise along Fort Mason and the Marina District, which was devastated in the 1989 earthquake. Don’t miss incredible photo opportunities when sailing directly under the massive 4,200-foot (1280 meter) span of the 746-foot (227 meter) tall Golden Gate Bridge. As you steam back into the bay, travel past Angel Island State Park and slowly cruise around the infamous Island of Alcatraz. On your way back to Fisherman’s Wharf, see the Oakland Bay Bridge, and Coit Tower. This cruise tour has both indoor and outdoor seating with full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by them. You haven’t experienced San Francisco until you’ve taken a Bay Cruise! Approx. duration: 1 hr

Adult Price: USD 34.00

Code: SAN0027

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: USD 40.00

Code: SFO0003

Accommodation

 

Westin St. Francis on Union Square, San Francisco.

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.

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa

Sonoma (Heritage) - Usa

Yosemite Valley Lodge

Yosemite (Traditional) - USA

Intercontinental The Clement Monterey

California - Monterey (Traditional) - Usa

Located on Cannery Row, InterContinental The Clement Monterey is a beautiful waterfront hotel in California, overlooking Monterey Bay.

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

Santa Barbara (Resort) - USA

JW Marriott Los Angeles LA LIVE.

Los Angeles (Contemporary) - USA

Guest Reviews & Experiences

Our guests rate us 4.6 out of 5 based on 11267 independent user reviews received during the past year.

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